Welcome Ireland!

First Lady Michelle Obama, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, President Obama & Mrs Kenny
President Obama and First Lady Michell greets his cousin Henry “The Eight” Healy and local Moneygall dignitaries.

President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden host a St. Patrick’s Day Celebration for Ireland’s representatives on March 20th. Photo Gallery: President Obama Visits Ireland

Fáilte roimh chách Ireland!

Welcome to our Irish Friends!


104 thoughts on “Welcome Ireland!

  1. WH

    Monday, March 19 , 2012

    All Times Eastern

    7:00 AM
    8:00 AM
    9:00 AM
    10:00 AM
    11:00 AM
    President Obama receives the presidential daily briefing.
    Oval Office
    Closed Press

    11:30 AM
    President Obama meets with senior advisors.
    Oval Office
    Closed Press

    12:00 PM
    12:30 PM
    White House Press Secretary Jay Carney briefs the press.

    1:00 PM
    2:00 PM
    3:00 PM
    3:30 PM
    First Lady Michelle Obama attends an campaign event
    New York

    3:45 PM
    President Obama meets with Secretary of State Clinton.
    Oval Office
    Closed Press

    4:00 PM
    5:00 PM
    Vice President Biden travels to Morristown, New Jersey, to attend an event for Senator Bob Menendez.

    5:05 PM
    President Obama attends a campaign event at The W Hotel.
    Closed Press

    6:00 PM
    First Lady Michelle Obama attends a campaign event
    New York

    7:00 PM
    8:00 PM
    9:00 PM
    10:00 PM

  2. republic_ireland

    March 16, 2012

    Statement by the Press Secretary on the Visit of Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny

    President Obama will welcome Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Enda Kenny of Ireland to the White House on Tuesday, March 20. The United States and Ireland share strong bilateral relations, deep cultural ties, and a commitment to positive change in the world. The President looks forward to commemorating his fourth St. Patrick’s Day in the White House with the Taoiseach and Mrs. Kenny, and to reciprocating the warm hospitality the Irish people extended to the President and Mrs. Obama during their visit to the Emerald Isle in May 2011. On Tuesday, the President and the Vice President will meet with the Taoiseach and will attend a St. Patrick’s Day lunch at the U.S. Capitol. In the morning, the Vice President will host the Prime Minister at a St. Patrick’s Day breakfast at the Naval Observatory. In the evening, the President and the First Lady will host a St. Patrick’s Day reception at the White House.

    Also on the 20th, the President and the Vice President will greet First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness of Northern Ireland at the White House and discuss their progress toward meeting their shared commitments to a peaceful and prosperous future for the people of Northern Ireland.

    • Moneygall Residents To Celebrate St.Patrick’s Day In USA

      Offaly will be well represented at the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the United States this year when well-known Moneygall ‘celebs’ Henry Healy and Ollie Hayes visit both New York and Washington to mark the occasion….

      Both men have became household names on both sides of the Atlantic since last summer and Ollie is well known as the owner of Ireland’s most famous pub where President Obama and First Lady Michelle enjoyed some Guinness in the President’s ‘ancestral local.’…. (They will) be among a very special Irish delegation to mark St. Patrick’s Day in the White House, alongside Taoiseach Enda Kenny and his wife.

      The celebrations in Washington, where traditionally a bowl of shamrock from Ireland is presented to the US President, will this year take place on March 20th and not on St Patrick’s Day on the 17th. The reason for the change in date is because the Irish national holiday falls on a Saturday, when the US Houses of Congress do not sit and therefore make it impossible for the Taoiseach to address the House and have lunch with the Irish Ambassador and members of Congress….


    • Democrats party for Obama at final fundraising drive in Dublin

      ALISON HEALY – irishtimes

      BARACK OBAMA stood at the door to welcome guests to a fundraising party in Dalkey, Co Dublin, yesterday.

      No one minded that it was a cardboard cut-out of the US president as they posed with it. The guests, mainly US citizens, were there in a final Democratic fundraising drive for Mr Obama’s campaign.

      The party, which had a minimum donation of €115 ($150), was organised by US citizen Moira Shipsey and co-hosted by Patti Shields, head of the Obama Victory Fund. The balloons and cupcakes were red, white and blue and even the dogs were barking their support for Mr Obama as they ran around with blue-and- red scarves around their necks.

      Ms Shipsey, who is married to barrister Bill Shipsey, held similar fundraising parties for John Kerry when he ran for president and for Mr Obama when he launched his first presidential bid.

      “I think the last one raised about €30,000,” she said.

      Patti Shields was involved in Mr Obama’s first presidential bid when she lived in the US but moved here two years ago.

      “If I wasn’t doing this I think I’d be more anxious and nervous,” she said. “It’s too close so you feel you have to do whatever you can. But the field organisation that Obama has, it’s incredible and I’m hoping that on the day it delivers.”

      It is estimated that between 25,000 and 40,000 people who are eligible to vote in the US election live here.

      More than 60 people attended the party, including Mr Obama’s eighth cousin, Henry Healy, from Moneygall, Co Offaly.

    • Four More Beers: President Obama’s Irish Cousin Henry Healy Celebrates Reelection With Guinness

      NOVEMBER 09, 2012 obamafoodorama.blogspot

      In May of 2011 President O’bama made a triumphant pilgrimage to his tiny, ancestral Irish village of Moneygall, County Offaly, where he got a hero’s welcome as he met long-lost relatives for the first time, including his closest relation, eighth cousin Henry Healy. In a moment watched around the globe, the President and his extended family toasted their centuries-old bonds with pints of Guinness at the village pub. Healy later visited the President at the White House during St. Patrick’s Day weekend this year, and they again shared pints of Guinness at DC pub The Dubliner. On Election Night, there was more Guinness flowing when the US Embassy Dublin hosted a rollicking party at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin to celebrate the President’s win. Healy was of course the biggest celebrity at the shindig.

      “Ok extremely weird walking down Grafton street & people shaking my hand & congratulating me!” Healy wrote on Twitter after the party, when his cousin was confirmed for four more years.

      Healy, 28, was last with President Obama when he attended the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte in September. In Dublin, the US Embassy pulled out all the stops for the party, inviting hundreds of guests, including Irish Senators Lorraine Higgins and Ivana Bacik, and Teachta Dála member Sean Connick to the Storehouse, the company’s flagship headquarters.

      Red, white and blue decorations mingled with green and orange decorations, the colors of the Irish flag. Guests quaffed pints of Guinness and snacked on finger food. Giant-screen TVs were tuned to US stations to watch the election returns across the pond. There were life-size cardboard cutouts of both the President and Mitt Romney for photo ops. Check out the US Embassy Dublin’s Flickr for Election Night photos.

      For more: http://obamafoodorama.blogspot.com/2012/11/four-more-beers-president-obamas-irish.html


      Election Night at the Guinness Storehouse Part 2

      Published on Nov 8, 2012 by U.S. Embassy Dublin

      U.S. Embassy Dublin hosted an Election Night viewing party on November 6th 2012 in the Guinness Storehouse, Dublin. Here is what some of the guests had to say before the results came in, including President Obama’s distant cousin from Moneygall, Henry Healy!

  3. illinois_obama_thumbnail

    2012 Illinois Primary

    IL Tuesday 20 March 2012: 189 of 215 delegates to the Democratic National Convention are pledged to presidential contenders based on the results of the voting in today’s Illinois Presidential Primary. A mandatory 15 percent threshold is required in order for a presidential contender to be pledged National Convention delegates at either the congressional district or statewide level.


  4. White House Office Hours: Health Care

    Kori Schulman March 16, 2012 05:01 PM EDT

    Two years ago, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act – legislation to improve our health care system – into law. As the President said in March, 2010: “The bill I’m signing will set in motion reforms that generations of Americans have fought for and marched for and hungered to see.”

    As we look back on two years of progress, senior administration officials are turning to Twitter to answer your questions about the Affordable Care Act in a series of White House Office Hours.

    On Monday, March 19th at 10:30 a.m. EDT, Nancy-Ann DeParle, Deputy Chief of Staff and former Director of the White House Office of Health Reform, will be on Twitter for “Office Hours.” Then on Friday, March 23rd at 2:00 p.m. EDT, Cecilia Muñoz, Director of the Domestic Policy Council, will answer your questions.

    Ask your question on Twitter with the hashtag #WHChat
    White House officials answers your questions from the @WHLive account

    For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/03/16/white-house-office-hours-health-care

  5. natl_cherry_blossom_festival

    National Cherry Blossom Festival 2012 Centennial

    A Once In A Lifetime Celebration

    In 1912, an incredible gift of 3,000 cherry blossom trees was bestowed on Washington, DC by Tokyo, Japan. Rooted strongly and surviving outside elements, the trees have withstood the test of time – and nearly a century later, the National Cherry Blossom Festival is preparing for an unprecedented and once-in-a-lifetime celebration.

    The epic 5-week spectacular, from March 20 – April 27, 2012, will unify and electrify the city, the nation, and the world. Washington, DC and the region will be abuzz with excitement.

    March 20 – 2012 Pink Tie Party

    March 24 –  Family Days presented with the National Building Museum

    March 31 – Blossom Kite Festival

    April 7 – Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival

    April 14 – Sakura Matsuri – Japanese Street Festival

    April 19 –  Jazz at the Jefferson

    For more information: http://goo.gl/OZKBX

  6. NASA Invites Students to Study the Sun During Solar Week – March 19-23, 2012


    Please join us for Solar Week Spring 2012, March 19-23 – a lively week of online activities and curriculum for students about the Sun, including games and lesson plans for the whole week. In addition, there’s a message board where your classroom can submit a question to leading solar scientists.

    Every fall and spring since 2000, Solar Week has provided a week-long series of Web-based educational classroom activities and games geared for upper elementary, middle and early high school students with a focus on our dynamic Sun and its effects on Earth. Students learn about solar eclipses, sunspots, solar flares and solar storms through a series of activities, games, and lessons.

