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  • President Obama Delivers Remarks Announcing Gen Dunford

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks announcing Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr. as the nominee for Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Gen. Paul J. Selva, far right, as the nominee for Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in the Rose Garden of the White House, May 5, 2015. National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Vice President Joe Biden participate. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    This afternoon, President Obama nominated Marine General Joseph Dunford to succeed Gen. Martin Dempsey as the next Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman – the principal military advisor to the President and his national security team.

    Gen. Dunford served as the Commander of American and Coalition Forces in Afghanistan in 2013 and 2014, and now serves as the Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps. President Obama called Gen. Dunford one of the “most admired officers in our military,” and someone whose decision-making he trusts. 

  • Today, the White House is convening the nation’s leading thinkers on infrastructure planning and design to highlight how projects like new roads and transit lines can be designed to foster economic opportunity and increase resilience to the impacts of climate change. To help communities seeking to expand their pipelines of well-designed projects, the Administration is also releasing a Federal Guide to Infrastructure Planning and Design. This community resource guide incorporates programs and opportunities from eight federal agencies and lays out a new set of principles to inform the work of local and State governments, public and private utilities, planners and other stakeholders around the U.S.

    The guide is part of the Build America Investment Initiative, an Administration-wide effort to help communities design and finance more and better infrastructure projects. As dozens of studies have suggested, the United States is currently underinvesting in our infrastructure by hundreds of billions of dollars per year. And by 2045, our population will grow by 70 million people, and the demands on our infrastructure systems will grow in parallel. For example, we currently move more than 60 tons of freight per person per year – and by 2045, that will grow by 45 percent.

    But it’s not just population and economic growth that will put pressure on U.S. infrastructure. Climate change will also test the strength and endurance of the highways we drive on, the airports we fly out of, and the dams, reservoirs, canals and water facilities that provide water to our homes, businesses and farms. The National Association of Clean Water Agencies, for example, estimates that adaptation to climate change will cost water utilities between $500 billion and a $1 trillion over the next 35 years. Given such challenges, we need to be building smarter by anticipating future demands and integrating new technologies and design methods.

  • For Teacher Appreciation Day, U.S. Chief Data Scientist DJ Patil shares the following story about Mrs. Minneti, his high school physics teacher — and his favorite teacher — and the lasting influence she's had on his life.

    Share your own story here, or online using the hashtag #ThankATeacher.


    I wasn’t a very good student in high school. From being suspended to getting kicked out of my math class, it was a pretty rough ride. But clearly, I ended up doing something right somewhere along the line — and it was thanks to the amazing teachers who went the extra mile for me.

    That’s why today — Teacher Appreciation Day — means so much to me.


    Because we’ve all had one of those teachers: the ones that know how to look deep into our souls, see that spark of potential, and then nurture that flame.


    I was fortunate enough to give a commencement address about one of those teachers who came to my aid — Mr. Knapp — but there are many more.

    DJ Patil

    One of those was my high school physics teacher: Mrs. Minneti. I was an OK student in her class (which is to say that I wasn’t terrible). But she let me hang out in her classroom late in the school day, when I didn’t have much else to do. She was always ready with great insights on how to think about life and the extremely practical nature of what learning meant. You might say she taught me the lessons of science that weren’t in the book. She asked me questions to which I didn’t know the answers — helping me think at a deeper level.

    She was my favorite teacher.

  • Ed. note: This is cross-posted on The Huffington Post.

    Today, I will join President Obama as he travels to Lehman College in the Bronx, NY to speak about the importance of expanding opportunity and to applaud a new private-sector entity -- the My Brother's Keeper Alliance.

    A group of private-sector leaders and other prominent private citizens, led by Joe Echevarria (the former CEO of Deloitte LLP) have come together to form this new, independent non-profit. Joined by a diverse range of philanthropic, community, and private-sector partners, leaders of the Alliance are pledging to work to expand opportunity for youth, strengthen the American workforce, and fortify the economic stability of communities across America.

    The Alliance will join other private-sector organizations all across America to focus on expanding opportunity and tearing down barriers facing our youth so that we can truly say the American Dream is available to all.

    Meanwhile, at the White House, the work of the President's My Brother's Keeper (MBK) Task Force, which it is my honor to chair, will continue to move forward on the work the President has charged us with. We will continue -- with great urgency -- to disseminate best practices, strengthen federal policy, and implement strategies to support communities in their efforts to expand opportunity for all youth.

