March 10, 2010
01:31 PM EDT
Today, we commemorate the 5th annual National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to participate in a briefing held by the National Alliance for State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD) and the HHS Office on Women’s Health with important leaders in Congress. The event highlighted how the domestic epidemic is affecting women and how much we need to maintain our commitment to addressing this public health issue.
The statistics are sobering: Every 35 minutes, a woman tests positive for HIV in the United States. While women in the U.S. represented 8 percent of AIDS diagnoses in the 1980’s, they now account for 27 percent. The HIV epidemic in the U.S. disproportionately impacts women of color: HIV/AIDS is one of the leading causes of death among black women and Latinas. Compared to white women, the AIDS case rate is 5 times higher for Latinas and 20 times higher for black women. Clearly, we must redouble our prevention efforts as well as improve care and treatment for women living with HIV.
It is imperative that HIV prevention efforts take into account the way in which many women in the U.S. become infected with HIV, as more than 80 percent of HIV/AIDS cases among women and teenage girls are attributable to heterosexual contact. It is also important to increase access to female-controlled prevention methods, such as the female condom, and to develop effective microbicides and vaccines.
The Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) is leading a team of Federal Agency partners to develop a National HIV/AIDS Strategy and strengthen our nation’s response to the domestic epidemic. Working with a wide range of stakeholders such as state and local governments, businesses, faith communities, service providers, and others will be critical to implementing the national strategy.
Since the beginning of the epidemic, there have been significant reductions in mother-to-child transmission of HIV in the U.S. Research has also shown that progress is possible through targeted prevention programs that are effective in reducing risky behaviors among HIV-positive and HIV-negative women. But there is still work to be done, a major piece of which is enacting reforms to our health insurance system that will expand access to care. Key to these reforms are making preventive care accessible and ensuring that Americans, including women living with HIV, are not excluded from being insured due to a preexisting condition.
As we move forward, it is not only crucial to increase the number of women and girls who know their status, but also, through interventions that increase self-esteem, the number of women and girls who know their self-worth and have tools to make healthy decisions.
Tina Tchen is the Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement and Executive Director of the Council on Women and Girls
March 10, 2010
11:23 AM EDT
If you're reading this, then you're probably on the Internet -- via your laptop, your mobile phone or other handheld device, or maybe even through your television. But even in 2010, millions of Americans do not have access to the wealth of information made available on the Web. Even though the Internet was invented in the U.S. over 20 years ago, many Americans lag behind in both access to the Internet and speed of connections, which is why the Federal Communications Commission (or the FCC, the federal agency that regulates the U.S. communications industry) is launching its much-antipated National Broadband Plan next Tuesday, to lay out its strategy for connecting all Americans to fast, affordable high-speed Internet.
After this plan is announced, you have the opportunity to interview FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, in the second of a series of in-person YouTube interviews with goverment leaders. (Our first, with U.S. President Barack Obama, took place last month.) Go to CitizenTube today to submit your video or text question via Google Moderator, and vote on your favorites; we'll bring a selection of the top-voted questions to Chairman Genachowski in our interview next Tuesday, March 16. The deadline for submission is Sunday night at Midnight PT.
To help structure our conversation with the Chairman, we've broken the interview down into seven topics. To learn more about what the FCC is doing in each area, click on the links next to each topic below. Then submit your question on CitizenTube under one of these topic headings.
- Access and Affordability
- Mobile and Wireless
- Security and Privacy
- Digital Economy
- Internet in Schools
- Open Internet / Network Neutrality
- Others (learn more at Broadband.gov)
Access to the Internet has transformed almost every aspect of our economy and society. This is your chance to press the FCC on how the National Broadband Plan will help bring the Internet to everyone. We're looking forward to seeing your questions and hearing what the Chairman has to say.
Haley VanDyck is with FCC New Media
Jesse LeeMarch 10, 2010
10:59 AM EDT
Yesterday Labor Secretary Hilda Solis discussed her perspective on International Women’s Day, and the First Lady's role in recognizing and exemplifying the ideals behind it. Today, the State Department's DipNote blog tells us about the annual International Women of Courage Awards -- and will allow you to watch the ceremony live at 3:00:
First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will host the annual International Women of Courage Awards on March 10, 2010, at 3:00 p.m. EST at the Department of State. You may watch the ceremony broadcast live on DipNote.