    Solar Week is ideal for students studying the solar system, the stars, or astronomy in general, and now we feature a day on solar energy. It’s also for kids wondering what it’s like being a scientist, and pondering possible career choices. Participation makes for a fun computer lab activity as well. After doing the activities, students can interact on the bulletin board with leading scientists at the forefront of Sun-Earth research. It’s a great place for any student interested in our nearest star, the Sun!

    Solar Week is a collaboration between University of California, Berkeley and Rice University.

    For the entire article: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sunearth/news/SolarWeek-2012.html

  7. King of Tonga dies in Hong Kong

    3/18/12 Reuters – 27 mins ago

    WELLINGTON (Reuters) – King George Tupou V of Tonga, who introduced democracy to the South Pacific archipelago after riots following his ascension in 2006, died in a Hong Kong hospital on Sunday, the Tongan government said on Monday.

    He was 63. Tupou V’s younger brother and the heir to the throne, Crown Prince Tupouto’a Lavaka, was with him when he died while on a visit to Hong Kong. A government statement confirming his death was read on local radio.

    The New Zealand government, a major aid donor to Tonga, said he would be remembered for ushering in significant political change.
    “He believed that the monarchy was an instrument of change and can truly be seen as the architect of evolving democracy in Tonga. This will be his enduring legacy,” said Prime Minister John Key in a statement.

    Shortly after Tupou V ascended the throne in 2006, demonstrations demanding greater democracy turned into riots in which eight people died and large parts of the commercial centre of the capital, Nuku’alofa, were destroyed.

    The Oxford-educated king then said he would relinquish most of his power in the last Polynesian monarchy to a broadly popularly elected government after 165 years of feudal rule.

    The first elections in which citizens voted for the majority of the seats, outnumbering those elected by nobles, took place in November 2010.

    “Although political reform is not yet complete, his willingness to start is a very significant event,” opposition member of parliament Akilisi Pohiva told Radio New Zealand International.

    For the entire article: http://news.yahoo.com/king-tonga-dies-hong-kong-233400961.html

    • March 26, 2012

      President Obama Announces Presidential Delegation to the Kingdom of Tonga to Attend the State Funeral of His Majesty King George Topou V

      President Barack Obama today announced the designation of a Presidential Delegation to the Kingdom of Tonga to attend the State Funeral of His Majesty King George Topou V on March 27, 2012.

      The Honorable Frankie A. Reed, Ambassador to Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Tonga and Tuvalu, will lead the delegation.

      Members of the Presidential Delegation:

      The Honorable Anthony M. Babauta, Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs, Department of the Interior

      Lieutenant General Duane D. Thiessen, Commander of the United States Marine Corps Forces Pacific

  8. Michelle Obama to be guest on ‘Late Show’

    March. 12, 2012 UPI

    NEW YORK, March 12 (UPI) — America’s first lady, Michelle Obama, is to make her first visit to the “Late Show with David Letterman,” CBS announced Monday.

    Obama has been booked as a guest for the March 19 edition of the late-night chat show.

    “The first lady will appear on the ‘Late Show’ to discuss her Joining Forces initiative and her plans for its upcoming one-year anniversary in April,” CBS said in a news release. “As first lady, Mrs. Obama and … Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, launched Joining Forces, a national initiative to recognize, honor and support military families. The initiative aims to educate, challenge and spark action from all sectors of society to ensure that military families have the support they have earned.”

    • Michelle Obama talks Target and her dad on Letterman’s couch


      Michelle Obama talked about her dad’s fight with multiple sclerosis, her covert trip to Target and her husband’s politesse about House Speaker John Boehner on a trip to Dave Letterman’s CBS studio earlier today, according to a transcript.

      At one point, talking about her family, the first lady said, “My father had multiple sclerosis, and I never knew him to be able to walk, but my dad worked so hard and he loved us so much, and I think from him I learned just absolute, complete unconditional love, the notion that kids really don’t need anything but to know that their parents adore them. And I think that’s the greatest gift they gave us, just their constant support and, you know, stability, and that’s really what we try to instill in our girls. I mean, you talk about raising kids, it’s just really — you know, we had rules, we had boundaries, but there wasn’t anything my dad wouldn’t do for us, and, uh — don’t make me cry. This isn’t ‘Oprah!’ It’s supposed to be ‘Letterman.’”

      The audience laughed and clapped, and Letterman ultimately interjected, “Did somebody tell you this was ‘Oprah?’ … Is that why you’re here? Oh my, someone misled the first lady.”

      At the outset, Letterman asked, “How are things at the White House? OK?”

      She replied, “Things are good, things are good. Trying to stay out of trouble.”

      “There’s trouble everywhere in politics,” Letterman said. “…Yeah. You have to be careful what you say, what you do, where you go, who you look at. Now, you don’t have to answer this question, but this is the thing that I was thinking about. I have conversation with my wife. Paul has conversations with his wife. Married men and women have conversations all the time.”

      The conversation went on, and Letterman asked, “Hypothetically speaking, at the end of the day, has your husband ever come home and said to you, ‘Oh, that John Boehner, what an idiot.’”

      Mrs. Obama repled: “It has never happened. Never, never. He is always upbeat, particularly about Congress.” (Dave, audience laugh)

      “Yeah. … How can you not be upbeat?” Letterman said to laughter.

      At another point, Letterman held up a photo of Mrs. Obama shopping at Target in low-key garb.

      “That’s my Target run. I went to Target,” she said. “I thought I was undercover. I have to tell you something about this trip though. No one knew that was me because a woman actually walked up to me, right? I was in the detergent aisle, and she said — I kid you not — she said, ‘Excuse me, I just have to ask you something,’ and I thought, ‘Oh, cover’s blown.’ She said, ‘Can you reach on that shelf and hand me the detergent?’ I kid you not.”

      As the audience laughed, she went on, “And the only thing she said — I reached up, ’cause she was short, and I reached up, pulled it down — she said, ‘Well, you didn’t have to make it look so easy.’ That was my interaction. I felt so good. … She had no idea who I was. I thought, as soon as she walked up — I was with my assistant, and I said, ‘This is it, it’s over. We’re going to have to leave.’ She just needed the detergent.”

  9. We’re keeping the green decorations in place for the Taoiseach! What a month of great visits this is!

  10. March 16, 2012

    Presidental Proclamation — National Poison Prevention Week, 2012


    – – – – – – –



    Unintentional drug overdose, exposure to harmful chemicals, and other types of accidental poisoning claim thousands of lives every year. On the 50th anniversary of National Poison Prevention Week, I encourage all Americans to help protect their loved ones by identifying poisoning hazards at home; using, storing, and disposing of medication safely and effectively; and learning more about how to prevent and respond to poison emergencies.

    Though we have dramatically reduced the incidence of poisoning among children, accidental exposure to drugs and medicines, typical household chemicals, and other dangerous substances continues to threaten the health of our Nation’s youth — particularly those under the age of six. Parents and caregivers can help prevent poisoning by storing chemicals and medication in locked or childproof cabinets beyond their children’s reach, and by safely disposing of unused or expired prescription drugs. To find more information and safety tips, visit: http://www.CDC.gov.

    For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/03/16/presidental-proclamation-national-poison-prevention-week-2012

  11. Obama campaign reports raising $45 million in February

    3/19/12 By Daniel Strauss – TheHill

    President Obama’s reelection campaign reported raising $45 million in February.

    In February, 348,000 people donated to raise over $45 million for this campaign. Thank you.

    — Barack Obama (@BarackObama) March 19, 2012

    The numbers are somewhat lower than Obama’s haul during his first presidential campaign when he raised $56.78 million in February. The fundraising numbers are also an increase of the total amount the campaign raised in January, when the reelection campaign brought in $29.1 million.

  12. Senate Dems top $5.3 million in February

    03/19/12 By Josh Lederman – TheHill

    Senate Democrats raised more than $5.3 million in February, marking the third straight month where they have raised more than the month before.

    The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) ended February with almost $19 million in the bank. That’s about $3.5 million more than it had one month ago, meaning the committee saved most of what it raised.

  13. Builders Remain Optimistic About Housing Market


    Homebuilders’ feelings about the current housing market haven’t changed from February. But many are growing more optimistic that sales could pick up in the coming months.

    The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo said Monday that its builder sentiment index was unchanged this month at 28, the highest level since June 2007. The flat reading followed five straight increases.

    Builders expressed more confidence in sales over the next six months. A separate gauge measuring that outlook rose for the sixth straight month, from 34 to 36.

    Even with the brighter outlook, the industry has a long way to go. Any reading below 50 indicates negative sentiment about the housing market. The index hasn’t reached 50 since April 2006, the peak of the housing boom.

    A key reason homebuilders are more optimistic is that they have seen more people express interest in buying a home. And rising interest has occurred alongside other improvements that suggest the troubled housing market could pick up after four weak years.

    Sales of previously occupied homes rose in January to the highest level since May 2010. Mortgage rates have never been lower. And home construction has picked up.

    Still, home prices continue to fall, and builders keep slashing their prices to stay competitive. Last year was the worst for new-home sales on records dating back to 1963.

    Builders are struggling to compete with foreclosures, which have forced down prices of previously occupied homes. And many people are finding it hard to qualify for loans or meet higher required down payments.

    Low appraisals are scuttling some deals after contracts have been signed. As a result, some people who want to buy a new house are holding off because they can’t sell their home.

    Those in a position to buy are benefiting from lower prices and mortgage rates. The average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage is hovering near record lows below 4 percent.

    Builders have pointed to some regional pockets of strength. New Orleans, Pittsburgh and other smaller areas of Texas, in particular, have reported increased buying.

  14. First Question: What do you want to ask the White House Press Secretary?

    Kori Schulman March 19, 2012 09:19 AM EDT

    Today, we’re pleased to bring back “First Question” – an online engagement series that utilizes social media to answer questions from citizens across the country.

