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  • President Barack Obama Delivers Remarks During the White House College Opportunity Day of Action

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks during the White House College Opportunity Day of Action summit at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C., Dec. 4, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

    The key to success in today’s economy is higher education, which is why expanding opportunity for more students to enroll and succeed in college, especially low-income and underrepresented students, is vital to building a strong middle class.

    Earlier today, President Obama, Vice President Biden, and First Lady Michelle Obama joined college presidents and education leaders from around the country to announce 600 new actions to help more students prepare for and graduate from college.

    President Obama talked about how our higher education system is one of the things that makes America exceptional:

    There’s no place else that has the assets we do when it comes to higher education. People from all over the world aspire to come here and study here. And that is a good thing.

    America thrived in the 20th century because we made high school free. We sent a generation to college. We cultivated the most educated workforce in the world. Along with our innovation mentality, our risk-taking, our entrepreneurial spirit, it was that foundation that we laid -- broad-based, mass education -- that drove our economy and separated us from the rest of the world.

  • The First Family participates in the National Christmas Tree lighting

    President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, daughters Sasha and Malia, and Marian Robinson participate in the National Christmas Tree lighting on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C., Dec. 4, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

    'Tis the season of holiday cheer here at the White House. Today, the 2014 National Christmas Tree Lighting took place on the Ellipse at the President’s Park, one of America’s 401 national parks. The event is presented by the National Parks Service and National Parks Foundation. This year’s ceremony was hosted by none other than Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson. Performances included Fifth Harmony, Patti LaBelle, Steve Miller, and much more.


  • U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez meets with 15-year-old Ki Fredeen

    U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez meets with 15-year-old Ki Fredeen at Cook Inlet Tribal Council’s Fab Lab on Monday, July 21, 2014. Fredeen was showing the Secretary how he uses a 3-D printer to produce small art pieces. (by U.S. Department of Labor)

    Ed. note: This was originally posted on the U.S. Department of Labor's blog yesterday. See the original post here.

    When President Obama made his first trip to Indian Country earlier this year, he told a compelling story about the impact federal investment and partnerships have in tribal communities. So I was privileged today to participate in the President’s sixth White House Tribal Nations Conference. Because of the challenges tribal communities continue to face with high rates of unemployment and barriers to opportunity, the conference was an important chance to discuss the Department of Labor and Administration’s efforts to create shared prosperity in Indian Country – and to hear from tribal leaders directly about their ideas for expanding and improving our work.

  • In June 2012, the world missed a deadline, without fanfare and without public outcry: Eighty percent of countries failed to meet the global timeline to be prepared to battle biological threats like Ebola.

    Two years, thousands of lives, and billions of dollars later, most countries still don't have in place all the capacity they need to prevent Ebola from spreading or other biological threats from igniting. Consequently, we don't have in place the global system we need — the smoke alarm — to alert us when an outbreak flares.

    The United States developed and launched the Global Health Security Agenda to establish urgently the system required to prevent, detect, and rapidly extinguish outbreaks before they become epidemics, starting in the most vulnerable nations. This lack of preparedness is an emergency — it extends beyond West Africa, and we have asked Congress for the funding we need to start now in the most vulnerable nations.

  • President Obama Speaks at Business Roundtable in Washington, DC (2014)

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks and participates in a Q&A during the quarterly meeting of the Business Roundtable at the Business Roundtable Headquarters in Washington, D.C., Dec. 3, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Earlier today, President Obama spoke with Business Roundtable, a group of CEOs of some of the country's leading companies, at an event in Washington, D.C.

    The President discussed where our economy and our country stand, as well as the challenges and opportunities ahead:

    Around this time six years ago, America’s businesses were shedding about 800,000 jobs per month. Today, our businesses, including some of the most important businesses in the world that are represented here today, have created over 10.6 million new jobs; 56 months of uninterrupted job growth, which is the longest private sector job growth in our history. We just saw the best six-month period of economic growth in over a decade. For the first time in six years, the unemployment rate is under 6 percent.

    All told, the United States of America, over the last six years, has put more people back to work than Europe, Japan, and the rest of the advanced world combined. And that's a record for us to build on.

  • Ed. Note: This post was updated on December 4, 2014. 

    Yesterday, a grand jury in Staten Island decided not to bring criminal charges against police officers involved in the tragic death of Eric Garner. 

    Speaking at the 2014 White House Tribal Nations Conference yesterday evening, President Obama delivered the following statement

    "Some of you may have heard there was a decision that came out today by a grand jury not to indict police officers who had interacted with an individual with Eric Garner in New York City, all of which was caught on videotape and speaks to the larger issues that we’ve been talking about now for the last week, the last month, the last year, and, sadly, for decades, and that is the concern on the part of too many minority communities that law enforcement is not working with them and dealing with them in a fair way.

