First Lady Michelle Obama

First Lady Michelle Obama

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama (born January 17, 1964) is an American lawyer and writer. She is married to the 44th and current President of the United States, Barack Obama, and is the first African-American First Lady of the United States. Raised on the South Side of Chicago, she is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School, and spent the early part of her legal career working at the law firm Sidley Austin, where she met Barack. Subsequently, she worked as part of the staff of Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley, and for the University of Chicago Medical Center.

Throughout 2007 and 2008, Obama helped campaign for her husband’s presidential bid. She delivered a keynote address at the 2008 Democratic National Convention and spoke at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. She and her husband have two daughters together. She has become a fashion icon and role model for women, and an advocate for poverty awareness, nutrition, physical activity, and healthy eating.[

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First Lady of the United States of America

First Lady Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama is a lawyer, writer, and the wife of the 44th and current President, Barack Obama. She is the first African-American First Lady of the United States. She has become a role model for women and an advocate for poverty awareness, higher education, and healthy living.

When people ask First Lady Michelle Obama to describe herself, she doesn’t hesitate to say that first and foremost, she is Malia and Sasha’s mom.

But before she was a mother — or a wife, lawyer, or public servant — she was Fraser and Marian Robinson’s daughter.

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  • Attended the Whitney M. Young Magnet School where she was was a member of the National Honor Society, served as student council treasurer and graduated from high school in 1981 as salutatorian
  • Graduated in 1985 with a bachelor’s in sociology and a minor in African-American studies from Princeton University
  • Earned a degree in 1988 from Harvard Law School
  • Worked at the Chicago law firm of Sidley & Austin
  • In the early 1990s she decided to leave the corporate law world to work in the mayor’s office and then in the city’s office of planning and development
  • In 1993 became the founding executive director of Public Allies Chicago, an AmeriCorps national service program that provided training to young adults pursuing careers in the public sector
  • In 1996, she had a position with the University of Chicago
  • Served as a salaried board member of TreeHouse Foods, Inc.
  • In 2005 she was a vice president at the University Medical Center
  • Serves on the board of directors of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • On January 20, 2009 she became The First Lady of the United States of America
  • As First Lady she has volunteered homeless shelters and food banks
  • As FLOTUS she has advocated for public service
  • As FLOTUS she has advocated on behalf of military families
  • As FLOTUS she has supported  the organic movement
  • As FLOTUS she has promoted the benefits of  education
  • As FLOTUS she has an initiative to reversing the 21st century trend of childhood obesity with a program named  “Let’s Move!”
  • As FLOTUS she has an initiative to help working women balance career and family
  • As FLOTUS she has promoted the arts and arts education
  • CSPAN First Ladies Video Series Special: Michelle Obama

List of things named after Michelle Obama, the wife to the 44th President of the United States Barack Obama and current First Lady of the United States





Michelle Obama Elementary School, Panorama City, CA
Michelle Obama Elementary School, Panorama City, CA


FLOTUS 50th Birthday

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson
Born: January 17, 1964
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.

Obama Biden


141 thoughts on “First Lady Michelle Obama

  1. WH

    Monday Jan. 17, 2011

    All Times Eastern

    VP Biden and Dr. Jill Biden participate in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service in Delaware.

    8:00 AM
    9:00 AM
    10:00 AM
    10:15 AM

    Pres Obama receives the presidential daily briefing
    11:00 AM

    Pres Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama participate in a service project, DC area, Washington
    12:00 PM
    1:00 PM
    2:00 PM
    3:00 PM
    4:00 PM
    5:00 PM
    6:00 PM

  2. First Lady Michelle Obama

    When people ask First Lady Michelle Obama to describe herself, she doesn’t hesitate to say that first and foremost, she is Malia and Sasha’s mom.

    But before she was a mother — or a wife, lawyer or public servant — she was Fraser and Marian Robinson’s daughter.

    The Robinsons lived in a brick bungalow on the South Side of Chicago. Fraser was a pump operator for the Chicago Water Department, and despite being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at a young age, he hardly ever missed a day of work. Marian stayed home to raise Michelle and her older brother Craig, skillfully managing a busy household filled with love, laughter, and important life lessons.

    A product of Chicago public schools, Mrs. Obama studied sociology and African-American studies at Princeton University. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1988, she joined the Chicago law firm Sidley & Austin, where she later met the man who would become the love of her life.

    After a few years, Mrs. Obama decided her true calling was working with people to serve their communities and their neighbors. She served as assistant commissioner of planning and development in Chicago’s City Hall before becoming the founding executive director of the Chicago chapter of Public Allies, an AmeriCorps program that prepares youth for public service.

    For the entire article:

    • BarackObamadotcom | February 11, 2008

      Larry King carries an extended interview with Michelle Obama, covering a wide range of topics concerning the campaign, her family, and more.

    • BarackObamadotcom | August 26, 2008

      Michelle Obama spoke at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, CO, on August 25th, 2008.

    • The Complex ‘Tapestry’ Of Michelle Obama’s Ancestry

      7/1/12 by NPR STAFF

      When Michelle Obama’s great-great-great grandmother was 8 years old, her life underwent a dramatic change.

      Melvinia Shields was a slave who grew up at a South Carolina estate with a relatively large community of slaves she knew well. But then she was moved to a small farm in northern Georgia where she was one of only three slaves; most white people in the area didn’t own any.

      “What’s fascinating about Michelle Obama’s family and her ancestors is that it shows us the breadth and depth of the experience of African-Americans during that time,” says Rachel Swarns, a reporter for The New York Times.

      Swarns, who traced Obama’s family tree back generations, has written a book about it, American Tapestry: The Story of the Black, White and Multiracial ancestors of Michelle Obama.

      She finds that the first lady has a complex lineage. Swarns says Melvinia later had a baby fathered by a white man, and today Obama has white relatives living all across the South.

      Swarns discussed that revelation, as well as how she traced Obama’s family tree and met some of the first lady’s white relatives, with Laura Sullivan, host weekends on All Things Considered.

      For the entire article and audio interview:

    • Who pays for first lady’s fabulous fashions?

      6/2/14 By NANCY BENAC – Associated Press

      WASHINGTON (AP) — Michelle Obama’s fashionable clothing has become something of a given in her five-plus years as first lady. Yet her wardrobe still is the subject of endless public fascination and one long-simmering question: Who pays for those incredible outfits?

      It’s no small matter. Her high-low fashion choices mix everyday, off-the-rack fare with custom creations from top designers whose gowns can run into five figures.

      In recent weeks, Mrs. Obama has turned heads with a forest-green Naeem Khan dress at the opening of a new costume gallery at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. She shimmered in a silver Marchesa gown at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner. And her flowered shirtdress for a Mother’s Day tea at the White House (recycled from an earlier event) hit the just right note for an audience of military moms.

      It takes money to pull that off, month after month. Those three dresses by themselves could add up to more than $15,000 retail, not to mention accessories such as shoes and jewelry.

      Is it the taxpayers who foot the bill? No. (Despite what critics say.)

      Is it Mrs. Obama? Usually, but not always.

      View galleryFILE – This May 5, 2014 file photo shows first lady …
      FILE – This May 5, 2014 file photo shows first lady Michelle Obama arriving at Metropolitan Museum o …
      Does she pay full price? Not likely.

      Does she ever borrow gowns from designers? No.

      The financing of the first lady’s wardrobe is something that the Obama White House is loath to discuss. It’s a subject that has bedeviled presidents and their wives for centuries. First ladies are expected to dress well, but the job doesn’t come with a clothing allowance or a salary.

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    • What does Michelle Obama need? Ask Kristen Jarvis, her former chief of stuff.

      4/14/15 By Krissah Thompson – washingtonpost

      She was Michelle Obama’s intermediary, her message-passer, her play-date arranger, her mentee, her purse, her occasional workout buddy, her escort, her surrogate little sister, her scheduler, her coin collector, her human briefing book, her travel concierge and her constant car companion.

      But you’ve probably never heard of Kristen Jarvis. Discreet and loyal, Jarvis spent the past seven years by Obama’s side. She ended her long run on the first lady’s staff this month after deciding it was time to start a new chapter.

      It was a difficult decision. Jarvis, 34, entered the inner orbit of the East Wing by embodying the kind of deep, personal commitment the Obamas value. As an all-purpose personal aide, her role was roughly comparable to the job held by Reggie Love, the president’s longtime “body man.” But while Love, a charismatic former Duke University basketball player, published a memoir after his four-year White House stint, it was not until Jarvis prepared to leave the first family’s employ that she was willing to reflect publicly on her time there.

      Even then, she was careful. Speaking to a reporter at a Starbucks two blocks from the White House, Jarvis brought along a member of the first lady’s communications team and shared only the most positive aspects of her experience. Michelle Obama has a reputation as being a perfectionist, but Jarvis recalled the first lady as perfectly calm during a recent minor catastrophe, when her teleprompter went missing just before a speech in New York.

      “Honestly for her, what you see is what you get,” Jarvis said, adding that the first lady gave the speech from her notes. “She just really instills the confidence in you.”

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  3. Michelle Obama On Love, Family & Politics

    Feb. 15, 2008 By Katie Couric – CBS

    Katie Couric: It’s been about a year since your husband decided to go for it and run for President. How would you describe the last year?

    Michelle Obama: You know, it’s been a whirlwind. When you think about what he’s been able to put together in less than a year, I mean, we went from the beginning of this thing where there was an inevitable candidate. As far as the polls and the pundits were concerned, this race was over. And then you sort of start building an organization and raising money and meeting people and having conversations.

    And it’s just the momentum has continued to grow over the course of this year. And what has been just completely heart warming is to see that people are really hungry for something different. And I’m not trying … to be too political about that. I mean, truly people … want something different for themselves and for their lives.

    And people are … feeling the pressure of the ever-increasing gap. They’re worried about their kids and they’re worried about their health and the challenges … are similar. It transcends race and political party. I mean, people are serious about moving this country in a different direction. And that makes me feel good to know that, you know, I’m not alone in my frustration. It’s been a good year.

    Couric: I was gonna ask you … do you sense a frustration in people? Because you look at the approval ratings for the president and they’re quite low. But the approval rating for Congress [is] even lower.

