Read all posts from April 2011

  • At a time of high gas prices and massive oil industry profits, the President renews his call to end the $4 billion-per-year subsidies for oil and gas companies and invest in clean energy.

    Read the Transcript | Download Video (mp4) | Download Audio (mp3)

  • Today, millions of Americans suffer from conditions like Alzheimer’s Parkinson’s and heart disease. And while we don’t know exactly what stem cell research will yield, scientists tell us that this research has the potential to help treat or cure these and many other diseases and conditions.

    That’s why President Obama supports responsible stem cell research and it’s why we’re pleased with a court decision that paves the way for stem cell research to continue.  Earlier today, a court ruled that a lawsuit challenging the federal government’s ability to support stem cell research was unlikely to succeed and allowed federally supported stem cell research to continue.

    The ruling was a victory for scientists and the patients who will benefit from their work. And the ruling will help ensure our nation remains at the forefront of scientific and medical research and innovation.  As President Obama said tonight to the students of Miami Dade College at their commencement , “America will only be as strong as our pursuit of scientific research and our leadership in technology and innovation.”

    Stem cell research has the potential to cure diseases that have touched virtually every American family. We’re committed to realizing this potential and supporting responsible research that could develop new treatments, improve public health and deliver relief to patients in America and around the world. 

  • Your quick look at the week that was on WhiteHouse.gov.

    Download Video: mp4 (17MB)

    Eggs, Actors, and Athletes: The First Family celebrated Easter by hosting the 133rd White House Easter Egg Roll on Monday. 30,000 people from all 50 states and the District of Columbia got to attend, and were welcomed by a day chock full of special events and activities. This year's theme was "Get Up and Go," in keeping with the First Lady's Let's Move! initiative.

    Helping Storm Victims in the South: Violent storms struck a number of southern states this week, leaving hundreds dead and thousands more with devastated homes and communities. The President directed recovery efforts from the White House, and traveled to Alabama with the First Lady to meet with families and recovery leaders. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was in St. Louis to survey the damage done to the airport and city. FEMA posted online resources for helping recovery workers and victims.

  • Watch live beginning at 6:55 p.m. EDT as President Obama delivers the commencement address at Miami Dade College.

    UPDATE: This event has now concluded.

  • Ed. Note: Visit the FEMA blog to find ways to get assistance if you were affected by the recent storms.

    Watch the President's full remarks here.

    The President stood with Alabama officials this afternoon to discuss what was clearly a sobering tour of Tuscaloosa (watch video from the tour):

    Well, Michelle and I want to express, first of all, our deepest condolences to not just the city of Tuscaloosa but the state of Alabama and all the other states that have been affected by this unbelievable storm.  We just took a tour, and I’ve got to say I’ve never seen devastation like this.  It is heartbreaking.  We were just talking to some residents here who were lucky enough to escape alive, but have lost everything.  They mentioned that their neighbors had lost two of their grandchildren in the process.

    There were stories like that not only all over town, but across the state and even the region, and the President praised the “resilience” of the people he had met even as they were surrounded by tragedy. He commended all the Alabama officials who have been working with the federal government and pledged that the work would continue well after the swarms of television cameras left:

  • In September 2009, the President announced that – for the first time in history – the White House would routinely release visitor records. Today, the White House releases visitor records that were generated in January 2011. Today’s release also includes several visitor records generated prior to September 16, 2009 that were requested by members of the public in March 2011 pursuant to the White House voluntary disclosure policy. This release brings the grand total of records that this White House has released to over 1.25 million records. You can view them all in our Disclosures section.

    Ed. Note: For more information, check out Ethics.gov.

  • Rating for the Race to the Top Commencement Challenge finalists will close TODAY at 11:59 p.m. EDT. 

    Visit WhiteHouse.gov/Commencement now to watch the finalists’ videos, read their essays, and give each finalist a rating on a scale of 1-5 (5 being the best).  Your ratings will help us narrow down the pool to the top three finalists and President Obama will pick the winning school from the top three finalists.