    You’ve probably seen White House press secretary Jay Carney take questions from the press in the Brady Briefing Room here at the White House. With “First Question,” we’re inviting Americans to ask their questions online for Jay to answer.

    So, what’s your question for the White House press secretary? Here’s how it works:

    * In the morning, Jay will ask for that day’s questions in a post to his @PressSec Twitter account. Be sure to follow his account and the White House’s main Twitter account (@WhiteHouse) to find out when we’re open for questions.

    * Once @PressSec has posted, anyone can fire away with questions using the hashtag #1q on Twitter. If you see a question you’d like answered, retweet it. You can also ask your question on the White House’s Google+ page and +1 the questions you like.

    * Over the next hour or two, we’ll collect your questions.

    * Jay will answer some of the questions you submitted and we’ll post the response on WhiteHouse.gov, Twitter and Google+.

    For entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/03/19/first-question-what-do-you-want-ask-white-house-press-secretary

    • First Question with Jay Carney – March 19th 2012

      Uploaded by whitehouse on Mar 19, 2012

      In his first “First Question” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney takes questions from the White House social networks on gas prices, energy policy and health care.

  15. Treasury Department turns $25B profit on crisis-era securities

    3/19/12 By Peter Schroeder – TheHill

    The Treasury Department has sold off all the mortgage-backed securities it bought during the financial crisis, reaping a profit along the way.

    The government made $25 billion from roughly $225 billion of debt backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The securities were purchased in the midst of the financial crisis, as the government tried to keep credit flowing in the housing market.

    Now, with markets surging and the financial crisis in the rearview mirror — and with the presidential campaign rapidly approaching — the government is backing away from its outsized presence in the markets.

    “The successful sale of these securities marks another important milestone in the wind-down of the government’s emergency financial crisis response efforts,” said Mary Miller, the Treasury’s assistant secretary for financial markets. “This program helped support the housing market during a critical moment for our nation’s economy and delivered a substantial profit for taxpayers.”
    The Treasury announced plans to gradually wind down its housing holdings in March 2011.

    The move marks the latest in a series of steps by the government to exit its crisis-driven investments. In July, the Treasury announced it was no longer invested in Chrysler, ending with a roughly $1.3 billion loss.

    For the entire article: http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/banking-financial-institutions/216645-treasury-turns-25b-profit-on-crisis-era-mortgage-debt

  16. Irish Times:

    Kenny rings NYSE opening bell

    by Paul Cullen

    Taoiseach Enda Kenny rang the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange today in the latest leg of his US tour….

    The traditional presentation of a bowl of shamrock to US president Barack Obama takes place tomorrow at the White House.

    Speaking in New York today, Mr Kenny said his government will make a decision “very shortly” on when it will hold a referendum on Europe’s fiscal compact….

    Mr Kenny said he expects Ireland to exit its bailout programme within two years. “Ireland is in a different position than it was 12 months ago,” he said. “There’s a degree of confidence, deposits are flowing back into banks, the government has been decisive, has been clear. Obviously we face challenging times, but we made a very good start and we’re confident in the future.” ….


  17. Obama’s daughter spends springbreak in Mexico

    3/19/12 AFP – 1 hr 15 mins ago

    The elder daughter of US President Barack Obama is spending her springbreak in the historic Mexican city of Oaxaca in the company of 12 friends, a state police official said.

    The young tourists, including 13-year-old Malia Ann Obama, are staying at a downtown hotel in this city famous for its colonial architecture and well-preserved native American traditions, the official said.

    “We are here to block access to the hotel by other people and escort the vehicles that are carrying the visitors to tourism sites,” the police official told AFP under the condition of anonymity.

    Malia Obama and her friend are guarded by 25 US Secret Service agents as well as Mexican police, the official noted.

    The group, which arrived in Oaxaca Saturday, has already visited the architectural zone of Mitla and the tree of El Tule believed to have one thousand years.

    The sightseeing plan also includes visits to Monte Alban known for its archeological research sites and Oaxaca’s famous artisan quarters.

  18. Surprise Increase in Rates Is Credited to Signs of Recovery

    3/19/12 By NELSON D. SCHWARTZ | New York Times – 6 hours ago

    Investors will be closely watching for another rise in interest rates when trading resumes on Monday, after the bond market’s sharpest move in nearly six months caught some traders by surprise last week.

    Despite the sudden swing higher, most Wall Street strategists are playing down the danger of a surge in interest rates, which have been historically low because of demand for bonds from both the Federal Reserve and private investors wary of all but the safest assets.

    The sell-off last week was caused by increasing signs that the economy might finally be gaining steam, lifting the yield on 10-year Treasury bonds to 2.31 percent on Friday, from 2.04 percent a week earlier. That was the biggest move in bond yields, which move inversely to bond prices, since October, when rates briefly topped 2.4 percent.

    “It clearly caught everyone’s attention,” said Jim McDonald, chief investment strategist for Northern Trust in Chicago. “When something moves like this, by definition it’s a surprise.”

    More data confirming that the economy is gaining momentum could come later this week. In addition to data expected on Tuesday and Wednesday on housing starts and existing home sales, the Commerce Department will disclose the latest figures for sales of new homes on Friday. And on Thursday, the Conference Board will announce its index of leading economic indicators for February.

    After meeting last Tuesday, the Federal Reserve acknowledged the slight upturn in economic conditions but reiterated its intention to keep short-term rates near zero through late 2014. That was despite an earlier warning from one regional Fed president, Jeffrey M. Lacker of Richmond, that rates might have to be raised sooner than that to head off any risk of inflation.

    While rising bond yields can undermine prices for stocks and indeed signal the threat of inflation, Mr. McDonald said he did not think they were a threat right now. Instead, he said, the uptick in rates represents a “normalization” for bond yields, which are near historic lows.

    For the entire article: http://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/surprise-increase-rates-credited-signs-121203848.html

  19. avg_senior_4200_saved_on_healthcare_by_2021_due_to_affordable_care_act

    By the Numbers: $4,200

    The average senior on Medicare will save $4,200 on their health care by 2021 because of the Affordable Care Act.

    President Obama’s health reform law strengthens Medicare for seniors in a few ways. It gives them access to preventive services, such as mammograms and colonoscopies, with no co-pay or deductibles, as well as a free annual wellness visit. Nearly 32.5 million people have already received a free preventive service.

    And, the Affordable Care Act is making it easier for seniors to pay for the medications they need, by providing a 50 percent discount on brand-name prescription drugs for seniors once they hit the prescription coverage gap known as the “donut hole.” By 2020, that donut hole will be closed completely.

    Already, more than 5.1 million seniors and people with disabilities saved over $3.2 billion in drug costs. That comes to an average savings of $635 per person.

    For more information:

    * How health reform helps seniors

    * VIDEO: Health reform is giving Helen, a senior from West Philadelphia, peace of mind and more money in her pocket

    * Tell us your story: How is the Affordable Care Act improving your care?

    • Breaking It Down: The Health Care Law & Seniors

      Posted by Chris Stenrud on March 19, 2012 at 10:46 AM EDT

      Ed Note: This was originally posted on HealthCare.gov , a website by the US Department of Health and Human Services.

      The President’s health law gives hard working, middle-class families the security they deserve. The Affordable Care Act forces insurance companies to play by the rules, prohibiting them from dropping your coverage if you get sick, billing you into bankruptcy through annual or lifetime limits, and, soon, discriminating against anyone with a pre-existing condition.

      For seniors, the new health care law, the Affordable Care Act, not only means more time with their doctor and important new benefits like free preventive services like cancer screenings and annual wellness visits, but it also means more money in their pocket. The new health care law strengthens Medicare. Already, more than 5.1 million seniors and people with disabilities saved over $3.2 billion in drug costs. That comes to an average savings of $635 per person for seniors caught in the coverage gap known as the donut hole. And, 32.5 million people with Medicare have received preventive service without a deductible or copay, thanks to the new law.

      Here are more ways the law helps seniors:

      * You get free preventive services
      * You get cheaper prescription drugs
      * Your doctors are supported to better coordinate your care
      * The law fights fraud and strengthens Medicare
      * Your Medicare coverage is protected

      For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/03/19/breaking-it-down-health-care-law-seniors

    • Official Sources Agree: The Affordable Care Act Reduces the Deficit

      Jeanne Lambrew April 09, 2012 10:49 PM EDT

      Today, we are reading about another brand of “new math” in describing how the Affordable Care Act will affect our nation’s Federal budget deficit. In another attempt to refight the battles of the past, one former Bush Administration official is wrongly claiming that some of the savings in the Affordable Care Act are “double-counted” and that the law actually increases the deficit. This claim is false.

      According to the official Administration and Congressional scorekeepers, the Affordable Care Act will reduce the deficit: its costs are more than fully paid for. The Office of Management and Budget and Congressional Budget Office project lower Federal budget deficits as a result of the law. The Congressional Budget Office is charged with assessing how legislation would affect the deficit. When the health care bill was passed by Congress, CBO wrote:

      “CBO and JCT estimate that enacting both pieces of legislation—H.R. 3590 and the reconciliation proposal—would produce a net reduction in federal deficits of $143 billion over the 2010–2019 period as result of changes in direct spending and revenues.”

      When Congressional Republicans sought to repeal the law, CBO found that eliminating the law would increase the deficit. CBO wrote:

      “[T]he effect of H.R. 2 on federal deficits as a result of changes in direct spending and revenues is likely to be an increase in the vicinity of $230 billion, plus or minus the effects of technical and economic changes to CBO’s and JCT’s projections for that period.”

      And just last month, in updating its estimates of key parts of the law, CBO estimated that the insurance coverage provisions of the health care law would, compared to last year’s estimates for the same time period, cost $50 billion less. Assuming no change to the rest of the estimates, this means $50 billion more in deficit reduction.

