Vice President Joe Biden met with German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel today at the White House to discuss bilateral relations and common challenges such as ISIL, Ebola, and Russia’s continued efforts to destabilize eastern Ukraine. The Vice President and Vice Chancellor agreed on the strategic importance of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) for supporting economic opportunities on both sides of the Atlantic, and on the importance of sustaining growth in the Eurozone and the wider global economy. The Vice President thanked the Vice Chancellor for Germany’s leadership and strong support for Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression, for its support in the fight against ISIL, and for its contributions to fighting Ebola in West Africa.
Ben Bradlee was one of the most respected newsmen of his generation. During his tenure as executive editor of The Washington Post, Mr. Bradlee oversaw coverage of the Watergate scandal, ...
From: The White House
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Today, President Obama wished a Happy Diwali to all those who celebrate the festival of lights.
In 2009, President Obama became the first U.S. president to celebrate the festival of lights, a time of rejoicing for many in the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community and across the world.
Today, the President spoke with President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan by video conference, along with his Chief Executive Officer Dr. Abdullah. The President again commended the President and Dr. Abdullah on their political agreement, reaffirmed U.S. commitment to support the unity government, and congratulated the two leaders for a productive first month for the new government. The Presidents discussed strengthening the Afghan National Security Forces to improve the security situation in Afghanistan, American and regional support for an Afghan-led peace process, and near-term Afghan budgetary reform and longer-term fiscal sustainability. The President also reiterated his offer for President Ghani and CEO Abdullah to visit the White House early in the new year.
President Obama spoke by phone with Prime Minister Stephen Harper to express the American people’s solidarity with Canada in the wake of attacks on Canadian Forces in Quebec on October 20 and in Ottawa on October 22. President Obama condemned these outrageous attacks, and reaffirmed the close friendship and alliance between our people. The President offered any assistance Canada needed in responding to these attacks. Prime Minister Harper thanked the President and the two leaders discussed the assault and agreed to continue coordination between our governments moving forward.
President Obama spoke by phone with Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper to express the American people's solidarity with Canada in the wake of attacks on Canadian Forces in Quebec on October 20 and in Ottawa on October 22.
The President condemned these outrageous attacks, and reaffirmed the close friendship and alliance between our people. The President offered any assistance Canaada needed in responding to these attacks. Prime Minister Harper thanked the President and the two leaders discussed the assault and agreed to continue coordination between our governments moving forward.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest made the following statement in response to the shootings in Ottawa, Canada this morning, when a Canadian soldier was shot in the wake of another attack in Quebec earlier this week:
"The thoughts and prayers of everybody here at the White House go out to the families of those who were affected by today's shooting in Canada, as well as to the family of the soldier who was killed earlier this week. The President was briefed earlier today in the Oval Office by his top homeland security advisor, Lisa Monaco. The details about the nature of this event are still sketchy, which is not unusual in a chaotic situation like this one.
"Canada is one of the closest friends and allies of the United States. And from issues ranging from the strength of our NATO alliance, to the Ebola response, to dealing with ISIL, there's a strong partnership and friendship and alliance between the United States and Canada. The United States strongly values that relationship, and that relationship makes the citizens of this country safer.
"Officials inside the U.S. government have been in close touch with their Canadian counterparts today to offer assistance. That includes officials here in the White House. We have been in touch with the Canadians about arranging a phone call between the President and Prime Minister Harper, at the Prime Minister's earliest convenience."
We'll continue to update this post as the situation develops.
President Barack Obama awards the 2013 Presidential Medal of Freedom to Ben Bradlee during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, Nov. 20, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
When he retired as executive editor of the Washington Post, the entire newsroom was on its feet.
He'd begun his career at the paper more than four decades earlier, on Christmas Eve of 1948, as a police and court reporter earning 80 dollars a week.
In the decades that followed, he'd guide the paper through its most challenging moments. Under his watch, the Post would successfully challenge the Federal Government over the right to publish the Pentagon Papers, bring the events at Watergate to light, and usher in a "new era of investigative journalism," as the President put it when he honored him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom -- the nation's highest civilian honor -- last year.
His previous boss and publisher, Donald Graham, called him "The best American newspaper editor of his time."
Benjamin Bradlee, the legendary 26-year executive editor of the Washington Post, died at home last night at the age of 93.
"For Benjamin Bradlee, journalism was more than a profession -- it was a public good vital to our democracy."
--President Obama, 10/21/2014
Last night, the President issued the following statement honoring Bradlee's life:
For Benjamin Bradlee, journalism was more than a profession – it was a public good vital to our democracy. A true newspaperman, he transformed the Washington Post into one of the country’s finest newspapers, and with him at the helm, a growing army of reporters published the Pentagon Papers, exposed Watergate, and told stories that needed to be told – stories that helped us understand our world and one another a little bit better. The standard he set – a standard for honest, objective, meticulous reporting – encouraged so many others to enter the profession. And that standard is why, last year, I was proud to honor Ben with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Today, we offer our thoughts and prayers to Ben’s family, and all who were fortunate to share in what truly was a good life.
Listen to what the President had to say last November, when he awarded Bradlee the Presidential Medal of Freedom:
Hi, everyone! Thank you Tina Brown for that kind introduction.
Before I begin, I want to remind everyone that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. For many of us, this is a year-round cause, and this battle is personal. We have seen a colleague or friend endure painful treatments. And not a day goes by when I do not think about the women I know whose lives were taken too early.
Not only are we in this fight for the friends and loved ones we have lost, but for our sisters, daughters, and granddaughters, so they will have the tools they need to overcome breast cancer. So, I am asking all of you here today to continue dedicating your time—and your heart—to combating this disease.
