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  • Last week, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and its National Academy of Medicine (NAM) announced that they will convene an international meeting this fall at which researchers, ethicists, and other experts will discuss the implications of human germline gene-editing technologies in both research and clinical applications.

    The White House applauds NAS and NAM for convening this dialogue and fully supports a robust review of the ethical issues associated with using gene-editing technology to alter the human germline. The Administration believes that altering the human germline for clinical purposes is a line that should not be crossed at this time.

  • This afternoon, First Lady Michelle Obama addressed the Class of 2015 at Oberlin College in Ohio. 

    First Lady Michelle Obama at Oberlin College

    First Lady Michelle Obama is presented an honor sash during Oberlin College commencement ceremony in Oberlin, Ohio May 25, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

    The First Lady addressed the graduating Oberlin College class because Oberlin College was selected as part of the First Lady’s Reach Higher initiative’s “Near-Peer Mentoring College” Challenge – a challenge to institutes of higher education urging them to share videos on the ways they are helping high school students take charge of their future.

  • This Memorial Day morning, President Obama traveled to Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia to pay solemn tribute to the men and women of our armed forces who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

    President Obama participates in a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

    President Barack Obama participates in a Memorial Day wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., May 25, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    President Obama continued the tradition of many past presidents before him, laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and delivering remarks to those in attendance. The President was also joined by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey. 

  • President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, May 22, 2015

    President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, May 22, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

    In this week’s address, the President commemorated Memorial Day by paying tribute to the men and women in uniform who have given their lives in service to our country.

    The President will spend the first Memorial Day since the end of the war in Afghanistan at Arlington Cemetery, remembering the more than 2,200 American patriots who gave their lives in that conflict, as well as all of our fallen soldiers. The President asked that all Americans spend Monday honoring the memory and sacrifice of those heroes, and remain committed to the cause of freedom and the country for which they fought. 

    Transcript | mp4 | mp3

  • This week was National Police Week, and the President honored fallen officers at the National Peace Officers Memorial Service; celebrated the reform efforts of police officers in Camden, New Jersey; signed the National Blue Alert Act to help protect police officers; and congratulated the graduates at the 134th Commencement of the Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut. POTUS also sent his first tweet. That's May 15 to May 21 or, "@POTUS!"

  • Over the past few months, hundreds of thousands of Americans have signed petitions on our We the People petitions platform related to community policing, in the wake of the police-involved deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, and others. This week, we invited these petition signers to join a White House call about improving community-police relations.

    Yesterday's conversation participants included:

    • Roy Austin, Deputy Assistant to the President for Urban Affairs, Justice, and Opportunity
    • Brittany Packnett, Member of the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing
    • DJ Patil, U.S. Chief Data Scientist
    • David Wilkinson, Director of the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation

    During the call, they highlighted new steps we're taking to improve community-police relations through the use of open data, demilitarizing local police forces, and other recommendations from the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

    The participants also answered some questions that petition signers submitted in advance of the call -- questions such as what we can achieve by looking at police data on a national level, or how we can change the view of the community to one where police are seen as "guardians" instead of "occupiers."

    If you missed yesterday's call, you can listen to the full discussion below. (And if you want to be in the loop about future events like this, make sure to visit We the People and add your voice by creating or signing a petition.)

  • Jewish American values are woven into the fabric of American life and have shaped the progress we’ve made as a country. That history has fundamentally shaped the President’s personal views and leadership. As he told The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg: 

    "To me, being pro-Israel and pro-Jewish is part and parcel with the values that I've been fighting for since I was politically conscious and started getting involved in politics. There’s a direct line between supporting the right of the Jewish people to have a homeland and to feel safe and free of discrimination and persecution, and the right of African Americans to vote and have equal protection under the law."

