Valerie JarrettApril 02, 2013
04:00 PM EDT
Today marks World Autism Awareness Day, and it was filled with events, meetings, and information campaigns here at the White House, across the Obama Administration, and across the country.
It was fitting that President Obama unveiled a bold new research initiative designed to revolutionize our understanding of the human brain. The BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) Initiative will be essential to advancing what we know about the complexities of autism. Originally referenced during the State of the Union, this ambitious new project was launched with approximately $100 million in the President’s Fiscal Year 2014 Budget, and ultimately aims to help researchers find new ways to treat, cure, and even prevent brain disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, and autism.
As President Obama said today: “We’re still unable to cure diseases like Alzheimer’s or autism, or fully reverse the effects of a stroke. And the most powerful computer in the world isn’t nearly as intuitive as the one we’re born with. So there is this enormous mystery waiting to be unlocked, and the BRAIN Initiative will change that by giving scientists the tools they need to get a dynamic picture of the brain in action and better understand how we think and how we learn and how we remember. And that knowledge could be -- will be -- transformative.”
Colleen CurtisApril 02, 2013
03:00 PM EDT
First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks during the "42" film workshop in the State Dining Room of the White House, April 2, 2013. Workshop participants included, from left, Brian Helgeland, Chad Boseman, Harrison Ford, Rachel Robinson, and moderator Paulette Aniskoff. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
First Lady Michelle Obama today hosted 80 high school and college students from across the country for a screening of "42," followed by an interactive workshop with the cast and crew of the movie. "42" tells the story of Jackie Robinson, the very first African American to play major league baseball. The panel was moderated by Paulette Aniskoff, Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, and featured Harrison Ford, Chadwick Boseman and Brian Helgeland.
The discussion focused on the inspirational themes from Robinson's life that students -- who came from Thurgood Marshall Academy in Washington, DC; Watkins Mill High School in Gaithersburg, MD; TC Williams High School in Alexandria, VA and Amino Jackie Robinson Charter High School in Los Angeles, CA -- can apply to their own.
Also joining the conversation was Rachel Robinson, Jackie Robinson's widow and his partner throughout his incredible life's journey. And as Mrs. Obama explained to the young crowd, Mrs. Robinson's example can be their guide. "Jackie and Rachel Robinson weren't destined for greatness -- they prepared themselves for greatness, which meant that they could make a difference outside of baseball, as well. And that is the only thing that is important for you to understand. You can be great in your profession, you can earn a lot of money, you can be famous, but the question is what are you doing for others."
Ezra MechaberApril 02, 2013
10:39 AM EDT
Ed. note: This event has concluded, you can watch the full Q&A below.
Today, President Obama unveiled the BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) Initiative, which aims to help researchers find new ways to treat, cure, and even prevent brain disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, and traumatic brain injury.
At 12:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, April 2nd, you'll have a chance to ask questions about the initiative in the latest Open for Questions session with Tom Kalil, Deputy Director for Technology and Innovation in the Office of Science and Technology Policy; Dr. Francis Collins, Director of National Institutes of Health; and Dr. Arati Prabhakar, Director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
Here's how you can participate:
April 02, 2013
10:15 AM EDT
Note: Want to learn more about the BRAIN Initiative? Watch Tom Kalil, Innovation Advisor; Dr. Francis Collins, Director of National Institutes of Health; and Dr. Arati Prabhakar, Director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) discuss the new research effort in an Open for Questions session.
Today at the White House, President Obama unveiled the “BRAIN” Initiative—a bold new research effort to revolutionize our understanding of the human mind and uncover new ways to treat, prevent, and cure brain disorders like Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, autism, epilepsy, and traumatic brain injury.
The BRAIN Initiative — short for Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies — builds on the President’s State of the Union call for historic investments in research and development to fuel the innovation, job creation, and economic growth that together create a thriving middle class.
The Initiative promises to accelerate the invention of new technologies that will help researchers produce real-time pictures of complex neural circuits and visualize the rapid-fire interactions of cells that occur at the speed of thought. Such cutting-edge capabilities, applied to both simple and complex systems, will open new doors to understanding how brain function is linked to human behavior and learning, and the mechanisms of brain disease.
In his remarks this morning, the President highlighted the BRAIN Initiative as one of the Administration’s “Grand Challenges” – ambitious but achievable goals that require advances in science and technology to accomplish. The President called on companies, research universities, foundations, and philanthropies to join with him in identifying and pursuing additional Grand Challenges of the 21st century—challenges that can create the jobs and industries of the future while improving lives.
