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President Obama: "Happy Hanukkah, Everybody!"

In Uncategorized on December 18, 2014 at 11:51 am

We’ve koshered the kitchen and set up the menorah. And this afternoon, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed hundreds of guests here at the White House for the second night of Hanukkah.

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Joined by the First Lady and Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson of the American Jewish University in Los Angeles, President Obama retold the story of Hanukkah, “a story that took place more than 2,000 years ago, when a small group of Maccabees rose up to defeat their far more powerful oppressors.”

In the face of overwhelming odds, they reclaimed their city and the right to worship as they chose. And in their victory, they found there wasn’t enough oil to keep the flame in their temple alive. But they lit the oil they had and, miraculously, the flame that was supposed to burn for just one night burned for eight. The Hanukkah story teaches us that our light can shine brighter than we could ever imagine with faith, and it’s up to us to provide that first spark.

The President also took time to highlight a new Hanukkah story: The return of American aid worker Alan Gross from Cuba.

“After our many months of discussion with the Cuban government, Alan was finally released this morning on humanitarian grounds,” the President said:

He’s going to be getting the medical attention that he needs. He’s back where he belongs — in America, with his family, home for Hanukkah. And I can’t think of a better way to mark this holiday, with its message that freedom is possible, than with the historic changes that I announced today in our Cuba policy. These are changes that are rooted in America’s commitment to freedom and democracy for all the Cuban people, including its small but proud Jewish community.

Rabbi Shavit Artson led the blessings and lit the menorah — one of four brought from Israel to the White House this year. The menorah came from bilingual Jerusalem school Hand in Hand, and was built by both Jewish and Muslim students following a devastating arson attack. As the President put it, “Each of its branches are dedicated to one of the values their school is founded on — values like community and dignity and equality and peace.”
 


Learn more:

Article source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/12/17/president-obama-happy-hanukkah-everybody

The Faces of Health Care: Keith C.

In Uncategorized on December 17, 2014 at 11:44 pm

“…I was locked into my job because of health care. The Affordable Care Act enabled me to resign and devote my full efforts to what I believe is a much more important calling.”


Health reform has given many Americans the freedom to pursue their dreams – and Keith C. is one of them.

Keith is a recently retired concert violinist from Louisville, Kentucky. In 1997, he started a program in West Louisville — the West Louisville Talent Education Center — to help make a positive impact in the lives of kids who have experienced violence and tragedy, or who have had problems in school. Children start in the program at as early as four years old, and stay until they graduate from high school. The work was incredibly rewarding for Keith, but he couldn’t expand the program to reach even more children for a simple reason: He was locked into his job because of the health care it provided him.

Health reform, as he wrote the President this past February, changed all of that for him: “The Affordable Care Act enabled me to resign and devote my full efforts to what I believe is a much more important calling.” Keith signed up for his new affordable care last November, and found the process “surprisingly easy.”

Keith attributes health reform to his ability to help even more students whose lives have been touched by violence. He closed by saying this: “It seems we only hear about our story and others like it when you give a speech; if these stories do find their way into print, they are dismissed as just more ‘liberal media.’ But the 100 percent success rate we have, and the lives of each and every student are real.”

Need to get covered? Find a health plan that best fits your needs at HealthCare.gov. Already covered? Commit to help someone you know get covered here.

 

 

Article source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/11/14/faces-health-care-keith-c

The Faces of Health Care: Marjorie F.

In Uncategorized on December 17, 2014 at 11:44 pm

“I was quoted $800 a month … and then was promptly denied, due to my pre-existing conditions. When I signed up this month through Covered California however, the process was virtually painless, and now I have insurance that I can afford.”


Marjorie F. is a nationally-certified sign language interpreter working on her Master’s degree in Linguistics. As an independent contractor and hourly employee for multiple companies, universities, and colleges, she hasn’t traditionally been offered health insurance by her employers. On top of that, her minor pre-existing conditions had additionally prevented her from getting affordable, quality health care. 

