Barack After Dark™: Dr. Jill. Joey B. Michelle Visits NYC. The Ukraine. The West Wing Week.


By Jueseppi B.





The White House Blog


Responding to the Situation in Ukraine


Megan Slack
Megan Slack

February 20, 2014
07:05 PM EST


Readout of the President’s Call with Chancellor Merkel


Today, President Obama spoke by phone with Chancellor Merkelof Germany to consult on the situation in Ukraine. The two leaders agreed it is critical that the United States, Germany and the European Union continue to stay in close touch in the days ahead on steps we can take to support an end to the violence and a political solution that is in the best interests of the Ukrainian people.


See the readout from today’s call here and the statement released by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney here.


Before a bilateral meeting yesterday with President Peña Nieto of Mexico, President Obama said that “the United States condemns in strongest terms the violence that’s taking place” in Ukraine. “And we have been deeply engaged with our European partners as well as both the Ukrainian government and the opposition to try to assure that that violence ends,” he said.




But we hold the Ukrainian government primarily responsible for making sure that it is dealing with peaceful protesters in an appropriate way; that the Ukrainian people are able to assemble and speak freely about their interests without fear of repression.


And I want to be very clear that as we work through these next several days in Ukraine that we are going to be watching very carefully and we expect the Ukrainian government to show restraint, to not resort to violence in dealing with peaceful protesters.  We’ve said that we also expect peaceful protesters to remain peaceful.  And we’ll be monitoring very carefully the situation, recognizing, along with our European partners and the international community, there will be consequences if people step over the line.  And that includes making sure that the Ukrainian military does not step into what should be a set of issues that can be resolved by civilians.


So the United States will continue to engage with all sides in the dispute in Ukraine, and ultimately our interest is to make sure that the Ukrainian people can express their own desires.  And we believe that a large majority of Ukrainians are interested in an integration with Europe, and the commerce and cultural exchanges that are possible for them to expand opportunity and prosperity.


But regardless of how the Ukrainian people determine their own future, it is important that it is the people themselves that make those decisions.  And that’s what the United States will continue to strive to achieve.


And I do think there is still the possibility of a peaceful transition within Ukraine, but it’s going to require the government, in particular, to actively seek that peaceful transition, and it requires the opposition and those on the streets to recognize that violence is not going to be the path by which this issue will be resolved.


Check back at for updates and more information as it is released.



More information on the Obama administration’s response to the situation in Ukraine:




Statement by the Press Secretary on Ukraine

We are outraged by the images of Ukrainian security forces firing automatic weapons on their own people.  We urge President Yanukovych to immediately withdraw his security forces from downtown Kyiv and to respect the right of peaceful protest, and we urge protesters to express themselves peacefully.  We urge the Ukrainian military not to get involved in a conflict that can and should be resolved by political means.   The use of force will not resolve the crisis — clear steps must be taken to stop the violence and initiate meaningful dialogue that reduces tension and addresses the grievances of the Ukrainian people.  The United States will work with our European allies to hold those responsible for violence accountable and to help the Ukrainian people get a unified and independent Ukraine back on the path to a better future.


Readout of Vice President Biden’s Call with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych





Dr. Biden Speaks at Summit Focused on Post-9/11 Veterans at The Bush Institute


Melanie Kaye
Melanie Kaye
February 20, 2014
03:07 PM EST


Dr. Biden delivers remarks at the George W. Bush Presidential CenterDr. Jill Biden delivers remarks at a Summit focused on supporting post-9/11 veterans at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, Texas, Feb. 19, 2014. (Photo by Grant Miller)


Yesterday, Dr. Jill Biden joined President Bush at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas for a Summit focused on how Americans can support post-9/11 veterans as they transition back to civilian life. Dr. Biden noted that while the troops serving our nation represent only one percent of the population, the other 99 percent of Americans need to find ways to honor and support them.


In her remarks, Dr. Biden highlighted the many ways Americans have already stepped up since she and First Lady Michelle Obama started Joining Forces nearly three years ago:


  • Businesses have made it a priority to hire veterans and military spouses, not only because it is their patriotic duty, but because they know our service men and women are highly-skilled, hardworking employees;
  • Educators, including teaching colleges, are doing more to prepare teachers for the unique needs of military-connected children in the classroom, and higher education institutions are taking steps to help veterans succeed on campus; and
  • Doctors, nurses, and social workers have pledged support to enhance the preparation of our nation’s medical providers to care for returning service men and women, and their families.


But she also said that even small gestures of kindness can make all the difference for a military family, whether it is bringing over a warm meal or a neighbor shoveling the driveway.


Raising awareness about the military experience and transition back to civilian life is critical.


“…as more and more Americans have a real understanding of what it means to serve, the more they are ready to step up and do their part,” Dr. Biden said.


Learn more about how you can take action to support our servicemen and women, veterans and military families.


View Dr. Biden’s remarks here.


Empowering Our Nation’s Warriors: Remarks by Dr. Jill Biden


Published on Feb 19, 2014

Dr. Jill Biden, Second Lady of the United States and Co-Founder, Joining Forces, gives remarks at the Bush Institute’s Military Service Initiative summit, Empowering Our Nation’s Warriors, on Feb. 19, 2014.







First Lady Michelle Obama to Celebrate the Fourth Anniversary oF Let’s Move!

Published on Feb 20, 2014

The First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, wants you to show her how you move. Use the hashtag #LetsMove to join in!




WASHINGTON, DC – This week, First Lady Michelle Obama will kick off a celebration around the fourth anniversary of Let’s Move!, her initiative to ensure that all our children grow up healthy and reach their full potential.


Today, we are moving toward a healthier future and this movement is becoming the new norm all across the country.  From child care centers through high school, from sun up to sun down the country is moving toward a healthier future.


On this anniversary, Mrs. Obama will be highlighting examples of people, communities, and organizations that are participating in this movement.


To demonstrate the national scope of this movement, the First Lady is encouraging people of all ages, to show her how they move – through their everyday fitness routine, making better food choices, or by moving their community toward that new norm – on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, etc. using #LetsMove.  Click here to watch the First Lady explain this online challenge.


Follow @FLOTUS and @LetsMove on twitter and @MichelleObama on Instagram for live updates.


Mrs. Obama launched Let’s Move! on February 9, 2010 to unite the country around our kids’ health and create real support for families to live healthier lives.  Since then, parents, business leaders, educators, elected officials, military leaders, chefs, physicians, athletes, childcare providers, community and faith leaders, and kids themselves have stepped up to improve the health of our nation’s children.


Thanks in part to these efforts, our nation is moving towards a new, healthier norm.  More Americans now have access to healthy, affordable food closer to home, school health environments are changing, healthier foods are being marketed to kids, and making healthy choices is becoming easier for families.  A CDC report released last year showed that obesity among low-income pre-schoolers declined in 19 states over the past couple of years.


