MLK Academic Magnet School & Moorehouse College Graduation 2013


Martin Luther King, Jr. Academic Magnet High School for Health Sciences and Engineering 2013 Commencement Ceremony
First Lady Michelle Obama – Commencement Speaker
Saturday, May 18, 2013 @ 2:00 PM ET
Historic Pearl High, Nashville, TN


MLK Academic Magnet School Press Release

April 11, 2013

Re: Commencement Speaker for 2013 will be First Lady Michelle Obama
First Lady Michelle Obama will deliver the commencement address to the class of 2013 of Martin Luther King, Jr. Academic Magnet High School for Health Sciences and Engineering at Historic Pearl High in Nashville, Tennessee, on May 18, at 1:00 p.m. Graduation will be held at the Howard C. Gentry Center on the campus of Tennessee State University.

Serving a cross-section of academically talented students from diverse groups across Metro Nashville Davidson County, Martin Luther King, Jr. Academic Magnet School provides a highly challenging, college preparatory curriculum to its 1,173 students in grades 7 through 12. MLK is consistently ranked among the best public schools in the nation for its academic rigor and high graduation rate. The students and staff also pride themselves on their commitment to healthy living, foremost through the installation of a community-supported fitness center, and also through the installation of healthy vending machines and a community garden.

For more:


MLK Academic Magnet High School Commencement Ceremony

Live Stream



Moorehouse College Graduation 2013
President Obama – Commencement Speaker
Sunday, May 19 @ 11:00 AM ET
Morehouse College, Century Campus, Atlanta, GA


President Barack Obama to Deliver May Commencement Speech


President Barack Obama will be the speaker for Morehouse College’s 129th Commencement in May, Morehouse President John Silvanus Wilson Jr. ’79 announced Saturday, Feb. 16.

A White House official told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that Morehouse was chosen because it is one of the nation’s leading historically black colleges and universities and is among the best and brightest institutions of higher education in the country. The official also said that Morehouse is known for its high standard for excellence in learning and social consciousness and is home to a long list of notable alumni that spans the last three centuries.

Wilson surprised the nearly 2,000 guests at the College’s largest scholarship fundraiser, the 25th Annual “A Candle in the Dark” Gala.

“The president’s life story trumpets an ethic that we try to instill in all Morehouse Men, namely excellence without apology or compromise,” Wilson said Saturday. “It’s a good thing to have him here for that reason.”

The Gala crowd of students, alumni, faculty, staff and friends of the College jumped out of their seats and screamed in excitement.

For more:,2313,en.html

Morehouse College Commencement – Live Webstream

Navajo Technical College & Bowie State University Commencement 2013


Navajo-Technical-CollegeNavajo Tech campuses

Navajo Technical College 2013 Commencement Ceremony
Dr Jill Biden – Commencement Speaker
Friday, May 17, 2013 @ 12:00 PM ET
Navajo Technical College, Crownpoint, NM


Friday, May 17, Dr. Biden will address the 33rd graduating class of Navajo Technical College, one of two tribal colleges serving the Navajo Nation. NTC was recently recognized for the second consecutive year by the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program as being one of the top 120 community colleges in the United States, in part because of its graduation rate near 80 percent.

For more:


Live Stream:



Bowie State University 2013 Commencement Ceremony
First Lady Michelle Obama – Commencement Speaker
Friday, May 17 @ 11:00 AM ET
University of Maryland, Comcast Center, College Park, MD


First Lady Michelle Obama to Speak at Bowie State University Spring Commencement

April 11, 2013

First Lady Michelle Obama will address Bowie State University graduates at the 2013 Spring Commencement ceremony scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday, May 17, at the Comcast Center in College Park, Md. Mrs. Obama will address approximately 600 graduates and receive an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

“It is an extraordinary honor for Bowie State University and the Class of 2013 to welcome First Lady Michelle Obama as an honored guest at our Spring Commencement ceremony,” said BSU President Mickey L. Burnim. “She is an outstanding role model who will add even greater significance to this celebration of achievement for our graduates and their families.”