    "And there’s going to be, I’m sure, additional statements by law enforcement. My tradition is not to remark on cases where there may still be an investigation. But I want everybody to understand that this week, in the wake of Ferguson, we initiated a task force whose job it is to come back to me with specific recommendations about how we strengthen the relationship between law enforcement and communities of color and minority communities that feel that bias is taking place; that we are going to take specific steps to improve the training and the work with state and local governments when it comes to policing in communities of color; that we are going to be scrupulous in investigating cases where we are concerned about the impartiality and accountability that’s taking place.

    "And as I said when I met with folks both from Ferguson and law enforcement and clergy and civil rights activists, I said this is an issue that we’ve been dealing with for too long and it’s time for us to make more progress than we’ve made. And I’m not interested in talk; I’m interested in action. And I am absolutely committed as President of the United States to making sure that we have a country in which everybody believes in the core principle that we are equal under the law.

    "So I just got off the phone with my Attorney General, Eric Holder. He will have more specific comments about the case in New York. But I want everybody to know here, as well as everybody who may be viewing my remarks here today, we are not going to let up until we see a strengthening of the trust and a strengthening of the accountability that exists between our communities and our law enforcement.

    "And I say that as somebody who believes that law enforcement has an incredibly difficult job; that every man or woman in uniform are putting their lives at risk to protect us; that they have the right to come home, just like we do from our jobs; that there’s real crime out there that they’ve got to tackle day in and day out -- but that they’re only going to be able to do their job effectively if everybody has confidence in the system.

    "And right now, unfortunately, we are seeing too many instances where people just do not have confidence that folks are being treated fairly. And in some cases, those may be misperceptions; but in some cases, that’s a reality. And it is incumbent upon all of us, as Americans, regardless of race, region, faith, that we recognize this is an American problem, and not just a black problem or a brown problem or a Native American problem.

    "This is an American problem. When anybody in this country is not being treated equally under the law, that’s a problem. And it’s my job as President to help solve it."

    Later that evening, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Department of Justice will proceed with a federal civil rights investigation into Mr. Garner's death. The Attorney General made the following statement

  • New data out today from the Office of the Actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services confirmed that 2013 was another year of historically slow growth in health care spending and that 2011, 2012, and 2013 saw the slowest growth in real per capita health care spending on record. Today’s data make it increasingly clear that the recent slow growth in the cost of health care reflects more than just the 2007-2009 recession and its aftermath, but also structural changes in our health care system, including reforms made in the Affordable Care Act. As we have noted previously, if even a portion of the recent slowdown continues, the benefits for Federal and State budgets, families’ budgets, and the economy as a whole will be dramatic.

    The remainder of this blog post takes a closer look at today’s report and what it can tell us about the drivers of recent trends. We also take a look ahead at 2014 using other data that are already available. Available data suggest that aggregate spending may be growing more quickly as millions of people gain health insurance coverage and access needed care. But the available data also show that health care prices, premiums, and per-enrollee costs—the factors that determine the costs families face—have continued to grow very slowly during 2014.    

    • "Winter Snowflakes"

      Created by Gil Rivera of Montclair, NJ, this ornament is currently hanging in the East Room

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    • "Library of Congress"

      Created by Vicky Somma, Occoquan, VA, this ornament is currently hanging in the Library

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    • "Star of Bliss"

      Created by Roy Eid, Houston, TX, this ornament is currently hanging in the Grand Foyer

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    • "Presidents of Christmas Past and Present"

      Created by Antar Gamble Hall, New York, NY, this ornament is currently hanging in the State Dining Room

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    • "Winter Wonderland of Innovation"

      Created by David Moore and Brandy Badami, Livonia, MI, this ornament is currently hanging in the Red Room

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    The halls of the White House are decked out with festive holiday décor and the White House Christmas tree stands tall in the Blue Room.

     

    This year, innovative technologies like 3D printing are playing a role in creating a unique and interactive holiday experience at the White House.

    In October, the White House announced the 3D Printed Ornament Challenge in partnership with the Smithsonian. Makers, innovators and students around the country, from New Hampshire and Texas to California and Michigan, submitted more than 300 creative, whimsical and beautiful winter-inspired designs. Twenty innovative designs were chosen as finalists and five of these designs were selected for display in the White House. 

  • Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the U.S. Department of Labor's blog. See the original post here.

    I’ve been involved in civil rights work for a long time, and I’ve seen a lot of victories and setbacks. But in recent years, the speed of our progress on equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans has been nothing short of astonishing. The Labor Department has played an important role in that progress, and I’m proud to continue it today.

    Today, we are issuing a rule to implement Executive Order 13672, which was signed by President Obama in July, to ensure that federal contractors and subcontractors do not discriminate against employees or applicants based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. As the president put it: “Americans ought to be judged by one thing only in their workplaces: their ability to get their jobs done.”