    Head over to WhiteHouse.gov/Commencement to submit your ratings now and be sure to check back on Monday, May 2 to find out which schools made the top three. 

  • Civil rights, economic and social justice, the rights of workers to bargain collectively...the air here at the White House was thick with these sentiments today.

    They were brought to us by eight of the surviving members of the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Strike, who came to the White House today for the first time in their lives.

    President Barack Obama talks with participants from the 1968 Memphis sanitation strike, an iconic campaign in civil rights and labor rights history, during a meeting in the Map Room of the White House, April 29, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

    [View Full Size]

    If that long-ago strike sticks out in your mind, it’s because Dr. Martin Luther King went to Memphis to support the almost entirely African-American sanitation workforce as they struck for union recognition, better pay, safer working conditions, and, fundamentally, respect.

    It was there, on April 3, that Dr. King delivered his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech.

    And it was there, on April 4, when that amazing man was taken from us.

    Please, if you do nothing else today, read (or reread) that speech.  Read it to yourself, to your partner, to your parents and to your kids.  You would be hard-pressed to find another document that so perfectly weaves together the beautiful yet all too fragile fabric of the historical struggle for basic human rights.

  • Editor's Note: This was originally posted on The Department of Homeland Security blog.

    The devastating storms and tornadoes that have swept across Missouri, Alabama and other parts of our nation this week are a vivid reminder that disasters of all kinds can strike at any time, and it is vital that all of us, including members of our nation's emergency management team and the American public, are prepared to act.

    Yesterday, I traveled to St. Louis to tour the Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, which suffered severe damage when tornadoes struck the region last weekend. During my visit, I had the opportunity to meet with some of the heroic TSA workers who were on duty during the tornadoes and played a key role in helping the airport re-open quickly. Additionally, FEMA teams were already on-site to assess the damage and assist with the process of getting the airport fully functional again.  At my direction, FEMA also has deployed personnel to the state’s emergency operation center to help coordinate assistance and work side-by-side with its state and local partners.

    While in St. Louis, I also joined Secretary Arne Duncan and Missouri Governor Jay Nixon at Carnahan High School of the Future to participate in the Great Central U.S. ShakeOut--the largest-ever, multi-state earthquake drill to be held in the United States, and the first major drill to take place along the New Madrid Seismic Zone, which was the site of one of the worst earthquakes in U.S. history nearly 200 years ago.  In total, 2,644 K-12 schools and 117 colleges participated in the ShakeOut, along with businesses, local, state and federal government agencies, child care centers, and many other organizations.  The exercise will go a long way in helping us be prepared in the event of a major earthquake.

  • Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. This week, while the White House celebrated Easter, holding the traditional egg roll on the South Lawn, President Obama kept his focus on the nation's finances, working on short term and long term ways to get away from high gas prices.  He also pledged support for Alabama and other states in the South hit by devastating storms and announced new key members of his National Security team.

  • Watch the First Lady's full remarks here.

    Today is Take our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. The Executive Office of the President celebrated by encouraging staff to bring their children to work with them at the White House. Over 150 children took part in a program designed to encourage young people to explore the different paths they can take to create their own future. The theme for this year’s event was Invent Your Future: A Day at the White House for Tomorrow’s Leaders.

    The day began with the children taking the same Oath of Office their parents took on their first day in the EOP. They were then treated to a slideshow presentation from the White House Photo Office, showing the President and Vice President at work in Washington, DC and around the country. The children also learned first-hand what it is like to work for the United States Secret Service, the National Park Service, the White House Pastry Chef, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy. The highlight of the event was a question and answer session with First Lady Michelle Obama, where the children asked about her job as First Lady, and First Mom. Some of the great questions included: What is her favorite sport (tennis); what is her first favorite book (Song of Solomon); and what is Bo’s favorite activity (walking the White House grounds or cuddling with the First Lady).

    A special thanks to all those who helped the children of the EOP take another step toward inventing their future.

    Hilary Alley is the Associate Director of the White House Office of Management and Administration.

  • Watch the President's full remarks here.

