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ANNOUNCEMENTS - Press Releases

Join Us: 2014 White House Spring Garden Tours

This Spring, the White House will once again welcome guests from across the country to the South Lawn to view the White House Kitchen Garden and grounds. This special tour features the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden, the Rose Garden, and the South Lawn, including the White House Kitchen Garden, the first vegtable garden at the White House since Eleanor Roosevelt’s Victory Garden.

These special tours are open and free to the public on Saturday, April 26 from 10:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. ET and Sunday, April 27 from 10:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. ET.

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West Wing Week: 4/18/14 or, “Pull Together, Fight Back, and Win”

This week, the President nominated Sylvia Burwell as Secretary of Health and Human Services, hosted an Easter Prayer Breakfast and a Passover Seder, discussed immigration reform with Faith leaders, welcomed the Wounded Warrior Soldier Ride, announced a major milestone in the continued implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and hit the road to New York City and Oakdale, Pennsylvania.

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Wounded Warriors Ride for Recovery

President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki welcome the Wounded Warrior Project's Soldier Ride to the South Lawn of the White House in celebration of the seventh annual Soldier Ride, April 17, 2014.

President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki welcome the Wounded Warrior Project's Soldier Ride to the South Lawn of the White House in celebration of the seventh annual Soldier Ride, April 17, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

This morning, on the South Lawn of the White House, President Obama, Vice President Biden, and Secretary Shinseki welcomed riders participating in the Wounded Warrior Project’s Soldier Ride.

Today was the fifth time President Obama has welcomed Soldier Ride to the White House. The ride begins in Washington, D.C. and ends in Friendship, Maryland, spanning a total of 58 miles.

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President Obama: 8 Million People Have Signed Up for Private Health Coverage

Speaking from the White House Briefing Room, President Obama announced that 8 million Americans have signed up for private health coverage thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

He noted that 35 percent of those people are under 35 years old.

What's more, costs associated with expanding coverage under the Affordable Care Act are lower than expected:

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Building on What Works With My Brother’s Keeper

When President Obama launched the My Brother’s Keeper initiative in February, the response from communities across the country was immediate and overwhelmingly positive. We quickly began hearing stories of creativity, collaboration, and triumphs from community leaders and organizations doing grassroots work to enhance opportunities for boys and young men of color. Some organizations, having done this work for a while, shared what types of programs and coordinated efforts they have seen work through the years, while others have responded to the President’s call to action with new initiatives and commitments of their own.

We heard from a financial services firm in Long Beach, California which has partnered with an 8th grade mentoring program to arrange field trips to their office. Students fill out applications, interview with managers, and go through mock hiring processes. They are then connected with mentors, and offered serious rewards (like laptops) when they reach GPA goals set by the company.

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Building on Our Progress in Solar Deployment

Since President Obama took office, we have made significant advances in clean energy. Last year alone was record-breaking for new installations, and the amount of solar power installed in the United States has increased around eleven fold. Just this past week, the U.S. Army announced plans to start development on a historic solar array at Fort Huachuca in Arizona – the biggest Defense Department solar array on a military installation to date, and HUD is increasing solar on multifamily housing.

And for good reason. Solar is a smart investment. The average cost of solar panels has dropped by more than 60%, and the cost for a solar photovoltaic electric system has declined by about 50%. The numbers tell an important story: There has never been a time when solar is more affordable and more available to so many Americans. Solar is not just a prospect; it’s a reality.

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Reforming America's Job-Driven Training Programs

Watch on YouTube

In this year's State of the Union address, President Obama announced that Vice President Biden would lead a reform of America's job training programs, making sure that these programs "train Americans with the skills employers need, and match them to good jobs that need to be filled right now."

This afternoon, the President and Vice President visited the Community College of Allegheny County in Oakdale, Pennsylvania to announce progress on that reform.

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Business School Deans Meet to Discuss Best Practices for a 21st Century Workplace

White House senior advisors meet with business school deans in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, April 16, 2014.

White House senior advisors meet with business school deans in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, April 16, 2014.

As part of the lead up to the White House Summit on Working Families, we have been seeking input from a wide variety of stakeholders to identify best practices for developing workplaces that work for all Americans and better meet the needs of women and working families. We did not think this goal could be achieved without thinking of the business leaders of tomorrow, and that is why today, we met with a group of deans from our nation’s leading business schools to discuss best practices for business schools that can better prepare their students for the increasing importance of women in the labor force and the prevalence of employees with families where all parents work.