    Obama: Yeah. Yeah, no, people are frustrated. I mean, I think they have a sense that there’s something broken in our politics. And it’s taken a little while because I think Americans are patient. And they give people a chance. And folks don’t like fundamental change.

    For the entire article:

    • CBS | August 28, 2008

      “Only On The Web”: Michelle Obama talks about the historical significance of Barack Obama’s nomination as the Democratic candidate for president. Katie Couric reports.

  4. BarackObamadotcom | June 18, 2008

    Michelle Obama co-hosts the view with Barbara Walters, Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, and Sherri Shepherd.

  5. He Did the Right Thing – CNN Interview “When Michelle Met Barack”

    Friday January 2, 2009 By Linda Lowen, Guide

    Like so many other professional women focused on their careers, attorney Michelle Robinson wasn’t going to ‘go there’ when a coworker insisted that they go out on a date.

    A first year associate at the law firm Sidley Austin in Chicago, she resisted the romantic overtures of the first year law student assigned to her. She’d been chosen as his advisor because they had several things in common; both had attended the same law school (Harvard) and were minority students.

    Yet Michelle had formed a specific impression of him even before he stepped foot in the office. She’d seen his file and dismissed him as a “very intellectual nerd.” She was prepared to be polite — nothing more.

    But when Michelle Robinson actually met Barack Obama, she was pleasantly surprised.

    She tells CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux, “He was cuter than I thought he’d be.”

    “I just found him intriguing in every way that you can imagine. He was funny, he was self-deprecating, he didn’t take himself too seriously. He could laugh at himself – we clicked right away.”

    But she didn’t date him. She passed him off to friends. Because that’s what professional women focused on their careers do. “I was taking my job as an advisor — I was his advisor — very seriously. And it was my first responsibility as an associate….I didn’t see a relationship coming out of that.”

    Many women in her situation say that it doesn’t feel right to date someone they supervise. Understandably, that’s where Michelle was coming from.

    For the entire article:

  6. Oprah Talks to Michelle Obama

    February 22, 2009 O, The Oprah Magazine

    Our new First Lady on the surprises of life in the White House (“If you want pie, there’s pie! If something breaks, it’s fixed. In an hour”)…the rules she’s laid down for Malia and Sasha (“I want the kids to be treated like children, not little princesses”)…and how she hopes to use “one of the best jobs in the world” to help women transform their lives.

    On the second floor of the White House, the Yellow Oval Room—part of the First Family’s private residence—offers a stunning view of the nation’s capital. The Washington Monument stretches into the heavens. The Lincoln Memorial sits above the glassy water of the Reflecting Pool. In the distance, you can see the U.S. Capitol, where the world’s attention was focused on January 20 as millions gathered to witness an event many had thought would never happen. This room is where I interviewed First Lady Michelle Obama in February, and as I gazed out the windows and took in the view, I was struck by the immense legacy she and her family have inherited. I felt the weight of history, and I understood what she means when she says, as she often does, “This is not about us.”

    Yet for all the majesty of the White House, the First Lady has already infused it with a palpable ease; her presence makes the place feel open and approachable. When we sit down to talk, she seems as relaxed as she did when I first interviewed her and her husband in their Chicago apartment in 2004. “This room has the best light in the house,” she tells me as we settle in, shoes off, on a comfortable sofa. “And there’s pie here, too. The pie in the White House is dangerously good.”

    For the entire article:

  7. BarackObamadotcom | August 25, 2008

    A short biography of Michelle Obama that introduces the Obama family to families across America. It played Monday night at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

  8. Michelle Obama at Home in the White House

    Now into her second year as First Lady, the Mom in Chief talks with GH editor in chief Rosemary Ellis about overcoming her biggest fear, keeping her marriage close, raising healthy kids — and her one secret vice

    January 16, 2011 By Rosemary Ellis-

    RE: Let’s start by talking about the past year. What did you think was going to be hard that was surprisingly easy or more fun than you thought?

    MO: Living here [at the White House] is a lot of fun, primarily because the people who work here have a warmth and a way about them; they make every family feel special. And you know, there’s no way that you could imagine that having over 90 people working in the house that you live in would still feel like home. But it does. And that’s a very pleasant surprise.

    RE: What’s been harder than you thought it would be?
    MO: I don’t think that anything I have done has been hard. It’s just that the constant worry still exists when you’re a mom that the decisions you make in your life are negatively impacting your kids. I worried about that before I was here. I want to make sure that the girls are doing well, and that they feel like they have the love and attention they deserve from their parents, regardless of what positions we hold. And I think I’ll always worry about that until they’re 35 with their own kids.

    RE: I don’t think you ever stop worrying about that. That’s what I hear, anyway.

    MO: Right, right. [Laughs]

    For the entire article:

    • Barack and Michelle Obama Do Interview With Barbara Walters

      Nov 26, 2010

      Barbara Walters sat down to talk with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama in an interview to air on Friday night on ABC.

      The Obamas recalled the night when republicans took back the House of Representatives by storm on election night weeks ago.

      Michelle Obama said that she fell asleep early but said there will will be “tough” times ahead.

      “My understanding is that, number one, every president in history has lost Congress at the midterms,” she told Walters. “Maybe that’s overstating it, but it’s happened for every president in my lifetime … It’s the norm.”

      On the Transportation Security Administration’s decision to place body scanners and use pat-down security measures in airports, President Obama said “this is gonna be something that evolves,” noting that his administration will “have to work on it.”

      “I understand people’s frustrations with it, but I also know that if there was an explosion in the air that killed a couple of hundred people … and it turned out that we could have prevented it possibly … that would be something that would be pretty upsetting to most of us—including me,” he added.

      For the entire article:

  9. sabrinawho | January 18, 2009

    President-elect Barack Obama takes the stage in Wilmington, Delaware on Saturday, Jan. 17, 2009 during his Whistle Stop inauguration train trip. A raucous crowd sings “Happy Birthday” to Michelle Obama. The Obamas are accompanied by soon-to-be veep Joe Biden & his wife, Jill.

    • Happy Birthday To First Lady Michelle Obama

      January 17, 2011

      Birthday wishes are due First Lady Michelle Obama, who turns 47 today. As part of the national Day of Service to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Mrs. Obama will today join President Obama in a local service project. It’s the start of a very busy week for the First Lady. (Above: Last year, East Wing staffers presented Mrs. Obama with a birthday cake created by Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses)

      On Wednesday, after a colorful and traditional South Lawn Arrival Ceremony welcoming China’s President Hu Jintao to the White House for a State Visit, Mrs. Obama will take her own star turn in the diplomatic spotlight. During a morning visit to Howard University, Mrs. Obama will deliver remarks to a group of high school and college students to discuss the State Visit and the importance of young Americans engaging people around the world and studying abroad.

      In the evening, the President and Mrs. Obama will host the State Dinner in President Hu’s honor.

      On Thursday, Mrs. Obama will join business leaders and unveil a new initiative “impacting food formulation, availability and affordability.” Call it an incredible birthday gift from Mrs. Obama to America; the project is huge, according to an ObFo source. It could profoundly and fundamentally alter the nation’s foodscape. Mrs. Obama was originally scheduled to make the announcement last week, but delayed it in deference to the tragic events in Tucson, Arizona.

      For the entire article:

  10. May you have a blessed birthday “First Mom”. Get some well deserved rest and enjoy.

  11. I found these clips of people at the
    memorial service in Tucson…The first is
    really emtional and the second was a homemade
    first-hand account of how folks were
    behaving in the stands…

  12. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords condition improves


    TUCSON, Ariz. – U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has surmounted one hurdle after another since she was gravely wounded in the Arizona shootings. Her latest was especially significant — a condition upgrade from critical to serious.

    Her doctors’ decision Sunday was yet another sign of a remarkable recovery since she was shot in the head Jan. 8 when a gunman opened fire as she met constituents in a Tucson supermarket parking lot. Six people died and 13 were wounded, including the congresswoman.

    She had been in critical condition since the attack but doctors were positive, and at times almost giddy, in describing her progress.

    She responded from the moment she arrived at the emergency room, at first just squeezing a doctor’s hand. Then she raised two fingers.

    Giffords opened her unbandaged eye shortly after President Barack Obama’s bedside visit Wednesday.

    Then, more milestones — which doctors said were all indicative of higher cognitive function — were achieved, all with her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, at her side.

    For the entire article:

  13. Young AZ victim’s dad: Boston girl received organs

    January 16, 2011 AP

    The father of the youngest victim of the Arizona massacre says some of her organs have been donated to a young girl in the Boston area.

    John Green tells The Boston Globe in Sunday’s edition that he received a phone call about the transplant, but he doesn’t know any other details about the donation.

    He says the call “really lifted” his spirit, and he and his wife are proud parents once again of their daughter, “who has done another amazing thing.”

    Nine-year-old Christina Taylor Green was born Sept. 11, 2001.

    She had just been elected to her Tucson school’s student council, which is why she went to see Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

    A spokesman for the New England Organ Bank says he can’t comment on donations.

    The Arizona Republic reported Friday that Tucson’s bishop told the crowd at Christina’s funeral that her organs had been donated.

  14. January 17, 2011

    President and First Lady, Vice President and Dr. Biden, Cabinet Secretaries, Senior Administration Officials to Honor Martin Luther King, Jr., Day of Service

    WASHINGTON, DC – In celebration of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Day of Service and in honor of Dr. King’s life and legacy, the President and the First Lady, the Vice President and Dr. Biden, Cabinet Secretaries, and senior Administration officials will participate in memorial events and community service projects in the Washington, D.C., area, Atlanta, Georgia, and elsewhere.

    Led by the Corporation for National and Community Service and the King Center, the Martin Luther King, Jr., Day of Service is an opportunity for all Americans to come together to help meet the needs of their communities and make an ongoing commitment to service throughout the year. This year’s Day of Service will include thousands of projects in all corners of the country.

    “Martin Luther King, Jr., lived his life for others, dedicating his work to ensuring equal opportunity, freedom, and justice for all,” said President Obama. “I encourage every American to observe this holiday in honor of Dr. King’s selfless legacy by volunteering in their own communities and by dedicating time each day to bettering the lives of those around us.”