For more information on how we’ve moved towards a healthier norm over the past four years, visit:




Thursday, February 20th, 2014


New York, NY * 10:45 AM ET – Inspired by the Drink Up initiative, First Lady Michelle Obama will visit the Taking Back the Streets exhibit at the New Museum in New York City.  The exhibit, developed by WAT-AAH, is a celebration of street art in honor of Drink Up, the Partnership for Healthier America’s initiative that encourages all Americans to drink more water.  TheTaking Back the Streets exhibit will use the visual arts to remind kids and parents that choosing to drink water is one of the best and easiest decisions we can make each and every day.


This event is pooled press.


New York, NY – Later in the afternoon, the First Lady will tape an appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.”  During her interview, Mrs. Obama will highlight the fourth anniversary of her Let’s Move! initiative.  Her appearance will air that evening.



Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Washington, DC * 11:00 AM ET – First Lady Michelle Obama will join United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack for an announcement on school wellness and to highlight the incredible progress being made in school health environments across the country.


This event in the East Room is open press. Members of the media who wish to cover the event must RSVP with “SCHOOL WELLNESS” in the subject line to by 12 PM, Monday, February 24th. who do not have a White House Hard Pass must also include: Full Legal Name, Date of Birth, Social Security Number, US Citizenship Status, Country of Origin, and Current City/State.


Miami, FL * 4:30 PM ET– Following the Let’s Move! School Wellness Event, the First Lady will travel to Miami, Florida.  While in Miami, she will visit a local parks and recreation center to make a major announcement about healthy out-of-school time.


This event is open press. Members of the media who wish to cover the event must RSVP with “OUT OF SCHOOL TIME” in the subject line to by 12 PM, Monday, February 24th. Those who do not have a White House Hard Pass must also include: Full Legal Name, Date of Birth, Social Security Number, US Citizenship Status, Country of Origin, and Current City/State.


Following her event in Miami, the First Lady will join Mario Lopez for an interview for Extra.  This interview will air the following day.  Later that afternoon, the First Lady will join Satcha Pretto for an interview with¡Despierta América!.  This interview will air the following day.



Thursday, February 27th, 2014

Washington, DC * 11:00 AM ET—The First Lady will make an announcement regarding proposals to help parents and other consumers make healthier choices.


This event is in the East Room and is open press. Members of the media who wish to cover the event must RSVP with “HEALTHIER CHOICES” in the subject line to by 12 PM, Wednesday, February 26th.  Those who do not have a White House Hard Pass must also include: Full Legal Name, Date of Birth, Social Security Number, US Citizenship Status, Country of Origin, and Current City/State.


Following the event, the First Lady will join Rachael Ray for an interview.  This interview will air the following week on The Rachael Ray Show.


Bowie, MD * 2:30 PM — Later that afternoon, the First Lady will travel to Bowie, Maryland for an announcement with a local child care facility. Since 2011, nearly 12,000 child care providers have committed to providing healthy environments and encouraging healthy habits among our nation’s preschoolers through Let’s Move! Child Care.  These child care providers are increasing physical activity, limiting screen time, serving healthier food and beverages, and supporting breastfeeding mothers.  More than 1 million children are being reached by early childhood education networks that have committed to Let’s Move! Child Care.


This event is pooled press.  Following her event at a local child care facility, the First Lady will join Jenna Bush Hager for an interview with the Today Show.  This interview will air the following day.






First lady Michelle Obama highlights drink-more-water show in NYC


NEW YORK (AP) — First lady Michelle Obama is helping a New York City museum spread some advice on health: Drink up — water, that is.


The first lady and fitness advocate was at the New Museum on Thursday to view a street-art-inspired exhibit that aims to make the health-conscious message eye-catching.





She signed a massive paint-by-numbers artwork created for the show and chatted with eighth-graders who helped paint it and created a poster of their own.


She told them their involvement in the campaign would make “a huge, huge impact on the health of our nation.”





The exhibit is a collaboration with the WAT-AAH! (WAH’-tah) bottled-water brand.


Mrs. Obama is celebrating the fourth anniversary of “Let’s Move,” her anti-childhood obesity initiative.



















Vice President Biden Speaks at America’s Central Port on the Fifth Anniversary of the Recovery Act


Marc Aidinoff
February 20, 2014
01:15 PM EST


Vice President Joe Biden marks the fifth anniversary of the American Recovery and Reinvestment ActVice President Joe Biden marks the fifth anniversary of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act by delivering remarks on the need for continued investment in infrastructure, at America’s Central Port Intermodal Hub, in Granite City, Illinois, Feb. 19, 2014. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)


“The Recovery Act is the largest public works project since President Eisenhower laid out our nation’s interstate highway system—and all of you here at America’s Central Port are continuing this American story of boldness and doing big things that are so deeply ingrained in our history,” Vice President Biden said at an event marking the fifth anniversary of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which saved our country from an economic depression and helped rebuild the middle class.


Speaking on the Mississippi River at America’s Central Port in Granite City, Illinois on Wednesday. February 19, the Vice President outlined how the Recovery Act’s TIGER grants at the port and across the country have modernized the way we do business, created good-paying middle-class jobs, and strengthened our global economic competitiveness.


Joined by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, former Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, current Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, along with local and port officials, the Vice President described how the grants significantly improve the way we finance and strengthen the capacity of our nation’s ports, railroads, and highways. At America’s third largest inland port, the TIGER program has already helped hire workers who installed new levee relief wells, laid down a new rail track, and started work on a new harbor, all of which help increase the Port’s efficiency and reduce shipping costs.


And these grants have leveraged significant state and private sector investments—since the federal investment more than a dozen businesses have moved to the port and invested more than $300 million in the area. The Vice President noted that from 2009-2013, the more than $3 billion invested in federal TIGER grants across the country leveraged an additional $13.6 billion from state and local governments and took private investment off the sidelines.


Overall, the Recovery Act and other Administration investments have improved more than 350,000 miles of roads, 6,000 miles of rail, and 20,000 bridges since 2009—generating millions of dollars of economic activity that support and create middle-class jobs across the country.


From the first National Road and the Erie Canal to the Intercontinental Railroad and the interstate highways, the Vice President reminded Americans that the best way to predict our future is to create it. That it is America’s enduring commitment to ingenuity and capability– a continued and relentless effort to expand and modernize—that has made us the greatest economic power in the world.


The Vice President closed by saying, Build—build the most modern infrastructure in the world, and the world will come to us,”reminding us that Recovery Act and its subsequent infrastructure investments have generated the kind of economic growth and dynamism that built our country and built our middle class—and will continue to do so.









West Wing Week 02/21/14 or “Don’t Make Small Plans, Make Big Plans”


Published on Feb 20, 2014

This week, the President traveled to the North American Leaders Summit in Toluca, Mexico, to California to address the current drought and to meet with the King of Jordan, and to Upper Marlboro, Maryland to announce an increase in fuel efficiency standards for heavy trucks.






Strengthening the Patent System


Published on Feb 20, 2014

The White House highlights the Administration’s commitment to strengthening the patent system to ensure it encourages innovation and invention, inspires and rewards creativity, drives investment, and spurs job creation. February 20, 2014.




