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February 20, 2015
06:32 PM EST
Yesterday evening, we hosted the first-ever Lunar New Year celebration at the White House. Members of Asian American and Pacific Islander community from across the country joined together to ring in the first day of the Lunar New Year with keynotes from Administration officials, a discussion with diverse AAPI leaders, and three lively cultural performances. President Obama also sent his greetings by video message.
February 20, 2015
01:04 PM EST
This morning, Dr. Jill Biden delivered remarks at DREAM 2015 — Achieving the Dream’s Annual Institute on Student Success — to highlight the Administration’s commitment to community colleges.
DJ PatilFebruary 20, 2015
12:01 PM EST
Ed. note: This is cross-posted on Medium.
Memorandum: Unleashing the Power of Data to Serve the American People
To: The American People
From: Dr. DJ Patil, Deputy U.S. CTO for Data Policy and Chief Data Scientist
Date: February 20, 2015
Overview: What Is Data Science, and Why Does It Matter?
The data age has arrived. From crowd-sourced product reviews to real-time traffic alerts, “big data” has become a regular part of our daily lives. In 2013, researchers estimated that there were about 4 zettabytes of data worldwide: That’s approximately the total volume of information that would be created if every person in the United States took a digital photo every second of every day for over four months! The vast majority of existing data has been generated in the past few years, and today’s explosive pace of data growth is set to continue. In this setting, data science -- the ability to extract knowledge and insights from large and complex data sets -- is fundamentally important.
Lindsay HolstFebruary 20, 2015
11:58 AM EST
Every day, the White House receives tens of thousands of letters, faxes, and emails from Americans across the country. Garrett, Tamika, and Cheryl are three of those letter-writers. These are their stories.
Every student in this country, regardless of their economic circumstance, deserves the opportunity to rise as far as their hard work and initiative will take them.
Right now, there is a piece of legislation advancing through the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R. 5) that would cement recent education cuts -- taking funding from the schools that need it most, and giving it to some of the nation's wealthiest districts.
Millions of Americans across the country have a very real stake in the resources that go toward paying our teachers, improving our students' curriculums, and making sure our schools have the resources they need.
Tamika, Garrett, and Cheryl are three of those Americans, and they wrote the President to share their stories.
Tanya SomanaderFebruary 19, 2015
02:58 PM EST
"I witnessed horrible crimes committed by ISIS.
It's not a revolution or jihad ... it's slaughter ... I was shocked by what I did.
This isn't what we came for, to kill other Muslims.
I'm 28 -- is this the only future I'm able to imagine?"
So said one of the many former terrorists in the world who have come to reject such violence.
What is violent extremism?
When we think of the issue, many immediately imagine the terrorists who kill innocent people -- in America, in Europe, in the Middle East, and across the world.
But violent extremism runs deeper than the barbaric acts it breeds. It’s the ideologies, the propaganda, the recruitment, the funding -- the entire infrastructure that extremists use to radicalize and recruit people to commit violence.
"We are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam."
A violent extremist could be anyone -- a person of any color or creed. What we do know is that their extremism is rooted in common challenges: the unchecked spread of extremist ideologies, their economic grievances, and their political grievances.
This week, the White House is hosting a Summit on Countering Violent Extremism -- a gathering of governments, civil society groups, and community leaders from more than 60 nations in Washington, D.C. to find ways we can empower local communities to overcome these challenges.
President Obama addressed the Summit yesterday and today on these issues. Watch his remarks from February 18:
February 19, 2015
01:36 PM EST
From sea to shining sea, our country is home to gorgeous landscapes, vibrant waterways, and historic treasures that all Americans can enjoy. But right now, young people are spending more time in front of screens than outside, and that means they are missing out on valuable opportunities to explore, learn, and play in the spectacular outdoor places that belong to all of them.
President Obama is committed to giving every kid the chance to explore America’s great outdoors and unique history. That’s why today he launched the Every Kid in a Park initiative, which calls on each of our agencies to help get all children to visit and enjoy the outdoors and inspire a new generation of Americans to experience their country’s unrivaled public lands and waters. Starting in September, every fourth-grader in the nation will receive an “Every Kid in a Park” pass that’s good for free admission to all of America’s federal lands and waters -- for them and their families -- for a full year.
February 19, 2015
06:00 AM EST
This morning, the Council of Economic Advisers released the 69th-annual Economic Report of the President, which reviews the United States’ accelerating recovery and ways to further support middle-class families as the recovery continues. The economy is recovering from the Great Recession at an increasing pace, growing at an annual rate of 2.8 percent over the past two years, compared with 2.1 percent over the first three-and-a-half years of the recovery. The speed-up is especially clear in the labor market, where job gains have reached a pace not seen since the 1990s. But it is essential that a broad range of households benefit from the United States’ resurgent growth, so this year’s Report focuses on factors that are important to middle-class incomes: productivity, labor force participation, and income inequality. The President’s approach to economic policies, what he calls “middle-class economics,” aims to improve each of these long-standing elements and ensure that Americans of all income levels share in the accelerating recovery.