    For more on the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Day of Service, please visit the Corporation for National and Community Service at

    * On January 17, at 11 am, the President and First Lady will participate in a service project in Washington, D.C. Further details are forthcoming.
    * The Vice President and Dr. Biden will participate in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service in Wilmington, DE. Further details are forthcoming.
    * On January 18, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will speak at the opening convocation of the Howard School of Divinity. Her remarks will focus on the Affordable Care Act as a victory for civil rights.
    * On January 18, Secretary Steven Chu will host a Martin Luther King, Jr., Day celebration in the auditorium at the Department of Energy.
    * On January 18, Ambassador Ron Kirk will deliver remarks at a Martin Luther King Jr., reception at the World Bank.
    * On January 17, Secretary Hilda L. Solis will participate in the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor’s Martin Luther King Day Parade in Los Angeles, California.
    * On January 17, Secretary Arne Duncan will keynote at a breakfast with Reverend Al Sharpton and the National Action Network in the morning and will participate in a service project with City Year at Kramer Middle School, 1700 Q Street, SE, DC in the afternoon.
    * On January 17, Secretary Ray LaHood and White House Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes will join Department of Transportation employees and other volunteers for Martin Luther King Day of Service events at Ballou Senior High School.
    * On January 17, Secretary Eric Shinseki will serve meals at So Others Might Eat (S.O.M.E.) in Washington, D.C.
    * On January 17, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson will attend a breakfast with Reverend Al Sharpton, followed by a Kid Power Inc. Citizen Farm Community Service Event at Tubman Elementary School in Washington, D.C.
    * On January 17, Ambassador Susan Rice will prepare ‘cold weather’ and literacy kits at Tyler Elementary School, 1001 G Street SE, Washington, DC as part of a service project with Greater DC Cares.
    * On January 17, Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew will participate in a City Year New York service event at Intermediate School 292 and join over 1,700 volunteers taking part in City Year New York/AmeriCorps activities in Brooklyn and across New York City.
    * On January 17, at 12:30 pm, OPM Director John Berry will attend a Youth Service Opportunities Project at the Church of Epiphany in Washington, D.C. In the afternoon he will attend a Kid, Power Inc. event at Calvary Baptist Church.
    * On January 17, Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams and Deputy Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet will prepare and serve dinners at Miriam’s Kitchen in Washington, D.C. On January 14, at 10am, the Peace Corps will host the Duke Ellington High School Show Choir to honor the memory and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
    * On January 17, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah will prepare, serve, and share in a community meal with over 60 guests who are experiencing homelessness and hunger with the Youth Service Opportunities Project at the Church of Epiphany, 1317 G St NW, Washington, DC.
    * On January 17, Corporation for National and Community Service CEO Patrick Corvington will speak at the 18th Annual Hands On Atlanta Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Service Summit, an event which will include a service project to package up to 10,000 food boxes for hungry Georgians as well as learning sessions on important community issues.
    * On January 17, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) will perform a home maintenance project for a “Gold Star” family – those who have lost a loved one in Iraq or Afghanistan.
    * On January 17, White House Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes will join hundreds of George Washington University Students to participate in school beautification projects at five D.C. public schools.

    For the entire article:

  15. Renewable energy vital to Marines success in Afghanistan

    1/12/2011 Gunnery Sgt. William Price, 1st Marine Division

    FORWARD OPERATING BASE JACKSON, Afghanistan — The Marines and sailors of 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment have tapped into a vital renewable energy source – the sun – to help take the fight to the enemy in Sangin District.

    Since deploying to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, India Company, 3/5, has been working with a new program called ExFOB, or “Experimental Forward Operating Base.”

    “ExFOB has provided immediate energy to my boys,” said Gunnery Sgt. Willy Carrion, ‘I’ Company, company gunnery sergeant. “Logistics and resupply to my men is essential to our mission accomplishment. Marines can sustain themselves on little food and water, but the time we have saved on convoys for fuel and batteries, has been crucial.”

    The Marines and sailors of Dark Horse 3/5 have been using an array of solar equipment since their pre-deployment workup, Enhanced Mohave Viper, at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, in Twentynine Palms, Calif., in July. While there, the Marines were able to save up to eight gallons of fuel, per generator, a day.

    At Patrol Base Sparks, an outpost of Forward Operating Base Jackson, Staff Sgt. David Doty has become the resident expert of the solar-powered gear and is very pleased with this new asset.

    For the entire article:

  16. Marines see school attendance soar in Afghanistan

    1/11/2011 Lance Cpl. Glen Santy, Regimental Combat Team 2 –

    FORWARD OPERATING BASE CAFFERETTA, Afghanistan — As Marines entered the school, chants of children hushed to a whisper. “Salaam Alikum,” said the teachers to the Marines, warmly welcoming them into their classrooms.

    When the Marines of the civil affairs team in support of 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 2, arrived to Now Zad, an estimated 200 students were in attendance at the schools in the local area. Now nearly 500 children attend classes here daily.

    “We’re extremely happy with the number of kids we see in the school right now,” said Cpl. Dustin Brians, a civil affairs specialist, in support of 1st Bn., 8th Marines, RCT-2. “There are more and more kids there every week and attendance continues to grow.”

    One teacher noted that classroom attendance has more than doubled in recent months, indicating that the local children in the area want to learn.

    During class, students learn about the Koran and other religious studies. Their classes also include mathematics, geography, spelling and even some English.

    “When we got here, we almost always had to speak in Pashtu to the children,” said Lance Cpl. Bowen Yu, a civil affairs specialist, in support of 1st Bn., 8th Marines. “Now when we’re walking down the street, they’ll come up saying ‘What’s up?’ or ‘How are you?’ which is great.”

    For the entire article:

  17. Celebrating MLK Day with City Year

    Posted by Jack Lew on January 17, 2011

    Today, I am joining hundreds of volunteers at Intermediate School 292 in Brooklyn as part of City Year’s celebration of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. I look forward to seeing the hundreds of energetic and idealistic City Year corps members who are always an inspiration.

    I helped to launch City Year New York after September 11 as part of our City’s healing, and was honored to chair its board. MLK day at City Year always brings together hundreds of people eager and excited to give something of themselves, not just to honor Dr. King, but also to improve their community.

    Advancing the idea that MLK day should be a “day on” doing service rather than just another “day off”, more than 20 members of the Cabinet are at schools, homeless shelters, and other community service organizations pitching in.

    Pursuing careers in public service is another way to express the commitment to making our communities and nation better and stronger. During the Clinton Administration I was proud to do my part to help pass the national community service legislation that started Americorps, which supports community service projects that are underway every day across our nation.

    It is an honor once again to be working for a President who believes deeply in the power of community service and is committed to creating more opportunities for Americans to serve.

    Just a few months after coming into office, President Obama signed into law the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, expanding opportunities for Americans to serve their communities, scaling AmeriCorps from 75,000 volunteers up to 250,000 by 2017. The President’s Budget proposal for FY2011 backed up the promise of that legislation, providing funding for 105,000 AmeriCorps members in 2011, an increase of 20,000 from 2010, as well as supporting the National Civilian Community Corps program, a full-time program that dispatches teams to areas in need, with a focus on disaster relief. Understanding that outcomes are as important as good intentions, the Serve America Act also created a Social Innovation Fund to invest in ideas that are proven to improve outcomes and “what works” funds in federal agencies to promote effective and innovative programs.

    For the entire article:

  18. As you all know, my favorite NBA player is Raja Bell (who shares my last name and is a former Phoenix Sun) who plays for the Utah Jazz. They are playing a mid-day game today against the Washington Wizards in Washington, D.C. in honor of MLK day. I am so hoping President Obama will attend so that I can have my two favorites in the same place at the same time. Keeping my fingers crossed.

  19. Free Cell Phone Service for the Poor

    1/17/11 Olga Kharif -BusinessWeek

    While there’s no free lunch, Evan Mensch recently discovered that there are free cell phones. After losing his sales job, the 37-year-old single father of two from Perry, Md., couldn’t afford to continue his regular wireless contract. After learning of the federal program that provides wireless service to the oft-unemployed poor, Mensch signed up for a free Kyocera (NYSE:KYO – News) cell phone with 250 free minutes of calling a month through Assurance Wireless, a brand run by Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S – News). “Because of Assurance, I was able to get a call back from an employer,” says Mensch, who received a job offer in November after nearly two years without a job.

    Sprint Nextel isn’t driven by altruism. Serving cash-pinched customers like Mensch can pay off due to federal government subsidies. And finding new customers isn’t hard. With unemployment at 9.4 percent and one in six Americans living in poverty, Sprint and rival America Movl’s (NYSE:AMX – News) TracFone unit have seen an explosion in sign-ups for the government-subsidized free wireless services they’ve offered for more than a year. In some financial reporting periods, Assurance accounts for up to 60 percent of new subscribers to Sprint’s prepaid cellular plans, which don’t require an annual contract, estimates Michael McCormack, an analyst with Nomura Securities International. “There’s a growth opportunity here,” he says. “There’s an untapped market still.”

    For the entire article:

  20. Happy Monday and Happy Martin Luther King Day!


    Kat's Weekday Obama Administration Report, 1/17/11

    Today's report features:

    • Weekly Address: The President calls on Congress and all Americans to debate our differences vigorously but in a spirit of common cause.

    • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: Progress on the monument to Dr. King; the President and his administration participate in a National Day of Service; President's Proclamation of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Federal Holiday.

    • Remembering Richard Holbrooke: The President, President Clinton, and Secretary of State Clinton speak at a service for Richard Holbrooke.

    • US-China relations: Secretary of State Clinton discusses the Obama administration's vision of U.S. China relations for the 21st century.

    • US-China commercial relations: Commerce Secretary Locke discusses leveling the playing field for U.S. businesses in the Chinese market.