    As the President announced several new members of his national security team this afternoon, he took a moment to speak to those families in Alabama and throughout the South who are suffering as a result of the devastating storms that just passed through:

  • Last week, Federal agencies released, for the first time, their scorecards on energy and environmental performance.  This marked an important milestone towards achieving the President's sustainability goals under Executive Order 13514 on Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy and Economic Performance.  By establishing benchmarks, these scorecards help guide agencies' 2011 sustainability plans to save energy, improve the environment, and save money.  Today, we mark the next milestone in this process by releasing the first-ever comprehensive Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions Inventory for the Federal Government, which accounts for the GHG emissions associated with the Federal Government’s operations in 2010.

  • The President released the statement below last night:

    Michelle and I extend our deepest condolences to the families of those who lost their lives because of the tornadoes that have swept through Alabama and the southeastern United States. Our hearts go out to all those who have been affected by this devastation, and we commend the heroic efforts of those who have been working tirelessly to respond to this disaster. I just spoke to Governor Bentley and told him that I have ordered the Federal Government to move quickly in our response and informed him that I approved his request for emergency Federal assistance, including search and rescue assets. While we may not know the extent of the damage for days, we will continue to monitor these severe storms across the country and stand ready to continue to help the people of Alabama and all citizens affected by these storms.

  • Today’s report shows that the economy posted the seventh straight quarter of positive growth, as real GDP, the total amount of goods and services produced in the country, grew at a 1.8 percent annual rate in the first quarter of this year.  While the continued expansion is encouraging, clearly, faster growth is needed to replace the jobs lost in the downturn.

    Some key components of GDP continued to expand in the first quarter. Consumer spending rose 2.7 percent at an annual rate, boosted by a 2.9 percent increase in real disposable income that was due in part to the cut in payroll taxes. Equipment and software investment increased 11.6 percent. Spending components that subtracted from GDP included construction of nonresidential structures (-21.7 percent), federal spending (-7.9 percent), and state and local government spending (-3.3 percent). On the production side, goods production rose at a 9.3 percent, roughly consistent with the previously-reported 9.1 percent increase in manufacturing industrial production.  

    These data indicate that the measures put in place by this Administration – such as the payroll tax cut and business incentives for investment – are helping to foster growth.   We will continue to work with Congress to find ways to reduce spending, so that we can live within our means and focus on the investments that are most likely to help grow our economy and create jobs – investments in education, infrastructure, and clean energy.

    Advance Estimate of GDP for the First Quarter of 2011

    Austan Goolsbee is Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers

  • Earlier this week, Speaker John Boehner said Rep. Ryan’s plan to privatize Medicare “transforms Medicare into a plan that's very similar to the President's own health care bill.” This comparison is deeply flawed. Here’s why: 

    No Guaranteed Coverage

    The Congressional Republican plan privatizes Medicare, ending the program as we know it. Insurance companies would be under no obligation to offer insurance to seniors, so many older Americans could be left with no insurance at all.

    The Affordable Care Act preserves Medicare and improves it by making prevention and prescription drugs more affordable, lowering its costs, and improving the quality of care. And health reform extends the life of the Medicare Trust Fund and helps ensure Medicare will continue to provide coverage to seniors in the decades to come.

    Get Older, Pay More

    The Republican plan repeals Medicare’s current policy where seniors are not charged more because of their age. Under the Republican plan, seniors could be forced to pay more for their health care every year, simply because they’ve grown older.
     

  • Miami Education Event Panorama

    April 27, 2011. (by Carlos Llano, Official Miami-Dade College Photos)

    Today at a community conversation at Miami-Dade College, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics and the U.S. Department of Education released the report Winning the Future: Improving Education for the Latino Community. The President will be delivering a commencement address at Miami-Dade College Friday evening. To view the report, click HERE.