Below are some highlights from each of the seven chapters in this year’s Report:
Chapter 1 reviews the progress of the recovery and explores the long-term factors that drive middle-class incomes. The U.S. recovery has accelerated in terms of both output and employment, with job growth rising 30 percent faster in 2014 than in 2013 (Figure 1-2). Indeed, the unemployment rate has fallen to levels that, as recently as 2013, were not expected until after 2017. These labor market improvements have begun to translate into wage gains for middle-class workers, but nevertheless, this recent progress cannot make up for decades of sub-par middle-class income growth. The chapter provides historical and international context for middle-class income growth and the three key factors that influence it: productivity growth, changes in labor force participation, and income inequality. The increasing strength of our current recovery provides an opportunity to address these long-standing challenges, and the President supports a wide range of policies, detailed in this Report, that will strengthen all three key factors.
February 18, 2015
06:00 PM EST
Today, the White House released a video message from President Obama welcoming the Lunar New Year:
Echoing the President’s message, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) and the President’s Advisory Commission on AAPIs send our best wishes to all those celebrating the Lunar New Year.
Megan SmithFebruary 18, 2015
04:48 PM EST
Today, I am excited to welcome Dr. DJ Patil as Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Data Policy and Chief Data Scientist here at the White House in the Office of Science and Technology Policy. President Obama has prioritized bringing top technical talent like DJ into the federal government to harness the power of technology and innovation to help government better serve the American people.
Across our great nation, we’ve begun to see an acceleration of the power of data to deliver value. From early open data work by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which provides data that enables weather forecasts to come directly to our mobile phones, to powering GPS systems that feed geospatial data to countless apps and services — government data has supported a transformation in the way we live today for the better.
DJ joins the White House following an incredible career as a data scientist — a term he helped coin — in the public and private sectors, and in academia. Most recently, DJ served as the Vice President of Product at RelateIQ, which was acquired by Salesforce. DJ also previously held positions at LinkedIn, Greylock Partners, Skype, PayPal, and eBay. Prior to his work in the private sector, DJ worked at the Department of Defense, where he directed new efforts to bridge computational and social sciences in fields like social network analysis to help anticipate emerging threats to the United States.
Tanya SomanaderFebruary 18, 2015
03:01 PM EST
This afternoon, President Obama sent the following message to the White House email list, explaining why we have to ensure that America is the country that writes this century's rules for the world's economy.
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My top priority as President is making sure more hardworking Americans have a chance to get ahead. That's why we have to make sure the United States -- and not countries like China -- is the one writing this century's rules for the world's economy.
Trade has an important role to play in supporting good-paying, middle-class jobs in the United States. Unfortunately, past trade deals haven't always lived up to the hype. That's why I've made it clear that I won't sign any agreement that doesn't put American workers first.
But we also should recognize that 95 percent of our potential customers live outside our borders. Exports support more than 11 million jobs -- and exporters tend to pay their workers higher wages. Failing to seize new opportunities would be devastating not just for our businesses, but for our workers too.
That's why my Administration is currently negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership -- so we can benefit from trade that is not just free, but also fair.
Lindsay HolstFebruary 18, 2015
11:08 AM EST
Ed. Note: The following op-ed by President Obama appeared in the Los Angeles Times this morning.
The United States has made significant gains against terrorism. We've decimated the core al Qaeda leadership, strengthened homeland security and worked to prevent another large-scale attack like 9/11.
At the same time, the threat has evolved. The al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen actively plots against us. Since 9/11, terrorists have murdered U.S. citizens overseas, including in the attacks in Benghazi, Libya. Here in the United States, Americans have been killed at Ft. Hood and during the Boston Marathon.
Our campaign to prevent people around the world from being radicalized to violence is ultimately a battle for hearts and minds.
Tanya SomanaderFebruary 17, 2015
07:28 PM EST
Five years ago, the Affordable Care Act became law -- opening the doors to affordable, quality health insurance for millions of people. And today, we learned that, thanks to the health care law, about 11.4 million Americans are signed up for private health coverage that suits their needs.
In the final day of Open Enrollment season this year, more new consumers signed up for health coverage than on any day this Open Enrollment or last. Health and Human Services Secretary Burwell delivered the great news to the President today. Watch his reaction:
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) February 17, 2015
Ashleigh AxiosFebruary 15, 2015
06:39 PM EST
As celebrated on the third Monday in February each year, Presidents’ Day is yet again upon us.
This is often the time of year students across the country study U.S. Presidents, especially Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, both of whom have birthdays celebrated in February. Luckily, we’ve revamped our Presidents’ pages in time for the holiday, so whether you’re a student or adult, you can more easily buff up on American history.