Raw Video: President Obama Meets With Japanese American WWII Veterans


Published on Feb 20, 2014

On Tuesday, February 18th, the President invited a group of seven Japanese American World War II veterans to the Oval Office, to honor their service during a period when the U.S. Government actively discriminated against Japanese Americans. The group served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, which is one of the most decorated units in U.S. military history, and in the Military Intelligence Service, and were in town as part of a “homecoming” celebration for recipients of the Congressional Gold Medal.




2/20/14: White House Press Briefing


Published on Feb 20, 2014

White House Press Briefings are conducted most weekdays from the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room in the West Wing.




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Happy Four Year Anniversary Let’s Move! Let the Celebrations Begin!


By Jueseppi B.






Four years ago, First Lady Michelle Obama launched a national movement, Let’s Move!, to create a healthier future for kids and families. Four years later, Let’s Move! has moved a nation in a healthier direction, and this nation is on the move. This healthier movement is becoming the new norm, and it is happening all over the country. From child care centers through high school and after school, from sun up to sun down, the country is moving faster every day towards a healthier future.


It’s been an exciting year for Let’s Move! From launching Let’s Move!Active Schools in order to bring physical activity back to schools to making improvements in marketing healthier products to kids; we’re continuing to move this nation towards a healthier future.


Check out more Let’s Move! milestones and collaborations from the last year. And be sure to stay tuned as we celebrate the fourth anniversary of Let’s Move! throughout the next week. We encourage you to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook to stay updated on all of our anniversary activities and to participate in some of our digital Let’s Move! anniversary celebrations.




One year ago, First Lady Michelle Obama announced an exciting partnership between some of the top recipe creators, Pinterest, MyPlate, and the Partnership for a Healthier America to make it easier to find healthy recipes online. Together, they created a one-stop, easy-to-access tool for parents looking to make healthier choices in the kitchen for their families — a MyPlate board on Pinterest — which includes nutritious and delicious recipes that are inspired by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate icon.


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In celebration of the anniversary of this partnership and the fourth anniversary of Let’s Move!we’re bringing you more of the First Lady’s favorite recipes! Be sure to check out the First Lady’s Favorite board to find a variety of new recipes from Spicy Chicken Burgers to Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie and more!





Keep fresh fruits and vegetables where kids can see and reach them so it’s easy to grab a healthy bite on the go.





Hiking, Snowshoeing, and More! Enjoy America’s Great Outdoors this Winter
In many parts of the country, a winter chill is upon us. Despite the cool temperatures, there are a multitude of activities offered throughout the National Park Service to get outside and get active! We know that regular exercise out in nature improves kids’ physical and mental health. Let’s Move! Outside was created to help kids and their families take advantage of America’s great outdoors – which abound in every city, town and community.


Beaumont, TX becomes the first Let’s Move! City, Town or County to Earn Gold Medals in Every LMCTC Goal!
The City of Beaumont, Texas recently became the first Let’s Move!city, town or county to earn gold medals in all five goals of Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties (LMCTC). Beaumont ranks first among over 400 communities participating in LMCTC and is an example of how city government, the school district, hospitals, non-profits and the private sector can work together to help our most valuable asset – our children.


For the full recap of recent activities and to get involved, visit the Let’s Move! blog, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.





First Lady Michelle LaVaughn Obama Visits The “Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” Thursday,

Mrs. Obama hits New York for Fallon and a high-dollar Democratic National Committee fundraiser at the home of Obama “bundler” Maneesh Goyal. The funder is billed as a roundtable with the tab ranging from $10,000 to $15,000 per person. Mrs. Obama did a California swing for the DNC last month and more DNC events are in her pipeline.

A year ago, First Lady Michelle Obama and Jimmy Fallon created a YouTube hit with their dance skit, “Evolution of Mom Dancing.” On Thursday, Mrs. Obama teams up again with Fallon, guesting during his inaugural week of hosting the “Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.”







First lady Michelle Obama highlights drink-more-water show in NYC


by Associated Press




NEW YORK (AP) — First lady Michelle Obama is helping a New York City museum spread some advice on health: Drink up — water, that is.


The first lady and fitness advocate was at the New Museum on Thursday to view a street-art-inspired exhibit that aims to make the health-conscious message eye-catching.


images b9fd58f8cbdd351e3d0f6a7067003ebd


She signed a massive paint-by-numbers artwork created for the show and chatted with eighth-graders who helped paint it and created a poster of their own.


She told them their involvement in the campaign would make “a huge, huge impact on the health of our nation.”




The exhibit is a collaboration with the WAT-AAH! (WAH’-tah) bottled-water brand.


Mrs. Obama is celebrating the fourth anniversary of “Let’s Move,” her anti-childhood obesity initiative.


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michelle lets move


Michelle Obama



Lets Move Active Schools




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White House Holiday Social


By Jueseppi B.




Here’s what we’re doing for the holidays:


Folks across the country are getting ready for the holidays. We’re celebrating here at the White House, too — and we want you to be a part of it.


We’ve launched our 2013 Holidays page. Check it out for exclusive videos, recipes, and more.


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P.S. — Next week we’re holding a meet-up here at the White House for our online followers. Want to be here for it? Click here to find out how.


White House Holiday Social


Apply for your chance to join the White House Holiday Social on Monday, December 16th, 2013

On Monday, December 16th, 2013 we’re inviting our Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter followers to join us for a Holiday Social at the White House. White House Social guests will be invited to check out the décor, meet with the people that helped transform the White House for the holidays, join us for a craft project — and share it all with their followers with the hashtag #WHHoliday.


Sign Up

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,Pinterest or Instagram account. After you sign up, spread the word! Let your followers know that you applied to attend the #WHHoliday social.


What is a White House Social?

White House Socials are in-person meetings of people who engage with the White House through social media, including TwitterFacebook and Google+Pinterest andInstagram. Building off of the White House Tweetup series, we’re inviting people that engage with us online on a range of social sites to participate in face-to-face meetings and events.


Past White House Social events have included a Twitter Town Hall with the President, a Tweetup Briefing with Press Secretary Jay Carney, a Let’s Move! Tweetup for the First Lady’s garden harvest, a Republic of Korea Arrival Ceremony Tweetup, a Holiday Open House Tweetup, a United Kingdom Arrival Ceremony Tweetup, a White House Google+ Photowalk during the 2012 Spring Garden Tours, a Pinterest Holiday Social


How do I register?

Registration opens at at 12:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, December 8th and and closes on 12:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday, December 11th. Tickets are non-transferable.


Do I need to have a social media account to register?

This event is designed for people who regularly interact with the White House via TwitterPinterest andInstagram. Registration is open to those who are active users on these social media platforms.


What are the registration requirements?

Registration indicates your intent to travel to the White House in Washington, D.C. on the morning of Monday, December 16th, 2013 to attend the White House Social in person. You will bear any costs associated with travel and lodging. All guests over the age of 18 will be required to present a valid, government-issued photo identification (detailed here).