That all changed this past year, when she applied and enrolled for insurance through her state exchange. She wrote the President in June to say thank you. Here’s what she had to say: “I know many people complain about the ACA and do not understand why it is needed. But what people do not understand is that not everyone can afford to get health insurance coverage, even if they are gainfully employed.”

Every one of us can play a part in sharing stories like Marjorie’s. If you’ve got one of your own, you can share it here

Need to get covered? Find a health plan that best fits your needs at HealthCare.gov. Already covered? Commit to help someone you know get covered here.

Article source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/12/17/faces-health-care-marjorie-f

President Obama Charts a New Course on Cuba: 5 Things to Know

In Uncategorized on December 17, 2014 at 11:44 pm

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“Change is hard — in our own lives, and in the lives of nations. And change is even harder when we carry the heavy weight of history on our shoulders. But today we are making these changes because it is the right thing to do. Today, American chooses to cut loose the shackles of the past so as to reach for a better future — for the Cuban people, for the American people, for our entire hemisphere, and for the world.” 

– President Obama, December 17, 2014

We are separated by no more than 90 miles of water.

And yet, for more than 50 years, an ideological and economic barrier hardened between our two countries.

Today, President Obama took historic steps to tear down that ideological wall and end an outdated approach that, for decades, has failed to advance our interests. Fulfilling a promise he made when he came into office in 2009, President Obama will begin to normalize relations between our two countries. 

In case you missed it, here are five takeaways from today’s announcement: 

1. The U.S. will re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba that have been severed since January of 1961. 

Going forward, the U.S. will re-establish an Embassy in Havana, and high-ranking officials will visit Cuba. We will work together to advance our interests on issues including health, migration, counter-terrorism, drug trafficking, and disaster response. 

Indeed, we’ve seen the benefits of cooperation between our countries before. It was a Cuban, Carlos Finlay, who discovered that mosquitoes carry yellow fever; his work helped Walter Reed fight it. Cuba has sent hundreds of health care workers to Africa to fight Ebola, and I believe American and Cuban health care workers should work side by side to stop the spread of this deadly disease.

Now, where we disagree, we will raise those differences directly -– as we will continue to do on issues related to democracy and human rights in Cuba. But I believe that we can do more to support the Cuban people and promote our values through engagement. After all, these 50 years have shown that isolation has not worked. It’s time for a new approach.

President Obama delivers a statement on Cuba and the release of American Alan Gross

President Barack Obama delivers a statement on Cuba and the release of American Alan Gross, in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Dec. 17, 2014.

(Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

2. The U.S. will review Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism. 

This review, conducted by the State Department, will be guided by the facts and the law.

At a time when we are focused on threats from al Qaeda to ISIL, a nation that meets our conditions and renounces the use of terrorism should not face this sanction.

3. The U.S. will take steps to increase travel, commerce, and the flow of information to and from Cuba. 

This is fundamentally about freedom and openness, and also expresses my belief in the power of people-to-people engagement. With the changes I’m announcing today, it will be easier for Americans to travel to Cuba, and Americans will be able to use American credit and debit cards on the island. Nobody represents America’s values better than the American people, and I believe this contact will ultimately do more to empower the Cuban people.

4. The return of Alan Gross and other Americans detained in Cuba cleared the way for this progress in relations. 

While the President has been prepared to take additional steps for some time, a major obstacle stood in the way: the wrongful imprisonment, in Cuba, of U.S. citizen and USAID sub-contractor Alan Gross for five years. Over many months, the Administration has held discussions with the Cuban government about Alan’s case, and other aspects of our relationship. Today, Alan returned home and was reunited with his family at long last.  

President Obama also secured the release of one of the most important intelligence agents that the U.S. has ever had in Cuba. Imprisoned for nearly two decades, he is now home on U.S. soil. 

Cuba also released a substantial number of prisoners whose cases were directly raised with the Cuban government by the President’s team. 

