Reining In Payday Loan Lenders

03/25/2015

Payday Loans

What is a payday loan?

11/6/2013 cfpb.gov

A payday loan – which might also be called a “cash advance” or “check loan” – is a short-term loan, generally for $500 or less, that is typically due on your next payday.

Payday loans generally have three features:

  • The loans are for small amounts.
  • The loans typically come due your next payday.
  • You must give lenders access to your checking account or write a check for the full balance in advance that the lender has an option of depositing when the loan comes due.

Other loan features can vary. For example, payday loans are often structured to be paid off in one lump-sum payment, but interest-only payments – “renewals” or “rollovers” – are not unusual. In some cases, payday loans may be structured so that they are repayable in installments over a longer period of time.

Some ways that lenders might give you the loan funds include: providing cash or a check, loading the funds onto a prepaid debit card, or electronically depositing the money into your checking account.

The cost of the loan (finance charge) may range from $10 to $30 for every $100 borrowed. A typical two-week payday loan with a $15 per $100 fee equates to an annual percentage rate (APR) of almost 400%. By comparison, APRs on credit cards can range from about 12 percent to 30 percent.

State laws and other factors can influence how much you can borrow and the fees you are charged. Some states do not have payday lending storefronts because these loans are not permitted by the state’s law, or because lenders may choose not to do business in a state rather than abide by the states’ regulations.

There are special protections through the Military Lending Act for active duty servicemembers and their dependents who use certain payday loans and other small dollar credit products.

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By the Numbers: 400 Percent

Nearly 20 million Americans use payday loans, which offer short-term funds at very high interest rates. Studies have found that the average interest charged on a two-week, $100 loan is about $16—a 400 percent interest rate.

Many people who rely on payday loans are often in desperate need of cash, making them more likely to agree to astronomical interest rates and hefty fees for late payments. But, more often than not, payday loan terms are not clearly explained upfront, if at all. Payday loans end up putting more strain on those who are already struggling financially, including people who have already depleted their resources due to extended unemployment, illness, or emergency, as well as members of the military and their families, who are often targeted by short-term lenders.

Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB, launched the nation’s first program for supervising “non-bank” financial services, an extension of their bank supervision program that began last July. (A non-bank is a company that provides consumer financial services, but doesn’t take deposits or have a bank, thrift, or credit union charter.)

Under this new program, non-banks like payday lenders, as well as private mortgage companies and private education lenders, will be regulated and subject to federal oversight to ensure they play by the rules and don’t take advantage of consumers. CFPB will be able to establish regulations that require payday lenders to disclose borrowers’ obligations and responsibilities in clear, easy to understand terms, so that people know what they are agreeing to when taking out a payday loan.

“This is an important step forward for protecting consumers,” said Richard Cordray, Director of the CFPB. “Holding both banks and nonbanks accountable to consumer financial laws will help create a fairer, more transparent market for consumers. It will create a better environment for the honest businesses that serve them. And it will help the overall economic stability of our country.”

LEARN MORE ABOUT PAYDAY LOANS

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3/26/15 FACT SHEET: Progress Toward Building a Safer, Stronger Financial System and Protecting Consumers from Unfair and Abusive Practices

3/26/15 FACTSHEET: THE CFPB CONSIDERS PROPOSAL TO END PAYDAY DEBT TRAPS


President Obama hosts a roundtable on the economy
Lawson State Community College, Birmingham, Alabama

https://youtu.be/_TsdBRFgvH0?t=47s

March 26, 2015
President Obama delivers remarks on
 loan rates and the economy
Lawson State Community College, Birmingham, Alabama

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Affordable Care Act aka ObamaCare – 5th Anniversary

