Read all posts from April 2014

  • First Lady Michelle Obama, with Dr. Jill Biden and introducer Chrissandra Jackson, delivers remarks during a Joining Forces event at the American Red Cross in Washington, D.C., April 30, 2014.

    First Lady Michelle Obama, with Dr. Jill Biden and introducer Chrissandra Jackson, delivers remarks during a Joining Forces event at the American Red Cross in Washington, D.C., April 30, 2014. As part of the third anniversary of Joining Forces, they announced commitments and a pledge made by philanthropies nationwide to support veterans and military families. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

    Today, as part of the third anniversary of Joining Forces, the First Lady and Dr. Biden announced that the Council on Foundations will lead the philanthropic community in establishing the Veterans Philanthropy Exchange, which will be an enduring forum for donors to communicate and share best practices about supporting the veteran and military communities.

    "We’ve got to show our veterans and military families that our country is there for them not just while they’re in uniform, but for the long haul," said the First Lady.

    The First Lady announced that the philanthropic community is pledging more than $100 million over the next five years to support veterans and military families. These commitments will fund organizations that support service members, veterans, survivors, and their families. The First Lady also called upon more donors to join this effort in order to fully support all those nonprofits and community groups that do such wonderful work for the military and veteran communities every day.

  • Today marks the first National Day of Action as part of America’s PrepareAthon!, a community-based campaign to build a more secure and resilient nation by getting people to think about the disasters that could happen in their communities and to take action to increase their preparedness.

    Actions include signing up for mobile alerts and warnings; holding a preparedness discussion to emphasize the steps you, your family, friends, colleagues, and community should take to be ready should a disaster occur; and conducting a drill so people are familiar with what to do beforehand.  

    Join over five million participants who have registered to take part! Here at the White House, we're holding a preparedness training for employees to learn how they can prepare themselves, their loved ones, and others. Joining us will be Owlie Skywarn, the National Weather Service mascot who helps promote severe weather education and safety. 

    All across the nation, individuals, workplaces, schools, institutions of higher education, houses of worship, community-based organizations, states, and local governments have embraced America’s PrepareAthon! by planning events that inspire people to get more prepared in the event of a wildfire, hurricane, tornado, or flood. Below are some events happening around the country, including a few that you can join virtually.


    #Petpared Twitter Challenge – Complete pet preparedness actions, like creating a pet emergency kit and taking pets on an emergency drill. After finishing, take a picture of your pet and yourself and tweet it with the hashtag #Petpared by April 30.

  • Ed. note: This is cross-posted on DipNote, the U.S. Department of State's official blog. See the original post here.

    Last week, we announced that we were heading to São Paulo, Brazil to attend NETmundial, a global meeting of governments, entrepreneurs, academics, Internet institutions, civil society activists and users to discuss the future of Internet governance. We expressed our hope that NETmundial would make an important contribution to the positive evolution of the Internet and its governance. Our optimism was well-founded. As one of Brazil’s leading Internet scholars and chair of Netmundial Virgilio Almeida brought NETmundial to a close, the U.S. government delegation rose in applause. And almost everyone else in the room rose with us.

    We applauded to affirm the Multistakeholder Statement of São Paulo, the ideas it presents, the ideals it embraces, and the multistakeholder process that made it possible. We rose out of appreciation for the Brazilians and the Internet community leaders that brought us together and impressively managed a challenging conversation. And we rose in joint commitment to preserving, promoting, and expanding the benefits of a single, interoperable, open, and global Internet for all of the world’s people.

    The success of NETmundial was no small feat. Every sector of society from six continents came together to discuss and debate a path forward for international Internet governance. We outlined principles for Internet governance and developed a path for a way forward. In our open and collaborative meetings in Brazil, we demonstrated the utility of the multistakeholder process for addressing stakeholders’ needs, and set a valuable example for what is possible in other forums. It is a game-changing achievement that the results and outcomes of NETmundial were substantive and meaningful; we can and will build on the momentum it creates for progress.

