Posts Tagged ‘obama’

The Week in Review: A Day of Service, A Speech for the Middle Class, An Interview for You(Tube)

In Uncategorized on January 27, 2015 at 6:22 am

From the President’s sixth State of the Union address to YouTube interviews live from the East Wing of the White House, this week was full of big moments. Here’s your White House week in review: 

On Monday, the President and the First Lady, the Vice President, Cabinet secretaries, and other senior Administration officials participated in a number of community service projects both in D.C. and throughout the nation. The President, First Lady, and their daughters volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club in D.C.

On Tuesday, the President delivered his sixth State of the Union address to Congress and the nation. He explained why the country needs to commit to middle-class economics that will give every family a fair shot — by instituting two free years of community college, creating paid sick leave programs, taking on climate change, and closing unfair tax loopholes. If you missed the President’s speech, you can catch the enhanced version here

It all started on February 22, 1837. President Jackson had a 1,400-pound block of cheese hauled into the main foyer of the White House for an open house with thousands of citizens and his staff, where they discussed the issues of the day while carving off slabs of cheddar. So on Wednesday, White House officials spent their day on social media to directly answer questions from the American people using the hashtag #AskTheWH for the second-annual Big Block of Cheese Day.

On Thursday, President Obama stepped onto the sets of YouTube stars GloZell Green, Bethany Mota, and Hank Green. Live from the East Wing of the White House, the stars each asked the President questions with the help of their viewers. From college affordability to the environment, the President was asked all of the tough questions. Check out the full YouTube interview and reaction here.

This Week in 3 Cities:

Boise, Idaho

Lawrence, Kansas

Washington, D.C.

5 Terms to Know

For more top stories, photos, and the most important events of the President’s day, sign up for our Daily Snapshot.

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Map: Here’s How the President’s Actions on Immigration Will Impact Your State

In Uncategorized on January 27, 2015 at 6:22 am

“Passions still fly on immigration, but surely we can all see something of ourselves in the striving young student, and agree that no one benefits when a hardworking mom is snatched from her child, and that it’s possible to shape a law that upholds our tradition as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.”

– President Obama, State of the Union Address, January 20, 2015

On November 20, 2014, President Obama took executive action to start fixing our broken immigration system so it works better for our people and our economy. The three main pillars of his action include:

  • Making it easier and faster for high-skilled immigrants, graduates, and entrepreneurs to stay and contribute to our economy, as many business leaders have proposed. 
  • Dealing responsibly with certain undocumented immigrants who are DREAMers or parents of citizens or lawful permanent residents, by requiring that they pass background checks and pay their fair share of taxes.
  • Building on our progress at the border and enforcing our immigration laws in smarter, more effective ways.

These actions not only live up to our heritage as a nation but are essential to building on our hopes for a brighter future. In fact, the President’s steps will allow people to contribute more fully to their communities and spark an economic boost for every single state.

Check out the map below to see exactly how the new steps we’re taking to fix our broken immigration system will improve the economy in your state: 

Just take a look at California. Here’s what the President’s actions can mean for the Golden State:

According to recent findings from the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, these executive actions would grow the U.S. economy by $90 billion to $210 billion over the next ten years. For California, that means: 

  • A $11.7 billion increase in the state’s GDP to $27.5 billion over the next ten years.
  • An increase in revenue for California’s budget.
  • An increase in community investment — in schools, homes, and businesses. 
  • An boost in the average wage for all U.S.-born workers — in California and across the country — by $170 a year.

Over the next several months, we will profile one state a week to highlight the local economic benefits of the President’s immigration actions and to share what this means for local communities in your state. Stay tuned for Texas and the other states with the largest populations of children or parents that are eligible temporary relief under the President’s actions.

You can learn more about the actions the President took last year and what they mean for America’s future here:

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The Highlights of President Obama’s Visit to India

In Uncategorized on January 27, 2015 at 6:22 am

President Obama and Prime Minister Modi Chat in a Garden

President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Naredra Modi have tea in the garden gazebo at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, India.