5. Pope Francis helped facilitate the release of Alan Gross and thawing of relations between the U.S. and Cuba. 

His Holiness Pope Francis issued a personal appeal to President Obama and to Cuba’s President Raul Castro, urging them to resolve the obstacles that prevented the countries from moving forward in restoring diplomatic relations. 

I want to thank His Holiness Pope Francis, whose moral example shows us the importance of pursuing the world as it should be, rather than simply settling for the world as it is.

Canada and a bipartisan group of Congress members were also instrumental in securing the release of prisoners and in advancing our interests and values in Cuba. 

Take a deep-dive into the President’s historic actions here: www.whitehouse.gov/cuba-policy

Article source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/12/17/president-obama-charts-new-course-cuba-5-things-know

Ex-Im Bank: Supporting American Jobs, Protecting American Taxpayers

In Uncategorized on December 17, 2014 at 11:44 pm

With the U.S. economy on the move — and with worldwide demand for quality, innovative goods on the rise — there have never been greater opportunities for American small businesses to prosper on the global stage and add good-paying jobs here at home.

The Export-Import Bank of the United States, or “Ex-Im,” is a small agency that exists to equip U.S. businesses with the financing tools they need to overcome obstacles and open new markets for their goods and services. We know that when entrepreneurs are empowered to win export sales against their foreign competitors, businesses grow, our economy becomes more durable, and layoffs are replaced with ‘Now Hiring’ signs in communities across our country.

Our 2014 Annual Report, available here, details some of the work we did this year — which happened to mark our 80th anniversary — to support U.S. job growth and promote American economic leadership abroad.

In the pages of the report, you’ll see some numbers we’re proud of from this past year, including:

  • Supported 164,000 American jobs
  • About 90% of transactions directly supported U.S. small businesses
  • Supported $27.5 billion in exports at no cost to American taxpayers
  • Supported $10.7 billion in exports from U.S. small businesses
  • A historically low default rate of 0.175% as of the end of FY14
  • A record high of $2 billion in financing to support U.S. exports to sub-Saharan Africa

But beyond the numbers, you’ll also find something we’re equally proud of: stories of our customers, innovative entrepreneurs who serve as living testaments to the positive impact that exports can have on American job growth. Of course, they’re only a few of the thousands of customers who have made use of Ex-Im’s tools to reach new markets, beat the global competition, and hire more Americans as a result.

Those customers include:

  • Fritz-Pak (Mesquite, Texas): Fritz-Pak is a family-owned small business that manufactures 30 made-in-America specialty products for the global construction industry, including concrete additives and plasters for swimming pools. When the recession hit the construction sector in 2008, they were forced to lay off three employees — that’s when they began looking abroad for overseas sales that could replace their lost domestic sales. Equipping themselves with Ex-Im’s export credit insurance, the company’s owners, the Ojeda family, were able to offer their new foreign buyers credit terms while protecting Fritz-Pak against the risk of not being paid. Today, exports account for 35 percent of Fritz-Pak’s total sales — and the Ojedas have been able to rehire those laid off employees.
     
  • SynTouch (Los Angeles, California): Founded in 2008, SynTouch develops and manufactures the only technology in the world that replicates the human sense of touch. Because the costs of manufacturing each advanced fingertip sized sensor can run into the thousands, SynTouch can’t afford buyer nonpayment — particularly when buyers are located thousands of miles away in global markets. That’s why the company purchased Ex-Im’s express insurance, which protects against losses due to commercial and political risks, covering 95 percent of invoice sales to customers overseas. Today, SynTouch has 25 international customers in 14 countries.
     