To mark International Women's Day, the annual International Women of Courage Award recognizes women around the globe who have shown exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for women's rights and advancement. This is the only Department of State award that pays tribute to emerging women leaders worldwide, and offers a unique opportunity to recognize those who work in the field of international women's issues.
Secretary Clinton announced the 10 winners of this year's International Women of Courage (IWOC) award. The awardees are: Shukria Asil (Afghanistan), Col. Shafiqa Quraishi (Afghanistan), Androula Henriques (Cyprus), Sonia Pierre (Dominican Republic), Shadi Sadr (Iran), Ann Njogu (Kenya), Dr. Lee Ae-ran (Republic of Korea), Jansila Majeed (Sri Lanka), Sister Marie Claude Naddaf (Syria), and Jestina Mukoko (Zimbabwe).
Read more about the honorees here.
Chris LuMarch 10, 2010
09:59 AM EDT
Yesterday, the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) held its annual legislative conference in Washington, D.C. NTEU represents some 150,000 employees in 31 federal departments and agencies. A topic of discussion at the NTEU conference was last month’s attack on Internal Revenue Service employees in Austin, Texas. President Obama sent the following letter to NTEU’s National President Colleen Kelley:
The events of recent weeks have again reminded us of the risks that federal civilian employees face in service to their nation. We are grateful to these employees for their dedication to enforcing laws and managing important programs that help all Americans. The Constitution's vision of 'a more perfect union' is only possible because of their tireless efforts.
My Administration is fully committed to maximizing the safety of federal employees and preventing acts of violence against them.
Chris Lu is Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary
March 10, 2010
09:20 AM EDT
- 8 -- The number of people every minute who are denied coverage, charged a higher rate, or otherwise discriminated against because of a pre-existing condition. [Source: HealthReform.gov]
- 8 -- The number of lobbyists hired by special interests to influence health reform for every member of Congress in 2009. [Source: Center for Public Integrity]
Ellen Linderman is a wife and farmer -- and one of those 8 people every minute that’s been discriminated against because of a pre-existing condition. Here’s her story:
Ellen is a 61-year old farmer in Carrington, ND. She has had several difficult experiences with health care in recent years. Ellen was initially denied health insurance coverage a few years back when she and her husband (also a farmer) had to switch from the state employee plan to private insurance. However, since she had eye surgery less than six months prior to switching, she was considered high risk. The issue was eventually resolved but only after she went without coverage for several months. Health insurance reform would help people like Ellen who have a pre-existing condition and need to get insurance – insurance companies can't deny people due to a pre-existing condition.
Ellen and the hundreds of others like her who are treated unfairly because of a pre-existing condition are another reason why we just can’t wait any longer for health insurance reform.
Over the next several days, we’ll continue announce new numbers, like 8, to raise awareness about why the time is now for health reform. We’ll promote those figures here on WhiteHouse.gov and on social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
If you’d like to help raise awareness, share this blog post with your family, friends and online networks using the ‘Share/Bookmark’ feature below.
Kori SchulmanMarch 09, 2010
08:09 PM EDT
Today First Lady Michelle Obama continued the long tradition of First Ladies donating their inaugural gowns to the Smithsonian. Mrs. Obama presented her 2009 inaugural gown to the National Museum of American History, joined by dress designer, Jason Wu, and thirty two aspiring young designers from the Huntington High School Fashion Program in New York.
Dan PfeifferMarch 09, 2010
06:52 PM EDT
If we enact health reform, it will restrict how much of your premium dollars can be spent on profits and overhead by requiring health insurance companies to spend 80-85% of the money they take in on care.
That’s worth keeping in mind. Because right after the Insurance companies announced huge rate increases for families across the country, they gathered at the luxurious Ritz Carlton in Washington to announce that they are spending $1 million on ads to defeat health reform.
That money could probably be better spent keeping rates down for customers.