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Creating Pathways to Successful Careers: Erick Varela's Story

President Obama And Vice President Biden Provide Encouragement

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden provide encouragement to Erick Varela, who was about to introduce the President, prior to an event to outline new efforts to help the long-term unemployed, in the Green Room of the White House, Jan. 31, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

PG&E, like utilities across the country, faces a wave of retirements over the next five years, with nearly 40 percent of its 21,000 employees eligible to trade paychecks for pension checks. This is a trend that concerns me as Chairman and CEO of PG&E.

To help build a pipeline of new skilled workers, PG&E created a workforce training program in 2008 called PowerPathway. The program is a partnership with community colleges and workforce investment boards in PG&E’s service area, which covers much of Northern and Central California.

Last year, nearly 250 students graduated from PowerPathway, and more than 81 percent of them were offered jobs at PG&E or elsewhere in the utility industry.

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Vice President Biden Joins Instagram

Today, we’re excited to announce the Office of the Vice President is joining Instagram to give followers a unique look inside the Vice Presidency. This new social media presence continues efforts by the Vice President’s Office to connect with citizens online, adding to his official Twitter handle and the Being Biden audio series.

The VP's Instagram followers will have access to behind-the-scenes photos from the road and around the White House. And today, as the Vice President joins President Obama in Pennsylvania to announce grants that will spur job training and apprenticeship programs, you’re invited to follow along on Instagram.

Stay tuned for photos and videos from the Vice President – and don't forget to check out our other official Instagram accounts, including: The White House, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Chief Official White House Photographer Pete Souza.

A Moment of Silence to Mark the One-Year Anniversary of the Boston Marathon Bombing

49 P.M. to mark the one-year anniversary since the Boston Marathon bombings

President Barack Obama observes a moment of silence during his meeting with senior advisors in the Oval Office at 2:49 P.M. to mark the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings, April 15, 2014. Pictured from left, are Senior Advisor Dan Pfeiffer, Press Secretary Jay Carney, Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri, and Katie Beirne Fallon, Director of Legislative Affairs. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Today at 2:49 pm ET, President Obama will observe a moment of silence to mark the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing.

President Obama also released a statement this morning on the tragedy.

Today, we remember Krystle Campbell, Lingzi Lu, Martin Richard, and Sean Collier. And we send our thoughts and prayers to those still struggling to recover.

We also know that the most vivid images from that day were not of smoke and chaos, but of compassion, kindness and strength: A man in a cowboy hat helping a wounded stranger out of harm’s way; runners embracing loved ones, and each other; an EMT carrying a spectator to safety. Today, we recognize the incredible courage and leadership of so many Bostonians in the wake of unspeakable tragedy. And we offer our deepest gratitude to the courageous firefighters, police officers, medical professionals, runners and spectators who, in an instant, displayed the spirit Boston was built on – perseverance, freedom and love.

Read the full statement here.

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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.


Spokeswoman: Sebelius Not Considering US Senate

Departing U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is not considering running for the U.S. Senate, a spokeswoman said Friday.

Clock Ticking for States to Adopt Health Exchanges

For the more than 30 states that defaulted to the federal government under President Barack Obama's health care law, time may be running out to decide whether to create their own state-run insurance exchanges.

Walker's challenger doesn't focus on union rights

For Democrats and their friends in organized labor, this race is personal. They mean to avenge Walker's evisceration of union power as he builds his resume for a possible presidential run.

Advice to Democrats: Don't Say 'Recovery'

So say Democratic strategists in a blunt declaration that such talk skips over "how much trouble people are in, and doesn't convince them that policymakers really understand or are even focusing on the problems they continue to face."

Title of new Hillary Clinton book: 'Hard Choices'

Hillary Rodham Clinton's publisher says her upcoming book on her role as President Barack Obama's secretary of state will be called "Hard Choices."

White House updating online privacy policy

A new Obama administration privacy policy released Friday explains how the government will gather the user data of online visitors to WhiteHouse.gov, mobile apps and social media sites, and it clarifies that online comments, whether tirades or tributes, are in the open domain.

