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Tuesday, July. 22 2014 | Last Update 08:35 PM MST

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ANNOUNCEMENTS - Press Releases

President Obama Visits the Dutch Embassy: "We're All Heartbroken by What's Happened"

President Barack Obama visits the Embassy of the Netherlands

President Barack Obama visits the Embassy of the Netherlands in Washington, D.C., July 22, 2014, to sign a condolence book honoring those who were lost in the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in Ukraine. Standing with President Obama is Peter Mollema, the deputy chief of mission for the Netherlands Embassy. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama visited the Embassy of the Netherlands this morning, signing a condolence book for those killed in the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in Ukraine. In the condolence book, the President wrote:

On behalf of the American people, I extend our deepest condolences to the people of the Netherlands as they mourn the loss of so many family and friends. No words can adequately express the sorrow the world feels over this loss. It is made more acute by the deep ties of friendship between our two countries. Bound by that friendship, we will not rest until we are certain that justice is done.

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When Climate Change Hits Home – A Partnership for the Future

Last week, we had the privilege of meeting with President Obama, members of his Cabinet, and 24 other state, local, and tribal leaders for the fourth and final meeting of the President’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. It was an important milestone in a productive and collaborative process.

We discussed the Task Force’s draft recommendations, including many steps that we hope federal agencies will take to help states and communities like ours get ready for climate change, and the Administration announced bold new actions it is taking to support climate preparedness.

Sitting there together, we recalled how the partnership between Vermont and Fort Collins, Colorado, began in far less auspicious circumstances. In September 2013, floods devastated many Colorado communities along the front range. Vermont, having recently rebuilt hundreds of bridges, roads, and homes after the record-setting Tropical Storm Irene, sent a team led by Vermont’s former recovery officer and current transportation Deputy Sue Minter, to provide advice and support to Colorado leaders as they faced the epic challenge of organizing a swift recovery.

The experience of a severe disaster in both our jurisdictions, and our deep concern that the risk of such events is worsening with climate change, has galvanized our determination to strengthen the resilience of our state and city, and to work together with leaders across the country as we “bounce forward," and make our communities safe and prosperous during a time of increased climate-related risks.

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President Obama at My Brother’s Keeper Town Hall: “America Will Succeed If We Are Investing in Our Young People.”

This afternoon, President Obama visited the Walker Jones Education Campus in Washington, D.C. to participate in a town hall with youth, and to announce new commitments in support of the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative.

As the President said today, "We want fewer young men in jail; we want more of them in college. We want fewer young men on the streets; we want more in the boardrooms. We want everybody to have a chance to succeed in America. And it’s possible if we’ve got the kind of team that we set up today."

Watch President Obama answer questions during today’s town hall:

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President Obama Presents the Medal of Honor to Staff Sergeant Ryan M. Pitts

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At a ceremony at the White House this afternoon, President Obama presented the Medal of Honor to Staff Sergeant Ryan M. Pitts for his unwavering courage in one of the fiercest battles of the Afghanistan war.

In the summer of 2008, when our forces in Afghanistan were stretched thin across isolated outposts, Ryan was serving alongside 48 American soldiers charged with using little resources to defend a post with significant vulnerabilities. Mountains stood sky-high on every side of the village of Wanat, diverting aerial surveillance and delaying the heavy equipment they needed for their defense.

In the pre-dawn darkness of one fateful July morning, while manning this small, unfinished base, Ryan and his fellow soldiers were attacked by 200 assailants who were determined to take their post. “Those 200 insurgents were firing from ridges and from the village and from trees,” President Obama said. “Down at the base, a vehicle exploded—scattering its missiles, back at our soldiers. It was, said a soldier, ‘hell on earth.’”

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What They’re Saying: President Obama Signs Executive Order on LGBT Workplace Equality

President Barack Obama delivers remarks before he signs an executive order regarding further amendments to Executive Order 11478

President Barack Obama delivers remarks before he signs an executive order regarding further amendments to Executive Order 11478, Equal Employment Opportunity in the Federal Government, and Executive Order 11246, Equal Employment Opportunity, to protect LGBT employees from workplace discrimination, in the East Room of the White House. July 21, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Earlier today, President Obama signed an Executive Order that prohibits federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The Order also ensures that federal employees – who are already protected on the basis of sexual orientation – will now formally be protected from discrimination based on gender identity as well.

In response to the President's actions today, many national organizations dedicated to LGBT equality, civil rights, and religious freedom expressed their support.

Anthony Romero, Executive Director, ACLU:

This is one of the most important actions ever taken by a president to eradicate LGBT discrimination from America's workplaces. By signing this order, President Obama is building on a bipartisan tradition, dating back over 70 years, of barring discrimination without exception when taxpayer dollars are involved.

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President Obama Signs a New Executive Order to Protect LGBT Workers

President Obama signs an executive order on further amendments to EO 11478

President Barack Obama delivers remarks before he signs an executive order regarding further amendments to Executive Order 11478, Equal Employment Opportunity in the Federal Government, and Executive Order 11246, Equal Employment Opportunity, to protect LGBT employees from workplace discrimination, in the East Room of the White House, July 21, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

Watch on YouTube

"Many of you have worked for a long time to see this day coming."

Those were President Obama's words to the audience in the East Room of the White House this morning, before he signed an Executive Order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

At the signing, the President explained how, because of their "passionate advocacy and the irrefutable rightness of [their] cause, our government -- government of the people, by the people, and for the people -- will become just a little bit fairer."

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The President Gives an Update on the Situation in Ukraine

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This morning, President Obama made a statement on the current situation in Ukraine, in the wake of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 being shot down last week over territory controlled by Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine.

Following his press statement on Friday, the President restated today that "our immediate focus is on recovering those who were lost, investigating exactly what happened, and putting forward the facts. We have to make sure that the truth is out and that accountability exists."

He also noted that international investigators are already on the ground, prepared and organized to conduct "the kinds of protocols and scouring and collecting of evidence that should follow any international incident like this." President Obama then called on Russia -- and President Vladimir Putin in particular -- to "insist that the separatists stop tampering with the evidence, [and] grant investigators who are already on the ground immediate, full, and unimpeded access to the crash site."

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The Top 5 Best Moments from the 2014 Kids’ State Dinner

Ed. note. This is cross-posted from the Let's Move blog. See the original post here.

Today, the First Lady welcomed fifty-four young chefs from all over the country to the State Dining Room for the 2014 Kids’ State Dinner. These 54 kids were selected from more than 1,500 recipes that were submitted for the Epicurious Healthy Lunchtime Challenge. From the dcor to the talent, food, and big smiles, the White House was bustling with our next generation of kids encouraging healthy habits.

The kids heard from the First Lady, tasted delicious meals, and enjoyed live entertainment all before taking a stroll to the White House Kitchen Garden. There were so many amazing moments from this year’s Kids State Dinner but here’s a “taste” of some of our favorites:

1. Enjoying the Healthy Lunches

From Black Bean Burgers to Smoky Southwestern Vegetable Dip, the lunch cooked up by White House chefs of the winning recipes was healthy and scrumptious! Make sure to check out how to cook up these great recipes in your own kitchen at home!

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What They're Saying Around the Country: Build America Investment Initiative

This week, President Obama spoke about the importance of long-term investments in our country's infrastructure in front of Delaware's Interstate 495 Bridge. In his remarks, President Obama discussed how much the economy has rebounded over the past few years and how we've got a "huge opportunity to keep this momentum going...but also to make sure that growth is broadly shared." The President also announced the launch of the Build America Investment Initiative, a government-wide initiative to increase infrastructure investment and economic growth.

