The White House Blog Updates : Medal Of Honor. Raise The Wage. Immigration Reform.


 

By Jueseppi B.

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The White House Blog Updates

 

For Cinco de Mayo, President Obama Focuses on Investing in “100,000 Strong in the Americas

 

Cinco de Mayo at the White House

 

Published on May 5, 2014

President Obama welcomes guests to the White House for a reception to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. May 5, 2014.

 

 

 

Yesterday, on Cinco de Mayo, President Obama joined Under Secretary of State Richard Stengel, Assistant Secretary Roberta Jacobsen, Assistant Secretary Evan Ryan, foreign government officials, business leaders, and academics in the Roosevelt Room of the White House to discuss how we can work together to advance “100,000 Strong in the Americas,” an initiative focused on expanding educational opportunity and exchange to build connections between the people of the Americas, and to make our region more competitive.

 

President Barack Obama drops by a 100,000 Strong in the Americas education roundtable in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, May 5, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama drops by a 100,000 Strong in the Americas education roundtable in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, May 5, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

 

President Obama launched 100,000 Strong in the Americas to meet the target of bringing 100,000 students to the United States to study each year, while also increasing the number of Americans studying abroad in the hemisphere to 100,000. He did so out of a belief that greater educational opportunity and exchange will serve the interests of all our countries – developing new skills, increasing employment opportunities, building bridges across borders, and ultimately improving relations between the United States and our neighbors.

 

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State and Local Officials Join the President in Year of Action to Raise the Minimum Wage

 

Yesterday, Governor Martin O’Malley signed legislation adding Maryland to the growing list of states following the President’s call to raise the minimum wage for workers across the country. And today, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter announced he is taking action at the local level to increase the minimum wage for city contractors and subcontractors to $12 an hour starting in January.

 

As the President restated last week, he believes that no one working a full-time job should have to raise a family in poverty. Most Americans agree. In fact, around three out of four Americans support raising the minimum wage. That’s why we’re asking state and local officials across the country to join the President to make this a year of action and raise the minimum wage.

 

During his State of the Union address, the President encouraged Congress to support lifting the federal minimum wage to $10.10 while urging state and local officials to take action without waiting for Congress: “To every mayor, governor, and state legislator in America, I say, you don’t have to wait for Congress to act.” A month later, four governors – Dannel Malloy of Connecticut, Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, and Peter Shumlin of Vermont – appeared on stage with the President in Connecticut to support raising the minimum wage to $10.10.

 

In the year since the President first called on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage, 10 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws to increase the minimum wage. Without waiting on Congress to act, three of those states – Connecticut, Maryland, and Hawaii – are lifting their minimum wages to $10.10 an hour, and other states and localities are considering similar legislation. If Congress acts to raise the federal minimum wage, more than 28 million workers across the country would see a direct increase in their wages.

 

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Statements and Releases – May 6th, 2014

 

 

President Obama to Award Medal of Honor

WASHINGTON – On May 13, 2014, President Barack Obama will award Kyle J. White, a former active duty Army Sergeant, the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry.  Sergeant White will receive the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions while serving as a Platoon Radio Telephone Operator assigned to C Company, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, during combat operations against an armed enemy in Nuristan Province, Afghanistan on November 9, 2007.

 

Sergeant White will be the seventh living recipient to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan.  He and his family will join the President at the White House to commemorate his example of selfless service.

 

 

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PERSONAL BACKGROUND: 

 

Former Sergeant Kyle J. White separated from the Army on July 8, 2011.  He currently lives in Charlotte, NC, where he works as an Investment Analyst.

 

Sergeant White enlisted in the Army in February 2006 as an Infantryman.   After completion of training at Ft Benning, he was assigned to Vicenza, Italy, with 2nd Battalion (Airborne) 503rd Infantry “The Rock” as a grenadier and rifleman which included a combat tour to Afghanistan from May 2007 until August 2008.  Following Italy, Kyle was assigned as an opposing forces Sergeant with the Ranger Training Battalion at Ft Benning.

 

Sergeant White deployed in support of the War on Terror with one tour to Afghanistan.

 

At the time of the November 9, 2007 combat engagement, then-Specialist White was a Platoon Radio Telephone Operator assigned to C Company, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade.  His heroic actions were performed during a dismounted movement in mountainous terrain in Aranas, Afghanistan.

 

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White’s awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, the Army Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster and “V” device, the Army Achievement Medal with one  oak leaf cluster, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with one campaign star, the Global War on Terrorism Medal, the Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon  with numeral “2” device, the NATO Medal, the Combat Infantry Badge, the Parachutists Badge, the Air Assault Badge, the Presidential Unit Citation, and the Valorous Unit Award.

 

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

 

THE MEDAL OF HONOR:

 

The Medal of Honor is awarded to members of the Armed Forces who distinguish themselves conspicuously by gallantry above and beyond the call of duty while:

 

  • engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States;
  • engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or
  • serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.

 

The meritorious conduct must involve great personal bravery or self-sacrifice so conspicuous as to clearly distinguish the individual above his or her comrades and must have involved risk of life. There must be incontestable proof of the performance of the meritorious conduct, and each recommendation for the award must be considered on the standard of extraordinary merit.

 

 

Statement by the President on Israeli Independence Day

 

Statement by NSC Spokesperson Caitlin Hayden on National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice’s Travel to Israel

 

FACT SHEET: What Climate Change Means for Regions across America and Major Sectors of the Economy

 

 

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5/6/14: White House Press Briefing

 

 

 

“We’ve got everybody doing this” or, West Wing Peek

 

 

 

Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship: Why America Needs Immigration Reform

 

Published on May 6, 2014

Inaugural members of the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (Nina Vaca, Hamdi Ulukaya, Rich Barton, Daphne Koller, and Steve Case) tell stories of how immigration makes America great, and why the time is now for commonsense immigration reform.

 

 

 

The National Climate Assessment

 

Published on May 6, 2014

Dr. John Holdren, President Obama’s Science Advisor, introduces the National Climate Assessment and discusses President Obama’s climate action plan which takes an all of the above energy approach towards combatting climate change now. Learn more at http://www.whitehouse.gov/climate-change

 

 

 

Year of Action: “We’re not done yet”

 

Published on May 5, 2014

Since January, the President has taken more than 20 actions to help build real, lasting economic security for the middle class and expand opportunities for every hardworking American to get ahead. http://www.wh.gov/year-of-action

 

 

 

Obama Sits Down With Meteorologists To Push Climate Report

 

Published on May 6, 2014

The Obama administration’s climate-change PR blitz involves interviews with eight national and local meteorologists.

 

 

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Barack Got Jokes: President Obama At The 2014 White House Correspondents’ Dinner.


 

By Jueseppi B.

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Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Joe Biden: White House Correspondents’ Dinner 2014

 

Published on May 3, 2014

Watch what happens when Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Vice President Joe Biden do not go to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

 

 

 

President Barack Obama is joining journalists, government officials, politicians and media personalities at the annual dinner of the White House Correspondents’ Association.

The featured entertainer, Joel McHale, star of the NBC series “Community,” quickly delivered a quip about Chris Christie’s fallen star, promising many more jokes about the New Jersey governor, who is in attendance.

