Our Top Stories
Craig FugateOctober 06, 2010
04:05 PM EDT
This past Sunday, as part of the 2010 Fire Prevention Week, I had the privilege of delivering remarks on behalf of President Obama at the National Fallen Firefighter’s Memorial, as we recognized and honored 105 firefighters who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Here’s a short excerpt:
To the families of those we’ve lost, the thoughts and prayers of a grateful nation are with you.
Firefighters are among the first called to any emergency – and it is a call they selflessly rush to meet. Whether for a fire, a highly specialized rescue, or emergency medical services, the men and women of our nation’s fire services are there, serving their communities in a moment of need. Day after day, in towns and cities across this country, they are fighting structural fires or wildfires, or protecting our troops, bringing relief from fear, from danger, from the hazards of our world.
It takes a certain type of individual to be willing to rush into a burning building as everyone else is trying to get out. As we remember the sacrifices firefighters and first responders make, along with their families, we as individuals have our own responsibility to make sure our own homes are protected, and the best thing you can do is make sure you have a working smoke alarm in your home.
Secretary Ray LaHoodOctober 06, 2010
11:21 AM EDT
I'm really pleased today to present a web experience honoring the men and women who are doing the heavy lifting to renew America's transportation infrastructure. With our interactive map, viewers can see all of the "Voices of the Recovery Act" videos from our YouTube channel on a single screen.
Each of these videos features a worker whose job was saved or created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. In their own words, they talk about their Recovery Act projects and how they've built or repaired infrastructure, and how their projects jump-started economic activity in their communities.
Ken SalazarOctober 05, 2010
06:10 PM EDT
Today, we took a big step on our nation’s path to clean energy future with the approval of the first large-scale solar energy plants ever to be built on public lands.
The Tessera Solar Imperial Valley Solar Project and the Chevron Energy Solutions Lucerne Valley Solar Project will both be built in the sunny California desert. Together, the projects could produce up to 754 megawatts of renewable energy, power 226,000 – 566,000 American homes, and support almost 1,000 new jobs.
These two projects reflect the priority President Obama has placed on growing America’s clean energy economy. From spurring the deployment of energy-saving windows and advanced batteries for cars to installing solar panels on the White House roof, the Administration is incentivizing and promoting clean energy technology on a historic scale.
At the Department of the Interior, we have a special responsibility to help lead this effort. As stewards of our nation’s public lands, we oversee deserts, plains, and oceans that can make significant contributions to our nation’s renewable energy portfolio.
To capture wind, solar, and geothermal power on public lands, the Bureau of Land Management has worked to create a collaborative and coordinated permitting process that allows the efficient and responsible review of potential renewable energy projects.
The two large-scale solar projects I approved today went through a vigorous assessment, extensive environmental review, and input from the public. Companies have had to take significant steps to mitigate the projects’ environmental impacts, including shrinking the projects’ footprints and creating alternative habitats for wildlife in consultation with conservation stakeholders and the Fish and Wildlife Service.
Today’s projects are proof that we can cut red tape without cutting corners.
We should be proud of today’s milestone as we wisely grow our nation’s clean energy economy, stimulate investment in cutting-edge technology, create jobs for American workers, and promote clean energy for American homes, businesses and industry.
October 05, 2010
05:55 PM EDT
Ed Note: Cross posted from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Blog.
Community colleges are the unsung heroes of our education system. They prepare today's workers for tomorrow's careers, and they get little support and even less recognition for their efforts. For millions of Americans, the local community college is the gateway to the American Dream.
But the American Dream is more than access to college. It's about a complete education, and the better future that comes with it: a steady income, a rewarding career, a home in a nice neighborhood where you'd want to raise your family.
Increasingly, to achieve those goals, students have to get a college degree or a professional certificate after high school. According to every measure--employment rates, wage premiums, labor forecasts--students who get those credentials can seize opportunities that those who stopped their education with high school can't.
Karen MillsOctober 05, 2010
04:04 PM EDT
Late yesterday, just a week after President Obama signed the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, nearly 2,000 small business owners who had been waiting for SBA-backed loans had been approved and will soon have those loan funds – totaling nearly $1 billion – in hand. That’s a quick turnaround, and it’s an example of this Administration’s deep commitment to giving entrepreneurs and small business owners the support they need to grow and create jobs.
Here’s how we made it happen.