The Build America Investment Initiative will continue to build on the progress our economy is making by creating jobs and expanding opportunity for all hardworking Americans. This initiative has been hailed by leading stakeholders. Here's a sample of what they're saying:

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber

Oregon applauds the President’s new “Build America Infrastructure Initiative” announced today. We look forward to working with the new federal inter-agency work group, both here in Oregon and through our three-state partnership, the West Coast Infrastructure Exchange (WCX)."

BlackRock — Larry Fink, Chairman and CEO

The President's announcement represents a major step forward towards addressing America's infrastructure needs. Our current infrastructure deficit is an economic drag on businesses and consumers alike, and further investment is crucial to fostering economic growth, creating jobs, and keeping us competitive in the global economy.

As these initiatives recognize, private investment will be crucial to successful infrastructure development, especially in light of fiscal constraints on the government. Nonetheless, Congress should continue to develop a more permanent and comprehensive plan to build the 21st-century infrastructure the nation so badly needs.

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Weekly Address: Equipping Workers with Skills Employers Need Now and for the Future

President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, July 11, 2014.

President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, July 11, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

In this week’s address, the President discussed the importance of ensuring that the economic progress we’ve made is shared by all hardworking Americans. Through his opportunity agenda, the President is focused on creating more jobs, educating more kids, and working to make sure hard work pays off with higher wages and better benefits.

This week, the President will visit a community college in Los Angeles to highlight the need to equip our workers with the skills employers are looking for now and for the good jobs of the future, and he will continue looking for the best way to grow the economy and expand opportunity for more hardworking Americans.

Transcript | mp4 | mp3

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What You Might Have Missed This Week:

This week, President Obama addressed the crash of Flight MH17, talked about investing in our country's infrastructure, and continued to take important steps to respond to a changing climate -- and the First Lady hosted the Kids' State Dinner, featuring 54 delicious recipes from around the country.

Check out what else you may have missed in this week's wrap up.

President Obama on the Crash of Flight MH17

Today, President Obama delivered a statement to the press in the wake of the tragic crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17:

Yesterday, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 took off from Amsterdam and was shot down over Ukraine near the Russian border. Nearly 300 innocent lives were taken -- men, women, children, infants -- who had nothing to do with the crisis in Ukraine. Their deaths are an outrage of unspeakable proportions.

Watch on YouTube

President Obama noted that this was "a global tragedy -- an Asian airliner was destroyed in European skies, filled with citizens from many countries." And as a result, there now needs to be a credible, international investigation into exactly what happened.

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Animated Boehner: 'There's nothing complex about the Keystone Pipeline!'

House Speaker John Boehner became animated Tuesday over the proposed Keystone Pipeline, castigating the Obama administration for not having approved the project yet.

Budget deficits shrinking but set to grow after 2015

The Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday that higher tax revenues and restrained spending will produce smaller federal budget deficits in the next few years.

Obama faces Syria standstill

First Read: Secretary Kerry denies reports of a split over policy, but the stalemate over the Syrian civil war could lead to a new approach.

Fluke files to run in California

Women right's activist Sandra Fluke has filed paperwork with the California State Democratic Party to run for the Congressional seat that will be vacant following Rep. Henry Waxman's retirement at the end of the year.

Christie acknowledges federal subpoena

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie Monday acknowledged that his office had been subpoenaed by the U.S. Attorney in New Jersey in relation to the bridge scandal that has rocked his administration.

Farm bill's effects to be felt far and wide

The Senate is on the cusp of passing a nearly trillion agriculture and nutrition bill that affects everything from corn subsidies to food stamps to the cost of an acre of farm land.

Yellen sworn in as Fed chair as Bernanke heads to Brookings

Janet Yellen was sworn in as the first female chair of the Federal Reserve on Monday, the Fed announced in a press release. She was confirmed by the Senate in early January after being nominated by President Obama in 2013.

Forget 2016, Christie trying to save his job

First Read: As the scandals continue to unfold, the political story has shifted from Chris Christie salvaging a possible White House run to the New Jersey governor just trying to hold on to his governorship. First Read: As the scandals continue to unfold, the political story has shifted from Chris Christie salvaging a possible White House run to the New Jersey governor just trying to hold on to his governorship.


Obama clashes with Fox News's O'Reilly over record

In a combative interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, President Barack Obama defended his record on Super Bowl Sunday, from health care to his handling of the Benghazi attack.In a combative interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, President Barack Obama defended his record on Super Bowl Sunday, from health care to his handling of the Benghazi attack.


Democratic lawmaker questions new allegation against Christie in bridge lane closings

A key New Jersey Democrat said Sunday that a new accusation about Gov. Chris Christie's knowledge of the bridge closing scandal enveloping his administration is unproven and raises credibility questions about the accuser.

New bridge allegation piles on political woe for Christie

What did Chris Christie know, and when did he know it? That's what the latest accusation in the George Washington Bridge scandal boils down to.What did Chris Christie know, and when did he know it? That's what the latest accusation in the George Washington Bridge scandal boils down to.


Democrats to unveil .7B bill on alien children

Struggling to deal with the issue before Congress' August break, Democrats floated a measure that also would provide immediate aid to Israel for the Iron Dome missile defense system as well as money needed to fight wildfires in Western states.

Obama admin. says health subsidies will continue

A federal appeals court delivered a potentially serious setback to President Barack Obama's health care law Tuesday, imperiling billions of dollars in subsidies for many low- and middle-income people who bought policies.

Obama heads off to raise money on the West Coast

Amid a swirl of foreign and border challenges, President Barack Obama is embarking on the one mission that has regularly proved a winner for him -- raising money for his fellow Democrats.

GOP voters in Ga. to decide Senate nominee

Voters head to the polls Tuesday to decide between Rep. Jack Kingston and businessman David Perdue after a closely watched campaign shaped largely by each candidate's personal history rather than the issues.

Working-class whites lose voting dominance in Ohio

For the first time, working-class whites make up less than half of Ohio's eligible voters, part of a demographic shift in a key Midwestern swing state that is pushing political parties to widen their appeal beyond the once-dominant bloc.

VA nominee McDonald goes before Congress

This June 2014 file photo shows President Barack Obama shaking hands with former Procter and Gamble executive Robert McDonald, his nominee as the next Veterans Affairs secretary, at the Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington.

Hot Property: Are the Obamas buying a home in Rancho Mirage?

President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, could be the owners of a home in the Southern California desert community of Rancho Mirage listed at .25 million before the month is out.

Clinton: US, Europe Should Get Tough On Russia

Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday that the U.S. and Europe should work together to develop tougher sanctions on Russia while she backed President Barack Obama's calls for a thorough investigation into the passenger jet that was shot down last week over Ukraine.

Gay, transgender workers gain US bias protection

"America's federal contracts should not subsidize discrimination against the American people," Obama declared at a White House signing ceremony.

Obama touts expansion of program for minority boys

President Barack Obama announced a major expansion of his initiative to improve the lives of boys and young men of color, with educators, star athletes, companies and foundations announcing partnerships to help minority boys in conjunction with his "My Brother's Keeper" program.