Dan Pfeiffer is White House Communications Director
Secretary Hilda SolisMarch 09, 2010
03:13 PM EDT
Editors Note: Watch President Obama and the First Lady speak about the achievements of women around the world at a reception marking International Women’s Day.
I grew up in a time when graduating from high school was an accomplishment, and expectations of young women were very low...especially for women of color.
My high school guidance counselor told me that I was best suited for a career as a secretary... an office assistant to be exact. Well, he was right after all. I ended up as a Secretary, but not quite the one he had in mind.
I am a product of the women's movement... the social justice movement... and the civil rights movement. I come from a home that valued hard work and taught me to provide a lending hand to your neighbor when they are in need.
And so, yesterday in celebration of International Women’s Day I thought of several women I have met in my travels across the country. These are women who are trying to feed and clothe their children without a guaranteed income, or without a doctor to see because they have lost their health insurance.
Despite the changes in today’s workforce and families, today’s workplace benefits simply do not reflect the challenges and realities of today’s workers. Too many families must make the painful choice between the care of their families and a paycheck they desperately need.
Earlier this year I had the pleasure of hosting the First Lady at the Department of Labor. In an address to more than 600 employees, she emphasized this administration’s commitment to today’s working families saying “It’s time we viewed family-friendly policies as not just niceties for women but as necessities for every single working American—men and women.”
Reducing work-life conflict is a priority for the President, First Lady and for me. Together we support such proposals as the Healthy Families Act which would make sure workers have the ability to stay home if they are sick without fear of losing their jobs.
Millions of working women don't have one, single, paid sick day. Many face discrimination and harassment in the workplace, and the recession has again brought to light long-standing disparities in employment status among racial and ethnic groups.
This is unacceptable to all of us. While we are working to help American families get back on their feet, this Administration is making investments in women and girls, at home and aboard, a priority.
Since families are depending more and more on working women's wages it is more important now than ever that we:
- Encourage and support more young women in non-traditional and science, technology, engineering, math and health fields;
- Demand fair and equitable wages and work to close the pay gap;
- Reject discrimination and harassment in the workplace; and
- Provide flexible workplace and leave options, including paid family leave, child care benefits and support services.
I am proud to say that my Department is doing all it can to support women. My proposed 2011 budget establishes a $50 million State Paid Leave Fund to help cover start-up costs for states that choose to launch paid leave programs. In addition, it provides resources for the Women’s Bureau – celebrating it 90th anniversary – to improve the collection of data related to the intersection of work and family responsibilities.
Our daughters can contribute just as much to society as our sons, and our common prosperity will be advanced by allowing all humanity — men and women — to reach their full potential.
Hilda Solis is the Secretary of Labor
Dan PfeifferMarch 09, 2010
02:42 PM EDT
This morning, we see more word from opponents of health reform that they are amping up their efforts to kill the bill before it even comes to a vote. The insurance industry lobby, which is holding its annual conference at the Ritz-Carlton today, announced that it is going to spend more than a million dollars on television ads in the coming days to try to protect the status quo; this is on top of the millions of dollars they have poured into a supposedly-grassroots effort to block reform. And the Chamber of Commerce, which we already know has also run anti-reform ads funded by the insurance industry, is holding a conference call today with executives from a handful of industries to lay out to discuss their plans to try to block reform.
Over the coming days, you’ll hear a lot of noise from opponents of reform who are desperately trying to protect a system that earns billions in profits while rates climb so high that many Americans can’t afford coverage. Consider that the average premium for employer-sponsored family coverage per month in 2009 is $1,115 – incidentally, that’s also just about the cost for non-members to attend the insurance industry’s conference, at $1,125. If nothing is done to reform our broken health care system, a recent survey found that over the next ten years, out-of-pocket expenses for Americans with health insurance could increase 35 percent in every state in the country.
That’s why it is important for the American people to hear what the insurance industry and their allies won’t be saying: that reform will actually bring down costs for American small businesses and workers.
