By Jueseppi B.
14 Days Left to Get Covered: A Different Kind of Bracket
And if you still need health insurance, go to HealthCare.gov and get enrolled today.
President Obama loves basketball — he loves to play the game, and he loves to watch it at all levels.
And every March, just like millions of college hoops fans, he sits down to fill out his bracket. It’s something of a ritual around here — and in the years when Georgetown’s been knocked out before the Sweet 16, the President couldn’t wait to give me a hard time for picking them to advance.
But basketball isn’t the only important thing happening this month: Open enrollment ends in just 14 days, and we need your help getting folks covered.
So as you’re filling out your basketball bracket, we put together another bracket — featuring the 16 “sweetest” reasons to get covered. And yes, for good measure those reasons come with animated GIFs of cute animals, because the Internet loves GIFs of cute animals (and why not?).
By helping to decide the winner, you’ll also be spreading the word to millions of Americans about the importance of getting covered. Vote on your favorite reason — and we’ll tally up your votes all week.
March 31 is the last day to sign up for health insurance in 2014, and there are plenty of reasons to get covered:
Thanks to the health care law, women can’t be charged more than men for the same care. And no one can deny you health care coverage because of a pre-existing condition.
Those are just a few reasons that more than 5 million Americans have already signed up for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.
Vote for your favorite reason:
Remarks by President Obama and President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority
President Obama’s Bilateral Meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas
March 17, 2014 | 9:47 |Public Domain
President Obama and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speak to the press before a bilateral meeting to discuss progress in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and our continuing effort to work cooperatively to strengthen the institutions that can support the establishment of a Palestinian state.
11:12 A.M. EDT
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I want to welcome President Abbas to the Oval Office. It was a year ago this week that I had the opportunity to visit the Palestinian Territories and very much appreciated the hospitality that President Abbas showed when I was there. I had a wonderful time meeting with a wide range of civil society and officials and business leaders in the Palestinian Territories, including young people who were inspiring and I think had great hope for the future.
Today, we’re going to spend the bulk of our time talking about something that we’ve been working on for a very long time and obviously President Abbas has been working on a long time, and that is how do we achieve a comprehensive peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis.
And I have to commend President Abbas. He has been somebody who has consistently renounced violence, has consistently sought a diplomatic and peaceful solution that allows for two states, side by side, in peace and security; a state that allows for the dignity and sovereignty of the Palestinian people and a state that allows for Israelis to feel secure and at peace with their neighbors.
This is obviously an elusive goal, and there’s a reason why it’s taken decades for us to even get to the point where we are now. But we remain convinced that there is an opportunity. And I think everybody understands the outlines of what a peace deal would look like, involving a territorial compromise on both sides based on ‘67 lines with mutually agreed upon swaps, that would ensure that Israel was secure but would also ensure that the Palestinians have a sovereign state in which they can achieve the aspirations that they’ve held for so long.
Secretary Kerry is here today and has been working diligently with all sides. And as I said to Prime Minister Netanyahu when he was here just a couple of weeks ago, I believe that now is the time for not just the leaders of both sides but also the peoples of both sides to embrace this opportunity for peace. But we’re going to have a lot of details that we’re going to have to discuss. It’s very hard; it’s very challenging. We’re going to have to take some tough political decisions and risks if we’re able to move it forward. And my hope is, is that we can continue to see progress in the coming days and weeks.
I also want to point out that the Palestinian Authority has continued to try to build strong institutions in preparation for a day in which the Palestinians have their own state, and I will continue to emphasize the importance of rule of law, transparency, and effective reform so that not only do the Palestinians ultimately have a state on paper, but, more importantly, they have one that actually delivers on behalf of their people.
The United States obviously has been a strong supporter of the Palestinian Authority. We’re the largest humanitarian donor and continue to help to try to foster economic development and opportunity and prosperity for people, particularly young people like those that I met.
