The White House Blog: The President
President Obama Speaks on Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, Russia and Ukraine, and the Situation in GazaPosted byon July 18, 2014 at 1:58 PM EDT
Today, President Obama delivered a statement to the press in the wake of the tragic crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 yesterday:
Yesterday, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 took off from Amsterdam and was shot down over Ukraine near the Russian border. Nearly 300 innocent lives were taken -- men, women, children, infants -- who had nothing to do with the crisis in Ukraine. Their deaths are an outrage of unspeakable proportions.
We know at least one American citizen, Quinn Lucas Schansman, was killed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family for this terrible loss.
Yesterday, I spoke with the leaders of Ukraine, Malaysia, and the Netherlands. I told them that our thoughts and prayers are with all the families and that the American people stand with them during this difficult time. Later today, I’ll be speaking to Prime Minister Abbott of Australia, which also suffered a terrible loss.
By far, the country that lost the most people on board the plane was the Netherlands. From the days of our founding, the Dutch have been close friends and stalwart allies of the United States of America. And today, I want the Dutch people to know that we stand with you, shoulder to shoulder, in our grief and in our absolute determination to get to the bottom of what happened.
- Posted byon July 17, 2014 at 6:48 PM EDT
Update at 10:38 p.m. ET: The Press Secretary released a statement on Malaysian Airlines Flight 17.
President Obama calls to President Poroshenko of Ukraine aboard Air Force One to discuss the tragic crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. July 17, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
This afternoon, aboard Air Force One, President Obama placed separate telephone calls to President Poroshenko of Ukraine and Prime Minister Najib of Malaysia to discuss the tragic crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.
Here's a readout of the President’s call with President Poroshenko of Ukraine:
President Obama spoke with Ukrainian President Poroshenko this afternoon to discuss the tragic crash of flight Malaysian Airlines 17. President Poroshenko welcomed the assistance of international investigators to ensure a thorough and transparent investigation of the crash site. President Obama assured him that U.S. experts will offer all possible assistance immediately. The Presidents emphasized that all evidence from the crash site must remain in place on the territory of Ukraine until international investigators are able to examine all aspects of the tragedy.
And a readout of President Obama’s call with Prime Minister Najib of Malaysia:
President Obama called Malaysian Prime Minister Najib today to express condolences to the people of Malaysia for the terrible loss of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in Ukraine, as well as all the families who lost loved ones in this tragic event. The President told the Prime Minister that United States has offered immediate assistance to support a prompt international investigation. President Obama reaffirmed the strength of the friendship between the United States and Malaysia and underscored that the United States stands ready to provide any assistance or support necessary.
Bernadette Meehan is Deputy Spokesperson of the National Security Council.
- Posted byon July 17, 2014 at 6:25 PM EDT
This afternoon, President Obama traveled to the Port of Wilmington in Delaware to talk about creating jobs, rebuilding America, and making our middle class stronger.
Before delivering his remarks, however, the President took a moment to discuss the tragic crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17:
Right now, we’re working to determine whether there were American citizens onboard. That is our first priority. And I’ve directed my national security team to stay in close contact with the Ukrainian government. The United States will offer any assistance we can to help determine what happened and why. And as a country, our thoughts and prayers are with all the families of the passengers, wherever they call home.
- Posted byon July 16, 2014 at 5:12 PM EDT
We've been talking a lot recently about the need to rebuild and strengthen our nation's infrastructure. As the President has made clear, a world-class infrastructure system is a vital part of a top-performing economy.
But there's another important reason why we need to rebuild our infrastructure: climate change.
Communities across America need more resilient infrastructure that can withstand the impacts of climate change -- like more extreme weather and increased flooding. That's part of the reason why the President established the State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience last November.
The Task Force, made up of 26 governors, mayors, and county and tribal officials from across the country, advises the President on how the federal government can best help American communities dealing with the effects of climate change. Today, the Task Force came to the White House for their fourth and final meeting, and will give the President final recommendations this fall.
- Posted byon July 15, 2014 at 4:33 PM EDT
Last night, President Obama hosted his sixth Iftar dinner celebrating Ramadan at the White House, an annual tradition started by First Lady Hillary Clinton when she hosted a Ramadan Eid celebration dinner in 1996. Many consider President Thomas Jefferson to be the first President to host an Iftar dinner, as he hosted a sunset dinner to accommodate the fasts of an envoy from Tunisia over 200 years ago.
