By Jueseppi B.
03:50 PM EST
The 2013 White House holiday theme is Gather Around, celebrating heartfelt memories from American families across the country. Thoughtful hand-made decorations in each room of the White House helps tell a story. As part of White House holiday tradition, the State Dining Room is home to the famous gingerbread house. Over the course of several weeks, pastry chef Bill Yosses and his talented team created a 300-pound, edible White House replica. This year’s creation features a mini Bo and Sunny sitting on the front steps of the house lit from within, and a functioning replica of the North Lawn fountain.
The gingerbread house rests on a life-size, custom-made hearth fashioned from over 1,200 Springerle Cookies. (You can get the recipe for the Springerle Cookies here) These sweet treats tell stories through images imprinted on their dough by hand-carved, wooden molds. Framing the opening of the hearth are sugar paste recreations of the tiles commissioned for President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s fireplace. The edible fireplace reminds us of President Roosevelt’s famous “fireside chats” and will certainly evoke memories for so many of their own special moments gathered around a fireplace.
The time lapse video lets you see how Chef Yosses and his team put the whole project together.
December 09, 2013
09:00 AM EST
This week is Computer Science Education Week, or “CSEdWeek,” an annual campaign highlighting the importance of learning computer science. CSEdWeek is held in recognition of the birthday of computer science pioneer Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, widely known for popularizing the idea of “debugging” a computer—a phrase inspired by her team’s removal of an actual moth from a relay in a Harvard Mark II computer in 1947. (Its remains can be found in the group’s log book at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.)
This year, non-profit group Code.org is driving CSEdWeek activities in more than 150 countries around the world and sponsoring an “Hour of Code” campaign that encourages all students to devote an hour this week to getting a taste of computer programming.
The ability to write computer software—to code—is an important skill. It moves people from being consumers of technology to creators of it. An understanding of coding helps people learn new strategies for solving problems and harness the power of computers to realize their own visions, whatever they may be. Everyone—scientists, fashion designers, doctors, journalists, lawyers, musicians, students—can benefit from a greater understanding of how to use computing.
Computer literacy is important for success in today’s digital economy, yet many American schools still view computer science education as an exotic elective. Only a handful of states allow computer science courses to count as math or science credits toward high school graduation requirements. AP Computer Science is taught in just 10% of our high schools, whereas the UK recently added computer science to its curriculum, teaching CS to all students from ages 5 to 17. China teaches all of its students one year of computer science. The CS 10K Initiative, supported by the National Science Foundation, is working to build curricula and course materials to support educators’ needs so they can more effectively teach computer science.
Take some time this week to introduce yourself to computer science. Many companies, schools, and non-profit organizations—including Khan Academy, Codecademy, MIT’s Scratch and AppInventor projects, and Code.org itself—are making free, hour-long coding tutorials available. We suspect you will find coding fun, creative, and intellectually challenging. With a little practice you too will be able to create your own games, websites, and applications.
For some extra inspiration, see above for a message from President Obama on the importance of computer science in America, as well as Code.org’s celebrity-packed CSEdWeek kickoff video.
Learn what most schools don’t teach
Also, be sure to check out NASA’s Hour of Code message from the International Space Station:
Hour of Code Message From the International Space Station
Published on Dec 8, 2013
NASA Astronauts Mike Hopkins and Rick Mastraccio deliver a message from the International Space Station to participants in the Dec. 9, 2013 Hour of Code.
11:28 AM EST
Every week seems to bring news of yet another website hacked, user accounts compromised, or personal data stolen or misused. Just recently, many Facebook users were required to change their passwords because of hacks at Adobe, a completely different company. Why? Because hackers know that users frequently re-use the same password at multiple websites. This is just one of many reasons that the system of passwords as it exists today is hopelessly broken. And while today it might be a social media website, tomorrow it could be your bank, health services providers, or even public utilities. Two complementary national initiatives aim to do better before the impacts of this problem grow even worse.
Developed in 2011, the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC) is a key Administration initiative to work collaboratively with the private sector, advocacy groups, public sector agencies, and other organizations to improve the privacy, security, and convenience of sensitive online transactions. NSTIC calls for the creation of an Identity Ecosystem – an online environment in which individuals can trust each other because they follow agreed-upon standards to authenticate their digital identities. What this means for individual users is that they will be able to choose from a variety of more secure, privacy-enhancing identity solutions that they can use in lieu of passwords for safer, more convenient experiences everywhere they go online.