After the Recovery Act passed last year, SBA increased the guarantee and reduced the fees in our top two loan programs. That two-part formula worked. We saw a significant rebound in SBA lending, helping unlock much-needed capital for small businesses. All told, SBA took just $680 million in taxpayer dollars and turned it into nearly $30 billion in lending support to about 70,000 small businesses. That’s a strong bang for the taxpayer buck.
Katelyn SabochikOctober 05, 2010
04:03 PM EDT
Today, Dr. Jill Biden hosted the first ever White House Summit on Community Colleges. The summit brought together community colleges, business, philanthropy, federal and state policy leaders, faculty and students to discuss how community colleges can help meet the job training and education needs of the nation’s evolving workforce, as well as the critical role these institutions play in achieving the President’s goal to lead the world with the highest proportion of college graduates by 2020.
As Dr. Biden said in her remarks earlier today, community colleges are “one of America’s best-kept secrets,” providing affordable, quality higher education to millions of Americans each year and preparing them for the jobs of the 21st century:
Jesse LeeOctober 05, 2010
03:26 PM EDT
This afternoon the President signed legislation to grant the Congressional Gold Medal, collectively, to the 100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team in recognition of their dedicated service during World War II.
The 100th Infantry Battalion, which was later incorporated into the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, was made up of predominantly Nisei (second generation Americans of Japanese ancestry) members of the Hawaii Provisional Infantry Battalion. The 442nd became the most decorated unit in United States military history for its size and length of service. Combined, the 100th Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team received 7 Presidential Unit Citations, 21 Medals of Honor, 29 Distinguished Service Crosses, 560 Silver Stars, 4,000 Bronze Stars, 22 Legion of Merit Medals, 15 Soldier’s Medal, and over 4,000 Purple Hearts. From the government, the President was joined by Secretary Eric Shinseki of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Senator Daniel Inouye -- himself a member of the 442nd -- and several other Members of Congress.
The stories of the other veterans who attended the signing give a glimpse into this awe-inspiring chapter of America's history:
Lynn RosenthalOctober 05, 2010
03:20 PM EDT
Last Friday, President Obama signed the proclamation of October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Here at the White House, we’ve already started commemorating this important month, recognizing the remarkable work being done to address domestic violence and the distance we still must travel to end it.
On September 22, Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden opened their home for a night dedicated to ending violence against women. It was a night to mark the 16th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act and to recommit ourselves to ending sexual and domestic violence. The event brought together groups from national organizations as well as groups of college students working on this issue on their campuses. Many students had the great opportunity to speak with the Vice President and Dr. Biden about what was going on in their lives and the lives of young people across the country.
Nancy SutleyOctober 05, 2010
11:48 AM EDT
We kicked off the first annual GreenGov Symposium today at George Washington University with more than 1,000 attendees, and keynotes from U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Janine Benyus, president of The Biomimicry Institute and co-founder of the Biomimicry Guild. Secretary Chu and I had the honor of announcing plans to install solar panels and a solar hot water heater on the roof of the White House Residence, a project that demonstrates American solar technologies are available, reliable, and ready for installation in homes throughout the country.
It was just one year ago today that President Obama signed an Executive Order asking the Federal Government to look inward and push ourselves to operate more sustainably. He asked us to set, and then meet, some aggressive goals, and to leverage our assets, our purchasing power, and our large and dedicated work force to help advance clean energy opportunities, cut the pollution that is degrading our planet, and save American taxpayer dollars in the process. Agencies across the Federal Government are excited and proud of what they are doing and what they intend to do to live up to the promise of GreenGov.
Over the next few days, the Symposium will cover a broad range of topics including clean energy, water efficiency, achieving zero waste, greening the supply chain, and sustainable communities. To view the complete workshop agenda, visit: www.whitehouse.gov/greengov/symposium
Nancy Sutley is Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality
Sarah BernardOctober 04, 2010
05:26 PM EDT
On Friday, Secretary Arne Duncan answered your questions about the Administration's Education efforts. We took questions from MSN, whitehouse.gov and facebook, and covered a range of topics from 'No Child Left Behind' and education financing to healthier food in schools and promoting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) subjects. You can check out the full video of the chat or use the links below to skip to your favorite questions.
October 04, 2010
04:22 PM EDT
Yesterday, representatives from 14 U.S. companies arrived in Baghdad as part of the first U.S. Department of Commerce Trade Mission to Iraq since the end of combat operations. Led by Under Secretary of Commerce Francisco Sanchez, these companies will spend time on the ground exploring business opportunities and potential deals with their Iraqi public and private sector counterparts.