The early part of the comedian’s speech included references to the entertainment industry, such as the Kardashians, but he then turned his attention to politics, including a comment about paying Hillary Rodham Clinton less if she becomes president, and the news media.

 

Earlier, Obama cracked jokes about Russian President Vladimir Putin and the continued resistance by many politicians to his signature health care reform.

 

The evening of humor and celebrity gazing has become an annual tradition in the nation’s capital.

 

First lady Michelle Obama is with the president at the black-tie event at the Washington Hilton Hotel.

 

Al Sharpton, Uber founder Travis Kalanick, departing Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright are some of the VIPs at the dinner.

 

As part of a joke about the troubled rollout of HealthCare.gov, Sebelius came to the podium to “fix” a video address the president had recorded to end his speech for the night.

 

 

President Obama at the 2014 White House Correspondents’ Dinner

 

Published on May 3, 2014

President Barack Obama’s complete comedy routine at the 2014 White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

 

 

 

TheObamaCrat™ Presents: The Obama White House

Published on May 3, 2014

POTUSA Barack Hussein Obama is captured on film by the White House Official Photographers. Enjoy yet another video slide show of The Obama White House. Visit TheObamaCrat™ Blog at http://www.theobamacrat.com

 

  

 

 

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TheObamaCrat™ Wake-Up Call For Monday The 10th Of March, 2014. Joey B & Dr. Jill Visit The Republic Of Chile.


 

By Jueseppi B.

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White House Schedule – March 10, 2014

 

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 10th, 2014

 

DAILY GUIDANCE AND SCHEDULE FOR
MONDAY, MARCH 10th, 2014

 

In the morning, the President will receive the Presidential Daily Briefing in the Oval Office. This meeting is closed press.

 

Later in the morning, the President will participate in an Ambassador Credentialing Ceremony in the Oval Office. At this event, the President will receive the credentials from foreign Ambassadors recently posted in Washington. The presentation of credentials is a traditional ceremony that marks the formal beginning of an Ambassador’s service in Washington. This event is closed press. The following Ambassadors will attend:

 

His Excellency Mhamed Ezzine Chelaifa, Ambassador of the Republic of Tunisia

His Excellency Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Ambassador of the Republic of India

His Excellency Jalil Abbas Jilani, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan

His Excellency Rupa Abraham Mulina, Ambassador of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea

His Excellency Johan Cecilia Verbeke, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium

His Excellency Mohammed Jaham A. A. Al Kuwari, Ambassador of the State of Qatar

 

In the afternoon, the President will host the 2012-2013 NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Champions at the White House for an event on the South Lawn. The President will welcome student athletes from schools across the country to congratulate them on their accomplishments in the classroom and on the playing field. This event is open press.

 

 

Monday, March 10 2014 All Times ET

8:30 AM: The Vice President meets with President-elect Michelle Bachelet. Local Event Time: 9:30 AM. Diplomatic Academy – Santiago – Chile

 

9:30 AM: The Vice President meets with President Sebastián Piñera. Local Event Time: 10:30 AM. Presidential Palace – Santiago – Chile.

 

10:00 AM: THE PRESIDENT receives the Presidential Daily Briefing, Oval Office.

 

11:15 AM: THE PRESIDENT participates in an Ambassador Credentialing Ceremony, Oval Office.

 

12:00 PM: Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney, The Brady Press Briefing Room.

 

5:00 PM: THE PRESIDENT hosts 2012 – 2013 NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Champions, South Lawn.

 

6:00 PM: The Vice President meets with President Ollanta Humala of Peru. Local Event Time: 7:00 PM. Sheraton Santiago – Santiago – Chile.

 

 

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WEEKLY  SCHEDULE FOR MONDAY, MARCH 10th, – MONDAY, MARCH 14th, 2014

 

On Monday, the President will host a reception for the 2012 and 2013 NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Champions.

 

On Tuesday, the President will travel to New York, NY to attend DNC and DSCC events.

 

On Wednesday, the President will attend meetings at theWhite House.

 

On Thursday and Friday, the President will attend meetings at the White House.

 

 

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Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden to Travel to the Republic of Chile and the Dominican Republic

WASHINGTON, DC – The Vice President and Dr. Jill Biden will travel to the Republic of Chile and the Dominican Republic in the second week of March.  In Chile, the Vice President will lead the U.S. delegation to the Inauguration of Her Excellency Michelle Bachelet.  In Santo Domingo, the Vice President will meet with President Danilo Medina to discuss a broad range of bilateral issues, as well as regional cooperation.

 

 

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From The Guardian:

 

Joe Biden describes situation in Venezuela as ‘alarming’

 

• Vice-president says Maduro does not respect basic rights
• Biden in Chile for inauguration of President Bachelet

 

Vice-president Joe Biden says people of the Americas are tired of fighting old ideological battles. Photograph: MCT/Landov/Barcroft Media

Vice-president Joe Biden says people of the Americas are tired of fighting old ideological battles. Photograph: MCT/Landov/Barcroft Media

 

Vice-President Joe Biden has given a stark assessment of the ongoing unrest in Venezuela, accusing President Nicolás Maduro of widespread human rights violations and saying the situation reminded him of Latin America’s troubled and violent past.

 

In a written interview with El Mercurio of Chile, where Biden arrived on Sunday at the start of his seventh official visit to the region, he called the unstable situation in Venezuela “alarming” and said the Caracas government lacked even basic respect for human rights.

 

“Confronting peaceful protesters with force and in some cases armed militias, limiting freedom of the press and assembly […] is not in line with the solid standards of democracy that we have in most of our hemisphere. The situation in Venezuela reminds me of past times, when strongmen governed using violence and oppression; human rights, hyperinflation, shortages and extreme poverty ravaged the peoples of the hemisphere,” Biden wrote, according to the Spanish translation published by El Mercurio.

 

Biden has flown to Chile with his wife Jill to attend the inauguration of Chile’s new president, Michelle Bachelet, on Tuesday. The Venezuelan leader will also be present at the event.

 

The White House said that while in Chile the vice-president will have one-to-one meetings with Bachelet and with presidents Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia, Ollanta Humala of Peru, and Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico.

 

For several weeks, Venezuela has been racked by clashes between government soldiers and student protesters backed by middle class Venezuelans disgruntled by extreme inflation and food shortages. Maduro has laid blame for the unrest against far-right provocateurs, the implication being that the US is fomenting the trouble.

 

In his El Mercurio interview, Biden disputed the claim, riposting that Maduro was trying “distract his people from the most important issues that are in play in Venezuela by inventing totally false and outlandish conspiracies about the United States. Instead of that, he should listen to the Venezuelan people, and to look to the example of those leaders who resisted oppression in the Americas, or risk repeating the injustices they fought against so bravely.”

 

He added a frank admission that previous US administrations had been propelled by the struggle against the Soviet Union to side with “leaders who do not share our values” – a reference to the backing given by Ronald Reagan and other US presidents to reactionary paramilitary groups and military governments across Latin America. “However, the US finally stayed on the right side of history in places like Chile, where the [former] US ambassador Harry Barnes and others publicly defended the victims of repression,” he said.

