Kori SchulmanMarch 19, 2012
09:19 AM EDT
Today, we’re pleased to bring back “First Question” – an online engagement series that utilizes social media to answer questions from citizens across the country.
You’ve probably seen White House press secretary Jay Carney take questions from the press in the Brady Briefing Room here at the White House. With “First Question,” we’re inviting Americans to ask their questions online for Jay to answer.
So, what’s your question for the White House press secretary? Here’s how it works:
- In the morning, Jay will ask for that day's questions in a post to his @PressSec Twitter account. Be sure to follow his account and the White House's main Twitter account (@WhiteHouse) to find out when we’re open for questions.
- Once @PressSec has posted, anyone can fire away with questions using the hashtag #1q on Twitter. If you see a question you'd like answered, retweet it. You can also ask your question on the White House’s Google+ page and +1 the questions you like.
- Over the next hour or two, we’ll collect your questions.
- Jay will answer some of the questions you submitted and we’ll post the response on WhiteHouse.gov, Twitter and Google+.
We’re always looking for new ways and technologies to connect Americans with their White House. We hope you’ll participate in First Question and stay tuned for more chances to engage with the White House online.
March 18, 2012
08:56 AM EDT
Ed note: Former WNBA player and four-time Olympic champion Lisa Leslie joined First Lady Michelle Obama and Samantha Cameron, wife of British Prime Minister David Cameron, and Washington, D.C., area children in a mini-Olympics competition to celebrate the 2012 London Summer Olympics and the “Let’s Move!” initiative. The First Lady will lead the Presidential Delegation to the Opening Ceremonies of the Games.
When I was contacted to participate in the First Lady’s Let's Move initiative, I was thrilled! It was just as much of an honor to have the opportunity to introduce Michelle Obama as it was to represent our country in the Olympics.
I also had the pleasure of meeting and introducing Samantha Cameron, the Prime Minister's wife of the United Kingdom. This summer, she will welcome people from all over the world to her country for the Summer Olympic Games.
We talked about nutrition and staying fit by choosing a healthy life style. The 60 kids then participated in a Mini Olympic Games with other Olympians and Paralympians such as Dominique Dawes and Dan O'Brien, to name a few. We taught them skills in: basketball, tennis, soccer, track and field but mostly we wanted to teach them that physical activity is fun and something they should do every day – with their friends, with their parents, even by themselves. And while it is great to have a goal like becoming an Olympian, participating in sports is about more than winning – it’s about learning new skills, getting stronger and faster and more agile. It’s about learning how to be your best self.
You never know which kid amongst us will become an Olympian, but our call to action was to spread the First Lady’s message to all kids and adults: Let's Move, Let's Move, Let's Move!
Megan SlackMarch 17, 2012
05:00 PM EDT
President Obama left the White House this afternoon to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by grabbing a pint of Guinness at the Dubliner, an Irish pub near the Capitol. Check out some photos from his visit to the bar below.
Matt ComptonMarch 17, 2012
05:30 AM EDT
Alejandra CampoverdiMarch 16, 2012
07:14 PM EDT
This past week, a group of twelve students ages 13-15 from the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson College (EGA) in Islington, London visited Washington during the UK Official visit. EGA is an all-girls school with students ranging in ages from 11-17 where nearly 90% of the girls come from minority ethnic backgrounds and 2/3 speak English as a second language. First Lady Michelle Obama visited EGA during her trip to London in 2009 and invited a group of EGA students to join her at Oxford University in 2011, as well as to visit the United States. Their trip this week, which was focused on diplomacy, leadership and community, included a visit to the White House where they were joined by White House Mentees in attending a Women’s Leadership Panel in the State Dining Room. The panel was moderated by Sarah Hurwitz, Special Assistant to the President, Senior Advisor to the Council on Women and Girls and Senior Presidential Speechwriter, and featured four White House staffers – Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Policy and Projects for the First Lady Jocelyn Frye, Deputy Assistant to the President for Economic Policy Danielle Gray, Secret Service Agent Leslie Pichon, and myself.
