Read all posts from October 2012

  • Here's a quick glimpse at what happened this week on WhiteHouse.gov:

    Watch the West Wing Week here.

    In October, the White House is working to recognize a range of important causes: 

    • Breast Cancer Awareness Month: On Monday evening, the White House was illuminated pink to mark the first day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. President Obama wrote in a Presidential Proclamation, “we honor those we have lost, lend our strength to those who carry on the fight, and pledge to educate ourselves and our loved ones about this tragic disease.”
    • National Energy Action Month: On Monday, in an official proclamation, President Obama called on the American people to “recognize this month by working together to achieve greater energy security, a more robust economy, and a healthier environment for our children.” The President is pursuing an all-of-the-above strategy to help the United States achieve energy independence. Watch this video outlining the progress we’ve made and President Obama’s plan for the future.
    • Domestic Violence Awareness Month: This month also marks Domestic Violence Awareness month. The Obama Administration is committed to raising awareness and preventing domestic violence. Earlier this year, President Obama directed federal agencies to develop policies to assist victims of domestic violence in the federal workforce. Through Vice President Biden’s 1 is 2 Many campaign, we released a public service announcement featuring professional athletes and other role models speaking out against dating violence.

  • While there is more work that remains to be done, today’s employment report provides further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to heal from the wounds inflicted by the worst downturn since the Great Depression. It is critical that we continue the policies that are building an economy that works for the middle class as we dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the severe recession that began in December 2007. 

    Most pressing, Congress should pass an extension of middle class tax cuts that President Obama proposed, and the Senate passed.  This extension would prevent the typical middle class family from facing a $2,200 tax increase at the beginning of next year. In addition, the President has proposed a plan that will enable responsible homeowners to refinance their mortgage and take advantage of today’s historically low interest rates. To create more jobs in particularly hard-hit sectors, President Obama continues to urge Congress to pass elements of the American Jobs Act, including further investment in infrastructure to rebuild our Nation’s ports, roads and highways, and assistance to State and local governments to prevent layoffs and to enable them to rehire hundreds of thousands of teachers and first responders.

    Today’s report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that private sector establishments added 104,000 jobs last month, and overall non-farm payroll employment rose by 114,000. Revisions to the previous two months added another 86,000 jobs.  The economy has now added private sector jobs for 31 straight months. Taking account of the preliminary benchmark revision (+453,000) released last week, the economy has added a total of 5.2 million private sector jobs during that period.

  • Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. This week, the White House and The Treasury hosted events highlighting innovative apps, we travel with Dr. Biden to events in Washington and Virginia and the White House Blue Room Christmas tree is selected in North Carolina. That's September 28th to October 5th or "Operation Educate the Educators".

     
     

  • Note: This live session of Office Hours has concluded. View the full question and answer session below or at Storify.com

    Last week, the U.S., along with 12 other founding members, announced Equal Futures, a new partnership between the U.S. and other nations to advance the rights and opportunities of women and girls. At the event, founding members announced national commitments to expand women's political and economic participation.  

    For the United States, these commitments include new efforts to expand opportunity for women and girls in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, expand economic security for domestic violence victims, support women entrepreneurs and promote civic and public leadership for girls. To fulfill our commitments, we will be working to strengthen government policies and programs with the help of the private and non-profit sectors.  

    Have questions about the Equal Futures Partnership? On Friday, October 5th at 2:30 p.m. EDT join us for a special session of White House Office Hours with Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls and Samantha Power, Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs. During a live Q&A on Twitter they will answer your questions about how the Obama Administration is working to empower women and girls both here and abroad through the Equal Futures Partnership.

     Here’s how it works:

    So take a few minutes to watch video of the launch last week, learn more about the Equal Futures Partnership and then join us for Office Hours with Samantha Power and Valerie Jarrett on October 5th at 2:30 p.m. EDT. 