 

He went on: “We recognise that some hangovers of the cold war remain, so that suspicion goes with the territory. But most people in the Americas are tired of fighting old ideological battles that don’t help their daily lives at all.”

 

Thank you The Guardian.

 

THE U.S. SENDS THE VICE PRESIDENT AND HIS WIFE, DR. BIDEN IN ORDER TO WELCOME IN THE REIGN OF THE PRESIDENT-ELECT, MICHELLE BACHELET. THEN, THEY WILL MOVE ONTO THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC.

THE U.S. SENDS THE VICE PRESIDENT AND HIS WIFE, DR. BIDEN IN ORDER TO WELCOME IN THE REIGN OF THE PRESIDENT-ELECT, MICHELLE BACHELET. THEN, THEY WILL MOVE ONTO THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC.

 

 

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The 2014 Economic Report of the President

 

Jason Furman, Betsey Stevenson and Jim Stock
March 10, 2014
10:00 AM EDT

 

This morning, the Council of Economic Advisers is releasing the2014 Economic Report of the President, which discusses the progress that has been made in recovering from the worst recession since the Great Depression, and President Obama’s agenda to build on this progress by creating jobs and expanding economic opportunity. This year’s report highlights steps the Obama Administration is taking to address three key imperatives: continuing to restore the economy to its full potential, expanding the economy’s potential over the long-run, and ensuring that all Americans have the opportunity to realize their full individual potential.

 

Below are seven highlights from each of the seven chapters in this year’s Report:

 

Chapter 1 introduces the Report and highlights several key areas where progress has been made, but it also lays out the areas where much more work remains to be done. In particular, recoveries from financial crises are uniquely challenging because heavy household debt burdens and tight credit conditions can linger for years, depressing spending and investment. However, as shown in Figure 1-4 of the Report, among the 12 countries that experienced a systemic financial crisis in 2007 and 2008, the United States is one of just two in which output per working-age person has returned to pre-crisis levels. The fact that the United States has been one of the best performing economies in the wake of the crisis supports the view that the full set of policy responses in the United States made a major difference in averting a substantially worse outcome—although it in no way changes the fact that more work remains to be done.

 

Chapter 2 reviews the economy’s performance in 2013 and discusses the key reasons why the Administration, like other forecasters, expects growth to strengthen in the coming years. Five years removed from the worst of the financial crisis, the economy continues to strengthen and recover, with businesses adding 2.4 million jobs in 2013, the third straight year private employment has risen by more than 2 million. Looking to 2014, one key reason that growth is expected to pick up is that households have made substantial progress in paying off debt, a process known as deleveraging, putting them in a better position to increase spending going forward. As shown in Figure 2-7, household debt has fallen from a peak of about 1.4 times annual disposable income in the fourth quarter of 2007 to 1.1 times annual disposable income by the fourth quarter of 2013. Similarly, debt service (that is, required minimum payments on household debt) has fallen from a high of 13 percent of disposable income in the fourth quarter of 2007 to 10 percent by the third quarter of 2013, its lowest since the data begin in 1980.

 

It is important to note, however, that while these figures paint a picture of improvement in the aggregate, many moderate- and middle-income households have seen little benefit from recent stock market gains and are still grappling with the implications of home prices that, despite recent progress, remain well below their previous highs. Other reasons to expect stronger growth in 2014 than in 2013 include diminished fiscal drag, a recovery in asset values, strengthening among our international trading partners, and demographic forces that are expected to maintain upward pressure on housing starts—although all of these factors need to be balanced against the uncertain risks that can always adversely affect the economy.

 

Read More

 

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Obama Morning News || March 10, 2014

 

Obama to meet with Ukraine leader . . . Washington Post

 

Biden criticizes Venezuela . . . Associated Press

 

Cheney assails Obama on Ukraine . . . Politico

 

Cruz disagrees with Paul on foreign policy . . . Newsmax

 

Cruz: We’ll repeal Obamacare in 2017 . . . The Hill

 

Obama to introduce “Cosmos” . . . Hollywood Reporter

 

 

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White House LIVE!!! Streaming.

 

Next Up…

March 10, 2014 12:00 PM EDT

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney

The White House, White House LIVE!!! Streaming.

 

 

 

March 10, 2014 5:00 PM EDT

President Obama Hosts the 2012-2013 NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Champions

The White House, White House LIVE!!! Streaming.

 

 

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Statements and Releases March 10, 2014

 

Readout of the President’s Call with President Xi of China

 

The President spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping on the evening of March 9 regarding the situation in Ukraine.  The two leaders agreed on the fundamental importance of focusing on common interests and deepening practical cooperation to address regional and global challenges for the development of bilateral relations. In that context, they affirmed their shared interest in reducing tensions and identifying a peaceful resolution to the dispute between Russia and Ukraine.  The two leaders agreed on the importance of upholding principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity, both in the context of Ukraine and also for the broader functioning of the international system.  The President noted his overriding objective of restoring Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and ensuring the Ukrainian people are able to determine their own future without foreign interference.  The two leaders committed to stay in touch as events unfold.

 

 

Statement by NSC Spokesperson Caitlin Hayden on Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco’s Travel to Turkey, Yemen and Saudi Arabia

 

Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco traveled to Turkey, Yemen and Saudi Arabia March 6-9 as a part of our regular consultations with three of the United States’ key partners.

 

In Ankara on March 6-7, Ms. Monaco  met with her Turkish Government counterparts as part of the United States’ ongoing engagement with Turkey to strengthen our joint counterterrorism efforts. In these meetings, Ms. Monaco and Turkish Government officials discussed how we can continue to work together most effectively on a range of issues, particularly with respect to  countering the growing terrorist presence in Syria.

 

In Sana’a on March 8,  Ms. Monaco underscored the United States’ commitment to supporting Yemen’s political transition and reaffirmed our strong security partnership with President Hadi and the Yemeni government, focused on the mutual goal of countering the threat from al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). These meetings were an opportunity for Ms. Monaco to hear from Yemeni government and civil society leaders about their plans for moving forward with the transition, including the implementation of the National Dialogue’s recommendations on  the devolution of power and guarantees for the participation of women in the political process, in order to enable the government to better serve and represent its citizens.  Ms. Monaco emphasized that the United States will stand with Yemen as it continues to implement the Gulf Cooperation Council-brokered political transition initiative in a timely, inclusive manner.  She also encouraged President Hadi and Yemen’s transitional government to continue enacting the meaningful economic and security sector reforms critical to setting Yemen on the path to stability and prosperity.

 

On March 9 in Riyadh, Ms. Monaco met with her Saudi counterparts to consult on issues of importance in the strategic relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia, including our robust security cooperation, ways to promote regional stability, and efforts to address violent extremism and counter terrorism across the Middle East.  Ms. Monaco reiterated the United States’ commitment to continuing to strengthen our cooperation on a range of common interests.  Her visit  follows on the heels of her recent conversation with His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abd al Aziz al Saud, Minister of Interior of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in Washington, and comes ahead of the President’s visit to Saudi Arabia at the end of March.