  • Today’s GDP estimate is subject to a number of notable influences, including historically severe winter weather, which temporarily lowered growth in the first quarter. The report also shows the positive impact of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act which, together with continued slowing in health costs, helped strengthen the economy in the first quarter. The President will do everything he can either by acting through executive action or by working with Congress to push for steps that would raise growth and accelerate job creation, including fully paid-for investments in infrastructure, education and research, a reinstatement of extended unemployment insurance benefits, and an increase in the minimum wage.


    1. Real gross domestic product (GDP) rose 0.1 percent at an annual rate in the first quarter of 2014, following the 3.4 percent annual pace in the second half of 2013. Looking at the various components of GDP, consumer spending grew at a rapid pace, mainly reflecting sharp increases in health care and utilities consumption, while the other elements of consumer spending on net rose only slightly. Consumer spending on food services and accommodations fell for the first time in four years, one of several components that was likely affected by unusually severe winter weather. Exports and inventory investment, two particularly volatile components of GDP, also subtracted from growth.

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    One in five college-aged women is sexually assaulted in college – most often by someone she knows. The Obama Administration is committed to putting an end to this violence, which is why today, the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault released its first-ever report and announced a series of actions to help address the problem and make sure victims know they are not alone.

    In addition to helping schools identify the scope of the problem, prevent sexual assault on campus, and respond when a student is assaulted, today’s announcements will also help strengthen federal enforcement efforts and improve and improve government communication with survivors, parents, school administrators, and the public.

    To make enforcement data and other sexual assault resources accessible to students and schools, the task force launched a new website, On the site, students can learn about their rights, search enforcement data, and read about how to file a complaint. Schools and advocates can find federal guidance on legal obligations, the best research, and relevant legislation.

    See what organizations and elected leaders from around the country are saying about today’s announcements.

  • After today’s news from the Supreme Court, over 240 million Americans can breathe easier. In their decision, the Court upheld a vitally important public health rule issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2011. EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which implements the “good neighbor provision” of the Clean Air Act, requires power plants to cut pollution that is causing smog and soot problems in downwind states. Those states are home to roughly three-quarters of all Americans. 

    EPA previously estimated that the rule will prevent up to 34,000 premature deaths, 15,000 nonfatal heart attacks, 19,000 cases of acute bronchitis, 400,000 cases of aggravated asthma, and 1.8 million sick days a year – achieving up to $280 billion in annual health benefits.

    These substantial health benefits will be achieved at modest costs using readily available pollution controls already adopted by many power plants. While leveling the playing field, the rule also gives power companies the flexibility to choose the most cost-effective option for cutting air pollution and protecting downwind communities.

    The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule is one of President Obama’s major clean air and public health accomplishments. Other major actions include:

    • First-ever national limits on mercury and other toxic pollution from power plants
    • New car and gasoline standards to cut vehicle pollution
    • Long-overdue limits on toxic air pollution from industrial boilers and incinerators
    • Rules to cut smog-forming pollutants from oil and gas wells
    • Tighter air quality standards for particulate pollution (or soot), reflecting new science about dangerous health impacts 

  • Ed. note: This is cross-posted from the U.S. Department of Labor's Work in Progress blog. See the original post here.

    To realize President Obama’s vision of opportunity for all, it’s all about making the right match. The way we do that is through job-driven training — connecting ready-to-work Americans with ready to be-filled jobs. It helps more people secure a foothold in the middle class and helps businesses to profit and grow.

    Today, we’re announcing that we’re providing up to $150 million for states, through a new Job Driven National Emergency Grants program, to invest in programs that help dislocated workers, who’ve lost a job through no fault of their own, get back in the game. I’ve met so many people who’ve been out of work for six months or more, proud and hard-working people who’ve exhausted their unemployment benefits. Their full-time job is looking for a full-time job. They’re pounding the pavement every single day. These grants will help them find the job opportunities they need and deserve.

