Read all posts from January 2013

  • President Obama announced today that he wants Mary Jo White, a former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, who has built a reputation as a tough and effective prosecutor with a proven record of bringing criminals to justice, to head up the Security and Exchange Commission in his second term.

    As U.S. Attorney, White specialized in investigating and prosecuting large scale white collar crimes and complex securities and financial institution fraud -- and won convictions against the terrorists responsible for bombing the World Trade Center and American embassies in Africa, as well as John Gotti, the head of the Gambino crime family. As President Obama said during the personnel announcement in the State Dining Room, "You don't want to mess with Mary Jo."

  • It's not unusual for guests on the White House tour to harbor a secret hope that they just might bump into the President, Mrs. Obama or even Bo as they make their way through the historic rooms that serve double duty as home to our First Family. In reality, it almost never happens, which is why these visitors found themselves nearly speechless on Tuesday, when three of the Obamas surprised them with an impromptu welcome in the Blue Room. Check out their reactions, below: 

  • Ed. Note: The hangout with Vice President Biden has concluded. You can watch the full video here.

    This week, the White House will continue a series of conversations with top administration officials on Google+. On Thursday, January 24 at 1:45 p.m. ET, Vice President Biden will join the latest “Fireside Hangout” – a 21st century take on FDR’s famous radio addresses – to talk about reducing gun violence.

    On January 16, President Obama and Vice President Biden released a plan to help protect our children and our communities by reducing gun violence. The plan outlines specific, common-sense steps we can take right now to help keep guns out of the wrong hands, ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, make our schools safer, and increase access to mental health services. Learn more about the plan here.

    During the hangout hosted by Google and moderated by Hari Sreenivasan from PBS NewsHour, Vice President Biden will discuss the White House policy recommendations on reducing gun violence. Google+ users from the around the country will join the discussion, including Guy Kawasaki and Phil DeFranco. If you have a question, you can suggest it by writing it on the participants’ on Google+ pages. Watch the hangout with Vice President Biden live on WhiteHouse.gov, or tune in to the White House's Google+ page or YouTube channel.

    We'll continue to host hangouts with key members of the President’s cabinet on a range of second term priorities. Follow us on Google+ for updates from the Administration and opportunities to participate in upcoming hangouts.

  • President and Mrs Obama Surprise Guests on a White House Tour, Jan. 22, 2013

    President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet visitors during an inaugural open house in the Blue Room of the White House, Jan. 22, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama kicked off the second term with a tradition that began in the first: A special surprise greeting for guests on a White House tour on Tuesday. Followers of the First Lady's new Twitter account were given a heads up that something special was about to happen in the Blue Room when Mrs. Obama sent a tweet teasing:

    The President and First Lady welcomed the guests with handshakes, hugs and even fistbumps, and Bo was treated to a near-constant stream of affectionate pats and petting. The entire event was livestreamed, and you can watch a replay below: 

     

  • In his Inaugural address earlier today on Capitol Hill, President Obama called on all Americans to work together to solve our nation's problems:

    America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands:  youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention.  My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it -- so long as we seize it together.  

    The President's second term will offer many ways for citizens to participate in conversations with the President and his team about the issues that are most important to them, from immigration reform to preventing gun violence to changing our tax code. In keeping with President Obama's commitment to creating the most accessible and participatory Administration in history, the next four years will feature ongoing opportunties for citizens to add their voices to discussions in Washington, creating an open dialogue and working together to move our country forward. 

    We put together a video that looks at some of the ways President Obama has engaged with ordinary citizens over the last four years, and highlights ongoing opportunties for Americans to raise their voices and join the national conversation:

  • Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts administers the oath of office to President Barack Obama (January 21, 2013)

    Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts administers the oath of office to President Barack Obama during the Inaugural swearing-in ceremony at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 21, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)

    This morning, at 11:55 AM Eastern Time, President Obama delivered his Second Inaugural Address. The speech was 2,137 words long and took 15 minutes to deliver.