    • Healthy homes: HUD awards nearly $127 million in grants to projects to protect children and families from potentially dangerous lead-based paint and other home health and safety hazards.,-1-17-11

  21. Anchorage Daily News, Jan. 16, 2011:

    Native Americans see progress with Obama administration

    By Erika Bolstad

    …. For the most part, tribal leaders say the president has been true to his word. And they’ve been watching, intent on holding accountable the president that many of them helped elect, said Jacqueline Johnson Pata, executive director of the National Congress of American Indians. They took careful notes during the president’s first Tribal Nations conference in 2009; at Obama’s second summit last month, they checked to see what goals had been met in the first year as well as what remains undone….

    Some of the work has been symbolic — Interior Secretary Ken Salazar early in the administration restored the historic painting “Navajos Breaking Camp” in his office, after it had been mothballed during the Bush administration, for example.

    But other accomplishments have had more tangible and far-reaching effects on thousands of people, including the settlement of the long-simmering Cobell lawsuit, which compensates thousands of Native Americans whose land was mismanaged while held in trust by the federal government.

    There’s the passage of the Tribal Law and Order Act, which strengthens law enforcement in Indian Country. There’s the inclusion of Indian Health Service in the health-care law, and the $3.2 billion in stimulus spending, which went to schools, roads on tribal lands and technology upgrades in some of the poorest and most remote corners of the nation….


    1/17/11 POLITICO44

    President Obama and his wife are taking part in a community service project Monday morning to honor the “life and legacy” of Martin Luther King Jr., the White House says.

    The Obamas left the White House shortly after 11 a.m. for the project, at Stuart-Hobson Middle School near Union Station in Washington, the pool reports.

    • The Obamas will probably help with a mentoring project in a school that was once in disrepair.

      velocityg | August 24, 2009

      A documentary about the renovation to the Stuart Hobson Middle School Library by the Catholic University of America Design Collaborative.

  23. The Week Ahead: (Pres) Obama hosts premier

    1/17/11 Michael M. Gleeson & Pete Kasperowicz –

    Capitol Hill will return to a regular schedule this week after delaying legislative business last week in the wake of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).

    Meanwhile, at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, President Obama will host China’s President Hu Jintao at the White House.

    The Senate will be out this week, but the House promises to provide plenty of excitement as it votes to repeal the healthcare bill passed last year. Repealing healthcare was one of the Republicans’ successful campaign planks and, while the repeal is expected to pass in the GOP-controlled House, it will face a tougher time in the Democratic Senate.

    As the Republicans attempt to dismantle healthcare, Obama’s focus will be on his meeting with his Chinese counterpart. The White House said the visit will spotlight the two nations’ growing cooperation “on bilateral, regional and global issues.” In recent months, the (Pres) Obama administration has become increasingly vocal about its concern that China keeps it currency artificially low, a sensitive subject for Beijing. (Pres) Hu and (Pres) Obama will also likely talk about North Korea, an issue important to both countries. China is part of the six-party talks and is the major power in the region.

    After their meetings Wednesday, the Obamas will host a state dinner for (Pres) Hu.

    Monday, Jan. 17

    President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day by participating in service projects. Several members of the administration will be holding service projects on Monday and throughout the week.

    Vice President Biden and Jill Biden will participate in a service project in Wilmington, Del.

    Education Secretary Arne Duncan will keynote at a breakfast with the Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network in the morning and will participate in a service project with City Year at Kramer Middle School in the afternoon.

    Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson will attend the breakfast with Sharpton, followed by a Kid Power Inc. Citizen Farm Community Service Event at Tubman Elementary School.

    Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and White House Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes will join Department of Transportation employees at Ballou Senior High School, where they will help paint murals, cover up graffiti and clean up around the school.

    Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki will serve meals at So Others Might Eat.

    For the entire article:

  24. Good morning, all, and thanks to CR and all of the others for so much enjoyable reading and viewing material.

    What a fine tribute to Mrs. Obama! Happy birthday to her.

  25. Husband discusses Giffords’ progress in interview


    TUCSON, Ariz. – U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has surmounted one hurdle after another since she was gravely wounded in the Arizona shootings. Her latest was especially significant — a condition upgrade from critical to serious.

    Her doctors’ decision Sunday was yet another sign of a remarkable recovery since she was shot in the head Jan. 8 when a gunman opened fire as she met constituents in a Tucson supermarket parking lot. Six people were killed and 13 were wounded, including the congresswoman.

    Giffords is now able to move around well enough that she gave Kelly a back rub from her hospital bed, he told ABC’s Diane Sawyer in an interview that will air Tuesday.

    “(It is) so typical of her. She’s in the ICU. You know, gone through this traumatic injury. And she spent 10 minutes giving me a neck massage,” Kelly explained. “I keep tellin’ her. I’m like, ‘Gabby, you’re in the ICU. You know, you don’t need — you know, you don’t need to be doin’ this.’ But it’s so typical of her that no matter how bad the situation might be for her, you know, she’s lookin’ out for other people.”

    For the entire article:

  26. New hope for hepatitis C, an often hidden disease

    1/17/11 By LAURAN NEERGAARD, AP Medical Writer

    WASHINGTON – There’s new hope for an overlooked epidemic: Two powerful drugs are nearing the market that promise to help cure many more people of liver-attacking hepatitis C — even though most who have the simmering infection don’t know it yet.

    Surprisingly, two-thirds of hepatitis C sufferers are thought to be baby boomers who’ve harbored since their younger, perhaps wilder, years a virus that can take two or three decades to do its damage.

    What could be a treatment revolution is spurring the government to consider if it’s time to start screening aging baby boomers for hepatitis C, just like they get various cancer checks.

    “We’re entering a whole new era of therapy,” says Dr. John Ward, hepatitis chief at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We really want to begin that clarion call for action for this population who’s at risk.”

    For the entire article:

      • She’s the type who will be playing jump rope when she’s 80!

        Thanks, by the way, for using her official First Lady portrait on this thread, which I love so much.

  27. January 17, 2011

    Remarks by the President on Martin Luther King’s Birthday

    Stuart Hobson Middle School
    Washington, D.C.

    11:25 A.M. EST

    THE PRESIDENT: This is just an outstanding program, an example of what Martin Luther King’s birthday should be all about. I want to thank all the mentees and mentors who are participating.

    Dr. King obviously had a dream of justice and equality in our society, but he also had a dream of service, that you could be a drum major for service, that you could lead by giving back to our communities. And that’s what this program is all about and that’s what these participants are all about.

    Michelle and I the girls are extraordinarily proud that each year on Martin Luther King’s birthday this is how we celebrate, is making sure that we’re giving a little something back to the community. And I hope that all the projects that are taking place all across the country on this day are getting similar attention, because this is part of what America is all about. And after a painful week where so many of us were focused on tragedy, it’s good for us to remind ourselves what this country is all about. This kind of service project is what’s best in us and we’re thrilled with everybody who is participating.

    11:26 A.M. EST

  28. Both POTUS and FLOTUS are artistic. Here are examples of the works:

    FLOTUS paints at MLK event

    FLOTUS lends her talent at a past MLK event.

    POTUS doodle

    Sen Obama drew the picture while presiding over the Senate and donated it to the National Doodle Day charity drive. It features Senators Chuck Schumer, the head of the Senate Democrats’ campaign arm; Harry Reid, the majority leader, Dianne Feinstein of California and Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts.

  29. AP, Jan. 17, 2011:

    Michelle Obama’s Birthday at MLK Event

    President Barack obama and first lady Michelle Obama took part in a painting project at a school in Washington to celebrate the legacy of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday. It was also Michelle Obama’s birthday.

    • Obamas volunteer at school to celebrate King holiday

      1/17/11 Reuters

      WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama volunteered at a local school on Monday to mark the Martin Luther King Day holiday, testing his talents as a painter while emphasizing the importance of community service in America.

      Obama, who was joined by his wife, Michelle, and their two daughters, helped out at a middle school, where volunteers were painting “dancing fruit” on the cafeteria walls to encourage healthy eating habits.

      Obama painted an apple that looked like a cartoon character flexing its muscles.

      He said the event helped remind people about true U.S. values after the recent shooting in Arizona that killed six people and wounded 13, including a U.S. congresswoman.

      “After a painful week where so many of us were focused on tragedy, it’s good for us to remind ourselves what this country is all about,” Obama told reporters in brief remarks at the school.

      “This kind of service project is what’s best in us and we’re thrilled with everybody who is participating.”

      Volunteers serenaded the first lady with a version of “Happy Birthday” after she entered the cafeteria. Mrs. Obama, who turned 47 on Monday, seemed touched but embarrassed by the song.

  30. A dream at HHS -On health care, Sebelius cites King

    01/17/11 By ALEX GUILLEN – POLITICO44

    Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius invoked Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday to defend the new health care law, saying that despite progress on equality and civil rights, many blacks and other minorities can’t get the same quality of health care as whites do — a problem she said the new law can help solve.

    “The work of building a more just and equitable society that Dr. King made his life’s great cause is not done,” Sebelius wrote in a blog post. “We still have a long way to go, especially when it comes to reducing health disparities, what Dr. King once called ‘the most shocking and inhumane’ form of injustice.”

    Arguing that blacks and other minorities have less access to preventive care and are more likely to suffer from serious diseases like diabetes and heart disease, Sebelius cited a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study released last week that says while blacks and Hispanics are less likely to have health insurance than whites, that disparity shrank between 2004 and 2008.

    Sebelius said the new law can decrease those disparities in health care access, by giving insurance to about 32 million more Americans, stopping insurance companies from denying coverage to children with “pre-existing conditions,” sending health care workers to “underserved communities,” and funding programs to increase diversity within health care professions.

    For the entire article:

    • Good evening and thank you Tigerfists!

      1. Martin Luther King, Jr.
      2. Barack Obama

      Wow that IS impressive! PBO would probably say that he is only a humble servant and does not deserve it because he is so modest and because he wants the cause to get the attention and not him.

  31. President Obama invites frosh to reception


    President Barack Obama will host a White House reception for newly elected members of Congress the night before he heads to Capitol Hill to give his State of the Union address.

    The proximity of the reception to the president’s speech was merely a scheduling convenience, a White House aide said — but the timing couldn’t be better for the president. Eighty-seven of the 96 new House members are Republicans, as are 12 of the 16 new senators, many of whom won after contentious campaigns in which they railed against the president. The Arizona shooting has voices from both parties calling for more comity, with some members planning to scramble the traditional party seating patterns in a display of bipartisanship. The freshman-only reception offers Obama the chance to set the tone for what could be a less-heated atmosphere than the chamber has displayed in his former appearances before Congress.”