  • When President Truman created the National Security Agency in 1952, its very existence was not publicly disclosed. Earlier this month, the NSA sent out a Tweet making clear that it did not know about the recently discovered vulnerability in OpenSSL known as Heartbleed. For an agency whose acronym was once said to stand for “No Such Agency,” this step was unusual but consistent with NSA’s efforts to appropriately inform the ongoing discussion related to how it conducts its missions.

    While we had no prior knowledge of the existence of Heartbleed, this case has re-ignited debate about whether the federal government should ever withhold knowledge of a computer vulnerability from the public. As with so many national security issues, the answer may seem clear to some, but the reality is much more complicated. One thing is clear: This administration takes seriously its commitment to an open and interoperable, secure and reliable Internet, and in the majority of cases, responsibly disclosing a newly discovered vulnerability is clearly in the national interest. This has been and continues to be the case. 

    This spring, we re-invigorated our efforts to implement existing policy with respect to disclosing vulnerabilities – so that everyone can have confidence in the integrity of the process we use to make these decisions. We rely on the Internet and connected systems for much of our daily lives. Our economy would not function without them. Our ability to project power abroad would be crippled if we could not depend on them. For these reasons, disclosing vulnerabilities usually makes sense. We need these systems to be secure as much as, if not more so, than everyone else. 

  • This is part of a series of essays about the issues facing working families in the 21st century, leading up to the White House Summit on Working Families on June 23, 2014.

    Before coming to work at the White House, I was a practicing lawyer and experienced first-hand what it was like to grapple with raising young children as a single mom. While I had a demanding job that included late nights and lots of travel, I had the good fortune to have the resources to have wonderful childcare in my home that I trusted and who were always available for me and my kids. And I was also able to take full advantage of technological advances, as I could put my kids to bed at night and then go back to writing legal briefs that I could fax back in the middle of the night, and later, I could send in through my computer when that became possible. (Yes, I am old enough to remember when there was no such thing as the internet or a laptop computer).

    But I also know that I was one of the lucky ones: Millions of working parents in America do not have these advantages and instead are struggling to hold jobs that make ends meet, while worrying about who is taking care of their kids. Many people have to choose between a job and sick child or parent, and many give up a career they trained long and hard for in order to meet the needs of their families.

    It’s time for our workplaces to adapt to that changing workforce – and that is why I am so excited to be a part of the team putting together the White House Summit on Working Families.

    On June 23rd of this year, the Department of Labor and Center for American Progress are teaming up with the White House Council on Women and Girls to host the Summit, and throughout the next few months, we will engage with groups and individuals across the country to identify initiatives that benefit America’s working families, American businesses and the American economy, because as President Obama said in his State of the Union address, “When women succeed, America succeeds.”

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    Yesterday, while visiting Malaysia, President Obama participated in the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Town Hall, hosted by the University of Malaya.

    During the town hall, the President answered questions from the youth in attendance, and from young people who asked questions online and through social media.

    "These trips are usually all business for me," said the President, "but every once in a while I want to have some fun, so I try to hold an event like this where I get to hear directly from young people like you -- because I firmly believe that you will shape the future of your countries and the future of this region."

  • John Podesta meets Pope John Paul II

    John Podesta meets Pope John Paul II on June 2, 1994 when Mr. Podesta served as Staff Secretary to President Clinton, during the first of his two presidential visits to Vatican City.

    I am writing from Rome, where Congressman Xavier Becerra, the President’s Director of Legislative Affairs Katie Beirne Fallon, and I had the honor of serving as the Presidential Delegation to the Holy See. Yesterday, we, along with U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Kenneth Hackett and his wife Joan, attended the historic canonization Mass for Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II at the Vatican. 

    In different ways, John XXIII and John Paul II defined what it meant to be Catholic in the 20th century. Their influence and their example as men of humility, compassion, service, and faith provide profound lessons to people around the world. 