As a result of health insurance reform, millions of small businesses nationwide could qualify for a tax credit to make coverage for their employees even more affordable. Reform will prevent insurance discrimination based on health status, meaning that small businesses will no longer be unfairly subjected to arbitrary premium hikes if a worker falls ill. Reform will create a health insurance exchange that pools small businesses and their employees with millions of other Americans to increase purchasing power and competition in the insurance market – a luxury that is afforded only to large firms under the status quo. And for the millions of young adults who work at small businesses, health insurance reform will also allow them to stay on their parents’ employer-based insurance until the age of 26, providing an essential option for coverage.
Health reform will also put Americans in control of their health care coverage. It will end discrimination against Americans with pre-existing conditions. It will make insurance more affordable by providing the largest middle class tax cut for health care, thereby helping over 31 million more Americans afford health care. It will hold insurance companies accountable by laying out common-sense rules of the road to keep premiums down and prevent insurance industry abuses and denial of care.
And it puts our budget and economy on a more stable path by reducing the deficit by $100 billion over the next ten years by cutting government overspending and reining in waste, fraud and abuse.
So when you see those insurance-industry funded ads or hear the same old rhetoric from insurance industry allies, remember that they’re fighting to protect their bottom line – and keep the facts in mind. The reality is that health insurance reform will put Americans in control of their own health care and bring down costs for American workers and small businesses.
Dan Pfeiffer is White House Communications Director
March 09, 2010
02:31 PM EDT
There are only six days left for the nation’s public high schools to submit an application for the commencement speaker of a lifetime. That’s right -- this spring President Obama will speak to the graduating class of the high school that best demonstrates how it is providing its students an excellent education that will prepare them to graduate ready for college and career choices.
GetSchooled is getting in on the action too, spreading the word through its partners like BET, MTV, TeenNick and CMT. You can also become a fan of the Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge on Facebook.
It’s not too late! Submit your application today and show the country – and the President -- what your school is made of.
Lauren Paige is Director of Special Projects for White House Communications
March 09, 2010
11:06 AM EDT
- $1,115 – that’s the average premium for employer-sponsored family coverage per month in 2009. Annually, that amounts to $13,375 – or roughly the yearly income of someone working a minimum wage job. (Source)
- And if nothing is done to reform our broken health care system, a recent survey found that over the next ten years, out-of-pocket expenses for Americans with health insurance could increase 35 percent in every state in the country. (Source)
This week -- in an effort to put the past year’s debate over health insurance reform into perspective -- we’re launching, “Health Reform by the Numbers,” an online campaign using key figures, like $1,115, to raise awareness about why we just can’t wait for reform. We’ll announce a new number each day and promote them here on Whitehouse.gov and on social networks, like Facebook and Twitter.
If you’d like to help raise awareness, share this blog post with your family, friends and online networks using the ‘Share/Bookmark’ feature below.
Yesterday, Leslie Banks, one of the many Americans burdened by skyrocketing health insurance costs, introduced President Obama at a reform event in Philadelphia. Here’s her story:
On February 11th Leslie wrote the President an e-mail expressing her frustration with the cost of health insurance. Leslie is a self-employed, single mother with type 2 diabetes, whose daughter is a sophomore in college at Temple University. In January 2010, Leslie received a notice from her health insurance provider that her plan was being dropped. To keep the same benefits, the premiums for her and her daughter would more than double. Leslie was told by the insurance company that there was an across the board premium hike and there was nothing she could do. If she paid the same monthly premium amount as before, the deductible would increase from $500 to $5,000, and they would no longer have preventive care or prescription coverage. Leslie is not eligible for the insurance company’s HMO due to her pre-existing condition. Under health reform, Leslie and her daughter will have access to affordable health insurance in the new health insurance exchange, including guaranteed benefits such as preventive care and prescription drugs as well as important consumer protections. In addition, insurance companies will no longer be able to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions, and they will be held accountable to prevent insurance industry abuses.
For those like Leslie who are buckling under the weight of crippling health insurance costs – they can’t wait any longer for reform. As the President said yesterday, "We can’t have a system that works better for the insurance companies than it does for the American people. We need to give families and businesses more control over their own health insurance. And that’s why we need to pass health care reform -- not next year, not five years from now, not 10 years from now, but now."