January 25, 2015.

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

“Chalein saath saath; forward together we go.”

India-U.S. Delhi Declaration of Friendship

President Obama and the First Lady traveled to India this week — their first time visting the South Asian nation since Prime Minister Narendra Modi was sworn in on May 26, 2014. America and India are true global partners in the work of strengthening economies and strong democracies. That is why the President is the first to have visited India twice while in office. 

President Obama's Ceremonial Welcome in India

President Barack Obama participates in a ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi, India.

January 25, 2015.

(Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

As Prime Minister Modi said, “This is a natural global partnership. It has become even more relevant in the digital age. It is needed even more in our world for far-reaching changes and widespread turmoil. The success of this partnership is important for our progress and for advancing peace, stability and prosperity around the world.”

“Abide with Me”A State Dinner 

President Obama and Prime Minister Modi Toast at India Dinner Reception

President Barack Obama toasts Prime Minister Naredra Modi during a State Dinner hosted by President Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi, India.

January 25, 2015.

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

In his remarks at a reception with President Mukherjee, the President quoted a hymn that was dear to Mahatma Gandhi’s heart: 

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;

The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.

When other helpers fail and comforts flee,

Help of the helpless, O abide with me. 

“Here in the eventide, Indians and Americans, let us know, in the darkness or day, in good times or bad, whenever one of us looks to the other, we will surely say, abide with me,” he said. 

Motorcycles, Military Parades, and More: The 66th Republic of India Day Celebrations

President Obama Views Camels at India Republic Day Parade

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama view the Republic Day Parade with President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi from the Rajpath saluting base in New Delhi, India.

January 26, 2015.

(Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

The President and the Prime Minister of India welcomed President Obama as the chief guest at India’s 66th Republic Day celebrations — a day that honors when India’s constitution officially went into effect. President Obama is the first U.S. president to attend this historic event. 

President Obama and Prime Minister Modi View Parade in India

President Barack Obama speaks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the Republic Day Parade at the Rajpath saluting base in New Delhi, India.

January 26, 2015.

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama Views Indian Dancers in Republic Day Parade

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama view the Republic Day Parade with President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi from the Rajpath saluting base in New Delhi, India.

January 26, 2015.

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Creating Progress: Cooperating in the Fight Against Climate Change

President Obama Offers Traditional Greeting in India

President Barack Obama participates in a traditional greeting with President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi following a ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi, India.

January 25, 2015.

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The President and Prime Minister Modi pledged to enhance U.S.-Indian cooperation on our mutual climate and clean energy goals. From our highly successful U.S.-India Partnership to Advance Clean Energy (PACE) umbrella program to technical work on emerging technologies, the U.S. and India made important progress on combating climate change. 

The agreements include: 

  • Enhancing bilateral climate change cooperation to achieve a successful and ambition agreement in Paris this year.
  • Cooperating on Hydroflurocarbons to make concrete progress in the Montreal Protocol this year
  • Expanding PACE-R, the U.S.-India Joint Clean Energy Reserach and Development Center, to extend funding for research on solar energy, energy efficiency, and advanced biofuels. 
  • Launching air quality cooperation to help urban residents reduce their exposure to harmful levels of air pollution. 

See a full list of what the U.S. and India agreed on to combat climate change here.

True Global Partners: Incentivizing Trade and Investment

Under President Obama, trade between the two countries has increased by about 60 percent to nearly $100 billion a year — a record high. But that’s still hundreds of billions less than the trade we do with China. “We’ve got to do better,” the President said, wpeaking at a U.S.-India Business Council Summit in New Delhi. So today, the PResident announced a series of additional steps that will generate more than $4 billion in trade and investment with India while supporting thousands of jobs in both countries:

  • The Export-Import Bank will commit up to $1 billion in financing to support “Made-in-America” exports to India.
  • OPIC will support lending to small and medium businesses across India that will result in more than $1 billion in loans in underserved rural and urban markets.
  • The U.S. Trade and Development Agency will aim to leverage nearly $2 billion in investmnets in renewable energy in India.  