  • W.S. Darley Company (Itasca, Illinois, and Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin): In 1926, a conversation with Henry Ford prompted Chicago businessman William Stuart Darley to transform his business from an equipment manufacturer to a producer of fire trucks. W.S. Darley Co. still manufactures and distributes fire trucks and pumps — the founder’s grandsons lead the business these days, fulfilling orders for municipal fire departments, federal government customers, and, increasingly, buyers overseas. One of those buyers is the state of Lagos, Nigeria. When the governor of Lagos declared the state of the region’s firefighting capacity an urgent matter of state security, a city of millions turned to a town of fewer than 9,000 — Itasca, Illinois — to upgrade its fleet of fire trucks. When private financing proved to be unavailable, Darley turned to Ex-Im, which authorized a $15.7 million direct loan to the government of Lagos to underwrite the purchase of 32 state-of-the-art Darley firefighting vehicles. The trucks were built at Darley’s manufacturing center in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, where they’re supporting 100 U.S. jobs.
     
  • Decas Cranberry Products (Carver, Massachusetts): In 1934, a trio of Greek brothers immigrated to Massachusetts and began producing one of the world’s most iconic American products: cranberries. Now into its eighth decade, Decas Cranberry Products is still a family-owned business, producing over 30 million pounds of cranberry products annually. Decas came to Ex-Im Bank because they knew that achieving the next 80 years of success would require reaching more customers in global markets.  Utilizing Ex-Im Bank insurance to protect against the risk of buyer nonpayment, Decas now confidently sells to customers in over 35 countries — growth that has enabled them to hire 25 more workers in Massachusetts.

These are just a few of the many export success stories Ex-Im makes possible for our small business customers across the United States — and we look forward to supporting even more great American companies in 2015 and beyond.

For more information, you can visit us at exim.gov, or find the full report here.

Article source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/12/17/ex-im-bank-supporting-american-jobs-protecting-american-taxpayers

What They’re Saying: The President’s Action on Cuba Policy

In Uncategorized on December 17, 2014 at 11:44 pm

Today, the President announced the most significant changes to our Cuban policy in more than 50 years — ending an outdated approach that has failed to advance our interests for decades.

People and organizations from around the world are weighing in. Take a look at what they’re saying, and then add your voice to the conversation using hashtag #CubaPolicy.

Read more here.

 


“We hope these monumental steps will contribute to a more full realization of the rights and freedoms of the Cuban people and create tangible avenues for their economic, political, and social engagement.”

 Statement by Roots of Hope



“Today’s prisoner exchange between the USA and Cuba presents the best opportunity in more than half a century to forge an agenda for human rights change amid efforts to normalize relations between the two countries.”

Statement by Amnesty International


 


“In the last month, President Obama has used executive orders to address the two largest structural impediments to better US relations with Latin America; immigration, and Cuba. We commend his leadership on both counts. Today, nearly 55 years of ineffective Cuba sanctions policy has come to an end.”

Peter Schechter, Director, Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center


 

Read more here.


“Chag Sameach. What a blessing to be a citizen of the United States of America. Thank you President Obama for everything you have done today.”

– Statement by Alan Gross, upon returning home



“The Holy Father wishes to express his warm congratulations for the historic decision taken by the Governments of the United States of America and Cuba to establish diplomatic relations, with the aim of overcoming, in the interest of the citizens of both countries, the difficulties which have marked their recent history.”

Statement by the Vatican

Article source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/12/17/what-theyre-saying-presidents-action-cuba-policy-0

Judicial Nominations: Accomplishments and the Work That Lies Ahead

In Uncategorized on December 17, 2014 at 11:44 pm

Before the Senate adjourned last night, it confirmed 12 federal district court nominees, for a total of 307 lifetime-appointed federal judges confirmed during President Obama’s first six years. These confirmations include two Supreme Court Justices, 53 circuit court judges, 250 district court judges, and two Court of International Trade judges. Over the past two years, the Senate has confirmed 134 judges—44% of President Obama’s judicial confirmations, and the most in a two-year Congress since 1979-1980. We’re proud of all of our nominees and grateful to the Senate for its action.

President Obama will continue to consult with Senators—Democrats and Republicans—to identify lawyers with the necessary intellect, integrity, temperament, and commitment to equal justice under law to serve as lifetime-appointed judges. He also will continue his unprecedented commitment to expanding the gender, racial, sexual orientation, and experiential diversity of the men and women who enforce our laws and deliver justice.

