Dr. Jill BidenJune 28, 2011
05:39 PM EDT
I was truly honored when the President asked me to lead a delegation representing the United States at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens. I have just returned and wanted to share a few impressions from this inspiring trip.
Our entire delegation had a wonderful time meeting many athletes, cheering them on, and being a part of the Special Olympics movement. We joined approximately 7,000 athletes from more than 170 countries worldwide – I will never forget the incredible spirit that I witnessed at the Games.
Meeting the American athletes was one of the personal highlights for me. It was such an honor and a thrill to join Team USA as we walked into the stadium for the Opening Ceremonies, as our hundreds of athletes cheered “USA! USA!” and proudly carried our country’s flag.
We also had a chance to participate in a ceremony in which the city of Athens dedicated a park to Eunice Kennedy Shriver – a park that is open to ALL – for persons with and without disabilities – and that will encourage an inclusive play and healthy living environment for future generations. What a great way to honor the legacy of a woman who made such an impact around the globe.
Ezra MechaberJune 28, 2011
02:09 PM EDT
The First Lady just returned from her week-long trip to Africa where she focused on youth leadership, education, health, and wellness. We are so excited to show you two more videos from her trip. The first, from Nanga Vhuthilo Community Center, in Soweto, South Africa where the First Lady joined with participants from the Young African Women Leaders Forum for a service project. The second from Baylor Center in Botswana to participate in a service project at the local teen center dedicated to combating HIV/AIDS in the community.
On Board: First Lady Michelle Obama Visits Nanga Vhuthilo Community Center
On Board: First Lady Michelle Obama Visits Baylor Center
June 28, 2011
12:04 PM EDT
Ed. Note: Watch President Obama speak on the critical role the manufacturing sector plays in the American economy from Alcoa Davenport Works in Bettendorf, Iowa live at 2:05 PM EDT on WhiteHouse.gov/live.
Today, the President will travel to Iowa to the Alcoa Davenport Works Factory -- a state-of-the-art aluminum rolling mill that serves as the manufacturing hub for Alcoa’s $3 billion aerospace business. While at the Alcoa Factory, President Obama will be joined by local leaders from across the region. Before the President’s visit, we heard from these leaders about how advanced manufacturing plants like the Alcoa Factory impact the regional economy in the Quad Cities.
Michael Freemire, the Mayor of Bettendorf, Iowa gives us background on the local economy:
“The Quad Cities area has long been known for its primary manufacturing, advanced technology, and highly educated, motivated workforce. That’s one of the hallmarks of our local economy and why this region has remained stable in what has otherwise been an economic downturn for many.”
Don Welvaert, the Mayor of Moline, Illinois enlightens us on why the Quad Cities are attracting businesses:
“Manufacturing is a significant part of the Quad Cities economy. Whether manufacturing farm implements at John Deere & Company, military guns, armor and ammunition at the Rock Island Arsenal, or the many aluminum aircraft parts and assemblies at Alcoa, we manufacture products sold worldwide. The strong work ethic and quality craftsmanship are two of the primary reasons companies choose to locate in the Quad Cities.”
Dennis Pauley, the Mayor of Rock Island, Illinois tells us a little about the area’s leading companies:
“For many years companies like Alcoa, John Deere and the Rock Island Arsenal have been leaders in advanced manufacturing. Alcoa has been and continues to be a leader in developing new uses and processes in the manufacturing of Aluminum. The technicians on the Arsenal always step up to the needs of our military personnel from developing armor plating for the humvee vehicles to discovering new ways to use titanium. John Deere personnel are leaders in developing equipment and processes to feed the world. The Quad Cities economy depends on the expertise of the people working to develop new and improved ways to manufacture products.”
