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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.
Lindsay HolstFebruary 13, 2015
10:30 AM EST
Right now, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are advancing legislation (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.
This approach is backwards, and our teachers and kids deserve better.
Today, the President's Domestic Policy Council released a report breaking down the harmful effects of that legislation, and underlining the fundamental importance of dedicated funding for low-income students. You can read that report here.
Here are the top 100 school districts that would see their funding cut:
And keep in mind what that funding could have gone toward: Hiring teachers, school nurses, counselors, or reading specialists. It could help pay for books and supplies — perhaps for a new curriculum. See what passage of the harmful cuts in H.R. 5 could mean to a district near you.
Kori SchulmanFebruary 12, 2015
05:32 PM EST
There are things that everybody does but doesn’t talk about: sounding out words, taking selfies, doodling. In a video on BuzzFeed today, President Obama proved he's just like us to spread the word about the health care deadline on February 15.
Need to get covered? Find a health plan that best fits your needs at HealthCare.gov.
Already covered? Commit to help someone you know get covered here.
February 12, 2015
04:20 PM EST
Today, President Obama signed the Clay Hunt Act into law in the East Room of the White House.
The new suicide prevention law is named in honor of Clay Hunt, an extraordinary young Texan and decorated Marine who served with distinction in Iraq and Afghanistan. Like too many of our veterans, Clay struggled with depression and post-traumatic stress after he came home. Sadly, Clay’s life ended much too soon when he tragically committed suicide in 2011 at the age of only 28.
The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act is a testament to the type of man that Clay Hunt was — even after his death, his legacy of helping veterans lives on.
In America, our veterans and troops are still struggling. As a country, we must do more to help our veterans deal with injuries like post-traumatic stress and depression.
"Everyone can do more, with and for our veterans. This has to be a national mission."
— President Obama
Ensuring that veterans have access to timely and effective mental health care is a top priority for the President and his Administration. The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act will help the Administration take additional steps to address mental health and prevent suicide among veterans.
February 12, 2015
11:55 AM EST
Ed. note: This is cross-posted in The Military Times. See the original post here.
The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act complements VA’s ongoing, multi-faceted efforts to improve mental health care for our nation’s veterans, and I’m pleased that both houses of Congress came together to pass the SAV Act. I’m proud to stand with President Obama today as he signs this important legislation.
The health and well-being of the courageous men and women who have served in uniform is VA’s highest priority. And we’re working hard to provide timely access to the highest-quality recovery-oriented mental health care that anticipates and responds to veterans’ needs and supports their reintegration back into their communities.
We know that a growing number of veterans are seeking mental health care, and VA has deployed significant resources and increases in staff toward mental health services. VA provides a continuum of forward-looking outpatient, residential, and inpatient mental health services across the country.
We have many entry points for care: through our medical centers, more than 800 community-based outpatient clinics, 300 Vet Centers that provide readjustment counseling, the Veterans Crisis Line, VA staff on college and university campuses, and other outreach efforts. VA offers expanded access to mental health services with longer clinic hours, telemental health capability to deliver services, and standards that mandate rapid access to mental health services.
Secretary Arne DuncanFebruary 12, 2015
11:14 AM EST
In June 2013, I joined the President in Mooresville, NC, to launch ConnectED – an initiative to close the technology gap in our schools and bring high-speed Internet to 99 percent of America’s students within five years. This vision – that all students should have access to world-class digital learning – is well on its way to becoming a reality.
Thanks to the leadership of the President and the FCC, the resources are in place to meet the President’s connectivity goal. In addition, various private-sector partners are making over $2 billion worth of resources available to students, teachers, and schools. These include tablets, mobile broadband, software, and online teacher professional development courses from top universities. Fewer than 40 percent of public schools currently have the high-speed Internet needed to support modern digital learning.
But now we have the resources to solve this problem. We just need help from our nation’s superintendents and school technology chiefs.
February 12, 2015
11:00 AM EST
Today, we are very excited to announce that we are on the lookout for more innovators and technologists to serve the nation as Presidential Innovation Fellows.
The Fellowship brings talented, diverse individuals from outside government to team up with top federal innovators to tackle some of our country’s most pressing challenges. Acting as a small team alongside federal agency “co-founders,” Fellows will work quickly and iteratively to turn promising ideas into game-changing solutions.
As always, the Fellows will focus on national priorities, leveraging the best principles and practices of the innovation economy to help create positive impact in the span of months, not years. This is an opportunity to truly transform how government works for the people it serves.
Projects will focus on topics such as:
- Education: Fellows will work with myriad agencies to help make education more accessible to more Americans.
- Jobs and the economy: Fellows will work on fueling the economy and stimulating job growth through innovation and improved opportunities for entrepreneurs and businesses of all sizes.