    Today at 11:00 am ET, in honor of National Jewish American Heritage Month, President Obama will address the Adas Israel congregation in Washington, D.C., the first synagogue in the U.S. to be addressed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Watch his remarks live:

    Before the President speaks, he'll meet with a few leaders from the American Jewish community who exemplify the many ways that American Jews contribute to and strengthen our country. And we wanted to share a first look with you.

  • Yesterday, President Obama delivered the commencement address to the 134th Cadet Class of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. The President congratulated the class on all they had achieved over the last four years, but reminded them of the challenges they will face both domestic and abroad; challenges like counter-terrorism, counter-narcotics, search and rescue, and disaster relief.

    Of the greatest challenges the Cadets will face will be those wrought by our changing climate. As the President stated:

    “Around the world, climate change increases the risk of instability and conflict.  Rising seas are already swallowing low-lying lands, from Bangladesh to Pacific islands, forcing people from their homes.  Caribbean islands and Central American coasts are vulnerable, as well.  Globally, we could see a rise in climate change refugees.  And I guarantee you the Coast Guard will have to respond.  Elsewhere, more intense droughts will exacerbate shortages of water and food, increase competition for resources, and create the potential for mass migrations and new tensions.  All of which is why the Pentagon calls climate change a ‘threat multiplier.’” 

    It's time to Act on Climate graphic
     

  • This week, I had the honor of presenting 45 American companies with the President's “E” and “E” Star Awards, a recognition awarded to U.S. businesses that have made significant contributions to U.S. exports. These awardees, which range from small- and medium- sized businesses to household names, understand the importance of exports to their bottom line, American jobs, and the U.S. economy.

    Increasing U.S. exports is a top priority for President Obama and our entire Administration. With our support, America’s private sector made 2014 another record year, selling $2.35 trillion of goods and services to overseas markets. Exports also supported 11.7 million private sector jobs in 2014, an all-time high.

    We are achieving these new records because the 300,000 U.S. businesses that export, including our “E” awardees, understand that their competitiveness depends on reaching the 96 percent of the world’s customers who live beyond our borders. They are companies like Vac Pac, a family-owned business in Baltimore, whose company first won the “E” Award in 1966. Their “E” Star recognition 50 years later is a reflection of their consistent contributions to U.S. export growth.

    We also honored household names like Harley Davidson, which has exported their iconic motorcycles for over a century.

  • Yesterday, President Obama traveled to New London, Connecticut to give the commencement address to the class of 2015 at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. 

  •  


    “We’ve grown up with you. The country has – after a tough day at the office or coming home from work, knowing you’ve been there to give us a little bit a joy a little bit of laughter – it has meant so much. You’re part of all of us.”

    – President Obama to David Letterman, May 4, 2015


    After 33 years, it’s the last night of the Late Show with David Letterman, an incomparable American icon. Since the first show aired in 1982, Letterman has taken on a lot of new territory, including interviewing President Obama -- the first sitting President to appear on late-night talk shows. 

    President Obama has sat down with Letterman a total of five times — three while in office — and joined him as one of his last guests on May 4, 2015.  

    Here are our top three favorite moments from the times David Letterman sparred with the President. 


    September 21, 2009 – “I was black before the election.”

    President Obama on Letterman 2009

    President Barack Obama reacts to a photograph of himself displayed by Late Show host David Letterman during their interview at CBS Studios in New York, N.Y. September 21, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    On whether the rancor and vitriol surrounding the President’s health care reform efforts was “rooted in racism”: 

    THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, I think it’s important to realize that I was black before the election.

    LETTERMAN: And how long have you been a black man?

    THE PRESIDENT: So the American people, I think, gave me this extraordinary honor. That tells you a lot about where the country is at. I actually think that what’s happened is that whenever a President tries to bring about significant changes — particularly in times of economic unease — then, there is a certain segment of the population that gets very riled up … What has been missing from the conversation is that the overwhelming majority of people — Republican or Democrat — they just want to see some common sense, some honesty and integrity in Washington.