 

 

Statement by the Press Secretary on the Visit of Prime Minister Yatsenyuk of Ukraine

President Obama will welcome Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk of Ukraine to the White House on March 12.  The visit will highlight the strong support of the United States for the people of Ukraine, who have demonstrated inspiring courage and resilience through recent times of crisis.  The President and Prime Minister Yatsenyuk will discuss how to find a peaceful resolution to Russia’s ongoing military intervention in Crimea that would respect Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity.  They will also discuss support the international community can provide to help Ukraine confront its economic challenges, and the importance of uniting Ukraine and working to fulfill the aspirations of the Ukrainian people as they prepare for May presidential elections.

 

 

 

Readout of National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice’s Travel to the United Arab Emirates and Djibouti

National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice traveled to the United Arab Emirates and Djibouti from March 6-8.  In the UAE, she held highly productive bilateral discussions with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed and other senior Emirati officials, including the Foreign Minister and Deputy Chief of National Security.  They exchanged views on a wide range of regional issues, including Iran, Syria, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Middle East Peace, as well as U.S. partnership with the Gulf Cooperation Council countries.  Ambassador Rice visited the new campus of NYU Abu Dhabi, one of the three major U.S.-UAE long-term legacy partnership projects.  She met with a diverse and talented group of American, Emirati and international students from NYU Abu Dhabi and the Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Scholarship Program and expressed support for the major investments the UAE has made in world class liberal arts and STEM higher education programs.

 

In Djibouti, Ambassador Rice met with senior leaders and U.S. troops from the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) at Camp Lemonnier to discuss CJTF operations in the region.  She thanked the troops for their extraordinary work to build counterpart capacity in the region, conduct crisis response, and execute vital counter-terror operations that help keep the American people safe.  Ambassador Rice met with Djiboutian President Guelleh to renew our robust strategic partnership with the government and people of Djibouti.  She thanked him for Djiboutian leadership on a range of issues, including countering terrorism and piracy, and responding to humanitarian emergencies.

 

In her meeting with President Guelleh and with Foreign Minister Youssouf and a delegation of senior Djiboutian ministers and officials, she discussed ways to deepen and enhance our bilateral cooperation, including in ways that will tangibly benefit the economic well-being of the Djiboutian people and address shared security challenges.  They discussed ways that Camp Lemonnier and the U.S. military presence in Djibouti can have a more direct and positive impact on the local economy, and ways that American assistance can lead to further sustainable development and improved regional security.

 

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Super Bowl XLVIII Is Why The Game Is Played And “The Expert Pundits” Should Be Ignored.


 

By Jueseppi B.

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The Denver Broncos Must Have Been Tied Up In Gov. Chris Christie’s Bridge Gate, You Know, Stuck In That Traffic Study On The George Washington Bridge. They Never Showed Up To Play In Super Bowl XLVIII.

 

This is why we play the actual sports games and don’t pay a lick of attention to ALL the sports “experts” who are highly paid idiots, according to their Super Bowl picks for XLVIII.

 

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Super Bowl XLVIII By The Numbers: Historic ineptitude on display.

 

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The game wasn’t all that interesting, not with the Seahawks jumping out to a big lead and with the Broncos unable to do anything about it, but Super Bowl XLVIII certainly produced some interesting statistics.

 

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Like, how Peyton Manning set a Super Bowl record for the most completions and Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas set a Super Bowl record for the most catches. So, it wasn’t all bad for Denver, am I right?

 

Anyway, here were the most fascinating numbers for the final game of the 2013 season.

 

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0: The number of times in NFL history before Sunday that an NFL game ended with a 43-8 score.

 

0: The number of interceptions thrown by Russell Wilson this postseason.

 

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0.125: The percentage of successful replay challenges by Broncos coach John Fox this season. Fox challenged the call of a forward pass by Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson in the first half, but referee Terry McAuley confirmed the original ruling on the field. On the season, Fox was 1 for 8.

 

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2:02: The length of time of Renee Fleming’s beautiful national anthem if you hit the stopwatch when she opened her mouth to sing.

 

2:12: The length of time of Renee Fleming’s gorgeous national anthem if you hit the stopwatch when her accompanying band began to play.

 

3: The number of consecutive seasons that a safety has been scored in a Super Bowl, via Michael David Smith.

 

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3: The number of times since the 1975 season, including Sunday, that a Super Bowl team has not scored at least 10 points in the game.

 

5: The number of points the Seahawks had accumulated early in the first quarter. No other Super Bowl team in history has ever had five points on the scoreboard.

 

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5: The number of losses for the Broncos in Super Bowl games. That’s the most of any team in the league.

 

11:41: The amount of time in the first quarter that the Seahawks held the ball. Overall, Seattle ran 22 plays in the first 15 minutes. Denver ran six.

 

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12: The number of seconds it took for the Seahawks to score, the fastest score in Super Bowl history. The previous fastest was 14 seconds when Devin Hester scored on the opening kickoff return in Super XLI.

 

13: The number of receptions for Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas, the most of anybody in Super Bowl history.

 

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13: The number of years it’s been since a Super Bowl participant was shut out in the first half. That would be the Giants falling behind 10-0 to the Ravens in Super Bowl XXXV.

 

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19: The number of minutes into the game that it took for the Broncos to get their first first down.

 

24: The number of times a coin flip in the Super Bowl has landed on heads, and the number of times it’s landed on tails, via RJ Bell.

 

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29: The number of points scored by the Seahawks to start the game, the most consecutive points ever scored by one team to open a game since the Redskins scored 24 in Super Bowl XXVI, via ESPN Stats Info.

 

33: The number of completions Sunday by Peyton Manning, the most-ever by a Super Bowl quarterback.

 

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69: The length of Malcolm Smith‘s pick-6 of Peyton Manning in the first half. It’s the longest interception return for a touchdown since Tracy Porter returned one 74 yards in Super Bowl XLIV against a guy named Peyton Manning.

 

82,529: The number of fans who jammed themselves into MetLife Stadium to watch the game.

 

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526,217: The base salary made by Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson for the entire 2013 season.

 

882,352:The salary made by Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning eachweek of the NFL season, via Bryan A. Graham.

 

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$10.2 Million: The amount the legendary boxer, Floyd Mayweather bet on a Denver Broncos victory. I won’t mention the starving children, poor families, charities that could have used that $10.2 million. Now his bookie can retire. Oh well, he’ll just jave to fight Manny Pacquiáo.