For more:

WJLA Live Stream:

University of PA 2013 Commencement & World Fair Trade Day



University of Pennsylvania’s 257th Commencement
Vice President Joseph R. Biden – Commencement Speaker
Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 10:15 AM ET
Franklin Field, Philadelphia, PA


Vice President Biden to speak at Penn’s 257th Commencement

3/14/12 By Penn Current Staff

Joseph R. Biden, Jr., vice president of the United States, will deliver the address at Penn’s Commencement on Monday, May 13, 2013.

Biden began his more than 40 years in public service as a county council member in Delaware, then spent more than three decades as a U.S. senator, where he served until becoming vice president in 2008.

“In his career-long work in government, his consummate dedication to public service and his finely-honed capacity to craft landmark bipartisan legislation, Joe Biden has improved the lives of countless fellow Americans and people around the world,” says Penn President Amy Gutmann. “From shaping U.S. foreign policy to creating laws that protect civil liberties and prevent crime, Joe Biden has earned enormous respect and admiration at home and abroad as a major force for making our nation a better country. He is the perfect choice to address the 257th class of Penn graduates as we prepare to launch our wonderful students into the world.”

For more:’s-257th-commencement

Commencement Streamed Live:


World Fair Trade Day is May 14, 2013

Fair trade involves:


Ensuring Fair Trade

ITA monitors industry access to overseas markets and works to remove costly barriers to product and service exports. According to a University of Michigan study, the average U.S. family of four still stands to gain an estimated $7,800 per year if there was total elimination of global barriers to trade in goods and services. The World Bank has reported that the elimination of global trade barriers could lift 300-500 million of the world’s poor out of poverty over the next 15 years.

The International Trade Administration’s Market Access and Compliance (MAC) Unit’s objective is to obtain market access for American firms and workers and to achieve full compliance by foreign nations with trade agreements they sign with our country. In doing so, MAC is liberalizing trade, which has been shown to pull the world’s poor out of poverty and increase the standard of living for the average U.S. worker. Through the Trade Compliance Center, ITA is able to track specific cases where U.S. firms are experiencing barriers to entry or not receiving the full potential of negotiated agreements.

Unfair foreign pricing and government subsidies distort the free flow of goods and adversely affect American business in the global marketplace. When that happens, the International Trade Administration can take enforcement actions. ITA’s Import Administration is the agency’s lead unit on enforcing trade laws and agreements to prevent unfairly traded imports and to safeguard jobs and the competitive strength of American industry. From working to resolve disputes to implementing measures when violations are found, we are there to protect U.S. companies from unfair trade practices.

For more:


“Global trade is unsustainable if it favors only the few. This is the moment when we must build on the wealth that open markets have created, and share its benefits more equitably. Trade has been a cornerstone of our growth and global development. But we will not be able to sustain this growth if it favors the few, and not the many. Together, we must forge trade that truly rewards the work that creates wealth, with meaningful protections for our people and our planet. This is the moment for trade that is free and fair for all. “

Senator Barack  Obama – Speech in Berlin  Jul 24, 2008

FLOTUS @ E. Kentucky University 2013 Commencement


E Kentucky University

Eastern Kentucky University 2013 Commencement Ceremony
First Lady Michelle Obama – Commencement Speaker
Alumni Coliseum, Richmond, KY
Saturday, May 11, 2013 @ 7:30 PM ET

First Lady Michelle Obama among Spring Commencement Speakers

POSTED: APRIL 11, 2013

First Lady Michelle Obama will join former University of Kentucky President Dr. Charles Wethington and Kentucky author Silas House as speakers at Eastern Kentucky University’s spring commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 11.

Three ceremonies, all in Alumni Coliseum, will recognize a total of 2,428 degree candidates.

The First Lady will address degree candidates from the Colleges of Education and Business and Technology at 7:30 p.m. (a change from the usual time) and will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. The First Lady will be speaking at EKU as part of her Joining Forces initiative to assist military families. The University has received national recognition in recent years for its commitment to helping veterans further their education. EKU, home to more than 1,200 veterans and their dependents, earned a No. 1 national ranking in 2010 and 2012 from Military Times magazine in its annual “Best for Vets: Colleges” issues.