President Obama’s judges have broken barriers across the nation, including four who were confirmed last night:

  • Loretta Biggs, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, is the first African American female judge to serve on her court.
  • Elizabeth Dillon, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, is the first female judge to serve on her court.
  • Amit Mehta, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, is the first Asian American Pacific Islander judge to serve on his court.
  • Robert Pitman, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, is the first openly gay lifetime appointed federal judge in Texas.

These “firsts,” while important, are emblematic of the President’s overall commitment to ensuring that the federal judiciary reflects the nation it serves:

  • President Obama already has appointed 129 female federal judges—16% more than any other President in history.
  • President Obama already has appointed 109 minority federal judges—18% more than any other President in history.
  • President Obama already has appointed 11 openly gay or lesbian federal judges, compared to only one in history prior to 2009.
  • Finally, President Obama is committed to a federal judiciary that includes the range of experience in the legal profession, and he has appointed more circuit court judges with experience as public defenders than all presidents in history in combined.

We know there is more work to be done. When President Obama took office, there were 55 vacancies in the federal judiciary. With the Senate’s recent confirmations, we have reached a milestone—fewer vacancies than when we began. Today, there are only 42 judicial vacancies, for a decrease of 25%. But by way of comparison, at this point in their administrations, President George W. Bush had decreased vacancies by almost 40%, and President Clinton had cut them in half. Furthermore, Chief Justice John Roberts and the Judicial Conference of the United States have recommended that Congress create 90 new permanent and temporary judgeships to address increasing caseloads across the country. Finally, President Obama’s judges have waited, on average, almost two-and-a-half times longer to be confirmed after being reported by the Senate Judiciary Committee than President Bush’s judges did at this point his administration—even though the vast majority of our judges are confirmed with overwhelming bipartisan support.  

A fully functioning judiciary is critical to the administration of justice, and a judiciary that better resembles our nation instills even greater confidence in our justice system.

View our infographic: “Creating a Judicial Pool That Resembles the Nation It Serves”

Article source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/12/17/judicial-nominations-accomplishments-and-work-lies-ahead

President Obama: "Nashville Shows How Immigrants Benefit All"

In Uncategorized on December 17, 2014 at 11:27 am

Earlier today, The Tennessean published the following op-ed from President Obama. In it, he discusses his executive actions to help make America’s immigration system smarter and fairer, and why we still need Congress to pass a common-sense law to fix the system.

Learn more about the actions the President is taking on immigration.


Many Americans think of Nashville as the home of country music, barbecue, and a hit TV show. What they may not realize is that, in recent years, Music City also has had one of the fastest-growing immigrant populations in the country.

“New Nashvillians” are from Somalia and Nepal and Laos. They’re from Mexico and Bangladesh. Nashville even boasts the largest Kurdish community in the United States. They work as teachers in our schools, doctors in our hospitals, and cops in our neighborhoods. They start small businesses and create jobs making this city a more prosperous, more innovative place. “They” are “us.”

When done right, immigration benefits everyone. But our immigration system has been broken for a long time. Families who try to come here the right way can get stuck in line for years. Business owners who treat their workers right see the competition exploit undocumented immigrants. None of us likes the idea that someone could reap the rewards of living in America without its responsibilities. And folks who desperately want to embrace those responsibilities have no way to come out of the shadows and get right with the law.

A year and a half ago, a big majority of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents in the Senate came together to pass a commonsense, compromise bill to fix our broken immigration system. It would have helped strengthen border security, while giving undocumented immigrants who already live here a pathway to citizenship if they paid a fine, started paying their taxes, and went to the back of the line. Independent experts said it would grow our economy and shrink our deficits.

If the House of Representatives allowed a simple yes-or-no vote on that kind of bill, it would have passed into law. But for more than a year and a half, Republican leaders in the House have blocked that simple vote.