      OMB and CBO have never given a discount in deficit reduction due to a “double counting” of Medicare savings in an estimate of the impact of legislation. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explained:

      “Claims that the Medicare savings in the ACA have somehow been “double counted” are without merit… Deficit-reduction legislation that includes Medicare provisions has been accounted for in exactly the same way in previous Congresses under both political parties. For example, both the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 and the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (both of which were passed by Republican Congresses) included Medicare savings that reduced the federal deficit and improved the solvency of Medicare’s HI trust fund. No claims of double-counting were raised when these bills were enacted. Similarly, the Social Security Amendments of 1983 reduced the budget deficit at the same time as they improved the solvency of the Social Security trust funds.”

      As such, this new math fits the old pattern of mischaracterizations about the Affordable Care Act when official estimates show the health care law reduces the deficit. ‘

  20. March 19, 2012

    Statement by NSC Spokesman Tommy Vietor on Attack in France

    We were deeply saddened to learn of the horrific attack this morning against the teachers and students of a Jewish school in the French city of Toulouse. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of the victims, and we stand with a community in grief. We join the Government of France in condemning this unprovoked and outrageous act of violence in the strongest possible terms.

  21. March 19, 2012

    Statement from NSC Spokesman Tommy Vietor on the Detention of Members of the Damas de Blanco

    The detention of members of the Damas de Blanco this weekend in Havana in the lead up to Pope Benedict’s visit underscores the disdain of Cuban authorities for the universal rights of the Cuban people. The quiet dignity of the Damas stands in stark contrast with the acts of those who are standing in the way of the basic aspirations of the Cuban people. We call for the immediate release of all who were detained and for Cuban authorities to abandon their tactics of intimidation and harassment to stifle peaceful dissent.

    President Obama and the American people remain steadfast in standing with the Damas and other courageous voices in Cuban civil society who demonstrate the Cuban people’s desire to freely determine their country’s future.

  22. March 19, 2012

    Presidential Proclamation — National Day of Honor




    Nine years ago, members of the United States Armed Forces crossed the sands of the Iraq-Kuwait border and began one of the most challenging missions our military has ever known. They left the comforts of home and family, volunteering in service to a cause greater than themselves. They braved insurgency and sectarian strife, knowing too well the danger of combat and the cost of conflict. Yet, through the dust and din and the fog of war, they never lost their resolve. Demonstrating unshakable fortitude and unwavering commitment to duty, our men and women in uniform served tour after tour, fighting block by block to help the Iraqi people seize the chance for a better future. And on December 18, 2011, their mission came to an end.

    Today, we honor their success, their service, and their sacrifice. In one of our Nation’s longest wars, veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn wrote one of the most extraordinary chapters in American military history. When highways became mine fields and uncertainty waited behind every corner, service members rose to meet the task at hand with unmatched courage and determination. They learned languages and cultures, taking on new roles as diplomats and development experts to improve the communities where they served. Their strength toppled a tyrant, and their valor helped build opportunity in oppression’s place. Across nearly 9 years of conflict, the glory of their service — as well as the contributions of other members of the U.S. Government and our coalition partners — always shone through.

    For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/03/19/presidential-proclamation-national-day-honor

  23. The Market’s Finally Looking Up: Will It Last?

    3/19/12 by CHRIS ARNOLD – NPR

    The stock market hit some major milestones this week: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index reached its highest level in more than three years, the Dow Jones industrial average settled in above 13,000 — up about 24 percent since early October — and the Nasdaq rose to its highest level in 11 years. Still, the Federal Reserve has been warning not to get too excited about where the economy is headed next.

    David Kotok, chairman and chief investment officer at Cumberland Advisors, says there are a bunch of reason for stocks to be rising.

    “Europe didn’t collapse — that was one,” Kotok says. “We see improving employment statistics — the most recent one is this week’s initial unemployment claims.”

    Those numbers showed fewer people were asking for unemployment benefits, which is a good sign. Earlier this week, the Fed announced that most big U.S. banks passed its stress test, encouraging investors. And to top it all off, retail sales are on the rise, showing stronger consumer demand.

    But when stocks rise so much, so fast, it always raises a question: Have they overshot on the upside? Can they maintain their current levels?

    Late this week, Rebecca Patterson, chief markets strategist for J.P. Morgan Asset Management, told an investor conference call that she takes those concerns seriously.

    “I think we appreciate that sentiment,” she said, “because at the end of the day the perception will impact trading and then perception becomes reality.”

    But Patterson says she thinks these gains are sustainable. She says stock values were depressed to very low levels in recent years because of all the panic over economic trouble around the globe.

    For the entire article and audio interview: http://www.npr.org/2012/03/16/148753697/the-markets-finally-looking-up-will-it-last

  24. Startup Converts Plastic To Oil, And Finds A Niche

    3/19/12 by DANIEL ROBISON – NPR

    Only 7 percent of plastic waste in the United States is recycled each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. A startup company in Niagara Falls says it can increase that amount and reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil at the same time.

    It all starts with a machine known as the Plastic-Eating Monster. Thousands of pounds of shredded milk jugs, water bottles and grocery bags tumble into a large tank, where they’re melted together and vaporized. This waste comes from landfills and dumps from all over the United States.

    “Basically, they’ve been mining their piles for us and sending them here,” says John Bordynuik, who heads his namesake company, JBI Inc. He invented a process that converts plastic into oil by rearranging its hydrocarbon chains.

    Vying For Mainstream Acceptance

    According to tests by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, JBI’s patented technology is efficient, with close to 90 percent of plastics coming out as fuel. Bordynuik says that makes the case for this kind of recycling to go mainstream.

    “When there have been attempts in the past to make fuel from plastic, it’s been low-quality, low-flashpoint, kind of sludgy,” he says. “In this case here, we’re making a very highly refined, consistent product that’s within specifications of any standardized fuel.”

    JBI executive Bob Molodynia points to a spout at the other end of the plastic-eating machine, where a thin, brown liquid drips out.

    “You could tap this right now and this is ready to go,” he says. “That’s a No. 6 fuel. That’s what a lot of [companies] like U.S. Steel use, a lot of major companies — that’s what they pay the big bucks for, right there.”

    For the entire article and audio interview: http://www.npr.org/2012/03/19/147506525/startup-converts-plastic-to-oil-and-finds-a-niche

    • This is the kind of ingenious thinking that will create jobs, clean up our environment and protect us from dependence on terrorism-funding oil dictatorships.

  25. 3:30 PM EST
    Obama for America hosts a “Family Game Night” campaign fundraiser
    First Lady Michelle Obama will be bowling for . The fundraiser event will be hosted by Victor Cruz, wide receiver for the New York Giants, and Wale Ogunleye, former NFL Chicago Bears
    Chelsea Pier, New York

  26. Women Once Again In Crossfire Of Culture Wars

    3/19/12 NPR

    Pamela Scully, professor and chair of the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Emory

    Catherine Rymph, associate professor in the Department of History at the University of Missouri, author of Republican Women

    Summary: In recent months, a swarm of controversies have erupted over issues of women’s health — from the split in the Catholic church over employer coverage of contraceptives to the proposed ultrasound laws in Virginia and Texas to the uproar over funding for Planned Parenthood.

    For the audio interview: http://www.npr.org/2012/03/19/148926696/women-once-again-in-crossfire-of-culture-wars

  27. Op-Ed: Shooting Of Black Teen Reveals ‘Blindness’

    3/19/12 NPR

    Read The Op-Eds
    Jonathan Capehart’s “Under ‘suspicion’: The Killing of Trayvon Martin” in The Washington Post

    Leonard Pitts’ “Tragic teen shooting raises old fears, questions” in The Miami Herald

    Summary: Three weeks after 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, no arrests have been made in what critics are calling a case of racial profiling. Columnist Leonard Pitts says the incident exposes society’s “blindness” to African-Americans.

    For the entire article: http://www.npr.org/2012/03/19/148926698/op-ed-shooting-of-black-teen-reveals-blindness

    • Disgraceful and heartbreaking. The killer says he acted in self-defense. No, he followed the 17 year-old Trayvon Martin and shot him, and 911 recordings prove it. Too many white people live in some kind of dream world of fear and hate, and too many other white people just don’t see racism unless it’s a burning cross right in front of them. The hateful bumper stickers and emails we’ve all seen are disgusting, but they serve the purpose of warning decent people that there’s an idiot at the wheel or online. It’s the under-the-radar racism embedded in systems and people’s inner craziness that we have to call by its true name and fight. To quote Al Smith, half-Irish and the first Catholic Presidential nominee of a major party, “anything un-American cannot live in the sunlight.” He really was confronted by burning crosses in his campaign.

      40 million Irish-Americans ought to agree. Our ancestors immigrated to a country where newspaper editorials hoped they would die of disease in their slums, where as late as 1960 JFK had to promise to serve America and not the Pope. America would not be the country we love and the country that will yet do much more good in the world without all the generations of every single group of people who have built it and bettered it, whether they came by choice or by force. We are one people and one country and we finally have bigotry on the defensive. I don’t know how long it will take, but we will win.

  28. Yesterday was the 4th anniversay of then-Senator Obama’s “A More Perfect Union” speech.

    • …. In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination – and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past – are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds – by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations. It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper.

      In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world’s great religions demand – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother’s keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister’s keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well….

      I would not be running for President if I didn’t believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want for this country. This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected….


  29. NASA Joins Campaign to Encourage the Next Generation of American Engineers and Innovators

    Charles Bolden March 19, 2012 02:57 PM EDT

    Last week I was in Atlanta, on the campus of Georgia Tech for a “Day of Engineering” Facebook pep rally to kick off the President’s new Stay With It campaign devoted to recruiting, retaining and graduating 10,000 engineers each year to maintain America’s competitive edge. Corporate leaders, educators and students have gathered for dialog and panel discussions on the dire need to increase the number of American engineers. Fourteen universities from across the nation are participating via Facebook viewing parties. Spearheaded by Intel President & CEO, Paul Otellini, who is also a member of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, the Stay With It campaign will provide mentors and other supports to increase the number of American engineering graduates which has fallen woefully behind other surging economies and has led to a shortage of skilled workers for American jobs.