So, Mr. President, welcome. I look forward to a productive discussion, and continue to hope that you and Prime Minister Netanyahu, but, more importantly, the people of the Palestinian Territories and Israel are ready to move forward in a new spirit of cooperation and compromise.
Thank you very much.
PRESIDENT ABBAS: (As interpreted.) Thank you very much, Mr. President, and thank you for allowing us this opportunity, which we consider to be historic, for us to come here to the White House so that the efforts that you and Mr. Kerry expend — these are great efforts — would be successful so that we can also reach a lasting peace to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
And I would like to also seize this opportunity to thank you, Mr. President, for the economic and political support that the U.S. is extending to the Palestinian state so that it can stand on its own feet.
I would also like to affirm what you have said, that we are working for a solution that is based on international legitimacy and also the borders — the 1967 borders so that the Palestinians can have their own independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital and so that we can find a fair and lasting solution to the refugee problem.
We don’t have any time to waste. Time is not on our side, especially given the very difficult situation that the Middle East is experiencing and the entire region is facing. We hope that we would be able to seize this opportunity to achieve a lasting peace.
Since 1988 and into 1993, we have been extending our hands to our Israeli neighbors so that we can reach a fair and lasting peace to this problem. Since 1988, we have recognized international legitimacy resolutions and this was a very courageous step on the part of the Palestinian leadership. And in 1993, we recognized the state of Israel.
Mr. President, we have an agreement with Israel, that was brokered by Mr. Kerry concerning the release of the fourth batch of prisoners and we are hopeful that the fourth batch will be released by the 29th of March because this will give a very solid impression about the seriousness of these efforts to achieve peace.
Mr. President, I’m aware that you have several international concerns in various places around the world and we know that you are dedicating your time and effort for peace, and so are the teams that are working on this. We count on these efforts and we will build on them because we consider this to be a historic opportunity to achieve peace.
Thank you very much.
11:23 A.M. EDT
President Obama Announces New Ukraine-Related Sanctions
01:53 PM EDT
President Obama Speaks on Ukraine
March 17, 2014 | 4:28 |Public Domain
In a statement from the White House Press Briefing Room, President Obama announces a series of measures that will continue to increase the cost on Russia and on those responsible for what is happening in Ukraine.
Today, President Obama announced new measures the United States is taking to send a strong message to the Russian government that there are consequences for their actions that violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, including their actions supporting the illegal referendum for Crimean separation.
“As I told President Putin yesterday,” President Obama said in today in the White House Press Briefing Room, “the referendum in Crimea was a clear violation of Ukrainian constitutions and international law, and it will not be recognized by the international community.”
“Today, I’m announcing a series of measures that will continue to increase the cost on Russia and on those responsible for what is happening in Ukraine,” he said.
President Obama explained four specific actions: “First, as authorized by the executive order I signed two weeks ago, we are imposing sanctions on specific individuals responsible for undermining the sovereignty, territorial integrity and government of Ukraine,” he said.
Second, I have signed a new executive order that expands the scope of our sanctions … Third, we’re continuing our close consultations with our European partners, who today in Brussels moved ahead with their own sanctions against Russia… Fourth, we’ll continue to make clear to Russia that further provocations will achieve nothing except to further isolate Russia and diminish its place in the world.
“Now, I believe there’s still a path to resolve this situation diplomatically in a way that addresses the interest of both Russia and Ukraine,” President Obama said. “But throughout this process, we’re going to stand firm in our unwavering support for Ukraine.
As I told Prime Minister Yatsenyuk last week, the United States stands with the people of Ukraine and their right to determine their own destiny. We’re going to keep working with Congress and our international partners to offer Ukraine the economic support that it needs to weather this crisis and to improve the daily lives of the Ukrainian people.
- Fact Sheet: Ukraine-Related Sanctions
- See a readout from President Obama’s call with President Putin of Russia
- Latest updates: Responding to the Situation in Ukraine