Category Archives: White House Press Office

Remarks by the President Honoring the 2013 NCAA Champion UConn Huskies

By The White House

East Room

2:25 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Everybody have a seat. Everybody have a seat. Welcome to the White House, everybody. Congratulations to the NCAA Champion UConn Huskies. (Applause.) Congratulations to Coach Auriemma on your record-tying eighth national championship. (Applause.) I see this guy too much. (Laughter.) Keep in mind, a lot of Presidents don’t even get eight years in the White House. (Laughter.) He’s spent more time than some Presidents in the White House. (Laughter.) And he’s not term-limited, so he can just keep on going.

We’ve got UConn President, Susan Herbst is here. (Applause.) Where did she go? There she is up here. I wasn’t sure where she was sitting. We’ve got some outstanding Huskies fans in the house, including several proud members of your congressional delegation. So give them a big round of applause. (Applause.)

Probably the most important person here is not Coach Geno, but Coach Geno’s mom, who is here. So please give her a big round of applause — (applause) — who is so proud. And she’s gorgeous. And that’s where you got a good head of hair. (Laughter.) So I have to say to the Huskies, I’ve missed you guys. It’s been, what, a couple years? Seniors Heather Buck, Caroline Doty made the trip to the White House in 2009. So this is an old hat for them. Kelly Faris joined them in 2010. Back then, they were in the middle of a 90-game winning streak.

I reminded Geno at the time, when I called him, that over the first 23 months I was in office he didn’t lose once. He just pointed out to me that when they won the championship, I went on to win reelection. So he thinks we’ve got a good thing going here. (Laughter.)

Now, most years, I think for most teams, being a champion isn’t about dominating the way that you did back then. It’s about being at your best when the stakes are highest. And that’s what made this team so special.

To get to that national title, they had to go through a team that, let’s face it, had had your number during some previous games: Notre Dame. Heading into this season’s tournament you had played them three times, you had lost three — that heartbreaker in the Big East finals.

After that game, some teams might have lowered their sights. But rather than get discouraged, Geno gathered you together in the locker room, I understand, and said, “I’m going to show you how to win a championship.” And as Kelly pointed out, Geno is pretty good at his job. He knows how to win championships.

So it looked tough at the time, but these folks didn’t stop believing in themselves. I have to confess that …read more

Source: White House Press Office

Press Briefing by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest, 7/29/2013

By The White House

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

See below for a correction to a typo in the transcript (marked with an asterisk).

1:00 P.M. EDT

MR. EARNEST: Good afternoon, everybody. I apologize for the delay in getting started. Mr. Carney —

Q We’re accustomed —

MR. EARNEST: I’m sorry?

Q We’re accustomed to it.

MR. EARNEST: Okay, good. I want to keep you in the rhythm here.

Mr. Carney is taking his son to camp today, so I’ll be minding the store. So, Julie, I’ll ring you up first.

Q Thank you. A couple questions on the Mideast peace talks that are starting in Washington tonight. We know that the President apparently is going to be meeting with Secretary Kerry later today to discuss those talks, but does he have any plans to meet with the Israeli and Palestinian negotiators while they’re in town?

MR. EARNEST: Julie, I don’t have any details about the President’s schedule over the next couple of days to read out to you. There’s no current plan for that, but I wouldn’t preclude anything from getting added in the future.

As you know, the Middle East peace process is something that — or at least these conversations that are ongoing, or that are slated for this evening, was part of a process that was kicked off by the President’s trip to the Middle East earlier this year. Many of you traveled there for that visit. And the President had the opportunity to visit with Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Abbas, and King Hussein of Jordan, where they had some conversations about how it’s in the best interest of both the Israeli and Palestinian people to engage in final status negotiations.

Since that time, Secretary Kerry has been traveling frequently to the region. I think every couple of weeks it seems like he’s taking a trip out there to talk to the parties and to talk to others in the region who have an important stake in this conflict being resolved.

So we’re certainly encouraged that the two parties are coming to Washington and beginning their conversations this evening, but we’re also cognizant of the hard work that remains over the next nine months. There are some very serious issues that have to be resolved, and it’s not going to be easy. The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step, and we’ll take that first step tonight.