Obama Ties LBJ's Civil Rights Legacy to LGBT Americans

President Barack Obama embraced Lyndon B. Johnson's civil rights legacy Thursday in a speech that credited the former president with helping to open the doors to equality for countless Americans, including those who are LGBT.

Obama voices skepticism on Russia in Ukraine

President Barack Obama conveyed skepticism Thursday about Russian promises to de-escalate a volatile situation in Ukraine, and said the United State and its allies are ready to impose fresh sanctions if Moscow doesn't make good on its commitments.

Labour recruits Obama strategist

One of US President Barack Obama's top campaign strategists has been recruited by Labour to play a key role in Ed Miliband's bid for Downing Street in next year's general election.

President: Republicans 'wrong' on Affordable Care Act

Once you're logged in, at the top of each article, video or slideshow you will see a list of your Facebook friends who recently visited Choose to share stories you'e read with your friends or turn sharing OFF to keep your reading experience anonymous .

Illinois gives early OK to 0M for Obama museum

Even though Chicago is where Barack Obama got his start in politics, first lady Michelle Obama grew up and the Obamas still call their hometown, state and local officials aren't taking for granted that the... Even though Chicago is where Barack Obama got his start in politics, first lady Michelle Obama grew up and the Obamas still call their ... (more)

NEH to help vets with humanities program

When it comes to working with veterans, government efforts aren’t limited to health and employment programs. The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is getting into the act with an initiative to help veterans using literature, drama and history. NEH started “Standing Together: The Humanities and the Experience of War,” by funding five pilot programs […]

Does the 153-year-old Government Printing Office need a digital-era name?

The Senate may vote soon on a bipartisan bill that would give the 153-year-old Government Printing Office a new name to better reflect its digital-age work. The legislation, sponsored by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), would swap the word “printing” for “publishing” to make the agency the Government Publishing Office. It also […]

Feds Talk: How do they feel about political appointments?

The Partnership for Public Service this month proposed filling all of the federal government’s key management positions with senior career executives instead of political appointees. Many federal workers agree with that proposal, according to a Federal Eye survey this week. Most of the respondents expressed concerns that political appointees lack the institutional knowledge needed to […]

Why Tom Vilsack fits better as ag secretary than presidential candidate

A few items that caught our attention on Thursday: Why Tom Vilsack fits better as agriculture secretary than presidential hopeful: Agriculture Secretary and former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack, the first Democrat to announce his intentions to run for president back in 2008, said during an interview with ABC’s “The Fine Print” that he lacks the “sizzle” […]

VA hospitals on par with private sector for patient satisfaction

Former military service members using Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals are just as happy with their care as patients using private medical clinics, according to a leading customer-satisfaction survey. The American Customer Satisfaction Index for 2013 shows that the VA health network, which serves more than 8 million veterans, achieved marks equal to or better […]

Feds talk: What are their top priorities for workplace changes?

Does the civil-service system operate like a “relic of a bygone era”? That’s how a prominent good-government group described it this month in a controversial report calling for an overhaul of the federal-workforce framework. The Partnership for Public Service recommended changes that would affect pay, hiring, performance management, job classifications, accountability and workplace justice. Federal-employee unions have […]

What is the future of your favorite federal program?

You may be surprised to learn that the impact could be much more dramatic than you think, the Center for American Progress said Wednesday in an analysis of the recently passed House budget sponsored by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) In its analysis, the liberal think-tank notes that spending on Social Security, Medicare and […]

Conservatives not swayed by IRS plan to revise proposed nonprofit rule

The head of the Internal Revenue Service this week signaled that his agency will re-write proposed new limits on the political activities of nonprofit advocacy groups, quelling concerns from the left about overreach but failing to win over conservatives. Lawmakers and policy analysts on both sides of the political spectrum have voiced opposition to the […]

Listen to the ‘largest ever’ phone scam involving IRS impersonators

Treasury officials have warned of a widespread and sophisticated phone scam involving callers who impersonate Internal Revenue Service representatives and demand immediate payments with pre-paid debit cards and wire transfers. IRS inspector general Russell George described the ruse as the “largest ever” of its kind last month, noting that thousands of victims had already lost more […]

Should the IRS use private collection agencies to pursue tax debts?