John Thodos, the Mayor of East Moline, Illinois fills us in on how Alcoa is working with the Department of Defense to produce critical resources for the country:
“Recently Alcoa partnered with the Joint Manufacturing & Technology Center (JMTC) which is the only vertically integrated metal manufacturing facility in the Department of Defense located at the Rock Island Arsenal as well as the area’s largest employer. JMTC and Alcoa provided prototype vehicles to address new methods to combat IEDs through advanced manufacturing.”
Bill Gluba, the Mayor of Davenport, Iowa explains how advanced manufacturing, and the President’s Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) will continue to help the local and national economies:
“Cutting edge manufacturing techniques such as innovations at Alcoa will continue to lead the way towards more job creation in this competitive global economy. President Obama’s initiative in promoting advanced manufacturing is moving our country’s economy in the right direction. The advanced manufacturing sector is and will continue to be vital to future job growth in the economy of Davenport and the Quad Cities.”
Jeffrey Grindle, the Mayor of Riverdale, Iowa sums up what the President’s visit means to the local residents and workers:
“By President Obama visiting Alcoa Davenport Works he recognizes Alcoa is a world class leader in advanced manufacturing along with the workforce being second to none.”
David Agnew is the Deputy Director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs
June 28, 2011
11:55 AM EDT
Ed. Note: WhiteHouse.gov just launched a new page dedicated to the Native American community, view it here.
An historic court action on June 20 signaled the beginning of a new era in the U.S. Government’s relations with American Indian communities.
By approving the $3.4 billion settlement of the Cobell v. Salazar lawsuit, U.S. Senior District Judge Thomas F. Hogan paved the way for payments to as many as a half a million American Indians to resolve their class-action litigation regarding the federal government’s management of their individual trust accounts and assets.
A fund of $1.5 billion will be used to compensate class members for their claims regarding potential mismanagement of their trust funds and assets and historical accounting. The agreement also establishes a $1.9 billion fund for the voluntary buy-back and consolidation of fractionated land interests, which have been proliferating through succeeding generations. The program, to be administered by the Department of the Interior, provides individual American Indians an opportunity to obtain cash payments for small divided land interests and free up the “fractionated” land for the benefit of tribal communities. The settlement also provides for a Indian Education Scholarship Fund of up to $60 million for the benefit of American Indians and Alaska Natives.
June 28, 2011
11:48 AM EDT
Last week Dr. Biden traveled to Greece to lead the Presidential delegation to the Special Olympics World Summer Games. On her first day in Greece, she had the opportunity to join Navy Secretary Mabus for a visit with deployed sailors on board the USS RAMAGE off the coast of Athens.
While on board, Dr. Biden and Secretary Mabus visited with all 300 sailors on the flight deck. Following a reenlistment ceremony for 4 sailors on board who have committed to another tour in the Navy, they met sailors from all over the country – including those from their home states of Delaware and Mississippi. They shook hands and took photos until the very last Sailor departed the flight deck.
After leaving the flight deck, Dr. Biden and the Secretary had lunch with Sailors on the mess deck. They talked with several of them about their families back home, including a sailor who became a new dad just days before the visit. It can be a struggle to miss out on those special family moments while deployed. But the Sailors never complained.
RAMAGE sailors are unique. They have deployed multiple times in the past 5 years, and they have endured long and frequent separations from their families. But they are resilient, and they are proud of what they do. Each and every one of them has the same dedication to our country as those that we have had the honor of visiting at military bases across the country and throughout the world.
Kyle LiermanJune 27, 2011
06:30 PM EDT
Today President Obama welcomed the Major League Soccer champion Colorado Rapids to the White House. He congratulated the team on its 2010 season and its MLS Cup victory. This visit continued the tradition, begun by President Obama, of honoring sports teams not just for winning championships but for giving back to their communities. In addition to winning soccer games, the Rapids are active in a wide variety of service projects. These include encouraging kids to do well in school, as well as promoting good nutrition and healthy lifestyles. Following the ceremony, the Colorado Rapids held a soccer clinic for children of military families on the South Lawn.
