Our Top Stories
Valerie JarrettApril 25, 2013
11:32 AM EDT
Last week, I attended the Equal Futures Partnership: From Promise to Progress event at the World Bank, to share progress made by the Obama Administration since the launch of the Equal Futures Partnership last September. The Equal Futures Partnership is a multilateral initiative that seeks to break down barriers to women’s economic empowerment and political participation so that every woman and girl can reach her full potential. It is a response to the challenge issued by President Obama in September 2011 at the UN General Assembly. He said, “Next year, we should each announce the steps we are taking to break down economic and political barriers that stand in the way of women and girls. That is what our commitment to human progress demands.”
For the United States, our Equal Futures commitments seek to promote four key objectives: opening doors to quality education and high-paying career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields; breaking the cycle of violence and ensuring economic security for survivors of violence; promoting civic education and public leadership for girls; and expanding support for women entrepreneurs.
April 24, 2013
03:37 PM EDT
Editor's Note: This blog post is cross-posted from the ONDCP Blog.
The President has outlined his vision of an America built to last—where an educated, skilled workforce has the knowledge, energy and expertise to compete in the global marketplace. Yet--for far too many Americans--that vision is limited by drug use, which not only diminishes the potential of the individual, but jeopardizes families, communities and neighborhoods.
The economic costs of drug use are enormous: In 2007 alone, illicit drug use cost taxpayers more than $193 billion in lost productivity, healthcare, and criminal justice costs. But the human costs are worse. Nationwide, drug-induced overdose deaths now surpass homicides and car crashes as the leading cause of injury death in America.
We are not powerless to address these challenges. And as recent data has shown, we are not unable to reverse these trends. Prescription drug abuse is beginning to decline. Cocaine use and related overdoses are dropping. And recent data show the nation’s prison and jail population dropping for the third straight year.
Today we are releasing a science-driven plan for drug policy reform in America to build upon this progress. This 21st century drug policy outlines a series of evidence-based reforms that treat our nation’s drug problem as a public health issue, not just a criminal justice issue. This policy underscores what we all know to be true: we cannot arrest or incarcerate our way out of the drug problem.
Colleen CurtisApril 23, 2013
08:04 PM EDT
President Obama today met with Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the Amir of Qatar, a nation the United States works with on a range of issues, including security, military cooperation, commerce and trade.
In remarks following the bilateral meeting in the Oval Office, the President praised Qatar as "a center of innovation" and said the country has shown enormous progress ranging from education to health care under the Amir's leadership.
But President Obama said that most of the leaders' conversation was focused on security issues in that region, relating to U.S. interests and those of the entire world:
"We had a conversation about the situation in Syria. And obviously we've been cooperating closely with Qatar and other countries in seeking to bring about an end to the slaughter that's taking place there; the removal of President Assad, who has shown himself to have no regard for his own people; and to strengthen an opposition that can bring about a democratic Syria that represents all people and respects their rights regardless of their ethnicity or their religious affiliations. And I'm very pleased that we are going to be continuing to work in coming months to try to further support the Syrian opposition, and we'll be closely coordinating our strategies to bring about a more peaceful resolution to the Syrian crisis.
We also had an opportunity to discuss the situation in Egypt, where we both very much want to see success on the part of Egyptian democracy. And both of our countries are committed to trying to encourage not only progress in this new democracy, but also economic progress that can translate into actual prosperity for the people there.
We had an opportunity to discuss the situation with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and we both agree that peace is in the interest of everyone -- a secure Israel side-by-side with a sovereign Palestinian state. And we exchanged ideas about how we can advance those negotiations, and I've shared the importance of providing support to President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority so that they can be in position to have fruitful negotiations with the Israelis that can bring about, in a timely fashion, a two-state solution.
And I had an opportunity to thank the Amir for the strong support that his country has provided to our efforts in Afghanistan, including the efforts that he has personally been involved with in getting a dialogue between the Afghan government and the Taliban that might potentially result in some sort of political reconciliation.
These are all very difficult issues and neither of us are under any illusions that they will be solved overnight. But what we agree with is that if our two countries are communicating frankly and constructively, and pursuing common strategies, that we can be a force for good for the entire region and for a vision of a Middle East that is democratic, that is prosperous, that is tolerant, that is representative of all peoples, and that is a force for good around the world."
Megan SlackApril 23, 2013
04:30 PM EDT
Twelve years ago, Zillah High School in Washington state had no engineering classes. The science curriculum was lagging behind, and students had to go off campus to take technology classes.