Q Now that this first round of talks is underway, how does the President see his direct role? Is this something where he’s going to still continue to sort of seed the frontrunner status for the U.S. to Secretary Kerry and maybe only get involved if these talks continue and get to a real final status moment?

MR. EARNEST: Well, I’ll say a couple things about that. The first is this is a process that got kick-started with the President’s trip …read more

Source: White House Press Office

Letter — Regarding the Continuation of the National Emergency with respect to Lebanon

By The White House

TEXT OF A LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT

TO THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

AND THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE

July 29, 2013

Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)

Section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)) provides for the automatic termination of a national emergency unless, within 90 days prior to the anniversary date of its declaration, the President publishes in the Federal Register and transmits to the Congress a notice stating that the emergency is to continue in effect beyond the anniversary date. In accordance with this provision, I have sent to the Federal Register for publication the enclosed notice stating that the national emergency with respect to Lebanon that was declared in Executive Order 13441 of August 1, 2007, is to continue in effect beyond August 1, 2013.

Certain ongoing activities, such as continuing arms transfers to Hizballah that include increasingly sophisticated weapons systems, undermine Lebanese sovereignty, contribute to political and economic instability in the region, and continue to constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States. For this reason, I have determined that it is necessary to continue the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13441 with respect to Lebanon.

Sincerely,

BARACK OBAMA

…read more

Source: White House Press Office

Notice — Regarding the Continuation of the National Emergency with respect to Lebanon

By The White House

NOTICE

– – – – – – –

CONTINUATION OF THE NATIONAL EMERGENCY

WITH RESPECT TO LEBANON

On August 1, 2007, by Executive Order 13441, the President declared a national emergency with respect to Lebanon pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701-1706) to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States constituted by the actions of certain persons to undermine Lebanon's legitimate and democratically elected government or democratic institutions; to contribute to the deliberate breakdown in the rule of law in Lebanon, including through politically motivated violence and intimidation; to reassert Syrian control or contribute to Syrian interference in Lebanon; or to infringe upon or undermine Lebanese sovereignty and contribute to political and economic instability in that country and the region.

Certain ongoing activities, such as continuing arms transfers to Hizballah that include increasingly sophisticated weapons systems, serve to undermine Lebanese sovereignty, contribute to political and economic instability in Lebanon, and continue to constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States. For this reason, the national emergency declared on August 1, 2007, and the measures adopted on that date to deal with that emergency, must continue in effect beyond August 1, 2013. In accordance with section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am continuing for 1 year the national emergency with respect to Lebanon declared in Executive Order 13441.

This notice shall be published in the Federal Register and transmitted to the Congress.

BARACK OBAMA

THE WHITE HOUSE,
July 29, 2013.

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Source: White House Press Office

Remarks by the President Honoring the San Francisco Giants

By The White House

The South Lawn

2:11 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Well, everybody please have a seat. Welcome to the White House on this beautiful afternoon. And congratulations to the San Francisco Giants on their second World Series title in three years. (Applause.) They're making this a habit. (Laughter.)

I want to start by recognizing all the fans of the Orange and Black with us today, including San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee is in the house. (Applause.) One of your number-one fans in Washington, Leader Nancy Pelosi is here — season ticket holder. (Applause.) All the members of Congress that we’ve got here today — we’re glad you guys are here.

We want to recognize as well Larry Baer and GM Brian Sabean for building yet another championship team. Give them a big round of applause. (Applause.) And of course, we’ve got somebody who keeps on looking younger every time I see him, the “Say Hey Kid” Willie Mays in the house. (Applause.) And, of course, we’ve got a big — give a big congratulations to Manager Bruce Bochy, who just last week joined greats like John McGraw and Joe Torre as one of only 21 managers to win 1,500 games. That is an incredible honor. Give Bruch a big round of applause. (Applause.) Congratulations.

Now, it wasn’t that long ago that these guys were already here celebrating their last World Series title. Some things apparently don’t change. The Giants still won behind stellar pitching and smothering defense and timely hitting. And even though they used a different closer down the stretch, this one still had a “beard to fear.” (Laughter.)

