Matt ComptonSeptember 21, 2012
02:04 PM EDT
One hundred fifty years ago Monday, on September 17, 1862, the Union army commanded by Major General George McClellan met a Confederate force under Robert E. Lee at Antietam Creek in western Maryland, outside the town of Sharpsburg.
For 12 hours, 87,000 Union soldiers launched a series of attacks against 45,000 Confederates. The result was a staggering loss of human life. When dark approached and the fighting ended, almost 25,000 were dead, wounded, or missing. Neither before nor since have more Americans been killed in a single day.
Nancy SutleySeptember 21, 2012
12:54 PM EDT
Today, President Obama designated spectacular Chimney Rock in southwest Colorado as our nation’s newest national monument, an historic step honoring a place rich in beauty, history and Native American culture.
With the strong support of the people of Colorado, from the congressional delegation to Governor Hickenlooper to the Native American community and local residents, President Obama has ensured this extraordinary national treasure will be protected for generations to come.
A thousand years ago, Chimney Rock was home to Ancestral Pueblo People who built more than 200 homes and ceremonial buildings high above the valley floor. Many of the structures remain today, and are designed to perfectly align with lunar events such as seasonal solstices and equinoxes, drawing visitors from across the world.
Beyond protecting this special place, this designation also ensures Chimney Rock will be a source of economic opportunity in Colorado, attracting new business and tourism. According to a study commissioned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the national monument designation is expected to double economic activity from tourism in the area over the next five years. Outdoor places like Chimney Rock provide us with opportunities for rest and respite, with a link to our Nation’s proud outdoor traditions and culture, and with jobs and economic opportunities across the country. In fact, outdoor recreation alone contributes an estimated $650 billion a year to our economy, according to the Outdoor Industry Association.
Darienne M. PageSeptember 21, 2012
12:15 PM EDT
Today, Friday, September 21, 2012 marks the commemoration of National POW/MIA Recognition Day, where the nation honors those service members who endured captivity and whose remains have yet to be recovered. The day serves as a stark reminder of the risks and sacrifices that American service members and their families make every day.
As President Obama said in his proclamation marking National POW/MIA Recognition Day, “As long as members of our Armed Forces remain unaccounted for, America will bring our fullest resources to bear in finding them and bringing them home. It is a promise we make not only to the families of our captured and our missing, but to all who have worn the uniform.” As the POW/MIA flag flies over the White House today, it is a reminder that this administration will never forget its commitment to care for our service members and their families.
September 21, 2012
11:20 AM EDT
In early August, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton embarked on an 11-day, nine country trip through Africa. She worked to strengthen alliances and advance the pillars of President Obama’s strategy for sub-Saharan Africa: supporting democratic institutions, spurring economic growth, advancing peace and security, and promoting opportunity and development. As she said to a group of African students in Dakar: “We want to advance your aspirations and our shared values…we want this to be our mutual mission. That is the work we are called to do in the 21st century.”
In addition to the speech that framed the trip in Senegal, she met President Sall and other national leaders and spoke about how Senegal's strong democratic institutions are a model for other nations.
She then traveled east to the world’s youngest country, South Sudan, where she and President Kiir discussed security, oil and economic opportunity.
Gautam RaghavanSeptember 21, 2012
10:48 AM EDT
On Wednesday, the Vice President and Dr. Biden hosted an “End of Summer BBQ” at the Vice President’s Residence with emerging young leaders of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. They were joined by senior Obama Administration officials, leaders of national LGBT organizations, and campus and community leaders from all over the country.
Guests at the event represented tremendous diversity and talent within the LGBT community. They included students and community organizers, advocates and artists, and veterans – all committed to the pursuit of equality, justice, and dignity for LGBT people.