David HudsonFebruary 14, 2015
06:00 AM EST
President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. January 30, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
In this week’s address, the President laid out his plan to ensure more children graduate from school fully prepared for college and a career.
Our elementary and secondary schools are doing better, as demonstrated by the news this past week that our high school graduation rate has hit an all-time high, but there is still more that can be done to ensure every child receives a quality education. That’s why the President wants to replace No Child Left Behind with a new law that addresses the overuse of standardized tests, makes a real investment in preschool, and gives every kid a fair shot at success.
He reminded everyone that when educating our kids, the future of our nation, we shouldn’t accept anything less than the best.
David HudsonFebruary 13, 2015
07:05 PM EST
Earlier this afternoon, the President visited Stanford University to speak at the White House Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection. Today's summit brought together leaders from a number of areas -- Congress, industry, tech companies, law enforcement, students, and others -- to work together and explore partnerships that will help develop the best ways to bolster our cybersecurity.
President Obama remarked that our nation is doing more business online than ever before, at the rate of trillions of dollars each year. And consumers are doing more online as well -- managing bank accounts, shopping, paying bills, handling medical records, just to name a few. But, these new opportunities and conveniences also bring a unique set of risks.
"When companies get hacked, Americans’ personal information, including their financial information, gets stolen," the President explained. "Identity theft can ruin your credit rating and turn your life upside down. In recent breaches, more than 100 million Americans had their personal data compromised, including, in some cases, credit card information."
February 13, 2015
06:18 PM EST
This week, the President welcomed Chancellor Angela Merkel to the White House, introduced the next phase in our fight against Ebola, submitted a draft proposal to Congress to authorize military force against ISIL, took his #GetCovered message to BuzzFeed, and signed the Clay Hunt Act into law.
Find out more about the past week at the White House in our latest weekly wrap-up.
On Monday, President Obama held a bilateral meeting and working lunch with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany -- a nation that the President called one of America's strongest allies. Along with talking about economic growth, international trade, and climate change, the two leaders spent time discussing Russia's aggression against Ukraine and the ongoing fight against ISIL.
February 13, 2015
03:15 PM EST
Ed. note: This was originally posted on the U.S. Department of Commerce's blog today. See the original post here.
Over the last five years, more than 333 million international visitors have traveled to the United States. Growth in spending from these visitors during this period has supported roughly 280,000 new American jobs. Preliminary estimates show the U.S. welcomed a record 74 million international visitors in 2014 alone, and these travelers spent a record $222 billion on expenses including food, lodging, recreation, gifts, entertainment, and local transportation, supporting 1.1 million jobs.
The United States is not alone in our efforts to attract international visitors and the jobs they support. We are competing with countless global destinations; therefore, the Obama Administration is focused on efforts to improve how we welcome travelers into the United States. For example, we have reduced visa wait times for international travelers and reached a new agreement with China that extends the validity of tourist and business visas to 10 years and student visas to five years. In the three months since this smart reform was enacted, Chinese demand for U.S. visas has grown by more than 50 percent compared to the same period in 2014.
We are taking these actions and others to ensure the travel experience is safe, efficient, and welcoming, while also protecting the security of this country. We want to travelers to return to the U.S. often and encourage their friends and families to visit, as well.
Dr. Jill BidenFebruary 13, 2015
11:45 AM EST
Valentine’s Day is a day to spend with your loved ones. Earlier this week, along with a bipartisan group of Senate spouses, I had the opportunity to serve 14 wounded warriors and their families an early Valentine’s Day dinner at Walter Reed National Medical Center.
As a military mom, I believe it’s our sacred duty to honor the service of those who have sacrificed for our country. We owe thanks today and every day to those who wear the uniform. That is one of the reasons why First Lady Michelle Obama and I started Joining Forces in the first place.
On Valentine’s Day, we hope all Americans can find ways to show appreciation for our service members, veterans, and their families who do so much for our country.
Happy Valentine’s Day, and God bless our troops.
February 13, 2015
11:05 AM EST
Are you planning a trip abroad? If so, your return trip to the U.S. will soon be a much more efficient, welcoming experience.
Today, the Obama Administration announced that 17 of the nation’s largest airports will be partnering with industry, to simplify and streamline the entry process at the nation’s top airports while also increasing security.
For example, 13 U.S. airports are installing 340 additional automated passport control kiosks. These kiosks will expedite air passenger inspection for U.S. and Canadian citizens, U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents, and certain other travelers. Modern touch screen technology allows passengers to scan their passports and enter their customs declaration information, rather than waiting in line to provide that information to customs officials, reducing officer interaction time by 45 percent doing so, they reduce the overall waiting time of all arriving travelers. At the same time, they increase security by allowing Custom and Border Patrol officers to focus on the passenger instead of administrative tasks.
This will reduce office interaction time by 45%, while increasing security.