We can still pass a law

I still believe that the best way to solve this problem is by working together to pass that kind of law. But until then, there are actions I have the legal authority to take that will help make our immigration system smarter and fairer. And I took those actions last month.

We’re providing more resources at the border to help law enforcement personnel stop illegal crossings, and send home those who do cross over. We’ll focus enforcement resources on people who are threats to our security – felons, not families; criminals, not children.

And we’ll bring out of the shadows many undocumented immigrants with children who are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents so they can play by the rules, pass a criminal background check, and get right with the law. This isn’t amnesty, or legalization, or even a path to citizenship. It doesn’t apply to anyone who has come to this country recently, or who might come illegally in the future. This is accountability.

These are the kind of lawful actions taken by every President, Republican and Democrat, for the past 50 years. So when folks in Congress question these actions to make our immigration system work better, I have one answer: Pass a bill. I want to work with both parties to get this done. And the day I sign that bill into law, the actions I’ve taken will no longer be necessary.

What’s disappointing is that, so far, the only response from Republicans in the House was their vote last week to try to force talented young people and workers to leave our country. It makes no sense. Rather than deport students, and separate families, and make it harder for law enforcement to do its job, we just need Congress to work with us to pass a commonsense law to fix our broken immigration system.

Meanwhile, Washington shouldn’t let disagreement over one issue be a deal breaker on every issue. That’s not how our democracy works. Americans are tired of gridlock. We’re ready to work together and move forward, just like so many Americans across the country do every day.

While most Americans support immigration reform, many disagree with the actions I’ve taken. I understand the concerns of those who worry that immigration will change the fabric of this country, or take our jobs, or stick it to the middle class. We’ve had those concerns since the Irish and Italians were sailing to Boston and New York. Yet our history and the facts show that immigrants are a net plus for the economy.

What cities like Nashville prove is that we can work together to address those concerns and make sure that immigration works for everybody – because it’s the right thing to do for our economy and our communities. And a couple of weeks ago, I created a Task Force on New Americans, which will focus on integrating immigrants into communities across the country.

That’s what makes America exceptional. We welcome strivers and dreamers from all around the world, people who share our ideals and have the same dreams for our kids. And if we keep harnessing that potential, there’s no limit to what this country can achieve.

Article source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/12/15/president-obama-nashville-shows-how-immigrants-benefit-all

President Obama Thanks America’s Troops and Marks a Milestone in the Afghanistan War

In Uncategorized on December 17, 2014 at 11:27 am

“The message I’m here to deliver on behalf of the American people is very simple: It’s just to say thank you.”

President Obama traveled to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey today to offer his thanks to the U.S. military members and families stationed there and across the world for their service to our country: 

Thank you for your extraordinary service. I thank you as your President because you inspire me. And of all the privileges I have in serving in this office, nothing comes close to the honor of serving as your Commander-in Chief. 

And I also thank you on behalf of more than 300 million Americans. We Americans may disagree and debate and argue sometimes — that is part of our democracy. It is messy sometimes. Sometimes it results in some gridlock in Washington. But whether liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, white, black, brown, rich, poor — no matter how we pray, no matter who we love, when it comes to our troops, when it comes to you and your families, as Americans we stand united. We are proud of you. We support you. And we can never thank you enough.  

President Obama delivers remarks at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (1)

President Barack Obama delivers remarks expressing his gratitude for the service and sacrifice of our troops and their families, at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in Lakehurst, N.J., Dec. 15, 2014.

(Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

The President also marked an important milestone: After more than 13 years, we are finally bringing a responsible end to America’s war in Afghanistan.  When the President took office, we had nearly 180,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. By the end of this month, we’ll have fewer than 15,000 in both countries. Over the course of six years, we have brought home 90 percent of our troops. 