As Second Lady, during my travels across the country and around the world, I have had the honor of meeting remarkable people who lift us up. Moms in their 30s, working full-time, going back to community college to complete their education so they can create a better life for their families. Incredible teachers who keep finding creative ways to inspire their students, until they have reached every last one of them. Military spouses going through deployment after deployment—moving countless times—stopping and starting their own careers without complaint.
What I have learned along the way, is that no matter how difficult the situation, there are exceptional individuals who step up to the challenge; who go above and beyond to make an even bigger difference in their community. I see that type of extraordinary commitment in our service members, veterans, and their families, and I am always inspired by their strength, resilience, and pride.
Today, I would like to share with you a story from January of 2012 when I traveled to Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton, in California where I met some truly impressive women. These women were members of the Marine Corps’ Female Engagement Teams—also known as FETs—and I watched some of their training.
Due to cultural restrictions, interacting with Afghan women is off-limits to male soldiers, so the FETs play a crucial role on the front lines. When these female Marines deploy to Afghanistan, they work to build relationships with Afghan women, to gain their trust and better understand their needs, and to help bring them access to health care and education.
But rather than tell you about what they do, I want to show it to you.
Back at Camp Pendleton, I had the opportunity to watch the FETs participate in training exercises to prepare them for what they might encounter in Afghanistan. What I saw was like a movie set—an entire Afghan village re-created, so realistic they pumped in the acrid smell of goat dung.
As part of the training exercise, I saw a simulated firefight in the middle of the village, where a woman, who was actually an amputee, hired for this exercise, was struck by an explosion. Blood spurted everywhere amidst the screaming of the injured villagers. I saw how the FET team members were trained to calm and care for the woman, and then talk to other women in the village about how to take care of such serious injuries.
After visiting Camp Pendleton, I invited a group of FETs that had returned from Afghanistan to my home to learn more about their experiences. One of them, Sergeant Sheena Adams, told me about a widowed Afghan woman—a mother of nine—whom she met who could barely feed her children. Due to cultural restrictions, this mother could not work outside the home. Yet Sergeant Adams found a way for this woman to earn an income, and it was pretty simple. Using the mother’s baking talents and a son’s capacity to sell at a local bazaar, she helped the family create their own bread business.
Most of these service members were young women, just starting out their lives. What I saw from every single one of them was just how proud they were of their work. They were in harm’s way, like their male counterparts, yet they were doing something that none of their male counterparts could do—they were sharing knowledge and education with women, halfway around the world. Their service is truly remarkable.
We have asked much of service members and their families over the past decade. They sacrifice so much on behalf of our country. And a military family goes through a lot during deployment. There is a mixture of pride and concern that all military families share when a loved one is in harm’s way.
Several years ago, when I visited troops with my husband, Joe, at Camp Victory in Iraq, I spent time getting to know several of the women service members. All of them loved to serve their country and believed it was their greatest honor. But as moms, even with help from grandparents back home, it was hard for them to miss out on those important milestones in their kids’ lives—like taking them to their first day of school, whether it is kindergarten or college.
As you can imagine, it means so much to our service members when members of their community reach out to support military families during deployments. Sometimes it is the smallest things that matter most—like a neighbor helping to fix a leaky pipe, a friend bringing over a home-cooked meal, or your church including you in their prayers.
That is part of the reason First Lady Michelle Obama and I started Joining Forces. We wanted to show our appreciation for the incredible families across America who do so much for our country. We wanted to show our support not just with words, but with real, concrete opportunities in employment, education and wellness.
From the very beginning, Michelle and I both knew the American people would come out in full force. But I think it is safe to say we have been overwhelmed by the support shown for our service members, our veterans, and their families.
Businesses have stepped up: hiring more than half a million veterans and spouses in the past three years. CEOs and business owners have seen the value of the experiences and leadership that veterans and military spouses offer. And this past April, we announced the Veterans Employment Center—to connect transitioning service members, veterans, and their families to meaningful training and career employment opportunities.
States have stepped up: helping schools become more responsive to the unique needs of military families and children.
If you have ever moved from one city to another, you know how stressful and challenging it can be. For our nation’s military members and their families, frequent moves are a fact of life. Each time a military family is transferred to a new location, their children have to leave their friends, try out for new sports teams, and adjust to a new school. On average, military children will attend six to nine different schools before graduating high school. Think about how much we are asking of our military and their families.
While military moms and dads have always worked hard to ensure a change in schools for their children is as smooth as possible, unexpected and unnecessary obstacles, like transferring records, securing spaces in courses, and staying included in extracurricular activities, have made the process more difficult than it should be.
In 2007, states stepped up to address school transition issues and developed the Interstate Compact. The Interstate Compact helps students transfer special education services, medical records, and participation in extracurricular activities. I am proud to say, as of three months ago, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the Interstate Compact.
And thanks to Operation Educate the Educators, more than 100 colleges and universities are training thousands of future teachers to be prepared to identify the challenges military kids face. As a lifelong educator and a military mom, the way we reach out to military children in our classrooms is especially close to my heart.
In short, America has stepped up to make a real difference. And I could go on with more about everything that has been done to support our service members, veterans, and their families. But going forward, we must challenge ourselves to do even more.
As more than a million service men and women end their military careers and transition back to civilian life, there is more that we can do together to welcome them home. In the end, that is really what Joining Forces is all about—connecting service members, veterans, and their military families with the resources available to them, and rallying our country to do even more. I believe that our military families deserve the very best efforts of each of us to show them how much we appreciate their service to our country, whatever that small act of kindness may be.
I want to leave you with a quote from President Kennedy: “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
Thank you, God bless our troops, and let’s keep the conversation going.