Watch the video from the event below:
Kyle Lierman is the White House Liaison to the Sports Community.
June 27, 2011
03:40 PM EDT
Today, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, and I had the honor of announcing the winners of the Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign’s Public Service Announcement (PSA) Challenge at the White House. The event was streamed live on WhiteHouse.gov and you can view it here starting this evening.
I had the pleasure of launching the PSA Challenge in November 2010 as part of the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) – I asked Americans to create and submit short video PSAs encouraging their fellow citizens to be safe and secure online. I was struck by the many impressive video entries submitted by PSA Challenge participants across the country. The winning videos were the most successful at advancing the Stop.Think.Connect. message through their creativity and originality. They target a variety of age groups and promote awareness about important cybersecurity issues critical to America’s national and economic security, as well as the safety and security of individuals and communities. These PSAs superbly demonstrate the important responsibility all Americans share to protect cyberspace. Congratulations to the winners!
The winning PSAs are featured on the Department of Homeland Security’s Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign website and YouTube channel. The PSAs will be used to promote the Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign and will help spread the word about safe and secure practices to protect Americans from online threats.
Today’s event highlights the importance of government, the private sector, non-profit organizations, academia, and the American public coming together to realize the vision set out by President Obama when he called on us to “begin a national campaign to promote cybersecurity awareness and digital literacy from our boardrooms to our classrooms, and to build a digital workforce for the 21st century.” I commend the PSA Challenge winners for their creativity and enthusiasm, and thank all who participated in the Challenge for helping to remind Americans that cybersecurity starts with them.
Watch the winning PSAs below:
June 27, 2011
01:57 PM EDT
Editor's Note: This has been cross-posted from the EnergyBlog at Energy.gov
As many of us hit the road to celebrate America's independence this upcoming 4th of July weekend, we must once again confront the reality of our country's economy, environment and security dependence on foreign oil.
On Wednesday, June 29th, at 2:00 pm ET, please join Dr. Arun Majumdar at Energy.gov for a frank, two-way discussion about the investments the federal government is making in innovative research and technology today that will move us off of foreign oil and toward the clean energy infrastructure of the future.
June 27, 2011
12:29 PM EDT
Note: Today President Obama issued a statement on National HIV Testing Day
Thirty years ago, at the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, there was no test for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. For many, there was only the long and worrisome wait for the signs of infection. Once those signs appeared, no treatment for the virus was available. I personally cared for many, many patients in this era, and I am thankful that those days are over. Today, HIV testing is accurate, widely available, and often free—and treatment can help people living with HIV enjoy long, healthy lives, especially when they get diagnosed early.
The good news is that more people are being tested for HIV than ever before. It is estimated that almost 83 million American adults between 18 and 64 have been tested for HIV, as of 2009. That’s an increase of more than 11 million from 2006 when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) recommended that HIV testing become a routine part of medical care for adults and adolescents.
June 27, 2011
11:11 AM EDT
Yesterday I was happy to participate in a panel discussion about broadband at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) annual conference in San Antonio. NALEO members recognize that broadband Internet is one of the tools necessary to help their communities thrive in today's economy. In fact, I think that any conference focused on building stronger communities should include a discussion of broadband - it's a critical ingredient for job creation, economic growth, and improving education, health care, and public safety.
I talked about challenges and opportunities. NTIA's data show that although 90-95 percent of Americans live in areas with access to broadband, only 68 percent of households subscribe to the service. In fact, more than 28 percent of Americans do not use the Internet in any location, which means they are cut off from countless educational and job opportunities.
The issue is even greater for Latinos. While the Internet subscribership rate for Hispanics increased by five percentage points last year, it is still only 45 percent. Even after adjusting for socioeconomic factors like income and education, Latinos still significantly lag the national rate in broadband adoption.
Our research shows that those who lack broadband at home most commonly cite lack of interest or need as the primary reason. Interestingly, while those are certainly factors for Hispanic non-adopters, they most often cite affordability as the primary reason. So there is no single solution to bridging the digital divide.