    For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/03/19/nasa-joins-campaign-encourage-next-generation-american-engineers-and-innovators

  30. Using Technology to Help Homeless Veterans

    Posted by W. Scott Gould on March 19, 2012 at 03:30 PM EDT

    More than 67,000 veterans spent one night homeless, living in emergency shelters, transitional housing units or on the streets in 2011, according to last year’s “point in time” count conducted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in coordination with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

    It’s not always easy for volunteers and outreach workers to know where to send them to get help. That’s why the VA is excited to launch a competition to provide easy access to resources that the homeless need, when they need them, and where they can get them.

    Project REACH (Real-Time Electronic Access for Caregivers and the Homeless) challenges applicants to make a free, easy-to-use, and broadly accessible web- and Smartphone app to provide current and up-to-date information about housing and shelter, health clinics, food banks, and other services available to the homeless. It is designed to tap the enormous talent and deep compassion of the nation’s developer community to help us deliver vital information to the people who care for the homeless.

    People caring for homeless veterans will be able to use this app to look up the location and availability of shelters, free clinics, and other social services – and instantaneously be able to share this critical information with those in need.

    This contest is sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Joining Forces in support of the Administration’s goal of ending veteran homelessness by 2015.

    For more information and to participate in the challenge, go to http://www.reachthehomeless.challenge.gov.

  31. Sharon Potter, Iraq War Veteran: “The President delivered on his promise to end the war in Iraq.”

    Uploaded by BarackObamadotcom on Mar 18, 2012

    Leave a note for the troops: https://my.barackobama.com/sharonpottervid

    Sharon Potter is the first female in the state of Nevada to receive a purple heart by way of serving in Iraq. She stands with President Obama because of his continuing fight to ensure that our nation’s veterans and military families are taken care of.

  32. Eva Longoria: Obama understands the Hispanic community

    3/19/12 POLITICO44

    Actress Eva Longoria, an Obama campaign co-chair, defended President Obama’s record on immigration and Latino issues Monday amid Mitt Romney’s victory in the Republican primary in Puerto Rico.

    “Mitt Romney is probably the one on the wrong side of every issue pertaining to Latinos: education, the economy, health care access. He’s campaigning with — he’s calling the anti-immigration law from Arizona a model law for the rest of the country,” the “Desperate Housewives” star said on MSNBC. “He’s campaigning with the author of it. That is polarizing to Latinos. He wants to veto the DREAM Act if he was in office. That is dangerous for our community,”

    “Obama, for me, is the only one that understands that the success and the future of America is intricately tied to the success of the Hispanic community,” Longoria told host Andrea Mitchell.

    On illegal immigration, Longoria said that Latinos do not generally favor illegal immigration.

    “The misconception is Latinos are for illegal immigration. That is not true. Unfortunately, Obama can’t do it by himself. I know there’s disappointment in the Latino community but what he has done, what he can do, he’s proposed changes to keep families together,” she said. “He has reallocated resources from the Department of Homeland Security to focus on deporting criminals, not DREAM Act students.

    “So he’s done what he can do without having his hands tied by Congress. So I think also because the GOP primary has been so long, all we’ve heard is attacks on his record and that’s what I’m going to be doing as a co-chair is getting out there and showing the great things about what he’s done in his first term. Latinos need to hear it,” Longoria said.

  33. Implementing Section 508: Improving Access to Government Information and Data for Persons with Disabilities

    Posted by Kareem Dale, Lesley A. Field, Steven VanRoekel on March 19, 2012 at 10:50 AM EDT

    The President put it best when he said, “Americans with disabilities are Americans first and foremost, and like all Americans are entitled to not only full participation in our society, but also full opportunity in our society.” And, the truth is that Americans with disabilities can’t fully participate and will not have the full opportunity to do so unless they have access to the technology that is so critical to that participation and those opportunities. That’s why, at the President’s direction, his Administration has focused on enhancing our commitment to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, so that Americans outside the government can access information about their government and those working inside the government can be productive employees.

    Over the past few years, we have taken several affirmative steps regarding Section 508. For the first time, the Chief Information Officer Council and the Chief Acquisition Officer Council now jointly chair the Chief Information Officers Accessibility Committee. Following that creation, in July 2010, OMB issued a memorandum, Improving the Accessibility of Government Information to set forth additional steps. This memo focused on (1) increasing awareness of responsibilities and requirements associated with Section 508, (2) improving agency accountability and accessibility performance, and (3) improving outreach and communication. It also included a requirement to host listening sessions with the community across the nation to gather input on Federal implementation of Section 508.

    Recognizing that we still needed to do more, in July 2011, the President announced an effort to develop a strategic plan for Section 508 and the intent to share the strategy with the public. To support development of this plan, senior officials and staff from across the Executive Office of the President have met with advocacy groups, Section 508 coordinators, the CIOC Accessibility Committee, the Access Board, the General Services Administration, and other key stakeholders inside and outside the government. We have taken the information from the listening sessions as well as all the input received through various stakeholder meetings and pulled together a framework for the next phase in our efforts to improve Section 508 management.

    For the entire article; http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/03/19/implementing-section-508-improving-access-government-information-and-data-persons-di

  34. Secret tour of White House, Oval Office for Obama’s Irish cousin and friend

    President Obama’s cousin Henry Healy talks of amazing St Patrick’s Day experience

    March 19, 2012 By PATRICK COUNIHAN, IrishCentral Staff Writer

    The Irishmen who went for a pint with President Barack Obama have spoken of their amazing St Patrick’s Day experience in Washington.

    Henry Healy, President Obama’s distant cousin, and Ollie Hayes, the Irish publican who welcomed him to Moneygall last year, were VIP guests at the White House.

    They were invited to the very heart of American politics in a series of secret emails, given an access-all-areas tour and accompanied President Obama for a Paddy’s Day pint in the city’s Dubliner bar.

    Less than a year after Healy and Hayes drank Guinness with the President in his ancestral Irish homeland, the trio were re-united after Henry and Ollie received an invitation to join President Obama and First Lady Michelle for a St Patrick’s Day reception.

    Plans to start their American tour in New York had to be cut short after the secret invite from the President as Healy told the Irish Independent newspaper.

    “We weren’t even aware what was going to happen, we were sworn to secrecy,” said Healy.

    “We arrived at 11.30am on Saturday to the north-west gates of the White House. We made our own way there and then Ollie and myself went through security clearance. We were brought into the West Wing – we went into the Oval Office and got a chance to walk around it.

    “I saw the desk and all the things you see on TV, it was unbelievable. The act where President Lincoln signed for the freedom of slavery was there and lots of books, photographs and artefacts.”

    Healy revealed how the pair also saw President Obama’s private office with lots of photographs of his family, a basketball on the floor and Nelson Mandela’s autobiography on his desk.

    Read more: http://www.irishcentral.com/news/Secret-tour-of-White-House-Oval-Office–for-Obamas-Irish-cousin-and-friend–143294236.html

  35. March 19, 2012

    Statement by the President on the Need for a Bipartisan Transportation Bill

    Last week, the Senate passed a bipartisan transportation bill that will keep construction workers on the job and keep our economy growing. Now the House of Representatives needs to take bipartisan action so I can sign this into law.

    An economy built to last depends on a world-class infrastructure system that allows us to transport our people and goods as quickly and effectively as possible. That’s why we need to continue to make investments that will create jobs by rebuilding and modernizing our roads, bridges and railways. And that’s why my Administration will continue to fight for the long-term investments needed to ensure that America continues to compete and succeed in a global economy.

  36. 6:00 PM EST
    First Lady Michelle Obama attends a cocktail reception campaign event hosted by Robert De Niro and his wife Grace Hightower De Niro, Whoopi Goldberg, Star Jones, Angela Bassett, Lynn Whitfield, Alfre Woodard, Tina Knowles (Beyonce’s mother) and Tonya Lewis Lee (Spike Lee’s wife)
    New York, New York

    • March 19, 2012

      Remarks by the First Lady at a Campaign Event

      Chelsea Piers, New York, New York

      6:20 P.M. EDT

      MRS. OBAMA: Wow! (Applause.) This looks like it was so much fun. (Applause.) How many people did some bowling? (Applause.) They asked me if I wanted to throw a ball. I told them, bowling is like a potato chip — you can’t just do one. So — (laughter.)

      I have to tell you, it is such a pleasure to be here with all of you. I mean, this is my kind of event. It’s family. It’s kids. It’s community.

      I want to start by thanking Victor and Adewale, first of all, for being special guests here. (Applause.) We’re so glad to have them with us today. And we are going to have them working so hard. We’re going to suck them in, and we’re going to be doing a lot of great stuff. But they have just been amazing.

      I’d also like to thank Chelsea Piers for hosting us here today. Yay — (applause) — to the team here.

      But most of all, I want to thank all of you for your support and for taking the time to join us today.

      And I particularly want to recognize all of our young people who are with us today. (Applause.) We’re so proud of you all. Because, you know what? The truth is, you all are the reason that we’re here today. Truly, you are the reason. You see, we’re here today because we know that in November, we’re going to make a choice that will affect not just our lives, but your lives, and the world we leave for you long after we’re gone. And that’s really what’s at stake in all of this. That’s why all of this is going on.

      And that’s what I see when I travel across the country and I meet folks from different backgrounds and walks of life. Everywhere I go, I hear about what’s going on in people’s lives. I hear about their worries, their hopes, and their dreams. And I hear about how people are struggling to pay their bills. I hear about the businesses that people are trying to keep afloat. I hear about the home that they love, but some people can no longer afford.