03/24/2015

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is a federal statute that was signed into United States law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010. This Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (signed into law on March 30, 2010) made up the health care reform of 2010. The laws focus on reform of the private health insurance market, provide better coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, improve prescription drug coverage in Medicare and extend the life of the Medicare Trust fund by at least 12 years. PPACA passed the Senate on December 24, 2009, by a vote of 60–39 with all Democrats and Independents voting for, and all Republicans voting against. It passed the House of Representatives on March 21, 2010, by a vote of 219–212, with all 178 Republicans and 34 Democrats voting against the bill. On June 28, 2012 Supreme Court Decision: Health Care Law Constitutional http://youtu.be/DCQSGnZ0lTg?t=5s Obamacare’s projected cost falls due to lower premiums under health care law, CBO says March 9 at 11:56 AM By Max Ehrenfreund – washingtonpost The estimated cost of President Obama’s signature health care law is continuing to fall. The Congressional Budget Office announced on Monday that the Affordable Care Act will cost $142 billion, or 11 percent, less over the next 10 years, compared to what the agency had projected in January. The nonpartisan agency said the Affordable Care Act will cost less for two essential reasons. The first, and most significant, is that health insurance premiums are rising more slowly, and thus requires less of a government subsidy. In addition, slightly fewer people are now expected to sign up for Medicaid and for subsidized insurance under the law’s marketplaces. That’s because the agency now says that more people than anticipated already had health insurance before the law took effect, and fewer companies than anticipated are canceling coverage. All in all, three million fewer people are expected to sign up for Affordable Care Act provisions by 2025. Still, by 2025, the CBO estimates “the total number of people who will be uninsured … is now expected to be smaller than previously projected,” because more will have had health insurance to begin with. All around, it’s positive news for Obama’s law, which has been accused by Republicans of killing jobs and draining federal coffers. Indeed, the CBO itself warned last year the health care law could reduce full time employment as some chose to give up work that provided health care as they relied instead on the government’s subsidies. For more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/03/09/obamacares-cost-is-falling-as-fewer-receive-coverage-under-health-care-law-cbo-says/?hpid=z1 before_aca_and_aftermedicare_aca The Affordable Care Act by the Numbers as of March 2015: 50 years ago was the last time that we saw health care that was priced this low. $1,800 less that the average family now pays in premiums in an employer health care plan due to the slower growth in health care costs. 50,000 deaths have been prevented due to improvements in hospitals that includes fewer errors and infections. 9.4 million Americans with Medicare saved a total of more than $15 billion on prescription medications. 16 million Americans who have gained health care coverage since the Affordable Care Act became a law in 2010. 76 million Americans are benefitting from health care coverage under the Affordable Care Ac. 105 million Americans no longer have a lifetime limit on their health care coverage. Up to 129 million Americans with pre-existing conditions are no longer at risk of being denied health care coverage. https://youtu.be/jGQFdad__OU?t=1s What is the Health Insurance Marketplace? What if I have job-based insurance? How can I get coverage at lower costs? What do small businesses need to know? Am I eligible for Medicaid? What if I’m self-employed? What if I have a pre-existing condition? How the Affordable Care Act is helping people in your State Health Resources and Services Administration app Find a Health Center .

Learn more: https://www.healthcare.gov

http://youtu.be/EQG8eZs8AJc?t=1m24s ObamaCare sign up

A member of the audience holds a "Thank You" sign during President Barack Obama's speech on medicare fraud and health care insurance reform, at St. Charles High School in St. Charles, Mo., March 10, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

A member of the audience holds a “Thank You” sign during President Barack Obama’s speech on medicare fraud and health care insurance reform, at St. Charles High School in St. Charles, Mo., March 10, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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“Five years ago, we declared that in America, quality, affordable health care is not a privilege, it is a right.  And I’ll never stop working to protect that right for those who already have it, and extend it to those who don’t, so that all of us can experience the blessings of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in this country we love.  “

- President Obama 3/22/15

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March 25, 2015 President Obama deliver remarks at a kick-off meeting of the Health Care Payment Learning and Action Network Obama_Biden_thumbnail


5th White House Science Fair

03/22/2015

2015 WH Science Fair

Announcing the 5th White House Science Fair!

Noemie Levy on March 12, 2015 at 05:45 PM EDT

The Obama Administration is committed to helping inspire young people across the Nation to get excited about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and to celebrating the extraordinary K-12 students that already are accomplishing great work in these fields. The President has often said that it is just as important to celebrate the winners of science fairs as it is to celebrate the winners of sporting events.

That’s why the President is hosting the 5th White House Science Fair on March 23rd, welcoming more than one hundred of the Nation’s brightest young minds with some showcasing innovative inventions, discoveries, and science projects. The President will meet with and congratulate these students, who, as budding engineers, scientists, and researchers are on deck to help solve some of the greatest challenges of our time.

Previous White House Science Fairs have featured young innovators who have built electric cars, search-and-rescue robots, and marshmallow cannons; helped develop promising flu vaccines; and studied human genome data to find potential treatments for cancer; among many other projects.

Kicking off the excitement for the 5th White House Science Fair, yesterday President Obama welcomed 40 of the Nation’s extraordinary young scientists and engineers to the White House. These high school seniors are finalists in the 2015 Intel Science Talent Search, which recognizes innovative research projects in computer science, genomics, environmental science, microbiology, and many other STEM areas.