    "America’s possibilities are limitless," he said, "for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands: youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention. My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it -- so long as we seize it together."

    You can read the official transcript here.

    You can watch the video here:

    You can listen to the speech here:


    Learn more

  • Collectively, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Robert Caro, Michael Beschloss, and Douglass Brinkley have written more than a dozen popular and thoughtful books about American presidents ranging from Abraham Lincoln to John F. Kennedy, Theodore Roosevelt to Ronald Reagan. They've won Pulitzer Prizes, the National Book Award, and even an Emmy.

    So we asked them to sit down and discuss the historical significance of a Presidential Inauguration and what it means for President Obama to begin second term.

    The video is worth your time. Check it out:

  • Today, President Obama will be sworn in during the 57th Inaugural Ceremony in our nation's history, and you'll be able to keep track of all the festivities on WhiteHouse.gov.

    The Inaugural Ceremony begins at 11:00 ET, but start watching early to catch behind-the-scenes footage from the weekend and a look back at the Administration's work over the past four years.

    Once the ceremony begins, you can watch a livestream, as well as follow social media updates on Facebook and Twitter.

    Later, you'll be able to follow the Inaugural Parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, see photos and videos from the day, and read President Obama's Second Inaugural Address.

    Don't miss it. You can catch it all at WhiteHouse.gov/inauguration.

    You can also check out this gallery of images from the 2013 Inaugural weekend

  • Today, in two separate, private ceremonies, President Obama and Vice President Biden were officially sworn into office, marking the start of the second term. (The Constitution mandates that the President takes the oath on January 20. Since that date falls on a Sunday this year, the public inauguration ceremony and festivities will take place tomorrow, January 21)

    Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts administers the oath of office

    Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts administers the oath of office to President Barack Obama during the official swearing-in ceremony in the Blue Room of the White House on Inauguration Day, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013. First Lady Michelle Obama, holding the Robinson family Bible, along with daughters Malia and Sasha, stand with the President. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    President Obama took the oath, administered by Chief Justice John Roberts, in the Blue Room of the White House, using a bible that belonged to First Lady Michelle Obama’s paternal grandparents.

    Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts administers the oath of office to President Barack Obama

    Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts administers the oath of office to President Barack Obama during the official swearing-in ceremony in the Blue Room of the White House on Inauguration Day, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013. First Lady Michelle Obama, holding the Robinson family Bible, along with daughters Malia and Sasha, stand with the President. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

    Vice President Biden was sworn in by Justice Sonia Sotomayor in front of family and friends in a ceremony at the Naval Observatory. Vice President Biden took the oath using the Biden family bible.  

    Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor administers the oath of office to Vice President Joe Biden

    Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor administers the oath of office to Vice President Joe Biden during the official swearing-in ceremony at the Naval Observatory Residence in Washington DC, Jan. 20, 2013. Dr. Jill Biden holds the biden family Bible. Also pictured, from left, are: Maisy Biden, Hunter Biden, Naomi Biden, Finnegan Biden, Natalie Biden, Kathleen Biden, Hunter Biden, Ashley Biden, Howard Krein, Beau Biden and Hallie Biden. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

  • The First and Second Ladies of the United States got an early start on the 2013 Inauguration celebrations at a concert honoring our military families.

    The Kids Inaugural: Our Children, Our Future was hosted by Nick Cannon and featured artists including Katy Perry, Usher, the cast of "Glee," Far East Movement and Mindless Behavior. JR Martinez, the Army hero who won "Dancing with the Stars," also joined Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden for the event, which was held at the Washington Convention Center. 

    Dr. Biden said the concert was a chance to show military kids how much the country appreciates the sacrifices they make while their parents are serving.

    The First Lady told the crowd that while she loves "every single minute" of the inaugural celebrations, the Kids Concert was the true highlight:

     I have to tell you that my very favorite part of this entire weekend is being right here with all of you. Absolutely. Because for me, this is what inauguration is all about. It’s about celebrating who we are as Americans and all the things that make this country so great. And when I think about who we are, when I think about what makes America great, I think about all of you --our men and women in uniform, our military spouses, and our amazing military kids.