But the good news is that NTIA, and others in the Obama administration, are working on many fronts to expand broadband access and adoption, including efforts targeted to Hispanics and other communities where broadband is underutilized, such as rural Americans, seniors, people with disabilities, and other minorities.
For example, NTIA's broadband grants program - a $4 billion Recovery Act investment in high-speed Internet infrastructure, public computer centers, and broadband adoption initiatives - is bringing more Latinos online and providing training in the skills needed for today's jobs. I also asked attendees to help us build awareness of www.DigitalLiteracy.gov, a website we launched recently to increase computer and Internet skills in America. The site contains a range of tools for teaching and learning digital literacy, and it provides a central location for practitioners to share materials and best practices. Anyone can suggest additional resources for the website, and I encouraged more content targeted to the Hispanic community.
I appreciate NALEO's focus on broadband. To everyone working on empowering Latino communities: let's keep this momentum going!
Guest blog by Ms. Anna M. Gomez Deputy Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information
and Deputy Administrator, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)
U.S. Department of Commerce.
Nikki SuttonJune 25, 2011
05:30 AM EDT
June 24, 2011
07:22 PM EDT
Editor’s note: Click here for Ambassador Rice’s full remarks to Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFAA). On Monday, June 27, at 10:25 a.m., Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will deliver remarks to GLIFAA in the Dean Acheson Auditorium at the Department of State. They will be carried live at www.state.gov.
Life at the State Department has changed immeasurably for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees since the founding of Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFAA) in 1992. As a member of GLIFAA and a Foreign Service Officer, I deeply appreciate the dedication of the Obama Administration to ensuring that LGBT members of the Foreign Service enjoy many more equal benefits for our partners and families than was the case until just a few years ago. On a broader level, the central role this Administration has given to the promotion of human rights for LGBT persons around the world is a tremendous source of pride for me and for my fellow LGBT colleagues.
GLIFAA was thus particularly honored to host Ambassador Susan Rice at a commemoration of LGBT Pride Month on Friday in Washington, DC. Standing before nearly 80 employees of the Department of State and NGO representatives who work on LGBT issues, Ambassador Rice spoke passionately about the work of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations to strengthen the LGBT community’s basic human rights worldwide. Crucially, she marked the June 17 passage of a historic Human Rights Council resolution dedicated to advancing the fundamental human rights of LGBT persons – the first such resolution ever to pass a vote by a UN body. Ambassador Rice said:
When the U.S. delegation voted yes in Geneva, we reaffirmed a basic American promise: to fight discrimination in any guise and to embrace diversity in every form. The Obama Administration is proud to work to make that promise real. We’ve taken historic strides to advance LGBT equality and to strengthen LGBT families and communities.
June 24, 2011
06:16 PM EDT
A quick look at the week of June 20th, on WhiteHouse.gov and beyond:
Way Forward in Afghanistan: On Wednesday, the President addressed the nation about his plan to begin a drawdown of troops, including bring home 10,000 American troops by the end of this year.
Watch the President's full remarks here.
Weekly Address: Earlier this week, the President delivered your weekly address in which he reflects on his experiences as a parent and the necessity of being a good father.
#YoungAfrica: The First Lady's trip to Africa is in full swing as she traveled through Pretoria, Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa. Follow her trip, see photos and videos all right here.
Safeguarding Air Quality: In line with President Obama's strategy to expand domestic oil and gas production safely and responsibly, government agencies have answered the call to address air quality issues.
Behind the Scenes Photos: Official White House photographer Pete Souza uploaded photos from the last two weeks of May, a batch that includes lots of exciting shots. Check out the photostream!
Save our Lungs: To protect children and reduce tobacco-related deaths, the President signed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, preventing companies from advertising certain products to children.
Smartphone Security: The Department of Homeland Security helps us practice good cyber habits.