  • Ed. note: The following was originally posted on Tradewinds, the official blog of the United States Trade Representative. You can read the original post here


    Today’s environmental challenges are staggering in their severity and scope.

    Iconic animals such as elephants and rhinoceros, as well as lesser known species, such as the pangolin, saola, vaquita, and totoaba are under threat from wildlife trafficking. Illegal fishing is driving global economic losses in the billions each year while depleting treasured marine resources. While illegal logging is damaging ecosystems and undercutting sustainable, regulated business.

  • It is certainly true that America’s trade policy plays a large role in the resurgence and strength of our economy – but that’s not the only role it fills. Our trade policy also sits at the core of our strategy to keep America and our allies safe in the 21st century. 

    So here's the question: How can the President's progressive trade deal -- the Trans-Pacific Partnership -- help safeguard our future?

    Speaking today at Boeing Headquarters in Seattle, WA, America's top diplomat -- Secretary of State John Kerry -- offered this answer

    "It is no secret that the world in the future looks pretty complicated right now. The turbulence that we see comes from a combination of factors, including the fact that even as the world grows closer, there are powerful forces pulling people apart – terrorism, extreme nationalism, conflicts over resources, a huge number of people coming of age in parts of the world where there simply aren’t enough jobs. This creates a race between opportunity and frustration that we can’t afford to lose.

    Expanded trade can help us win that race by spurring innovation and – and as we’ve seen in Asia and elsewhere – helping hundreds of millions of people to lift themselves out of poverty. And poverty, my friends, is where you see much of this violent extremism born.

  • Advancing turbine technology will unlock 700,000 more square miles of wind potential and make it a reality in all 50 states.

    Now available in 39 states, wind power has emerged as an important source of American clean energy – and there’s potential for even more. Today, the Energy Department released a new report – Enabling Wind Power Nationwide  – that shows how the next generation of wind turbines can help expand wind power in all 50 states.

  • Pollinators are critical to the Nation’s economy, food security, and environmental health. Honey bee pollination alone adds more than $15 billion in value to agricultural crops each year, and helps ensure that our diets include ample fruits, nuts, and vegetables. This tremendously valuable service is provided to society by honey bees, native bees and other insect pollinators, birds, and bats.

    Pollinator Strategy - 2015

    A honey bee, with pollen attached to its hind leg, pollinating a watermelon flower. (Photo by Stephen Ausmus/USDA)

    But pollinators are struggling. Last year, beekeepers reported losing about 40% of honey bee colonies, threatening the viability of their livelihoods and the essential pollination services their bees provide to agriculture. Monarch butterflies, too, are in jeopardy. The number of overwintering Monarchs in Mexico’s forests has declined by 90% or more over the past two decades, placing the iconic annual North American Monarch migration at risk. 

    That’s why last June, President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum directing an interagency Task Force to create a Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators. Today, under the leadership of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Task Force is releasing its Strategy, with three overarching goals:

    1. Reduce honey bee colony losses to economically sustainable levels;
    2. Increase monarch butterfly numbers to protect the annual migration; and
    3. Restore or enhance millions of acres of land for pollinators through combined public and private action.

    The Strategy released today and its accompanying science-based Pollinator Research Action Plan outline needs and priority actions to better understand pollinator losses and improve pollinator health. These actions will be supported by coordination of existing Federal research efforts and accompanied by a request to Congress for additional resources to respond to the pollinator losses that are being experienced.

    Increasing the quantity and quality of habitat for pollinators is a major part of this effort—with actions ranging from the construction of pollinator gardens at Federal buildings to the restoration of millions of acres of Federally managed lands and similar actions on private lands. To support these habitat-focused efforts, USDA and the Department of Interior are today issuing a set of Pollinator-Friendly Best Management Practices for Federal Lands, providing  practical guidance for planners and managers with land stewardship responsibilities. 