    Pope John XXIII took leadership of the Church around the time I took my First Communion, at St. Edward’s Parish on the Northwest Side of Chicago. Seventy-six years old when he was elected, there were few who imagined the former Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli as a revolutionary. But the man we know today as il Papa buono, the Good Pope, was not content to let the Church go on as it always had. 

  • In this week’s address, the President highlights small business owners across the country acting to raise wages for their workers, and calls on Congress to give America a raise so more hard-working Americans have the opportunity to get ahead.

    Transcript | mp4 | mp3

  • As part of the President's Climate Action Plan, this Administration has taken historic steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Our National Program for fuel efficiency standards has set increasingly stringent targets for greenhouse emission reductions for cars and light trucks. The program is expected to save consumers more than $1.7 trillion at the pump and reduce 6 billion metric tons of carbon pollution over the lifetimes of new vehicles – more carbon dioxide than the United States emitted in all of 2012.

  • This week, more than 30,000 guests stopped by the South Lawn for the 136th White House Easter Egg Roll; the President traveled to Japan and Korea for his fifth trip to Asia during his time in office; the First Lady and Dr. Biden announced that over half a million veterans and military spouses have been hired through Joining Forces; and more. Check out what else you may have missed in this week's wrap up.

    The Eggs They Are a-Rollin'

    Sports were played, books were read, and eggs were rolled on Monday as the President and the First Lady welcomed more than 30,000 guests to the South Lawn of the White House for the 136th White House Easter Egg Roll.

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    See more from the Easter Egg Roll, and make sure to check out President Obama's inspired reading of "Where the Wild Things Are."

  • In this year’s State of the Union address, President Obama called on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour. That would benefit more than 28 million workers, helping families across the country make ends meet.

    But exactly how would it help? We’ll show you.

    Check out our new interactive state-by-state maps, which break down how a $10.10 minimum wage can help workers in each state. And if you agree that 28 million Americans deserve a raise, add your name.

  • 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 January 2014. Today’s release also includes visitor records generated prior to September 16, 2009 that were requested by members of the public in March 2014 pursuant to the White House voluntary disclosure policy. This release brings the total number of records made public by this White House to more than 3.61 million—all of which can be viewed in our Disclosures section.

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    Yesterday marked the ninth year that the White House has participated in “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day.” The program aims to bring girls and boys together to create a more equitable world at home, school, the workplace, and their greater communities. This year’s theme, “Plant a Dream at the White House: Grow Your Future in Public Service,” served as inspiration for the day’s programming.

    More than 180 children of employees of the Executive Office of the President spent the morning at the White House, exploring different career paths and, ultimately, cultivating their hopes and dreams for the future.

  • This week, the White House celebrated Easter, and the President began a week-long trip to Asia, while the First Lady and Dr. Biden hosted a Career Forum on Veterans Jobs. 

  • Ed. Note: Registration for this event is now closed. For more information about ways to engage with the White House check out

    Calling all teachers!

    On Wednesday, May 7, 2014, the White House will mark National Teacher Appreciation Week by inviting 20 educators from across the country to a special White House social for a conversation with Administration officials, including lifelong educator Dr. Jill Biden and Education Secretary Arne Duncan. The teachers will also take a tour of the White House and stop for a cup of tea with Dr. Biden.

    Interested in being one of the 20 teachers? If you follow @DrBiden on Twitter, @VP on Instagram, @WhiteHouse on Instagram, or The White House on Pinterest, you could be. Teachers can apply right now at — registration closes at 12:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday, April 29th.

  • On Wednesday, the First Lady and Dr. Biden visited Fort Campbell to speak with service members, families, and employers at the Veterans Jobs Summit and Career Forum. Afterwards, they fielded questions about Joining Forces from Americans across the country.

    Answering questions submitted via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden highlighted new tools for veterans, explained how Americans can get involved and help our heroes, and discussed why supporting our military families is such an important issue to them.

    Q: Why is supporting our military families an important issue to you & Dr. Biden? – Monica Pope of Houston, TX