      But no matter what is going on in people’s lives, no matter what the challenges are they face, they keep working, they keep sacrificing, because they desperately want something better for their kids. They believe in that fundamental vision for our country that we all share — the idea that, as my husband says, everyone should get a fair shot, they should do their fair share, and they should play by the same rules. (Applause.) And those are the values that we all live by. I know your parents tell you that, right?

      AUDIENCE: Yes.

      MRS. OBAMA: Keep it fair, right?

      But these are basic American values that so many of us were raised with, including myself. I don’t know if you all knew this, but my father was a blue-collar city worker; he worked at the city water plant. My parents didn’t make a lot of money. We lived in a little-bitty apartment on the South Side of Chicago. And neither of my parents had the opportunity to go to college, but let me tell you what they did do — they worked hard, and they saved every last cent, and they sacrificed everything, because they wanted something more for me and my brother.

      And more than anything else, that’s what’s at stake — that fundamental promise that no matter how you started out, that if you work hard, you can build a decent life for yourself, but more importantly, an even better life for your kids.

      For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/03/19/remarks-first-lady-campaign-event

  37. WH

    Tuesday, March 20, 2012

    All Times Eastern

    7:00 AM
    8:00 AM
    8:30 AM
    The Vice President hosts a St. Patrick’s Day breakfast in honor of Irish Prime Minister Edna Kenny
    The Naval Observatory

    9:00 AM
    9:15 AM
    President Obama receives the daily briefing.

    10:00 AM
    10:10 AM
    President Obama and Biden meet with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny.
    Oval Office
    Pool Spray at the Top

    11:00 AM
    11:15 AM
    White House Press Secretary Jay Carney briefs the press.

    12:00 PM
    President Obama, Vice President Biden and Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny attend a St. Patrick’s Day lunch.
    United States Capitol
    Pooled Press

    1:00 PM
    2:00 PM
    3:00 PM
    4:00 PM
    4:30 PM
    President Obama and Vice President Biden meet with Defense Secretary Panetta.

    5:00 PM
    6:00 PM
    7:00 PM
    President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama host a St. Patrick’s Day reception, Vice President Biden attends.
    East Room
    Pooled Press

    8:00 PM
    9:00 PM
    10:00 PM

    • POTUS podium

      March 20, 2012

      WhiteHouse.gov http://www.whitehouse.gov/live

      9:30 AM EDT
      White House LGBT Conference on Safe Schools & Communities
      Arlington, Texas
      To watch live video of this event, click here .

      11:15 AM EDT
      White House Press Secretary Jay Carney briefs the press.

      5:30 PM EDT
      White House LGBT Conference on Safe Schools & Communities
      To watch live video of this event, click here .

      7:00 PM EDT
      President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama host a St. Patrick’s Day reception, Vice President Biden attends.


      CNN http://live.cnn.com

      10:00 AM EDT
      Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner testifies on the department’s annual report on the state of the international financial system, at the House Financial Services Committee.

      10:00 AM EDT
      Hearing on the increasing student debt-load, at the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts

      10:00 AM EDT
      House Armed Services Committee: Recent Developments in Afghanistan

      11:15 AM EDT
      White House Press Secretary Jay Carney briefs the press.

      12:45 PM EDT
      Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke delivers first of four lectures at the George Washington School of Business

      2:15 PM EDT
      U.S. Senate: Securities Regulations & Small Businesses http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/304991-3

      2:45 PM EDT
      Hearing on commercial airline safety, at the Senate Commerce subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety and Security.

      7:00 PM EDT
      President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama host a St. Patrick’s Day reception, Vice President Biden attends.


      CSPAN http://www.cspan.org/

      10:00 AM EDT
      Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner testifies on the department’s annual report on the state of the international financial system, at the House Financial Services Committee. http://www.c-span.org/Events/Secretary-Geithner-Testifies-on-the-International-Financial-System/10737429201/

      10:00 AM EDT
      Hearing on the increasing student debt-load, at the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts

      10:00 AM EDT
      House Armed Services Committee: Recent Developments in Afghanistan http://www.c-span.org/Events/Top-Commanders-Update-Congress-on-Afghanistan-/10737429161/

      Ambassador Rice Justifies Budget Requests for U.N., UNESCO http://www.c-span.org/Events/Ambassador-Rice-Justifies-Budget-Requests-for-UN-UNESCO/10737429202/

      11:15 AM EDT
      White House Press Secretary Jay Carney briefs the press.

      12:45 PM EDT
      Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke delivers first of four lectures at the George Washington School of Business

      2:15 PM EDT
      U.S. Senate: Securities Regulations & Small Businesses

      2:45 PM EDT
      Hearing on commercial airline safety, at the Senate Commerce subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety and Security.

  38. Obama speaks to Abbas

    3/19/12 6:36 PM EDT POLITICO44

    Here is the White House’s readout of President Obama’s call with Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority: “President Obama called Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas this morning to discuss a range of issues of mutual interest. The President reaffirmed America’s commitment to Middle East Peace and to the overall objectives outlined by the Quartet. The President noted the positive efforts by King Abdullah of Jordan and his Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh to advance dialogue between the parties. The President also noted the need for all parties to reinforce the efforts that have brought an end to the recent fighting and thanked President Abbas for his contributions in that regard. The two leaders agreed on the necessity of the two-state solution, and President Obama noted that Jordan’s efforts to foster direct discussions between Israel and the Palestinians are an important contribution to the cause of peace. They also discussed the ongoing need to build trust between the parties and for all sides to refrain from provocative actions that make it more difficult to build such trust. They agreed to remain in close contact about these important issues.”

  39. Ecobuild 2012 London 3/20 -34/22

    Ecobuild 2012 — Architectural/Constr./Engineering SVC, Building Products, Construction Eq., Renewable Energy Eq.

    London, United Kingdom

    03/20/2012 – 03/22/2012

    Event Summary:
    Ecobuild is the world’s biggest event for sustainable design, construction and the built environment and the UK’s largest construction event of any kind. The 2011 show featured more than 1,300 exhibitors and attracted more than 55,000 visitors, a 34% increase in attendees on the previous year. This is a reflection of the recovering fortunes of the UK’s construction industry. The 2012 event is expected to be larger still, driven in part by the UK government’s Green Deal initiative to enable whole home energy efficiency improvements. As a result, Ecobuild 2012 will be a unique opportunity for U.S. suppliers to showcase their innovative sustainable building products and services. Sponsored by Export.gov

    For more information: http://export.gov/eac/show_detail_trade_events.asp?EventID=31936&InputType=EVENT

  40. Skilled workers needed to run high-tech CNC machines

    March 19, 2012 by Dustin Dwyer – marketplace

    Kai Ryssdal: For all the talk about the long, slow decline of American manufacturing, the fact of the matter is that lots of stuff is still made in the U.S.A. That includes places like Michigan, where reports of manufacturing’s death turn out to have been greatly exaggerated. Because even if you drive a foreign car, there’s a decent chance that thousands of parts in it were made right here. And a lot of those parts — and a lot of parts for everything else in your life — were made possible by one particular kind of machine.

    Dustin Dwyer of Changing Gears explains.

    Dustin Dwyer: CNC stands for computer numerically controlled. And what the computerized machine does is it machines things. That sounds ridiculous unless you know that machine is not just a noun. It’s also a specific manufacturing process. It’s when you cut away — or sculpt — a material.

    Peter Zelinski: Machining is at, or very close to, the foundation of manufacturing.

    This is Peter Zelinski. He’s senior editor at a magazine called Modern Machine Shop. And he says, even if you’ve never heard of it, CNC machining is essential to your life.

    Zelinski: Any product you pick up and touch, it’s not too many steps away from a machining process.

    Most of the parts in your car engine come from a CNC machine. Medical devices, your kitchen cabinets — CNC machine. Your computer case, your iPhone earbuds — well, no. But the mold that created them — CNC machine. Zelinski says the growth of these machines represents the biggest change in manufacturing over the last 20 years. The people who run them are factory workers. But they also have to be computer programmers.

    For the entire article and audio interview: http://www.marketplace.org/topics/tech/skilled-workers-needed-run-high-tech-cnc-machines

    • Happy Spring CR and all friends! We had snowy rain yesterday and hail the day before and pouring rain today but that will just make things nice and green. There are flower buds on the red flowering currant and flowers in bloom on the Indian plum. And dandelions!

  41. Housing starts dip; permits near 3-1/2 year high

    3/20/12 Reuters – 12 mins ago

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Housing starts fell in February, but permits for future construction jumped to their highest level since October 2008, according to a government report on Tuesday that showed steady improvement in the housing market.

    The Commerce Department said housing starts slipped 1.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 698,000 units. January’s starts were revised up to a 706,000-unit pace from a previously reported 699,000 unit rate.

    Economists polled by Reuters had forecast housing starts little changed at a 700,000-unit rate. Compared to February last year, residential construction was up 34.7 percent, the biggest year-on-year rise since April 2010.

    New building permits surged 5.1 percent to a 717,000-unit pace last month, far exceeding economists’ expectations for an advance to a 690,000-unit pace from January’s 682,000-unit rate.

    Green shoots are starting to emerge in the housing market, but an oversupply of unsold homes, which is depressing prices, remains a major hurdle, even as sales have picked up in recent months as job growth accelerated.

    Residential construction is expected to add to economic growth this year for the first time since 2005.

    Sentiment among home builders held at a near five-year high in March, a survey showed on Monday, and they were optimistic about sales over the next six months.

    For the entire article: http://news.yahoo.com/housing-starts-dip-permits-near-3-1-2-123603927.html

    • White House LGBT Conference on Safe Schools & Communities

      Uploaded by whitehouse on Apr 4, 2012

      Over 400 students, teachers, parents, community advocates, law enforcement officers, and elected officials join senior leaders of the Obama Administration at the University of Texas at Arlington for a day-long conversation about safety and security for LGBT people.