In addition to fueling invaluable advances that improve lives, the pursuit of Grand Challenges can create the jobs and industries of the future.
Colleen CurtisApril 01, 2013
06:44 PM EDT
President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, daughters Sasha and Malia, and Marian Robinson listen to Jessica Sanchez sing the National Anthem on the South Portico at the 2013 White House Easter Egg Roll, April 1, 2013. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)
The First Family today welcomed more than 30,000 guests to the South Lawn for the 135th annual White House Easter Egg Roll. This year's theme, "Be Healthy, Be Active, Be You" was inspired by Let's Move!, and the day's fun included numerous opportunities for the young guests to get moving, from the traditional Egg Roll to the Eggtivity Zone, an obstacle course where players and coaches from professional sports teams taught kids how to play sports and showed them easy, fun ways to stay active and fit.
After being introduced to the crowd from the Blue Room Balcony by "Kid President" Robbie Novak, President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and their daughters Malia and Sasha headed over to cheer on some of the youngest visitors as they raced down the Lawn in the Egg Roll. The President and Bo then made their way to the Storytime Stage where he gave a dramatic reading of "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom", calling it "one of my favorite books." Next up for the President was a drop by at the White House basketball court, where he joined some of the Washington Wizards in throwing the ball around with kids.
April 01, 2013
01:00 PM EDT
Our national pastime and our Nation’s leaders have shared a unique relationship for some 150 years. Presidents throwing out first pitches or hosting World Series winners at the White House are familiar images from each baseball season.
The connection between Presidents and baseball stretches back as far as Abraham Lincoln. According to research conducted for the 1939 Major League Baseball Centennial Celebration, Lincoln was playing baseball in Springfield, Illinois, when he was informed that the Chicago Republican Convention had nominated him as the Presidential candidate. Lincoln is reported to have responded, “They will have to wait a few minutes until I get my next turn at bat.” A year later when he arrived at the White House in 1861, baseball’s popularity had caught on in Washington, D.C. As President, Lincoln is said to have played baseball on the White House lawn.
Kasie CoccaroApril 01, 2013
07:40 AM EDT
Ed note: This livestream has concluded.
Today, the President and First Lady will host more than 30,000 people from all 50 states on the South Lawn of the White House for the 135th annual Easter Egg Roll. The curated live stream (above) is new this year, and features historic facts about egg rolls past and will highlight select events throughout the day.
Check out the complete Easter Egg Roll line-up, and go to WH.gov/live to watch additional live streams, including a feed from the Storytime Stage, where this year's readers include NASCAR’s Danica Patrick, Minnesota Viking Adrian Peterson, Elmo, Abby, Gordon and Rosita from Sesame Street, the full cast of Super Sprowtz, The Wanted, and actress Quvenzhané Wallis, or you can tune in to the Rocking Egg Roll Stage to see performances from Jordin Sparks, Austin Mahone, Coco Jones, Sesame Street, and The Wanted. You can also watch cooking demonstrations of healthy family favorites from top chefs at the Play with Your Food station, and of course you can follow all the day's action on social media using the hashtag #EasterEggRoll or on Storify, below.
For more information head to WH.gov/EasterEggRoll.
Colleen CurtisMarch 30, 2013
06:00 AM EDT
President Obama uses his weekly address to mark a sacred time for the millions of Americans celebrating Easter and Passover, and he calls on everyone to use this time to reflect on the common values we share as a nation. The President says that this is a chance to embrace loved ones, give thanks for our blessings, and help those less fortunate as we celebrate our individual traditions as well as the thread of humanity that connects us all.
March 29, 2013
05:47 PM EDT
Middle East Trip: Last Friday, President Obama wrapped up his visit to the Middle East. The President paid respects with a visit to Mount Herzl where he honored two Jewish heroes, Theodor Herzl and former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Then President Obama took a tour of Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Complex.
Later, President Obama joined Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the West Bank where they toured the crypt containing the birthplace of Jesus.
The President then traveled to Jordan, the final stop of his trip, where he was greeted at Al-Hummar Palace in Amman by King Abdullah II and his son, Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah. The President participated in an official welcoming ceremony followed by a series of events in Jordan.
Remembering Sandy Hook: On Thursday, President Obama promised Americans he had not forgotten about the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy. Standing with parents and teachers of gun violence victims, the President pressed Congress to pass legislation to protect our children and our communities.