Beef pollutes more than pork, poultry, study says

Forecasters say calmer winds and cooler temperatures are headed for a fire-scorched region of Washington state, conditions that could help firefighters in their battle against wildfires that have charred hundreds... Calmer winds and cooler temperatures were allowing firefighters to go on the offensive Monday against a destructive wildfire that has ... (more)

Is your mail arriving after dark? USPS service cuts are to blame, watchdog says

Mail is being delivered after 5 p.m. almost 70 percent of the time to residents and businesses in the District and the Maryland suburbs in violation of U.S. Postal Service policy, an investigation released Tuesday found. The number of letter carriers who are still on their routes after 5 p.m., even in the winter darkness, and the […]

IRS seeks contractor to destroy hard drives — properly

The Internal Revenue Service is looking for a contractor to destroy 75,000 electronic storage devices, including thousands of hard drives, according to a solicitation from the agency this week. The IRS said it is “entrusted with a tremendous amount of sensitive information” and that properly destroying unneeded devices will “preserve and enhance public confidence” that the agency […]

Where is the Obama administration housing the immigrant kids?

Federal agencies ranging from the the Department of Health and Human Services to the Pentagon are working to address a surge of unaccompanied immigrant children at the U.S-Mexico border, a problem that President Obama last month described as an “urgent humanitarian situation.” The Obama administration has estimated that the U.S. will pick up 60,000 unaccompanied children at the Southwest […]

IG says .8 million Afghanistan produce facility sitting unused, unmaintained

A .8 million facility the United States built in Afghanistan to store produce for local farmers has sat unused and unmaintained for more than a year, with Afghan officials still looking for a business to lease the property, according to a federal watchdog agency. The special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction issued a report Monday warning […]

6 questions about the IRS’s missing emails, from IT experts

Did the IRS intentionally lose e-mails to cover up potentially incriminating communications relating to the agency’s targeting controversy, or did the records go missing because of bad technology management? As for the latter question, few organizations are in a better position to make an assessment of the situation than the International Association of Information Technology Asset Managers, which […]

Groups praise Obama on gay rights order

Gay rights groups are praising President Obama for his plans to issue an executive order Monday that would ban federal employment discrimination based on gender identity. Obama also will prohibit transgender- and sexual orientation-related discrimination by federal contractors, as our colleague Zachary A. Goldfarb reported Saturday. Federal employees already have sexual orientation protections. Gay rights advocates […]

VA’s former cemetery chief hired friend and steered contracts, report says

A Veterans Affairs Department official who retired last month as head of the agency’s cemetery network gave preferential treatment to a contractor and created a special position for a friend, among other troubling practices, according to a federal watchdog report. The VA inspector general’s office determined that Steve Muro, former undersecretary for memorial affairs, developed a “less-than-arm’s […]

EPA loses bridge builder with Bob Perciasepe’s departure as No. 2

The longest-serving deputy administrator ever for the Environmental Protection Agency announced this week that he will leave the government to lead the nonprofit Center for Climate and Energy Solutions next month. Bob Perciasepe, who held top EPA roles during two administrations, was thought to be on the short list of potential nominees to lead the agency after former administrator Lisa Jackson […]

Why did the IRS provide a trove of taxpayer information to the FBI?

Deputy Attorney General James Cole on Thursday testified before a House oversight panel about how the FBI ended up with a database from the Internal Revenue Service containing private taxpayer information for about 12,000 nonprofit advocacy groups. The matter has helped fuel Republican suspicions that the Obama administration coordinated inter-agency efforts to quiet conservative organizations during the past two election cycles. GOP […]

Justice official as curious as GOP about why IRS didn’t mention lost e-mails

A top Justice Department official on Thursday said he wants the Internal Revenue Service to explain why it waited two months to tell investigators about Lois Lerner’s missing e-mails, testifying that his agency learned about the matter through media reports long after the IRS claims to have discovered the problem. “This is a matter where, obviously, we’d […]

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First Lady Michelle Obama Announces Seven Organizations Join Drink Up Effort to Encourage Americans to Drink More Water, More Often

Brita, First 5 Santa Clara County, Haws Corporation™, Nalgene Outdoor Products, S’well Bottle, Santa Clara Valley Water District and The California Endowment will support Drink Up through products and marketing efforts

WASHINGTON, DC –Today, First Lady Michelle Obama joined the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) to announce that seven organizations have joined or renewed their support for the Drink Up effort, which encourages people across the country to drink more water, more often. Brita, First 5 Santa Clara County, Haws Corporation™, Nalgene Outdoor Products, S’well Bottle, Santa Clara Valley Water District and The California Endowment will support Drink Up by promoting its messages on water filtration systems, re-usable water bottles, drinking fountains or other products and programs. The First Lady also highlighted a new study from Nielsen Catalina Solutions (NCS), which found that a recent online ad campaign for Drink Up fueled a 3 percent lift in incremental sales of bottled water among those exposed to the campaign.

“When the Drink Up campaign was launched last year, it had one simple goal – to get kids and families excited about drinking water,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “And today, less than a year later, we know that water sales jumped nearly three percent among people who saw Drink Up ads. So I am thrilled about the additional commitments to continue this effort that are being announced today by Brita, First 5 Santa Clara County, Haws, Nalgene, the Santa Clara Valley Water District, S’WELL Bottle Company and The California Endowment. And I am confident that in the coming months and years, we’re going to see people across this country drinking more and more water.”

“As Drink Up encourages more people to drink more water, we also want to help make choosing water an easy choice. The efforts announced today – along with our current supporters’ efforts – will help us show more people that you are what you drink, and when you drink water you Drink Up,” said PHA CEO Lawrence A. Soler. “We applaud the efforts of each of these supporters toward helping us take another step closer to providing access to water for more people wherever they are, whenever they want it, however they want it – be it tap, filtered or bottled.”

For complete information about this PHA commitment, visit AHealthierAmerica.org and YouAreWhatYouDrink.org.

Remarks by the President at the Embassy of the Netherlands

Embassy of the Netherlands
Washington, D.C.

11:26 A.M. EDT

Q Mr. President, do you have any message for the Dutch people?

THE PRESIDENT: Obviously, we're all heartbroken by what’s happened. And this is an opportunity for me to extend on behalf of all the American people our deepest condolences over the loss of family and friends; to express our solidarity with the people of the Netherlands, with whom we've been friends and had the deepest ties for centuries; and to assure the Dutch people that we will work with them to make sure that loved ones are recovered, that a proper investigation is conducted, and that ultimately justice is done.

DEPUTY CHIEF OF MISSION MR. MOLLEMA: And we thank the President for being here. There’s been an outpouring of support from the American people, and I can only say that on behalf of the Dutch people, we're deeply grateful. Thank you very much.

END
11:27 A.M. EDT

Statement by the Press Secretary on the cases of King v. Burwell and Halbig v. Burwell

Another partisan attempt to harm the Affordable Care Act failed today. This latest attempt was undermined by a unanimous judicial panel in the 4th Circuit. The law was designed to make health care affordable through tax credits – and it is working.

ADVISORY: President Obama to Award 2013 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal

WASHINGTON, DC – On Monday afternoon, July 28, 2014, President Obama will award the 2013 National Medal of Arts and the National Humanities Medal to distinguished recipients in the East Room. The First Lady will also attend.

The National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities were established by the Congress in 1965 as independent agencies of the Federal Government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with State arts agencies, local leaders, other Federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector. The National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the Nation. The Endowment brings high-quality historical and cultural experiences to large and diverse audiences in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, and five territories.