For the entire article:

Commencement Ceremony Streamed Live:


1961 Freedom Riders & OSU 2013 Commencement


1961 Freeom Rides1961 Freedom Riders Map

Freedom Riders were civil rights activists who rode interstate buses into the segregated southern United States in 1961 and following years to challenge the non-enforcement of the United States Supreme Court decisions Irene Morgan v. Commonwealth of Virginia (1946) and Boynton v. Virginia (1960),  which ruled that segregated public buses were unconstitutional.The Southern states had ignored the rulings and the federal government did nothing to enforce them. The first Freedom Ride left Washington, D.C., on May 4, 1961,  and was scheduled to arrive in New Orleans on May 17.

Boynton outlawed racial segregation in the restaurants and waiting rooms in terminals serving buses that crossed state lines. Five years prior to the Boynton ruling, the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) had issued a ruling in Sarah Keys v. Carolina Coach Company that had explicitly denounced the Plessy v. Ferguson doctrine of separate but equal in interstate bus travel. The ICC failed to enforce its ruling, and Jim Crow travel laws remained in force throughout the South.

The Freedom Riders challenged this status quo by riding interstate buses in the South in mixed racial groups to challenge local laws or customs that enforced segregation in seating. The Freedom Rides, and the violent reactions they provoked, bolstered the credibility of the American Civil Rights Movement. They called national attention to the disregard for the federal law and the local violence used to enforce segregation in the southern United States. Police arrested riders for trespassing, unlawful assembly, and violating state and local Jim Crow laws, along with other alleged offenses, but they often first let white mobs attack them without intervention.

The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) sponsored most of the subsequent Freedom Rides, but some were also organized by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). The Freedom Rides followed dramatic sit-ins against segregated lunch counters, conducted by students and youth throughout the South, and boycotts of retail establishments that maintained segregated facilities, beginning in 1960.

The Supreme Court’s decision in Boynton supported the right of interstate travelers to disregard local segregation ordinances. Southern local and state police considered the actions of the Freedom Riders as criminal and arrested them in some locations. In some localities, such as Birmingham, Alabama, the police cooperated with Ku Klux Klan chapters and other whites opposing the actions and allowed mobs to attack the riders.

For more:



Ohio State University 2013 Commencement Ceremony
President Obama – Commencement Speaker
Ohio Stadium.  Columbus, OH
Sunday, May 5, 2013 @12:00 PM ET


President Obama to deliver spring commencement address


Marks third time in university history that the U.S. president speaks at graduation ceremony

Columbus, Ohio — President Barack Obama will be the commencement speaker for The Ohio State University spring commencement. The ceremony takes place at noon on Sunday, May 5, in Ohio Stadium.

“This is a historic occasion for the university, the city of Columbus, and our graduates and their families,” said President E. Gordon Gee. “We are honored to have President Obama address our graduates at the university’s largest commencement ever. To be sure, this is a signal moment in the life of one of the most vibrant and vital universities in our nation.”

President Obama has begun his second term after making history when he was elected as the nation’s first African-American president.

For the entire article:

Commencement Live Stream: 

The National Academy of Sciences 150th Anniversary


NAS 150th Anniv

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is a non-profit organization in the United States. Members serve pro bono as “advisers to the nation on scienceengineering, and medicine“. As a national academy, new members of the organization are elected annually by current members, based on their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.

The National Academy of Sciences is part of the National Academies, which also includes:

The group holds a congressional charter under Title 36 of the United States Code.



On March 3, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Act creating the National Academy of Sciences. Throughout its history, the Academy has promoted excellence in science through the election of its members and original research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and has provided independent, authoritative advice on matters related to science, engineering, and medicine—leaving a lasting impact on science, the nation, and the world. This year, we celebrate our 150th anniversary with a range of activities that focus not only on the history of the NAS but also in large part on the story of science itself and its role in building and shaping our country and establishing its place in the world.