The finalists included Emily Lorin Ashkin, from Charlotte, NC, who studied treatment methods for potentially fatal skin cancers, and Jennifer McCleary, from Irvina, CA, who identified materials that could help harness solar power to produce hydrogen as a fuel source. Among the winners of the competition announced on Tuesday was Andrew Jin, from San Jose, CA, who developed a machine-learning algorithm for identifying mutations across the human genome. This algorithm can help develop effective gene therapies and vaccines, improving global health outcomes.

The geeking out will continue in less than two weeks at the 2015 White House Science Fair. Stay tuned at www.whitehouse.gov/science-fair for updates about the exciting event coming up on March 23rd!

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March 23, 2015
President Obama hosts The 5th Annual
White House Science Fair

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U.S. Treasury’s Hardest Hit Mortgage Assistance Fund – 6th Anniversary

03/20/2015

MakingHomesAffordable-5-Year poster

Making Home Affordable Five Years Later

3/11/2014 By: Mark McArdle, Chief of the Homeownership Preservation Office

Since the launch of Making Home Affordable (MHA) in 2009, Treasury has worked diligently to help homeowners at risk of foreclosure, and stabilize the nation’s housing market.

So far, nearly two million mortgage assistance actions have been provided under MHA to offer relief to struggling homeowners. Treasury’s programs have also changed the way the industry interacts with its struggling borrowers. Many private sector modifications now look a lot like HAMP modifications, with over four million homeowners in private sector modifications benefiting from the framework of the HAMP program.

To date, there have been more than 1.3 million permanent mortgage modifications obtained by homeowners through MHA’s Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). Homeowners in HAMP save a median of approximately $544 on their mortgage payments each month, reducing their monthly payments by about a third. This meaningful payment reduction makes HAMP a more affordable and sustainable solution than many other programs in the marketplace today.

Over the last five years, MHA programs have continued to evolve, in response to changing conditions and the needs of the nation’s struggling homeowners. The Home Affordable Unemployment Program (UP) provides temporary relief to unemployed homeowners while they look for another job. Those needing to transition to more affordable housing can access short sales or deeds in-lieu-of foreclosure through our Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA) program. And, underwater homeowners have received more than $13 billion in principal reduction through HAMP’s Principal Reduction Alternative (PRA) program.

Program changes and enhancements –from the assignment of a Single Point of Contact to the application of a standard modification protocol – have all helped and protected struggling homeowners.  Most recently, Treasury required the largest servicers in HAMP to offer financial counseling to homeowners who have received modifications under HAMP to help them stay current on their mortgage payments.

From launching three national Public Service Advertising campaigns to hosting more than 90 “Help for Homeowners” events, we have looked for ways to raise awareness of MHA and provide homeowners with the information and guidance they need to get in — and stay in — the program. The Homeowner’s HOPETM Hotline (888-995-HOPE), where homeowners can learn if they are eligible for MHA and receive free advice from HUD-approved housing counselors, is always just a phone call away. Not only is this MHA resource available 24 hours a day, but homeowners can get assistance in more than 170 different languages.

While the economy is showing signs of recovery, there are still many families in need of mortgage assistance. Given the continuing need to help these homeowners, MHA has been extended until December 2015.

For more: http://www.treasury.gov/connect/blog/Pages/Making-Home-Affordable-Five-Years-Later.aspx

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5/30/2013 Obama Administration Extends Application Deadline for the Making Home Affordable Program 

4/05/2013 Obama Administration Releases March Housing Scorecard

11/18/2010 Written Testimony of Chief of Homeownership Preservation Office Phyllis Caldwell Before the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity

8/11/2010 Obama Administration Announces Additional Support for Targeted Foreclosure-Prevention Programs to Help Homeowners Struggling with Unemployment 

8/04/2010 Obama Administration Approves State Plans For $600 Million of ‘Hardest Hit Fund’ Foreclosure Prevention Assistance

6/23/2010 Obama Administration Approves State Plans for Use of $1.5 Billion in ‘Hardest Hit Fund’ Foreclosure-Prevention Funding 

3/29/2010 Obama Administration Announces Second Round of Assistance for Hardest-Hit Housing Markets

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2006-2014 homevalues

 “I want to just tell you a quick story. Lorraine Cona, from Sun City, next door, she did everything right. She had a good job as a librarian. She bought a home she could afford. She wanted to retire in that home. She made her payments on time. Then, five years ago, through no fault of her own, she was laid off, and she started falling behind in her payments. She knew foreclosure was coming. She said, “I’d look out the window and I’d see somebody taking pictures of my house.