West Wing Week: A quick video clip that's your guide to everything that's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, for the week of June 17th - June 23rd.
Kasie CoccaroJune 24, 2011
06:15 PM EDT
The White House Office of Public Engagement invites you to participate in a live chat on Tuesday, June 28th, at 4:00 PM EST with Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, and Brian Deese, Deputy Director of the National Economic Council, on President Obama’s plan for implementing his strategy to draw down troops in Afghanistan and our plan to focus on investments here at home.
This week, President Obama addressed the nation from the East Room of the White House about the way forward in Afghanistan and his plan to remove 10,000 American troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year, and a total of 33,000 by next summer. President Obama also discussed the importance of focusing on nation building here at home, unleashing innovation that creates new jobs and industry, while living within our means, and investing in America’s greatest resource - our people.
Here's how you can participate:
June 24, 2011
05:47 PM EDT
Yesterday, President Obama placed calls to Armenian President Serzh Sargsian and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. In each conversation, he encouraged his counterparts to take concrete steps toward a final settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict that has undermined peace and development in the South Caucasus for over 20 years.
Reaffirming the statement he issued with French President Sarkozy and Russian President Medvedev in Deauville last month, the President called upon both sides to engage constructively at the summit that President Medvedev convened today at Kazan, Russia.
While the two leaders made progress today, they have more work to do to reach agreement on the Basic Principles that would form the basis of a final peace agreement. Armenia and Azerbaijan announced that “mutual understanding [was] achieved on a number of issues whose resolution contributes to the creation of the conditions for the approval of the Basic Principles.”
The President told both leaders yesterday that if Armenia and Azerbaijan demonstrate the leadership and courage to seize the opportunity created by the recent momentum in the talks, the United States will stand by them. Now is the time, he said, to offer the people of the region a better future for themselves and for their children.
Liz Sherwood-Randall is Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and Senior Director for European Affairs.
Erin LindsayJune 24, 2011
04:56 PM EDT
Today, President Obama visited Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he toured Carnegie Mellon University’s National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC) and delivered remarks to 150 leading manufacturing CEOs, university presidents, CMU students and faculty, senior leaders from federal agencies and a broad range of employers involved in manufacturing.
In his remarks he announced the launch of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP), a national effort that brings together industry, universities and the federal government to invest in emerging technologies that will create high quality manufacturing jobs and enhance our global competitiveness.
We’ve launched an all-hands-on-deck effort between our brightest academic minds, some of our boldest business leaders, and our most dedicated public servants from science and technology agencies, all with one big goal, and that is a renaissance of American manufacturing.
Throughout our history, our greatest breakthroughs have often come from partnerships just like this one. American innovation has always been sparked by individual scientists and entrepreneurs, often at universities like Carnegie Mellon or Georgia Tech or Berkeley or Stanford. But a lot of companies don’t invest in early ideas because it won’t pay off right away. And that’s where government can step in. That’s how we ended up with some of the world-changing innovations that fueled our growth and prosperity and created countless jobs -- the mobile phone, the Internet, GPS, more than 150 drugs and vaccines over the last 40 years was all because we were able to, in strategic ways, bring people together and make some critical investments.
June 24, 2011
04:05 PM EDT
Crossposted from the NASA blog.
NASA has always been on the cutting edge of innovation, investing time, energy and resources into the technologies of tomorrow. Technologies that can be spun-off into the private sector to help create jobs and improve the quality of life of all Americans.
With funding from NASA's Aeronautics division, engineers at NASA¹s Langley Research Center have developed a manufacturing process that has turned science fiction into science fact. The Electron Beam Freeform Fabrication, or EBF3, is a process that uses an electron beam gun, a dual wire feed and computer controls to manufacture metallic structures for building parts or tools in hours, rather than days or weeks.
The EBF3 is being used to manufacture titanium spars for vertical tails of the F-35 Joint Fight Striker. Less wasted titanium and reduced machining times result in a savings for Lockheed Martin, and ultimately the American taxpayer.