Jeff Charbonneau, who returned to his hometown 11 years ago to teach at Zillah High, was determined to change that. And he did. Science enrollment is way up. Kids are graduating with college-level science credits. The school expects to have to hire more teachers now to meet the demand.
And today, President Obama honored Jeff as the 2013 National Teacher of the Year.
Jeff teaches chemistry, physics, and engineering, and works to create accessible, interactive lessons that help convince kids that the science classes most students consider hardest are worth diving in to, not running away from. But President Obama said that it’s not just his work in the classroom that distinguishes Jeff.
“He started an outdoors club,” President Obama said. “He brought his passion to the drama program. He’s even helping out other schools.” Because of Jeff, hundreds of students all over Washington are now participating in high-skills robotics competitions and gaining valuable engineering experience.
April 22, 2013
06:34 PM EDT
You don’t have to be an outdoor expert or live near an iconic park to enjoy the broad network of national parks across the country. Some of the most treasured and well-used parks are located in and around America’s major cities, including San Francisco, New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, St. Louis, Miami, San Antonio, Baltimore – and right here in Washington, D.C.
If you don’t have a national park in your city or town, chances are the National Park Service has played a role in increasing access to outdoor recreational opportunities in your community. Through the Land & Water Conservation Fund, the National Park Service has funded recreational facilities, such as playgrounds and trails, in 99 percent of counties across America.
April 22, 2013
05:57 PM EDT
President Obama today celebrated the remarkable achievements of student science fair winners and extraordinary kid innovators from across the nation in the third White House Science Fair. The Fair brought 100 students from more than 40 states to an all-day, hands-on celebration of the power and potential of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.
As the President said in 2009, when he announced the first-ever White House Science Fair, “If you win the NCAA championship, you come to the White House. Well, if you're a young person and you've produced the best experiment or design, the best hardware or software, you ought to be recognized for that achievement, too.”
Megan SlackApril 20, 2013
01:10 PM EDT
On Monday, April 22 President Obama hosted the 3rd Annual White House Science Fair, celebrating the student winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competitions from across the country and people everywhere were able to watch live from this blog post.
This year’s Science Fair featured 100 students from more than 40 states and represented 45 different competitions and organizations that recognize the talents of America’s next generation of scientists, engineers, inventors and innovators. Students showcased projects ranging from economically-viable algae biofuel to a robot that paints with watercolor to a computer program that improves cancer detection and many more.
As the President has noted, “If you win the NCAA championship, you come to the White House. Well, if you're a young person and you produce the best experiment or design, the best hardware or software, you ought to be recognized for that achievement, too.”
For a full list of the exhibits that the President will see, as well as more information on all the students, competitions, and organizations being honored, click here.
Megan SlackApril 20, 2013
06:00 AM EDT
President Obama speaks to the American people about the act of terror at the Boston Marathon that wounded dozens and killed three innocent people on Monday, and says that through it all, Boston’s spirit remains undaunted and Americans have proven they refuse to be terrorized.
Matt ComptonApril 20, 2013
12:02 AM EDT
After a daylong manhunt that saw police searching door-to-door through Boston, law enforcement officials captured the remaining suspect believed to be responsible for Monday's bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. He was ultimately found in Watertown, Massachusetts.
In a statement from the James Brady Briefing Room after the arrest, President Obama commended the response from the state and local police and federal investigators.
"We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to all our outstanding law enforcement professionals," he said. "These men and women get up every day, they put on that uniform; they risk their lives to keep us safe -- and as this week showed, they don't always know what to expect. So our thoughts are with those who were wounded in pursuit of the suspects and we pray for their full recovery."
While tonight's arrest closes one chapter in this tragedy, we're still left with many questions about these young men. President Obama pledged to put the full weight of the federal government behind finding answers.
"I've instructed the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security and our intelligence community to continue to deploy all the necessary resources to support the investigation, to collect intelligence, and to protect our citizens," he said. "We will determine what happened. We will investigate any associations that these terrorists may have had. And we'll continue to do whatever we have to do to keep our people safe."
It's been a long week, and the events in Boston have in some ways overshadowed another tragedy -- the explosion that took the lives of at least 14 people in West, Texas and wounded more than 200. Before the President closed, he made sure to remind the people of that community that they hadn't been forgotten.
"Our thoughts, our prayers are with the people of West, Texas, where so many good people lost their lives; some lost their homes; many are injured; many are still missing," he said. "I've talked to Governor Perry and Mayor Muska and I've pledged that the people of West will have the resources that they need to recover and rebuild. And I want everybody in Texas to know that we will follow through with those commitments."