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Best, worst of Super Bowl XLVIII

 

Evaluating the memorable moments of Seattle’s Super blowout of Denver

 

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Malcolm Smith Named Super Bowl MVP

 

Seahawks LB and Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith gives credit to the entire Seattle defense.
The Seattle Seahawks, underdogs in the eyes of the folks in Las Vegas, smoked the Denver Broncos 43-8.
This was an unlikely game in which Peyton Manning did a passable imitation of his beleaguered younger brother, Eli. Or was it barely passable? This season alone, Eli (15) and Peyton (two) combined to throw 17 interceptions at MetLife Stadium, the home of the Giants and Jets. In a quirky turn of events, the brothers combined to throw seven interceptions (and one lonely touchdown) here against the Seahawks this season.
The best play of the game, if you are a Seahawks fan, was linebacker Malcolm Smith‘s 69-yard interception return for a touchdown late in the second quarter. Defensive end Cliff Avril hit Manning’s arm as he released the ball, and Smith gathered in the disabled duck — and ran a wondrous, meandering route to the end zone. That gave Seattle a stunning 22-0 lead.
It was the longest interception return for a touchdown since the Saints’ Tracy Porter took one back 74 yards — against Manning in Super Bowl XLIV.
Going in, if you had known that Seattle’s two starting cornerbacks – Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell – would be out of the game midway through the fourth quarter, you might have thought Manning would have a field day. Instead, he merely finished the game with a Super Bowl record for completions (34), an exceedingly hollow victory.
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Best effort by a part-time player: It’s not how you start; it’s how you finish. Seattle wide receiver Percy Harvin got a six-year, $67 million contract but made exactly one catch during the 2013 regular season. Hip surgery on Aug. 1 to repair a torn labrum took Harvin out of play for much of the season, but he returned for the divisional playoff game against the Saints (three catches), then suffered a concussion. After sitting out the NFC Championship Game against the 49ers, he was a big part of the Seahawks’ offensive game plan. He had two sweet runs in the first half, a 30-yard rush around left end and a 15-yard sweep. Then he ran back the kickoff to open the second half 87 yards for a touchdown — and a 29-0 lead.
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Best quarterback: Russell Wilson is the most successful quarterback in NFL history over his first two seasons. This Super Bowl victory gives Wilson a total of 28 wins — one more than the Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger in 2004 and ’05. This is a guy who was drafted in the third round, 53 spots behind Cleveland’s Brandon Weeden.
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Worst quarterback: He had the best offensive season in NFL history, but he was also the second-oldest quarterback to start this ultimate game. Peyton Manning was the only player on either team to win a Super Bowl, but he certainly didn’t win this one. No, the two interceptions weren’t completely his fault, but his big-game nerves will be questioned after this loss. Again. Manning is now 11-12 in playoff games.
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Worst effort in the big game: The Broncos franchise is now 2-5 in Super Bowls — and the only team to lose five. The worst Super Bowl blowout ever? The Broncos lost to the 49ers 55-10 in Super Bowl XXIV.
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Best career opportunist: In addition to his memorable interception, Smith had a backbreaking fumble recovery in the third quarter. Cornerback Byron Maxwell punched the ball from the hands of Demaryius Thomas. Smith scooped it up, and it wasn’t long before Seattle had a 36-0 lead.
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Best non-omen: The Seahawks had zero players who had previously appeared in a Super Bowl, the first team with that number since the 1990 Buffalo Bills. Those Bills, by the way, lost a tough one to the Giants (Scott Norwood, wide right) and went on to lose four consecutive Super Bowls. The Seahawks, obviously, are not students of history.
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Worst start (ever):We’ve seen Peyton Manning check out of so many plays this season that we almost expect it. So when the Broncos’ quarterback stepped out of the shotgun formation and moved toward center Manny Ramirez on the first offensive play of the game, it seemed like business as usual. But then Ramirez inexplicably snapped the ball over Manning’s head. It sailed into the end zone, and Seattle had a stunning safety — 12 seconds into the game. It was the fastest score in Super Bowl history and only the ninth safety. The second-fastest? Chicago’s Devin Hester took the opening kickoff all the way back in Super Bowl XLI — against Manning’s Indianapolis Colts. Indianapolis, for the record, came back to win that game.
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Best dressed: Manning, declining to follow the fashion trend of Michael Jackson, actually wore two gloves, one on each hand. An hour before the game, when he first started throwing, the temperature was 52 degrees. But with a forecast calling for the low 40s (not to mention a modest wind chill), Manning probably didn’t want to make a “Bad” decision and change midstream.
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Worst dressed: “Broadway” Joe Namath made a pregame sideline appearance wearing an enormous retro 1960s fur coat, which sent Twitter into a tizzy. It was tawny, with white, snowy piping, and it had a hood. See temperature in above item.
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Best breakup: If not for Denver linebacker Nate Irving, the Seahawks almost certainly would have had a 12-0 lead in the first quarter. But after Russell Wilson feathered a lovely pass up and over into the end zone to Jermaine Kearse, Irving stuck his right hand in Kearse’s face. As they fell to earth, he wrenched the ball loose, and Seattle had to settle for a field goal.
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Worst route-running decision: On paper, it was an ugly interception by Manning. But judging by the exercised discussion his coaches had with him afterward, tight end Julius Thomas might have broken off the route prematurely. In any event, Seattle safety Kam Chancellor collected the late-first-quarter gift ball, and the Seahawks had another offensive possession. They ran 22 plays in the first quarter versus only seven for Denver.
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Best dodged bullet: The Broncos’ Trindon Holliday appeared to fumble after returning a kickoff past his 30-yard-line. Chris Maragos knocked it loose, and kicker Steven Hauschka recovered. It was ruled a fumble on the field and would have given Seattle the ball in Denver territory with more than three minutes left in the first half. But, upon further review, Holliday was ruled down by contact. So take heart, Broncos fans. It could’ve been worse.
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The President And First Lady At The College Opportunity Summit


 

By Jueseppi B.

New Orleans student Troy Simon with President Obama & First Lady Michelle Obama during an event on expanding college opportunity, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building

New Orleans student Troy Simon with President Obama & First Lady Michelle Obama during an event on expanding college opportunity, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building

 

Remarks by the President and First Lady at College Opportunity Summit

 

South Court Auditorium
Eisenhower Executive Office Building

 

11:37 A.M. EST

 

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MRS. OBAMA:  Good morning.  Thank you, everyone.  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.  Thank you.  You guys rest yourselves.  Thank you so much.

 

First Lady Michelle Obama Speaks on Expanding College Opportunity

 

Published on Jan 16, 2014

The First Lady Speaks to leaders in postsecondary education at The Event on College Opportunity. This event is dedicated to launching a plan of action for increasing college opportunity for low-income and disadvantaged students. January 16, 2014.

 

 

It is really great to be here today with all of you.  We have with us today college and university presidents; we have experts and advocates, and civic and business leaders.  And I want to thank all of you for taking the time to be here today and for working every day to help young people pursue their education and build brighter futures for themselves and for our country.

 

 

And I’d also like us to give a really big hand to Troy for sharing that story.  (Applause.)  That’s pretty powerful stuff, and presented so eloquently.  I know yesterday I met Troy — he was nervous.  (Laughter.)  I don’t really know why you were nervous.  You’re pretty awesome.

 

MR. SIMON:  Thank you.

 

MRS. OBAMA:  Troy’s story reminds us all of the limitless capacity that lies within all of our young people no matter where they come from or how much money they have.  Troy is an example of why we all should care deeply about this issue.

 

And Troy, and millions of others like him, are why I care so much about this issue, and why in the coming years I’m going to be spending more and more of my time focusing on education.  Because as everyone here knows, education is the key to success for so many kids.  And my goal specifically is to reach out directly to young people and encourage them to take charge of their futures and complete an education beyond high school.  And I’m doing this because so often when we talk about education, we talk about our young people and what we need to do for them.  We talk about the programs we need to create for them, about the resources we need to devote to them.