With all of us working together, we’ll send the message loud and clear -- the time is now for health insurance reform. Check out what we’re doing to raise awareness on Facebook, Twitter, and help spread the word by sharing this post.
March 09, 2010
09:56 AM EDT
The December 25 attempted terrorist attack on a Detroit-bound airliner served as a stark reminder that terrorists will stop at nothing to try to hurt and kill Americans.
Today at 3 p.m. EST, Secretary Napolitano will participate in an online town hall on aviation security. She will answer your questions about our employment of new technologies to stay ahead of terrorist threats, including the expanded use of state-of-the-art Advanced Imaging Technology and Explosive Trace Detection equipment at airports across the country. New technology and screening equipment at our nation’s airports always draw questions and concerns from the public, and we want have an honest dialogue with you about what these technologies mean for the average traveler.
Secretary Napolitano is also engaging with leaders around the world as part of a broad initiative to strengthen the international aviation system against the evolving threats posed by terrorists. She leaves tomorrow for meetings with her counterparts in Asia, following similar meetings in Europe and Mexico in recent weeks.
We understand that the American public has questions about new screening measures and technology here at home, and about how we’re working with our international partners to bolster security on flights coming to the United States from foreign countries. This live chat is part of Secretary Napolitano’s commitment to making the Department more open and accessible – inviting you to ask questions about the ways the U.S. government is working to make air travel safer and more secure for all passengers.
So please join us at 3:00 PM EST via the White House’s facebook chat application.
Graves Spindler is with the Department of Homeland Security
Kareem DaleMarch 09, 2010
09:31 AM EDT
Change. Finding common ground. These are hallmarks of this Administration. And today, we move one step closer to full access to books and materials for millions of Americans with print and other disabilities. While much work remains to be done, the community of stakeholders has taken a noteworthy and important step forward.
The Reading Rights Coalition, the Authors Guild, and the Association of American Publishers have issued a joint statement stating “that the contents of books should be as accessible to individuals with print disabilities as they are to everyone else.” They further agreed to work together to reach this desired goal.
As a person who is blind myself and thoroughly enjoys reading, I applaud these groups and organizations for coming together to bring about needed change. We look forward to continuing to work with all Americans to support access to materials for persons with print disabilities.
Kareem Dale is Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy
Kori SchulmanMarch 08, 2010
06:24 PM EDT
This afternoon President Obama welcomed the BCS National Champion Alabama Crimson Tide to the White House, honoring their 13th championship and their undefeated 2009 season.
The President highlighted one of the team’s trademarks, their unwavering focus on what's important:
[Coach Saban] asked his players if they wanted to work hard enough to beat their teammates in a drill, or if they wanted to work hard enough to be the best team in the country. And it's pretty clear what choice they made.
That's the kind of tone this team sets, both on and off the field. It's why these young men -- and this is something I’m very proud of -- had the second highest graduation rate of any team ranked in the top 25. It shows that these guys have their priorities straight. Together, they contributed more than 3,500 hours of community service that Alabama students -- student athletes performed last year.
And that spirit continued earlier today, when the team met with a group of kids from one of D.C.'s roughest neighborhoods, and helped teach them about the importance of staying in school and making healthy choices. That's how champions act -– in football and in life.
March 08, 2010
05:26 PM EDT
It was a beautiful day in the Keystone State where earlier today President Obama spoke at Arcadia University in Glenside, PA. He addressed an energized crowd about the urgent need for health care reform in the face of rapidly rising health care costs. The President cited a recent conference call by Goldman Sachs in which an insurance broker told investors to expect insurance companies to continue to raise premiums because they know that they can turn more of a profit on customers they keep, despite pricing more and more people out of the market.
So how much higher do premiums have to rise until we do something about it? How many more Americans have to lose their health insurance? How many more businesses have to drop coverage?
The President emphasized the sky-rocketing costs of health care, as exemplified by the woman who introduced him. Leslie Banks is a self-employed single mother with type 2 diabetes whose insurance provider recently notified her that her premiums would be more than doubling. To maintain the same monthly rate, her deductible would shoot from $500 to $5,000 and she would lose preventative care and prescription coverage. With a pre-existing condition keeping her from joining the company's HMO, Leslie is stuck between a rock and a hard place. With health reform, people like Leslie and her daughter will experience relief from such practices.