Anniversary Highlights

Public Symposium—The NAS at 150: Celebrating Service to the Nation and Excellence in Science

The Academy will offer a free public symposium on Monday morning, April 29, as part of its 150th annual meeting in Washington, DC.  In this symposium, leading historians Daniel Kevles, Ruth Schwartz Cowan, and Peter Westwick will provide an overview of the founding of the Academy and its place in American democracy. The talks by Drs. Westwick and Cowan will be followed by roundtable discussions with panelists who are personally familiar with the work of the Academy and with the issues raised in the talks. Read More and Register Online »

About NAS

PBO NAS 150th Annv

Fiscal Year 2014 WH Budget & Ch. Capt. E.J. Kapaun, Medal of Honor Recipient


Fiscal Year 2014 WH Budget Proposal of the US Government

April 10, 2013

Remarks by the President Announcing the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget

Rose Garden

11:00 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning, everybody.  Please, please have a seat.  Well, as President, my top priority is to do everything I can to reignite what I consider to be the true engine of the American economy:  a rising, thriving middle class.  That’s what I think about every day.  That’s the driving force behind every decision that I make.

And over the past three years, our businesses have created nearly 6.5 million new jobs.  But we know we can help them create more.  Corporate profits are at an all-time high.  But we have to get wages and incomes rising, as well.  Our deficits are falling at the fastest pace in years.  But we can do more to bring them down in a balanced and responsible way.

The point is, our economy is poised for progress — as long as Washington doesn’t get in the way.  Frankly, the American people deserve better than what we’ve been seeing:  a shortsighted, crisis-driven decision-making, like the reckless, across-the-board spending cuts that are already hurting a lot of communities out there — cuts that economists predict will cost us hundreds of thousands of jobs during the course of this year.

If we want to keep rebuilding our economy on a stronger, more stable foundation, then we’ve got to get smarter about our priorities as a nation.  And that’s what the budget I’m sending to Congress today represents — a fiscally responsible blueprint for middle-class jobs and growth.

For years, the debate in this town has raged between reducing our deficits at all costs, and making the investments necessary to grow our economy.  And this budget answers that argument, because we can do both.  We can grow our economy and shrink our deficits.  In fact, as we saw in the 1990s, nothing shrinks deficits faster than a growing economy.  That’s been my goal since I took office.  And that should be our goal going forward.

At a time when too many Americans are still looking for work, my budget begins by making targeted investments in areas that will create jobs right now, and prime our economy to keep generating good jobs down the road.  As I said in my State of the Union address, we should ask ourselves three questions every day:  How do we make America a magnet for new jobs?  How do we give our workers the skills they need to do those jobs?  And how do we make sure that hard work leads to a decent living?

To make America a magnet for good jobs, this budget invests in new manufacturing hubs to help turn regions left behind by globalization into global centers of high-tech jobs.  We’ll spark new American innovation and industry with cutting-edge research like the initiative I announced to map the human brain and cure disease.  We’ll continue our march towards energy independence and address the threat of climate change.  And our Rebuild America Partnership will attract private investment to put construction workers back on the job rebuilding our roads, our bridges and our schools, in turn attracting even more new business to communities across the country.

To help workers earn the skills they need to fill those jobs, we’ll work with states to make high-quality preschool available to every child in America.  And we’re going to pay for it by raising taxes on tobacco products that harm our young people.  It’s the right thing to do.  (Applause.)

For the entire speech:

PBO economy quote

Mid-Session Review

The Budget

Analytical Perspectives

Historical Tables

Supplemental Materials


Past Budgets

US Budget Deficit By Year 2008-2013

Deficit reduction picks up speed

May 14, 2013 4:05 PM EDT By Steve Benen – maddowblog

This is just astounding.

If the current laws that govern federal taxes and spending do not change, the budget deficit will shrink this year to $642 billion, CBO estimates, the smallest shortfall since 2008. Relative to the size of the economy, the deficit this year — at 4.0 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) — will be less than half as large as the shortfall in 2009, which was 10.1 percent of GDP.