While we initially spoke a bit about our professional backgrounds and what our jobs entail at the White House, the afternoon took a more personal turn as we took questions from the students. The girls wanted to know what kinds of obstacles we had overcome in our lives, if we ever felt insecure about our abilities or hesitant to share our opinions, and when we knew what we wanted to do in our careers. We shared our personal experiences and admitted to doubts, confusion and hurdles along the way. We all came from different backgrounds and experiences, parts of the country and perspectives, yet the common theme that came across from all the women on the panel was the importance of discovering your passion and having the courage to allow it to guide your path.
I imagine that I speak for the other panelists as well when I say that meeting these girls was a highlight of my experience at the White House. My background likely has similarities to theirs, despite being an ocean apart, which was something I talked about. I was raised in a Mexican immigrant household by a single mother and my family dealt with issues such as limited access to health care, unemployment, and immigration status, as well as struggling in general just to make ends meet. Spanish was the primary language in my home during my childhood and dreams such as working in the White House didn’t seem anywhere near the realm of possibility. I know how much it would have meant for me when I was their age to hear from women who came from similar experiences, faced comparable obstacles and overcame the statistics.
EGA’s motto is “learning without limits, achieve without limits and futures without limits.” I believe that truly is the most important lesson to internalize as one dares to find the courage to dream big. I hope in a small way, the girls were able to see themselves in us just as I was able to recognize myself in them. And just as President Obama encourages young people everywhere to “dream big dreams,” he is the example of the extraordinary places our dreams and our education can take us.
By White House Deputy Director of Hispanic Media Alejandra Campoverdi
March 16, 2012
07:04 PM EDT
Ed. note: The Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation is commemorating AmeriCorps Week to celebrate the remarkable individuals who have served and their contributions to our country. This blog post introduces readers to Todd Schnittke, a veteran who served from 1989-1993 and continues to serve through AmeriCorps. When asked about his AmeriCorps experience, Todd writes:
After serving our country for four years during the Gulf War as a Multiple Launch Rocket System Technician, I decided to resume my education and get a college degree. I learned about AmeriCorps after entering North Central State College in Mansfield, OH, and I was immediately drawn to the program. Working as an AmeriCorps member at AMVETS Career Center Post #26 in Mansfield offered me the unique opportunity to serve others in my community—especially active duty personnel and veterans—while earning the money I needed to attend college.
I am now in my second year as an AmeriCorps employment specialist at AMVETS. The rate of unemployment for veterans in the State of Ohio is around 16 percent—higher than the national average. The AMVETS Career Center where I work is one of 61 locations that help veterans secure employment through free job training, resume workshops, mock interviews, and access to employment opportunities.
Coming Home is Not Always Easy
The transition from the military to a civilian lifestyle can be very challenging, and I strongly believe that all men and women who risk their lives for our country should have every opportunity for success at home.
March 16, 2012
06:49 PM EDT
A quick look at what happened this week at WhiteHouse.gov:
No Quick Fix: Speaking from Prince George’s Community College in Largo, Maryland on Thursday, the President explained his all-of-the-above strategy to develop every available source of American-made energy. “We need an energy strategy for the future,” the President explained. “Yes, develop as much oil and gas as we can, but also develop wind power and solar power and biofuels.”
Rock-Solid Alliance: On Wednesday morning, President Obama – together with the First Lady, the Vice President and Dr. Biden – welcomed British Prime Minister David Cameron and Samantha Cameron to the White House during the Official Arrival Ceremony on the South Lawn. Later that evening, the Prime Minister and his wife were honored with a State Dinner, where they were joined by dignitaries from both countries. “In war and I peace, in times of plenty and times of hardship,” President Obama remarked, “we stand tall and proud and strong, together.”
Announcing a New Trade Case: After forming the Trade Enforcement Unit two weeks ago, President Obama announced on Wednesday that, “we’re bringing a new trade case against China – and we’re being joined by Japan and some of our European allies.” The effort is focused on expanding American manufacturers’ access to rare earth materials, which China currently supplies and, due to their policies, prevents the United States from obtaining.