    The federal government should be a model employer, leading and not lagging on these issues. Today’s announcement confirms that the federal contracting system will no longer subsidize exclusion and discrimination. 

  • Yesterday, Attorney General Eric Holder sent the following message to the White House email list, giving an update on the Administration's next steps following the events in Ferguson, Missouri.

    Didn't get the email? Sign up for email updates here.


    Following Michael Brown's tragic death, millions of people across the nation and around the world have focused their attention on unfolding events in Ferguson, both grieving together and making their voices heard.

    In recent days, many have been captivated by ongoing developments, anguished emotions, peaceful protests -- and, too often, deeply unfortunate images of unnecessary destruction. And this tragic incident has sparked a necessary, national conversation about the need to ensure trust and build strong relationships between law enforcement officials and the communities they serve.

    Events in Ferguson have revealed a deep distrust between a community and its police force. But this reality is not limited to one location. Other communities around this country know this struggle all too well. And it's abundantly clear that every single one of us has a role to play in tackling this problem together, as a nation -- to identify those things that bind us, and to be honest with one another about the things that continue to divide us.

    In August, President Obama ordered a review of federal funding and programs that provide equipment to state and local law enforcement agencies. On Monday, the Administration released that review's findings -- and announced key next steps to strengthen the trust in and effectiveness of the policing of our communities.

    Learn more about Monday's announcements, and the findings of the Administration's review.

    Here are the next steps we're taking:

    1. Creating a new task force to promote the expansion of 21st century community-oriented policing.
    2. Reforming how the federal government equips local law enforcement, particularly with military-style equipment.
    3. Advancing the use of body-worn cameras and promoting proven community policing initiatives.

  • Deep, persistent drought. Longer, fiercer wildfire seasons. High tides flooding downtowns. Severe storms wreaking havoc. This is the picture from the front lines of climate change — in communities across America.

    And as they face these immediate climate crises, cities, towns, counties, and tribes of every size and in every region of the country have stepped up to be part of the solution: identifying their vulnerabilities, cutting carbon pollution, creating jobs by investing in clean energy and energy efficiency, and finding innovative solutions to make their communities and infrastructure more resilient to climate extremes.

    Today, in recognition of their strong commitment to the fight against climate change, the Obama administration is naming 16 of these communities as the first class of Climate Action Champions.

    Click here for the full list of Climate Action Champions.

  • President Barack Obama, with First Lady Michelle Obama and Bard College student Troy Simon, delivers remarks during the College Opportunity Summit

    President Barack Obama, with First Lady Michelle Obama and Bard College student Troy Simon, delivers remarks during the College Opportunity Summit in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building South Court Auditorium, Jan. 16, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    At the beginning of his administration, President Obama set a goal that the U.S. would once again lead the world in college graduates. The President believes that expanding opportunity for more students to enroll and succeed in college is vital to building a strong economy and a strong middle class.

    The President has already taken important steps to increase college access, including:

    • Increasing Pell scholarships by $1,000 a year
    • Creating the American Opportunity Tax Credit, worth up to $10,000 over four years of college
    • Limiting student loan payments to 10 percent of income
    • Laying out an ambitious agenda to reduce college costs and promote innovation and competition

    In January, 140 college presidents and other leaders made commitments to support student success at the first White House College Opportunity Summit. To build upon the success of that summit, on Thursday, December 4, President Obama and the First Lady will join college presidents and other leaders making new commitments to improve degree completion, sustain community collaborations that encourage college-going, train high school counselors as part of the First Lady’s Reach Higher initiative, and produce more STEM graduates with diverse backgrounds.

    Here’s how you can participate in the College Opportunity Summit on Thursday, December 4th:

  • President Obama visited the Naitonal Institutes of Health (NIH) today to visit the team of scientists who recently made significant progress in developing an Ebola vaccine. "No potential Ebola vaccine has ever made it this far," he noted. 

    Indeed, the United States is taking the lead in the world's response to Ebola -- in treating, containing, and preventing the spread of this devastating outbreak. As the President said, "Part of American leadership in the world -- one of the things that has always marked us as exceptional -- is our leadership in science and our leadership in research."

  • Ed. Note: President Obama penned an op-ed explaining his decision to do what he can to fix our broken immigration system. This post originally appeared in Gannett newspapers and websites. You can learn more about the President's new steps here


     

    Audience Reacts to President Obama's Immigration Aciton

    Audience members react as President Barack Obama delivers remarks on immigration at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas, Nev. November 21, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    We are a nation of immigrants.

    For more than 200 years, that heritage has given America a big advantage over other countries. It has kept us young, dynamic, and entrepreneurial. But today, our immigration system is broken.