On the other hand, some things do change. In 2010, it took five games to close out the World Series. This year it only took four. (Applause.) There are some new faces standing behind me, some new nicknames. You got the “Reverend.” You’ve got “Blockbuster.” We’ve even got new haircuts. Where’s Tim? (Laughter.) There he is. See, you don't even recognize him anymore. (Laughter.)

And of course, there were new moments to write into the history books as well. During the regular season, Matt Cain threw the franchise’s first perfect game with a record-tying 14 strikeouts. Buster Posey returned from injury — I wish I was that young — you just kind of snap back — comes back, hits .336 with 24 homeruns and earns the National League MVP. (Applause.)

In the playoffs, the Giants dropped the first two games to the Reds, forcing them to run off three straight wins to stay alive. And then against the Cardinals, they had to come back from a three to one hole to win in seven games. In all, this team faced elimination a total of six times in the playoffs. It’s no wonder that your own fans still refer to Giants …read more

Source: White House Press Office

Presidential Memorandum — Delegation of Authority to Sections 110(d)(4) and 110(f) of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, as Amended

By The White House

MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF STATE

SUBJECT: Delegation of Authority Pursuant to Sections 110(d)(4) and 110(f) of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, as Amended

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including section 301 of title 3, United States Code, I hereby delegate to the Secretary of State the authority conferred upon the President by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (Division A of Public Law 106-386), as amended (the “Act”), to determine, consistent with sections 110(d)(4) and 110(f) of the Act, with respect to Syria for Fiscal Year 2013, that assistance described in section 110(d)(1)(B) of the Act would promote the purposes of the Act or is otherwise in the national interest of the United States.

You are authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.

BARACK OBAMA

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Source: White House Press Office

Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Jay Carney aboard Air Force One en route to Galesburg, IL, 7/24/13

By The White House

Aboard Air Force One
En Route Galesburg, Illinois

11:16 A.M. EDT

MR. CARNEY: Welcome aboard Air Force One. It’s been a little bit since we've had the great honor and privilege of flying aboard this terrific airplane. We're headed, as you know, to Illinois, to Knox College in Galesburg, where the President will deliver a major economic address, laying out his vision for where we need to go in our economy to ensure that we have a rising and thriving middle class, because that is essential for the long-term health of our economy and for the American people.

So we've spoken a lot about that already this week. I wanted to let you know that later in the day when he travels to the University of Central Missouri, home to the Missouri Innovation Campus, he will note that the Missouri Innovation Campus prepares students with the education and skills they need to succeed at an accelerated pace while lowering costs and without student debt. Established in 2012, the Missouri Innovation Campus was developed through a partnership between the University of Central Missouri, Lee’s Summit School District, Metropolitan Community College, and local companies in order to drive growth in critical areas for the regional economy, including health care, engineering, energy and infrastructure.

The Missouri Innovation Campus provides an integrated academic experience that combines real-world, on-the-job experience with rigorous academics to graduate students from high school with a diploma as well as an associate’s degree, and then allowing them to earn a bachelor’s degree in only two years. This partnership provides students with a well-aligned education and prepares them with the skills they need to succeed in the Missouri economy and graduate with sought-after skills for high-paying careers, creating a pipeline for high school students to earn their diploma and degrees and get hired by local companies.

And I think it reflects the President’s firm belief that education is a cornerstone to the foundation we need to build economically. And that's why ensuring that as many Americans have access to higher education as possible and can afford that higher education is so important to the President.

With that, I will take your questions.

Q Jay, what is the latest information the White House has on the status of Edward Snowden? There were Russian media reports earlier today that he had gotten papers that would allow him to enter Russia, and then the latest update that we had was that his lawyer said that he was going to stay in the transit zone in the airport. So what’s the latest that you all know about him?

MR. CARNEY: Thank you, Darlene. We have seen reports of the nature you just described and of both kinds, and we are seeking clarity from Russian authorities about Mr. Snowden’s status and any change in it. But beyond that, I don't have any more information. And I can say that our position on Mr. Snowden remains what it …read more

Source: White House Press Office

Readout of the President's Meeting with Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus

By The White House

This morning, President Obama met with members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) at the White House to discuss a range of important issues facing the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. The President thanked CAPAC for their work to expand the middle class within AAPI communities and among all Americans, and said that he looks forward to continuing to work with them.