Bracketology: Before the madness began, the President took time to fill out his brackets for the 2012 NCAA men and women’s basketball tournaments. While Kentucky, Ohio State and Mizzou made his Final Four, it’s the North Carolina Tar Heels who he selected as his national champion. On Monday night, the President headed to Dayton, Ohio with Prime Minister Cameron to catch some early round action in person.
Dr. Jill BidenMarch 16, 2012
05:07 PM EDT
Ed note: Dr. Jill Biden wrote this op-ed for USA Today.
Danny Anderson is an American hero. He is also a role model — in more ways than one.
Danny spent six years in the Army. He loved serving his country, and when he completed his time in the military, he was eager to find other ways to serve. So Danny decided to use his military benefits to earn his degree and enrolled in Hopkinsville Community College's nursing program. Through a partnership between Gateway Medical Center and Hopkinsville Community College in Kentucky, Danny became a registered nurse and is now employed in Gateway's emergency care department.
I met Danny last month when I traveled with Labor Secretary Hilda Solis on a five-state "Community College to Career" bus tour to highlight the types of successful community college industry partnerships that are working and can serve as models for the nation.
The impact Danny's community college education had on his life is clear — and is one I see replicated on community college campuses across the country, as well as in my own 18 years as a community college professor.
Kori SchulmanMarch 16, 2012
05:01 PM EDT
Two years ago, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act – legislation to improve our health care system – into law. As the President said in March, 2010: “The bill I’m signing will set in motion reforms that generations of Americans have fought for and marched for and hungered to see.”
As we look back on two years of progress, senior administration officials are turning to Twitter to answer your questions about the Affordable Care Act in a series of White House Office Hours.
On Monday, March 19th at 10:30 a.m. EST, Nancy-Ann DeParle, Deputy Chief of Staff and former Director of the White House Office of Health Reform, will be on Twitter for "Office Hours." Then on Friday, March 23rd at 2:00 p.m. EST, Cecilia Muñoz, Director of the Domestic Policy Council, will answer your questions.
Matt ComptonMarch 16, 2012
10:00 AM EDT
Earlier this week, when he met with ESPN, President Obama made sure to spend some time with the women’s bracket, too. He’s expecting a competitive tournament – with a strong run from the seventh-seeded Louisville Cardinals. Ultimately, he sees a Final Four of Baylor, St John’s, UConn, and Notre Dame.
He’s predicting a championship for the Brittney Griner-led Baylor Bears.
Check out his full bracket:
For his predictions in the NCAA men’s tournament, click here.
Matt ComptonMarch 16, 2012
12:00 AM EDT
This week, the President pressed for support of advanced manufacturing, held a series of "Live from the White House" Interviews, made a major announcement on trade rights, hosted Prime Minster Cameron for an Official State Visit and a trip to an NCAA game, and spoke on energy and job creation in Maryland.
March 15, 2012
10:38 PM EDT
The United States has always been committed to providing assistance to those around the world in the midst of crisis. Last year alone, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) dispatched aid in the aftermath of 67 disasters in 54 countries, saving countless lives and bringing much needed relief to millions who lost loved ones, homes, and livelihoods. From the tragic earthquake and tsunami in Japan to the most severe drought in 60 years in the Horn of Africa, USAID is there and making a difference on behalf of the American people every day.
But we never do it alone. Working in support of the host nation’s relief efforts, our partners include American businesses, other donor nations, local aid organizations, as well as international and non-governmental organizations. Our partnerships allow us to maximize our assistance, even as international crises grow more frequent and more complex.
Today at the White House, the United States marked a significant partnership milestone. USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah and Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), signed a Memorandum of Understanding that further strengthens our cooperation on humanitarian issues and disaster response.