Adam GarberSeptember 21, 2012
12:00 AM EDT
This week, the President, Vice President and Secretary of State attended the Transfer of Remains Ceremony for the four Americans killed in Libya, while the White House welcomed Olympians and Paralympians, WNBA champions the Minnesota Lynx, new foreign Ambassadors, and the Children's Miracle Network. That's September 14th to September 20th or "The Dignity and Freedom That Every Person Deserves."
Friday, September 14th:
- The President, Vice President, and First Lady welcomed the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams to The White House.
- The White House hosted a "Safety Datapalooza," which highlighted innovators from the private, nonprofit and academic sectors who have utilized freely available government data to build products, services, and apps that advance public safety in creative and powerful ways.
- Friday Afternoon, President Obama, Vice President Biden and Secretary Clinton attended a Transfer of Remains Ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base which marked the return to the United States of the remains of the four brave Americans who were killed this week in Benghazi, Libya.
Valerie JarrettSeptember 20, 2012
06:04 PM EDT
Earlier today, I had the opportunity to meet with a small group of openly gay and lesbian servicemembers, together with several of their partners and spouses. We celebrated the one year anniversary of the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
The servicemembers represented a range of ranks and services. All of them agreed that the most remarkable aspect about their post-repeal service is that, after just one year, serving in the military without DADT feels unremarkable because the transition has been so smooth.
It should come as no surprise to any of us that the men and women of our armed forces have handled the repeal of DADT with the professionalism and class that we have come to expect from the finest fighting force in the world. As a consequence, our national security has been strengthened.
As the President said in a statement issued today, “Gay and lesbian Americans now no longer need to hide who they love in order to serve the country they love. It is a testament to the professionalism of our men and women in uniform that this change was implemented in an orderly manner, preserving unit cohesion, recruitment, retention and military effectiveness.”
Kori SchulmanSeptember 20, 2012
05:54 PM EDT
Brad Snyder’s story is a remarkable one. Just one year ago, Lieutenant Snyder was blinded by an IED while serving in Afghanistan. This summer, he competed in the London Paralympics, bringing home two gold medals and a silver medal in swimming.
Moments after being honored at the White House alongside his fellow athletes, Brad shared his story with First Lady Michelle Obama. “Overcoming adversity is a decision that everyone makes,” Brad said, “And you can let that beat you or you can make the decision to move forward.”
Watch Paralympian Lt. Snyder Meet The First Lady, here.
Megan SlackSeptember 20, 2012
01:30 PM EDT
On this day in 2011, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was finally and formally repealed, allowing gay and lesbian service members to serve openly in our nation’s armed forces.
In a statement marking the anniversary, President Obama said that repealing the law "upheld the fundamental American values of fairness and equality."
"The ability of service members to be open and honest about their families and the people they love honors the integrity of the individuals who serve, strengthens the institutions they serve,” he continued, “and is one of the many reasons why our military remains the finest in the world."
President Obama signed repeal into law in December of 2010, and in July of 2011 the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certified that the Department of Defense had taken all the steps needed to prepare the military for repeal. Sixty days after that, at 12:01 a.m. on September 20, 2011, the era of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was over.
September 20, 2012
11:00 AM EDT
Ed. note: This is cross-posted from Healthcare.gov.
Ashley Matthews, recent graduate of the University of Miami School of Law, considers herself very aware of what is going on the world. But she admits, “Because I am so young, health care never entered my universe.” That is, until she got into a car accident one evening. That’s when she realized she didn’t have health insurance.
As she recalls: “I’m laying on the hospital bed … my shoes were knocked off my feet, my tooth is chipped and my knee is bleeding and I thought about the fact that I had just graduated from undergrad [and] I had no health care insurance because I wasn’t on my parents’ plan and this is right before the Affordable Care Act.” Although the doctor wanted her to stay in the hospital for treatment, Ashley and her friends quickly left because she would not be able to afford the care without health insurance. “The threat of the bills was enough to send me running from the hospital,” she says.
Because of the Affordable Care Act, Ashley was later able to be added to her parents’ insurance. More than 3 million young adults have been able to gain health insurance through their parents’ health plans until they turn age 26 as a result of the new health care law. “When I found out that I could stay on my parents’ insurance, it was like a blessing,” she says.