A federal-worker union is fighting bipartisan plans that would require the Treasury Department to contract with private collection agencies to pursue tax debts that the Internal Revenue Service is not addressing. The National Treasury Employees Union said in a statement on Monday that a similar effort between 2006 and 2009 caused the government to miss out […]

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President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Barack Obama announced his intent to appoint the following individuals to key Administration posts:

  • General Larry R. Ellis, USA (Ret.) – Member, American Battle Monuments Commission
  • Howard Z. Borin – Member, Commission on Presidential Scholars
  • Grace Tsao-Wu – Member, Commission on Presidential Scholars

President Obama said, “These dedicated and accomplished individuals will be valued additions to my Administration as we tackle the important challenges facing America. I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead.”

President Obama announced his intent to appoint the following individuals to key Administration posts:

General Larry R. Ellis, USA (Ret.), Appointee for Member, American Battle Monuments Commission
General Larry R. Ellis, USA (Ret.) has been President and CEO of VetConnexx, LLC since 2013, a company that provides career opportunities for veterans based in Atlanta, Georgia. He is also President and CEO of ESSE, LLC, a facilities management consulting company. He was President and CEO of Point Blank Solutions, Inc. from 2005 to 2009. General Ellis served in the Army from 1969 to 2004, and achieved the rank of Four Star General in 2001. He served in numerous command and leadership positions in the United States, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Germany, South Korea, and Vietnam. He is a member of the University System of Georgia Board of Regents, the Morgan State University Board of Regents, and the Armed Forces Benefit Association. His awards include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Army Distinguished Service Medal, the Bronze Star Medal, and the NAACP National Service Award. General Ellis attended the U.S. Army War College and received a B.S. from Morgan State University and an M.S. from Indiana University.

Dr. Howard Z. Borin, Appointee for Member, Commission on Presidential Scholars
Dr. Howard Z. Borin is a Board Certified Pediatrician. He most recently worked as Physician in Charge at the Nemours Hospital for Children satellite office in Delaware from 2007 to 2012. From 1997 to 2007, Dr. Borin was the Physician in Charge for the first outreach program for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Prior to that, Dr. Borin ran his own pediatric practice from 1971 to 1997. From 1970 to 1971, Dr. Borin was a Registrar at the Hospital for Sick Children of Great Ormond Street in London, England. Dr. Borin completed his residency at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He was named among the Best Doctors in America by Best Doctors, Inc. from 2007 to 2012, and has been ranked numerous times as among the Top Doctors in Delaware by Delaware Today Magazine. Dr. Borin received a B.A. and an M.D. from Indiana University.

Grace Tsao-Wu, Appointee for Member, Commission on Presidential Scholars
Grace Tsao-Wu is currently a Partner at Laudi Vidni, a position she has held since 2009. From 1994 to 2014, Ms. Tsao-Wu was the founder and owner of her own business, Tabula Tua. She is on the board of One Million Degrees, an organization that empowers low-income, highly motivated community college students to succeed in school, work, and life. She is also on the advisory board of the Chinese American Service League. Prior to this, Ms. Tsao-Wu worked for Kraft Foods from 1990 to 1993 and Price Waterhouse from 1983 to 1988. Ms. Tsao-Wu received a B.S. from the University of California, Berkeley and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.

Statement by the President on Easter Weekend

This weekend, Michelle and I join our fellow Christians in marking Good Friday and celebrating Easter. We will reflect on the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for us and rejoice in the triumph of the Resurrection. This season reminds us that God is always with us, in suffering and in celebration. We give thanks for the many blessings in our lives and renew our commitments to follow Christ’s example by loving God and loving our neighbors as ourselves. We wish all who celebrate a blessed Easter.

Executive Order -- Expanding Eligibility for the Defense Meritorious Service Medal

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Executive Order 12019 of November 3, 1977 (Establishing the Defense Meritorious Service Medal), is amended by inserting ", or to any member of the armed forces of a friendly foreign nation," after "any member of the Armed Forces of the United States".

BARACK OBAMA

THE WHITE HOUSE,
April 18, 2014.