And I want to make sure every American is listening today. Less than 100 days ago that happened, and the entire country was shocked. And the entire country pledged we would do something about it and that this time would be different. Shame on us if we've forgotten. I haven't forgotten those kids. Shame on us if we've forgotten.
In January, the President put out a series of common-sense proposals to reduce gun violence. Download the plan here.
Colleen CurtisMarch 29, 2013
04:11 PM EDT
President Obama was in Florida today, where he got a chance to see the Port Miami tunnel project on Dodge Island. The project, which is the result of three years of work by over 500 employees and more than 6,000 sub-contractors and vendors, will connect the port to the interstate highway system more quickly and safely and will take over 1.5 million trucks out of the downtown area per year.
It is projects like this one, the President said in remarks following his tour, that will help reignite the true engine of our economic growth -- a rising, thriving middle class. "Projects like this create a lot of other good jobs, too," President Obama explained. "You ask any CEO where we they rather locate their business and hire new workers. Are you going to set up shop in a country that's got raggedy roads, runways that are pot-holed, and backed-up supply chains? Or are you going to seek out high-speed rail, Internet, high-tech schools, new state-of-the-art power grids, new bridges, new tunnels, new ports that help you ship products made in America to the rest of the world as fast as possible? That's what people are looking for. That's what CEOs are looking for."
March 29, 2013
03:02 PM EDT
“The role of citizens in our democracy does not end with your vote. America’s never been about what can be done for us. It’s about what can be done by us together through the hard and frustrating, but necessary work of self-government.” -- President Barack Obama, November 7, 2012
Since the first day of the Obama Administration, the Federal government has worked to make government more efficient, effective, and responsive to citizens’ needs. The Administration has harnessed new technology to engage the public, worked to disclose information more quickly, and given citizens a greater voice in decision-making.
In September 2011, the Administration’s work was launched on the world stage when President Obama and other world leaders endorsed the principles of the global Open Government Partnership (OGP). As part of our commitment to OGP, the United States launched the National Action Plan, a set of twenty-six concrete commitments that help increase public integrity, promote public participation, manage public resources more effectively, and improve public services. Praised by civil society organizations and the public, the Plan stands as a great example of what we can do as a country when government, civil society, and the public collaborate together. As the President has said, “Put simply, our countries are stronger when we engage citizens beyond the halls of government.”
Today, we are proud to report that the United States has fulfilled twenty-four of those commitments. You can read more about the implementation of our National Action Plan here. Some highlights include:
Matt ComptonMarch 29, 2013
03:00 PM EDT
In September 2009, the President announced that—for the first time in history—White House visitor records would be made available to the public on an ongoing basis. Today, the White House releases visitor records that were generated in December 2012. This release brings the total number of records made public by this White House to more than 3.1 million—all of which can be viewed in our Disclosures section.
Ed. note: For more information, check out Ethics.gov.
March 29, 2013
02:22 PM EDT
Newtown. Today, the name of the town itself immediately conjures many images and emotions for people throughout our country. After visiting Newtown myself yesterday I am left with the memory of two words specifically -- perseverance and character.
I was privileged to visit the Newtown Prevention Council, a drug free communities coalition dedicated to reducing substance abuse in Newtown, Connecticut. The Council has been in existence since 1986 and seeks to help young people and families make decisions in support of healthy and substance-free lifestyles. But as with all prevention focused coalitions they also strengthen family and build resiliency and self-reliance for a community.
I asked them if the presence of their Coalition had helped them since the tragedy that rocked their community on December 14. To a person, they agreed it had. Coalition members include faith leaders, the chief of the Newtown police department, public and private school principals, counselors, health care professionals including a school nurse and emergency room doctor, high school students and several other community members.
In the face of unspeakable tragedy, the strength of this community has come through. Community members and members of this coalition support one another and cultivate the core characteristics of a town that will be known not just for the tragedy it has been through but for its resilience and character. The community coalition has done great work in Newtown to reduce underage drinking and substance use. Using evidence based techniques they work to give parents and young people the tools they need to lead healthy lives. And they build trusting relationships among the participants, relationships that pay huge dividends when tragedy strikes.
Colleen CurtisMarch 29, 2013
01:58 PM EDT
Over the last four years, construction crews have built or improved more than 350,000 miles of road – enough to circle the world more than 14 times. We’ve upgraded more than 6,000 miles of rail – enough to go coast-to-coast and back. And American workers have repaired or replaced more than 20,000 bridges.