At next week’s event, the President will deliver remarks and present the awards to the following individuals and organizations:

2013 National Medal of Arts

  • Julia Alvarez, Novelist, Poet, and Essayist, Weybridge, VT
  • Brooklyn Academy of Music, Presenter, Brooklyn, NY
  • Joan Harris, Arts Patron, Chicago, IL
  • Bill T. Jones, Dancer and Choreographer, Valley Cottage, NY
  • John Kander, Musical Theater Composer, New York, NY
  • Jeffrey Katzenberg, Director and CEO of DreamWorks, Beverly Hills, CA
  • Maxine Hong Kingston, Writer, Oakland, CA
  • Albert Maysles, Documentary Filmmaker, New York, NY
  • Linda Ronstadt, Musician, San Francisco, CA
  • Billie Tsien and Tod Williams (receiving individual medals), Architects, New York, NY
  • James Turrell, Visual Artist, Flagstaff, AZ

2013 National Humanities Medal

  • M.H. Abrams, Literary Critic, Ithaca, NY
  • David Brion Davis, Historian, Orange, CT
  • Darlene Clark Hine, Historian, Chicago, IL
  • Anne Firor Scott, Historian, Chapel Hill, NC
  • William Theodore De Bary, East Asian studies scholar, Tappan, NY
  • Johnpaul Jones, Architect, Bainbridge, WA
  • Stanley Nelson, Filmmaker, New York, NY
  • Diane Rehm, Radio Host, Washington, D.C.
  • Krista Tippett, Radio Host, St. Paul, MN
  • American Antiquarian Society, Historical Organization, Worcester, MA

Below are the 2013 National Medal of Arts Citations which will be read at the ceremony:

Julia Alvarez for her extraordinary storytelling. In poetry and in prose, Ms. Alvarez explores themes of identity, family, and cultural divides. She illustrates the complexity of navigating two worlds and reveals the human capacity for strength in the face of oppression.

Brooklyn Academy of Music for innovative contributions to the performing and visual arts. For over 150 years, BAM has showcased the works of both established visionaries and emerging artists who take risks and push boundaries.

Joan Harris for supporting creative expression in Chicago and across our country. Her decades of leadership and generosity have enriched our cultural life and helped countless artists, dancers, singers, and musicians bring their talents to center stage.

Bill T. Jones for his contributions as a dancer and choreographer. Renowned for provocative performances that blend an eclectic mix of modern and traditional dance, Mr. Jones creates works that challenge us to confront tough subjects and inspire us to greater heights.

John Kander for his contributions as a composer. For more than half a century, Mr. Kander has enlivened Broadway, television, and film through songs that evoke romanticism and wonder and capture moral dilemmas that persist across generations.

Jeffrey Katzenberg for lighting up our screens and opening our hearts through animation and cinema. Mr. Katzenberg has embraced new technology to develop the art of storytelling and transform the way we experience film.

Maxine Hong Kingston for her contributions as a writer. Her novels and non-fiction have examined how the past influences our present, and her voice has strengthened our understanding of Asian American identity, helping shape our national conversation about culture, gender, and race.

Albert Maysles for rethinking and remaking documentary film in America. One of the pioneers of direct cinema, he has offered authentic depictions of people and communities across the globe for nearly 60 years. By capturing raw emotions and representations, his work reflects the unfiltered truths of our shared humanity.

Linda Ronstadt for her one-of-a-kind voice and her decades of remarkable music. Drawing from a broad range of influences, Ms. Ronstadt defied expectations to conquer American radio waves and help pave the way for generations of women artists.

Billie Tsien and Tod Williams for their contributions to architecture and arts education. Whether public or private, their deliberate and inspired designs have a profound effect on the lives of those who interact with them, and their teaching and spirit of service have inspired young people to pursue their passions.

James Turrell for his groundbreaking visual art. Capturing the powers of light and space, Mr. Turrell builds experiences that force us to question reality, challenging our perceptions not only of art, but also of the world around us.

Below are the 2013 National Humanities Medal Citations which will be read at the ceremony:

M. H. Abrams, literary critic, for expanding our perceptions of the Romantic tradition and broadening the study of literature. As a professor, writer, and critic, Dr. Abrams has traced the modern concept of artistic self-expression in Western culture, and his work has influenced generations of students.

David Brion Davis, historian, for reshaping our understanding of history. A World War II veteran, Dr. Davis has shed light on the contradiction of a free Nation built by forced labor, and his examinations of slavery and abolitionism drive us to keep making moral progress in our time.

Darlene Clark Hine, historian, for enriching our understanding of the African American experience. Through prolific scholarship and leadership, Dr. Hine has examined race, class, and gender and shown how the struggles and successes of African American women shaped the Nation we share today.

Anne Firor Scott, historian, for pioneering the study of southern women. Through groundbreaking research spanning ideology, race, and class, Dr. Scott’s uncharted exploration into the lives of southern women has established women’s history as vital to our understanding of the American South.

William Theodore De Bary, East Asian Studies scholar, for broadening our understanding of the world. Dr. de Bary’s efforts to foster a global conversation have underscored how the common values and experiences shared by Eastern and Western cultures can be used to bridge our differences and build trust.

Johnpaul Jones, architect, for honoring the natural world and indigenous traditions in architecture. A force behind diverse and cherished institutions, Mr. Jones has fostered awareness through design and created spaces worthy of the cultures they reflect, the communities they serve, and the environments they inhabit.

Stanley Nelson, producer and director, for documenting the story of African Americans through film. By turning a camera on both the well-known and unknown narratives of African Americans, Mr. Nelson has exposed injustice and triumph while revealing new depths of our Nation’s history.

Diane Rehm, radio host, for illuminating the people and stories behind the headlines. In probing interviews with pundits, poets, and Presidents, Ms. Rehm’s incisive, confident, and curious voice has deepened our understanding of our communities and our culture.

Krista Tippett, radio host and author, for thoughtfully delving into the mysteries of human existence. On the air and in print, Ms. Tippett avoids easy answers, embracing complexity and inviting people of all faiths, no faith, and every background to join the conversation.

American Antiquarian Society, historical organization, for safeguarding the American story. Through more than two centuries, the Society has amassed an unparalleled collection of historic American documents, served as a research center to scholars and students alike, and connected generations of Americans to their cultural heritage.

Remarks by the President and Vice President at Bill Signing of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

12:18 P.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everyone. It’s great to be here. (Applause.) Please, thank you very much. Thank you, distinguished members of Congress and members of labor and business, and the community. Today, as the President signs the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, we’re using this occasion also to present to the President a roadmap he asked -- requested in the State of the Union message, how to keep and maintain the highest-skilled workforce in the world. And this is a perfect build-on as to what the bipartisan consensus that Congress recently reached.

I had the best partners in preparing this report that I could ask for -- Tom Perez at Labor, Penny Pritzker at Commerce and Arne Duncan at the Department of Education. I talked to governors, mayors, industry leaders, presidents of community colleges and colleges, and unions, and a lot of members of Congress, many of whom are here. And I have to acknowledge at the out front -- at the outset, my wife, Jill, has been an incredible advocate for community colleges and the role they play in training the workforce.

But most importantly, I spoke with an awful lot of Americans who are -- as all of you have, particularly members of Congress, who were hit exceedingly hard by the Great Recession, but are doing everything they possibly can to find a job -- willing to learn new skills in order to have a decent, middle-class job. One thing I hope that’s been put to rest -- and I know we all share this view -- Americans want to work. They want to work. They’re willing to do anything that they need to do to get a good and decent job.

And they show us that our single greatest resource is not -- and it’s not hyperbole -- remains the American people. They’re the most highly-skilled workers in the world and the most capable people in the world. And they’re in the best position to learn the new skills of the 21st century that the workforce requires. There’s that phrase -- all has changed, changed utterly. Well, all has changed. It’s a different world in which people are competing in order to get the kind of jobs they need, whether it’s in advanced manufacturing or clean energy or information technology or health care -- all areas that are booming, all areas where America is back.