This is Commerce’s 24th Trade Mission since President Obama announced the National Export Initiative - bringing American businesses together with foreign counterparts in high potential markets is a key component of President Obama's national export initiative. Iraq is planning billions of dollars in investment in its infrastructure, providing enormous opportunities for U.S. companies which can result in American jobs at home and in Iraq.
With a consumer base of 26 million and a desire to move past years of isolation and instability, Iraq now needs capital and expertise to revitalize its infrastructure and economy. U.S. companies participating in the Trade Mission, which represent the best of U.S. industry in sectors such as oil and gas, construction, and information and communications technology, can provide those crucial inputs.
As we strengthen our long-term relationship with the Iraqi government and people, the U.S - Iraq bilateral relationship is entering a new phase of commercial engagement. Following the unprecedented interest generated by the U.S. – Iraq Business and Investment Conference held in Washington last October, we have actively promoted contact between the U.S. and Iraqi private sectors. We stand ready to support our Iraqi partners as they build a prosperous, diversified, and growing economy that is integrated into the global economic system and capable of meeting the needs of the Iraqi people.
For further information on the Trade Mission please visit http://www.trade.gov/iraq
October 04, 2010
03:00 PM EDT
At the Paris Motor Show today, electric cars are everywhere.
Chevrolet is showing off the Volt, its plug-in hybrid due in U.S. showrooms this December. (Motown music blared as a Chevy rep told me all about the car’s performance.) Nissan is displaying the Leaf, its all-electric sedan scheduled to roll off assembly lines in Tennessee starting in 2012. Volvo has new plug-in models. So do Saab, Peugot and other European manufacturers. And as I walked through the gates in a huge crowd, the first paper put in my hands was a glossy newspaper describing the show under the headline “Un Mondial Electrique” (“An Electric World”).
And even though I’m a Michigan Wolverine, my favorite might have been the sleek all-electric “Buckeye Bullet” built by a team at Ohio State University that broke records going 320 miles per hour on the Bonneville Salt Flats in August.
I was in Paris to help kick off the Electric Vehicles Initiative, a global partnership announced this summer at the Clean Energy Ministerial hosted by U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu. Experts from 15 countries – including representatives from national governments, cities, automobile and battery manufacturers, utility companies and more – met to discuss how we can work together to create global market momentum for electric vehicles. The meetings culminated with a public panel organized by the International Energy Agency, including Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, French Energy Minister Jean-Louis Borloo and others. The panel was held – appropriately – right next to the track where Motor Show visitors can take more than a dozen new electric cars for test drives.
Fortunately, President Obama and Secretary Chu have helped put the United States on the road to global leadership in this rapidly growing industry. With Recovery Act funding, we have made an historic $2.85 billion investment in electric vehicles. We’re investing $2.0 billion in United States-based manufacturers to produce advanced vehicle batteries and drive train components,$400 million to purchase, test, and deploy different types of electric vehicles to test their viability in the marketplace, and$300 million in cost-share projects under the “Clean Cities” program. These investments are reducing our dependence on oil, cutting pollution and creating thousands of jobs, while building a foundation for even more job growth in the years ahead.
The world is moving forward – quickly – on 21st century electric vehicle technology. The United States can and must be a global leader in this industry in the years to come.
Katelyn SabochikOctober 04, 2010
02:26 PM EDT
Today, President Obama announced the launch of a new initiative Skills for America’s Future - an effort to improve industry partnerships with community colleges to ensure that America’s community college students are gaining the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in the workforce.
In his remarks before the start of the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board (PERAB) meeting today, President Obama laid the vision for Skills for America's Future program:
Karen MillsOctober 04, 2010
02:00 PM EDT
Today, at the White House Women’s Entrepreneurship Conference, I announced the official roll-out of an important new tool for women-owned small businesses. It’s called the Women’s Contracting Rule and it will help put more federal contracts in their hands.
These contracts will help women take their business to the next level and create the jobs we need.
Here’s the situation. Even though women lead some of the strongest and most innovative small firms, and women-owned firms are among the fastest growing sectors of our economy, they continue to be underrepresented in the federal contracting marketplace.
Victoria EspinelOctober 04, 2010
11:25 AM EDT
President Obama has set a goal to double our exports in five years. Increasing exports will create jobs and open valuable new markets for the millions of American small and medium sized businesses.
However, our ability to increase exports depends on Americans being able to compete overseas without facing discriminatory policies, burdensome legal regimes or unfair practices. We want to make sure export opportunities are there and support our businesses as they are entering overseas markets.