Read the Presidnet’s full remarks here

President Obama and the First Lady in India

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama wave to the crowd at the Rajpath saluting base following the Republic Day Parade in New Delhi, India.

January 26, 2015.

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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Uber to limit price surges during blizzard

In Uncategorized on January 27, 2015 at 6:22 am

5 stunning stats about Uber 

Uber is putting a lid on fares as the blizzard.

The taxi app normally lets prices surge when demand is heavy — like when public transportation grinds to a halt and driving is hazardous because of a storm.

During this storm, Uber will instead aim to keep fares in line with where they have stood recently. And it says it will donate its share of fares to charity.

“Due to the State of Emergency declared in New York City, prices will not exceed 2.8x the normal fare,” the company wrote in an email to customers in New York, where roads were set to close Monday at 11 p.m.

For example, prices in the city on New Year Eve surged to six times the usual fare.

“Per our national policy, during states of emergencies, dynamic pricing will be capped and all Uber proceeds will be donated to the American Red Cross to support relief efforts,” Uber spokeswoman Natalia Montalvo said.

Related: Why Uber ‘price gouging’ complaints are silly

Sky-high prices during Superstorm Sandy led to Uber’s current policy. The New York Attorney General’s office negotiated the policy with Uber, and said the company agreed to “limit prices during “abnormal disruptions of the market” — typically, emergencies and natural disasters — consistent with New York’s price gouging statute.”

While riders may get sticker shock, Uber has consistently noted a reason for surge pricing that is rooted in supply and demand: Price increases are an incentive for drivers who might otherwise stay off the slick roads to stay out picking up passengers.

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Blizzard costs fliers big bucks

In Uncategorized on January 27, 2015 at 6:22 am
airline passengers
Severe winter storms cost airlines a ton of money — but they actually hit passengers harder.

Blizzards cost airlines a ton of money — but they actually hit passengers harder.

The reason is simple: When airlines cancel flights they save on two of their biggest costs — fuel and labor. But passengers end up spending more — a lot more — when a flight is canceled, on additional lodging and meals. There’s also a ton of lost productivity from missing work.

It costs an airline just $6,000 to cancel a typical domestic flight on a full-size jet, according masFlight, an industry research firm. But the total tab for all the passengers who were supposed to be on board: about $58,000

So far about 4,000 flights have been canceled due to this week’s storm, the firm says.

Related: Northeast blizzard – What you need to know if you’re traveling

Last winter was one of the worst in terms of storms disrupting air travel, with about 1 million flights delayed or canceled from December through February. That cost airlines $500 million.

But the cost of those delays and cancellations to the 90 million affected passengers was about $5.3 billion, according to masFlight.

Related: Get paid for canceled flights – 8 must have travel aps

“It’s tough to quantify how much of that is out-of-pocket expenses, and how much is productivity,” said Tulinda Larsen, vice president at masFlight. “But those costs can start to add up very quickly – a couple of hundred dollars for a hotel room, $100 in extra travel to and from the airport, and extra meals.”

Related: Why airfares are sky-high when jet fuel is dirt cheap

Both airlines and passengers have gotten off pretty easy this winter. Only 13,000 flights have been grounded so far this month, according to masFlight, which is average for January.

Oil prices fall, but airfares stay high 

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ID thieves stealing tax refunds still a big problem, IRS says

In Uncategorized on January 27, 2015 at 6:22 am
dirty dozen irs scam 3

You may not be the only person trying to get your tax refund from the IRS this tax season.

Identity thieves are stealing people’s Social Security numbers and other key pieces of personal information in order to file a fraudulent tax return and claim a refund, the IRS warned Monday.