    The report shows that Hispanic success in education and in the labor market is of immediate and long‐term importance to America’s economy. It also shows that Hispanics have the lowest education attainment level overall of any group in the U.S. Hispanics are by far the largest minority group in today’s American public education system, numbering more than 12.4 million in the country’s elementary, middle and high schools. Nearly 22 percent, or slightly more than 1 in 5, of all pre‐K-12 students enrolled in America’s public schools is Hispanic, but they face persistent obstacles to educational attainment. Less than half are enrolled in any early learning program. Only about half earn their high school diploma on time; those who do complete high school are only half as likely as their peers to be prepared for college and only 4 percent have completed graduate or professional degree programs.

    As part of the community conversation in Miami today, Senior Obama Administration officials met with dozens of educators and community leaders, to exchange ideas and outline strategies to meet President Obama’s goal for the nation to have the best-educated workforce in the world by 2020.

    Speaker at Miami Education Event

    April 27, 2011. (by Carlos Llano, Official Miami-Dade College Photos)

    Alejandra Campoverdi is the Deputy Director of Hispanic Media.

  • Clean water is the foundation of healthy communities. It is vital to everyone, from families who want safe drinking water, to fishermen and women who want to know their catch is safe to eat, to farmers who rely on it to grow their crops, and everyone in between.   We understand the importance of clean water and healthy watersheds to our economy, to our environment and to our families.

    Clean water has been a priority for this Administration from day one. Through an extensive set of policies and initiatives, we are working across Federal agencies, across governments and across sectors to use every tool in our toolbox to make sure Americans have the clean and healthy waters they need and deserve.

    Today, we released a national clean water framework that affirms the Obama Administration’s comprehensive commitment to ensuring clean water and healthy waterways for American families, American communities, and the American economy.  We're taking strong action to reduce contaminants in our drinking water by using the latest science to update drinking water standards, and by better protecting drinking water sources from pollution.  We’re giving farmers incentives to reduce pollution, and giving landowners incentives to open up their lands for fishing, swimming, and other activities that promote public stewardship of our waters. We're working with states to make sure rural communities have affordable and modern clean water systems.

  • Editor’s Note: Champions of Change is a weekly initiative to highlight Americans who are making an impact in their communities and help our country rise to the many challenges of the 21st century.

    Download Video: mp4 (11MB) | mp3 (1MB)

    It is an honor to be named a Champion of Change by the White House for my work with school nutrition programs in the Pacific Northwest.  Last Friday I joined a roundtable meeting with Administration officials and five other chefs from around the nation to discuss best practices for working with schools and teachers through the Chefs Move to Schools program. 

    We have an extraordinary opportunity in this country to influence a lifetime of healthy eating habits beginning with children and teens.  Schools provide a perfect setting, both in the classroom and in the cafeteria.  Chef volunteers with Chefs Move to Schools are ready to share their expertise to get kids excited about tasty, healthy foods. 

    In the classroom chefs can teach students through demonstration or hands-on cooking experiences.  It could be something as simple as seasonal produce show-tell-and-taste, or a hands-on activity to build cooking confidence.  Chefs in the classroom can also collaborate with the cafeteria to promote new healthy school menu items. 

  • Over the last two weeks, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden have been traveling the country to publicize the launch of their Joining Forces initiative. From North Carolina and Virginia to Colorado and California, the First Lady and Dr. Biden have taken part in events that highlight the amazing work everyday Americans are doing to help America's military families.

    This weekend, PARADE magazine interviewed them about Joining Forces. They talked about why they chose to focus on military families, and what their goals are for getting Americans involved:

    PARADE: If Americans rally around our military families, what do you think this new connectiveness could do for us as a country?

    JILL BIDEN: It would create a lot of patriotism, you know, that feeling I had as a child. We just need to say to America, “Wake up. You need to support these families and we need to lift them up and really value them.”

    MICHELLE OBAMA: And the truth is, I think that’s how most Americans feel.

    Be sure to read the whole interview and find out more.

    As the school year comes closer to an end, and the days get longer and warmer, it can be even easier to find some time to help a military family in your area. It can be as simple as watching the kids for a night, or as big as organizing a cookout for veterans, servicemembers, and their families. Every kindness counts.

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