Statement by the President

Today I have signed into law S. 2195, an Act concerning visa limitations for certain representatives to the United Nations. S. 2195 amends section 407 of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1990 and 1991, to provide that no individual may be admitted to the United States as a representative to the United Nations, if that individual has been found to have been engaged in espionage or terrorist activity directed against the United States or its allies, and if that individual may pose a threat to United States national security interests. As President Bush observed in signing the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1990 and 1991, this provision "could constrain the exercise of my exclusive constitutional authority to receive within the United States certain foreign ambassadors to the United Nations." (Public Papers of the President, George Bush, Vol. I, 1990, page 240). Acts of espionage and terrorism against the United States and our allies are unquestionably problems of the utmost gravity, and I share the Congress's concern that individuals who have engaged in such activity may use the cover of diplomacy to gain access to our Nation. Nevertheless, as President Bush also observed, "curtailing by statute my constitutional discretion to receive or reject ambassadors is neither a permissible nor a practical solution." I shall therefore continue to treat section 407, as originally enacted and as amended by S. 2195, as advisory in circumstances in which it would interfere with the exercise of this discretion.

Statement by the Press Secretary on S. 2195

On Friday, April 18, 2014, the President signed into law:

S. 2195, which amends current law to deny admission to the United States to any representative to the United Nations who the President determines has been engaged in terrorist activity against the United States or its allies and may pose a threat to U.S. national security interests.

Remarks by the President at Presentation of the Commander-in-Chief Trophy to the U.S. Naval Academy

Rose Garden

2:02 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Everybody, have a seat, have a seat. Welcome to the White House. Congratulations to the Navy Midshipmen. (Applause.) Does this get old?

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Never.

THE PRESIDENT: No? Okay. (Laughter.) It’s good to see Coach Ken again. And I want to recognize Vice Admiral Mike Miller for his service to the Academy and to our country.

This is the second time these seniors have come here to claim the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy. If you guys have your punch cards with you, the next one is free. (Laughter.) I'm pretty sure Coach Ken would agree that this was one of the best teams yet.

First of all, you had incredible talent. Senior captain Cody Peterson and D.J. Sargenti led the defense. I hear that they’re known in the locker room as “the meatheads.” (Laughter.) On a football team, though, that’s high praise.

This year, quarterback Keenan Reynolds had one of the best seasons in school history. His 31 rushing touchdowns weren’t just an Academy record -- they were a Division I record for a quarterback. (Applause.) He is one of only a handful of players in Division I history to rush for 30 or more touchdowns in a single season. I think it's fair to say that if you're on a list with Barry Sanders you're doing pretty good.

So this team had the leadership, it had the tools. But this is a team that also had a knack for getting the job done under some pretty tough circumstances. When the government was forced to shut down, you didn’t even know if the game against Air Force was going to happen. Luckily, the Secretary of Defense stepped in, gave the green light -- which tells you how important it was, because Secretary Hagel has a few things on his plate, but he personally intervened on this one.

A few weeks later, you beat San Jose State in triple overtime -- with Keenan scoring seven rushing touchdowns, the most ever by a Division I quarterback in a single game. And you kept on rolling through the games that really mattered. In the snow, you beat Army for the 12th time in a row -- they’re starting to feel bad about this -- locking up the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy for the 9th time in 11 years. You went on to beat Middle Tennessee State to win your first bowl game since 2009.

So, overall, this was a pretty good year on the gridiron. What’s more impressive is the fact that for these outstanding young men, football isn’t even the main thing. When these guys sign up, when you sign up to play at Annapolis, you know you’re in for a different experience. A typical day starts at 6:00 a.m. in the training room. Breakfast is at 7:00 a.m. After that, it’s class, lunch and football meetings. Then more class, football practice, dinner. Free time starts at 8:00 p.m., which most players use to study until midnight. And when students at other colleges are enjoying summer vacation, these guys are busy with military training and summer school and offseason workouts.

So, yes, it's about learning to be a good football player, but more importantly, it’s about learning how to be a good leader and to be a good man. And that’s what these outstanding Americans are and will continue to be.

Next month, 14 of these guys are going to be commissioned as ensigns in the Navy. Another eight will become 2nd lieutenants in the Marine Corps. Senior captain Matt Aiken will serve on a ship down in Norfolk. And Wave Ryder -- by the way, if your name is Wave Ryder, then you’ve got to be in the Navy -- (laughter) -- will suit up as a Naval aviator.

That’s their commitment to service. That's the commitment to country and to each other that sets this team apart.