But when things seemed darkest, Lorraine learned about something called the Hardest Hit fund –- it’s a program that we created to help folks in states like Arizona that had been especially hard hit by the real estate crash. And they helped her make her late payments — because she had a great track record until she had lost her job. They set her up with financial counseling so she could stay on track. It wasn’t easy, but Lorraine repaired her credit. She refinanced her mortgage. And today, after a lifetime of hard work, Lorraine is retired, she’s back to making her payments every single month. She’s in her home. She was able to accomplish that. Even though it was scary at times, she got it done. Lorraine came back, just like Phoenix has come back. (Applause.) Just like Arizona has come back. Just like America has come back.

1/8/15 President Obama on the subject of Housing – Central High School, Phoenix, Arizona

 

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  The Homeowner’s HOPETM Hotline (888-995-HOPE)
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Congressional Veto Overrides Pres Reagan’s (R) Repeal of Civil Rights

03/19/2015

Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987

 The Civil Rights Restoration Act was a U.S. legislative act which specified that recipients of federal funds must comply with civil rights laws in all areas, not just in the particular program or activity that received federal funding. This Act, also known as the Grove City Bill, was first passed by the House in June 1984 (375-32) but failed to pass in either chamber after divisions occurred within the civil rights coalition over the issue of abortion. In January 1988, the Senate accepted an amendment by Senator John Danforth (R-MO) which added ‘abortion-neutral’ language to the Bill, a move that was opposed by the National Organization for Women but which resulted in passage of the bill in both houses.

Although President Ronald Reagan (R) vetoed the Bill, as he had promised to do, Congress overrode the President’s veto by 73-24 in the Senate and 292-133 in the House. This was the first veto of a civil rights act since Andrew Johnson vetoed the Civil Rights Act of 1866. The passage of this bill thus overturned the Supreme Court‘s 1984 decision in Grove City v. Bell. It applies to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Rights_Restoration_Act_of_1987

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How the U.S. Became More Unequal: Minority Rights, Equality &  Ronald Reagan 

Published on Sep 6, 2013

Reagan opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson (D).

Reagan gave a States’ Rights speech at the Neshoba County Fair in Philadelphia, Mississippi, the town where three civil rights workers were murdered in 1964, when running for president in 1980 (many politicians had spoken at that annual Fair, however).

Reagan was offended that some accused him of racism. In 1980 Reagan said the Voting Rights Act was “humiliating to the South”, although he later supported extending the Act. He opposed Fair Housing legislation in California (the Rumford Fair Housing Act), but in 1988 signed a law expanding the Fair Housing Act of 1968. Reagan was unsuccessful in trying to veto another civil rights bill in March of the same year. At first Reagan opposed the Martin Luther King holiday, and signed it only after an overwhelming veto-proof majority (338 to 90 in the House of Representatives and 78 to 22 in the Senate) voted in favor of it. Congress overrode Reagan’s veto of the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1988. Reagan said the Restoration Act would impose too many regulations on churches, the private sector and state and local governments.

No civil rights legislation for LGBT individuals passed during Reagan’s tenure. On the 1980 campaign trail, he spoke of the gay civil rights movement:

“My criticism is that [the gay movement] isn’t just asking for civil rights; it’s asking for recognition and acceptance of an alternative lifestyle which I do not believe society can condone, nor can I.”

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Congressional override of a veto by President Ronald Reagan
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March 22, 1988
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On this date, by a vote of 292 to 133, the House of Representatives joined the Senate in overriding President Ronald Reagan’s veto of S. 557. Also known as the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987, the bill amended Title IX (Prohibition of Sex Discrimination) of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In 1985 the Supreme Court rendered a decision in the sexual discrimination case, Grove City v. Bell, ruling federal anti-discrimination law can only be applied to federally funded programs. In response to the court decision, the new law broadened the scope of applicability to close up loop holes in civil rights laws. Before Congress passed S.557, President Reagan threatened to veto the legislation. Speaker of the House, Jim Wright (D) of Texas informed President Reagan that it would be, “ill-advised” to veto the legislation. Once the President signed the veto on March 16th, Wright stated that he “was confident that the Senate and House would move swiftly to override this unfortunate and short sighted veto.” The President, “may want to turn the clock back on Civil Rights, but the American people do not,” Wright said.
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The Facts Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987 