Adam GarberApril 19, 2013
12:00 AM EDT
This week, the President responded to the terror attack in Boston, met with AmeriCorps volunteers, invited the Wounded Warrior riders to the White House, and for the first time, asked a citizen to deliver the weekly address.
Colleen CurtisApril 18, 2013
12:29 PM EDT
President Barack Obama delivers remarks at an interfaith prayer service at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston, Mass., April 18, 2013. The service was dedicated to those who were gravely wounded or killed in the bombings in Boston. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama today were at Boston's Cathedral of the Holy Cross to attend Healing Our City, an interfaith service dedicated to those who were gravely wounded or killed in Monday’s bombing near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
In his remarks, the President paid tribute to those whose lives were taken by the bomb blasts on Boylston Street -- to Krystle Campbell, 29, who was "always smiling." And to Lingzi Lu, a 23-year-old graduate student from China who had come to "experience all this city has to offer." And finally to Martin Richard, the 8-year-old boy from Dorchester whose mother and sister remain in the hospital, fighting to recover from their own injuries. Martin, said President Obama, leaves us with two enduring images, 'forever smiling for his beloved Bruins, and forever expressing a wish he made on a blue poster board: 'No more hurting people. Peace.'"
President Obama also praised the people of Boston, a city both he and the First Lady once called home. Like thousands every year, the two lived there as students -- just one of the many reasons, the President said, that Boston has a hold on so many hearts. "Every fall, you welcome students from all across America and all across the globe, and every spring you graduate them back into the world -- a Boston diaspora that excels in every field of human endeavor," he said. "Year after year, you welcome the greatest talents in the arts and science, research -- you welcome them to your concert halls and your hospitals and your laboratories to exchange ideas and insights that draw this world together."
Valerie JarrettApril 18, 2013
09:57 AM EDT
On Monday, I attended the launch of EMPOWERED, Alicia Keys’ new campaign with Greater than AIDS to reach and inform women about HIV/AIDS, at an event hosted by the Kaiser Family Foundation. This is the second event that Alicia Keys and I have attended at Kaiser within the last year, both focused on ending AIDS.
The women were thrilled to meet Alicia Keys, and Alicia, who was deeply moved by their stories, committed to add her powerful international voice to helping to end the epidemic here in the U.S. Alicia and I intended to lift up the women. But really, it was their strength, courage, resilience, good spirit, and humor that lifted us up.
The HIV crisis touches every corner of the globe. And it’s personally touched so many of us, including here at home. We all have tragic stories about how HIV/AIDS has affected our family and friends, and these stories propel us all to continue to fight to end this disease.
Monday's event addressed one of the tragic realities of HIV in our country. The HIV epidemic continues in the United States, with about 50,000 new HIV infections each year. And while about one-quarter of new HIV infections are among women, three-quarters of new infections among women occur among black and Latina women.
Megan SlackApril 17, 2013
07:02 PM EDT
Surrounded by Americans whose lives and families had been forever changed by gun violence, President Obama spoke from the Rose Garden about today’s Senate vote on expanded background checks for gun sales.
A few months ago, in response to too many tragedies -- including the shootings of a United States Congresswoman, Gabby Giffords, who’s here today, and the murder of 20 innocent schoolchildren and their teachers –- this country took up the cause of protecting more of our people from gun violence.
Families that know unspeakable grief summoned the courage to petition their elected leaders –- not just to honor the memory of their children, but to protect the lives of all our children. And a few minutes ago, a minority in the United States Senate decided it wasn’t worth it. They blocked common-sense gun reforms even while these families looked on from the Senate gallery.
“A majority of senators voted “yes” to protecting more of our citizens with smarter background checks,” President Obama said. “But by this continuing distortion of Senate rules, a minority was able to block it from moving forward."
April 17, 2013
06:50 PM EDT
Thanks to your courage and your resolve, we've been able to end one war, and begin winding down another. But for you, and for all our wounded warriors, coming home doesn't mean that the fight is over. In some ways, it's only just begun -- President Barack Obama, April 17, 2013
Today we are privileged to celebrate the upcoming journey of some of our amazing Wounded Warriors. These inspiring Veterans will accomplish the daunting task of riding over the next three days and inspiring us all. For these combat-wounded veterans, Soldier Ride uses cycling and the bonds of service to overcome physical, mental, or emotional wounds of war. It’s a wonderful connection as they return to an active lifestyle.
President Obama is committed to caring for our wounded warriors by expanding access to the best health care available and helping them to overcome their injuries, assisting in pursuing employment, and connecting them to the best education available to meet their personal goals. The Administration understands that a successful recovery requires access and connection to quality care and services. That is why in August of last year the President signed a Military Mental Health Executive Order that increases the number of VA mental health professionals and peer-to-peer support counselors.