So the core question that we set out to answer -- and I’m sure my colleagues did as well -- was how do you connect? How do you connect these workers who desperately want a job, who will do all they need to do to qualify, how do you connect them with jobs? How do Americans know what skills employers need? It sounds like a silly question, but how do they know? And how do they get these skills once they know what skills are needed for the job? And where, where do they go to get those jobs?

This report is designed to help answer those extremely practical questions. It includes 50 actions that the federal government and our outside partners are taking now to help fill this skills gap. There is this new strategy that we think will lead directly to more middle-class jobs. These actions are going to help promote partnerships between educational institutions and workforce institutions. They’re going to increase apprenticeships, which will allow folks to learn -- and earn while they learn. And it will empower job seekers and employers with better data on what jobs are available and what skills are needed to fill those jobs.

Let me tell you a story why all this matters. And I’ve been all over the country and invited by many of you into your districts and states in order to look at programs you have that are similar to what we’re proposing today. But I was recently -- and I could talk about many of them, but I was recently in Detroit just last week. And I met with an incredible group of women at a local community college. Now, all of these women came from hardscrabble neighborhoods in Detroit. They happened to be all women, it was coincidence, but they all made it through high school. They ranged in age I’m guessing somewhere from 25 to their mid-50s. But they all got a high school education, and they were absolutely determined to do more to be able to provide for themselves and their family.

Through word of mouth, Tom, they heard about a coding boot camp, computer coding -- a coding boot camp. And it’s called [Step] IT Up America. And it was a partnership between Wayne County Community College and a company called UST Global. Now, it’s an intensive, four-month -- just four months, but intensive eight-hour day -- I think it’s almost the whole day -- don’t hold me to the exact number of hours, but intensive training program where these women happen to be, as I said, there were about a dozen and a half women learn IT skills needed to fill jobs at UST Global.

UST Global represents a lot of other IT companies as well. Knowing vacancies exist -- they estimate over a thousand vacancies just in the greater Detroit area. And upon completion of this program, UST Global hires the students, and the lowest starting job is at ,000 a year and the highest is ,000 a year. These are coders, computer programmers. But there’s a key point: UST Global doesn’t train these women out of some altruistic sense of charity. They do it because it’s a very, very smart business decision.

There’s an overwhelming need for more computer coders -— as does not just UST Global, but the entire industry. By 2020, our research shows there will be 1.4 million new IT jobs all across this country. And the pay is in the ,000 range.

I was so proud of these women. As I said, my wife teaches in a community college. Her average class age of people in her class is 28 to 30 years old. Just think of yourself, what courage it takes. You’re out of high school. You’re graduated. You’ve been bumping along in a job trying to make it. You’ve been out, two, five, 10, 15 years. And someone says, there’s this opportunity to take this program to learn Java, to learn a new language, to learn how to operate a computer in a way that you can code it. It takes a lot of courage to step up.

It takes a willingness to be ready to fail. These women were remarkable, but not just these women. They write code, so they look -- they weren’t out there. They were -- they knew someone who had gotten a job because of the program, and they thought they could do it. So they learned an entire new language, and they displayed an initiative that was remarkable to see. They showed up. They worked hard because they want a good-paying job. They want to make a decent living. They want to take care of themselves and their families.

Folks, that's what -- as I know all of my colleagues believe -- that's what this is all about. It’s not just information technology. Manufacturing -- 100,000 high-tech manufacturing jobs available today in the United States because the employers cannot find workers with the right skills. That number of highly skilled manufacturing jobs is going to grow to 875,000 by 2020.

And, folks, I was recently up in Michigan. And Dow Kokam has a plant there that's -- they couldn’t find anybody with photovoltaic technology, didn't know how to run the machines. So the community college and the business, they roll the machines right into the community college because of the help you all have provided in Congress, the funding. And it’s like an assembly line. These are good-paying jobs.

And in energy: 26 percent more jobs for petroleum engineers, average salary 130,000 bucks a year; 25 percent more jobs for solar panel installers, ,000 a year; 20 percent more jobs needed -- more electricians are needed, earning ,000 a year -— all now and in the near term. These are real jobs. These are real jobs.

Health care: There are 20 percent more jobs -— or 526,000 more that are needed in the health care industry -— registered nurses, jobs that pay 65,000 bucks a year. There’s training programs in all of your states and districts, where you go out there, and while you’re a practical nurse, you can still be working and be essentially apprentice, while you are learning how to become -- and taking courses to be a registered nurse.

Physician assistants -- badly needed as the call for health care increases. What’s the number, Tom, 130,000 a year roughly? These are jobs all within the grasp of the American people if we give them the shot, if we show them the way, let them know how they can possibly pay for it while they are raising a family, and they’ll do the rest.

To maintain our place in the world we need to keep the world’s most skilled workforce right here in America, and to give a whole lot more hardworking Americans a chance at a good, middle-class job they can raise a family on.

But we also know the actions in this report are only a beginning, and as is the legislation. The fact of the matter is that so many people over the last two decades have fallen out of the middle class, and so many in the upcoming generation need to find a path back. Well, there is a path back if we all do our jobs -- from industry, to education, to union leaders, to governors, to Congress, to the federal government.

And the mission is very simple. It goes back to the central economic vision that has guided most of us -- I can speak for the President and I -- from the first day we got here.

The mission is to widen the aperture to be able to get into the middle class by expanding opportunity. No guarantees, just expanding opportunity to American men and women who represent the backbone of the most dynamic, thriving economy in the world. That's a fact. We are the most dynamic, thriving economy in the world.

But in order to thrive, their education and training has to be as just as dynamic and adaptable as our economy is. So, folks, America is back. We’re better positioned today than we ever have been. According to A.T. Kearney, we are the most attractive place in the world for foreign investments by a long shot, of every other country in the world. Since this survey has been kept, the gap between number one and number two is wider than it ever has been. Manufacturing is back, folks. They're coming home. Instead of hearing -- my kids, instead of hearing about outsourcing, what are you hearing now? You’re hearing about insourcing. Companies are coming back.

We’re in the midst of -- we take no direct credit for it -- we’re in the midst of an energy boom. North America will be the epicenter of energy in the 21st century -- the United States of America, Mexico, and Canada. We remain the leader in innovation. We have the greatest research universities in the world. We have the most adaptive financing systems in the world, to go out and take chances on new startups. And American workers are the most productive in the world. They want to work.

But to seize this moment, we need to keep the world’s most skilled workforce here in America. And I think today in this bipartisan group -- we’re ready. The American people are ready. And I know the man I’m about to introduce is ready. He wakes up every morning trying to figure out how do we give ordinary Americans an opportunity. This is just about opportunity, man. Simple opportunity -- how do we give them -- because they -- an opportunity because they are so exceptional.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I think everyone in this room shares that goal -- providing for opportunity. And the man I’m about to introduce, that's all he talks about, it seems to me when he talks to me.

Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States, Barack Obama. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you so much. Everybody, please be seated. Thank you. Well, welcome to the White House, everybody. And I want to thank Joe for the generous introduction, but more importantly, for everything he does, day in, day out, on behalf of American workers. And I want to thank the members of Congress who are here from both parties who led the effort to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act.

When President Clinton signed the original Workforce Investment Act back in 1998, he said it was, “a big step forward in making sure that every adult can keep on learning for a lifetime.” And he was right -- the law became a pillar of American job training programs. It’s helped millions of Americans earn the skills they need to find a new job or get a better-paying job.

But even back then, even in 1998, our economy was changing. The notion that a high school education could get you a good job and that you’d keep that job until retirement wasn’t a reality for the majority of people. Advances in technology made some jobs obsolete. Global competition sent other jobs overseas. And then, as we were coming into office, the Great Recession pulled the rug out from under millions of hardworking families.