  • October is National Energy Action Month, when Americans are called up to work together, "to achieve greater energy security, a more robust economy, and a healthier environment for our children" -- as President Obama wrote in an official proclamation on Monday.

    Those goals are the reason that the President is pursuing an all-of-the-above strategy to help the United States achieve energy independence.

    To give you a better sense of what that means, we've put together a video that outlines the progress we've made and President's Obama's plan for the future.

    Check it out:


    Learn more:

  • It is no secret that the world has yet to achieve the simple yet profound goal of ensuring equal futures for our daughters and our sons. Today, less than five percent of the world’s heads of state are women, and women make up just nineteen percent of representatives in parliaments worldwide. Despite producing more than forty percent of the world’s food, women own less than one percent of the world’s farmland. 

    Recognizing these disparities, one year ago in a speech before the UN General Assembly, President Obama challenged heads of state to break down political and economic barriers to women’s equality.  Last week, Secretary Clinton launched a groundbreaking response to the President’s challenge: the Equal Futures Partnership. The United States was joined by twelve other founding members (Australia, Bangladesh, Benin, Denmark, Finland, Indonesia, Jordan, the Netherlands, Peru, Senegal and Tunisia, along with the EU) each of whom made national commitments to policy, legal, and regulatory reforms that would promote two mutually reinforcing goals: expanded economic opportunity for women; and, increased political and civic participation by women at local, state and national levels. Around 250 guests -- including Senator Patrick Leahy, President Jahjaga of Kosovo, Prime Minister Simpson-Miller of Jamaica, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, academic leaders, CEOs of major companies, and representatives from civil society organizations -- attended the standing-room only event.

  • Dr. Jill Biden and Chief of Staff of the Army General Ray Odierno laugh during a Joining Forces event (October 3, 2012)

    Dr. Jill Biden and Chief of Staff of the Army General Ray Odierno laugh during a Joining Forces event celebrating the more than 100 colleges and universities that have signed on to “Operation Educate the Educators” at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., Oct. 3, 2012. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

    This afternoon, I was so honored to meet two of our nation’s youngest heroes – 11-year-old twin sisters Felicity and Abigail. The 7th graders love to read and play sports, and, like many of our nation’s 1.3 million school-age military children, their current school is not their first school. 

    Felicity and Abigail have attended five different schools in four states in the past seven years.  They have left old friends and met new ones, transferred school records, left old soccer fields to join new teammates and coaches, and weathered their father’s many deployments. Their dad missed birthdays four, seven, eight, nine and 10.

    But they are resilient and strong young ladies who are fiercely proud to be Army kids.  I am proud of them, too.

    I am also proud that today, more than 100 colleges of teacher education have signed on to Operation Educate the Educators, a partnership between the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education and the Military Child Education Coalition. Last year, the partners set a Joining Forces goal of getting 100 colleges of education to commit to raising awareness on their campuses about military children in their classrooms, and to help better prepare teachers to support them. 

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder has been one of the most significant issues our  military has faced --- and we are not alone. Last week, the United States came together with representatives from Canada and the United Kingdom to address military mental health.  Ensuring the mental health and wellness of our  servicemembers, veterans and their families is a cause that unites all of us.

    The event sends a strong message to our military, our veterans and  all Americans, that we as a nation, and our partners around the world, are serious about addressing these concerns. This event brought together leaders from the government, non-profit, and private  sectors, all committed to the same goal --- tending  to the invisible wounds that many service members too often endure in silence.

    Many of the best thinkers from the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom came together, not simply to discuss “what’s wrong” but also to share best practices and to chart a course for addressing these shared issues.The symposium included academics, clinicians, researchers, policy makers, foundations, veteran service organizations, national leaders and, of course, servicemembers, veterans and family members.