    The annual address will be Jan. 25.

    “This is an olive branch from President Obama, who knows that if we’re going to make any significant progress during this Congress, it’s going to be because members of both parties were willing to step forward and work together,” said one Democratic Senate aide. “But Democrats can’t be the only ones willing to take that step toward the middle. If these new Republicans can’t see beyond their own partisan political priorities to accept the president’s invitation and attend something as innocuous as a bipartisan reception, it’ll be an ominous sign about their willingness to work together to create jobs and strengthen our economy.”

    Read more:

    • President Obama is a wise smart leader. This is a good time to “separate the wheat from the chaff”.

  32. Happy birthday -Michelle’s birthday celebration

    01/17/11 By POLITICO STAFF

    President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama went to dinner on Monday to celebrate her birthday, according to a pool report. The two went to WolfGang Puck’s The Source restaurant, located in the same building as the Newseum.

    From the pool:

    “POTUS and FLOTUS were seen briefly on their way in to the restaurant, and POTUS waved to a person who said hello to him from a balcony a few floors up in the Newseum Residences.”

    • The Source is the first fine dining restaurant in the nation’s capital headlined by Chef Wolfgang Puck. Designed by EDG, the three-level restaurant is the signature dining experience at the Newseum, an interactive museum dedicated to the news. The Source offers two distinct dining experiences as well as a private room located on the lower level that seats up to 40 guests.

      The ground floor bar and lounge where guests enter offers approachable dining in a casual setting with a traditional Japanese Izakaya menu featuring Asian-inspired delights. Upstairs, guests can enjoy a menu that features modern interpretations of Asian dishes. The modern aesthetic design boasts floor-to-ceiling windows that line the restaurant and a two-story, temperature-controlled glass wine wall linking the main floor with the upstairs that holds more than 2,000 bottles of the restaurant’s impressive collection.

  33. Meta and CR, I just saw on my local news here in Southern Cal that this guy (can’t remember his name) is trying to pass a law banning carrying guns openly here. I did not realize that we had that law here in CA. I would definitely vote for this ban. This is not the wild west. As long as I have been here, I have never seen anyone openly carrying a gun except the police.

    • Gun laws in California per Wikipedia:

      California law (53071 GC) restricts county and city authorities from enacting firearm regulations. This provides for uniform firearm laws and prevents situations found in other states (such as New York City) where traveling with an otherwise legal firearm could put a citizen at risk of violating local city ordinances.

      Because of their inability to regulate firearms directly some cities, such as Los Angeles, have enacted ammunition regulations.

      California law provides that the Sheriff of a county or a city Police Chief may issue a license to carry a concealed weapon upon proof that the person applying is of good moral character and that good cause exists for the issuance.While it is generally believed to be extremely difficult to obtain a license to carry a concealed weapon (CCW) in California, the difficulty varies greatly by city and county of residence. In some rural counties, qualified applicants are usually successful in obtaining a license, while some cities and counties, such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, are extremely restrictive in what they perceive to be “good cause”.

      For the entire article:

      • Thanks CR. I always forget about checking Wikipedia. 🙂 What confused me was this citizen walking around openly carrying his gun.

    • Thanks COS that was too cool! First Lady Michelle is the most popular American political figure ever! 🙂

  34. WH

    Tuesday Jan. 18, 2011

    All Times Eastern

    7:00 AM
    7:45 AM

    VP Biden hosts a breakfast meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
    8:00 AM
    9:00 AM
    10:00 AM
    10:15 AM

    Pres Obama receives the presidential daily briefing.
    10:45 AM

    Pres Obama meets with senior advisers.
    11:00 AM

    VP Biden meets with Rep. Dave Camp.
    12:00 PM

    Sec Clinton meets with Sec of Defense Robert Gates and National Security Adviser Tom Donilon at the White House.

    R Gibbs briefs the press.
    1:00 PM
    2:00 PM
    3:00 PM
    3:20 PM

    Pres Obama receives the economic daily briefing.
    4:00 PM

    VPBiden greets Pres Hu of China at Andrews Air Force Base.
    4:30 PM

    Pres Obama meets with Sec Clinton and Sec Gates.
    5:00 PM
    6:00 PM
    6:30 PM

    Pres Obama hosts a private dinner for Pres Hu.
    7:00 PM

    • POTUS podium

      Jan 18 Live Feed Schedule

      12:00 PM EST
      Briefing by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs – The White House

      1:30 PM EST
      Greening America’s Cities
      A White House Policy Briefing – The White House

      4:00 PM EST
      VP Biden greets Pres Hu of China at Andrews Air Force Base.


      12:00 PM EST
      Briefing by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs – The White House

      12:00 PM EST
      Former President Bill Clinton stumps with Rahm Emanuel for the first time. Emanuel is the front-runner in Chicago mayoral race, but would likely not be able to avoid run-off.

      1:00 PM EST
      House Democrats hold a hearing to discuss the potential impact of repealing the health care law.

      1:45 PM EST
      Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Philip Crowley conducts a daily briefing at the State Department.

      2:00 PM EST
      Gun control legislation briefing
      Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, a New York Democrat, briefs reporters on proposed legislation that, if signed into law, would outlaw the sale or transfer of magazine clips that hold more than 10 rounds.

      2:00 PM EST
      The House (Republicans) are set to vote on a repeal of President Obama’s health care overhaul this week. House Speaker John Boehner has scheduled a floor debate on the measure today and a vote on Wednesday.

      3:00 PM EST
      China human rights briefing
      U.S., Rep. Chris Smith holds a briefing on China’s human rights.

      4:30 PM EST
      House hearing on Sudan’s future
      The House Foreign Affairs Committee holds a hearing on the troubled African country of Sudan.

      4:00 PM EST
      VP Biden greets Pres Hu of China at Andrews Air Force Base.


      12:00 PM EST
      Briefing by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs – The White House

      1:00 PM EST
      House Democrats hold a hearing to discuss the potential impact of repealing the health care law.

      1:45 PM EST
      Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Philip Crowley conducts a daily briefing at the State Department.

      2:00 PM EST
      The House (Republicans) are set to vote on a repeal of President Obama’s health care overhaul this week. House Speaker John Boehner has scheduled a floor debate on the measure today and a vote on Wednesday.

      The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a briefing on the referendum on independence for South Sudan.

      4:00 PM EST
      VP Biden greets Pres Hu of China at Andrews Air Force Base.

  35. U.S.-China Relations
    Chinese Pres. Hu’s State Visit begins Tuesday

    1/17/11 CSPAN

    Chinese President Hu Jintao travels to Washington this week following months of preparations by the White House aimed at setting the tone for President Obama’s January 19 summit. Last week, several cabinet officials spoke publicly on their expectations with Hu’s state visit.

    Economic Hurdles

    Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner called for China to increase the rate of its currency reform, at an event in Washington last week. Geithner also told the audience that China’s undervalued currency is affecting the world economy.

    His remarks are widely seen as a preview of the top topics President Obama will discuss with Pres. Hu.

    Trade Relationship

    Commerce Secretary Gary Locke made comments to the US-China Business Council last week and called on China to allow its economy to be more open to international investment and challenged China to crackdown on intellectual property laws.

    Locke went on to highlight the U.S.- China commercial relationship is at a turning point. “The policies and practices that have shaped our relationship over the past few decades will not suffice to overcome the economic challenges facing the United States, China and indeed the global community,” Locke said. He added that the two countries must cooperate and relax international trade imbalances that threaten international stability.

    Foreign Policy

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in advance of Chinese President Hu state visit, discussed U.S. policy toward China at a State Department forum. Clinton stressed that relations have reached a critical point and the two counties need to work together more effectively. “We’re no longer in a ‘zero-sum’ world of foreign policy where the rise of one country diminishes another,” Sec. Clinton said. She added, “In this more complicated world, the U.S. and China are entangled and China’s rise is good for the U.S.”

    Her remarks came the same week that Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited Beijing, while the Chinese military unveiled a new stealth fighter plan.

    Hu’s Visit Agenda

    On Wednesday, President Hu will be welcomed by President Obama with a White House ceremony on the South Lawn, followed by a closed door luncheon with Vice President Biden. Later that evening, Hu will be honored with a full state dinner.

    The next day, Hu is scheduled to meet with congressional leaders from both parties and then give a speech to a group of think tank and nongovernmental organization representatives before heading off to Chicago.

  36. ‘Strong friend of Lebanon’
    Obama applaudes indictment

    01/17/11 By POLITICO STAFF

    President Obama applauded the Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s decision to file an indictment regarding the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri along with 22 others, according to a statement from the White House.

    “This action represents an important step toward ending the era of impunity for murder in Lebanon, and achieving justice for the Lebanese people. I know that this is a significant and emotional time for the Lebanese people, and we join the international community in calling on all Lebanese leaders and factions to preserve calm and exercise restraint,” the president said in a statement. “The United States is a strong friend of Lebanon and we stand steadfastly with others in support of Lebanese sovereignty, independence, and stability.

    “The Special Tribunal for Lebanon must be allowed to continue its work, free from interference and coercion. That is the way to advance the search for the truth, the cause of justice, and the future of Lebanon.”

  37. Urging calm – W.H.: U.S. stands with Tunisia

    1/17/11 By CAROL E. LEE – POLITICO

    White House spokesman Tommy Vietor released the following statement on Monday regarding the ongoing conflict in Tunisia:

    “We continue to urge calm and an end to violence in Tunisia. We welcome several of the reforms that were announced along with the news of the formation of a more inclusive and representative interim government, including a commitment to investigate corruption, promote free media, free political prisoners, ensure accountability and lift the ban on human rights group’s activities. We expect the Tunisian government to ensure these universal rights, follow through on these stated reforms, and hold free and fair elections in order to fulfill the aspirations of the Tunisian people.”

    Riots and protests have ensued since the African nation’s autocratic ruler Zine El Abidine Ben Ali stepped down on Friday. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has indicated that the U.S. will stand with Tunisia as the nation works through its issues with corruption and repression.