The President also called for an up-or-down vote from Congress, and said it is what the American people deserve.
The United States Congress owes the American people a final, up or down vote on health care. It’s time to make a decision. The time for talk is over. We need to see where people stand.
Secretary Steven ChuMarch 08, 2010
01:45 PM EDT
What are the steps we must take as a nation to create new, clean energy jobs and ensure America’s long-term competitiveness? What are the consequences for our climate of inaction? How can science and technology offer us new and better choices – and how can America’s young people make a difference?Free video streaming by Ustream
Today, I’m returning to Stanford University, where I spent many years as a professor, to discuss these and many other issues with a great group of students. I’d like to invite you to watch my speech live here at 3:00PM Eastern time/noon Pacific, and then share your thoughts afterward on my personal Facebook page to continue the conversation.
Macon PhillipsMarch 07, 2010
02:18 PM EDT
Updated to include the President's remarks from the Rose Garden this afternoon.
THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. Today, the people of Iraq went to the polls to choose their leaders in Iraq’s second national election. By any measure, this was an important milestone in Iraqi history. Dozens of parties and coalitions fielded thousands of parliamentary candidates, men and women. Ballots were cast at some 50,000 voting booths. And in a strong turnout, millions of Iraqis exercised their right to vote, with enthusiasm and optimism.
Today’s voting makes it clear that the future of Iraq belongs to the people of Iraq. The election was organized and administered by Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission, with critical support from the United Nations. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis served as poll station workers and as observers.
As expected, there were some incidents of violence, as al Qaeda in Iraq and other extremists tried to disrupt Iraq’s progress by murdering innocent Iraqis who were exercising their democratic rights. But overall, the level of security and the prevention of destabilizing attacks speaks to the growing capability and professionalism of Iraqi Security Forces, which took the lead in providing protection at the polls.
I also want to express my admiration for the thousands of Americans on the ground in Iraq -- for our civilians and our men and women in uniform who continue to support our Iraqi partners. This election is also a tribute to all who have served and sacrificed in Iraq over the last seven years, including many who have given their lives.
We are mindful, however, that today’s voting is the beginning and not the end of a long electoral and constitutional process. The ballots must be counted. Complaints must be heard, and Iraq -- with the support of the United Nations -- has a process in place to investigate and adjudicate any allegations of fraud. A parliament must be seated, leaders must be chosen, and a new government must be formed. All of these important steps will take time -- not weeks, but months.
In this process, the United States does not support particular candidates or coalitions. We support the right of the Iraqi people to choose their own leaders. And I commend the Iraqi government for putting plans into place to ensure security and basic services for the Iraqi people during this time of transition.
We know that there will be very difficult days ahead in Iraq -- there will probably be more violence. But like any sovereign, independent nation, Iraq must be free to chart its own course. No one should seek to influence, exploit, or disrupt this period of transition. Now is the time for every neighbor and nation to respect Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
A new Iraqi government will face important decisions about Iraq’s future. But as today’s voting demonstrates, the Iraq people want disagreements to be debated and decided through a political process that provides security and prosperity for all Iraqis.
And as they go forward, the Iraqi people must know that the United States will fulfill its obligations. We will continue with the responsible removal of United States forces from Iraq. Indeed, for the first time in years, there are no -- now fewer than 100,000 American troops serving in Iraq. By the end of August, our combat mission will end. As I said last year when I announced our new strategy in Iraq, we will continue to advise and assist Iraqi Security Forces, carry out targeted counterterrorism operations with our Iraqi partners, and protect our forces and civilians. And by the end of next year, all U.S. troops will be out of Iraq.
In the weeks and months ahead, the United States will continue to work closely with the Iraqi people as we expand our broad-based partnership based on mutual interest and mutual respect. And in that effort, I’m pleased that Vice President Biden will continue to play a leading role.
On behalf of the American people, I congratulate the Iraqi people on their courage throughout this historic election. Today, in the face of violence from those who would only destroy, Iraqis took a step forward in the hard work of building up their country. The United States will continue to help them in that effort as we responsibly end this war, and support the Iraqi people as they take control of their future.