And this month, Afghans will take full responsibility for their security:

Even as our combat mission ends, our commitment to Afghanistan endures. We’ll continue to have a limited military presence there because we’ve got to keep training and equipping Afghan forces, and we’ve got to conduct counterterrorism missions because there are still remnants of al Qaeda there. After all the sacrifices you’ve made, we want to preserve the gains that you’ve made. We want a stable and secure Afghanistan. And we want to make sure that country is never again used to launch attacks against the United States of America.

President Obama delivers remarks at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (2)

President Barack Obama delivers remarks expressing his gratitude for the service and sacrifice of our troops and their families, at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in Lakehurst, N.J., Dec. 15, 2014.

(Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

The United States is still leading the international community in tackling security challenges around the globe, including in our strategy to degrade and destroy ISIL. “In times of crisis, people around the world look to one nation to lead, and that is the United States of America,” the President said.

Along with our coalition partners, we are hammering these terrorists, taking out their fighters, their commanders, hundreds of vehicles and tanks, nearly 200 oil and gas facilities, the infrastructure that funds their terror. More than a thousand fighting positions, checkpoints, buildings, barracks — we’re taking them out. That’s because of the work that you do. We’re cutting their command and control and supply lines, and making it harder for them to maneuver.

In Iraq, local forces have held the line in some places and pushed back ISIL in other places. In Syria, our airstrikes are inflicting heavy losses on ISIL fighters and leaders. Because of you, we have blunted their momentum and we have put them on the defensive. And these terrorists are learning the same thing that the leaders of al Qaeda have learned the hard way: They may think that they can chalk up some quick victories, but our reach is long. We do not give up. You threaten America, you will have no safe haven. We will find you. And like petty tyrants and terrorists before you, the world is going to leave you behind and keep moving on without you, because we will get you. That’s thanks to you.   

“This campaign in Iraq will take time,” the President said. “But make no mistake, our coalition isn’t just going to degrade this barbaric terrorist organization, we’re going to destroy it.”

That confidence in our inevitable success stems directly from the confidence we have in the greatest military in the world: 

It’s not just your training, or your equipment, or your technology — although all that’s important. What makes us special, what makes us the best is all of you. It’s your character and your willingness to say, “Send me.” Your dedication to duty, and your courage, and your readiness to defend our values and our ideals of freedom and liberty — not just for us, but for people all around the world. 

You are the backbone of the greatest nation on Earth — and you always will be that. And for that, America is eternally grateful, and I am incredibly proud to serve as your Commander-in-Chief. 

President Obama greets members of the audience at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst

President Barack Obama greets members of the audience after remarks at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in Lakehurst, N.J., Dec. 15, 2014.

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Article source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/12/15/president-obama-thanks-americas-troops-and-marks-milestone-afghanistan-war

In Memphis, Attorney General Holder Talks About Building Trust Between Communities and Law Enforcement

In Uncategorized on December 17, 2014 at 11:27 am

Watch on YouTube

Last week, Attorney General Eric Holder traveled to Memphis and held a roundtable discussion on improving the relationship between the city’s people of color and local law enforcement.

In the wake of the recent police-involved deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and others, the President has called for an increased effort to help rebuild communities’ trust in local law enforcement and the justice system. In that vein, the Attorney General will be holding similar discussions in a number of other cities across the country.


“We want to make sure that law enforcement acts in a way that people will perceive as being fair, and then, in fact, is fair.”

– Attorney General Eric Holder


Attorney General Holder also noted the inefficiency of policing on the basis of stereotypes, saying that this kind of policing will “draw you to places where you shouldn’t be, and take you away from places where you, in fact, should be.”

The discussion was held at the Lorraine Motel — the site of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in 1968, and now the home of the National Civil Rights Museum. Attorney General Holder said the museum was the “perfect place” for this meeting, as “it’s an indication of how far we’ve come, but it’s also a reminder of how far we have to go.” He also linked protesters across the country today to those who are memorialized in the museum — “people who made noise, who disrupted things, all with the hope, with the aim of making our great nation better,” he said.


You should also see:

Article source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/12/15/memphis-attorney-general-holder-talks-about-building-trust-between-communities-and-l