Heather ZichalMarch 15, 2012
08:03 PM EDT
Any American who has filled up recently knows that prices at the pump, driven by increased world oil prices, are too high. The President understands the impact this has on families and businesses. He also knows there’s no silver bullet to bring down the price at the pump. That is why he continues to invest in a sustained, all-of-the-above approach to American energy, increasing the efficiency of the vehicles we drive, investing in advanced technologies and alternative fuels, and expanding responsible domestic oil and gas production.
When it comes to domestic production, the President has made clear he wants us to continue to produce more oil and natural gas. This alone isn’t a solution to high gas prices, but it will help reduce our reliance on foreign oil and our vulnerability to the ups and downs of the international market. On that front, the numbers speak for themselves; every year the President has been in office, domestic oil and gas production is up, foreign imports of oil are down, and currently we are producing more oil than any time in eight years. In fact, imports of foreign oil decreased by a million barrels a day in the last year alone.
Despite these encouraging trends, there are some who seem to want to paint a bleak picture of the state of American energy. So let’s take a look at the facts.
March 15, 2012
07:57 PM EDT
Ed. Note: The following is a cross-post that originally appeared on the Department of Education blog.
“America’s economic success is inextricably linked with the success of the Hispanic community,” Secretary Duncan said last week in San Antonio. Duncan joined the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics for two events, including a town hall with San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro at Café College, San Antonio’s college access and resource center that encourages and helps students of all ages obtain a higher education.
March 15, 2012
06:53 PM EDT
Ed. note: The Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation is commemorating AmeriCorps Week to celebrate the remarkable individuals who have served and their contributions to our country. This blog post introduces readers to Ely Flores, a former prison inmate who has transformed his own life through service, and in turn, has transformed the lives of others. When asked about his AmeriCorps experience, Ely writes:
My story is common for a child raised in a single-parent household in an underresourced and disenfranchised community. My father abandoned my family when I was young and, in my neighborhood, young offenders were more often sent to prison than to rehabilitation programs. I grew up in south Hollywood and South Central Los Angeles. Lacking a steady home life, I took to the streets and found violence as the only way to face my daily problems. My gang lifestyle eventually led to incarceration. I was in and out of prison for four years, until I realized that staying out of the penal system for good meant making profound changes in my life.
It is deeply important for youth who are in the challenging situation I once faced – being out of school and out of work – to know that there are organizations and individuals in every community that care about providing support needed to lead a life of success and integrity. For me, this support came through two AmeriCorps programs: LA CAUSA YouthBuild and Public Allies.
LA CAUSA YouthBuild came into my life at age 17 when I was still in prison and about to become a father. The people at YouthBuild introduced me to self-accountability as I struggled to experience a positive transformation. They didn’t define me according to past crimes, but rather, embraced me with acceptance and trust.
March 15, 2012
04:02 PM EDT
Since his first days in office, President Obama has pushed for pay equality between women and men in the work force. It was just over three years ago when the President signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to help combat pay discrimination by extending the period in which to make a claim. The President is committed to securing equal pay for equal work because American families and the health of our nation’s economy depends up on it.
On average, women make 23 cents less on each dollar earned by their male counterpart, and this disparity grows further for women of color and women with disabilities. This reduced salary results in lesser benefits for women and their families at a time when nearly two thirds of families depend on a female breadwinner. The President wants to close this pay gap once and for all.
In 2010, the President created the National Equal Pay Task Force, which brings together the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to identify and address challenges to gender pay disparities. The Task Force has worked diligently and has made significant gains. Task Force members have increased enforcement of equal pay laws, improved efficiency and efficacy by enhancing federal inter-agency collaboration and ensured that workers are better educated on their right to equal pay while employers are better educated on how to provide it.
We want to provide you with the opportunity to meet our Equal Pay Task Force members and ask them questions about their efforts in connection to and involvement with the Task Force. Please visit the webform and submit your question on or before March 19th, 2012 at 5pm.
We will share your questions with Task Force members who will answer a selection of them via video responses that will be available here on Whitehouse.gov. We look forward to hearing from you.