The scammers typically file the fraudulent return early in the season, beating you to the punch. And when you file, that may be the first time you learn your identity has been stolen.

If you’re owed a refund and have had your identity stolen, you will have to wait until your case is resolved before the IRS can cut you a check. That typically takes about four months, according to the IRS.

Related: Fake IRS phone calls top list of tax scams

The agency, however, has been taking several steps to prevent fraudulent returns from being paid out. It said it has stopped 19 million suspicious returns since 2011, protecting more than $63 billion in fraudulent returns.

Identity thieves can get your personal information in a variety of ways, the IRS said. While you can’t protect yourself entirely against identity theft, you can take certain precautions to reduce your odds of being victimized.

“Taxpayers should protect their computers and only give out their Social Security numbers when absolutely necessary,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in a statement Monday.

More specifically, the IRS recommends that you do not carry with you either your Social Security card or any documents with your Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) on them. And just because a business or doctor’s office asks you for those numbers doesn’t necessarily mean you have to give them. (Here’s guidance from the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse on when you should not share your Social Security number.)

Protecting your computer from being hacked by using firewalls and anti-virus software can help, as can updating security patches and frequently changing your passwords to all of your online accounts.

Related: IRS warns of phishing tax scams, fake emails

Checking your credit report once a year, as well as your annual Social Security earnings statement, will offer some indication whether anything unusual has been reported in your name.

And do not give out personal information over the phone, by email or on a Web site, unless you’ve initiated the contact and know who you’re dealing with.

The IRS has more information here on how to protect yourself against identity theft, how to spot the signs of whether your identity has been stolen and the steps you should take if it has.

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S&P cuts Russia’s credit rating to junk

In Uncategorized on January 27, 2015 at 6:22 am

Russia's credit rating downgraded to junk 

In another blow to Russia’s economy, Standard Poor’s downgraded the country’s credit rating to junk status.

The rating cut will make it harder and more expensive for Russia to borrow money. Many investors are required to hold only investment grade bonds and will now be forced to sell Russian paper.

Russia’s economy has been pushed to the brink of recession by oil’s dramatic slide. Sanctions imposed by Western nations over Russia’s actions in Ukraine have also put heavy pressure on the economy.

Half of the government’s revenue comes from oil and gas exports.

In December, SP warned that Russia had few options left to revive its ailing economy and signaled that the agency had place the country on review for a potential downgrade.

The situation has only deteriorated as oil prices continue to fall. Crude oil current trades around $45 a barrel, compared to over $100 as recently as July. Russia’s government budget assumed that oil would trade above $100 this year.

Related: Europe to Russia — We won’t blink over Ukraine

The nation’s currency has plunged to all-time lows, raising concerns that it is headed for a full-blown financial crisis. It’s lost over 40% of its value against the U.S. dollar. Russians have been rushing to withdraw rubles and convert them into dollars, worried about the devaluation and the soaring price of imported goods.

That has exacerbated the rubles depreciation, according to SP, which expects inflation to rise above 10% in Russia this year.

The Russian central bank has hiked interest rates five times this year in an attempt to prop up the ruble.

Related: Russian elites say sanctions will never move Putin

The rates Russian banks lend to each other have more than doubled since December — overnight lending rates now stand at 25% — indicating just how serious the funding crisis has become.

Russia’s central bank said last month it would provide an emergency loan of 30 billion rubles ($545 million) to keep a struggling bank afloat and protect customers’ deposits while it engineers a longer term bailout involving a bigger Russian bank.

But SP warned that the central bank will face “increasingly difficult monetary policy decisions” as inflation becomes more of a problem.

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Apple Pay won’t add to Apple’s profit

In Uncategorized on January 27, 2015 at 6:22 am

How Apple Pay works 

Apple is expected to announce that it had a quarter for the history books during the last three months of 2014. But Apple Pay will most likely be little more than a footnote.

The payments system is taking off — but it’s not that widely used yet.