  • Vice President Joe Biden delivers remarks at an MRAP Program transition Ceremony

    Vice President Joe Biden delivers remarks at an MRAP Program Transition Ceremony at the Pentagon, in Arlington, Virginia, October 1, 2012. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

    Yesterday, Vice President Biden joined a Pentagon ceremony commemorating the achievements of the Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicle (MRAP) Task Force—the men and women who helped accelerate the production and fielding of protective vehicles to our forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, saving the lives of thousands of American service members.

    An armored vehicle with a V-shaped hull, the MRAP was designed to deflect the explosion of road-side bombs (also known as Improvised Explosive Devices, or IEDs), which had accounted for 70 percent of our U.S. troops killed or wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    At the height of the Iraq war, U.S. field commanders submitted urgent requests to the Pentagon for MRAPs to protect their troops.  Five years ago, then-Senator Biden helped lead a bipartisan Congressional effort that approved $23 billion to forward-fund MRAP purchases in order to accelerate production and deploy them to the field as fast as possible.

  • The North Portico exterior of the White House is illuminated pink

    The North Portico exterior of the White House is illuminated pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Oct. 1, 2012 (Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)

    The White House was illuminated pink last night to mark the first day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. During October, President Obama wrote in a Presidential Proclamation, “we honor those we have lost, lend our strength to those who carry on the fight, and pledge to educate ourselves and our loved ones about this tragic disease.”

    This month, we stand with the mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, and friends who have been affected by breast cancer, and we recognize the ongoing efforts of dedicated advocates, researchers, and health care providers who strive each day to defeat this terrible disease. In memory of the loved ones we have lost and inspired by the resilience of those living with the disease, let us strengthen our resolve to lead our Nation toward a future free from cancer in all its forms.

    Read the full proclamation here

  • Today marks the beginning of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. From its humble origins in 1981 as a Day of Unity, this month has become a time to celebrate survivors, congratulate advocates, empower victims, and mourn the deaths of those lost to domestic violence. Around the country, communities are coming together this month to hold vigils, public awareness programs, survivor speak outs and town hall meetings.

    At the White House, we know that this month would not be possible without the lifelong dedication of those on the front lines. This month we honor the hotline workers who work the night shift to be there around the clock for victims in need. We pay tribute to the shelter workers who show that they care every day and the law enforcement officers who treat victims with dignity and respect when they knock on a door. We acknowledge the prosecutors who take on tough cases and the doctors who screen their patients for domestic violence. We appreciate the community-based organizations who reach people in their neighborhoods and the faith leaders who speak out about ending domestic violence.  Most of all, we honor the women, men, and children who have survived violence.

    Our commitment to survivors is reflected in the Obama Administration’s efforts to raise awareness and prevent domestic violence. Earlier this year, President Obama directed federal agencies to develop policies to assist victims of domestic violence in the federal workforce (read the Presidential memorandum). Through Vice President Biden’s 1 is 2 Many campaign, we released a public service announcement featuring professional athletes and other role models speaking out against dating violence (watch the PSA).

    Through the Affordable Care Act, women in many health plans will have access to domestic violence screening and counseling as a preventative service without co-payments, deductibles or other cost-sharing.  In an effort to save the lives of the three women a day who still die as a result of domestic violence, the Justice Department developed a new project to reduce domestic violence homicides through screening, linking victims with services and developing high-risk teams. Through these and other initiatives, we are doing our part to assist survivors and stop violence before it starts.

  • Imagine it is a scorching hot summer day, and your smart phone beeps, asking if you’d like it to raise your home thermostat a degree or two to save money.  Or, envision an easy-to-use software package that lets a building owner perform virtual energy audits at a fraction of the cost of in-person audits, so real savings are calculated instantly, building upgrades launched sooner, and construction jobs created faster.

    These are the kinds of advances that are on display today at the White House as more than 150 of America’s entrepreneurs, software developers, energy experts, and policy makers come together for an Energy Datapalooza. The gathering is a chance to celebrate new products, services, and apps that are advancing a secure, clean energy future—all built with freely available data from the government and other sources. 

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