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On former House Speaker Jim Wright (D) on November 2013 was denied a voter ID card at a Texas Department of Public Safety office.
Speaker of the House Jim Wright (D) of Texas

Speaker of the House Jim Wright (D) of Texas

“President Reagan may want to turn the clock back on Civil Rights, but the American people do not”

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First Lady Michelle Obama Asia Travel

03/17/2015

 Around the world 62 million girls are not in school. Millions more are fighting to stay there. Let Girls Learn is a new effort by the United States Government, and led by USAID, to provide the public with meaningful ways to help all girls to get a quality education. In support of the effort, USAID also announced over $230 million for new programs to support education around the world.  Then, even if they can reach a school, they may not have the trained teachers, adequate materials, or support they need to learn to read, write, and do basic math. Recent events in Nigeria focused the world’s concern on their plight. It’s time to Let Girls Learn.

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First Lady Michelle Obama travels to Japan and Cambodia from March 18-22, 2015. She will be joined by Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet for the trip. While in Japan, the First Lady will highlight the importance both countries place on international girls education, and the plans to deepen our partnership on this issue through development programs and collaboration between the Peace Corps and Japan’s Overseas Cooperation Volunteers.  The First Lady will then travel to Cambodia, one of the first 11 countries to be included in the Let Girls Learn Peace Corps initiative in the program’s first year.  In Cambodia, Mrs. Obama and Peace Corps Director Hessler-Radelet will see up close how community-driven solutions are changing girls’ lives, a key component of the Let Girls Learn Peace Corps program. In both Japan and Cambodia, the First Lady will share her trip with students through daily online diary entries and a collaboration with PBS LearningMedia. PBS LearningMedia will offer opportunities for young people to connect to, and learn from, Mrs. Obama’s trip, and will provide resources for U.S. classrooms that explore the culture, geography and current events in Japan and Cambodia.

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March 16, 2015

Op-Ed by First Lady Michelle Obama: “Let’s Ensure That Every Girl Can Learn

First Lady Michelle Obama: Let’s Ensure That Every Girl Can Learn

This week I will travel to Tokyo to join Akie Abe, the wife of Japan’s prime minister, as the United States and Japan announce a new partnership to educate girls across the globe. As part of this effort, the U.S. government has launched an international initiative, called “Let Girls Learn,” to help girls in developing countries go to school and stay in school.

These new investments—along with previous investments by countries like the United Kingdom—reflect a growing global consensus that when 62 million girls world-wide are not in school, that is not only a tragic waste of human potential. It is also a serious public-health challenge, a drag on national economies and global prosperity, and a threat to the security of countries around the world, including our own.

The research is unequivocal: Girls who attend secondary school marry and have children later, and they have lower maternal and infant-mortality rates and lower rates of HIV/AIDS. Every additional year of education can increase a girl’s earning power by 10% to 20%; and sending more girls to school can boost an entire country’s economy. National-security experts have even noted that educating women can be a powerful tool to fight extremism, violence and instability.

The question today is no longer whether to invest in global girls’ education, but how, particularly when it comes to adolescent girls. As of 2012, every developing region in the world had achieved, or was close to achieving, gender parity in primary education. The gender gap persists in secondary education, however, because adolescence is often when girls are first subject to the cultural values and practices that define, and limit, the prospects of women in their societies.

We cannot address the issue of girls’ education unless we are also willing to confront the complex issues that keep so many girls out of school in the first place: from female genital cutting/mutilation, to early and forced marriage, to economic disincentives like unaffordable school fees and the loss of girls’ household labor.

Safety is a perfect example. Many parents in the developing world are afraid that their daughters will be sexually assaulted while walking to or from school. This is an understandable concern to which any parent can relate. But in many communities, parents aren’t just worried about terrible physical and emotional harm to their daughters, they are also worried about the harm to her marriage prospects—that she’ll be considered “damaged goods” and have no one to provide for her in adulthood.