“Apple Pay is not likely to be a material revenue stream on its own anytime soon,” said Colin Gillis, analyst at BGC Partners.

Apple (AAPL, Tech30) gets just 15 cents for every $100 in Apple Pay transactions, according to Gillis.

So for Apple Pay to move the needle just 1% on Apple’s expected sales in the last three months, users would have had to use it for transactions worth $451 billion (which is highly unlikely).

Major retailers are practically falling over themselves to accept Apple Pay. It’s in McDonald’s (MCD) drive-thrus, Whole Foods (WFM) checkouts and it’s part of the Staples (SPLS) app. Every major credit card has signed up to work with Apple Pay. And it will be a big part of the highly anticipated Apple Watch coming this spring.

Apple Pay is genuinely easy and convenient to use. It’s safer than using a credit card. And Apple Pay is the only mobile payments technology this decade that most people have heard of (maybe other than ISIS, which recently had to change its name to Softcard for obvious reasons).

Related: Apple Pay is a win for (smart) retailers

Yet with Apple taking just 0.15% of every Apple transaction, all that love and goodwill isn’t going to add anything significant to the company’s bottom line. So why bother?

That’s because Apple Pay is a smart investment for Apple for other important reasons:

1) It locks people into the iPhone. All that convenience and security make Apple Pay an attractive option for customers. Even if Apple made Apple Pay free for retailers, that might be enough for Apple Pay to be a good investment. Since the iPhone is the only smartphone that runs Apple Pay, it locks people into Apple’s world of apps and hardware.

2) Apples are everywhere in stores now. Apple is already one of the world’s most beloved and trusted brands. Now, Apple’s logo is appearing next to Visa (V), MasterCard (MA) and American Express (AXP) on credit card terminals at retailers across the world. That’s some pretty effective advertising.

3) It could move the needle one day. Just because Apple doesn’t make a lot of money on Apple Pay today doesn’t mean that it couldn’t in the future. Credit card companies charge between 1.5% and 3% for every swipe. If Apple Pay becomes a more dominant form of payment in the coming years, Apple could easily raise its fees.

That’s not a ridiculous assumption. Online, consumers now spend nearly as much on their mobile phones as they do on their desktop and laptop computers, according to digital marketing company Criteo. At physical stores, mobile Payments is expected to become a $142 billion business by 2019, according to Forrester Research.

So Apple Pay won’t show up in Apple’s quarterly financial report on Tuesday. But one day, Apple Pay could move the needle.

Related: Why retailers are afraid of Apple Pay

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What blizzard? Stock market stays open

In Uncategorized on January 27, 2015 at 6:22 am

Who are the winners and losers in winter weather? 

The blizzard set to barrel into New York City Monday isn’t enough to halt trading on Wall Street — at least not yet.

The New York Stock Exchange says it is currently planning to be open both Monday and Tuesday, even as forecasts predicted up to three feet of snow, wind gusts of up to 65 miles per hour and freezing rain.

The Nasdaq stock market, which trades big tech companies including Google (GOOGL, Tech30) and Microsoft (MSFT, Tech30), also said Monday that it plans to remain open both days.

The Big Apple is facing what will likely be “one of the worst snowstorms in the history of this city,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Related: 4 stocks popping thanks to Snowmageddon

But if history is any indication, it’s not surprising that lower Manhattan’s trading floors plan to remain open. Besides Superstorm Sandy, which closed down markets for two days in 2012, it had been years since trading stopped for an entire day due to a weather-related emergency.

The most recent time a snowstorm interrupted trading was in 1996, when the NYSE delayed its opening until 11 a.m. and closed two hours early.

Related: What you need to know if you’re traveling

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Exclusive: Amazon’s script for making movies

In Uncategorized on January 27, 2015 at 6:22 am

Why Amazon Studios isn't worried about Netflix 

Why is Amazon entering the movie-making business? Amazon Studios boss Roy Price cites two big reasons.