What if I cannot come to Washington, DC?

If you cannot come to the White House in Washington, D.C. to attend in person, you should not register for the White House Social. You can follow the event on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram with the hashtag #WHHoliday.


When will I know if I am selected?

The White House will contact applicants via email with additional instructions to those that have been invited or added to the wait list. If you have been selected, you will be notified no later than Wednesday, December 11th, 2013.



Information on White House Christmas 2013


2013 White House Christmas – Gather Around


The theme for the White House Christmas 2013 is Gather Around, a celebration of coming together with loved ones at this special time of year, and of the stories behind our beloved and classic American holiday traditions. In celebrating heartfelt memories from American families across the country and First Families throughout the years, Gather Around seeks to have us share our stories with one another and inspire us for the season and into theNew Year.


Using thoughtful hand-made volunteer crafts and recycled classic pieces, the Gather Around decorations tell a story with each room and every tree in the White House. Special art displays and Christmas trees made from repurposed books help this year’s theme come alive, and warm, traditional colors inspired by nature help unify the theme throughout the house.


This year’s decorations also honor our military families, a tradition started by Mrs. Obama, whose Joining Forces initiative seeks to honor and support those who sacrifice so much for our freedom.



East Visitor Entrance 
The East Visitor Entrance serves as a welcoming point for guests as they begin their tours of the White House. The walkway leading to the house features lanterns, the two trees that flank the East entrance are complete with gold pinecones and the garland around the entrance is accented by burgundy ribbons.



East Entrance Landing 

The area between the entrance and the East Colonnade is dedicated to honoring our military members and their families. The landing features a tree dedicated to the memory of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country, and includes ornaments placed by Gold Star families, as well as ornaments representing all five branches of the military. Visitors are encouraged to write postcards thanking our service members serving abroad, and to pledge volunteer hours through Operation Honor Cards in order to give back during the holiday season and the New Year.



East Colonnade 
The windows of the East Colonnade feature evergreen and stained glass wreaths, and at the end of the hallway is a handmade archway made from satin ribbon and chenille stems. Outside in the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden sits a Christmas tree wrapped in lights, perched atop a sleigh.



East Garden Room 
The East Garden Room, commonly known as “Booksellers,” showcases stacked books which morph into Christmas trees, and a special book display that spells out the message “Share Your Story.” The east wall of the room features ribbon topiaries of the First Dogs – with a high-fiving Bo and a playful Sunny coming to life to delight the many children that will visit the White House this holiday season.



The Library 
Accenting the many books in the Library is a Christmas tree styled with golden pinecones and burlap ribbon, decorated with poinsettia detail and a burgundy scroll design. A basket at the foot of the fireplace holds ornaments and glowing white lights.



Vermeil Room 
This year, the Vermeil Room houses two Christmas trees, each adorned with wreath ring ornaments wrapped in satin yarn, and small door ornaments made by volunteers.



China Room 
The eight-foot Christmas tree in the China Room is decorated with dangling crystal ornaments, red berries and fresh greenery. The table in the center of the room includes cylinder glass votive holders etched with the words “Gather Around.” Fresh greenery covers the mantelpiece, decorated with red, gold and silver ornaments matching the tree.



Grand Foyer and Cross Hall 
The Grand Foyer and Cross Hall are decorated to celebrate both individual American families and our nation as a whole. The four large Christmas trees decorating the Grand Foyer and Cross Hall are adorned with snowflake ornaments and notes written by volunteers expressing their holiday wishes. Small wooden picture frame ornaments hold silhouettes of landmarks from around our nation including the Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore and the Golden Gate Bridge.



State Dining Room 
The State Dining Room features two 14 foot Christmas trees placed on either side of the mantelpiece, decorated with tin hearts, painted and decoupaged with the word “gratitude.” The State Dining Room is also home to the famous gingerbread house. Over the course of several weeks, members of the White House pastry 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. This year, the gingerbread house rests on a life-size, custom-made hearth fashioned from Springerle Cookies. 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 forPresident 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.



Red Room 
For years, the Red Room has been home to the traditional White House cranberry tree. In keeping with this custom, a crimson and plum-colored flower and fruit vase—hand-made entirely of sugar paste—contains a one-of-a-kind arrangement of scarlet and fuchsia flowers and berries. The Red Room also features round stained glass wreaths hanging in the window bays above two 8 foot Christmas trees. Burlap cones filled with fresh greens and red berry accents decorate the Christmas trees, and gold painted nutcrackers accent the side tables of the room.



Blue Room 

This oval room is home to the official White House Christmas Tree. This year’s tree, like many in years past, features decorations honoring our military families. More than 2,000 distinctive ornaments decorate the 18.5 foot Douglas fir from Lehighton, Pennsylvania. Children living on bases across the country created holiday greeting cards, many of which share their favorite holiday traditions. Other ornaments feature photographs of deployment homecomings, celebrating the joyous moment when families are reunited after long separations. These personalized decorations, along with round fabric ornaments featuring the silhouettes of each state and territory, hang from the tree’s branches. The tree also holds small globe ornaments, three-dimensional gold and silver paper-mache stars and ribbons hand-embroidered by volunteers with each state and territory.



Green Room 
Flower ornaments, sugared fruits and lush foliage convey the beauty of nature in the Green Room. In each window bay, 21-inch round stained glass windows with floral motifs hang above an 8-foot Christmas tree. Round disc ornaments decorated with red poppies adorn the trees, along with orange and red felt flowers and faux sugared fruits. Thick fresh greenery along with ornaments decorate the mantelpiece.



East Room 
The East Room celebrates the act of sharing stories through art, and features four Christmas trees decorated with upwards of 120 detailed, unique ornaments created by volunteers. Ornaments include decorated miniature cardboard houses, large hand crafted paper roses and glass bell jars filled with small decorative pieces, such as miniature picture frames of art. On the wall of the East Room sits the White House crèche. The crèche has been a part of the White House holiday décor since it was given by the Engelhard Family during the Johnson Administration in 1967. Originally from Naples, Italy, the Baroque-style set consists of 44 terra cotta and wood figures, some over 300 years old.


For additional information, including the 2013 Holiday Tour Book and instructions on crafts the military children will create today, go Holiday-related content from the White House will be tagged #WHHoliday.


  • The official White House Christmas Tree in the Blue Room stands 18 ½ feet high and is nearly 11 feet wide. It comes from Crystal Springs Tree Farm in Lehighton, PA.
  • 24 Christmas trees will be visible on the public tour route.
  • Over 450 repurposed books were used as part of the holiday decorations this year. They will be donated to a local school’s book drive following the holiday season.
  • Approximately 1,000 yards of satin ribbon were used to make this year’s replicas of the First Dogs Bo and Sunny.
  • Over 1,200 Springerle cookies were used on the gingerbread fireplace in the State Dining Room.
  • Nearly 300 lbs. of bread dough were used to make the completely edible White House replica in the State Dining Room.
  • Approximately 70,000 visitors are expected to visit the White House during the 2013 holiday season.