 

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But we must remember that education is a two-way bargain.  And while there is so much more we must do for our kids, at the end of the day, as Troy described, the person who has the most say over whether or not a student succeeds is the student him or herself.  Ultimately, they are the ones sitting in that classroom.  They’re the ones who have to set goals for themselves and work hard to achieve those goals every single day.

 

So my hope is that with this new effort, that instead of talking about our kids, we talk with our kids.  I want to hear what’s going on in their lives.  I want to inspire them to step up and commit to their education so they can have opportunities they never even dreamed of.  I’m doing this because that story of opportunity through education is the story of my life, and I want them to know that it can be their story, too –- but only if they devote themselves to continuing their education past high school.

 

And for many students, that might mean attending a college or university like the ones many of you represent.  For others, it might mean choosing a community college.  It might mean pursuing short-term professional training.  But no matter what they do, I want to make sure that students believe that they have what it takes to succeed beyond high school.  That’s going to be my message to young people.

 

But here’s the thing:  I know that that message alone isn’t enough.  Like I said, this is a two-way street, and that means we all have to step up.  Because make no mistake about it, these kids are smart.  They will notice if we’re not holding up our end of the bargain.  They will notice if we tell them about applying for college or financial aid, but then no one is there to help them choose the right school or fill out the right forms.  They will notice if we tell them that they’re good enough to graduate from college, but then no college asks them to apply, no college invites them to visit their campus.

 

And so we’ve got to re-commit ourselves to helping these kids pursue their education.  And as you discussed in your first panel today, one of the first steps is getting more underserved young people onto college campuses.  The fact is that right now we are missing out on so much potential because so many promising young people — young people like Troy who have the talent it takes to succeed — simply don’t believe that college can be a reality for them.  Too many of them are falling through the cracks, and all of you know that all too well.

 

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And that’s why so many of you are already finding new ways to reach out to the underserved students in your communities.  You’re helping them navigate the financial aid and college admissions process, and you’re helping them find schools that match their abilities and interests.  And I know from my own experience just how important all of that work is that you’re doing.

 

See, the truth is that if Princeton hadn’t found my brother as a basketball recruit, and if I hadn’t seen that he could succeed on a campus like that, it never would have occurred to me to apply to that school — never.  And I know that there are so many kids out there just like me — kids who have a world of potential, but maybe their parents never went to college or maybe they’ve never been encouraged to believe they could succeed there.

 

And so that means it’s our job to find those kids.  It’s our job to help them understand their potential and then get them enrolled in a college that can help them meet their needs.  But then we all know that just getting into school is only half the story, because once students are there, they have got to graduate.  And that’s not always easy, especially given what many of these kids are dealing with when they get to campus.

 

Just think about it.  You just heard a snippet from Troy.  Just to make it to college, these kids have already overcome so much — neighborhoods riddled with crime and drugs, moms and dads who weren’t around, too many nights when they had to go to bed hungry.  But as I tell these kids when I talk to them, we can’t think about those experiences that they’ve had as weaknesses — just the opposite.  They’re actually strengths.

 

In facing and overcoming these challenges, these kids have developed skills like grit and resilience that many of their peers will never be able to compete with — never.  And when they get out in the world, those are the exact skills they will need to succeed.  And they will succeed.

 

But imagine how hard it is to realize that when you first get to college.  You’re in a whole new world.  You might have trouble making friends because you don’t see any peers who come from a background like yours.  You might be worried about paying for classes, and food, and room and board because you have never had to set your own budget before.  You might be feeling guilty when you call home because Mom and Dad are wondering why you didn’t get a job so you could help support their family.  Those are the kinds of obstacles these kids are facing right from day one.

 

But let’s be clear — all of that isn’t just a challenge for them.  It’s a challenge for folks like us, who are committed to helping them succeed.  And make no mistake about it, that is our mission — not simply giving speeches or raising money or hosting conferences, but to take real, meaningful action that will help our young people get into college, and more importantly, actually get their degree.

 

And here’s the good news:  Time and again you all have shown that you have the experience, the passion and the resources to help these young people thrive.  For example, in recent decades, you’ve realized that students from across the socioeconomic spectrum have been coming to campus with more and more issues like eating disorders and learning disabilities, emotional challenges like depression and anxiety, and so much more.  And luckily, you all have not shied away from these issues.  I’ve seen it.  I worked at a university.  And you haven’t said, these aren’t our problems; we’re a university, not a hospital or a counseling center.  No, you’ve stepped up.

 

And while there’s still work left to do on these issues, you’re working every day to support these kids through treatment programs and outreach initiatives and support groups, because you know that these issues have a huge impact on whether students can learn and succeed at your school.  So now, as you begin to see more and more underserved students on your campuses, we need you to direct that same energy and determination toward helping these kids face their unique challenges.

 

Now, fortunately, you’ve already got the expertise you need to address these issues.  And simply by building on what you’re already doing best, you can make real differences for these kids.  And that’s what so many of you are doing with commitments you’ve made here at this summit.

 

For example, every school offers financial aid services, but listen to what the University of Minnesota is doing.  They’re committing to expand those services to include financial literacy programs to help students and their families manage the costs of college.  And every school has advisors who desperately want their students to succeed.  Oregon Tech is committing to set up a text message program so that these advisors can connect more easily with students who need some extra encouragement or academic support.

 

And every college has orientation programs or learning communities to help students transition to college.  And many of the schools here today are supplementing those programs by partnering with organizations like the Posse Foundation so that underserved students can connect and build a social network before they even step foot on campus.  And those were the types of resources that helped a kid like me not just survive but thrive at a school like Princeton.

 

When I first arrived at school as a first-generation college student, I didn’t know anyone on campus except my brother.  I didn’t know how to pick the right classes or find the right buildings.  I didn’t even bring the right size sheets for my dorm room bed.  (Laughter.)  I didn’t realize those beds were so long.  (Laughter.)  So I was a little overwhelmed and a little isolated.

 

But then I had an opportunity to participate in a three-week, on-campus orientation program that helped me get a feel for the rhythm of college life.  And once school started, I discovered the campus cultural center, the Third World Center, where I found students and staff who came from families and communities that were similar to my own.  And they understood what I was going through.  They were there to listen when I was feeling frustrated.  They were there to answer the questions I was too embarrassed to ask anyone else.

 

And if it weren’t for those resources and the friends and the mentors, I honestly don’t know how I would have made it through college.  But instead, I graduated at the top of my class, I went to law school — and you know the rest.  (Laughter.)  So whether it’s aligning with an organization like Posse or offering a new advising or mentoring program, or creating a central space where students can connect with one another, you all can take simple steps that can determine whether these kids give up and drop out, or step up and thrive.

 

And that’s not just good for these young people, it’s good for your schools — because if you embrace and empower these students, and if you make sure they have good campus experiences, then they’re going to stay engaged with your school for decades after they graduate.  They will be dressed up in school colors at homecoming games.  They’ll be asking to serve on your committees and advisory boards.  And they’ll be doing their part when fundraising season rolls around.  (Laughter.)