But we still have a long way to go.
While our national infrastructure got its best grade in 15 years from the American Society of Civil Engineers' annual report card in 2013, that grade is now a D+ instead of a D. We don’t have to accept that for America -- we can do better. And in a time of tight budgets, we can do it in a way that makes sure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely. Additionally, there are few more important things we can do to create jobs right now, and strengthen our economy than to put people back to work rebuilding America – our roads, bridges, schools, and ports.
In his 2013 State of the Union address, President Obama announced a three-part plan to encourage private investment in American infrastructure that will make our roads, bridges, and ports safer, give our businesses and workers the tools to compete successfully in the global economy, and create thousands of much-needed jobs in cities and towns across the country. Here’s how it works:
Valerie JarrettMarch 29, 2013
01:08 PM EDT
In honor of Women’s History Month, last week, we welcomed a group of high school students to participate in a conversation with a mentoring panel at the White House. It was followed by a celebration in the East Room with President Obama and the First Lady. Here are some of the highlights and interviews from the panelists and attendees:
Adam GarberMarch 29, 2013
12:00 AM EDT
This week, the President wrapped up an historic trip to the Middle East with stops in Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan, and then returned home for a naturalization ceremony, visits with the LA Galaxy and Kings, African Leaders, young ambassadors and Spanish-language television. He finished the week by pressing for commonsense action to protect children from gun violence.
Kori SchulmanMarch 28, 2013
07:29 PM EDT
Earlier today, the White House invited innovators from around the country to join a Google+ Hangout to discuss the Maker Movement, a growing community of young people and adults who are designing and building things on their own time.
White House innovation advisor Tom Kalil moderated the conversation with participants including: 11-year-old Super Awesome Sylvia, creator of the Super Awesome Maker Show; Dale Dougherty, founder of MAKE Magazine and creator of Maker Faire; Tara Tiger Brown, co-founder and executive director at LA Makerspace; Saul Griffith, co-founder of Otherlab; and Venkatesh Prasad, Ford technical leader. And in a first for White House Hangouts, a robot joined too.
During the Hangout, participants discussed the elements of an "all hands on deck" effort to elevate Making and also share their ideas on how we can get more young people interested in STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math). Here's what you missed:
We'll continue to host hangouts with key members of the Administration on a range of issues. Follow the White House on Google+ for updates from the Administration and opportunities to participate in upcoming Hangouts.
Todd ParkMarch 28, 2013
07:26 PM EDT
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services today released a new, easy-to-use interactive tool that gives anybody - researchers, physicians, public health professionals, policymakers, consumer advocates, tech innovators, and the public – the ability to find and examine data on multiple chronic conditions among Medicare beneficiaries. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Chronic Conditions Dashboard furthers the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) goals for health promotion and the prevention and management of multiple chronic conditions and is an integral part of the Administration’s Health Data Initiative that seeks to release more health-related data in more usable formats to the public in order to promote innovation and improvement in health and care.
The Dashboard includes data for 2011 and presents summarized information on the prevalence of chronic conditions, as well as aggregate Medicare costs and utilization measures for beneficiaries with multiple chronic conditions at various geographic levels – national, state, and hospital referral region. Examples of what you can find in the Dashboard include:
Grant T. HarrisMarch 28, 2013
04:56 PM EDT
President Barack Obama meets with, from left, President Macky Sall of Senegal, President Joyce Banda of Malawi, President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone, and Prime Minister José Maria Pereira Neves of Cape Verde in the Cabinet Room of the White House, March 28, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Today President Obama welcomed President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone, President Macky Sall of Senegal, President Joyce Banda of Malawi, and Prime Minister José Maria Pereira Neves of Cape Verde to the White House. The United States has strong partnerships with these countries based on shared democratic values and shared interests. Each of these leaders has undertaken significant efforts to strengthen democratic institutions, protect and expand human rights and civil liberties, and increase economic opportunities for their people.
President Obama and the visiting leaders discussed how the United States can expand our partnership to support their efforts to strengthen democratic institutions and promote economic opportunity, both in their countries and across sub-Saharan Africa. A particular focus of the conversation was on the importance of transparency and respect for human rights, and President Obama commended each leader for their work in these areas and their commitment to join the Open Government Partnership. President Obama also commended these leaders for their leadership on food security and engaged the leaders in a fruitful conversation about how the United States can help Africa harness the potential of its young people and empower the next generation of African leaders.
A unique view of 2012