Today, that commitment is as strong as ever. Last month, I know that all of us were mourning the loss of Will McKamey. Two busloads of classmates and teammates made the eight-hour trip to Knoxville to attend his funeral, as did Coach Ken. I understand your motto for this season is “I Will” in memory of him. And that’s what camaraderie is all about: Honor. Courage. Commitment. That’s what makes the Midshipmen so strong. And that’s why I’m so proud to serve as your Commander-in-Chief -- not only -- in fact, not primarily because of what you’ve done on the football field, but because of your dedication to each other and your service to America.

So today it is my privilege to present you with a trophy that weighs about as much as I do. (Laughter.) Congratulations, guys, once again. (Applause.)

END
2:10 P.M. EDT

White House Announces 2014 Spring Garden Events

April 26 and 27

WASHINGTON –As part of the President and First Lady’s ongoing effort to open the People’s House to as many people as possible, the White House will open its gardens and grounds to visitors on Saturday, April 26 from 10:00 AM to 4:30 PM EDT, and Sunday, April 27 from 10:00 AM to 2:30 PM EDT. During this event, visitors can see the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden, Rose Garden and South Lawn of the White House. Additionally, the White House Kitchen Garden – the first vegetable garden at the White House since Eleanor Roosevelt’s Victory Garden – will be accessible to guests.

This event is free and open to the public; however, a ticket is required for all attendees (including small children). The National Park Service will distribute free, timed tickets at the Ellipse Visitor Pavilion located at 15th and E Streets NW on Saturday and Sunday beginning at 9:00 AM. Tickets will be distributed -- one ticket per person -- on a first-come, first-served basis.

Please note the following items are not allowed on the White House grounds:

  • Aerosols of any kind
  • Animals (except guide dogs)
  • Backpacks (oversized)
  • Balloons
  • Food or beverages of any kind
  • Duffle bags/suitcases
  • Any pointed object
  • Fireworks/firecrackers
  • Insulated metal containers/water bottles/thermos
  • Guns/stun guns/ammunition
  • Knives of any kind
  • Mace
  • Tobacco

The U.S. Secret Service reserves the right to prohibit any other personal items. However, strollers, wheelchairs, umbrellas, and cameras are permitted.

All items needed for medical purposes will be permitted on the tour (e.g. wheelchairs, electric scooters, glucose tablets, EpiPens, etc.). Please identify and explain all items needed for medical purposes to U.S. Secret Service upon arrival.

In the event of inclement weather, the event may be cancelled. Please call the 24-hour information line at (202) 456-7041 to check on the status of the event.

Presidential Proclamation -- National Park Week, 2014

NATIONAL PARK WEEK, 2014

- - - - - - -

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

To honor America's natural beauty and cultural heritage, the National Park Service will offer free admission this weekend. This celebration opens opportunities to take in the majesty of canyons, redwoods, and geysers -- to learn the history of Civil War battles and Civil Rights marches. During National Park Week, I encourage Americans to take advantage of the chance to rediscover the great outdoors and reconnect with the American story.

This year marks a significant milestone in America's drive to preserve precious historic sites -- the 30th anniversary of the first National Heritage Area. For decades, the National Heritage Areas Program has enabled our Nation to set aside places that define our shared history and that will help future generations understand what it means to be American.

During my time as President, I have been proud to build on this tradition by establishing 10 new National Monuments. These sites honor American heroes from Harriet Tubman to Cesar Chavez. They conserve the diverse wildlife and rugged landscapes that reflect our character as a people. And just as our parks nourish our spirits, they bolster our livelihoods, attracting tourists to communities across our country and bringing customers to local businesses. For every dollar we invest in our National Parks, America generates 10 dollars in economic value.

This week, as we recommit to conserving these cherished lands, let us build new memories, take on new adventures, and experience all they have to offer. To find a National Park in your area, visit www.NPS.gov.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim April 19 through April 27, 2014, as National Park Week. I encourage all Americans to visit their National Parks and be reminded of these unique blessings we share as a Nation.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eighteenth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.

BARACK OBAMA

Remarks by the First Lady at Discussion with High School and College Students

Howard University
Washington, D.C.

2:42 P.M. EDT

MRS. OBAMA: Thank you. Thanks, you guys. (Applause.) Thanks, Bow Wow. Let’s give it up for Bow Wow. Very proud of this young man. I have grown very fond of him. We’ve done some good work together, and his commitment to education, his commitment to young people, and BET’s commitment, it just means the world to me and I know it means the world to all of you.