Thanks in large part to higher taxes on the wealthy, which Republicans said would not reduce the deficit, deficit reduction is picking up speed at a pace few could have predicted. We’re now looking at over $400 billion in deficit reduction in just one year, and about $800 billion in deficit reduction since President Obama took office.

Let’s say this plainly: for those who saw the federal budget deficit as a “problem,” it’s fair to say this problem has been largely fixed.

And while we’re at it, let’s also not forget that Republican talking points on fiscal policy have effectively been left in tatters, and every conservative political figure who’s declared “Socialist Obama is turning America into Greece!” looks incredibly foolish right now.

The president took some heat for failing to cut the deficit in half in his first term, and the criticisms had merit, at least insofar as he didn’t reach his original goal. That said, Obama’s on track to cut it by well over half — both in real terms and as a percentage of GDP — in five years.

It’s time to stop worrying a shrinking deficit and start worrying about creating a more robust economic recovery.


White House Press Secretary Annoucement on the CBO’s Deficit Report:

“the CBO report yesterday, the so-called baseline reestimate. And the improvements in the CBO’s report show that the President’s policies of cutting the deficit by more than $2.5 trillion in a balanced way are contributing to the most rapid deficit reduction since World War II. The most rapid deficit reduction since World War II.

While there is still more work to be done to cut the deficit, this is important progress because we strengthen America by growing the economy from the middle out. Working with leaders from both parties, President Obama has cut the deficit by more than half when measured as a share of GDP. This is a balanced deficit reduction that cuts waste, asks millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share in taxes, and preserves investments we need in energy, education, and manufacturing to grow the economy and create jobs.

The administration is committed to continuing to work with Congress to create jobs, reduce the deficit, and replace the sequester in a balanced way.

Later this week, we understand that CBO will be putting out a reestimate of the President’s budget, which includes, as you know, his plan to replace the economically damaging sequester with a balanced approach to deficit reduction that would help drive stronger economic growth in the short.”

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney at the 5/15/13 White House Press Conference


The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government. It is bestowed by the President in the name of Congress on members of the United States Armed Forces who distinguish themselves through “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States.

Members of all branches of the armed forces are eligible to receive the medal, and there are three versions; one for the Army, one for the Air Force, and one for the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. The Medal of Honor is bestowed upon an individual by the passing of a Joint Resolution in the Congress; and is then personally presented to the recipient or, in the case of posthumous awards, to next of kin, by the President of the United States, on behalf of the Congress, representing and recognizing the gratitude of the American people as a whole.

Medal of Honor

Chaplain Kapaun will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for his extraordinary heroism while serving with the 3d Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division during combat operations against an armed enemy at Unsan, Korea and as a prisoner of war from November 1-2, 1950.


April 11, 2013
President Barack Obama awards  posthumously, Chaplain (Captain) Emil J. Kapaun
the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry
White House



BRAIN Initiative


Brain Initiative Info graphic

Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative


The NIH Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative is part of a new Presidential focus aimed at revolutionizing our understanding of the human brain. By accelerating the development and application of innovative technologies, researchers will be able to produce a revolutionary new dynamic picture of the brain that, for the first time, shows how individual cells and complex neural circuits interact in both time and space. Long desired by researchers seeking new ways to treat, cure, and even prevent brain disorders, this picture will fill major gaps in our current knowledge and provide unprecedented opportunities for exploring exactly how the brain enables the human body to record, process, utilize, store, and retrieve vast quantities of information, all at the speed of thought.

For more:

What is the NIH Brain Initiative?

Why is the NIH BRAIN Initiative needed?

Why is now the right time for the NIH BRAIN Initiative?

How will the NIH BRAIN Initiative work?

How will the NIH BRAIN Initiative be supported?