First Lady Michelle Obama Previews the 2013 White House Holiday Decorations

December 04, 2013 | 11:14 |Public Domain


First Lady Michelle Obama welcomes military families to the White House for the first viewing of the 2013 holiday decorations and asks every American to remember what our military families and servicemembers often experience during this time of year, and the sacrifices they make to proudly serve all of us.




Susan K. Donius
December 05, 2013
10:45 AM EST


Ed. note: Today at 4:10 ET, tune in to to see President Obama deliver remarks at a White House Hanukkah Reception


The First Lady & Bo welcome military families for the first look of the whitehouse holiday decorations

The First Lady & Bo welcome military families for the first look of the whitehouse holiday decorations



Barack’s World™: The White House Blog


By Jueseppi B.




White House Tweets – October 30, 2013










Melanie Kay and Andrea Sok
October 30, 2013
01:23 PM EDT


The USO provides many opportunities to share our gratitude and thanks with a military family. Find out ways to get involved and share your message of thanks with a military family that will get delivered by the USO. 

Dr. Jill Biden joins Senate Spouses, military spouses and White House volunteers to Support Recovering TroopsDr. Jill Biden joins Senate Spouses, military spouses and White House volunteers to Support Recovering Troops with USO Warrior Care Pack Assembly on the grounds of the Naval Observatory Residence in Washington, DC, Oct. 29, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)


Yesterday, Dr. Jill Biden welcomed Senate and military spouses to the Vice President’s Residence to assemble more than 1,500 USO Warrior Care Packs for wounded, ill and injured troops. These special kits were filled with toiletry items most requested – and needed – by our healing heroes. The lip balm, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, lotion, towels and razors will be combined with t-shirts, pants and blankets to provide troops with items to comfort and remind them of home during the recovery process. The USO is well known for their care packages, having shipped millions to troops around the globe in the past decade.


Dr. Biden and the spouses moved through the assembly line often packing two to three kits at a time. In true Joining Forces spirit, the Senate spouses in attendance represented both sides of the aisle and the military spouses represented all branches of the military.


The majority of the USO Warrior Care Packs will be sent to USO Centers throughout Afghanistan as well as the USO Warrior Center at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany— often the first stop for wounded troops on their journey back to the United States.


The USO has had the privilege of working with First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Biden on many occasions in support of their Joining Forces initiative. They have hosted events supporting military mothers, spouses, children and most recently welcomed the 2013 USO Service Member Honorees to the White House to recognize them for their bravery and service.


Dr. Jill Biden joins Senate Spouses, military spouses and White House volunteers to Support Recovering TroopsDr. Jill Biden joins Senate Spouses, military spouses and White House volunteers to Support Recovering Troops with USO Warrior Care Pack Assembly on the grounds of the Naval Observatory Residence in Washington, DC, Oct. 29, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)


For more than 72 years, the USO has been lifting the spirits of America’s service members and their families. The USO provides critical support to our military communities through an array of comprehensive programs that have continued to adapt to meet the changing needs of our military communities. With more than 160 locations worldwide and 1,700 family programs, their broad reach and valuable resources have touched the lives of millions.




Jesse Lee
Jesse Lee

October 30, 2013
12:45 PM EDT


There has been a lot of media attention, and some misleading attacks from critics, about some recent notices from insurance companies about changes in some people’s insurance plans.


Press Secretary Jay Carney took this question head-on yesterday. He made some key points:

  1. More than three out of every four Americans gets insurance from their employer, Medicare, Medicaid and the Veterans Administration. These notices have been sent only to some of the 5% of Americans who get insurance on the individualinsurance market.
  2. Americans who are currently on the individual market stand to benefit the most from the Affordable Care Act. Even those receiving notices of “cancellation” will be able to enroll in a new plan that does not discriminate based on pre-existing conditions, does not deny them key benefits like maternity, mental health, or prescription drug coverage, and cannot drop you when you’re sick.
  3. Americans in the individual market who have a plan that hasn’t been changed by their insurance company (an all-too-familiar occurrence for many) can keep their plan if they choose, even though a plan with better benefits is likely available.


Watch his response to the question below, or read the transcript below the fold:



MR. CARNEY:  I appreciate the question and I thank you for the opportunity to explain this. And I understand that there’s a lot of attention being focused on it and that it deserves fuller explanation — and I think fuller explanation by us and fuller explanation by everybody reporting on it, so that viewers and readers and listeners are getting the full picture about this issue.


So let’s step back. If you are one of the 80 percent of the American people who receive insurance coverage through your employer or through Medicaid or Medicare or the Veterans Administration, this conversation doesn’t apply to you. These reports do not apply to you. If you’re one of the 15 percent of the American people who are uninsured entirely right now, this conversation does not apply to you. So what we’re talking about here is the 5 percent in the country who currently purchase insurance on the individual market.


And that market has been like the Wild West. It has been under regulated. It is the place where Americans have most keenly felt the challenges posed by the insurance system in this country, where, for example, insurers could deny you coverage if you have a preexisting condition, or they could offer you coverage that in its fine print excluded benefits specifically related to your preexisting condition. So if you have hypertension or you’re a cancer survivor, they could carve out coverage on those specific issues and then give you a plan that would cover you on other things.


They could also, and did, routinely, change your plan or eliminate it altogether, annually. They could throw you off. They could jack up your premiums. They could change your coverage. And one of the issues that the Affordable Care Act was designed to address was the need to provide greater security to those Americans who had no other option but to seek insurance on the individual market.


So that’s the universe we’re talking about: 5 percent of the population. And I think it’s important to know that, because in some of the coverage of this issue in the last several days, you would think that you were talking about 75 percent or 80 percent or 60 percent of the American population. So there’s that.


As the law says, and as the President made clear in the statements that you cite, if you had insurance coverage on the individual market when the Affordable Care Act was passed into law and you liked that plan and you wanted to stay on it, even though it didn’t meet the minimum standards that the Affordable Care Act would bring into place on January 1, 2014, you can keep the coverage. You’re grandfathered in. That plan and your association with it are grandfathered in, in perpetuity — not for a year, not for five years, but forever.


But what is not the case is if your insurer basically threw you off that plan by telling you after a year or two that it was changing and said, here’s your new option because your plan has changed, that that new plan is grandfathered in. Because how could that be? You can’t grandfather in a plan in 2010 that didn’t come into existence until 2012 or 2011?



Ben Rhodes
Ben Rhodes

October 30, 2013
10:56 AM EDT


Ben Rhodes is Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speechwriting 


Two weeks ago, the United States government teamed up with the Government of Malaysia, which hosted the 4th Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Kuala Lumpur. President Obama hosted the first Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Washington, DC in 2010, after he announced the initiative in a speech he delivered in Cairo in 2009. In those remarks, he spoke to the importance of supporting and promoting entrepreneurs at home and overseas. Innovation and entrepreneurship are cornerstones of the U.S. economy and can serve as a way of unlocking economic potential and lifting people out of poverty all over the world. Promoting entrepreneurship globally can help build more stable societies, grow markets for American goods, and advance a fundamental American value.