But I am so excited to be here with all of you. We’re going to have a chance to talk and really get candid and all that sort of stuff. But I want to welcome you all to Washington, D.C., and also to Howard University -- one of the finest universities in the country. (Applause.) On this beautiful campus, on this beautiful day -- for those of you from Chicago, the weather here is better. (Laughter.) It’s not hard when you’re from Chicago.

But this is such an important occasion, and this is one of the reasons why I’m here. Because one of the things that Barack and I are focusing on and will be focusing on for the rest of our lives, quite frankly, is making sure that young people understand the importance of an education. And that means education beyond high school.

No longer is high school the bar. That is not enough in today’s globalizing economy. You have got to go to college, or get some kind of professional training beyond college. And one of the goals that the President set is trying to make sure that we are the -- once again, the leader in college graduates in the world. It’s called his North Star Goal. We were at the top years back, but now we’ve fallen very far behind the rest of the world.

And it’s going to be up to all of you, because while there’s a lot of work that needs to be done on our end -- governments, private sector, the folks with money -- I want to talk to you all. Because at the very least, you all have complete control over your futures. How you approach your education is really still within your hands. You don’t have time to wait for everybody to fix the system for you. We have to have a hunger for education like we had when our parents and grandparents were fighting for us to have the right to come to these schools and to get the education.

So now, it’s up to you all to take that baton and do the very best you can with it. And that’s one of the reasons why I wanted to be here with all of you, because this transition for some of you may be a little scary. It may be unknown. It was that way for me when I was growing up. I mean, my older brother went to college, but I didn’t know anything about what my college experience was going to be like.

Unlike you all, I didn’t get tours like -- I didn’t even go on a college tour. I didn’t go on a single -- nobody went on college tours. It would have been nice to see what a dorm looked like. The only reason I saw a dorm was because I visited my brother once when he was in college. That was the only exposure.

And I applied here, I applied to Howard. I applied to Northwestern. I applied to the University of Wisconsin, Madison -- but I don’t even know why I applied. I knew why I applied to Howard, but everywhere else was just a crapshoot. They sent me a brochure, I was like, okay, I’ll apply. (Laughter.) I got in. It’ll look -- the pictures looked nice. That was all that I had.

So the fact that you guys have this opportunity to spend a weekend on a college campus and really get a feel for what this experience is going to be like is really a tremendous opportunity that I hope you all take advantage of.

So I’m going to stop talking, because I really want to hear from you all. You guys, feel free to ask anything. I’m going to turn it back over to Bow Wow, and then we’ll just talk. We’ll get real candid. And then when the press leaves, we’ll really get candid. (Laughter.)

END
2:49 P.M. EDT

Readout of the Vice President’s Call with Prime Minister Robert Fico of Slovakia

Vice President Biden spoke today with Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico. The Vice President and Prime Minister discussed the situation in eastern Ukraine. The Vice President underscored the United States’ support for a diplomatic resolution to the crisis in Ukraine, contingent on Russia’s disavowal and cessation of destabilizing actions within Ukraine. The two leaders agreed that if Russia further escalated the situation in Ukraine, it would face mounting consequences for its actions. The Vice President thanked the Prime Minister for Slovakia’s commitment to bolstering energy security within Europe, including by supporting the reverse flow of natural gas to Ukraine.

Readout of the Vice President’s Call with President Rosen Plevneliev of Bulgaria

Vice President Biden spoke today with Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev. The Vice President assured President Plevneliev of the United States’ ironclad commitment to the collective defense of its NATO Allies and thanked him for Bulgaria’s contributions to the Euro-Atlantic partnership. The two leaders discussed the alarming situation in eastern Ukraine, and pledged their full support for Ukraine’s development as an independent, unitary, and democratic state. The Vice President and President Plevneliev stressed that Russia needs to take immediate, concrete actions to de-escalate the situation in eastern Ukraine. The leaders also discussed the importance of efforts to combat corruption, promote democratic accountability, and support independent media in Bulgaria and throughout Europe.