Megan SlackSeptember 20, 2012
10:23 AM EDT
Yesterday, President Obama met with Aung San Suu Kyi, Burmese Nobel Laureate and leader of the National League for Democracy Party. The President expressed his admiration for her courage, determination and personal sacrifice in championing democracy and human rights over the years.
According to a readout of the meeting, President Obama reaffirmed the determination of the United States to support the “sustained efforts to promote political and economic reforms and to ensure full protection of the fundamental rights of the Burmese people," a process that offers them “the opportunity to take charge of their destiny and to shape a more peaceful, free, and prosperous future.”
September 19, 2012
01:54 PM EDT
The Obama Administration's number one priority is to strengthen our economy, create jobs, and restore economic security for the middle class. One way to help strengthen the economy is to make the U.S. the top destination for international visitors. Since the President issued an Executive Order in January and the National Travel and Tourism Strategy was subsequently released by this Administration in May, the Departments of Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior, and State have put a priority on expanding travel to and within the U.S., while remaining vigilant in protecting our national security.
Today, we learned that these efforts are working. The U.S. Department of Commerce announced that international visitors spent an estimated $13.7 billion on travel to, and tourism-related activities within, the United States during the month of July--$350 million (3 percent) more than was spent in July 2011. Travel and tourism-related exports have increased, on average, more than $1.1 billion a month during the first seven months of 2012.
Also today, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released estimates for the second quarter 2012 from their Travel and Tourism Satellite Accounts. These accounts present a detailed picture of travel and tourism activity and its role in the U.S. economy, including estimates of spending by travelers in six categories of goods and service as well as estimates of the employment generated by travel and tourism and related industries. Today's data reveal that real spending on travel and tourism increased at an annual rate of 2.1 percent in the second quarter of 2012 after increasing 4.9 percent (revised) in the first quarter of 2012, supporting 7.6 million jobs.
Recent visitors can access the newly redesigned recreation.gov, the federal government's one-stop shop for trip planning and reservations on public lands, such as national parks, wildlife refuges, waterways, forests and recreation areas. This year alone, more than 6 million people have visited the site to learn more about exploring America's great outdoors. A key feature of the new site is suggested travel itineraries to several top destinations for international visitors - Denver, Las Vegas, Miami, Los Angeles and San Francisco. These pre-planned circuits encourage travelers to expand their itineraries by one or more days to take in lesser-known destinations. Longer visits and more expansive itineraries will translate to more tourism dollars and more jobs in the leisure and hospitality industry throughout the U.S.
Matt ComptonSeptember 18, 2012
06:54 PM EDT
President Obama today welcomed the Minnesota Lynx to the White House.
Two years ago, Minnesota was home to the worst team in the WNBA. Last year, they were the WNBA champions.
In describing their march to WNBA finals, President Obama told the story of their remarkable turnaround -- describing how they drafted Maya Moore, signed veteran players like Rebekkah Brunson and Lindsay Whalen, and hired Cheryl Reeve to be their coach.
"By the end of the season, Maya was Rookie of the Year, Lindsay led the league in assists, Cheryl was Coach of the Year," the President said. "The team had the best record in the league. They made their home games the hottest ticket in town. Then, just in case anyone doubted their dominance, they marched through the playoffs, losing only one game and sweeping their final two series."
This year, the Lynx are picking up where they left off -- they're leading the Western Conference, and they've already clinched homecourt advantage for the playoffs.
But more importantly, the President said, they're continuing to set an important example for young women across the country.
"As the husband of a tall, good-looking woman and as the father of two tall, fabulous girls, it is just wonderful to have these young ladies as role models," he said. "There’s something about women’s athletics -- we know for a fact that when girls are involved in athletics, they do better across the board. They’re more confident. They do better in school."