  • President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address at the Anacostia Neighborhood Library in Washington, D.C., April 30, 2015

    President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address at the Anacostia Neighborhood Library in Washington, D.C., April 30, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    In this week’s address, the President reiterated his commitment to expanding access to education, and to spreading the joy of reading to more children and young adults.

    Earlier this week, the President announced two new efforts that, building on the progress already made by his ConnectED initiative, will do just that: a challenge to mayors, libraries, and school leaders to help every student get a library card; and commitments from libraries and major publishers to provide more than $250 million in free e-Books for low-income students. In his address, the President also previewed his upcoming commencement speech at Lake Area Tech, in Watertown, South Dakota, where he will discuss his plan to make two years of community college as free and universal for every American as high school is today.

    The President is working to ensure every child has the access to the education and resources they need to be successful.

    Transcript | mp4 | mp3

  • President Obama joined students at Anacostia Neighborhood  Library in Southeast Washington, D.C. yesterday to announce a plan to give low-income children access to 10,000 e-books. As a part of Discovery Education’s “Of the People" webinar series, students asked the President questions about his favorite books, how books have influenced his life, and the importance of technology in classrooms and libraries.

    This discussion builds on the President's ConnectEd initiative to ensure all students have access to a cutting edge classroom. The plan includes $250 million in e-book commitments from major US publishing houses (Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, Hachette, Penguin Random House, HarperCollins) as well as a slate of independent publishers of books and magazines (Bloomsbury, Candlewick, Cricket Media, and Lee & Low).

    These books will be made available in the coming months through a new app being launched by a consortia of libraries and non-profit organizations, supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

    Here are some of our favorite books that kids will now be able to read thanks to this initiative: 

  • From a humorous night at the White House Correspondence Dinner to a beautiful arrival ceremony and state dinner for the Prime Minister and First Lady of Japan, this was a busy week at the White House. President Obama attended his sixth White House Correspondents’ Dinner, hosted the Prime Minister and First Lady of Japan, welcomed the newly sworn in Attorney General, delivered remarks about the recent protests in Baltimore, and announced a new partnership to expand access to free books for American students.

    In case you missed it, here are a couple highlights from the week.


    “Welcome to the Fourth Quarter:” The White House Correspondents' Dinner

    Over the weekend, President Obama attended his sixth White House Correspondents' Dinner -- an evening to celebrate the importance of journalism and the dedication of reporters. In recent decades, the Correspondents' Dinner has also traditionally given Presidents a chance to show off their comedic sides. This year, the President gave us a preview of what to expect from the "fourth quarter" of his presidency -- and enlisted the help of comedian Keegan-Michael Key (better known as Luther from Comedy Central's "Key and Peele") to be his "anger translator."

    Watch the President's full remarks from this year's Correspondents' Dinner.

    Watch on YouTube

  • Watch on YouTube

    In his 2015 State of the Union address, President Obama outlined his plan to make sure that new educational data remains safe. Urging action, the President said that Congress needed to pass legislation that better meets the growing threat of cyber attacks and identity theft. While speaking at the Federal Trade Commission in January, the President discussed protecting both parents and children from cyber threats.


    “We need a structure that ensures that information is not being gathered without us as parents or the kids knowing it,” he said. “We want our kids’ privacy protected -- wherever they sign in or log on, including at school.”


    That’s why we are pleased to see Representatives Luke Messer (R-IN) and Jared Polis (D-CO) answer the President’s State of the Union call to enact new protections for K-12 students’ data to ensure that classrooms can embrace technology with confidence.

  • This week, the President hosted the Japanese Prime Minister, joked around at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, sat down for an interview with the Wall Street Journal, visited the Lincoln Memorial, took a walk with the 2015 National Teacher of the Year, and participated in a “virtual field trip.” That’s April 24 to April 30 or, “I Think That Works!”

  • First Lady Michelle Obama and President Obama wear their college gear for #CollegeSigningDay
    Each year, the nation rallies behind promising athletes as they decide where they will take their prodigious talents. Families gather around the TV to watch the draft, commentators speculate on this prospect or the other and where they’ll play college football the next year, and fans daydream about what will become of their teams.

    First Lady Michelle Obama believes that every student who has worked hard to achieve the monumental milestone of going to college should receive that same enthusiastic support, and that our country should celebrate college going with the same fervor.