Now, the good news is, today, nearly six years after the financial crisis, our businesses have added nearly 10 million new jobs over the past 52 months. Manufacturing is adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s. The unemployment rate is at its lowest point since September of 2008 -– by the way, the fastest one-year drop in nearly 30 years. There are now more job openings than at any time since 2007, pre-recession. For the first time in a decade, as Joe mentioned, business leaders around the world have declared that the number-one place to do business, the number-one place to invest isn’t China, it’s the United States of America.

So thanks to the hard work of the American people and some decent policies, our economy has recovered faster and it has gone farther than most other advanced nations. As Joe said, we are well-positioned. We’ve got the best cards. So we have the opportunity right now to extend the lead we already have -– to encourage more companies to join the trend and bring jobs home; to make sure that the gains aren’t just for folks at the very top, but that the economy works for every single American. If you’re working hard, you should be able to get a job, that job should pay well, and you should be able to move forward, look after your family.

Opportunity for all. And that means that even as we’re creating new jobs in this new economy, we have to make sure that every American has the skills to fill those jobs. And keep in mind, not every job that’s a good job out there needs a four-year degree, but the ones that don’t need a college degree generally need some sort of specialized training.

Last month, I met just a wonderful young woman named Rebekah in Minnesota. A few years ago, she was waiting tables. Her husband lost his job, he was a carpenter doing construction work. He had to figure out how to scramble and get a new job that paid less. She chose to take out student loans, she enrolled in a community college, she retrained for a new career. Today, not only has her husband been able to get back into construction but she loves her job as an accountant -- started a whole new career. And the question then is how do we give more workers that chance to adapt, to revamp, retool, so that they can move forward in this new economy.

In 2011, I called on Congress to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act, update it for the 21st century. And I want to thank every single lawmaker who is here -- lawmakers from both parties -- who answered that call. It took some compromising, but, you know what, it turns out compromise sometimes is okay. Folks in Congress got past their differences and they got a bill to my desk. So this is not a win for Democrats or Republicans. It is a win for American workers. It’s a win for the middle class. And it’s a win for everybody who is fighting to earn their way into the middle class.

So the bill I’m about to sign will give communities more certainty to invest in job-training programs for the long run. It will help us bring those programs into the 21st century by building on what we know works based on evidence, based on tracking what actually delivers on behalf of folks who enroll in these programs -– more partnerships with employers, more tools to measure performance, more flexibilities for states and cities to innovate and to run their workforce programs in ways that are best suited for their particular demographic and their particular industries. And as we approach the 24th anniversary of the ADA, this bill takes new steps to support Americans with disabilities who want to live and work independently. So there’s a lot of good stuff in here.

Of course, as Joe said, there is still more that we can do. And that’s why we’ve rallied employers to give long-term unemployed a fair shot. It’s why we’re using 0 million in federal grants to encourage companies to offer apprenticeships and work directly with community colleges. It’s why, in my State of Union address this year, I asked Joe to lead an across-the-board review of America’s training programs to make sure that they have one mission: Train Americans with the skills employers actually need, then match them to good jobs that need to be filled right now.

So today, I’m directing my Cabinet -- even as we’re signing the bill -- to implement some of Joe’s recommendations. First, we’re going to use the funds and programs we already have in a smarter way. Federal agencies will award grants that move away from what our Secretary of Labor, Tom Perez, who has been working very hard on this, what he calls a “train and pray” approach, and I’ll bet a lot of you who have dealt with folks who are unemployed know what that means. They enroll, they get trained for something, they’re not even sure whether the job is out there, and if the job isn’t out there, all they’re doing is saddling themselves with debt, oftentimes putting themselves in a worse position. What we want to do is make sure where you train your workers first based on what employers are telling you they’re hiring for. Help business design the training programs so that we’re creating a pipeline into jobs that are actually out there.

Number two, training programs that use federal money will be required to make public how many of its graduates find jobs and how much they earn. And that means workers, as they’re shopping around for what’s available, they’ll know in advance if they can expect a good return on their investment. Every job seeker should have all the tools they need to take their career into their own hands, and we’re going to help make sure they can do that.

And finally, we’re going to keep investing in new strategies and innovations that help keep pace with a rapidly changing economy -- from testing new, faster ways of teaching skills like coding and cybersecurity and welding, to giving at-risk youth the chance to learn on the job, we will keep making sure that Americans have the chance to build their careers throughout a lifetime of hard work.

So the bill I’m signing today and the actions I’m taking today will connect more ready-to-work Americans with ready-to-be-filled jobs. Of course, there is so much more that we can still do. And I’m looking forward to engaging all the members of Congress and all the businesses and not-for-profits who worked on this issue. I’m really interested in engaging them, see what else we can get going.

I’ll give you a couple of examples. Our high school graduation rate is the highest on record. More young people are earning their college degrees than ever before. But we still have work to do to make college more affordable and lift the burden of student loan debt. I acted to give nearly five million Americans the opportunity to cap their student loan payments at 10 percent of their income -- particularly important for those who were choosing careers that aren’t as lucrative. But Congress could help millions more, and I’d like to work with you on that.

Minimum wage. This week marks five years since the last increase in the minimum wage. More and more states and business owners are raising their workers’ wages. I did the same thing for federal contractors. I’d like to work with Congress to see if we can do the same for about 28 million Americans -- give Americans a raise right now.

Fair pay. Let’s make sure the next generation of women are getting a fair deal. Let’s make sure the next generation of good manufacturing jobs are made in America. Let’s make it easier, not harder, for companies to bring those jobs back home. Tomorrow, senators will get to vote on the Bring Jobs Home Act. Instead of rewarding companies for shipping jobs overseas or rewarding companies that are moving profits offshore, let’s create jobs right here in America and let’s encourage those companies.

So let’s build on what both parties have already done on many of these issues. Let’s see if we can come together and, while we’re at it, let’s fix an immigration system that is currently broken in a way that strengthens our borders and that we know will be good for business, we know will increase our GDP, we know will drive down our deficit.

So I want to thank all the Democrats and Republicans here today for getting this bill done. This is a big piece of work. You can see, it’s a big bill. (Laughter.) But I’m also inviting you back. Let’s do this more often. It’s so much fun. (Laughter and applause.) Let’s pass more bills to help create more good jobs, strengthen the middle class. Look at everybody -- everybody is smiling, everybody feels good. (Laughter.) We could be doing this all the time. (Laughter.)

Our work can make a real difference in the lives of real Americans. That’s why we’re here. We’ll have more job satisfaction. (Laughter.) The American people, our customers, they’ll feel better about the product we produce.

And back in 1998, when President Clinton signed the original Workforce Investment Act into law, he was introduced by a man named Jim Antosy from Reading, Pennsylvania. And Jim spoke about how he had been laid off in 1995 at age 49, two kids, no college degree. With the help of job training programs, he earned his bachelor’s degree in computer science, found a new job in his field.

Today, Jim and his wife, Barb, still live in Reading. Over the past 16 years, he’s been steadily employed as a programmer, working his way up from contractor to full-time employee. In just a few months, Jim now is planning to retire after a lifetime of hard work. A job training program made a difference in his life. And one thing he’s thinking about doing in his retirement is teaching computer science at the local community college, so he can help a new generation of Americans earn skills that lead directly to a job, just like he had the opportunity to do.

Well, I ran for President because I believe even in a changing economy, even in a changing world, stories like Jim aren’t just possible, they should be the norm. Joe believes the same thing. Many of you believe the same thing. I believe America is -- I don’t just believe, I know America is full of men and women who work very hard and live up to their responsibilities, and all they want in return is to see their hard work pay off, that responsibility rewarded.