NIH Director’s Blog: Welcoming the BRAIN Initiative, April 2, 2013

Charge: NIH BRAIN Working Group (106KB – PDF)

Roster: NIH BRAIN Working Group (114KB – PDF)

NIMH Director’s Blog: Brain Awareness, March 11, 2013

NIH Director’s Blog: The Symphony Inside Your Brain, November 5, 2012

Center for Brain Science: Brainbow External Web Site Policy

Map of human brain

April 02, 2013

Remarks by the President on the BRAIN Initiative and American Innovation

East Room
10:04 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much. (Applause.) Thank you, everybody. Please have a seat. Well, first of all, let me thank Dr. Collins not just for the introduction but for his incredible leadership at NIH. Those of you who know Francis also know that he’s quite a gifted singer and musician. So I was asking whether he was going to be willing to sing the introduction — (laughter) — and he declined.

But his leadership has been extraordinary. And I’m glad I’ve been promoted Scientist-in-Chief. (Laughter.) Given my grades in physics, I’m not sure it’s deserving. But I hold science in proper esteem, so maybe that gives me a little credit.

Today I’ve invited some of the smartest people in the country, some of the most imaginative and effective researchers in the country — some very smart people to talk about the challenge that I issued in my State of the Union address: to grow our economy, to create new jobs, to reignite a rising, thriving middle class by investing in one of our core strengths, and that’s American innovation.

Ideas are what power our economy. It’s what sets us apart. It’s what America has been all about. We have been a nation of dreamers and risk-takers; people who see what nobody else sees sooner than anybody else sees it. We do innovation better than anybody else — and that makes our economy stronger. When we invest in the best ideas before anybody else does, our businesses and our workers can make the best products and deliver the best services before anybody else.

And because of that incredible dynamism, we don’t just attract the best scientists or the best entrepreneurs — we also continually invest in their success. We support labs and universities to help them learn and explore. And we fund grants to help them turn a dream into a reality. And we have a patent system to protect their inventions. And we offer loans to help them turn those inventions into successful businesses.

For more:


April 02, 2013

Fact Sheet: BRAIN Initiative

In his State of the Union address, the President laid out his vision for creating jobs and building a growing, thriving middle class by making a historic investment in research and development.

Today, at a White House event, the President unveiled a bold new research initiative designed to revolutionize our understanding of the human brain. Launched with approximately $100 million in the President’s Fiscal Year 2014 Budget, the BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) Initiative ultimately aims to help researchers find new ways to treat, cure, and even prevent brain disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, and traumatic brain injury.

The BRAIN Initiative will accelerate the development and application of new technologies that will enable researchers to produce dynamic pictures of the brain that show how individual brain cells and complex neural circuits interact at the speed of thought. These technologies will open new doors to explore how the brain records, processes, uses, stores, and retrieves vast quantities of information, and shed light on the complex links between brain function and behavior.

This initiative is one of the Administration’s “Grand Challenges” – ambitious but achievable goals that require advances in science and technology. In his remarks today, the President called on companies, research universities, foundations, and philanthropists to join with him in identifying and pursuing the Grand Challenges of the 21st century.

The BRAIN Initiative includes:

* Key investments to jumpstart the effort
* Strong academic leadership
* Public-private partnerships
* Maintaining our highest ethical standards

For more:

BRAIN Initiative Challenges Researchers to Unlock Mysteries of Human Mind

Francis Collins and Arati Prabhakar April 02, 2013 10:15 AM EDT

Today at the White House, President Obama unveiled the “BRAIN” Initiative—a bold new research effort to revolutionize our understanding of the human mind and uncover new ways to treat, prevent, and cure brain disorders like Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, autism, epilepsy, and traumatic brain injury.

The BRAIN Initiative — short for Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies — builds on the President’s State of the Union call for historic investments in research and development to fuel the innovation, job creation, and economic growth that together create a thriving middle class.

The Initiative promises to accelerate the invention of new technologies that will help researchers produce real-time pictures of complex neural circuits and visualize the rapid-fire interactions of cells that occur at the speed of thought. Such cutting-edge capabilities, applied to both simple and complex systems, will open new doors to understanding how brain function is linked to human behavior and learning, and the mechanisms of brain disease.