    Last year, the First Lady spoke at a College Signing Day event in San Antonio, Texas. Wearing her Princeton t-shirt, Mrs. Obama told her personal story as a first-generation college student and commended the seniors on how far they had come. In that speech, she also challenged the students to continue to push forward, saying:

    Just getting into college isn’t the ultimate goal. You have got to stay focused once you get there, and you’ve got to get that degree or that certificate.

  • Watch on YouTube


    "The most powerful engine for learning is between your ears." – President Obama 


    President Obama dropped in to the Anacostia Neighborhood Public Library today in Washington, D.C. to join a “virtual field trip” with students across the country to talk about the power of reading and the importance of preparing for a higher education. 

    Every child deserves the chance to learn and thrive in an environment that is enriched with the latest technology that will connect our future leaders to the information they need to succeed. Today, the President announced two new efforts to expand those opportunities: new #BooksForAll commitments, and the ConnectED Library Challenge. Major publishers are joining together to provide unlimited access to thousands of children’s and young adult e-books, and public libraries across the country are stepping up to help give every child enrolled in school a library card. 

    Read more about these new initiatives here

    While at the library, the President participated in a conversation with kids – in-person and broadcast virtually to classrooms around the world through a Discovery Education webinar – about the power of reading. He shared a few new details of what he was like as a young student, a young parent, as an author and a voracious reader.  

    Here are three things the President shared about his life growing up that you may not know: 

  • President Obama answers questions from students during a Discovery Education webinar

    President Barack Obama answers questions from students during the Discovery Education webinar entitled "Read to Discover a World of Infinite Possibilities," at the Anacostia Neighborhood Library in Washington, D.C., April 30, 2015. 6th-grader Osman Yaya moderates the event which is part of the "Of the People: Live from the White House" Virtual Field Trip series. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    Two years ago, President Obama launched ConnectED -- a bold initiative to connect all of America’s schools and libraries to the digital age, to jumpstart learning technology, and to ensure that America’s young people can benefit fully from new advances in digital content and connectivity.

    As part of the ConnectED effort, today the President traveled to the Anacostia Neighborhood Library in Washington, D.C. to announce new partnerships to expand access to free books for America’s students, and to ensure every student has easy access to their local library and the wealth of knowledge and resources it can provide.

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


     

    Earlier this week, I traveled to Cleveland, Ohio to speak at the fourth regional forum as part of this year’s White House Conference on Aging (WHCOA). The meeting brought together a wide variety of leaders to work on a common goal: addressing the changing landscape of aging.

    Our nation is experiencing an incredible transformation, with 10,000 Americans turning 65 every day. And we also know that the way folks view retirement is changing — it’s no longer looked at as the closing chapter in one’s life, but rather the beginning of a new one.

  • This morning, the President sent the following message to the White House email list, highlighting the importance of having good teachers on the road to higher education and a brighter future. He talked about the lasting influence of Ms. Hefty, his fifth-grade teacher, and asked readers to share their own education stories.

    Add your voice to the conversation here, and tell us what made your education possible -- whether it was a teacher who inspired you, a book that changed you, or a college that shaped you. (And if you didn't get the President's email, sign up for email updates here.)


    I credit my education to Ms. Mabel Hefty just as much as I would any institution of higher learning.

    When I entered Ms. Hefty's fifth-grade class at Punahou School in the fall of 1971, I was just a kid with a funny name in a new school, feeling a little out of place, hoping to fit in like anyone else.

    The first time she called on me, I wished she hadn't. In fact, I wished I were just about anywhere else but at that desk, in that room of children staring at me.

    But over the course of that year, Ms. Hefty taught me that I had something to say -- not in spite of my differences, but because of them. She made every single student in that class feel special.

    And she reinforced that essential value of empathy that my mother and my grandparents had taught me. That is something that I carry with me every day as President.

    This is the simple and undeniable power of a good teacher. This is a story that every single kid in this country, regardless of background or station in life, should be able to tell. Sharing stories like these helps underline the vital importance of fighting for that reality.

    This week, we're starting that conversation, and I want you to add your voice to it.

  • Every comma, every period, every semicolon.