- Climate change: Fellows will help our country and its communities prepare for the impacts of climate change.
- Health and patient care: Fellows will leverage innovation to save lives, provide better access to benefits and programs promoting quality of life.
February 11, 2015
09:19 PM EST
Last February at the White House, the Administration was just preparing to launch My Brother’s Keeper, an effort to unlock the full potential of boys and young men of color and all youth — something that would not only benefit them, but all of America. Now, almost a full year from that day, we are hosting the My Brother’s Keeper Community Challenge National Convening here at the White House tomorrow.
The six universal goals identified in the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force report are forming the backbone of a larger effort in which cities, towns, and Tribal Nations across America are taking up the President’s call to improve life outcomes for all young people in their communities to create a society in which no one gets left behind and where all children have opportunities to succeed.
The Convening will bring together representatives from local communities across the country that accepted the Community Challenge and hosted local action summits so they can inspire and learn from each other. Experts from the private and public sectors will offer their insights and evidence-based suggestions on how to bring about real change. We are grateful to see that there are so many who have embraced the President’s call to action and are making real progress to expand opportunity for all our youth.
Tanya SomanaderFebruary 11, 2015
08:28 PM EST
Right now, America’s armed forces are working with some 60 nations to degrade and destroy ISIL, a terrorist group that has committed countless barbaric atrocities and poses a grave threat to the people and territorial integrity of Iraq and Syria, regional stability, and the national security interests of the United States and its allies and partners. Coalition air strikes have been instrumental in disrupting ISIL’s command and control and supply lines and taking out their commanders and fighters.
The mission is a difficult one, but make no mistake, our coalition is on the offensive, ISIL is on the defensive, and ISIL is going to lose.
Although the President already has the legal authority he needs to take action against ISIL, he has noted that we are strongest as a nation when the President and Congress work together. A bipartisan authorization of the use of military force (AUMF) against ISIL would provide a clear and powerful signal to the American people, to our allies, and to our enemies that the U.S. is united behind the effort to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL.
That is why the President submitted a draft proposal today to Congress that would authorize the continued use of military force against ISIL. What exactly is he asking for? For how long? What will our armed forces be asked to do? Here are some answers to a few questions you may have about the President’s AUMF request:
Tanya SomanaderFebruary 11, 2015
07:19 PM EST
"If you need me, just say the word."
Brett Sedgwick spent much of his recent time traveling to furthest corners of Liberia. He'd go from community to community, supporting teams that helped grieving families bury their loved ones who had perished from the Ebola disease. The safe-burial teams buried them carefully, safely, and respectfully so that they could rest in peace without transmiting the disease to anyone else.
As a health care worker with Global Communities, Brett reflected the spirit of the 10,000 civilian workers like himself when he said: "If you need me, just say the word."
"That's a simple but profound statement," the President said today as he reflected on the volunteers who've been essential to the significant progress we've made toward bringing an end to the world's deadliest Ebola outbreak.
"That's who we are -- big-hearted and optimistic, reflecting the can-do spirit of the American people. That's our willingness to help those in need."
Dr. Jill BidenFebruary 11, 2015
02:27 PM EST
This morning, Dr. Jill Biden delivered remarks at the 2015 Community College National Legislative Summit to highlight the Administration's commitment to community colleges and their importance to America’s future. This event was hosted by the Association of Community College Trustees with the American Association of Community Colleges.
Tanya SomanaderFebruary 11, 2015
12:59 PM EST
The world is witnessing the worst outbreak of Ebola in history. Since the first cases in March of 2014, there have been more than 22,500 reported cases in West Africa and more than 8,900 people have died from this devastating disease.
As the President has made clear, to effectively protect the American people, we must confront this outbreak at its source. That's why the U.S. has not only launched a government-wide approach to strengthen our preparedness here at home, but is also leading the fight on the frontlines of the epidemic in West Africa.
Thanks to these efforts, and the work of countless others from around the world, the number of people who are contracting Ebola has declined sharply in the last few months. Take a look:
David DietzFebruary 11, 2015
11:00 AM EST
A new video out today features prominent eSports personalities encouraging Americans to sign up for an affordable health plan at HealthCare.gov before the enrollment deadline on February 15.
Don’t know what eSports is? You should. Electronic sports — or eSports — refers to the genre of video game titles that have gained popularity as a spectator sport around the world.
Over the last decade, eSports players, commentators, tournaments, and online streaming services have gained a following that rivals many traditional sports, including more than 31 million eSports fans in the United States alone.
Today, a group of eSports industry leaders (ESL, Twitch.tv, and GEER) have collaborated to launch an effort encouraging gaming audiences to visit HealthCare.gov and sign up for an affordable health plan before the February 15 deadline.