This year’s summit was the largest ever and brought together over 3000 entrepreneurs, investors, academics, startup organizers, business people, and government officials from more than 100 countries. They went head-to-head in pitch competitions, participated in round table discussions, and learned from some of the best-known entrepreneurs in the world. President Obama delivered remarks through a video message to the Summit, and Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker represented the United States and met with several young, inspired entrepreneurs themselves. In his remarks, Secretary Kerry explained why promoting entrepreneurship is so important to the Obama Administration:

Supporting your creativity and persistence is a key component of our foreign policy agenda – which today, more than ever before, is about economic policy, too. When entrepreneurs here in Malaysia succeed, I’ll tell you something; they create economic opportunity for Malaysians, of course, but also for people all over the world, including in the United States.

Americans benefit from the success of small businesses around the world through trading and collaborating with them, and by using their goods and services. So President Obama is going to continue doing everything he can to support young people who want to turn their ideas into businesses or non-profit organizations.


In this spirit, the United States announced several new initiatives to continue the President’s efforts to support entrepreneurs globally. These include the creation of the President’s Committee on Global Entrepreneurship, which will connect some of the United States’ most successful business leaders with the next generation of entrepreneurs around the globe. We are also teaming up with UP Global to train and support 500,000 new entrepreneurs in 1000 cities around the world over the next three years. Finally, the United States is supporting the creation of the Global Entrepreneurship Research Network (GERN), which will help government officials institute policies and practices that enable entrepreneurship.  These efforts will not only promote stronger startup communities abroad; they will also build on the Administration’s Startup America initiative to accelerate the success of home-grown entrepreneurs across the country. To learn more, read the Global Entrepreneurship Summit fact sheet and watch the President’s video message to the summit:




Spread the word on the importance of health coverage.


The Health Insurance Marketplace is now open. Learn more!



J. Michael Daniel, Dr. Patrick Gallagher
October 29, 2013
04:15 PM EDT


J. Michael Daniel is the White House Cybersecurity Coordinator. Dr. Patrick Gallagher is the Director of the National Institute for Standards and Technology


America must also face the rapidly growing threat from cyber-attacks. We know hackers steal people’s identities and infiltrate private e-mail. We know foreign countries and companies swipe our corporate secrets. Now our enemies are also seeking the ability to sabotage our power grid, our financial institutions, and our air traffic control systems. We cannot look back years from now and wonder why we did nothing in the face of real threats to our security and our economy.

That’s why, earlier today, I signed a new executive order that will strengthen our cyber defenses by increasing information sharing, and developing standards to protect our national security, our jobs, and our privacy. Now, Congress must act as well, by passing legislation to give our government a greater capacity to secure our networks and deter attacks. 

- President Obama, February 12, 2013


U.S. national and economic security depends on the reliable functioning of critical infrastructure. In recognition of that dependence, President Obama issued an executive order in February 2013 to increase our critical infrastructure’s capabilities to manage cyber risk; the order focuses on information sharing, privacy, and the adoption of cybersecurity practices. In support of this goal, the order directed the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to convene industry and other stakeholders to develop a voluntary framework for reducing cyber risks.


Today we are pleased to announce the start of the 45-day public comment period for the Preliminary Cybersecurity Framework. This announcement represents an important milestone in this collaborative effort to develop the framework, and the feedback received during this period will inform the final version.


Already over the past eight months, individuals and organizations throughout the country have provided their thoughts on the standards, best practices, and guidelines that would meaningfully improve critical infrastructure cybersecurity. Some have already begun leveraging drafts of the framework to communicate with their executives and have provided feedback from their experience. Once implemented, the framework would provide businesses, their suppliers, their customers, and government agencies a common language and methodology for determining how they can best protect themselves.


The framework aligns practices from existing standards and guidelines by organizing desired cybersecurity outcomes into functions that aid in communications, align with existing methodologies for incident management, and can be used to help show the impact of investments in cybersecurity. Organizations can use the framework to describe their current cybersecurity posture, as well as their target state for cybersecurity. It can also help companies identify and prioritize opportunities for improvement and assess progress toward their goals.


Thanks to the tremendous amount of input received, we believe the Preliminary Framework provides a flexible, dynamic approach to securing critical infrastructure services by strengthening capabilities to manage cyber risks. While this represents a big step in our efforts to better protect critical infrastructure from cybersecurity threats, there’s still much work to do. We ask for your continued engagement to support further revisions, and invite you to review and test the Preliminary Framework over the 45-day comment period. Your feedback is critical to helping improve the next version of the framework.


NIST will hold a workshop to discuss the Preliminary Framework—including its implementation and future governance—Nov. 14 and 15, 2013, at North Carolina State University. Visit for more information and to register.


Young People & Obamacare: Coverage for $50 Per Month


President Obama Speaks at a Memorial Service for Former Speaker Tom Foley


Press Briefing


Readout of Vice President Biden’s Meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki


Presidential Nominations Sent to the Senate


Presidential Nominations Sent to the Senate


Robert C. Barber, of Massachusetts, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Iceland.


Nani A. Coloretti, of California, to be Chief Financial Officer, Department of the Treasury, vice Daniel M. Tangherlini, resigned.


Bathsheba Nell Crocker, of the District of Columbia, a Career Member of the Senior Executive Service,  to be an Assistant Secretary of State (International Organization Affairs), vice Esther Brimmer, resigned.


Jonathan Elkind, of Maryland, to be an Assistant Secretary of Energy (International Affairs), vice David B. Sandalow, resigned.


Mark Gilbert, of the District of Columbia, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to New Zealand.


Joseph S. Hezir, of Virginia, to be Chief Financial Officer, Department of Energy, vice Steven Jeffrey Isakowitz, resigned.


Tina S. Kaidanow, of the District of Columbia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Coordinator for Counterterrorism, with the rank and status of Ambassador at Large, vice Daniel Benjamin, resigned.


William A. LaPlante, Jr., of Maryland, to be an Assistant Secretary of the Air Force, vice Sue C. Payton.


Theodore Reed Mitchell, of California, to be Under Secretary of Education, vice Martha J. Kanter.


Massie Ritsch, of the District of Columbia, to be Assistant Secretary for Communications and Outreach, Department of Education, vice Peter Cunningham.


Charles Hammerman Rivkin, of the District of Columbia, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Economic and Business Affairs), vice Jose W. Fernandez, resigned.

Rhea Sun Suh, of Colorado, to be Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife, vice Thomas L. Strickland, resigned.



