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  • 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.

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    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:

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    "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." 

  • 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. 

    Roberto Zárate Introduces Dr. Jill Biden at the 2015 Community College National Legislative Summit

    Roberto Zárate, Chair-Elect ACCT Board of Directors, Alamo Colleges, Texas introduces Dr. Jill Biden at the 2015 Community College National Legislative Summit, February 11, 2015. (Photo by Keith Weller)

  • 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:

  • 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.

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    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.


  • "Thank you. You are making a difference. It matters."


    Susanne C., a psychiatrist from Morgantown, West Virginia, wrote the President last April about how she's seen the benefits of the Affordable Care Act firsthand.

  • Over the last several years, we have seen the potential for clean energy and economic growth to go hand in hand. Today, we produce more wind and solar energy than ever before, while our economy is creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1998. According to industry analyses, employment in the solar industry has grown more than 85 percent since 2010, while the price of a rooftop solar system has dropped more than 50 percent.

    We have to keep at it — because promoting clean energy innovation will help grow the economy while taking decisive action on climate change. 

    That is why, today, I was proud to announce a new Clean Energy Investment Initiative at the Department of Energy ARPA-E Summit. Through the Initiative, the Administration seeks to catalyze $2 billion of expanded private-sector investment in solutions to climate change, including innovative technologies with breakthrough potential to reduce carbon pollution. By leveraging the tools and capabilities of the federal government, this new Initiative will increase investment in clean energy technologies.

  • Ed. note: This is cross-posted on The Root. See the original post here.

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    Following Michael Brown’s tragic death, people across the country — and the world — have grieved together and engaged in critical conversations about race and community relationships. When President Barack Obama hosted a dialogue in December with young people on the issues in Ferguson, Missouri, I asked the youngest members of the Ferguson commission how I could be helpful. They asked me to visit Ferguson — to listen to the stories of the people who live there — because youth, in particular, were hurting.

    I listened. Recently, I traveled to Ferguson. I visited the Clyde C. Miller Career Academy High School, Grandview High School, Ferguson library and the Greater St. Mark Family Church to meet with students, educators and community leaders to hear their thoughts on race, equity and trust since Brown’s death.


  • "I had no health insurance. I visited our local doctor but could not afford x-rays, much less any type of surgery. The affordable solution was pain medication. … Then the ACA happened."


    Naomi is a 62-year-old organic farmer living in rural Georgia. She has had Rheumatoid Arthritis -- diagnosed when she was in high school -- nearly her entire life, managing it on her own, without health insurance, with a proper diet and exercise.

    Then, about three years ago, she found she could no longer climb onto her tractor, bend down to pull weeds, or harvest her crops.

  • President Obama released a statement this morning on the tragic death of Kayla Jean Mueller, an aid worker who was taken hostage by ISIL in 2013: 

    "It is with profound sadness that we have learned of the death of Kayla Jean Mueller.  On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I convey our deepest condolences to Kayla’s family – her parents, Marsha and Carl, and her brother Eric and his family – and all of those who loved Kayla dearly.  At this time of unimaginable suffering, the country shares in their grief.
     
    "Kayla dedicated her life to helping others in need at home and around the world.  In Prescott, Arizona, she volunteered at a women’s shelter and worked at an HIV/AIDS clinic.  She worked with humanitarian organizations in India, Israel, and the Palestinian territories, compelled by her desire to serve others.  Eventually, her path took her to Turkey, where she helped provide comfort and support to Syrian refugees forced to flee their homes during the war.  Kayla’s compassion and dedication to assisting those in need shows us that even amongst unconscionable evil, the essential decency of humanity can live on.
     
    "Kayla represents what is best about America, and expressed her deep pride in the freedoms that we Americans enjoy, and that so many others strive for around the world.  She said:  “Here we are.  Free to speak out without fear of being killed, blessed to be protected by the same law we are subjected to, free to see our families as we please, free to cross borders and free to disagree.  We have many people to thank for these freedoms and I see it as an injustice not to use them to their fullest.”
     
    "Kayla Mueller used these freedoms she so cherished to improve the lives of others.  In how she lived her life, she epitomized all that is good in our world.  She has been taken from us, but her legacy endures, inspiring all those who fight, each in their own way, for what is just and what is decent.  No matter how long it takes, the United States will find and bring to justice the terrorists who are responsible for Kayla’s captivity and death.
     
    "ISIL is a hateful and abhorrent terrorist group whose actions stand in stark contrast to the spirit of people like Kayla.  On this day, we take comfort in the fact that the future belongs not to those who destroy, but rather to the irrepressible force of human goodness that Kayla Mueller shall forever represent."

  • The Old Family Dining Room of the White House, Feb. 9, 2015. The room opens to public view for the first time in White House history Tuesday, February 10, 2015.

    The Old Family Dining Room of the White House, Feb. 9, 2015. The room opens to public view for the first time in White House history Tuesday, February 10, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

    Today, for the first time in White House history, the Old Family Dining Room on the State Floor is open for public viewing.

    The room has a rich and colorful history.

    The Old Family Dining Room -- a smaller dining room off the State Dining Room -- was established by President and Mrs. John Quincy Adams in 1825 as a place for the family to take meals. Enjoyed since then by 38 Presidents and their families, it was considered the "breakfast room" until 1961, when First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy moved the family's dining room into the family's private quarters upstairs. "Breakfast room” was the Hoovers’ designation, because they ate dinners in State Dining Room. Other first families prior to the Kennedys ate all of their meals there. After the family's dining room was moved to the private residence, Presidents have used the Old Family Dining Room for small official meals, including working luncheons with foreign heads of state.