The President stressed that the Administration continues to urge the House to take action to pass commonsense immigration reform that would secure our borders, crack down on illegal employment, offer a path to earned citizenship for undocumented persons, and modernize our legal immigration system so that it once again addresses our needs and reflects our values as a nation. He thanked CAPAC for their ongoing efforts on this important issue and both sides agreed on the need to pass immigration reform now to help grow the economy, create jobs and reduce the deficit. The President urged CAPAC to continue to reach out to their colleagues in the House to find consensus and complete work on this important issue at the earliest possible opportunity. In the coming weeks, members of the Cabinet and Senior Administration officials will stress the economic need for commonsense immigration reform, including highlighting the economic benefits of reform and the high costs of inaction.

The President also said that he was proud of his efforts to make the Executive Branch and the federal judiciary more diverse. CAPAC thanked the President for more than doubling the number of AAPI federal judges currently serving. The President reiterated his commitment to ensuring that his Administration is composed of highly qualified public servants who reflect the diversity of America. CAPAC also thanked the President for the ongoing work of the White House Initiative on AAPIs to better connect AAPI communities to the federal government.

The President also thanked CAPAC for their strong support in passing the Affordable Care Act and discussed the robust ongoing efforts to successfully implement the law. Starting in 2014 nearly 2 million uninsured AAPIs will have new opportunities for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. And, increased funding to community health centers is enabling more AAPIs to receive culturally and linguistically appropriate and accessible care. The President and CAPAC pledged to work together to ensure that all qualified individuals are able to sign up for the Health Insurance Marketplace.

The President was joined at the meeting by Office of Legislative Affairs Director Miguel Rodriguez, Director of Presidential Personnel Jonathan McBride, and Executive Director of the White House Initiative on AAPIs Kiran Ahuja.

A photo of the meeting is available here.

…read more

Source: White House Press Office

President Obama Signs Missouri Disaster Declaration

By The White House

The President today declared a major disaster exists in the State of Missouri and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by severe storms, straight-line winds, tornadoes, and flooding during the period of May 29 to June 10, 2013.

Federal funding is available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe storms, straight-line winds, tornadoes, and flooding in the counties of Barton, Callaway, Cape Girardeau, Chariton, Clark, Howard, Iron, Knox, Lewis, Lincoln, Maries, Marion, Miller, Montgomery, Osage, Perry, Pike, Putnam, Ralls, Shelby, St. Charles, St. Louis, Ste. Genevieve, Stoddard, Sullivan, Texas, and Webster.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

W. Craig Fugate, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named Michael L. Parker as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area.

FEMA said additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION MEDIA SHOULD CONTACT: FEMA NEWS DESK AT (202) 646-3272 OR FEMA-NEWS-DESK@DHS.GOV

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Source: White House Press Office

Remarks by Vice President Joe Biden on Asia-Pacific Policy

By The White House

George Washington University
Washington, D.C.

1:34 P.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, folks. Thank you for your patience.

I’d like to begin by thanking — Mr. President, thank you for offering the venue here at GW. You’re always generous, and we appreciate it a great deal. And I was — it’s terrible being dated. I was — I did speak the first year that the Center for American Progress was inaugurated, and here I’m speaking at the 10th anniversary. And the amazing thing is they're still going; that's having me speak there first.

But, Neera, thank you. We miss you. And, Rich, thank you as well. And to the ambassadors who are here, thank you very much. I’m honored that you’d take the time.

Today I want to talk to you about why and how we are pursuing our announced policy of elevated engagement in the Asia-Pacific, and where I believe — we believe — that policy is headed.

When President Obama and I came to office, to state the obvious, we inherited two wars. And it was costing us in blood and treasure and time. And we knew we had to end both those wars responsibly. We’ve done that in Iraq, and we’re doing that as I speak in Afghanistan. We’ll obviously continue to be engaged in both places. And of course we’ll continue to take the fight to Al Qaeda and its affiliates there or wherever they are. But winding down those wars has allowed us to turn to the opportunities that reflect the realities of a fast-changing world.