One of the challenges our businesses face today are markets where their innovation and intellectual property rights need better protection and enforcement or where they have to navigate overly complex and sometimes unfair legal regimes. Our export markets need to be fair, open and accessible—unpolluted by counterfeit goods—and free of discriminatory policies that can disadvantage our intellectual property industries.
October 03, 2010
12:00 PM EDT
The White House Summit on Community Colleges on October 5th is exciting for so many reasons. For those of us who have spent decades in education, it's the first time that community colleges have been recognized at a presidential level. And more importantly, it is being hosted by Dr. Jill Biden, a stellar educator who has chosen to proudly be community college faculty. For a recovering teacher it doesn't get much better than that.
So why would we at the Department of Labor be so excited about a Community College Summit? Our system of Career One Stop Centers are a great resource to help guide workers towards new career pathways and to help them find future employment, but the community colleges are the backbone of our public workforce system. Through our close partnerships with the community college system, we prepare our workforce for lucrative job opportunities that can lead to life-long careers in high growth and emerging industries such as healthcare, technology and clean energy.
Dr. Jill BidenOctober 02, 2010
06:08 PM EDT
I can’t believe that our Community College summit is right around the corner.
The team here at the White House, along with colleagues at the Department of Education, the Department of Labor and other individuals and groups are working hard to finalize plans for the day. I am so pleased that the lead to the Summit has inspired so many of you to reach out and share the important challenges and opportunities impacting community colleges in your regions. I have reviewed many of the hundreds of comments and ideas that were sent to us via email and through our website – and these important suggestions and comments have helped to shape and inform our Summit agenda and breakout sessions.
I was thrilled to hear from many of you who are planning to host satellite summits and events in your own schools and communities. To support these efforts, we have created a toolkit, available at www.WhiteHouse.gov/CommunityCollege which will help guide your discussions and give you direction on how to send your feedback to us. My staff and I will continue to incorporate your voice into our ongoing work.
I hope this summit shines a light on the millions of students, educators, employers, philanthropists, and other stakeholders who are working together to support community colleges and their students. Our work together will continue long after Tuesday.
October 02, 2010
04:52 PM EDT
October 5th is a monumental day in the history of the U.S. Yes, it is my daughter’s one month anniversary in kindergarten. Yes, I will pack her an unbelievable lunch and note telling her how proud I am of her. It is also the day of the first ever, White House Summit on Community Colleges. As a full-time faculty member in Teacher Education at Anne Arundel Community College, located in Maryland, I am elated to attend the summit.
October 02, 2010
11:00 AM EDT
On September 30th, 2010, the President signed the extension of the Retroactive Stop Loss Benefits out to December 3, 2010 giving the remaining ~86,000 servicemembers 6 extra weeks to submit their claim. The President sent a personal message two weeks earlier encouraging our servicemembers to accept the money they rightly deserve. This special benefit was established to recognize and compensate military members whose service was involuntarily extended under Stop Loss between Sept. 11, 2001, and Sept. 30, 2009. Eligible members or their beneficiaries are required to submit a claim to their respective military service in order to receive the benefit of $500 for each full or partial month served in a Stop Loss status. To apply, or for more information, including submission requirements and service-specific links, go to Defense.gov/stoploss .
Getting our Veterans on a solid career path is also a high priority, as the First Lady made clear earlier this month when she challenged America’s employers to tap the potential of veterans and military spouses. And yesterday marked a new initiative taking up this challenge and furthering the Department of Labor's efforts to serve Veterans and military spouses. Department of Labor’s Deputy Secretary Seth Harris has partnered with Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donahue on this exciting new program. Today, with Ray Jefferson, Assistant Secretary for Veterans' Employment and Training (VETS), they launched a 14-state pilot program that will help Veterans find meaningful employment to those returning home after serving our Nation. By leveraging a network of state and local chambers, this effort will expand on the Chamber's existing "Hiring Our Heroes" initiative, which focuses on the employment of wounded, ill, and injured Veterans and easily augment the number of successful programs at the Department of Veterans Affairs. This program between the Chamber and Labor will educate employers on the value of hiring Veterans and military spouses and will help connect employers with this exceptional talent pool. States that have been chosen to participate in the pilot are; Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Mississippi, Nebraska, New jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode island, Texas, and Virginia. As pilot state programs are fully established and meet expectations, a nation-wide implementation will be considered.
Jesse LeeOctober 02, 2010
06:00 AM EDT
The President points to a revolutionary new solar plant that will employ 1,000 people and power 140,000 homes. The plant is possible because of the President’s investments in the clean energy economy, which Congressional Republicans want to eliminate.