Dominican Republic Reports 17 Confirmed Cases of Mosquito-Borne Chikungunya Illness

The Dominican Republic released figures on a new mosquito-borne illness, chikungunya, that seems to be spreading in the Caribbean. The DR reported there are 17 confirmed cases and 767 suspected cases of chikungunya, with the suspected number of cases in the Caribbean rising about 20 percent in the week to 29,760. The European Center for […]

Hinterland Gazette

OH Teacher Gil Voigt Fired After Telling Student “We Don’t Need Another Black President”

Ohio teacher Gil Voigt was fired on Thursday after his comment to black student that “we don’t need another black president,” led to his suspension. Voigt, who had been on unpaid leave since December, was fired after a labor hearing ended with a recommendation for termination. Cincinnati.com reports the Fairfield Board of Education received a state referee’s […]

Hinterland Gazette

6-Year-Old Accidentally Shoots and Kills Alexandra Anita Santos

Alexandra Anita Santos was accidentally shot and killed by a 6-year-old boy Thursday afternoon. The boy shot Santos, who was riding in the passenger seat of the car, with a semiautomatic gun in the car. The boy is the son of the driver, who is said to be a friend of Alexandra Anita Santos. Police said […]

Hinterland Gazette

Edward Snowden: Vladimir Putin’s Response to Surveillance Question “Evasive”

Russian President Vladimir Putin proved to the whole world that fugitive NSA leaker Edward Snowden was used as a pawn during a Q&A session on Thursday. Snowden defends his question to Putin about surveillance in a Guardian op-ed piece saying, “I regret that my question could be misinterpreted, and that it enabled many to ignore […]

Hinterland Gazette

Haters Throw Shade After Chelsea Clinton Announces Pregnancy

Haters will always hate. No matter what. Chelsea Clinton, daughter of Bill and Hillary Clinton, announced her pregnancy today at an event with her mother. The trolls come out on Twitter. It’s sick that people could actually tweet her pregnancy is the result of incest with her father. Unbelievable. There are also claims that Clinton’s […]

Hinterland Gazette

Chelsea Clinton Announces She’s Pregnant with First Child

Former First Daughter, Chelsea Clinton, announced on Thursday that she is expecting her first child with her husband. Chelsea Clinton, who was at an event with her mother, Hillary Clinton, said, “I just hope that I will be as good a mom to my child and hopefully children as my mom was to me,” she said […]

Hinterland Gazette

4 St. Anthony’s High School Students Expelled After Blackface, Confederate Flag Incidents

Four students at St. Anthony’s High School were expelled for two racist incidents involving the Confederate flag and blackface. You may think this Catholic school is in the Deep South, but no, it’s on Long Island. Shameful. Four Catholic high school students on Long Island have been expelled after two senior boys brought a Confederate flag to […]

Hinterland Gazette

Shaun Nowacki’s “Boats and Hoes PAC” Shut Down After Sparking Outrage

Texas continues to defy political logic. The latest is a political action committee named “Boats and Hoes PAC.” That was until it sparked outrage and the “Boats and Hoes PAC” will now be just a memory. One that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. A Texas political action committee called Boats ‘N Hoes PAC […]

Hinterland Gazette

Study: People of Color Exposed to Air Pollution 38 Percent More Than Whites

A new study released by the University of Minnesota found that people of color are exposed to air that is 38 percent more polluted than the air white people breathes in. In an interview with The Minnesota Post, the study’s lead researcher, Julian Marshall, an associate professor of civil engineering at the University of Minnesota, said that “the […]

Hinterland Gazette

‘RHOA’ Star Porsha Williams Charged with Battery in Fight with Kenya Moore

“Real Housewives of Atlanta” star Porsha Williams turned herself into Atlanta police after being charged with simple battery for a fight with costar Kenya Moore. Kenya Moore accused Porsha Williams of assaulting her while filming an episode of the show on March 27 at the Biltmore Hotel. Porsha Williams turned herself into police on Thursday. […]

Hinterland Gazette

COMMENTARY CHARACTERS

GOD’S SOFTWARE FOR CHILDREN - Excerpt from the book "Its Mom" Sharon P. Carson - Amazon.com

Our children are given to us as gifts from God. They come to us like a newly manufactured computer with no installed software.

Parents are given the responsibility of installing the right programs in their children, and the most important program they need is not Microsoft Word but rather “The word of God”.

Parents should install this program in their children and pray that it will remain saved in the hard drives of their minds and spirits and that they will have enough memory to allow it to work throughout their lives because at some point parents will have to click RUN and let their children go.