We ask ourselves two things in the review of how to proceed: Where should we focus additional attention and resources that would enable us to create greater opportunity at home and generate greater growth — economic growth — around the world? And where must we make strategic investments that are required to enhance not only our security but global stability?

Both — I say to the ambassadors — both pointed to the Asia-Pacific.

In terms of economics, the Asia-Pacific region —- stretching from India to the Pacific nations of the Americas -— is home to a middle class of about a billion people. Some of the fastest growing growth rates in the world are within that region. Emerging markets whose choices will shape the character of the entire global economy are within that purview.

So we reached out. We reached out to deepen economic ties and promote open markets and a rule-based competition for the 21st century.

We finished a free-trade agreement with South Korea, as well as deals with Panama and Colombia. We launched negotiations on a new Trans-Pacific Partnership that will connect diverse — economies as diverse as Singapore and Peru. We’ve worked toward a more constructive economic relationship with China, including through the Strategic and Economic …read more

Source: White House Press Office

President Obama to Deliver Remarks on the Affordable Care Act

By The White House

WASHINGTON, DC – On Thursday, July 18th, President Obama will deliver remarks at the White House to discuss how the Affordable Care Act is holding insurance companies accountable and putting money back into the pockets of over 8.5 million Americans.

Under the ACA, insurance companies are required to spend at least 80 percent of premium dollars on medical care and health care quality improvement, rather than on administrative costs. If they don’t, the insurance companies must provide a rebate to their customers. As a result of this provision, 8.5 million consumers nationwide will receive half a billion dollars in rebates this summer, with an average rebate of around $100 per family. This new standard and other ACA policies together helped consumers save approximately $3.9 billion on premiums in 2012.

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Source: White House Press Office

Presidential Nominations and Withdrawals Sent to the Senate

By The White House

NOMINATIONS SENT TO THE SENATE:

Kent Yoshiho Hirozawa, of New York, to be a Member of the National Labor Relations Board for the term of five years expiring August 27, 2016, vice Wilma B. Liebman, term expired.

Nancy Jean Schiffer, of Maryland, to be a Member of the National Labor Relations Board for the term of five years expiring December 16, 2014, vice Craig Becker.

WITHDRAWALS SENT TO THE SENATE:

Sharon Block, of the District of Columbia, to be a Member of the National Labor Relations Board for the term of five years expiring December 16, 2014, vice Craig Becker, which was sent to the Senate on February 13, 2013.

Richard F. Griffin, Jr., of the District of Columbia, to be a Member of the National Labor Relations Board for the term of five years expiring August 27, 2016, vice Wilma B. Liebman, term expired, which was sent to the Senate on February 13, 2013.

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Source: White House Press Office

FACT SHEET: Accelerating Improvements in HIV Prevention and Care in the United States through the HIV Care Continuum Initiative

By The White House

“We’ve got to keep pushing. We’ve got to make access to health care more available and affordable for folks living with HIV.”

President Obama, June 13, 2013

In July 2010, President Obama released the first comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy. The HIV Care Continuum Initiative calls for coordinated action in response to data that has been released since the Strategy three years ago, showing only a quarter of people living with HIV in the United States have achieved the treatment goal of controlling the HIV virus. In fact, along the entire HIV care continuum – the sequential stages of care from being diagnosed to suppressing the virus—there are significant gaps. To address this need, the HIV Care Continuum Initiative will mobilize Federal efforts in line with the recent advances in our understanding of how best to prevent and treat HIV infection. It will support further integration of HIV prevention and care efforts; promote expansion of successful HIV testing and service delivery models; encourage innovative approaches to addressing barriers to accessing testing and treatment; and ensure that Federal resources are appropriately focused on implementing evidence-based interventions along the HIV care continuum in relation to other scientifically proven approaches to combatting HIV.

Scientific advances in the three years since the Strategy’s release highlight the importance of accelerating efforts to increase HIV testing, services, and treatment along the continuum:

  • Federal guidelines now recommend antiretroviral treatment for all adults and adolescents living with HIV in the United States. Instead of waiting for the immune system to show signs of decline, experts now recommend starting treatment right away. Evidence indicates that treating HIV as soon as possible reduces HIV-related complications.