    • Watch Live: White House LGBT Conference on Safe Schools & Communities

      Matt Compton March 20, 2012 08:30 AM EDT

      Today, the White House will partner with the Departments of Justice and Education for a discussion with community leaders, advocates, and members of the public on efforts to ensure safety and security for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

  42. 10:10 AM EDT
    President Obama meets with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny; Vice President Biden also attends
    Oval Office

    • March 20, 2012

      Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Kenny of Ireland after Bilateral Meeting

      Oval Office

      11:09 A.M. EDT

      PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, it is my great pleasure to welcome once again Taoiseach, Mr. Kenny, who has done, I think, extraordinary work during a very difficult time. Over the last several years, we’ve been able to strike up a friendship. And you’ll notice that even though technically it is not St. Patrick’s Day, we like to prolong the party around here. Technically, most of the Americans who celebrate St. Patrick’s Day aren’t Irish anyway — (laughter) — so we shouldn’t go on technicalities.

      I want to thank the Taoiseach, his lovely wife, and all of the people of Ireland for the extraordinary hospitality they showed Michelle and I when we had the chance to travel there recently. It was a magical day. It was too short, so I provided assurances that we will be returning. But the warmth and the goodwill that was expressed towards us I think was really representative of the deep bonds that exist between the United States and Ireland — bonds that are almost unique among two countries around the world. And the impact, obviously, that Ireland and Irish American — that Irish culture has had on the United States is almost unparalleled.

      We have had a terrific discussion about a wide range of issues. Obviously for both our countries, one of the biggest priorities is getting the economy moving in the right direction and putting our people back to work. And the Taoiseach described to me the steps that they’ve taken to try to stabilize the banking system there, to get control of their budget, and to be in position to grow in the future.

      And it is important that both the people of Ireland and the American people understand the extraordinary benefits of trade, commerce, and investment between our two countries. We are, obviously, an extraordinary contributor to investment in Ireland, and that’s something of great importance to the people of Ireland. Conversely, Irish businesses invest and employ huge numbers of Americans as well.

      And so we are continuing to identify and describe additional areas where we can strengthen those strong economic bonds. And I expressed to the Taoiseach my confidence in not only his government’s ability to get Ireland moving again, but also we consulted on the broader issue of how Europe can begin to grow again, which obviously has an impact on our economy.

      For the entire article; http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/03/20/remarks-president-obama-and-prime-minister-kenny-ireland-after-bilateral

  43. 20.4M_women_w_private-health_ins_recvd_preventive_health_servcs
    By the Numbers: 20.4

    Megan Slack March 20, 2012 09:00 AM EDT

    President Obama’s health reform law requires that new health insurance plans cover preventive services with no co-pay or deductible. In the last 18 months, approximately 20.4 million women with private health insurance have received preventive health services such as mammograms and pap smears at no additional cost because of this provision in the Affordable Care Act.

    Besides improving access to services that help women stay healthy and detect health problems early on, health reform helps women in many other ways. For example, health insurance companies can no longer discriminate against women by charging them higher premiums than they charge men. Insurance companies are banned from imposing a limit on the amount of care they’ll cover over a woman’s lifetime, and are now required to spend at least 80 percent of premium dollars on care—not overhead.

    Women who have been unable to purchase health insurance because of a pre-existing condition such as cancer or having been pregnant now have an option to obtain the insurance they need through the new Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan.

    Beginning in 2014, the Affordable Care Act will be fully implemented and offer even greater protection for women and their health care, including a ban on denying care based on pre-existing conditions, and the removal of annual limits on care.

    Read more:

    How health reform helps women
    Tell us your story: How is the Affordable Care Act improving your care?

  44. Being a women is NOT a pre-existing condition

    Being a woman is not a pre-existing condition

    March 20, 2012 Posted by Elizabeth Chan – democrats.org

    Tell Republicans like Mitt Romney who want to repeal health reform and let insurance companies discriminate: Being a woman is NOT a pre-existing condition here.

  45. March 20, 2012

    Remarks of President Obama Marking Nowruz

    A link to the video can be found here in English, Persian, and Arabic.

    Today, Michelle and I extend our best wishes to all those who are celebrating Nowruz around the world. In communities and homes from America to southwest Asia, families and friends are coming together to celebrate the hope that comes with renewal.

    To the people of Iran, this holiday comes at a time of continued tension between our two countries. But as people gather with their families, do good deeds, and welcome a new season, we are also reminded of the common humanity that we share.

    There is no reason for the United States and Iran to be divided from one another. Here in the United States, Iranian-Americans prosper and contribute greatly to our culture. This year, an Iranian production – “A Separation” – won America’s highest honor for a foreign film. Our navies have confronted the danger of piracy, with U.S. sailors even rescuing Iranian citizens who had been taken hostage. And from Facebook to Twitter – from cell phones to the Internet – our people use the same tools to talk to one another, and to enrich our lives.

    Yet increasingly, the Iranian people are denied the basic freedom to access the information that they want. Instead, the Iranian government jams satellite signals to shut down television and radio broadcasts. It censors the Internet to control what the Iranian people can see and say. The regime monitors computers and cell phones for the sole purpose of protecting its own power. And in recent weeks, Internet restrictions have become so severe that Iranians cannot communicate freely with their loved ones within Iran, or beyond its borders. Technologies that should empower citizens are being used to repress them.

    Because of the actions of the Iranian regime, an electronic curtain has fallen around Iran – a barrier that stops the free flow of information and ideas into the country, and denies the rest of the world the benefit of interacting with the Iranian people, who have so much to offer.

    I want the Iranian people to know that America seeks a dialogue to hear your views and understand your aspirations. That’s why we set up a Virtual Embassy, so you can see for yourselves what the United States is saying and doing. We’re using Farsi on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus. And even as we’ve imposed sanctions on the Iranian government, today, my Administration is issuing new guidelines to make it easier for American businesses to provide software and services into Iran that will make it easier for the Iranian people to use the Internet.

    For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/03/20/remarks-president-obama-marking-nowruz

    • On Nowruz, President Obama Speaks to the Iranian People

      Ben Rhodes March 20, 2012 9:05 AM EDT

      In a video message earlier today, President Obama sent his best wishes to all who are celebrating Nowruz.

      Nowruz is a time when so many Iranian families and loved ones come together in celebration. Moreover, it is a holiday that reminds us of the rich culture of the Iranian people, and the extraordinary contributions that they have made to human history. Yet even as holidays like this underscore the connections that we share as human beings, the Government of Iran is going to great lengths to isolate the Iranian people by cutting them off from the outside world.

      For far too long, the Iranian regime has tried to control the flow of information and ideas to and from the Iranian people and the outside world. As people everywhere are making their voices heard through new technologies and social media, the people of Iran often find their voices stifled and their ability to connect denied. Like the Iron Curtain of the 20th century, an Electronic Curtain is descending as the Iranian regime attempts to control what its citizens see and hear.

      For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/03/20/nowruz-president-obama-speaks-iranian-people

  46. 12:00 PM EDT
    President Obama, Vice President Biden and Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny attend a St. Patrick’s Day lunch.

    • March 20, 2012

      Remarks by the President at Friends of Ireland Luncheon — U.S. Capitol

      U.S. Capitol

      12:58 P.M. EDT

      THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.) Please. Well, thank you, John. Thank you, everybody. I know we are all glad to welcome Taoiseach Kenny and his lovely wife back to Washington. Technically, you may be aware, it is not St. Patrick’s Day. (Laughter.) Of course, technically, most Americans who celebrate St. Patrick’s Day are not Irish. So it’s a wash. (Laughter.)

      I want to thank our top Irishman in the White house, Joe Biden, who is here, and Speaker Boehner, for being such a gracious host. I want to welcome Ambassador Collins and Mrs. Collins; distinguished members of the House and the Senate; leaders from Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Britain. Thank you all for coming.

      I always think about how every Taoiseach must leave this luncheon marveling at how cheerful and bipartisan Washington is. (Applause.) It’s remarkable. And that’s something worth aspiring to, even during an election year.

      As John mentioned, this wonderful tradition began with Speaker Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan. And when I was getting ready this morning, I came across some advice that Tip gave to anybody who was making a St. Patrick’s Day speech. As the story goes, Tip was once asked to deliver a speech to the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick in Pennsylvania. He figured the Irishmen would arrive early, perhaps have a few drinks, relax a little bit, and by the time he stood up to speak, they would applaud anything he said as long as he kept it short.

      Then, as Tip was getting dressed, one of the — his aides ran up to him, out of breath, and said he had just found out that no drinking was allowed before dinner — only afterwards. And Tip panicked a little bit. He realized he had to prepare. So he grabbed a few pages from “Famous Irishmen of America,” underlined some passages, acted like he had planned it all along. The speech went extraordinarily well, and afterwards, he was complimented on his thoroughness and studiousness in preparing for the speech.

      So Tip’s lesson was: Always know your audience, and don’t count on drinks getting you through the evening. (Laughter.)

      But Tip also taught us something else. He taught us that even in the midst of partisanship and passion, true friendship can exist in this town. Tip and President Reagan famously had fierce battles and genuine disagreements. But after the work ended, the two men did their best to put partisanship aside. According to Tip, President Reagan used to begin calls with, “Hello, Tip, is it after 6 o’clock?” (Laughter.) To which the Speaker would reply, “Absolutely, Mr. President.” And then they could enjoy each other’s company.

      For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/03/20/remarks-president-friends-ireland-luncheon-us-capitol

  47. Smarter Regulation: New Guidance on Reducing Cumulative Burdens

    Cass Sunstein March 20, 2012 11:11 AM

    The Obama Administration has adopted a number of initiatives to promote smart, cost-justified regulation. On January 18, 2011, the President ordered an unprecedented government-review of existing rules. After a period of public comment, over two dozen agencies released ambitious reform plans, outlining hundreds of cost-saving reforms. A small fraction of those reforms, already finalized or formally proposed to the public, will save more than $10 billion over the next five years.