  • President Barack Obama stains shelves during a National Day of Service

    President Barack Obama stains shelves during a National Day of Service school improvement project at Burrville Elementary School in Washington, D.C., Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Today, the First Family kicked off Inauguration weekend by participating in the National Day of Service, helping out with some school improvement projects at Burrville Elementary in Washington, DC.

    President Obama asked Americans around the country to take part in the National Day of Service to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose birthday falls on Inauguration Day this year. The President and First Lady asked that we all remember the importance of giving back and looking out for others – both central to Dr. King’s work – as we celebrate this weekend.

    “This is really what America is about,” President Obama said. “This is what we celebrate.” He said that this Inauguration is “a symbol of how our democracy works and how we peacefully transfer power, but it should also be an affirmation that we’re all in this together and that we’ve got to look out for each other and work hard on behalf of each other.”

  • Michelle Obama and Jill Biden with kid reporters, Jan. 18, 2013

    First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden are interviewed by young reporters during a kids magazine roundtable in the First Lady’s Office in the East Wing of the White House, Jan. 18, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Sonya Hebert)

    Yesterday, the First Lady and Dr. Biden sat down with four exceptional young reporters from kids’ magazines to talk about their initiative to support military families, Joining Forces. The reporters – from Highlights, National Geographic Kids, Scholastic and TIME for Kids – asked some great questions about the initiative and how kids can help!

    Some of the takeaways?

    • Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden talked about how they encourage all Americans to look for ways to honor and support military families, and Dr. Biden said when her son Beau was deployed their church put his name in the bulletin to pray for him, people brought meals over, and someone shoveled her daughter-in-law’s driveway during a snowstorm. 
    • Asked about advice for a military child who moves a lot, Dr. Biden encouraged them to get involved in sports teams and school activities. And as a teacher herself, she talked about how teachers can get involved to reach out to military kids. For example, Dr. Biden’s granddaughters’ teacher put a picture of her dad’s unit outside of her classroom so the entire class would know Beau was deployed. 
    • Mrs. Obama encouraged all the kids’ magazines’ readers to think “what can I do?” for a new kid in school – especially a new military kid. 

  • President Obama reiterates his commitment to do everything in his power to implement a series of common sense measures that would reduce gun violence in America. The President started off that effort with 23 concrete actions his Administration is taking immediately under its existing legal authority. But to have a lasting impact, Congress must join the administration by passing common sense laws like requiring a universal background check for anyone trying to buy a gun, and restoring a ban on military-style assault weapons and a 10-round limit for magazines. If they do that, we can respect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens while helping to keep the irresponsible few from causing massive harm.

    Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3


    Learn more 

  • Watch the West Wing Week Here.

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

    President Obama’s Plan to Reduce Gun Violence: On Wednesday, President Obama announced his plan to reduce gun violence and keep our children and communities safe while helping prevent events like Newtown. “For all the Americans who are counting on us to keep them safe from harm.  Let’s do the right thing,” he said. “Let’s do the right thing for them, and for this country that we love so much.”

    After the President’s remarks, we debuted our new page for Americans to learn more about the President’s plan and join the conversation with millions across the country. From children’s letters to coverage in national newspapers, see what Americans have been saying about gun violence.

  • The White House Photo Office just released its final set of behind the scenes photos from 2012. Images include the President hosting Kennedy Center Honorees, his Twitter session in the Roosevelt Room and his final stops across America.

    Check out the gallery below and find the rest of the best December images on Flickr.