To be sure you find out when we issue our video responses, sign up to receive email updates from the White House Council on Women and Girls.
Megan SlackMarch 15, 2012
03:44 PM EDT
Today, the President spoke at Prince George’s Community College in Largo, Maryland about his all-of-the-above strategy to develop every available source of American-made energy.
The President's strategy-- the same one the he's been pursuing since he took office-- will help us reduce our dependence on foreign oil by expanding oil and gas production here at home, using more clean energy like wind power and solar power, and developing new technologies that help us use less energy altogether.
When gas prices are high, like they are now and like they’ve been in the past, Americans feel the pinch at the pump and calls for more drilling as a quick fix to bring prices down are loudest. But as the President explained (again) today, more drilling is no quick fix or silver bullet. More drilling here in the United States isn’t enough to bring prices down or meet our energy needs, and here’s how we know:
First of all, we are drilling. Under President Obama’s Administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years.We’re operating a record number of oil rigs, and the President has opened millions of acres for oil and gas exploration both on and offshore that will help bring even more of them online. But prices are still high.
March 15, 2012
03:02 PM EDT
For college and university students, fall typically marks the back-to-school time of returning to campuses, classrooms and colleagues. Whether you’re a current student, recent graduate or young professional, this year, consider spending the semester learning and growing in someplace new – consider spending your fall at the White House.
The Fall 2012 White House Internship Program application is now open.
The White House Internship Program is committed to developing young leaders through a hands-on experience within the Executive Office of the President and through a myriad of learning and service opportunities. White House Interns work in one of 16 different departments within the White House, and their duties include conducting research, managing incoming inquiries, attending meetings, writing memos, and staffing events. White House Interns spend their days gaining an increased understanding of public service and the work of the Obama Administration.
Further, interns’ work in their assigned offices is supplemented by all-intern activities like a weekly speaker series where interns hear from senior members of the Administration, Professional Interest Groups in which interns discuss various aspects of policy, field trips throughout Washington, D.C., and a mentorship program through which interns gain professional advice and career guidance. Perhaps most importantly, interns also participate in community service projects. The White House Internship Program works with more than ten community organizations – soup kitchens, after school programs, non-profit organizations, and local high schools – and interns volunteer regularly, getting to know Washington, D.C. and one another.
Don’t wait, apply for the Fall 2012 White House Internship Program today. Your fall as a White House Intern is guaranteed to be unlike any fall semester you’ve ever experienced.
Matt ComptonMarch 15, 2012
02:35 PM EDT
Last week, right before we launched Ethics.gov -- which brings data from across the federal government to one place where it can all be searched -- Chris Vein, the Deputy United States Chief Technology Officer, sat down to talk about how the site works and walk through its features. Check it out:
Matt ComptonMarch 15, 2012
12:53 PM EDT
Technically, Prime Minister Cameron's trip to the United States is an official visit -- not a state visit. State visits are reserved for the head of state, and in the case of the United Kingdom, that means the Queen. But last night, the Prime Minister and his wife Samantha Cameron were honored with a State Dinner all the same.
They were joined by dignitaries from both countries -- including Warren and Susan Buffet, Sir Jony Ive (the Apple designer), Hugh Bonnerville (the Earl of Grantham in Downton Abbey), and George Clooney.
Before raising his glass for a toast, President Obama spoke again on the nature of the values our two countries share:
In war and in peace, in times of plenty and times of hardship, we stand tall and proud and strong, together. And as free peoples committed to the dignity of all human beings, we will never apologize for our way of life, nor waver in its defense.
It’s why David’s grandfather fought alongside us Yanks after D-Day; why my grandfather marched across Europe in Patton’s army. It’s why tonight, at dusty bases in Afghanistan, both American and British soldiers are getting ready to go on patrol, like generations before them, shoulder to shoulder. It’s why our diplomats and development workers are side by side, standing with the activists who dare to demand their rights, save a child from drought or famine.
Read the full set of remarks from both leaders here. Or check out a slideshow of images throughout the visit below.
A unique view of 2012