    As the plans are implemented, far higher savings are anticipated. Just today, the Federal Register has on display a final rule from the Department of Labor that will bring our warning labels for hazardous chemicals in line with those of other nations. This rule will save employers a lot of money on training and updating of materials; improve safety and health protections for American workers; and reduce trade barriers for chemical manufacturers that sell their products abroad. The overall five-year savings will be in excess of $2.5 billion, most of it in the form of savings for employers. (Stay tuned; significant announcements from other agencies are expected in the near future.)

    Today, we are taking another major step toward improving our regulatory system and eliminating unjustified costs. In some cases, the addition of new rules and requirements has unfortunate cumulative effects. Taken in isolation, a new rule may seem perfectly sensible, but it may overlap with existing requirements. The sheer accumulation of regulations can cause real harm, especially for small businesses and startups. As the President said last January, agencies must take into account “the costs of cumulative regulations.”

    For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/03/20/smarter-regulation-new-guidance-reducing-cumulative-burdens

  48. March 20, 2012
    Statement by White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer on the Ryan Republican Budget

    The House budget once again fails the test of balance, fairness, and shared responsibility. It would shower the wealthiest few Americans with an average tax cut of at least $150,000, while preserving taxpayer giveaways to oil companies and breaks for Wall Street hedge fund managers. What’s worse is that all of these tax breaks would be paid for by undermining Medicare and the very things we need to grow our economy and the middle class – things like education, basic research, and new sources of energy. And instead of strengthening Medicare, the House budget would end Medicare as we know it, turning the guarantee of retirement security into a voucher that will shift higher and higher costs to seniors over time.

    The House economic plan draws on the same wrong-headed theory that led to the worst recession of our lifetimes and contributed to the erosion of middle-class security over the last decade. And the President believes we cannot return to a failed theory that didn’t lead to the growth of jobs, incomes, or the economy. That’s why he put forward a balanced approach that reduces the deficit by over $4 trillion. It’s an approach that asks the wealthiest to pay their fair share, makes tough cuts to programs we can’t afford, and strengthens Medicare with reforms that would reduce overpayments to drug companies, improve the quality of care, and protect Medicare’s commitment to America’s seniors.

  49. David Axelrod Tweets a recommendation of this article by Michele Flournoy, former undersecretary of defense for policy and now a senior adviser on national security issues to PBO’s re-election campaign:

    … Consider: Beyond ending the war in Iraq, (President Obama) authorized the daring raid that killed Osama bin Laden….

    Through an unrelenting, targeted counterterrorism campaign, more than two-thirds of Al Qaeda’s senior leadership ranks have been eliminated.

    Obama also has devoted substantially more military and civilian resources to Afghanistan — reversing the Taliban’s momentum. Despite recent tragedies, he has established the conditions to begin transferring responsibility to the Afghan security forces.

    As the Arab Spring swept the region, Obama led the international community in an effective response to the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt.

    In Libya, he helped build a broad coalition — including both NATO and the Arab League — that ultimately ended Muammar Qadhafi’s brutal dictatorship….

    Meanwhile, Obama also has taken steps to enhance Israel’s defense — providing more than $200 million for anti-rocket systems to protect Israeli civilians and ensuring that Israel has access to advanced U.S. technologies to maintain its qualitative military edge.

    Recognizing the significant threat posed by Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Obama has marshaled unparalleled international support to apply pressure on Tehran to ensure the regime does not develop a nuclear weapon. Iran now finds itself more isolated than ever and the president has kept all options on the table.

    The president has also led the international community in taking concrete steps toward reducing the danger from nuclear weapons….

    Even as Obama managed daily crises, his strategic perspective was evident in his insistence that we give greater priority to the Asia Pacific, adapting both our diplomacy and our military posture in the region most important to our long-term prosperity and security.

    This long view also informed his latest defense budget, which ensures that even in a time of austerity, the U.S. military will remain the world’s best fighting force….


  50. W.H.: Malia Obama is safe after earthquake


    Following an earthquake Tuesday in Mexico, the White House released a statement saying that first daughter Malia Obama was not affected.

    “In light of today’s earthquake, we can confirm that Malia Obama is safe and was never in danger,” said Kristina Schake, first lady Michelle Obama’s communications director.

    A 7.6-magnitude quake struck in Guerrero, and shocks were felt throughout central and southern Mexico.

  51. 5:30 PM EDT
    White House LGBT Conference on Safe Schools & Communities
    Arlington, Texas

    To watch live video of this event, click here .

    • White House LGBT Conference on Housing and Homelessness: Opening Session

      Uploaded by whitehouse on Mar 21, 2012

      Hundreds of advocates, community organizers, and interested members of the public participate in an important dialogue with the Obama Administration in Detroit, Michigan at the White House LGBT Conference on Housing & Homelessness. The Conference was hosted by the White House Office of Public Engagement in partnership with the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) and the Ruth Ellis Center, a Detroit-based center for runaway and homeless LGBT youth. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan delivered keynote remarks during the opening session.

    • White House LGBT Conference on Housing and Homelessness: Panel Discussions

      Uploaded by whitehouse on Mar 21, 2012

      Hundreds of advocates, community organizers, and interested members of the public participate in an important dialogue with the Obama Administration in Detroit, Michigan at the White House LGBT Conference on Housing & Homelessness. The Conference was hosted by the White House Office of Public Engagement in partnership with the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) and the Ruth Ellis Center, a Detroit-based center for runaway and homeless LGBT youth.

    • March 20, 2012

      Remarks by President Obama, Vice President Biden, and Prime Minister Kenny of Ireland at St. Patrick’s Day Reception

      State Floor

      7:04 P.M. EDT

      VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Well, welcome to the White House. It’s great to see you all, and happy St. Patrick’s Day, or should I say, happy St. Patrick’s Week, the way it’s going. (Applause.)

      I’m lucky to be here with you all tonight. I feel fortunate to have the honor to be able to welcome back Fionnuala Kenny and the Taoiseach. They’ve been here before. Some of you had a chance to meet them, and you’re going to get to see them again.

      You know there’s and old Irish saying. There’s all kinds of old Irish sayings. (Laughter.) At least my Grandfather Finnegan, I think he made them up, but it says, may the hinges of our friendship never go rusty. Well, with these two folks that you’re about to meet, if you haven’t already, there’s no doubt about them staying oiled and lubricated here. Ladies and gentlemen — (laughter) — now, for you who are not full Irish in this room, lubricating has a different meaning for us all. (Laughter.)

      Ladies and gentlemen, we’re here tonight to celebrate the friendship between two great nations, Ireland and the United States. William Butler Yeats referred to Ireland as “a worldwide nation.” Our Irish heritage has touched many, many people, many more people than could possibly fit on the beautiful Emerald Isle.

      America and Ireland are the two nations that define me the most, and I expect most of you in this room. Our countries share a bond that goes all the way back to the beginning of our country. Eight Irishmen signed the Declaration of Independence, fully one-seventh of the signator. Since then, half our Presidents have claimed Irish blood, including the one I’m about to introduce. (Applause.)

      And today our countries are tied together by 40 million Americans who descended from that beautiful island just across the sea, and — but we share a lot more than blood. And I think everyone here will understand this. I think we share a set of values, a set of values that is sort of stamped into our DNA.

      My mom, Catherine Eugenia Finnegan Biden, used to say — (laughter) — honey, to be Irish is about family. It’s about faith. But most of all, it’s about courage. She said that — one of her sayings was, without courage — without courage, you can’t love with abandon.

      And, ladies and gentlemen, for me that’s the essence of being Irish: passion and being able to love with abandon. That’s why my mom liked Barack, the President. That’s why she liked him so much. I think the President got used to my mom during the campaign, Mr. Ambassador, referring to him all the time as, honey. (Laughter.) She’d grab his hand and say, now, Honey.

      Well, she thought that the President embodied all the things that she thought made Ireland and the Irish special, particularly his courage. Ladies and gentlemen, this President abounds in courage. So, ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce to you my four friends and your friends, the President of the United States and Michelle Obama, as well as the Taoiseach and Fionnuala Kenny.

      For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/03/20/remarks-president-obama-vice-president-biden-and-prime-minister-kenny-ir

    • President Obama Hosts 2012 St. Patrick’s Day Reception At The White House

      MARCH 20, 2012 obamafoodorama.blogspot

      St. Patrick’s Day at the White House was a “weeklong” celebration, Vice President Joe Biden told a cheering crowd on Tuesday night during the annual reception as he welcomed hundreds of guests in the East Room. The 7:00 PM event was complete with flowing drinks and long-winded but heartfelt toasts as President Obama and Taoiseach Enda Kenny of Ireland capped a day of celebrating the “strong bonds” between the US and the Emerald Isle. They had shamrock stuffed into the breast pockets of their dark suit jackets, and Kenny bore gifts: A Waterford crystal bowl laden with more shamrock, and an “official certificate” of Mr. Obama’s Irish ancestry, displayed in a frame.

      “These are rare, as rare as the man himself,” Kenny said, pulling a drape off the certificate to unveil it.

      “This will have a special place of honor, beside my birth certificate,” President Obama quipped without skipping a beat.

      The President’s maternal Irish roots date back to the 1790s; his great-great-great-grandfather, a shoemaker named Falmouth Kearny, emigrated from the tiny village of Moneygall in County Offaly during the Great Famine. More than 30 million Americans–a hefty voting bloc–claim Irish ancestry.

      For the entire article: http://obamafoodorama.blogspot.com/2012/03/president-obama-hosts-2012-st-patricks.html


  52. *********************

    NBLB Come on over to my newest post

    titled: “American Energy ”

    To get to newest post click on “HOME” at the top of the page and click on the title of the newest post

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