Kasie CoccaroSeptember 18, 2012
04:34 PM EDT
This fall, the White House will once again open its gardens and grounds to visitors from across the country continuing First Lady Michelle Obama's commitment to opening up the White House. As Mrs. Obama has said
This is really what the White House is all about. It’s the “People’s House.” It’s a place that is steeped in history, but it’s also a place where everyone should feel welcome. And that's why my husband and I have made it our mission to open up the house to as many people as we can.
Today, we're excited to announce the opportunity for our social media followers to join us for a special tour of the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden, Rose Garden, and South Lawn, including the White House Kitchen Garden. We're calling this "White House Social" to bring in followers from a range of social networks (h/t NASA).
Interested in joining? Apply to attend the White House Social Fall Garden Tour today.
Be sure to follow @WhiteHouse on Twitter, “Like” us on Facebook, or follow us on Google+. Then, apply for your chance to attend at http://www.whitehouse.gov/social and let your friends know that you applied to join the #WHGarden Tour.
White House Google+ Photowalk attendees take photos in the White House Kitchen Garden during Spring Garden Tours on the South Lawn of the White House, April 21, 2012. (Photo credit: Google+ user Roma)
You can check out highlights from our Spring Garden Tour Google+ Photowalk here.
Matt ComptonSeptember 18, 2012
01:40 PM EDT
On Friday, more than 400 Olympians and Paralympians were on hand at the White House for an event to celebrate their success in this year's London Games.
This new video lets you go behind the scenes and hear from the athletes as they describe their visit. Check it out here.
September 18, 2012
12:27 PM EDT
Ed. note: This was originally published on the NASA Administrator's Blog. This Hangout has now concluded, but you can watch the video of the Hangout below.
On Wednesday, Sept. 19, I'm joining Administrator Karen Mills of the Small Business Administration for a Google+ Hangout with ATA Engineering, one of the small businesses that made the Mars Science Laboratory mission landing a success.
Google+ members and reporters are welcome to join the discussion from 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. EDT Wednesday. Administrator Mills and I will talk with representatives of ATA about their work to design and analyze the design of the entry, descent and landing process – known as "Seven Minutes of Terror" – as well as other systems operating the Curiosity rover.
The Google+ Hangout will go live here: http://plus.google.com/+NASA
You can join in the conversation on Wednesday by submitting your questions during the Google+ Hangout and on Twitter using the hashtag #AskNASA.
September 18, 2012
10:11 AM EDT
Ed. note: This was originally published on FEMA.gov.
September is National Preparedness Month. Putting together a family preparedness plan for disasters or emergencies can serve you well in any circumstance. Whether you are facing a severe weather event, a fire in your home, a hazardous materials incident in the neighborhood, or any other emergency, it’s a good idea to plan in advance.
- Talk to your family members about preparedness and how to respond calmly to emergencies. Discuss what you would need to do to shelter in place, leave your home or evacuate your city.
- Identify two meeting places, one near your home and one away from the neighborhood in the event family members cannot return to the house.
- Post emergency phone numbers beside the telephone. Teach children how to call 911.
- Choose a friend or relative out-of-state whom all family members will telephone to check in. The out-of-state relative can relay messages. When evacuating, notify relatives and friends about your plans. Be familiar with designated evacuation routes leading out of town.
- Draw a home floor plan and choose at least two escape routes. Make sure you know how to shut off the water, gas and electricity.
- Keep an emergency supply kit, including water, non-perishable food, important documents, radio and flashlight with extra batteries, extra eye glasses, medications and special needs products for babies and the elderly.
- Make plans for family members or neighbors with special needs, as well as for care of pets.
Lynn RosenthalSeptember 17, 2012
02:18 PM EDT
On September 13, 1994, President Bill Clinton signed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) into law. This groundbreaking legislation was the result of many years of dedication by women’s advocates and the incredible leadership of then-Senator Biden.