    When it comes to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, President Obama has taken important steps to include new voices and increase the transparency of our trade negotiations. From soliciting input from groups traditionally left out of negotiations like labor and environmental groups to supporting new provisions that require months of public review before a deal is signed, the Administration is committed to ensuring the maximum possible transparency throughout the negotiations.  

    In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, the President laid out what the public can expect to see before he signs an agreement and well before any vote is taken in Congress:


  • Economic growth in the first quarter was restrained by factors including tepid foreign demand and harsh winter weather. At the same time, households saved most of their gains from low energy prices, Over the past four quarters, the most persistent and stable components of GDP — consumption and fixed investment — have grown 3.3 percent. This trend complements the strong pace of job growth and unemployment reduction over the last year. This report underscores that the U.S. economy is directly affected by the global economy, making clear the importance of advancing Trade Promotion Authority in Congress so the President can take further steps to open up markets abroad to increase U.S. exports and expand opportunities for the middle class. In addition, we could further solidify the positive trends in the domestic economy by expanding investments in infrastructure and ensuring the sequester does not return in the next fiscal year as outlined in the President’s FY2016 Budget.

    FIVE KEY POINTS IN TODAY’S REPORT FROM THE BUREAU OF ECONOMIC ANALYSIS

    1. Real gross domestic product (GDP) grew 0.2 percent at an annual rate in the first quarter of 2015, according to the advance estimate from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The report, which was likely affected by notably harsh winter weather in the first quarter (see point 2), reflects a slowdown in personal consumption as well as declines in fixed investment and net exports — as U.S. exports continue to be restrained by the global growth slowdown (see point 4). Indeed, the decline in net exports subtracted more than a full percentage point from quarterly GDP growth. Another major contributor to the slowdown was declining investment in mining exploration, shafts, and wells — likely reflecting the response to the sharp decline in oil prices — that subtracted more than half a percentage point from quarterly growth. Four-quarter growth of real GDP rose to 3.0 percent as the 2014-Q1 decline dropped out of the four-quarter moving average.

  • President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Dr. Jill Biden launch the Joining Forces initiative to support and honor America's service members and their families, in the East Room of the White House, April 12, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

    President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Dr. Jill Biden launch the Joining Forces initiative to support and honor America's service members and their families, in the East Room of the White House, April 12, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)


    The First Lady greets audience members after a military community event at Camp Lejeune, N.C., April 13, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    The First Lady greets audience members after a military community event at Camp Lejeune, N.C., April 13, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)


    The First Lady and Dr. Biden drop by Operation Shower, a celebration for pregnant women whose husbands are service members at Camp Lejeune, N.C., April 13, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    The First Lady and Dr. Biden drop by Operation Shower, a celebration for pregnant women whose husbands are service members at Camp Lejeune, N.C., April 13, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

  • Yesterday, Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe arrived in Washington, D.C. for the beginning of a State Visit with President Obama. Prime Minister Abe’s visit is a tribute to the partnership between the United States and Japan that for seven decades has made enduring contributions to global peace, security, and prosperity.

    Watch the arrival ceremony here: 

    Watch on YouTube


    "Across seven decades, our nations have become not just allies, but true partners and friends."

    — President Obama on relations between the U.S. and Japan


    As one of the first activities of the Prime Minister’s time in America, President Obama and Prime Minister Abe traveled to the Lincoln Memorial here in Washington, D.C. to spend time together in a place of historical significance to the United States. The President and Prime Minister toured the Memorial, standing between the Gettysburg Address and Lincoln’s second inaugural address, to chat and reflect.

    President Obama and Prime Minister Abe of Japan visit the Lincoln Memorial

    President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan visit the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., April 27, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

     

  • Today, in long-struggling pockets of major cities and small suburban towns cut off from regional economic engines, in the Low Country of South Carolina and on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, the Administration is announcing eight new Promise Zone partnerships to fuel the revitalization of high-poverty communities.

    In these Promise Zones, we will support locally developed plans that leverage private-sector investment to create jobs, increase economic activity, improve educational opportunity, and reduce violent crime.

  • On April 12, Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old native of Baltimore, was arrested by the city’s police. He died a week later. 

    The Department of Justice is now investigating the events that led to his death and today, President Obama offered his thoughts to the family and friends of Freddie Gray who are appropriately looking for answers while at the same time making clear there is “no excuse” for violence.

    He noted that events in Baltimore called attention to the urgent need throughout the country to build trust between communities and their police. 

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