    When I took office, I committed to fixing our broken immigration system. I began by doing what I could to secure our borders. Today, we have more agents and technology deployed to secure our southern border than at any time in our history. Over the past six years, illegal border crossings have been cut by more than half. Although this summer, there was a brief spike in unaccompanied children being apprehended at our border, the number of such children is now actually lower than it's been in nearly two years. Overall, the number of people trying to cross our border illegally is at its lowest level since the 1970s.

  • Yesterday, the President announced that he will take a number of steps to strengthen community policing and fortify the trust that must exist between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve. As part of this, he proposed a new three-year, $263 million Community Policing Initiative investment package that will increase use of body worn cameras (BWCs) by law enforcement, expand training for law enforcement agencies (LEAs), add more resources for police department reform, and multiply the number of cities where the Department of Justice (DOJ) facilitates community and local LEA engagement.

    The new initiative expands programs within the President’s FY 2015 Budget, and builds on them by adding more resources to help integrate the federal government with state and local LEAs to build and sustain trust between communities and those who serve and protect these communities.

    The funding would support the following activities:

  • Something big happened earlier this year at the White House Maker Faire

    The very first 3D-printed bust of a sitting U.S. president made its debut.

    The bust of President Obama was created by a Smithsonian-led team of 3D-digital-imaging specialists, Autodesk and 3D Systems, in collaboration with the University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Technologies. It took two different technologically sophisticated 3D documentation processes to generate the data needed to create this portrait.

  • Arctic glacier (1)

    Climate change is bringing longer, hotter summers to the Arctic, and driving glaciers to retreat. (U.S. Department of State)

    There are only eight countries in the world whose territory above the Arctic Circle grants them the honored title of “Arctic Nation.” The United States is one.

    The human story in the Arctic is defined by the intense and arduous relationship between people and the environment. Arctic residents know not just how to survive, but how to thrive in some of the harshest conditions on earth. Theirs is a story of adaptation and survival.

    Today, however, climate change is transforming this already challenging region at an unprecedented pace. Temperatures in the Arctic are rising at twice the rate of the rest of the world on average. And though the region seems remote to most Americans, other parts of our country are also being impacted by Arctic climate change. The entire country experienced abnormal weather as the result of a storm that passed through the Bering Sea in Alaska earlier this month. Melting glaciers and land-based ice sheets are contributing to rising sea levels. The future of America is inextricably linked to the future of the Arctic.

  • President Obama and Vice President Biden meet with elected officials, community and faith leaders, and law enforcement officials on community policing

    President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet with elected officials, community and faith leaders, and law enforcement officials to discuss how communities and law enforcement can work together to build trust to strengthen neighborhoods across the country. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

    Recent events in Ferguson, Missouri and around the country have grabbed the attention of the nation and the world, and have highlighted the importance of strong, collaborative relationships between local police and the communities that they protect.

    Today, the Administration announced new steps we’re taking to strengthen the relationships between law enforcement agencies and the communities they are obligated to protect and serve, including:

    • Advancing the use of body worn cameras and promoting proven community policing initiatives
    • Creating a new task force to promote expansion of the community-oriented policing model, which encourages strong relationships between law enforcement and the communities that they serve as a proven method of fighting crime
    • Reforming how the federal government equips state and local law enforcement – particularly with military-style equipment

    Get more details about these new actions below.

  • "On this day, let us rededicate ourselves to continuing our work until we reach the day we know is possible -- when no child has to know the pain of HIV/AIDS and no life is limited by this virus."

    --President Barack Obama, World AIDS Day 2014 Proclamation

     

    Today is World AIDS Day -- a day where the world comes together to remember those we've lost to HIV/AIDS and to recommit ourselves to the international fight against this devestating disease. What began as the first-ever global health day is now an important opportunity to measure the progress we've made and the work we have left to do to achieve our ultimate goal: an AIDS-free generation. In fact, this year's theme is "Focus, Partner, Achieve: An AIDS-Free Generation." 

  • The Internet is part of everyone’s life, every day. We use the Internet at work, at home, to connect with those close to us, and to buy goods and services. That’s especially the case today, the Monday after Thanksgiving -- dubbed “Cyber Monday."

    Today is far and away the busiest online shopping day of the year. Last year, according to Adobe, online shopping sales were over $2.29 billion for just one day. IBM said that shopping was up 20.6 percent over 2012 and experts expect a rise again this year. Along with increased convenience, shopping online also brings with it the potential for increased risks of theft, fraud, and abuse.

    President Obama is taking action on cybersecurity. His 2013 Executive Order on Cybersecurity created an industry driven Cybersecurity Framework that has helped strengthen our businesses and networks. In October, he signed a consumer financial protection Executive Order that will move the government forward to invest in technologies that increase the financial protection and cybersecurity for everyone.

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