President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts


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

·       Robert C. Barber – Ambassador to the Republic of Iceland, Department of State

·       Nani A. Coloretti – Chief Financial Officer, Department of the Treasury

·       Bathsheba N. Crocker – Assistant Secretary for International Organization Affairs, Department of State

·       Jonathan Elkind – Assistant Secretary for International Affairs, Department of Energy

·       Mark D. Gilbert – Ambassador to New Zealand, Department of State

·       Joseph Hezir – Chief Financial Officer, Department of Energy

·       Tina S. Kaidanow – Coordinator for Counterterrorism, with the rank of Ambassador at Large, Department of State

·       William A. LaPlante, Jr. – Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Department of Defense

·       Ted Mitchell – Under Secretary, Department of Education

·       Massie Ritsch – Assistant Secretary for Communications and Outreach, Department of Education

·       Charles H. Rivkin – Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs, Department of State

·       Rhea Suh – Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife, Department of the Interior


President Obama said, “I am proud to nominate such impressive men and women to these important roles, and I am grateful they have agreed to lend their considerable talents to this Administration.  I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead.”


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


Robert C. Barber, Nominee for Ambassador to the Republic of Iceland, Department of State

Robert C. Barber is an attorney with the law firm Looney & Grossman LLP, where he has worked since 1981.  He became a partner in 1985 and served as managing partner from 2001 to 2003.  Previously, Mr. Barber was an Assistant District Attorney for New York County from 1977 to 1981, and a Law Clerk in the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices in Boston and Brooklyn from 1974 to 1977.  Mr. Barber served on the Obama for America National Finance Committee, including the New England Steering Committee from 2007 to 2008 and Chair of the New England Steering Committee from 2009 to 2012.  Mr. Barber has served as a member of the Board of Trustees for the Social Law Library since 1998.  He is a Trustee of Phillips Brooks House Association and a Director of Abbot Academy Association.  Mr. Barber received an A.B. from Harvard College, a J.D. from Boston University School of Law, and an M.C.P. from Harvard University Graduate School of Design.


Nani A. Coloretti, Nominee for Chief Financial Officer, Department of the Treasury

Nani A. Coloretti is the Assistant Secretary for Management at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, a position she has held since November 2012.  From 2009 to 2012, she served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Management and Budget.  Prior to joining the Administration, Ms. Coloretti worked in the San Francisco Mayor’s office from 2005 until 2009, most recently serving as Budget Director.  Previously, Ms. Coloretti served as the Director of Policy, Planning, and Budget for the San Francisco Department of Children, Youth, and Their Families from 1999 to 2005.  Ms. Coloretti worked as a Health Financing Branch Budget Examiner for the U.S. Office of Management and Budget from 1994 to 1997.  She was a Budget Analyst for the Department of Public Safety in the State of Hawaii from 1991 to 1992.  Ms. Coloretti is a recipient of the National Public Service Award, the Public Policy and International Affairs Achievement Award, and the Government Finance Officers Association Distinguished Budget Presentation Award.  Ms. Coloretti received a B.A. in Economics and Communications from the University of Pennsylvania and a M.P.P. from the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley.


Bathsheba N. Crocker, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for International Organization Affairs, Department of State

Bathsheba N. Crocker is the Principal Deputy Director in the Office of Policy Planning at the Department of State (DOS), a position she has held since 2011.  Previously at DOS, she served as Chief of Staff to the Deputy Secretary of State from 2009 to 2011.  From 2008 to 2009, Ms. Crocker was a Senior Policy and Advocacy Officer for International Affairs at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  She was the Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support at the UN Peacebuilding Support Office from 2007 to 2008.  From 2005 to 2007, Ms. Crocker was the Deputy Chief of Staff to the UN Special Envoy at the Office of the UN Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery.  Ms. Crocker worked at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on the Post-Conflict Reconstruction Project as a Fellow and Co-Director from 2003 to 2005 and as an International Affairs Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations from 2002 to 2003.  Ms. Crocker was an Attorney-Adviser for the Office of the Legal Advisor at DOS from 2001 to 2002 and from 1997 to 1999.  From 2000 to 2001, she was Deputy U.S. Special Representative for Southeast Europe Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Rome, Italy.  From 1999 to 2000, Ms. Crocker was Executive Assistant to the Deputy National Security Advisor for the National Security Council at the White House.  She has served as an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University, George Washington University, and American University.  Ms. Crocker received a B.A. from Stanford University, an M.A. from Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.


Jonathan Elkind, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for International Affairs, Department of Energy

Jonathan Elkind is the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office of Policy and International Affairs at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), a position he has held since 2009.  Previously, from 2006 to 2009, Mr. Elkind was a Non-Resident Senior Fellow with The Brookings Institution.  Additionally, from 2002 to 2009, he was a Principal with Eastlink Consulting, LLC.  Mr. Elkind was a Senior Researcher for the Joint Global Change Research Institute at the University of Maryland, College Park from 2001 to 2002.  He served in several capacities in the White House from 1996 to 2001, including: Director of Russian, Ukranian, and Eurasian Affairs for the National Security Council from 1998 to 2001 and Special Advisor for International Affairs within the Office of the Vice President from 1996 to 1998.  He also held roles at DOE from 1993 to 1996 and the Council on Environmental Quality from 1989 to 1993.  Mr. Elkind received a A.B. from the University of Michigan, an M.A. from Columbia University, and an M.B.A. from the University of Maryland.


Mark D. Gilbert, Nominee for Ambassador to New Zealand, Department of State

Mark D. Gilbert is a Director at Barclays Wealth (formerly Lehman Brothers) in West Palm Beach, Florida.  Mr. Gilbert was the Senior Vice President of Goldman Sachs in Miami from 1989 to 1996 and the Senior Vice President Sales Manager of Drexel Burnham Lambert in Boca Raton from 1986 to 1989.  Mr. Gilbert was the Democratic National Committee’s Deputy National Finance Chair from 2009 to 2013.  He served on the Obama for America National Finance Committee from 2007 to 2008 and 2011 to 2012, and was a member of the Presidential Inaugural Finance Committee in 2009.  Mr. Gilbert was Finance Chairman and Advisor to the Klein for Congress Campaign from 2005 to 2006 and was a Trustee on the National Finance Committee for Kerry for President in 2004.  Before beginning his business career, Mr. Gilbert was a professional baseball player for several years and played in the major leagues with the Chicago White Sox in 1985.  Mr. Gilbert received a B.S. in Finance from Florida State University.


Joseph Hezir, Nominee for Chief Financial Officer, Department of Energy

Joseph Hezir is a Research Engineer and the Executive Director of The Future of Solar Energy Study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Energy Initiative, positions he has held since 2009.  Since 1992, he has also been the Vice President and Managing Partner of EOP Group, Inc. as well as Executive Vice President of EOP Education, LLC and EOP Foundation, Inc.  Mr. Hezir served at the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) as the Deputy Associate Director for Energy and Science from 1986 to 1992, and as Chief of the Non-Nuclear Energy Branch from 1982 to 1986.  He held various roles at OMB, Exxon Research and Engineering Company, the President’s Reorganization Project, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from 1973 to 1986.  Mr. Hezir received a B.S. and M.S. from Carnegie Mellon University.