  38. Can you hear me now?
    In WSJ, Obama details rule review

    01/18/11 By MJ LEE – POLITICO

    President Obama will sign an order on Tuesday to review rules governing businesses in an effort that he says will protect Americans while “promoting economic growth.”

    Obama announced that he’ll sign the executive order in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, a clear sign that he’s trying to get the message to corporate America that his administration cares about the success of businesses.

    The document, Obama wrote, “orders a government-wide review of the rules already on the books to remove outdated regulations that stifle job creation and make our economy less competitive.” While the “free market” has worked well for the United States, he said, regulations have at times been thrown out of balance and “had a chilling effect on growth and jobs.”

    “It’s a review that will help bring order to regulations that have become a patchwork of overlapping rules, the result of tinkering by administrations and legislators of both parties and the influence of special interests in Washington over decades,” Obama wrote.

    The economy, he said, “is not a zero-sum game.”

    “Regulations do have costs,” Obama wrote. “We can make our economy stronger and more competitive, while meeting our fundamental responsibilities to one another.”

  39. Voices of Health Reform: Cathy’s Story

    Posted by Stephanie Cutter on January 18, 2011

    For too long, too many Americans struggled in the health insurance marketplace. Double digit premium increases with no recourse or accountability made it difficult for families to afford the cost of care but also left them with no other option. Americans could be denied coverage if they had a pre-existing condition or have their coverage cancelled or capped when they got sick. And high costs were making it difficult for businesses to expand and create jobs, and to compete in a global economy.

    If you haven’t struggled in the health care system yourself, you’ve probably met someone who has – seniors who struggled to pay for their prescription drugs, families whose children were denied coverage for a pre-existing condition and business owners who wanted to provide high benefits to their employees, but just couldn’t afford it.

    Thankfully, the Affordable Care Act is already changing all of this. And over the coming days, you’ll have a chance to hear directly from some of those Americans who are already benefiting through a new online feature, Voices of Health Reform. Every day, you can hear from average Americans about how the new law is making the health care system better for them.

    Today, we’re highlighting Cathy Lynn Howell Allen from Marblehead, OH. Cathy is a healthy and energetic small business owner, but before the Affordable Care Act became law, she couldn’t get insurance because she had a pre-existing condition. Considered “uninsurable” because of a history of Systemic Lupus, Cathy had been denied private insurance several times though she has required very little medical treatment over the last two decades.

    For the entire article and video:

    • HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius: GOP Effort to Repeal Health Care Reform Is “An Opportunity”

      January 18, 2011 Brian Hartman –

      HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told reporters today she welcomes the House effort to repeal health care reforms as “an opportunity.”

      “The debate in some ways in the House gives us a chance to … remind people what it is that’s at stake,” Sebelius said. “Why we can’t go back to where we were.”

      Toward that end, HHS today released a new administration analysis that estimates the law will, when it fully kicks in three years from now, prevent insurance companies from denying coverage to between 50 and 129 million non-elderly Americans who have some type of pre-existing health condition. (That’s 19 to 50 percent of Americans under 65)

      Why the wide-ranging estimate? Sebelius said “all 129 million Americans have some kind of a health condition” that can be “noted” by insurers. The smaller number, 50 million, represents those with very serious conditions who are eligible for high-risk pool coverage provided under the Affordable Care Act. About 10,000 people have enrolled in the federal high-risk pool so far. In the last month, HHS officials say, applications have doubled.

      The Sebelius call featured a handful of people like Dawn Josephson, a mother who hosted President Obama in her backyard on September 22, 2010 for a health care reform discussion. Josephson says her son, who has a preexisting condition, has obtained coverage because of the Affordable Care Act.

      For the entire article:

  40. January 18, 2011

    Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review – Executive Order

    By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to improve regulation and regulatory review, it is hereby ordered as follows:

    Section 1. General Principles of Regulation. (a) Our regulatory system must protect public health, welfare, safety, and our environment while promoting economic growth, innovation, competitiveness, and job creation. It must be based on the best available science. It must allow for public participation and an open exchange of ideas. It must promote predictability and reduce uncertainty. It must identify and use the best, most innovative, and least burdensome tools for achieving regulatory ends. It must take into account benefits and costs, both quantitative and qualitative. It must ensure that regulations are accessible, consistent, written in plain language, and easy to understand. It must measure, and seek to improve, the actual results of regulatory requirements.

    (b) This order is supplemental to and reaffirms the principles, structures, and definitions governing contemporary regulatory review that were established in Executive Order 12866 of September 30, 1993. As stated in that Executive Order and to the extent permitted by law, each agency must, among other things: (1) propose or adopt a regulation only upon a reasoned determination that its benefits justify its costs (recognizing that some benefits and costs are difficult to quantify); (2) tailor its regulations to impose the least burden on society, consistent with obtaining regulatory objectives, taking into account, among other things, and to the extent practicable, the costs of cumulative regulations; (3) select, in choosing among alternative regulatory approaches, those approaches that maximize net benefits (including potential economic, environmental, public health and safety, and other advantages; distributive impacts; and equity); (4) to the extent feasible, specify performance objectives, rather than specifying the behavior or manner of compliance that regulated entities must adopt; and (5) identify and assess available alternatives to direct regulation, including providing economic incentives to encourage the desired behavior, such as user fees or marketable permits, or providing information upon which choices can be made by the public.

    (c) In applying these principles, each agency is directed to use the best available techniques to quantify anticipated present and future benefits and costs as accurately as possible. Where appropriate and permitted by law, each agency may consider (and discuss qualitatively) values that are difficult or impossible to quantify, including equity, human dignity, fairness, and distributive impacts.

    For the entire article:

    • January 18, 2011
      Fact Sheet: The President’s Regulatory Strategy

      Today, President Obama signed an Executive Order outlining his regulatory strategy to support continued economic growth and job creation, while protecting the safety, health and rights of all Americans. This strategy builds on best practices of the past, while adapting to challenges the country faces today and establishing a smart path for the future. As part of the immediate implementation of this strategy, the President also issued a memorandum to the heads of Executive Agencies and Departments calling for more transparency and accountability in regulatory compliance, as well as a memorandum emphasizing the need to reduce burdens on small businesses whenever possible.

      The new Executive Order can be found HERE .

      Executive Order on Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review

      In this Executive Order, the President requires Federal agencies to design cost-effective, evidence-based regulations that are compatible with economic growth, job creation, and competitiveness. It outlines following guiding principles:

      * Cost-effective and Cost-Justified: Consistent with law, Agencies must consider costs and benefits and choose the least burdensome path.
      * Transparent: The regulatory process must be transparent and include public participation, with an opportunity for the public to comment.
      * Coordinated and Simplified: Agencies must attempt to coordinate, simplify, and harmonize regulations to reduce costs and promote certainty for businesses and the public.
      * Flexible: Agencies must consider approaches that maintain freedom of choice and flexibility, including disclosure of relevant information to the public.
      * Science-driven: Regulations must be guided by objective scientific evidence.
      * Necessary and Up-to-Date: Existing regulations must be reviewed to determine that they are still necessary and crafted effectively to solve current problems. If they are outdated, they must be changed or repealed.

    • Toward a 21st-Century Regulatory System
      If the FDA deems saccharin safe enough for coffee, then the EPA should not treat it as hazardous waste.

      1/18/11 BARACK OBAMA –

      For two centuries, America’s free market has not only been the source of dazzling ideas and path-breaking products, it has also been the greatest force for prosperity the world has ever known. That vibrant entrepreneurialism is the key to our continued global leadership and the success of our people.

      But throughout our history, one of the reasons the free market has worked is that we have sought the proper balance. We have preserved freedom of commerce while applying those rules and regulations necessary to protect the public against threats to our health and safety and to safeguard people and businesses from abuse.

      From child labor laws to the Clean Air Act to our most recent strictures against hidden fees and penalties by credit card companies, we have, from time to time, embraced common sense rules of the road that strengthen our country without unduly interfering with the pursuit of progress and the growth of our economy.

      Sometimes, those rules have gotten out of balance, placing unreasonable burdens on business—burdens that have stifled innovation and have had a chilling effect on growth and jobs. At other times, we have failed to meet our basic responsibility to protect the public interest, leading to disastrous consequences. Such was the case in the run-up to the financial crisis from which we are still recovering. There, a lack of proper oversight and transparency nearly led to the collapse of the financial markets and a full-scale Depression.

      For the entire article:

    • Obama Launches Rule Review, Pledging to Spur Jobs, Growth


      WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama plans a government-wide review of federal regulations, aiming to eliminate rules that stymie economic growth.

      In an article published in the opinion pages of The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Obama said he intends to issue an executive order initiating a review to “make sure we avoid excessive, inconsistent and redundant regulation,” focusing on rules that “stifle job creation and make our economy less competitive.” He also suggested future regulations must do their job “while promoting economic growth.”

      The move is the latest effort by the White House to repair relations with corporate America, hoping to spur investment by the nation’s largest multinationals and reduce unemployment.

      Business leaders say an explosion in new regulations stemming from the president’s health-care and financial regulatory overhauls has, along with the sluggish economy, made them reluctant to spend on expanding and hiring. Companies are sitting on nearly $2 trillion in cash and liquid assets, the most since World War II.

      For the entire article and video:

    • Regulatory Strategy

      Posted by Jack Lew on January 18, 2011

      OMB plays a central role in implementing a President’s regulatory agenda. Through our Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), OMB acts as a clearinghouse for the most significant regulations and rules, making sure that policies are consistent across the federal government and with the agenda of the President. OMB also ensures that analysis of rules is done properly, according to one set of standards.

      With that in mind, I want to point readers to the op-ed that President Obama wrote in today’s Wall Street Journal, detailing his approach to regulation and the strategy that has guided his Administration from the start. As the President wrote, our aim is to “strike the right balance” between what is needed to protect the safety and health of all Americans, and what we need to foster economic growth, job creation, and competitiveness. The Administration has followed this balanced approach since taking office, and this executive order formally details our basic operating principles.