  • Treatment reduces the risk of HIV transmission. Along with other proven prevention methods, such as condom use, abstinence, and comprehensive drug treatment, effective treatment reduces the risk of HIV transmission. An NIH-sponsored study showed that among heterosexual couples, starting treatment early reduced transmission risk by 96%.

  • Screening for HIV is now recommended for all persons 15-65 in the United States. About half of Americans have never been tested for HIV, and nearly 200,000 people living with HIV in this country are unaware that they are infected. Screening all persons between 15 and 65 years of age is now a grade “A” recommendation of the independent U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

Towards an AIDS-Free Generation

The HIV Care Continuum Initiative will be overseen by the Office of National AIDS Policy. A workgroup including key Federal agencies is charged with implementing the Initiative. Today, as part of …read more

Source: White House Press Office

President Obama Updated on the Plane Crash in San Francisco

By The White House

Soon after the plane crash in San Francisco, CA, the President was made aware of the incident by Lisa Monaco, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. The President will continue to be updated as new information becomes available. The President expressed his gratitude for the first responders and directed his team to stay in constant contact with the federal, state and local partners as they investigate and respond to this event. His thoughts and prayers go out to the families who lost a loved one and all those affected by the crash.

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Source: White House Press Office

Remarks by the President at Fourth of July Celebration

By The White House

South Lawn

5:58 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Welcome to the White House. (Applause.) And Happy Fourth of July! (Applause.)

So we've tried to plan a proper Fourth of July celebration. We're grilling some food. We've got the fireworks coming. We've got lots of music. The band fun. is here with us today. (Applause.) And we've got multiple groups from our Marine Band
— we've got the Marine Concert Band. We've got the Dixieland Band. We've got the Marching Band. And we've got Free Country, the country band. (Applause.)

So we hope everybody has a great time. We are incredibly grateful for your service, and we're thankful that you get a chance to spend the Fourth here with us. And by the way, it's Malia's birthday, so she is appreciative that you're all going to be wishing her happy birthday as well. (Applause.)

So I don't want to keep you from the food, but let me just say this. There are children all over the world right now asking their parents what's so special about today. And maybe some of those little ones are running around even here on the South Lawn, thinking, well, this is just an excuse for some hotdogs. (Laughter.) But it's worth remembering what happened 237 years ago on this date and what it meant to the world.

On July 4, 1776, a small band of patriots declared that we were a people created equal, free to think and worship and live as we please; that our destiny would not be determined for us, it would be determined by us. And it was bold and it was brave. And it was unprecedented, it was unthinkable. At that time in human history, it was kings and princes and emperors who made decisions.

But those patriots knew there was a better way of doing things, that freedom was possible, and that to achieve their freedom they'd be willing to lay down their lives, their fortunes and their honor. And so they fought a revolution. And few would have bet on their side, but for the first time in many times to come, America proved the doubters wrong.

And now, 237 years later, this improbable experiment in democracy, the United States of America, stands as the greatest nation on Earth. (Applause.) And what makes us great is not our size or our wealth, but our values and our ideals and the fact that we're willing to fight for them. A land of liberty and opportunity; a global defender of peace and freedom; a beacon of hope for people everywhere who cherish those ideals.

And we have also earned it — you have earned it — because as part of a long line of folks who are willing to fight for those ideals, we've been able to not only preserve and make more perfect this union, but also …read more

Source: White House Press Office

Readout of the President’s Phone Call with Chancellor Merkel of Germany

By The White House

President Obama spoke by phone today with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, who offered condolences on the tragic deaths of 19 firefighters in Arizona. The President and the Chancellor discussed the recent reports of surveillance activities allegedly conducted by the U.S. National Security Agency. The President assured the Chancellor that the United States takes seriously the concerns of our European allies and partners. The two leaders reaffirmed the importance of continued close cooperation between our respective intelligence services in the fight against terrorism and other threats to the security of the United States, Germany, and our allies. The leaders agreed to hold a high-level meeting of U.S. and German security officials in the coming days to discuss these matters in greater detail. They also looked forward to the initiation of a U.S.-EU/EU Member State dialogue on the collection and oversight of intelligence and questions of privacy and data protection, as proposed by Attorney General Eric Holder, as early as July 8. Finally, the leaders reiterated their strong support for the launch of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations and welcomed the upcoming first round of discussions.