Thanks very much.
Earlier today, the White House issued the following statement from President Obama on the Iraqi elections:
I congratulate the people of Iraq for casting their ballots in this important parliamentary election. I have great respect for the millions of Iraqis who refused to be deterred by acts of violence, and who exercised their right to vote today. Their participation demonstrates that the Iraqi people have chosen to shape their future through the political process.
I commend the Iraqi government and Iraqi Security Forces for providing security at nearly 50,000 voting booths at more than 8,000 polling stations across Iraq. We mourn the tragic loss of life today, and honor the courage and resilience of the Iraqi people who once again defied threats to advance their democracy. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi poll workers contributed to the effort, as well as domestic party and civil society observers. Iraqi citizens around the world also participated in these elections, including Iraqis living in the U.S. who voted in Arlington (VA), Chicago, Dallas, Dearborn, Nashville, Phoenix, San Diego, and San Francisco.
The important work of Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) will continue in the days to come as it counts ballots, tabulates results and investigates complaints. We also salute the invaluable assistance provided by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI).
The statement is also available in Arabic: Download the PDF.
Dan PfeifferMarch 07, 2010
11:35 AM EDT
The last few days have brought even more evidence that the health care status quo is working out great for the insurance companies – at the same time as it continues to fail American families and businesses. No wonder the insurance companies are spending millions and millions of dollars to block reform.
On Wednesday, a leading insurance broker laid out in clear terms what many Americans could already guess: the insurers’ monopoly is so strong that they can continue to jack up rates as much as they like – even if it means losing customers – and their profits will continue to soar under the status quo.
March 07, 2010
08:46 AM EDT
During his speech in Cairo on June 4, 2009, the President articulated a vision for a New Beginning with Muslims around the world -- one based on mutual respect and the pursuit of partnerships in areas of mutual interest. Around the world, from Rabat to Jakarta, the United States is engaging Muslim communities around the world and building mutually beneficial partnerships that expand opportunity. As part of our commitment to dialogue, our embassies have held roundtables with thousands of students, civil society leaders and entrepreneurs, among others, and senior officials like Secretary Clinton have held televised townhalls.
Over the past nine months, the Administration has been delivering on the specific commitments the President made in his speech – from appointing science envoys, creating a Technology and Innovation Fund, and expanding exchanges to hosting a Summit on Entrepreneurship in April. But, the U.S. Government has done far more than deliver the specific commitments from President Obama's speech. For example, while we have partnered with the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to eradicate polio, we also worked with Saudi Arabia to prevent the spread of H1N1 influenza during hajj.
The speech in Cairo expressed an overarching vision for our engagement. To help pursue that vision, the President recently appointed Rashad Hussain to be his Special Envoy to the OIC. Rashad has played an important role in developing the New Beginning we seek with Muslim communities around the world. In his new position, he will continue to play a key role in expanding our engagement with Muslims around the world. Get to know Rashad in this video:
And in case you missed it last year, Rashad was profiled with two other Muslim Americans working in the Federal Government:
Pradeep Ramamurthy is the Senior Director for Global Engagement with the National Security Council
March 06, 2010
08:05 PM EDT
There's only one show on television that can claim to have captured more than 1,050 fugitives and brought home more than 50 missing children. "America's Most Wanted" has become a broadcast institution over the last 22 years, telling the stories of wanted fugitives with the hope that viewers will assist law enforcement in the manhunt. President Obama appeared on the 1,000th episode of the series tonight. The show’s host, John Walsh, and President sat down this week at the White House to discuss, among other things, how the Recovery Act has kept cops on the streets across the country and the need to properly fund the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act.
John Walsh last came to the White House in 2006 to watch President Bush sign the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act which was named after his son who was abducted and murdered in 1981. Since his son’s death, he has dedicated himself to fighting on behalf of children and all crime victims. Walsh’s work led to the creation of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) which provides resources to parents, children, and law enforcement officials. Walsh has been honored five times by four presidents: Ronald Reagan (twice), George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush.
A unique view of 2012