Ambassador Tina S. Kaidanow, Nominee for Coordinator for Counterterrorism, with the rank of Ambassador at Large, Department of State

Ambassador Tina S. Kaidanow, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, most recently served as Deputy Ambassador at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan from 2012 to 2013.  Prior to this, she was Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State from 2011 to 2012 and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs from 2009 to 2011. From 2006 to 2009, Ambassador Kaidanow was Chief of Mission and Principal Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Pristina, Kosovo.  She became the first U.S. Ambassador to Kosovo in July 2008, and served in Bosnia-Herzegovina as Deputy Chief of Mission from 2003 to 2006.  From 2000 to 2002, she was Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of State, and from 1999 to 2000 she was Director for Southeast European Affairs on the National Security Council at the White House.  From 1998 to 1999, she was Special Assistant to the Special Envoy for Kosovo at U.S. Embassy Skopje, Macedonia, and prior to that she spent tours as a political officer in Bosnia-Herzegovina from 1997 to 1998 and Serbia from 1995 to 1997.  Ambassador Kaidanow joined the Foreign Service in 1994.  She received a B.A. and an M.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, and an M.Phil. from Columbia University.


Dr. William A. LaPlante, Jr., Nominee for Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Department of Defense

Dr. William A. LaPlante, Jr. is the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, a position he has held since May 2013.  Previously, from 2011 to 2013, Dr. LaPlante was Missile Defense Portfolio Director at the MITRE Corporation.  He began his career at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in 1985 and served in various capacities until 2011, including Global Engagement Department Head, Business Area Executive for Undersea Warfare and National Security Technology Associate Department Head, and the Strategic Submarine Security Program Area Manager.  Dr. LaPlante was appointed to the Defense Science Board in 2010.  He has also been a member of the USSTRATCOM Strategic Advisory Group and an adjunct lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the Catholic University of America.  Dr. LaPlante received a B.S. from the University of Illinois, an M.S. from Johns Hopkins University, and a Ph.D. from Catholic University of America.


Dr. Ted Mitchell, Nominee for Under Secretary, Department of Education

Dr. Ted Mitchell is currently the CEO of the NewSchools Venture Fund, a position he has held since 2005.  In addition, Dr. Mitchell served as President of the NewSchools Venture Fund from 2005 to 2013.  Prior to this, Dr. Mitchell served as President of Occidental College from 1999 to 2005.  He previously worked at the University of California at Los Angeles, serving as Vice Chancellor for External Affairs from 1997 to 1998, Vice Chancellor for Academic Planning and Budget from 1996 to 1997, and Dean of the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies from 1992 to 1998.  He was Deputy to the President and to the Provost of Stanford University from 1991 to 1992.  Dr. Mitchell was Chair of the Department of Education at Dartmouth College from 1989 to 1991.  Dr. Mitchell received a B.A. in History and Economics, an M.A. in History, and a Ph.D. in Social Sciences in Education from Stanford University.


Massie Ritsch, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Communications and Outreach, Department of Education

Massie Ritsch is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for External Affairs and Outreach at the Department of Education, a position he has held since 2009.  He served as the Acting Assistant Secretary for Communications and Outreach from 2012 to 2013.  From 2006 to 2009, Mr. Ritsch was the Communications Director for the Center for Responsive Politics, where he helped oversee  From 2003 to 2005, he was Vice President of Sugerman Communications Group.  Mr. Ritsch began his career as a politics and education reporter for The Los Angeles Times from 1998 to 2003.  He received a B.A. from Princeton University.


Ambassador Charles H. Rivkin, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs, Department of State

Ambassador Charles H. Rivkin is the U.S. Ambassador to France and Monaco, a position he has held since 2009.  From 2005 to 2009, Ambassador Rivkin was the President and CEO of W!LDBRAIN, an award-winning film and television show production company.  From 1988 to 2003, he served in various roles for The Jim Henson Company, most recently as the President and CEO.  Previously, Ambassador Rivkin was an analyst in Corporate Finance at Salomon Brothers from 1984 to 1986.  Before his service as Ambassador, he served on the boards of various companies and organizations, including Save the Children from 1997 to 2003 and Chrysalis from 1996 to 2002.  From 1996 to 2009, he was a Member of the Young Presidents Organization and from 2007 to 2009 he was a Member of the Pacific Council on International Policy.  Ambassador Rivkin received a B.A. from Yale University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.


Rhea Suh, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife, Department of the Interior

Rhea Suh is the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget at the Department of the Interior, a position she has held since 2009. Previously, Ms. Suh was the Program Officer and Manager of the Western Conservation Subprogram of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation from 2007 to 2009.  From 1998 to 2007, Ms. Suh was the Program Officer for the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation’s Environment Program, and from 1993 to 1996 she served as a Senior Legislative Assistant to Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell.  Ms. Suh received a B.A. from Barnard College and a M.A. from Harvard University Graduate School of Education.


Sesame Street Characters to Promote Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Consumption to Kids


Message to the Congress — Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Sudan


President Obama Signs North Carolina Disaster Declaration


























Obamacare supporters celebrate




















The Daily Word From Barack’s House…..In Hawaii.

By Jueseppi B.















A-2AjsSCcAA4te1Weekly Address: The President and First Lady Extend a Holiday Greeting and Thank our Troops for their Service  In this week’s address, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, and thank our brave troops and their families for their service.



An Itty-Bitty White House


The 2012 holiday décor at the White House features a 300 pound representation of the President’s’ house made entirely from edible treats.

Pastry Chef Bill Yosses and his talented team spent months planning, baking, building, and decorating the structure — which is made from more than 175 pounds of gingerbread and more than 50 pounds of chocolate.


Check out a time-lapse of the White House gingerbread house getting built.



White House Holiday Social in Pictures


Kori Schulman
By Ms. Kori Schulman  December 24, 2012  The White House Blog


Last week, the White House hosted some of our newest followers on Pinterest for a Holiday Social. This was the latest in a series of White House social events that create opportunities for people who engage with us online to attend in-person events.


Check out the 2012 Holiday Social in photos on the White House pinboard. And be sure to follow the White House on Pinterest.



The White House is the “People’s House.” Check out pins from people from all across the country. Use the hashtag #AtTheWH to share your visit to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with us.



Pinners came from near and far to take in the 2012 holiday decorations and learn about how it all came together. After touring the White House and live-pinning their photos of the decorated pine, attendees met with Chief Floral Designer Laura Dowling and participated in a DIY craft.


Later in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, pinners learned how Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses and his team created this year’s White House gingerbread house, and took part in conversations with Ellie Schafer, Director of the White House Visitors Office, and Tina Tchen, Chief of Staff to First Lady Michelle Obama.


Finally, the expert pinners talked to Macon Phillips, the Director of the Office of Digital Strategy, about what they’d like to see from the White House on Pinterest and shared tips on using the social network.


To find out about upcoming opportunities to join White House social events, follow us on TwitterFacebookGoogle+ and now, Pinterest.



















A9kSXVSCcAA-CuQCollage by Ms. Susan Danzig



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… * , • Merry’ • , * ‘
…* ‘ •♫♫*♥*♫♫ • ‘ * ‘
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