For more: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/03/16/op-ed-first-lady-michelle-obama-lets-ensure-every-girl-can-learn

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Let Girls Learn - No Exceptions

FLOTUS in Cambodia

Let Girls Learn - Q&A

Michelle Phan, YouTube star and advocate for girls’ empowerment, will sit down with the First Lady in Tokyo and ask her your questions. Ask now with the hastag #LetGirlsLearnQA on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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First Lady Michelle Obama Travel Itinerary

March 18-19, 2015 – Tokyo, Japan

First Lady Michelle Obama meets with Mrs. Akie Abe, the Spouse of the Prime Minister of Japan
Prime Minister’s Residence, Tokyo, Japan

First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks on the importance both countries place on international girls education
Iikura Guest House, Tokyo, Japan

First Lady Michelle Obama and Mrs. Akie Abe meet with Japanese university students and share stories from their own educational backgrounds
Iikura Guest House,  Tokyo, Japan

First Lady Michelle Obama meets with the Emperor and Empress of Japan
Tokyo, Japan
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March 20, 2015 – Kyoto, Japan

First Lady Michelle Obama visits the Kiyomizu-Dera Buddhist Temple
Kyoto, Japan

First Lady Michelle Obama visits the Fushimi Inari Shinto Shrine
Kyoto, Japan

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March 21-22, 2015 – Siem Reap, Cambodia

First Lady Michelle Obama meets with Mrs. Bun Rany, the First Lady of Cambodia
Siem Reap, Cambodia

First Lady Michelle Obama and Peace Corps Director Hessler-Radelet see up close how community-driven solutions – which are key components of the Let Girls Learn Peace Corps program – are changing girls’ lives
Siem Reap, Cambodia

First Lady Michelle Obama and Mrs. Bun Rany, the First Lady of Cambodia, meet with high school students
Siem Reap, Cambodia

First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks on the importance both countries place on international girls education
Siem Reap, Cambodia

First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks to Peace Corps Volunteers
Siem Reap, Cambodia

First Lady Michelle Obama hosts a roundtable with Peace Corps Volunteers, local community leaders, and civil society members
Siem Reap, Cambodia

#LetGirlsLearn

#FLOTUSinCambodia

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day 2015

03/15/2015

WH_St_Patricks_Day_Fountain

Irish-American Heritage Month

Each March, the United States celebrates Irish-American heritage month. The U.S. and Ireland have always shared strong bilateral relations, deep cultural ties, and a commitment to positive change in the world. The industry, creativity, and imagination of Irish Americans have enriched every facet of American society. Nineteen Presidents of the United States have claimed Irish heritage and President Obama is proud to be one of them. One-third to one-half of the American troops during the Revolutionary War and at least 8 of the 56 signatures on the Declaration of Independence were Irish Americans.

March 17 is the feast day of Ireland’s patron saint, the cleric Patrick (386–461), in the Catholic liturgical calendar and a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, and in Northern Ireland. But it is celebrated informally worldwide by people of every ethnic background. The first recorded celebration of St. Patrick’s Day in the American colonies was in Boston in 1737, and the first St. Patrick’s Day celebration in New York City was held at the Crown and Thistle Tavern in 1756. Nowadays, St. Patrick’s Day parades are wildly popular, even in areas without any sizeable Irish-American population, and tend to take on a regional flavour. Chicago dyes its rivers green on parade day; other cities settle for painting green the traffic stripes on parade routes. The largest parades are held in Dublin (Ireland), New York City, Montreal, and Boston.

The President, the Taoiseach, and the Shamrocks

On Tuesday, March 17, 2015 President Obama will welcome Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny of Ireland to the White House. In the morning, the President will meet with the Taoiseach in the Oval Office, and subsequently he will attend the traditional St. Patrick’s Day lunch at the U.S. Capitol. In the evening, the President and the First Lady will host a reception to celebrate their fifth St. Patrick’s Day at the White House. During the reception, the President and Taoiseach (Prime Minister) will participate in the annual Shamrock ceremony. It symbolizes the profound kinship between Ireland and the United States. According to records, the ceremony first began in 1952, when the Irish Ambassador John Joseph Hearne sent a box of shamrock to President Truman at the White House. President Truman was out of town at the time, but later sent Ambassador Hearne a message, in which Truman said that he hoped “relations between the two countries will continue to be on a good and effective level for generations.”

Offaly County Council's 2011 Civic Welcome to the Obamas

Offaly County Council’s 2011 Civic Welcome to the Obamas

Henry Healy's gift to his fifth cousin, President Obama. President Obama drinking Guiness in front of the White House (L) and his ancestral home of Moneygall (R), drawing by  Brian Fogarty,

Henry Healy‘s gift to his fifth cousin, President Obama. President Obama drinking pint in front of the White House (L) and his ancestral home of Moneygall (R), drawing by Brian Fogarty.

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lá sona naomh Pádraig

Shamrock

Happy St. Patrick’s Day 

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015
President Obama and First Lady Michelle host
The White House St. Patrick’s Day Reception

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