###

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Source: White House Press Office

Readout of President Obama’s Call with Australian Prime Minister Rudd and former Prime Minister Gillard

By The White House

Earlier today from Air Force One, the President called Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and former Prime Minister Julia Gillard of Australia. In his call with Prime Minister Rudd, the President congratulated the Prime Minister on his return to office. The President also reiterated the enduring strength of the U.S.-Australia alliance and his confidence that the United States and Australia will continue to work together closely on important global and regional issues. The two leaders also discussed the importance of completing the high standard Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. In his call with former Prime Minister Gillard, President Obama thanked her for her warm friendship and close partnership in deepening cooperation between the United States and Australia, and he wished her well in her future endeavors.

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Source: White House Press Office

Remarks by the First Lady During Discussion with South African Students and Google+ Hangout at Connecting Continents Event

By The White House

4:07 P.M. SAST

MR. DHOLOMO: Thank you very much, Mrs. Obama, for joining us. That was a very inspirational speech. We're joined by a lot of students from across the world — we're crossing over to New York City, we're crossing over to L.A., we're crossing over to Kansas City, we're crossing over to Texas as well.

MRS. OBAMA: Houston.

MR. DHOLOMO: Houston, yes, yes. So it's going to be great. And we're also joined by Mr. John Legend, as you can see, as well as — (applause ) — as well as Victoria Justice.

MRS. OBAMA: Hey, John!

MR. DHOLOMO: That’s going to be great.

MR. LEGEND: Hello.

MRS. OBAMA: Hi, Victoria. Thank you, guys. (Applause.)

MR. DHOLOMO: Now, ma'am, I was thinking, just as an cebreaker, I'd teach you a South African greeting — I'm Zulu myself — so are you willing to try this?

MRS. OBAMA: I'm game. (Laughter.)

MR. DHOLOMO: Okay, cool. Let's try this — say “Sawubona.”

MRS. OBAMA: Sawubona.

AUDIENCE: Yebo.

MRS. OBAMA: Yebo. I like that. (Laughter.)

MR. DHOLOMO: “Ninjani.”

MRS. OBAMA: Ninjani.

AUDIENCE: Si yaphila.

MRS. OBAMA: All right.

MR. DHOLOMO: All right, now we're going to get started.

MRS. OBAMA: Okay, we're ready.

MR. DHOLOMO: Now, on a serious note, why was this project important to you?

MRS. OBAMA: First of all, you all, as young people, inspire me — not just because I'm First Lady, but I'm a mom. And I know that kids are our future.

And one of the things that I think is so important that I want to have happen or begin to happen here is that young people all across the world, you guys start to talk to each other and share with each other and start inspiring one another across the globe. That is the beauty of technology. That’s what we should be using Twitter and all that stuff for — for you — (laughter) — yes, I'm still working on it — (laughter) — for you guys to begin to talk to each other and realize that you have so much in common — whether you are in Soweto or Houston or anywhere in the world, there's so much that you all can do together.

And I want you all to start thinking about being citizens of the world. And in order to do that, you've got to start reaching out, and this is just the beginning.

MR. DHOLOMO: Absolutely. I mean, I like the point you brought up about Twitter and social networks, so I'm actually going to cross over to Kansas right now — I don’t know if you guys can hear me. Can you guys hear me?

AUDIENCE: Yes.

MR. …read more

Source: White House Press Office

FACT SHEET: Power Africa

By The White House

Today the President announced Power Africa, a new initiative to double access to power in sub-Saharan Africa. More than two-thirds of the population of sub-Saharan Africa is without electricity, and more than 85 percent of those living in rural areas lack access. Power Africa will build on Africa’s enormous power potential, including new discoveries of vast reserves of oil and gas, and the potential to develop clean geothermal, hydro, wind and solar energy. It will help countries develop newly-discovered resources responsibly, build out power generation and transmission, and expand the reach of mini-grid and off-grid solutions.