I was working as an advocate in Florida, and I remember it well. For those of us on the frontlines, that was the day everything changed. No longer did we stand alone in the fight to end rape and battering. Finally, we had validation from the highest levels of our government that violence against women was a national crisis and a high priority. From that day forward, our local hotlines were inundated with calls from victims who felt they could finally step forward and seek help.
Over the next decade, advocates and policy-makers developed powerful alliances to implement the new law. In Florida, VAWA funding helped start domestic violence task forces in rural communities where services were nonexistent. In the isolated mountains of Tennessee, VAWA brought medical and crisis services to rape victims. In Michigan, legal advocates helped victims obtain protective orders. In West Virginia, in the first case prosecuted under VAWA’s new federal crimes, an offender was convicted of interstate domestic violence and kidnapping after beating his wife to unconsciousness and driving her around in the trunk of his car for six days while she was critically injured.
Today, you can see VAWA in action in local communities all across the country. Through programs funded by VAWA, police officers and prosecutors are trained to understand the needs of victims, specialized law enforcement units investigate these crimes, and transitional housing programs help victims rebuild their lives. As a result, annual rates of domestic violence have dropped by more than 60 percent since the passage of the Act.
September 17, 2012
01:28 PM EDT
On September 16, 2011, President Obama signed into law one of the most significant legislative reforms to the patent system in our Nation’s history. The America Invents Act was passed with the President’s strong leadership last year, after nearly a decade of effort.
A year later, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is implementing the legislation in a manner that makes it easier for American entrepreneurs and businesses to bring their inventions to the marketplace sooner, converting their ideas into new products and new jobs. It will help companies and inventors avoid costly delays and unnecessary litigation, and let them focus instead on innovation and job creation.
As a number of important provisions of the law go into effect this week, we can already see substantial progress towards the law’s goals. Patent applications filed today will take nearly 40 percent less time to receive an initial patentability determination on their innovation compared to January 2009. The new Track One program provides a fast-track option for processing within 12 months, and offers discounts for small inventors. And the backlog of patent applications has been reduced to its lowest point in years. The USPTO’s continued focus on improving patent quality will be aided by new trial proceedings that provide an affordable alternative to litigation to review the merits of existing patents. A final decision in each case will be issued in less than a year. The USPTO has also published for review a proposed fee schedule that will expand an existing 50 percent discount on patent application fees for small entities. A new program for micro-entities—individuals or very small enterprises— offers a 75 percent fee discount. A USPTO-driven pro bono program—launched first in Minnesota and now being introduced in Colorado and California, with many more locations on tap for 2013—helps cash-strapped inventors receive the legal help they need to obtain patents.The USPTO will also open new satellite offices in Denver, Silicon Valley, and Dallas-Fort Worth, in addition to the first satellite office in Detroit, Michigan that opened in July 2012. These offices will help further reduce the patent application backlog and help local innovators raise capital and get their inventions to market more rapidly.
September 17, 2012
12:11 PM EDT
September 18 marks the United States Air Force’s 65th birthday, a day to celebrate our nation’s youngest service, and recognize the dedicated men and women who serve today, and those who have served since its inception.
Photo Credit: United States Air Force
In a birthday message, Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Roy paid tribute to the significant strides that have been in a relatively short period of time :
Throughout our proud history, the Air Force has embraced the technology that continues to revolutionize our capabilities in air, space and cyberspace. We owe an enormous debt to the ground-breaking visionaries and engineering pioneers who brought the technology of flight to life, and to the professional strategists and tacticians who imagined the military possibilities of these new technologies and propelled the science, theory and application forward.
While our Service enjoys an unbreakable connection to state-of-the-art technology, we must never forget that everything we do depends on our people, the living engine of our Air Force. Today, more than ever, the Air Force can take pride that our Service culture promotes and benefits from the know-how, determination, and commitment of a diverse group of men and women who embody our Core Values -- Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence In All We Do -- while pursuing adaptive and innovative solutions for our Nation's security.
A unique view of 2012