The Iftar is the meal after sunset that concludes the day of fasting during the month of Ramadan, a time to pray and reflect, to be reminded that we are equals in humanity, and to reaffirm commitments to helping the less fortunate, including those struggling from economic hardship and inequality.
Last night, guests were welcomed into the East Wing where a copy of the Quran owned by President Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers of the United States, was on display from the Library of Congress. At sunset, guests gathered in the Grand Foyer to break their fast with a date following the traditional melodic Muslim call to prayer led by a local student from the University of Maryland. Then finally, after a 16-hour day of fasting since sunrise, guests gathered in the State Dining Room for a halal meal with the President.
- Posted byon July 15, 2014 at 3:42 PM EDT
This morning, President Obama took a quick trip across the Potomac to visit the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center, a facility in McLean, Virginia that focuses on highway technologies that help make driving safer and smarter.
In the President's remarks, he talked about the importance of investing in new infrastructure technologies and renewing the Highway Trust Fund, as well as Congress's continued inaction on important policies that would positively benefit millions of Americans.
- Posted byon July 14, 2014 at 3:49 PM EDT
Last week, President Obama took a trip to Colorado and Texas, meeting people who simply wrote him letters about how they're doing.
The President stayed pretty busy on the three-day trip -- not only talking with the people that wrote him, but also delivering a speech on the economy, chatting with people on the street in downtown Denver, and playing pool with Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, among other things.
If you missed any of it, don't worry -- the latest edition of our "West Wing Week" video series features some amazing footage from last week's trip.
Check out the highlights below starting at 2:22, and make sure to pass this on. (And if you want to write the President yourself, you can do that right here.)
- Posted byon July 14, 2014 at 3:00 PM EDT
To create new opportunities for more hard-working Americans, the President and his team are committed to advancing job-driven training initiatives that help American workers acquire the skills they need to succeed in good jobs that are available now. Expanding quality apprenticeship is a key strategy to make education and training programs more job-driven.
As part of that effort, today, we hosted the first-ever White House Summit on American Apprenticeship to gather the best ideas and to catalyze action to dramatically increase apprenticeship in America. More than 60 attendees presented their ideas — including leading employers, big and small, like IBM, Bank of America, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and Oberg Industries; labor unions like the IBEW and SEIU; training providers like Ivy Tech and Lone Star Community Colleges; and local workforce leaders from states as diverse as Pennsylvania and South Carolina.
- Posted byon July 12, 2014 at 6:00 AM EDT
President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, July 11, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
In this week’s address, the President recapped his visits with folks who have written him letters about their own American stories -- their successes and struggles. While congressional Republicans are blocking meaningful measures that would strengthen the middle class, the President continues looking for ways to grow the economy and expand opportunity for more hardworking Americans.
The President again urged Congress to join him, as they were elected to do, in working on behalf of everyday Americans – including those the President spent time with this week – by investing in our infrastructure to support American jobs, and ensuring that the Highway Trust Fund does not expire.
- Posted byon July 11, 2014 at 8:15 PM EDT
This week, President Obama sat down with everyday Americans who wrote him from around the country; he grabbed some pizza and shot some pool in Denver; he chowed down on some BBQ in Austin; and we celebrated Independence Day at the White House.
Check out what else you may have missed in this week's wrap up.
Yesterday, President Obama capped off a three-day road trip with a visit to Austin, Texas, where he sat down for coffee with a letter writer, delivered a speech on the economy, and grabbed lunch at a local BBQ joint.
In his speech at the historic Paramount Theatre, the President took a line from "The Departed" to describe Republicans in Congress:
There’s a great movie called “The Departed” -- a little violent for kids. But there’s a scene in the movie where Mark Wahlberg -- they’re on a stakeout and somehow the guy loses the guy that they’re tracking. And Wahlberg is all upset and yelling at the guy. And the guy looks up and he says, “Well, who are you?” And Wahlberg says, “I’m the guy doing my job. You must be the other guy.” Sometimes, I feel like saying to these guys, I’m the guy doing my job, you must be the other guy.