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  • 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. 

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    “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.

  • Today, the President is in Camden to talk about the promising progress that city is making in enhancing community policing. Last December, President Obama launched the Task Force on 21st Century Policing to better understand specific policing challenges and help communities identify actions they can take to improve law enforcement and enhance community engagement. Since that time, we have seen law enforcement agencies around the country working harder than ever to make the promise of community policing real.

    Many of the Task Force’s recommendations emphasize the opportunity for departments to better use data and technology to build community trust. As a response, the White House has launched the Police Data Initiative, which has mobilized 21 leading jurisdictions across the country to take fast action on concrete deliverables responding to these Task Force recommendations in the area of data and technology. Camden is one such jurisdiction. 

    By finding innovative work already underway in these diverse communities and bringing their leaders together with top technologists, researchers, data scientists and design experts, the Police Data Initiative is helping accelerate progress around data transparency and analysis, toward the goal of increased trust and impact. Through the Initiative, key stakeholders are establishing a community of practice that will allow for knowledge sharing, community-sourced problem solving, and the establishment of documented best practices that can serve as examples for police departments nationwide.

  • Yesterday morning, President Obama attended the National Peace Officers Memorial Service where he honored 131 peace officers who died in the line of duty this year and met with the families of the fallen law enforcement members. The National Peace Officers Memorial Service, held annually at the U.S. Capitol, is part of National Police Week and pays tribute to the men and women – beat cops, deputies, detectives, correctional and forest service officers, federal agents, and tribal police - who have put themselves in harm’s way so that others could live in safety.

  • President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, May 15, 2015.

    President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, May 15, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

    In this week’s address, the President highlighted the importance of expanding opportunity for all Americans -- a principle that has guided his work throughout the past six years. This past week, the President attended a summit at Georgetown University where he discussed issues like poverty and inequality, and what we can do to ensure everyone gets a fair shot.

    We’ve seen real results in this area, but there is still more that can be done. And lack of opportunity is not the only barrier to success. That’s why, on Monday, the President will travel to Camden, New Jersey to visit with local law enforcement, meet with young people, and hear directly about efforts to build trust between the police and the community in a city that has faced one of the highest crime rates in America.

    Transcript | mp4 | mp3

  • This week, the President traveled to Nike headquarters, welcomed entrepreneurs to the White House, sat down for a discussion on poverty in America, and took important steps to eliminate any ambiguity around the reforms that the Affordable Care Act calls for. The First Lady also had a busy week, which included delivering a powerful commencement address at Tuskegee University--the only university in America to be designated as a National Historic Site. 

    Find out more about the past week in our latest weekly wrap-up.


    “We’ve Got to Learn the Right Lessons”

    Last Friday, the President dropped by Nike headquarters in Oregon to talk about the impact his trade deal -- the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) -- will have on American businesses, large and small. Manufacturing and exports help drive the success of our businesses and the financial security of our workers. Companies that export their goods and services pay their employees up to 18 percent more, and are more able to expand and hire.

    Watch on YouTube

    In fact, Nike announced that the President's trade deal, if secured, could lead to the creation of up to 10,000 advanced manufacturing and engineering jobs -- and up to 40,000 indirect supply chain and services jobs -- here in the U.S. over the next decade.

    Watch the President’s remarks at Nike, and learn more about his trade deal.

  • Today, the President and Vice President released their 2014 financial disclosure reports.

    The Ethics in Government Act of 1978 requires high-level federal officials to publicly disclose their personal financial interests. The public filing system serves to prevent financial conflicts of interest by providing for a systematic review of the finances of government officials. Those finances are set forth in annual disclosures which are reviewed and certified by ethics officials. Neither the President nor the Vice President have any conflicts of interest, and their reports have been reviewed and certified by the independent Office of Government Ethics. We are continuing this Administration's practice of posting these forms online here in the interests of transparency:

  • This week, the President visited Nike Headquarters, joined a panel discussion on combatting poverty with economists, welcomed the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries to the White House, and congratulated the graduates of one of the top community colleges in the nation, where he crossed a certain geographical threshold only three other Presidents have done. That’s May 8th to May 14th or, “The 50th State!”

  • B.B. King Performs at the White House Christmas

    BB King performs "Merry Christmas Baby" at the National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C. December 9, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)


    "There's going to be one killer blues session in heaven tonight." 


    President Obama had the following to say on the passing of American icon B.B. King: 

    "The blues has lost its king, and America has lost a legend. B.B. King was born a sharecropper’s son in Mississippi, came of age in Memphis, Tennessee, and became the ambassador who brought his all-American music to his country and the world. No one worked harder than B.B. No one inspired more up-and-coming artists. No one did more to spread the gospel of the blues. 

    Three years ago, Michelle and I hosted a blues concert at the White House. I hadn’t expected that I’d be talked into singing a few lines of “Sweet Home Chicago” with B.B. by the end of the night, but that was the kind of effect his music had, and still does. He gets stuck in your head, he gets you moving, he gets you doing the things you probably shouldn’t do – but will always be glad you did. B.B. may be gone, but that thrill will be with us forever. And there’s going to be one killer blues session in heaven tonight."

    Watch B.B. King's unforgettable performances at the White House -- including a duet with the President: 

    Sweet Home Chicago

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