 

So believe me, these will be some of the best alumni you could possibly ask for, because after everything these kids will have overcome to get into college and get through college, believe me, they will have all the skills they need to run our businesses and our labs, and to teach in our classrooms, and to lead our communities.

 

Just look at me, and look at Troy and the countless success stories from the organizations and schools represented here in this room.  That’s how we will win, this country.  We will win by tapping the full potential of all of our young people so that we can grow our economy and move this country forward.  And let me tell you that is something that my husband understands deeply, because his life story, just like mine, is rooted in education as well.  And as President, that is was drives him every single day — his goal of expanding opportunity to millions of Americans who are striving to build better futures for themselves, for their families and for our country, as well.

 

So now it is my pleasure to introduce my husband, the President of the United States, Barack Obama.  (Applause.)

 

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Remarks By the President on Expanding College Opportunity

 

Published on Jan 16, 2014

The President Speaks to leaders in postsecondary education at The Event on College Opportunity. This event is dedicated to launching a plan of action for increasing college opportunity for low-income and disadvantaged students. January 16, 2014.

 

 

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you, everybody.  Everybody, please have a seat.  Have a seat.  Welcome to the White House, everybody.  And let me begin by thanking Troy and sharing his remarkable story.  I could not be more inspired by what he’s accomplished and can’t wait to see what he’s going to accomplish in the future.

 

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My wife — it’s hard to speak after her.  (Laughter and applause.)  We were in the back, and Gene Sperling, who did extraordinary work putting this whole summit together, said, “Everybody is so excited that Michelle is here.”  (Laughter.)  And I said, well, what about me?  (Laughter.)  But you should be excited, her being here, because she brings a passion and a body of experience and a passion to this issue that is extraordinary.  And I couldn’t be prouder of the work she’s already done and the work I know that she’s going to keep on doing around these issues.

 

She did leave one thing out of her speech, and that is it’s her birthday tomorrow.  (Applause.)  So I want everybody to just keep that in mind.

 

Now, we are here for one purpose:  We want to make sure more young people have the chance to earn a higher education.  And in the 21st century economy, we all understand it’s never been more important.

 

The good news is, is that our economy is steadily growing and strengthening after the worst recession in a generation.  So we’ve created more than 8 million new jobs.  Manufacturing is growing, led by a booming auto industry.  Thanks to some key public investments in advances like affordable energy and research and development, what we’ve seen is not only an energy revolution in this country that bodes well for our future, but in areas like health care, for example, we’ve slowed the growth of health care costs in ways that a lot of people wouldn’t have anticipated as recently as five or ten years ago.

 

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So there are a lot of good things going on in the economy.  And businesses are starting to invest.  In fact, what we’re seeing are businesses overseas starting to say, instead of outsourcing, let’s insource back into the U.S.

 

All that bodes well for our future.  Here’s the thing, though:  We don’t grow just for the sake of growth.  We grow so that it translates into a growing middle class, people getting jobs, people being able to support their families, and people being able to pass something on to the next generation.  We want to restore the essential promise of opportunity and upward mobility that’s at the heart of America — the notion that if you work hard, you can get ahead, you can improve your situation in life, you can make something of yourself.  The same essential story that Troy so eloquently told about himself.

 

And the fact is it’s been getting harder to do that for a lot of people.  It is harder for folks to start in one place and move up that ladder — and that was true long before the recession hit.  And that’s why I’ve said that in 2014, we have to consider this a year of action, not just to grow the economy, not just to increase GDP, not just to make sure that corporations are profitable and the stock market is doing well and the financial system is stable.  We’ve also got to make sure that that growth is broad-based and that everybody has a chance to access that growth and take advantage of it.  We’ve got to make sure that we’re creating new jobs and that the wages and benefits that go along with those jobs can support a family.  We have to make sure that there are new ladders of opportunity into the middle class, and that those ladders — the rungs on those ladders are solid and accessible for more people.

 

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Now, I’m going to be working with Congress where I can to accomplish this, but I’m also going to act on my own if Congress is deadlocked.  I’ve got a pen to take executive actions where Congress won’t, and I’ve got a telephone to rally folks around the country on this mission.

 

And today is a great example of how, without a whole bunch of new legislation, we can advance this agenda.  We’ve got philanthropists and business leaders here; we’ve got leaders of innovative non-for-profits; we’ve got college presidents — from state universities and historically black colleges to Ivy League universities and community colleges.  And today, more than 100 colleges and 40 organizations are announcing new commitments to help more young people not only go to, but graduate from college.  And that’s an extraordinary accomplishment, and we didn’t pass a bill to do it.

 

Everybody here is participating, I believe, because you know that college graduation has never been more valuable than it is today.  Unemployment for Americans with a college degree is more than a third lower than the national average.  Incomes — twice as high as those without a high school diploma.  College is not the only path to success.  We’ve got to make sure that more Americans of all age are getting the skills that they need to access the jobs that are out there right now.  But more than ever, a college degree is the surest path to a stable, middle-class life.

 

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And higher education speaks to something more than that.  The premise that we’re all created equal is the opening line in our American story.  And we don’t promise equal outcomes; we’ve strived to deliver equal opportunity — the idea that success does not depend on being born into wealth or privilege, it depends on effort and merit.  You can be born into nothing and work your way into something extraordinary.  And to a kid that goes to college, maybe like Michelle, the first in his or her family, that means everything.

 

And the fact is, is if we hadn’t made a commitment as a country to send more of our people to college, Michelle, me, maybe a few of you would not be here today.  My grandfather wasn’t rich, but when he came home from the war he got the chance to study on the GI Bill.  I grew up with a single mom.  She had me when she was 18 years old.  There are a lot of circumstances where that might have waylaid her education for good.  But there were structures in place that allowed her then to go on and get a PhD.  Michelle’s dad was a shift worker at the city water plant; mom worked as a secretary.  They didn’t go to college.  But there were structures in place that allowed Michelle to take advantage of those opportunities.

 

As Michelle mentioned, our parents and grandparents made sure we knew that we’d have to work for it, that nobody was going to hand us something, that education was not a passive enterprise — you just tip your head over and somebody pours education into your ear.  (Laughter.)  You’ve got to work for it.  And I’ve told the story of my mother — when I was living overseas, she’d wake me up before dawn to do correspondence courses in English before I went to the other school.  I wasn’t that happy about it.  (Laughter.)  But with that hard work — but also with scholarships, also with student loans, and with support programs in place — we were able to go to some of the best colleges in the country even though we didn’t have a lot of money.  Every child in America should have the same chance.

 

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So over the last five years, we’ve worked hard in a variety of ways to improve these mechanisms to get young people where they need to be and to knock down barriers that are preventing them from getting better prepared for the economies that they’re going to face.  We’ve called for clearer, higher standards in our schools — and 45 states and the District of Columbia have answered that call so far.  We’ve set a goal of training 100,000 new math and science teachers over the next 10 years, and the private sector has already committed to help train 40,000.  We’ve taken new steps to help students stay in school, and today the high school dropout rate is the lowest it has been in 40 years — something that’s rarely advertised.  The dropout rate among Hispanic students, by the way, has been cut in half over the last decade.