In his remarks this morning, the President highlighted the BRAIN Initiative as one of the Administration’s “Grand Challenges” – ambitious but achievable goals that require advances in science and technology to accomplish. The President called on companies, research universities, foundations, and philanthropies to join with him in identifying and pursuing additional Grand Challenges of the 21st century—challenges that can create the jobs and industries of the future while improving lives.

In addition to fueling invaluable advances that improve lives, the pursuit of Grand Challenges can create the jobs and industries of the future.




“If we want to make the best products, we also have to invest in the best ideas… Every dollar we invested to map the human genome returned $140 to our economy… Today, our scientists are mapping the human brain to unlock the answers to Alzheimer’s… Now is not the time to gut these job-creating investments in science and innovation. Now is the time to reach a level of research and development not seen since the height of the Space Race.”

President Barack Obama, 2013 State of the Union


President Obama’s 2013 – 2017 Cabinet


President Obama's Cabinet

President Obama’s Cabinet

The tradition of the Cabinet dates back to the beginnings of the Presidency itself. Established in Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution, the Cabinet’s role is to advise the President on any subject he may require relating to the duties of each member’s respective office.

The Cabinet includes the Vice President and the heads of 15 executive departments — the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs, as well as the Attorney General.

The 15 Secretaries from the executive departments are appointed by the President, and they must be confirmed by a majority vote (51 votes) of the Senate. They cannot be a member of Congress or hold any other elected office. Cabinet appointments are for the duration of the administration, but the President may dismiss any member at any time, without approval of the Senate. In addition, they are expected to resign when a new President takes office.

Over the next few days President Obama will be nominating his choices to fill the vacancies for his 2013-2016 Cabinet.


In order of succession to the Presidency:

Vice President of the United States
Joseph R. Biden

Department of State
Secretary John Kerry

Department of the Treasury
Secretary Jack Lew

Department of Defense
Secretary Chuck Hagel

Department of Justice
Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr.

Department of the Interior
Secretary Sally Jewell

Department of Agriculture
Secretary Thomas J. Vilsack

Department of Commerce
Secretary Penny Pritzker

Department of Labor
Secretary Thomas Perez

Department of Health and Human Services
Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell

Department of Housing and Urban Development
Secretary Julián Castro

Department of Transportation
Secretary  Anthony Foxx

Department of Energy
Secretary Ernest Moniz

Department of Education
Secretary Arne Duncan

Department of Veterans Affairs
Secretary Robert A. McDonald

Department of Homeland Security
Secretary Jeh Johnson

The following positions have the status of Cabinet-rank:

White House Chief of Staff
Denis McDonough

Director B. Todd Jones (Nominated 2011, Confirmed 2013)

Director of the Central Intelligence Agency
John O. Brennan

Environmental Protection Agency
Secretary Gina McCarthy

Office of Management & Budget
Director Shaun Donovan

United States Trade Representative
Ambassador Michael Froman

United States Ambassador to the United Nations
Ambassador Samantha Power

Council of Economic Advisers
Chairman Jason Furman

Small Business Administration
Maria Contreras-Sweet


* Acting Directors


For All WH Nominations & Appointments:


“As Jonathan Cohn pointed out in The New Republic, filibusters of presidential agency nominations were once very rare, happening only two times each to Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. Bill Clinton had nine nominations blocked, and George W. Bush had seven. Obama is “already up to 16 blocks,” Cohn noted.”



US National Debt 2012



$12.7 Trillion Added to the Debt Over the Last Decade

Graph source:

For the last decade, we have spent more money than we take in. In the year 2000, the government had a budget surplus. But instead of using it to pay off debt, the money was spent on trillions of dollars in the nex tax cuts, while two wars and an expensive prescription drug program were simply added to our nationsl’s credit card…To mkae matters worse, the recession meant that there was less money coming in, and it required us to spend even more – on tax cuts for the middle-class families to spur the economy; on unemployment insurance; on aid to states so we could prevent more teachers and firefighters and police officers from being laid off.

Because neither party is blameless for the decision that led to this problem, both parties have a responsibility to solve it.