    The President has emphasized the need for an “all hands on deck” approach to promoting pollinator health, including engagement of citizens and communities and the forging of public-private partnerships. To foster collaboration, the interagency Pollinator Health Task Force will work toward developing a Partnership Action Plan that guides coordination with the many state, local, industry, and citizen groups with interests in and capacities to help tackle the challenge facing pollinators.

  • Lady Bird Johnson attends the ceremony for National Head Start Day, June 30, 1965

    Lady Bird Johnson attends the ceremony for National Head Start Day, June 30, 1965. Front row, left to right: Timothy Shriver, Robert Shriver, Danny Kaye, Lady Bird Johnson, Mrs. Lou Maginn (Director of a HeadStart project in East Fairfield, Vermont), Sargent Shriver. (LBJ Presidential Library)

    Lady Bird Johnson attends the ceremony for National Head Start Day, June 30, 1965

    Lady Bird Johnson attends the ceremony for National Head Start Day, June 30, 1965. Front row, left to right: Timothy Shriver, Robert Shriver, Danny Kaye, Lady Bird Johnson, Mrs. Lou Maginn (Director of a HeadStart project in East Fairfield, Vermont), Sargent Shriver. (LBJ Presidential Library)

    Fifty years ago today, President Lyndon B. Johnson created Head Start — a program to help meet the emotional, social, health, nutritional, and psychological needs of preschool-aged children from low-income families.

  • Today, President Obama traveled to Camden, New Jersey -- a city that has struggled with one of the nation's highest violent crime rates.

    Dedicated to building a stronger, safer community, the Camden County Police Department and the community have worked together to help police do their jobs more safely, to reduce crime, and to create more economic opportunity in communities that have been saddled with a history of isolation. 

    As President Obama said, it will take a concerted, "all-hands-on-deck" effort to change the odds for these communities: 

    If we as a society don’t do more to expand opportunity to everybody who’s willing to work for it, then we’ll end up seeing conflicts between law enforcement and residents. If we as a society aren’t willing to deal honestly with issue of race, then we can't just expect police departments to solve these problems. If communities are being isolated and segregated, without opportunity and without investment and without jobs -- if we politicians are simply ramping up long sentences for nonviolent drug crimes that end up devastating communities, we can't then ask the police to be the ones to solve the problem when there are no able-bodied men in the community, or kids are growing up without intact households.

  • Something pretty big happened today.

    Perched on the edge of the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, the President sent his very first tweet from @POTUS -- the official Twitter account of the President of the United States. 

    The Internet got pretty excited about it. So we pulled together 10 of our favorite replies from Day One of the @POTUS Twitter account.

    Take a look -- then follow @POTUS and send a reply of your own. (You can follow more official White House accounts here.)


  • "I am overcome with gratitude that you have had the courage to make these preventative health services available to all women."

    — Alison S.


    Alison S., a young woman from Arlington, Virginia, wrote to the President: “Today, for the first time at age 32, I picked up my prescription for oral contraception and was charged a grand total of $0.00.”

    Because of the Affordable Care Act, there are birth control options available to women, with no co-pay or cost-sharing. Even with a private health care plan she has through her plan, the ACA is helping her by improving the benefits she receives.

    Alison wanted to let President Obama know that she was grateful: “It is reassuring to know that our nation’s leader is advocating for such progressive measures in our modern society.”

    For more information about contraception availability through the ACA, click here

  • President Barack Obama tweets his first tweet from his new @POTUS account from the Oval Office

    President Barack Obama tweets his first tweet from his new @POTUS account from the Oval Office, May 18, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

    Today, with a tweet from the Oval Office, President Obama launched @POTUS, the official Twitter account of the President of the United States.

    The @POTUS Twitter account will serve as a new way for President Obama to engage directly with the American people, with tweets coming exclusively from him. President Obama is committed to making his Administration the most open and participatory in history, and @POTUS will give Americans a new venue to engage on the issues that matter most to them.

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