Kori SchulmanJune 24, 2011
03:16 PM EDT
This morning, First Lady Michelle Obama arrived in Botswana -- the second leg of her week-long trip to Africa focused on youth leadership, education, health and wellness. Mrs. Obama received a warm welcome by children who clapped, danced, and sang "Obama Ye-Le-Le".
Watch the video of the First Lady's arrival in Botswana here.
Kori SchulmanJune 24, 2011
02:59 PM EDT
In September 2009, the President announced that – for the first time in history – the White House would routinely release visitor records. Today, the White House releases visitor records that were generated in March 2011. Today’s release also includes several visitor records generated prior to September 16, 2009 that were requested by members of the public in May 2011 pursuant to the White House voluntary disclosure policy. This release brings the grand total of records that this White House has released to nearly 1.4 million records. You can view them all in our Disclosures section.
Ed. Note: For more information, check out Ethics.gov.
Secretary Hilda SolisJune 24, 2011
02:20 PM EDT
Editor's Note: Cross-posted from the Blog of the U.S. Department of Labor
From the coal that makes it possible for us to power our computers, to the sand and gravel that serves as the foundation of our nation’s infrastructure, we simply could not function as a country without the natural resources that our miners provide.
Mining and extraction industries have been key drivers of rural economic growth during our recovery, creating 80,000 new jobs in the last year alone. Nationally, this sector employs nearly 730,000 people in communities from Appalachia to the American West. For some raised in rural communities where mining is a way of life, this work is part of their family DNA, a profession “handed down” from one generation to the next. For others, a career in the mines is a ticket to a better life for their families. According to our Bureau of Labor Statistics, continuous mining machine operators have an average base pay of $48,000 a year, while supervisors earn more than $70,000.
As a member of President Obama’s Rural Council, I am committed to helping miners get the training they need to harness our natural resources in a safe and cost-effective way. As rising gas prices continue to place strains on middle class families, it’s critical that we support the workers responsible for producing our domestic energy supply.
This commitment starts with maintaining a well-qualified workforce. During the next decade, some 50,000 new workers will have to be trained to replace the mining industry’s aging labor force. Recognizing this challenge, my department has awarded grants to a variety of rural stakeholders to develop training programs tailored to meet the employment needs of local industry.
The projects are as unique as the rural communities that they serve: Penn State University is using special simulators to teach students how to operate sophisticated machinery when down in the mines. Northern Wyoming Community College partnered with Penn State and devised a mobile laboratory to give students on-site training at local coal mines. The Alaska Department of Labor increased mining apprenticeship opportunities and developed a web portal to help Alaskans find jobs in the mining and energy sectors. The College of Eastern Utah offers mining classes to Hispanics and Native Americans in their unique languages. West Virginia University’s Mine Training and Placement Center provides instruction on everything from ventilation techniques to infection control to accident prevention for mineral miners.
But our investment in skills training is only part of our covenant with miners in rural America. The Obama administration is committed to aggressive enforcement of mine safety laws. Our country has a duty to ensure these workers return home to their families each day in the same condition they went to work.
My department’s Mine Safety & Health Administration has rewritten our regulations to toughen worker safety standards, strengthened our enforcement efforts to identify potential hazards, partnered with mining companies to improve emergency response time and rescue capability, and cracked down on operators that cut corners on safety and put workers at risk.
It has been 14 months since the explosion at West Virginia’s Upper Big Branch mine claimed 29 lives. I will never forget traveling to rural West Virginia to stand vigil with the miners’ families in those tense hours when rescue operations were still ongoing. For me, the lesson of the Upper Big Branch tragedy couldn’t be clearer: hazards are to be abated, mines are to be made safe and mine operators are to be held responsible for safety problems they do not fix. We owe nothing less than this strong commitment to the mining families of rural America.
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