Gene SperlingApril 17, 2013
03:14 PM EDT
President Obama and the First Lady are committed to doing everything in their power to assist the brave men and women who have served our country in re-entering civilian life and finding employment. Over the last year and a half, the President has overseen the first re-design of the military’s transition assistance program in twenty years; created new tax credits to spur veteran hiring; expanded re-employment services, including the Veterans Job Bank and the Veterans Gold Card; and launched a series of initiatives to expand the number of veterans that get jobs in healthcare and first responder fields. Additionally, under the great leadership of the First Lady and Dr. Biden, Joining Forces has expanded hiring and training partnerships with the private sector in an effort to help our veterans and their spouses get back to work.
Yet, our veterans still face major hurdles as they transition out of the military and into the civilian workforce. According to a 2012 survey by Prudential and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, 60 percent of survey respondents said they had trouble translating their military skills into civilian job experience, creating a significant barrier to employment. Many high-demand, good-paying jobs like paramedics, truck drivers, nurses, and welders, require either a national certification or state occupational license to be hired, and currently our national and state systems make it very difficult for service members and veterans to obtain these civilian certifications and licenses that directly translate to their military training. Often times service members and veterans are required to repeat education or training in order to receive these occupational credentials, even though much, and in some cases, all, of their military training and experience overlaps with credential training requirements. And employers, many with significant needs for skilled workers, are left waiting for these military members to complete these, oftentimes lengthy, credentialing training programs – programs that many veterans could have taught themselves.
David AgnewApril 16, 2013
05:12 PM EDT
Update: The Hangout with Vice President Biden has concluded. Watch the full video below or on YouTube.
This week, Vice President Biden will host a virtual conversation with mayors around the country to discuss commonsense steps to reduce gun violence. Mayors know first hand the impact of gun violence on communities across the country – and they've come together to demand action.
On Wednesday, April 17th, at 2:45 p.m. EDT, the Vice President and mayors will discuss how we can protect our children and communities by reducing gun violence. We hope you'll tune in.
During the Google+ Hangout, Vice President Biden will be joined by:
- Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, Gary, IN
- Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Baltimore, MD
- Mayor R.T. Rybak, Minneapolis, MN
- Mayor Steve Scaffidi, Oak Creek, WI
Colleen CurtisApril 16, 2013
12:21 PM EDT
Following a briefing from FBI Director Mueller, Attorney General Holder, Secretary Napolitano, and homeland security advisor Lisa Monaco, President Obama went to the Brady Press Briefing Room to update Americans on developments in Boston, following two explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday afternoon.
"We continue to mobilize and deploy all appropriate law enforcement resources to protect our citizens, and to investigate and to respond to this attack," the President said in a televised address. "Obviously our first thoughts this morning are with the victims, their families, and the city of Boston. We know that two explosions gravely wounded dozens of Americans, and took the lives of others, including a 8-year-old boy.
"This was a heinous and cowardly act. And given what we now know about what took place, the FBI is investigating it as an act of terrorism. Any time bombs are used to target innocent civilians it is an act of terror. What we don’t yet know, however, is who carried out this attack, or why; whether it was planned and executed by a terrorist organization, foreign or domestic, or was the act of a malevolent individual."
Megan SlackApril 15, 2013
06:16 PM EDT
This evening, President Obama made a statement about today’s explosions at the Boston Marathon.
The President explained that he had been briefed by his Homeland Security team, who are continuing to monitor the situation as it unfolds, and had "directed the full resources of the federal government to help state and local authorities protect our people, increase security around the United States as necessary, and investigate what happened."
“The American people will say a prayer for Boston tonight,” he said. “And Michelle and I send our deepest thoughts and prayers to the families of the victims in the wake of this senseless loss.”
Colleen CurtisApril 15, 2013
05:53 AM EDT
It’s April 15th, Tax Day. Millions of families all across the country have already filed their taxes or maybe some folks are just getting around to it today. Whether you’ve planned ahead or rushing to get them done, you deserve to know how your tax dollars are being spent.
In his 2011 State of the Union Address, President Obama promised that, for the first time ever, American taxpayers would be able to go online and see exactly how their federal tax dollars are spent. And for the third year in a row, he’s keeping that promise. As long as he’s in office, every hardworking taxpayer will be able to jump online to see exactly how their tax dollars are being spent.
Just enter a few pieces of information below, and the Taxpayer Receipt will give you a breakdown of how your tax dollars are spent on priorities like education, veterans benefits, or health care. The online tool has been updated to reflect current spending.