 

But we still have to hire more good teachers and pay them better.  We still have to do more training and development, and ensure that the curriculums are ones that maximize the chances for student success.  When young people are properly prepared in high school, we’ve got to make sure that they can afford to go to college, so we took on a student loan system that was giving billions of dollars of taxpayer dollars to big banks and we said, let’s give that money directly to students.  As a consequence, we were able to double the grant aid that goes to millions of students.  And today, more young people are earning college degrees than ever before.

 

So we’ve made progress there, but as I’ve discussed with some of you, we’re still going to have to make sure that rising tuition doesn’t price the middle class out of a college education.  The government is not going to be able to continually subsidize a system in which higher education inflation is going up faster than health care inflation.  So I’ve laid out a plan to bring down costs and make sure that students are not saddled with debt before they even start out in life.

 

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Even after all these steps that we’ve taken over the last five years, we still have a long way to go to unlock the doors of higher education to more Americans and especially lower-income Americans.  We’re going to have to make sure they’re ready to walk through those doors.  The added value of a college diploma has nearly doubled since Michelle and I were undergraduates.  Unfortunately, today only 30 percent of low-income students enroll in college right after high school and, far worse, by their mid-twenties only 9 percent earn a bachelor’s degree.

 

So if we as a nation can expand opportunity and reach out to those young people and help them not just go to college but graduate from college or university, it could have a transformative effect.  There is this huge cohort of talent that we’re not tapping.

 

Now, what this meeting today tells me is we’ve got dedicated citizens across the country who are ready to stand up and meet this challenge.  And what I want to really do is highlight some of the commitments that have been made here today.  So we know that not enough low-income students are taking the steps required to prepare for college.  That’s why I’m glad the University of Chicago, my neighbor, and the place where Michelle and I both worked in the past, is announcing a $10 million College Success Initiative that will reach 10,000 high schools over the next five years.  It’s why iMentor, a mentoring program that began 15 years ago with just 49 students in the South Bronx, has committed to matching 20,000 new students with mentoring in more than 20 states over the next five years.

 

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We also know that too many students don’t apply to the schools that are right for them.  They may sometimes underestimate where they could succeed, where they could go.  There may be a mismatch in terms of what their aspirations are and the nature of what’s offered at the school that’s close by.  And they kind of assume, well, that’s my only option.  So UVA, for example, is going experiment with new ways to contact high-achieving, low-income students directly and encourage them to apply.  Organizations like the College Board are going to work with colleges to make it easier for students to apply to more schools for free.

 

I know sometimes for those of you in university administrations, the perception may be that $100 application fees is not a big deal.  But for a lot of these students, that’s enough of a barrier that they just don’t end up applying.

 

Number three, we know that when it comes to college advising, and preparing for tests like the ACT and the SAT, low-income kids are not on a level playing field.  We call these standardized tests — they’re not standardized.  Malia and Sasha, by the time they’re in seventh grade at Sidwell School here, are already getting all kinds of advice and this and that and the other.  The degree of preparation that many of our kids here are getting in advance of actually taking this test tilts the playing field.  It’s not fair.  And it’s gotten worse.

 

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I was telling Michelle, when I was taking the SAT I just barely remembered to bring a pencil.  I mean, that’s how much preparation I did.  (Laughter.)  But the truth of the matter is, is that we don’t have a level playing field when it comes to so-called standardized tests.  So we’ve got a young man here today named Lawrence Harris who knows this better than most.  Lawrence went to the University of Georgia, and like a lot of first-generation college students it wasn’t easy for him.  He had to take remedial classes.  He had to work two part-time jobs to make ends meet.  At one point, he had to leave school for a year while he helped support his mom and his baby brother.  Those are the kinds of just day-to-day challenges that a lot of these young people with enormous talent are having to overcome.  Now, he stuck with it.  He graduated.

 

But now he’s giving back.  He’s made it his mission to help other young people like him graduate, as a college advisor at Clarke Central High School in Athens, Georgia.  And today the National College Advising Corps, the program that placed Lawrence in Clarke Central, is announcing plans to add 129 more advisors who will serve more than 80,000 students over the next three years.

 

Finally, we know that once low-income students arrive on campus — Michelle I think spoke eloquently to her own personal experience on this — they often learn that even if they were at the top of their high school class, they still have a lot of catching up to do with respect to some of their peers in the classroom.  Bunker Hill Community College is addressing this by giving more incoming students the chance to start catching up over the summer before their freshman year.  And we’ve got 22 states and the District of Columbia who have joined together in a commitment to dramatically increase the number of students who complete college-level math and English their first year.

 

So these are just a sampling of the more than 100 commitments that your organizations and colleges are making here today.  And that’s an extraordinary first step.  But we’ve got more colleges and universities than this around the country.  We’ve got more business leaders around the country and philanthropies around the country.  And so we have to think of this as just the beginning; we want to do something like this again, and we want even more colleges and universities and businesses and non-for-profits to take part.

 

For folks who are watching this who were not able be here today, we want you here next time.  Start thinking about your commitments now.  We want you to join us.  For those who were able to make commitments today, I want to thank you for doing your part to make better the life of our country — because what you’re doing here today means that there are a bunch of young people, like Troy and like Michelle and like me, who suddenly may be able to see a whole new world open up before — that they didn’t realize was there.

 

So I’ll end with a great story that I think speaks to this.  There’s a former teacher here today named Nick Ehrmann.  Where’s Nick?  So here’s Nick right here.  Five years ago, Nick founded a New York City nonprofit called Blue Engine, and they recruit recent college graduates to work as teaching assistants in public high schools that serve low-income communities, teaming up to help students build the skills they need to enter college ready for college.

 

The first group of students to work with those teaching assistants are seniors now.  One of them, Estiven Rodriguez, who also is here today — where is he?  There he is — good-looking, young guy right here.  (Laughter.)  Could not speak a word of English when he moved to the United States from the Dominican Republic at the age of nine.  Didn’t speak much more English by the time he entered sixth grade.

 

Today, with the support of a tightly knit school community, he’s one of the top students in his senior class at Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School, or WHEELS.  Last month, he and his classmates put on their WHEELS sweatshirts, unfurled a banner, waved flags and marched down the streets of Washington Heights in New York City through cheering crowds.  You would have thought it was the Macy’s parade.  (Laughter.)  But the crowds on the sidewalk were parents and teachers and neighbors.  The flags were college pennants.  The march was to the post office, where they mailed in their college applications.  (Applause.)  And Estiven just heard back — this son of a factory worker who didn’t speak much English just six years ago won a competitive scholarship to attend Dickinson College this fall.  (Applause.)

 

So everywhere you go you’ve got stories like Estiven’s and you’ve got stories like Troy’s.  But we don’t want these to be the exceptions.  We want these to be the rule.  That’s what we owe our young people and that’s what we owe this country.  We all have a stake in restoring that fundamental American idea that says:  It doesn’t matter where you start, what matters is where you end up.  And as parents and as teachers, and as business and philanthropic and political leaders — and as citizens — we’ve all got a role to play.

 

So I’m going to spend the next three years as President playing mine.  And I look forward to working with you on the same team to make this happen.  Thank you very much, everybody.  (Applause.)

 

END
12:15 P.M. EST

 

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