They’re not greedy. They’re not looking for the moon. They just want to be able to know that if they work hard, they can find a job, they can look after their families, they can retire with dignity, they’re not going to go bankrupt when they get sick, maybe take a vacation once in a while -- nothing fancy. That’s what they’re looking for, because they know that ultimately what’s important is family and community and relationships. And that’s possible. That’s what America is supposed to be about. That’s what I’m fighting for every single day as President.

This bill will help move us along that path. We need to do it more. Let’s get together, work together, restore opportunity for every single American. So with that, I’d like to invite up some of the outstanding folks who are sitting in the audience who helped make this happen. And I’m going to sign this bill with all those pens.

Thank you very much, everybody. (Applause.)

END
12:48 P.M. EDT

Statement by the Press Secretary on H.R. 803

On Tuesday, July 22, 2014, the President signed into law:

H.R. 803, the "Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act," which reauthorizes and reforms core workforce development programs administered by the Departments of Education and Labor and transfers from the Department of Education to the Department of Health and Human Services certain disability and independent living program functions.

Statement by the President on Meeting with the Crew and Family of Apollo 11

Forty-five years ago, while the world watched as one, the United States of America set foot on the moon. It was a seminal moment not just in our country’s history, but the history of all humankind.

The three brave astronauts of Apollo 11 –Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins – took the first small steps of our giant leap into the future. And for all the years since, they and their families have served as testaments to American ingenuity and human achievement. Today, I was honored to welcome Buzz, Michael, and Neil’s wife, Carol, to the White House to mark this historic anniversary – and to thank them for serving as advocates, role models, and educators who’ve inspired generations of Americans – myself included – to dream bigger and reach higher.

Today, under Administrator Bolden’s leadership, the men and women of NASA are building on that proud legacy by preparing for the next giant leap in human exploration — including the first visits of men and women to deep space, to an asteroid, and someday to the surface of Mars — all while partnering with America’s pioneering commercial space industry in new and innovative ways.

The United States of America is stronger today thanks to the vision of President Kennedy, who set us on a course for the moon, the courage of Neil, Buzz, and Michael, who made the journey, and the spirit of service of all who’ve worked not only on the Apollo program, but who’ve dared to push the very boundaries of space and scientific discovery for all humankind.

Readout of the Chief of Staff’s Meetings in Berlin, Germany

In follow up to the telephone conversation between President Obama and Chancellor Merkel, the respective Chiefs of Staff, Denis McDonough (US) and Peter Altmaier (Germany), accompanied by Lisa Monaco, Assistant to the President for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security, and Gnter Heiss, Head of Directorate-General 6 (Federal Intelligence Service, Coordination of Federal Intelligence Services), Federal Chancellery, met on Tuesday in Berlin for intensive talks on the state of bilateral relations and future cooperation.

The full range of issues was addressed, including intelligence and security matters.

Mr. McDonough and Mr. Altmaier agreed to set up a Structured Dialogue to address concerns of both sides and establish guiding principles as the basis for continued and future cooperation. The Structured Dialogue will be overseen by the Chiefs of Staff.

FACT SHEET: Ready to Work At a Glance: Job-Driven Training and American Opportunity

New Actions to Expand Job-Driven Training and Broaden the Pathway to the Middle Class

“So tonight, I've asked Vice President Biden to lead an across-the-board reform of America's training programs to make sure they have one mission: train Americans with the skills employers need, and match them to good jobs that need to be filled right now. That means more on-the-job training, and more apprenticeships that set a young worker on an upward trajectory for life. It means connecting companies to community colleges that can help design training to fill their specific needs. And if Congress wants to help, you can concentrate funding on proven programs that connect more ready-to-work Americans with ready-to-be-filled jobs.”

— President Obama, State of the Union, January 28, 2014

Across the country, federal job training programs help hard-working Americans find good jobs and careers, employers recruit and hire the skilled workers they need to compete, and American communities build the skilled workforces they need to attract business investment and create jobs. In order to continue to grow the economy, expand opportunity, and widen the pathway to the middle class, the President and Vice President are committed to improving training opportunities for Americans by replicating strategies that work.

In his 2014 State of the Union Address, and as part of his plan to make 2014 a Year of Action, the President announced that he was asking the Vice President to lead a review of federal training programs in order to identify and implement steps to make these programs more “job-driven”: to be responsive to the needs of employers in order to effectively place ready-to-work Americans in jobs that are available now or train them in the skills needed for better jobs. Today, the President and Vice President will announce the results of the review, including new actions by the federal government and the private sector. The Vice President will release a new report that details these actions and highlights successful job-driven strategies. The President will also sign the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which will help improve business engagement and accountability across federally-funded training programs.

In the months ahead, the Administration will continue to work with business and union leaders, school administrators, workforce experts, and state and local elected officials to replicate successful training strategies in communities throughout the United States.

For additional details, click HERE.

Engaging Employers in Partnerships to Define Needed Skills, Offer Apprenticeships, and Hire Graduates

Matching ready-to-work Americans to in-demand jobs works best when employers engage to define needed skills, shape training programs, and invest in apprenticeships and on-the-job training.

  • Competitive grants to launch hundreds of job-driven industry partnerships across the country. 0 million in job-driven grants have already been launched and will have been awarded to over 100 job-driven industry partnerships by this fall. Starting October 1, all applicants for 25 annual competitive grant programs across federal agencies must follow the job-driven checklist, meaning that over .4 billion in existing job training funds for youth, displaced workers, long-term unemployed, and others will be awarded to hundreds of community organizations and education and training institutions in partnership with employers.
  • Expanding American Apprenticeships. In addition to making 0 million available for the American Apprenticeship Grants to expand apprenticeships to more Americans, the Administration has engaged high-growth industries and is today announcing new resources to help employers start or expand apprenticeships.
  • Using a job-driven checklist to ensure billion in job training funds are more effective. Agencies boiled down what makes training programs successful and created a Job-Driven Checklist that will be used to drive successful practices like employer engagement and apprenticeship into all training programs.

Information to Help Job Seekers, States, and Communities Make Smart Choices

In-demand skills and job opportunities evolve as our economy and technology changes. Making data-driven tools available at all levels allows individuals, employers, and taxpayers to realize higher returns on training investments.

  • Ensure all federal programs track employment outcomes. Employment measures will be added to any program without them, including programs serving Americans with disabilities and veterans.
  • Mobilizing America’s innovators. Following a White House Data Jam for Job Seekers, Glassdoor, Apploi and others are committing to make personalized guidance on job search and training freely available.
  • Give states and localities information and incentives to tailor job-driven strategies locally. Agencies will provide states guidance and flexibility to tailor job-driven strategies, offering grants for implementation.

Innovation and Promoting More Effective Strategies

We will enable agencies to pilot promising job-driven training strategies and learn how best to scale them.

  • High-impact innovations in higher education. The Department of Education will waive particular federal student aid rules to enable the testing of innovative education models awarding degrees based on demonstrated skills rather than seat time, and the Department of Labor will award million to create an online skills academy designed to prepare adult learners for in-demand careers.
  • Testing effective strategies for adult learners. The Department of Agriculture will award 0 million for up to 10 pilot projects to rigorously test employment and training programs. A partnership of employers, foundations, and non-profits is launching a national competition to crowd source for the best technologies to upskill this population.
  • Testing strategies for disconnected youth. The Administration will allow up to 10 state and local pilot programs to blend funds from multiple federal programs to test new models for serving disconnected youth, and the Department of Labor will use Job Corps’ demonstration authority to experiment with new models to improve outcomes for youth under age 20.