  • President Obama and Chancellor Merkel Participate in Joint Press Conference (1)

    President Barack Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany participate in a joint press conference in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 9, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    President Obama hosted German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House earlier today, holding a bilateral meeting and a working lunch to discuss some of our countries' most pressing issues.

    "Germany is one of our strongest allies, so whenever we meet, it's an opportunity to coordinate closely on a whole range of issues critical to our shared security and prosperity," President Obama said in a joint press conference. "As Angela and our German friends prepare to host the G7 this spring, it's also important for us to be able to coordinate on a set of shared goals."

  • Today, the U.S. Senate voted to confirm Michael Botticelli as Director of National Drug Control Policy. The following message is cross-posted from the Office of National Drug Control Policy's blog.

    If you have a story to share about recovery from substance abuse or addiction, you can share it here.


    Many great movements to change public perception and policy around a public health issue have been fueled by people with a disease speaking out publicly.


    What is seen as someone else's problem -- someone else’s disease – takes on a new dimension when people speak up about it.  

    Such was the case when Betty Ford revealed her breast cancer diagnosis and her substance use disorder. Such was the case when Magic Johnson revealed that he was HIV positive, spurring action to stem the AIDS epidemic.

    Yet, despite the fact that nearly every family and community in America is affected by a substance use disorder, those fighting to overcome this disease are too often hidden in the shadows of shame and denial.  It is whispered about. It is met with derision and scorn. 

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

    Over the last several months, I have been fortunate to travel across the country to convene a series of roundtable discussions aimed at strengthening and fostering enduring relationships between America’s brave law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.

    These discussions have brought together diverse groups of local leaders, police officials, civil rights advocates, United States Attorneys, students, faith leaders, and community members to examine what we can do to restore trust wherever it has been eroded – and to build trust in places where it never existed. The resulting conversations – in Atlanta, Memphis, Chicago, Cleveland, and Philadelphia – have been challenging, enlightening, and often deeply moving. And each has been vitally important in enabling the Justice Department to take this important, national dialogue to a new level.

    I recently continued this effort in Oakland and San Francisco, California. In Oakland, I was proud to join a group of over 50 leaders and engaged citizens in an inclusive conversation about the challenges they’ve faced throughout the metropolitan area, as well as the promising work that’s underway to address those challenges. In San Francisco, I had the privilege of visiting the Willie Mays Boys & Girls Club, where I spoke with a small group of local teenagers and a number of courageous police officers and academy recruits from the San Francisco Police Department.

  • President Obama answers students' questions at a "My Brother's Keeper" initiative town hall

    President Barack Obama answers students' questions after giving remarks during a "My Brother's Keeper" initiative town hall at the Walker Jones Education Campus in Washington, D.C, July 21, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    During last month’s State of the Union address, President Obama discussed the significant progress made over the past year to strengthen ladders of opportunity in America -- including the best stretch of job growth in over a decade, wages on the rise again, and 10 million Americans newly insured under the Affordable Care Act.

    With these achievements in mind, he also understands that what makes this country exceptional is not just our economy or global influence, but also the promise we make to our children: “the idea that no matter who they are, what they look like, where they start, how much their parents earn, they can make it if they try.” 

    To help keep this promise, the President launched My Brother’s Keeper, an initiative to address opportunity gaps and tear down barriers that too often prevent young people from realizing their full potential. He also established a Task Force with representatives from across the federal government to issue recommendations aimed at improving the life outcomes of all young people from cradle to college to career.

    Today, that Task Force is announcing a new resource guide that will help employers to access a variety of federal tools that make hiring youth easier.

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    Since last November, Dr. John Holdren -- the President's science advisor -- has been encouraging the public to ask him anything about climate change on social media using the hashtag #AskDrH. In his first set of answers, he covered a lot of ground -- the connection between climate change and extreme weather, temperature trends, how we know that climate change is human-cased, and more.

    Today, Dr. H is answering more of your questions -- this time from students and classrooms across the country.

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    "Artists have a unique power to change minds and attitudes -- and get us thinking and talking about what matters." 

    Last night, some of the world's most talented and influential artists came together in Los Angeles to celebrate last year's most notable achievements in music at the 2015 GRAMMY awards. Along with the awards and performances, the night included an important appeal message from President Obama to all present: It's on us to stop domestic violence and sexual assault. 


  • "You saved my life. Literally."


    A self-employed, self-made man, Don K. had carried a private catastrophic health plan for most of his life -- one that delivered a severe blow to his pocketbook. 

    So when the Affordable Care Act went into effect in 2014, this native of Phoenix, Arizona enrolled through the Health Insurance Marketplace and got a new plan that, thanks to the ACA, covered preventive services. 

    That January, just weeks after his new coverage went into effect, he stopped by the doctor for a general checkup. All tests came back positive, so when his doctor suggested a routine colonoscopy, he thought nothing of it -- he had no history of colon issues and he knew that his new ACA plan covered preventive services just like this.

    And that's how the Affordable Care Act saved his life:

    "A large tumor was found to be cancerous from the test and biopsy. Surgery was performed on May 22 and doctors removed 14 inches of my colon -- Stage 1. It had begun to spread, but since we got it early, it is gone and I am cancer free. Without "Obamacare," it would still be there, unbeknownst to me. Spreading."

    Need to get covered? Find a health plan that best fits your needs at HealthCare.gov by February 15. Already covered? Commit to help someone you know get covered here.

  • Take a look behind the scenes as President Obama meets Vidal, a 13-year-old from Brownsville, Brooklyn, whose photo on the "Humans of New York" blog inspired a national campaign to support the students at his middle school, Mott Hall Bridges Academy.

    Watch the video and learn more about their story.

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