    • President Obama and the First Lady talk with the 2012 Kennedy Center Honorees

      President Obama and the First Lady talk with the 2012 Kennedy Center Honorees, Dec. 2, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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    • President Obama participates in a live Twitter question and answer session

      President Obama participates in a live Twitter session in the Roosevelt Room, Dec. 3, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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    • President Barack Obama prays with family in Falls Church

      President Obama prays during a visit to the Santana's home in Falls Church, Va., Dec. 6, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

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    • President Barack Obama plays with a Petoskey stone

      President Obama plays with a Petoskey stone as he talks on the phone in the Oval Office, Dec. 6, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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    • First Lady Michelle Obama visits the Toys for Tots distribution center in Washington, D.C.

      The First Lady visits the Toy for Tots Distribution Center in Washington, D.C., Dec. 11, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

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    • President Obama talks on the phone in the Oval Office

      President Obama talks on the phone with Speaker Boehner in the Oval Office, Dec. 11, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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    • President Obama and the First Lady greet members of the military and their families

      President Obama and the First Lady greet members of the military and their families, Dec. 25, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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    • President Barack Obama meets with senior advisors in the Oval Office

      President Obama meets with senior advisors in the Oval Office, Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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  • Editor's note: This post was originally published on the official blog of the U.S. Department of Education.

    I have been proud to serve President Obama and this administration since day one, but Wednesday was one of my proudest days. The actions that the President is taking and proposing to reduce gun violence echo what America’s educators say they need to better protect and support students in school and in their communities. I thank the President and Vice President Biden for leading this critical national conversation. America’s schools are among the safest places in our country. The President’s comprehensive approach will make schools and communities safer.

    We will never fully understand why 20 first-graders and six educators were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School—or why still more students and educators lost their lives at Columbine, Chardon or Red Lake high schools, Westside Middle School, Virginia Tech or the many other campuses and communities in our country where guns have cut short dreams and created fear. We can, however, take a number of common-sense steps to help prevent future tragedies.

    As the President called for this week, we can limit access to the deadliest guns and ammunition, and we can put in checks to keep guns out of the wrong hands. We can also provide new resources, so schools can develop and implement comprehensive emergency management plans.

    We can expand student support systems by allowing communities to decide what they need most, including more school resource officers, psychologists, social workers and counselors. A renewed commitment to students’ mental and emotional well-being is key.

    President Obama Listens To Secretary Duncan

    President Barack Obama listens to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan during a meeting in Vice President Joe Biden's West Wing office at the White House, Dec. 17, 2012. The President dropped by the Vice President's meeting to discuss the Administration’s effort to develop policy proposals in response to the tragedy in Newtown, Conn. Pictured, clockwise from the President, are: the Vice President; Attorney General Eric Holder; Margaret Richardson, Counselor to the Attorney General for Executive Branch Relations; Sarah Bianchi, Director of Economic and Domestic Policy for the Vice President; and Eric Waldo, Deputy Chief of Staff for Sec. Duncan. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

  • Yesterday, on First Lady Michelle Obama’s birthday, the White House launched its newest Twitter account: @FLOTUS (short for First Lady of the United States). The White House uses Twitter to connect directly with Americans, and now you can get the latest from the Office of the First Lady.

    @FLOTUS followers will get regular updates and photos from the First Lady’s team, plus special messages directly from the First Lady. Tweets signed “-mo”, like this one, are from Mrs. Obama.

    In less than 24-hours, the account has racked up more than 75,000 followers – but we’re just getting started. Here are some of things you can expect to see from @FLOTUS:

    • Behind-the-scenes photos and updates
    • Opportunities to engage directly with the First Lady and the White House
    • News about the First Lady’s initiatives, Let’s Move! @LetsMove and Joining Forces @JoiningForces

    Take a look at some of the most popular tweets from FLOTUS' first day on twitter below, or over on Storify. If you have ideas on the kinds of updates or engagement you’d like to see from the new @FLOTUS account, or feedback about our online program generally, let us know on twitter with the hashtag #whweb.

    Follow @FLOTUS on Twitter

    On First Lady Michelle Obama’s birthday, the White House launched its newest twitter account: @FLOTUS (short for First Lady of the United States). Take a look at @FLOTUS' first day on twitter, and follow for updates.