President Obama

Think Obama’s a huge spender? Then you need to see these two charts.

January 24, 2013 at 9:01 am Posted by Ezra Klein – washingtonpost

On Tuesday, Kevin Drum posted this chart showing the growth in total government spending — that means federal, state and local — adjusted by population (“per capita”).


The takeaway, Drum says, is that “total government spending didn’t go up much during the Clinton era, and it’s actually declined during under President Obama. In the last two decades, it’s only gone up significantly during the Bush era, the same era in which taxes were cut dramatically.”

But some said Drum’s chart was a trick, as it looked at total government spending rather than just federal spending. So on Wednesday, he posted a second chart. This one only included federal spending and it didn’t adjust for population growth. The only thing is adjusts for is inflation. Here it is:


For more:


Five Things You Should Know About What Steps President Obama has taken in regards to  the National Debt:

1. The Campaign to Cut Waste is hunting down and eliminating misspent tax dollars in every agency and department across the federal government. Already, the Administration has identified $3 billion in information technology cost reductions, is shutting down hundreds of duplicative data centers, and getting rid of excess federal real estate. Learn more

2. For the first time in 13 years, the federal government decreased contract spending. In 2010, contract spending was $80 billion less than it would have been, had it continued to grow at the same rate as it did under the Bush Administration. Learn more
3. In the 2012 Budget, the President proposed 211 terminations, reductions and savings measures which will save more than $33 billion in 2012 and $400 billion over the next decade. Learn more (PDF)
4. President Obama’s directive to the federal government to use common-sense and buy office supplies in bulk should save us up to $200 million over the next four years. Learn more (PDF)
5. Federal agencies are using the latest technology to combat fraud and slash erroneous payments and have made significant strides, tripling the amount of improper payments to contractors recaptured last year. Learn more

The President discussed the need to tackle our deficits over the long term through tax reform that asks those who can afford it to pay their fair share and modest adjustments to health care programs like Medicare. Though the issues of debt and deficits have dominated much of the recent conversation in Washington, the most immediate concern of most Americans is job creation and growing our economy. That is why President Obama laid out some common sense steps that can be taken right away to spur economic growth such as extending the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance:

Specifically, we should extend the payroll tax cut as soon as possible, so that workers have more money in their paychecks next year and businesses have more customers next year.

We should continue to make sure that if you’re one of the millions of Americans who’s out there looking for a job, you can get the unemployment insurance that your tax dollars contributed to.  That will also put money in people’s pockets and more customers in stores.

In fact, if Congress fails to extend the payroll tax cut and the unemployment insurance benefits that I’ve called for, it could mean 1 million fewer jobs and half a percent less growth.  This is something we can do immediately, something we can do as soon as Congress gets back.

To learn more about President Obama’s plan for reform and fiscal responsibility:


U.S. Sees First Debt Reduction Since 2007 as Revenue Rises

Apr 29, 2013 1:41 PM PT By Meera Louis – bloomberg

The U.S. Treasury Department (USGG10YR) projected it will reduce government debt this quarter for the first time in six years as tax receipts exceed forecasts and spending diminishes.

The pay-down in net marketable debt was estimated at $35 billion in the April-June period, compared with a projection three months ago for net borrowing of $103 billion, the department said in a statement today in Washington. Treasury officials also see net borrowing of $223 billion in the quarter starting July 1. The estimates set the stage for the department’s quarterly refunding announcement on May 1, when debt issuance plans will be released.

A sustained economic expansion and across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration may help deliver the first net decline in debt since 2007, when the government lowered borrowing by $139 billion before the global financial crisis spawned the worst recession since the 1930s. While the economy’s strength is helping boost tax revenue, total U.S. public debt outstanding is approaching $17 trillion.

“This is a substantial revision,” said Thomas Simons, a government debt economist at Jefferies LLC in New York. Still, “it is possible that Treasury will take a wait-and-see approach in evaluating the sustainability of the recent surge in tax receipts before making adjustments” to debt auctions, he said.

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