01:00 PM EST
During the 2013 holiday season more than 70,000 visitors will have the chance to tour the White House holiday decorations, created and hung with care by a team of crafty staff and volunteers.
On Monday, December 16th 2013 we are inviting Pinners, Instgramers and White House Twitter followers from near and far to take in the 2013 holiday decorations and learn about how it all came together. Guests will join us for a craft project, meet with the people that helped transform the White House this holiday season – and share it all with their social media followers with the hashtag #WHHoliday.
Interested in joining? Sign up for your chance to join other White House social media followers at the #WHHoliday social.
In order to apply you must follow an official White House Twitter, Pinterestor Instagram account. After you sign up, spread the word! Let your followers know that you applied to attend the #WHHoliday social.
White House holiday crafts, tour booklet and information can be found at WH.gov/Holidays.
December 09, 2013
03:48 PM EST
On May 9, 2013, President Obama signed an Executive Order,Making Open and Machine Readable the New Default for Government Information, directing historic steps to make government-held data more accessible to the public, entrepreneurs, and others as fuel for innovation, economic growth, and government efficiency.
Under the terms of the Executive Order and the Administration’s Open Data Policy, all newly-generated government data are required to be made available in open, machine-readable formats, which greatly enhances their accessibility and usefulness while continuing to ensure privacy and security. Federal agencies are also required to:
- Create a Single Agency Data Inventory. Agencies are required to catalogue their data assets, just like they would inventory computers or desk chairs, to better manage and use these resources.
- Publish a Public Data Listing. On their agency.gov/data pages, agencies are required to publish a list of their data assets that are public, or could be made public.
- Develop New Public Feedback Mechanisms. Agencies are required to set up feedback mechanisms to engage the public about where agencies should focus open data efforts, such as facilitating and prioritizing the release of datasets. Agencies are also required to identify public points of contacts for agency data sets.
While there is still much more work to do, we are excited to see the great progress being made by Federal agencies to unleash the power of open data.
Over a dozen agencies have launched webpages at agency.gov/data, making it easier for the public to find, understand, and use government data. Many agencies have released—and will continue to release—new data sets, which are now available both on agencies’ public data webpages and on Data.gov.
Federal agencies are also working to put processes in place to manage data more strategically. In fact, over 15 agencies have launched data working groups inside their agency to improve coordination around data management, data security and protection, and data release efforts.
Statement by the President
When I took office, the American auto industry – the heartbeat of American manufacturing – was on the verge of collapse. Two of the Big Three – GM and Chrysler – were on the brink of failure, threatening to take suppliers, distributors and entire communities down with them. In the midst of what was already the worst recession since the Great Depression, another one million Americans were in danger of losing their jobs.
As President, I refused to let that happen. I refused to walk away from American workers and an iconic American industry. But in exchange for rescuing and retooling GM and Chrysler with taxpayer dollars, we demanded responsibility and results. In 2011, we marked the end of an important chapter as Chrysler repaid every dime and more of what it owed the American taxpayers from the investment we made under my Administration’s watch. Today, we’re closing the book by selling the remaining shares of the federal government’s investment in General Motors. GM has now repaid every taxpayer dollar my Administration committed to its rescue, plus billions invested by the previous Administration.
Less than five years later, each of the Big Three automakers is now strong enough to stand on its own. They’re profitable for the first time in nearly a decade. The industry has added more than 372,000 new jobs – its strongest growth since the 1990s. Thanks to the workers on our assembly lines, some of the most high-tech, fuel-efficient cars in the world are once again designed, engineered, and built right here in America – and the rest of the world is buying more of them than ever before.
When things looked darkest for our most iconic industry, we bet on what was true: the ingenuity and resilience of the proud, hardworking men and women who make this country strong. Today, that bet has paid off. The American auto industry is back.
For our autoworkers and the communities that depend on them, the road we’ve taken these past five years has been a long and difficult one. But it’s one we’ve traveled together. And as long as there’s more work to do to restore opportunity and broad-based growth for all Americans, that’s what we’ll keep doing to reach the brighter days ahead.
Statements and Releases December 09, 2013
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