      With this EO, there should be no confusion about what guides this Administration when crafting regulations. The basic tenets are: to consider costs and how best to reduce burdens for American businesses and consumers; to expand opportunities for public participation and stakeholder involvement; to seek the most flexible, least burdensome approaches; to ensure that regulations are scientifically-driven; and to review old regulations so that rules which are no longer needed can be modified or withdrawn. This smarter approach builds on the best practices of the past, while adapting to serious economic challenges the country faces today.

      For the entire article:

  41. Happy Tuesday, everybody!


    Kat's Weekday Obama Administration Report, 1/18/11

    Today's report features:

    • Marking Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday: The President observes Dr. King's birthday with a service project at Stuart Hobson Middle School in Washington, DC.

    • President's statement on Sudan: "The sight of so many Sudanese casting their votes in a peaceful and orderly fashion was an inspiration to the world…."

    • Energy News: Secretary Chu on the role of Historically Black Colleges and Universities in training scientists and engineers to discover clean energy solutions; international students prepare for the DOE Solar Decathlon.

    • Commerce news: Secretary, co-chair of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, speaks at an AAPI event for small business owners. Next month he leads a trade mission to India.

    • NASA news: Video review of the previous week, including shuttle and ISS updates and a condolence call from Russian Prime Minister Putin to Commander Kelly regarding the shooting of his sister-in-law, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ).,-1-18-11

  42. January 18, 2011
    President Obama to Visit Manitowoc, WI

    WASHINGTON—On Wednesday, January 26, President Obama will travel to Manitowoc, WI. More details will be released as they become available.

  43. Repealing Health-Care Law Will Hurt American Competitiveness

    January 18, 2011 –

    This guest column by Secretary Locke was published in the Seattle Times on Friday.


    When Republicans vote next week to repeal the Affordable Care Act, they are voting to repeal a new level of control that American families have over their health-care decisions.

    They are also voting to make American businesses less competitive in the global economy.

    Because just 10 months after its passage, the act has brought badly needed change to the American health-care system. The law:

    * Prevents children with pre-existing conditions from being denied coverage;
    * Eliminates lifetime caps on the dollar amount insurance companies will spend on enrollees’ benefits, like cancer treatment;
    * Allows children to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until they are 26;
    * Gives tax credits to small businesses to help them afford health care for their employees; and
    * Takes meaningful steps to lower costs and improve the quality of health care for all Americans

    But from my perspective as U.S. Commerce secretary, one of the most important benefits of the law is that it will make American businesses more competitive by reining in rapidly increasing health-care costs.

    As President Obama has noted: “We are in a fierce competition among nations for the jobs and industries of the future.”

    The Affordable Care Act will allow American businesses, large and small, to improve their performance against foreign competitors, most of whom have significantly lower health-care costs.

    The cost savings are real, and they will grow over time.

  44. White House: “more must be done” on China currency

    1/8/11 Caren Bohan – Reuters

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House on Tuesday urged China to take more steps to allow its yuan currency to strengthen.

    “We believe that more must be done. That is an opinion that is held, not just by this country, but by many countries around the world,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

    Chinese President Hu Jintao arrives in Washington later on Tuesday for a state visit with U.S. President Barack Obama that will cover currency and trade issues as well as security issues such as North Korea and military-to-military ties.

    Pressed on whether there would be announcements of commercial deals to coincide with the visit, Gibbs replied: “I have not been told of any big deals that will be rolled out tomorrow. I’m certainly all ears if anything happens.”

  45. For China’s leader, a private meal

    01/18/11 By MATT NEGRIN – POLITICO44

    President Hu Jintao of China arrives in Washington on Tuesday, and before any official meetings at the White House, President Obama will host a private dinner for him. The meal, in the Old Family Dining Room, is closed to the press, the White House said in guidance to reporters.

  46. The Bidens lend a hand
    Vice president brings wife, son and grandchildren to Wilmington

    January 18, 2011 By ROBIN BROWN • The News Journal

    WILMINGTON — Vice President Joe Biden brought an armful of coats Monday to the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service hosted by the city and the DuPont Co.

    With the coats, he carried a call-to-service message: “Everybody, everybody can do something … to help others.”

    He and his wife, Jill, son Beau, the state’s attorney general, and grandchildren Natalie, 6, and Hunter, 4, made the service day a family effort.

    Secret Service cleared a path for the Bidens and Delaware first lady Carla Markell amid nearly 1,000 volunteers at the Nemours Building.

    Like those at events throughout Delaware and around the country, they honored the late civil rights leader on the 25th annual federal holiday by donating their time to share King’s message of unity and service to others.

    With stops to shake hands, share hugs and join volunteers for photos, the Bidens first gave their coats to the Great Dames organization to be given to the needy through the Friendship House and Clothing Bank of Delaware.

    For the entire article:

    • Happy Tuesday Tigerfists!

      POTUS deserves better than that huh?

      Did you see the article/video that COS posted at 6:51pm yesterday that said that First Lady Michelle is the most popular American political figure ever!

      • It is nice to see on the CNN ticker say that our dear President’s ratings are soaring and that other person’s (SP) ratings has dipped.

  47. US and China Sign Agreement to Advance Clean Energy Research Center (CERC)


    This morning, Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu and representatives from the Chinese government, including Minister Wan Gang and Minister Zhang Guobao, signed a joint work plan to expand US-China cooperation on the Clean Energy Research Center (CERC) that was established in November 2009. The World Resources Institute is a member of the CERC, focused on advanced coal and carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS).

    Following is a statement by Sarah Forbes, senior associate and lead for CCS, the World Resources Institute:

    “This joint work between the United States and China demonstrates the great potential for cooperation on clean energy. As the world’s largest energy consumers and producers, the United States and China recognize that advancing clean energy technology is essential to reduce greenhouse gases and other pollutants, and to enhance energy security.

    “This announcement is important for two reasons: First, it identifies the members of the bilateral teams– including leading academics, government institutions and businesses– in each consortium that will enable greater integration. Second, the joint work plans provide a road map for moving forward with work on advanced coal technology, electric vehicles, and building efficiency.

    “As the United States and China embark on a new level of clean energy cooperation, this initiative is a prime example of practical, real world engagement that will accelerate knowledge sharing and advancements in clean energy technology.”

  48. January 18, 2011
    Statement by the President on Senator Conrad’s Retirement

    “For more than 20 years, Kent Conrad has been a tireless advocate for the people of North Dakota. During that time, he has shown an unmatched dedication to putting our country on a sound fiscal path and a commitment to meeting our nation’s energy challenges. He has also been a good friend to me, and while I am saddened to see him leave the Senate, I look forward to working with him during the next two years on the important issues facing our country. Michelle and I thank Senator Conrad for his leadership and service, and wish him and his family all the best in their future endeavors.”

  49. I watched the arrival of President Hu and noticed that his wife did not come with him.

    • I think there is a formal welcoming for the State dinner. Maybe she will be there then. The dinner tonight is private so perhaps she just didn’t accompany him today.

      • Thanks Jackie. I notice on the CNN live stream that protests to the visit in front of the White House have started already.

  50. Standing Up Renewable Energy on America’s Lands and Oceans

    Posted by Secretary Ken Salazar on January 18, 2011

    By helping stand up responsible large-scale renewable energy projects on America’s public lands and oceans, the Department of the Interior is playing a leading role in fulfilling President Obama’s vision for a new energy future.

    As America’s principal public lands management agency with stewardship responsibility over 20 percent of the nation’s land mass and 1.75 billion acres of the Outer Continental Shelf, Interior manages areas with extensive renewable energy potential.

    In 2010, we began to unleash the potential of these resources in unprecedented ways, approving historic renewable energy projects, as well as developing strategic plans for a strong future.

    Some milestones:


    * We approved nine large-scale solar energy projects in the sunny deserts of California and Nevada, including the first solar project ever permitted on public lands, and what will be the largest solar project in the world when completed. Together, the projects will provide nearly 3,700 megawatts – enough to power more than one million homes – and create over 7,000 new jobs.
    * We teamed up with the Department of Energy to develop long-term, landscape level planning for solar energy that will lead to a more efficient and effective process for project permitting and siting. This initiative includes a comprehensive environmental analysis that identifies proposed ‘solar energy zones’ on public lands in six western states most suitable for environmentally sound, utility-scale solar energy production.


    * We signed a lease for the Cape Wind energy project, the nation’s first commercial wind energy development on the Outer Continental Shelf. With the potential to power more than 200,000 homes in Massachusetts, Cape Wind signals a new era for offshore energy production.
    * We launched a ‘Smart from the Start’ wind energy initiative for the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf to facilitate siting, leasing and construction of new projects. The initiative slashes red tape and will identify priority Wind Energy Areas for potential development. Smart planning and early environmental reviews will pay dividends in spurring responsible renewable wind energy development.
    * We approved a 150-megawatt wind project in Nevada that will generate enough energy to power more than 52,000 homes. This project joins the 29 wind development projects already in production on public lands with an installed capacity of approximately 580 megawatts.


    * We broke ground on the 235-mile One Nevada transmission line which will help deliver renewable energy to consumers. This line will join more than 500 miles of critical, new electric transmission lines crossing Nevada and Idaho that this administration has greenlighted.
    * We approved two new geothermal projects in Nevada which will harness the earth’s energy to produce about 79 megawatts of energy and generate enough energy to power about 79,000 homes.

    Together these projects and initiatives are important, significant steps in our nation’s march toward a prosperous, sustainable renewable energy future.

  51. 7.2 Quake shakes Pakistan but damage seems limited

    1/18/11 Chris Albritton -Reuters

    ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – A powerful earthquake of magnitude 7.2 shook southwestern Pakistan early Wednesday, jolting residents of cities as far apart as Delhi and Dubai, but the epicenter was far from major population centers.

    The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was more than 80 km (50 miles) underground, close to the town of Dalbandin in Baluchistan province, near the Afghan and Iranian frontiers.

    Poor communications ensured there were no immediate reports from the vicinity of the quake, but despite the major strength of the shock, the great depth may have limited damage. The USGS had first said that the earthquake was very much shallower.

    For the entire article:

    • The Pacific Tsunami Center said the onshore quake had not triggered a tsunami in the Indian Ocean.