Readout of the President’s Homeland Security Council Meeting

This afternoon, the President and Vice President met in the Situation Room with the President’s Homeland Security Council to discuss the urgent humanitarian situation at the border as well as the comprehensive response that the Administration has implemented at the President’s direction. Today’s meeting took place as preliminary data show that average daily apprehensions of unaccompanied children by the Customs and Border Patrol have dropped by about half from June to July. This important decline was noted, and the Council committed to continuing aggressive efforts on both sides of the border to deter illegal migration—including by sustaining cooperation with Central American leaders—and to providing appropriate care for those apprehended at the border. Participants also discussed combating the root causes of migration and the need to secure the additional resources sought in the President’s supplemental appropriations request.

Attendees at this afternoon’s meeting included:

  • The Vice President
  • Chuck Hagel, Secretary of Defense
  • James Cole, Deputy Attorney General
  • Sylvia Burwell, Secretary of Health and Human Services
  • Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security
  • Denis McDonough, Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff
  • John Podesta, Counselor to the President
  • Kristie Canegallo, Deputy Chief of Staff to the President
  • Amb. Samantha Power, Permanent Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations
  • Brian Deese, Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget
  • Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement
  • Susan Rice, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Neil Eggleston, Assistant to the President and Counsel to the President
  • Stephanie O’Sullivan, Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence
  • Cecilia Muoz, Assistant to the President and Director of Domestic Policy
  • Lisa Monaco, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism
  • Katie Fallon, Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Legislative Affairs
  • Rajiv Shah, Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development
  • General Martin Dempsey, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • Heather Higginbottom, Deputy Secretary of State
  • Craig Fugate, Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency
  • Dan Tangherlini, Administrator of the General Services
  • Jeffrey Prescott, Deputy National Security Advisor to the Vice President
  • Rand Beers, Deputy Assistant to the President for Homeland Security
  • Gil Kerlikowske, Commissioner of the Customs Border Protection
  • Thomas Winkowski, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement

About the Homeland Security Council:
The Homeland Security Council was created by Executive Order in 2001 and codified in statute by the Homeland Security Act of 2002. Similar to the National Security Council, which is also a statutory body, the Homeland Security Council serves to coordinate across the government on homeland security issues. In 2009, the Homeland Security Council and National Security Council were integrated under one staff, but both continue to exist by statute. Meetings of either are convened as needed.

Readout of the President’s Call with President Komorowski of Poland

This afternoon, President Obama spoke with Polish President Komorowski to discuss the situation in Ukraine and the upcoming NATO Summit in Wales. The two presidents exchanged views in advance of the meeting in Warsaw tomorrow of the leaders of nine NATO members from Central and Eastern Europe. President Obama and President Komorowski agreed on the importance of raising defense spending among European members of NATO, as well as on the importance of alliance-wide and credible contributions to NATO’s reassurance efforts in Central and Eastern Europe. The two leaders also stressed the need for Transatlantic solidarity in responding to the tragic shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 and Russia’s efforts to destabilize Ukraine.

‘RHOA’ Star NeNe Leakes Slams Wendy Williams Over “Defacing Birkin Bag” Tweet

Food fight…”Real Housewives of Atlanta” star NeNe Leakes took to her blog to go in on talk show diva Wendy Williams, who she called ‘Wendell,’ a clear diss meant to infer that she was a drag queen. Leakes didn’t like the fact that Williams called her out on social media, but it should be noted […]

Hinterland Gazette

Jury Selected in Theodore Wafer Murder Case in Shooting Death of Renisha McBride

A jury has been selected in the murder trial of Theodore Wafer, the Dearborn Heights, Mich., homeowner charged in the shooting death of a drunk but unarmed teen Renisha McBride as she sought help after a car accident. A jury of seven men and seven women — four black (two men and two women) — was seated […]

Hinterland Gazette

FSU Law Professor Dan Markel’s Death Being Investigated as a Homicide

The death of Florida State University criminal law professor Dan Markel has been ruled a homicide. He was found with a gunshot wound to the head in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Police say there were no signs of robbery and have not disclosed a motive for Markel’s murder. Officers found him after a neighbor […]

Hinterland Gazette

Surveillance Whistleblower John Napier Tye Says NSA Violates the Constitution

Move over Edward Snowden, there’s a new surveillance whistleblower on the scene. His name is John Napier Tye and he’s warning Americans about illegal spying. Well, I don’t consider Edward Snowden to be a whistleblower but a leaker who fled to a country with a horrible human rights record. John Tye claims he filed a complaint with […]

Hinterland Gazette

DOJ to Place Newark Police Under Monitor Over “Unconstitutional Stop Practices”

The U.S. Department of Justice has placed Newark, N.J. police department under a monitor because as many as 75 percent of police stops over the last several years were not legally justified. The DOJ issued a report on Tuesday saying the investigation began in 2011 and thousands of police documents were reviewed, as well as […]

Hinterland Gazette

Federal Appeals Court Panel Deals Major Blow to Obamacare on Tax Subsidies

More trouble for President Obama’s signature health care reform legislation, the Affordable Care Act. A federal appeals court panel dealt a major blow to Obamacare on Tuesday, ruling that the tax subsidies that are central to the law may not be provided in at least half of the states, the Washington Post reports. The provision […]

Hinterland Gazette

Vladimir Putin: Russia Will Use Influence with Separatists to Allow Probe Into MH17 Attack

BLINK:  Russian President Vladimir Putin says Russia would use its influence with separatists in east Ukraine to allow a full investigation into MH17 , Reuters reports. This comes as Vitaly Nayda, Ukraine’s director of informational security dropped a bombshell that a Russian officer shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 as it flew over eastern Ukraine. […]

Hinterland Gazette

NYC Luxury Apartment Building to Have ‘Poor Door’ for Low-Income Poor Residents

NYC POOR DOOR:  New York City has okayed real estate developer Extell’s plan to build an apartment complex with a separate entrance for low income residents, the New York Post reports. In other words, a “poor door.” This is akin to blacks being forced to use separate entrances during the Jim Crow-era. Extell came under fire last year […]

Hinterland Gazette

President Obama Slammed for ‘Timid’ Response to MH17 Attack

(OPINION) — Everybody is talking tough when it comes to handling Russia and Vladimir Putin in the aftermath of the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17. Um, everybody except President Barack Obama. Just this morning, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) said if the MH17 crash sight was not opened to investigators by tomorrow, Europe should impose […]

Hinterland Gazette

Tony Degrafreed, Charged in 1994 Murder of Then-Wife, Arrested for Killing Current Wife

Tony Degrafreed, who was convicted of killing then-wife in 1994, was preliminarily charged with the murder on Sunday after his current wife, Rebecca Degrafreed, was found dead in their Indianopolis home. WISH-TV reports Jordan Yarbro, 19, told police he heard strange noises coming from his parents bedroom on Sunday morning. He said Tony Degrafreed came out […]

Hinterland Gazette

COMMENTARY CHARACTERS

YOU ARE NOT AT RISK - Excerpt from the book "Its Mom' Sharon Carson - Amazon.com

By examining a patient’s family medical history, physicians try to determine if there is an increased risk of the patient developing a particular disease or inherited condition. From a spiritual perspective, however, Christians are part of the family of God, their father God, his Son Jesus, and The Holy Spirit; and there is neither sickness nor disease in the history of this family, and there never will be. When Jesus died on the cross, He took upon Himself as a vaccination, all sickness and disease known and unknown to man and provided us with immunity from them. We as Christians are not, therefore, at risk for any sickness or disease.