    Storified by The White House· Fri, Jan 18 2013 07:44:53

    The @FLOTUS Office is now on @twitter & will post updates & pics. When it's her, she'll sign -mo. PS: RT to wish Mrs. Obama a #HappyBirthdayFLOTUS
    Happy Birthday to the 1st Lady of the U.S., @FLOTUS Michelle Obama, from the 1st lady in line at the Cost Plus sale, Ellen DeGeneres.Ellen DeGeneres
    Wishing @FLOTUS Michelle Obama a #HappyBirthday & a warm welcome to @twitter!Jay Carney (EOP)
    Happy birthday and welcome to Twitter First Lady of the United States, @FLOTUS, the official @WhiteHouse handle for @MichelleObama.Twitter Government
    Happy birthday @michelleobama, a great inspiration as @FLOTUSMelinda Gates
    #TDSBreakingNews the @FLOTUS joins Twitter. Vows to get everyone's tweets down to a trim 95 characters.The Daily Show
    @FLOTUS Happy birthday to a phenomenal superwoman!!! Thank u for being a light!! Shine shine on!!;-)Alicia Keys
    Happy Birthday, First Lady @MichelleObama! Thanks for advocating healthy lifestyles, supporting military families, inspiring women! @FLOTUSeBay
    The First Lady just met with Inaugural citizen co-chair David Hall ahead of #MLKDay of Service: http://www.2013pic.org/service http://pic.twitter.com/E0vxKz73FLOTUS
    Thanks for the warm welcome & birthday wishes! Join me & Barack for #MLKDay of Service this Saturday. Sign up: http://www.2013pic.org/service –moFLOTUS

    Already following @FLOTUS? Be sure to check out all of our official accounts:

  • The President Smiling with 2012 Interns

    President Barack Obama talks with members of the 2012 Spring White House intern class before a group photo in the East Room of the White House, April 26, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Ed. note: Applications are now being accepted for the Summer 2013 White House Internship Program. This blog post introduces readers to Robby May, a former intern who worked in the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs in the summer of 2011. When asked about his internship experience, Robby writes:

    Being a White House intern – what an amazing experience! I remember the day I received notification of my acceptance into the program: I was transitioning to teach my fourth period 8th grade Political Science class when my phone buzzed with a call from the White House Internship Program. When I was finally able to pull myself together and tell my students what was going on, they were ecstatic.

    During my time as a White House intern, I had the privilege of working in the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs. As a Political Science teacher, working at the White House was a larger than life experience. Seeing and being part of what I teach my students every year was truly an amazing experience.

    In the summer of 2011, the Office of Public Engagement began a series of weekly Community Leaders Briefings which brought together leaders and activists from communities all across the country for an opportunity to discuss common challenges and learn how the government can help them as they work to improve their neighborhoods. I’ll never forget one briefing in particular, when the President made a surprise visit to meet and talk with the attending community leaders. As I watched and listened to the President speak with the group, I couldn’t help but be impressed not only by his remarks, but also his compassion and gratitude for the work they were doing in their communities.

  • This week, President Hamid Karzai came to the White House, as did nine newly posted foreign ambassadors and the President held the final news conference of his first term before signing executive orders initiating 23 separate executive actions to prevent gun violence.

  • In the days and weeks after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, President Obama heard from Americans from all over the country asking him to do something about gun violence in our communities. From signing We the People petitions to sending handwritten letters to the President, hundreds of thousands of people raised their voices on all sides of the issue.

    On Wednesday, when President Obama announced the concrete plan he was putting forward to reduce gun violence, he shared the stage with four of the people who wrote him letters. The four had something in common besides their concern; each of them represented a group of Americans President Obama’s proposals are specifically designed to help protect -- our nation’s children.

    Below, listen to Hinna, Taejah, Julia and Grant read the letters they wrote to President Obama. Then, learn more about his plan to reduce gun violence and add your voice the conversation.

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