  52. Voters credit Obama for economy upswing

    1/18/11 AFP

    WASHINGTON (AFP) – US voters are seeing signs of a brighter economy and are crediting President Barack Obama for the upturn, but by a narrow margin want Congress to repeal his health care overhaul, a poll showed Tuesday.

    The Quinnipiac University poll showed that 54 percent of respondents said they believed the US economy is beginning to recover, with 43 percent disagreeing. Nonetheless, the survey showed a 53 to 40 percent majority disapproved of Obama’s economic management.

    “Voters aren’t exactly jumping for joy about the economy, but they think it has turned the corner,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

    For the entire article:

  53. For Obamas: Jewelry and ascots


    What’s President Obama to do with five ascot ties from Germany?

    The State Department on Tuesday released a massive list of gifts that foreign leaders gave Obama, his wife and members of his administration. The presents are estimated at costs from $75 to $132,000.

    The gifts were accepted, according to the administration, because “non-acceptance would cause embarrassment to donor and U.S. Government.” Even in the case of a bottle of olive oil from the Palestinians.

    The gifts all go to the National Archives and Records Administration, unless the recipients pay for their full value. And some will eventually be displayed in Obama’s presidential library when he leaves office.

    Here are some of the highlights from the list, which can be viewed here:

    President Obama:

    Obama was given a $16,510 gift by former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in March 2009. It included three books about Winston Churchill, as well as a black and gold pen with a wooden pen holder — “made from the wood of the HMS Gannet in Chatham.”

    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev gave Obama a more modest token the next month: a “small wooden CD holder; one book; fifteen compact discs.” (Price: $415)

    Petr Tulpa, the mayor of Jablonec Nad Nisou in the Czech Republic, gave Obama a “gold medal created by the Czech mint featuring an image of President Obama” on April 4, 2009. (Price: $1,460)

    Obama got a bottle of olive oil valued at $75 from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in May 2009.

    Gregor Kathstede, the lord mayor of Krefeld, Germany, gave Obama “five ascot ties in assorted colors and two Krefelder Seidentuch silk scarves” in June 2009. It cost $440.

    One of the most expensive items listed, at $34,500, came from Abdullah bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud, custodian of the two holy mosques in Saudi Arabia, in June 2009. The description: “Large desert scene on a green veined marble base featuring miniature figurines of gold palm trees and camels; large gold medallion with the Royal seal in a green leather display box; large brass and glass clock by Jaeger-LeCoultre in a green leather display case.”

    Michelle Obama:

    The first lady got her share of expensive treats, too — the same Saudi custodian gave her a “ruby and diamond jewelry set consisting of a pair of earrings, a ring, a bracelet, and a necklace” estimated at $132,000, and a “necklace made of 33 pearls with a sterling silver pendant” valued at $14,200.

    Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, the wife of France’s president, is recorded as giving the first lady a black Christian Dior handbag” valued at $4,500.

    Hillary Clinton:

    The secretary of state has a long list of received gifts as well, including this one from Pakistan’s Bashir Ahmed, the dean of fine arts at the National College of Art of Lahore: “Framed portraiture painting of President William J. Clinton; Three brochures about the artist.” (Price: $1,015.)

  54. Peace Corps Mourns the Loss of Founder and Visionary Father, Sargent Shriver
    Sargent Shriver Helped Create the Agency in 1961, Served as the First Peace Corps Director

    WASHINGTON D.C., January 18, 2011-

    The Peace Corps issues the following statement on the passing of Sargent Shriver.

    Statement from Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams:

    “The entire Peace Corps community is deeply saddened by the passing of Sargent Shriver. Shriver was a distinguished public servant and a visionary leader who accomplished much in his life of public service, but to those of us in the Peace Corps family, he served as our founder, friend, and guiding light for the past 50 years. Because of his determination and vision, more than 200,000 returned Peace Corps volunteers have served in 139 countries, promoting world peace and friendship. Though he is no longer with us, his legacy of idealism will live on in the work of current and future Peace Corps volunteers. Today, Peace Corps volunteers and people worldwide who have been touched by the Peace Corps grieve with Shriver’s family and friends.”

    • January 18, 2011

      Statement by the President on the Passing of Sargent Shriver

      I was deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Sargent Shriver, one of the brightest lights of the greatest generation. Over the course of his long and distinguished career, Sarge came to embody the idea of public service. Of his many enduring contributions, he will perhaps best be remembered as the founding director of the Peace Corps, helping make it possible for generations of Americans to serve as ambassadors of goodwill abroad. His loss will be felt in all of the communities around the world that have been touched by Peace Corps volunteers over the past half century and all of the lives that have been made better by his efforts to address inequality and injustice here at home. My thoughts and prayers are with Robert, Maria, Tim, Mark, and Anthony, and the entire Shriver family during this sad time.

  55. I don’t usually watch Wolf Blitzer,but I wanted to see Nancy Pelosi’s interview. She is phenemonal, compassionate and strong. I can see why the repugs don’t like her. It sure is worth seeing if anyone can find a video.

    • Thank for the heads up on that one COS; I will keep an eye out for the video. I like Pelosi but I can’t stand Blitzer.

      • I am in total agreement with you CR on Blitzer. He irks me. Nancy held her own with him when he attempted to sensationalize. She was not having it.

        • I am with you ladies. I cannot stomach Wolf Blitzer. I did not know Nanch Pelosi was being interviewed today but have no doubt she handled him just fine.

  56. Hospital Visitation Regulations Go Into Effect Today

    Posted by Brian Bond on January 18, 2011

    “There are few moments in our lives that call for greater compassion and companionship than when a loved one is admitted to the hospital. In these hours of need and moments of pain and anxiety, all of us would hope to have a hand to hold, a shoulder on which to lean – a loved one to be there for us, as we would be there for them.”

    With those words on April 15, 2010 President Obama directed HHS Secretary Sebelius to initiate rulemaking to ensure that hospitals that participate in Medicare and Medicaid respect the rights of patients to designate visitors. The President further advised that the rule should ensure that participating hospitals may not deny visitation privileges based on factors including sexual orientation or gender identity.

    Today the new Hospital Visitation Regulations go into effect.

    This policy impacts millions of LGBT Americans and their families. The President saw an injustice and felt very strongly about correcting this and has spoken about it often over the years. I want to thank HHS Secretary Sebelius and her team for their resolve to see this rule implemented. In fact, long before this rule was finalized, back in June, 2010 the Secretary laid the groundwork by reaching out to leaders of major hospital associations asking them to encourage their member hospitals to not wait for the formal rulemaking to run its course regarding patient-centered visitation rights suggested by the President.

    This significant policy change is due in no small part to the journeys of two incredibly courageous and passionate women, Janice Langbehn and Charlene Strong. Both lived through unimaginable experiences with the loss of their wives and life partners. While I never had the opportunity to meet Janice’s wife Lisa Pond, or Charlene’s wife Kate Fleming, I have had the honor to meet and work with Janice and Charlene. I want to thank them for bringing us all into their lives and for sharing themselves and their families with us, and for using their voices to make lives better for LGBT families.

  57. January 18, 2011

    Statement by the President on the Affordable Care Act

    “Today, the American people have greater health security than they did a year ago. Because of the Affordable Care Act, Americans no longer have to live in fear that insurance companies will drop or cap their coverage if they get sick, or that they’ll face double-digit premium increases with no accountability or recourse. Small businesses across the country can take advantage of a new health care tax credit to offer coverage to their employees, and children suffering from an illness or pre-existing condition can no longer be denied coverage. Parents now can add their adult children up to age 26 to their health plans, and all Americans on new plans can access preventive care to keep them healthy with no additional out of pocket costs. Older Americans are seeing better benefits, lower prescription drug costs, and a stronger Medicare. And the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office reports that improvements in health care delivery system as a result of this law will reduce federal deficits by over a trillion dollars in the next two decades.

    So I’m willing and eager to work with both Democrats and Republicans to improve the Affordable Care Act. But we can’t go backward. Americans deserve the freedom and security of knowing that insurance companies can’t deny, cap, or drop their coverage when they need it the most, while taking meaningful steps to curb runaway health care costs.”

  58. January 18, 2011

    President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

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

    * Michael B. Coleman, Member, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation
    * Horace Henry Foxall, Jr., Member, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation
    * Bradford J. White, Member, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation
    * Carole E. Goldberg, Member, Indian Law and Order Commission
    * Theresa M. Pouley, Member, Indian Law and Order Commission
    * Ted Quasula, Member, Indian Law and Order Commission
    * Norma Lee Funger, General Trustee, Board of Trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

    For the entire article:

  59. I am just now watching Oprah’s interview with Piers Morgan last night, and he asked her if PBO has been disappointing and her answer was, “I don’t believe he has been disappointing because I believe in the heart of him”. Wow, so powerful

  60. January 18, 2011

    Readout of the President’s Call with President Mubarak of Egypt

    The President spoke with Egyptian President Mubarak this morning on a broad range of issues, to include the New Year’s Day attack on a Coptic Christian church in Alexandria, developments in Tunisia and Lebanon, and how best to advance Middle East peace. The President extended his personal condolences to President Mubarak and the Egyptian people for the heinous bombing targeting Christians that occurred on New Year’s Day, and urged all sides to ease tensions and work toward improved relations among all religions. The President raised the latest developments in Tunisia, and shared with President Mubarak that the United States is calling for calm and an end to violence, and for the interim government of Tunisia to uphold universal human rights and hold free and fair elections in order to meet the aspirations of the Tunisian people. The President thanked President Mubarak for Egypt’s support for Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which is attempting to end the era of impunity for political assassination in Lebanon, and achieve justice for the Lebanese people. The President and President Mubarak also discussed ways to advance efforts on Middle East peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.

  61. Did anyone post this yesterday? My sister who is a benefits coordinator sent me the link today. Is this one old or new?

    U.S. appeals ruling striking down Obama’s health reform law

    Posted On: Jan. 18, 2011|

    WASHINGTON (Bloomberg)—The United States asked a federal appeals court to overturn a Virginia judge’s ruling that the Obama administration’s health care overhaul is unconstitutional because it requires some Americans to buy health insurance.

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