According to the International Energy Agency, sub-Saharan Africa will require more than $300 billion in investment to achieve universal electricity access by 2030. Only with greater private sector investment can the promise of Power Africa be realized. With an initial set of six partner countries in its first phase, Power Africa will add more than 10,000 megawatts of cleaner, more efficient electricity generation capacity. It will increase electricity access by at least 20 million new households and commercial entities with on-grid, mini-grid, and off-grid solutions. And it will enhance energy resource management capabilities, allowing partner countries to meet their critical energy needs and achieve greater energy security.

Power Africa is Rooted in Partnership

The United States and its partners will work with an initial set of Power Africa partner countries, including Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, and Tanzania. These countries have set ambitious goals in electric power generation and are making the utility and energy sector reforms to pave the way for investment and growth. Power Africa will also partner with Uganda and Mozambique on responsible oil and gas resources management.

Power Africa will bring to bear a wide range of U.S. government tools to support investment in Africa’s energy sector. From policy and regulatory best practices, to pre-feasibility support and capacity building, to long-term financing, insurance, guarantees, credit enhancements and technical assistance Power Africa will provide coordinated support to help African partners expand their generation capacity and access.

The United States will commit more than $7 billion in financial support over the next five years to this effort, including:

  • The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will provide $285 million in technical assistance, grants and risk mitigation to advance private sector energy transactions and help governments adopt and implement the policy, regulatory, and other reforms necessary to attract private sector investment in the energy and power sectors.
  • The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) will commit up to $1.5 billion in financing and insurance to energy projects in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • The U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) will make available up to $5 billion in support of U.S. exports for the development of power projects across sub-Saharan Africa.
  • The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) will invest up to $1 billion in African power systems through its country compacts to increase access and the reliability and sustainability of electricity supply through investments in …read more

    Source: White House Press Office

FACT SHEET: Global Health Investments and Partnership in Africa

By The White House

The United States is the world’s leading donor in global health. We are strongly committed to working with partner nations to reach our goal of an AIDS-free generation, to ending preventable child and maternal deaths, and to supporting countries as they work to provide for the health of their own citizens.

Since 2008, the United States has tripled the number of people directly supported by the President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) with lifesaving treatment for AIDS. Our efforts have contributed to a 16% decline in under-five child mortality in 24 priority countries, and we have been a key multilateral partner on strengthening the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization.

We will continue to work with our partners and Allies around the world to deliver global health results and eradicate extreme poverty. And we will continue to speak out in support of universal rights and fundamental freedoms for all, including LGBT populations, people living with HIV, and women and girls.

Progress towards an AIDS-Free Generation

The United States is committed to turning the tide on HIV/AIDS. In June 2013, we reached the one millionth baby born HIV-free because of PEPFAR support. In Fiscal Year 2012 alone, PEPFAR’s investments meant that over 230,000 babies were born HIV-free. In sub-Saharan Africa, the number of AIDS-related deaths decreased by 32% from 2005 to 2011, and the number of new HIV infections fell by 33% from 2001 to 2011.

During this same period, PEPFAR also supported over one million voluntary medical male circumcisions, and provided HIV testing and counseling for more than 46 million people. Today, we are announcing an additional $10 million to support South Africa’s ongoing efforts to expand voluntary medical male circumcision services, which reduces men’s risk of becoming infected with HIV by approximately 60%.

We are delivering on the President’s 2011 commitment to support 6 million people on antiretroviral treatment (ART) by the end of 2013, and are working to increase the impact and sustainability of our investments. The number of people in Africa receiving antiretroviral treatment has increased from less than 1 million in 2005 to 7.1 million in 2012, with nearly 1 million added in the last year alone. PEPFAR directly supports more than 5.1 million people with lifesaving ART, up from 1.7 million in 2008.

South Africa, for example, is rapidly scaling up access to HIV treatment, with a 20% increase in the number of people receiving therapy from 2011-2012 alone. Sixteen countries—Botswana, Ghana, Gambia, Gabon, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, São Tomé and Principe, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe—now ensure that more than three-quarters of pregnant women living with HIV receive antiretroviral medicine to prevent transmission to their child.

Eleven African countries—Botswana, Burundi, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Rwanda, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe—have reached a critical programmatic “tipping point,” where the annual increase in adults on treatment …read more

Source: White House Press Office