One: “You can control the windows. So you can control when it premieres digitally.”

Two: “You can have a hand in choosing what the movies are going to be. What they’re going to aspire to.”

Amazon (AMZN, Tech30) wants to make movies that will be loved and remembered by people for years. The plan, announced last week, is ambitious and potentially disruptive to Hollywood’s entrenched ways of doing business.

But to hear Price tell it, it’s good for all parties — filmmakers, movie theaters and consumers.

“I’m very hopeful about the next 10 years in independent film,” Price told CNNMoney in his first interview since the Amazon Movies announcement.

He was at the Sundance Film Festival, schmoozing with movie producers and eyeing possible acquisitions.

He said Amazon would like to begin streaming its own original movies on Amazon Prime Instant Video later this year. But the release strategy will really ramp up next year, in 2016, with a once-a-month goal.

Related: Sundance goes digital: Why it’s a great time to be a filmmaker

The movies are intended to be released in movie theaters first, then streamed on Amazon Prime four to eight weeks later. Price depicted this as a compromise of sorts, a “middle ground” in the tense debate about the future of movie distribution.

“There’s gotta be a balance,” Price said. “There’s a real role for theatrical … but the people who are making the argument that films should come into digital soon are totally right! Of course it should. Certainly it should come to digital sooner. So this is our attempt to try to find the middle ground.”

It remains to be seen if movie theaters — particularly the big chains that control most of the country’s movie screens — will support the plan.

Price said he expected movie-makers to support it: “If you get the movie to the audience sooner, when they still remember the movie, the demand for the movie will be greater. And if you’re doing this on a regular basis, you create a more vibrant demand and business for independent film, the whole business is better. And there’s more money.”

More money to make more movies, that is. Amazon is looking for projects — both to produce and to acquire — that are “mid-budget,” roughly $5 million to $25 million.

Related: Amazon is going to make movies: Internal studio to produce about 12 per year

The company won’t be backing “big-budget superhero movies” or “$100 million animated films,” he said. Nor will the movies be, he said, “super-mega-esoteric.”

For now, Amazon is focusing on dramas and comedies, not documentaries. “But there is a big demand for documentaries on Amazon, so we’ll have to figure that out in time,” he said.

Price said the company has been talking about potentially making and acquiring movies for years, but wanted to pursue TV shows first. It now has several original shows, including “Transparent,” and more in development.

The plans for the original movies division came together in December, and earlier this month the company hired veteran producer Ted Hope to run the creative development.

“We don’t want to just make movies,” Price said. We want to make GREAT movies that people care about, that are memorable.”

He added: “There are movies people talk bout for zero time. There are movies people talk about for two weeks. And there are movies people talk about for two years or more. Let’s try to be in the ‘two years or more’ business.”

What are examples of those “two years” movies? He named “Birdman,” “Her,” and two movies that debuted at Sundance last year, “Boyhood” and “Whiplash.”

Asked if he would have tried to buy those two movies if he’d been at Sundance last year, he said, “probably, yes.”

He joked that he was looking for “Boyhood 2″ at the festival this year.

How involved is Jeff Bezos in Amazon Studios? 

Price said he didn’t feel like an acquisition at Sundance was a “must-have,” but would be “nice to have.”

“If we see the right thing here, we’re ready to move,” he said.

For Price, like many who speak the language of Silicon Valley, it comes down to what consumers seem to want — in this case, both theatrical and digital releases.

“Obviously, seeing movies in theaters is a great way to see movies,” he said. “Filmmakers want to see their movies in theaters. Customers want to see movies in theaters. I think the ideal program for indie film respects the unique role and hopefully permanent role of theaters in the process.”

As for the web?

Price asserted that an online release of the movies “like 6 weeks” after theatrical release makes sense. At that point, he said, “I can still remember the commercial. I still maybe read the review and I remember that. I’m still interested and I’m excited when I see it on the service.”

That sounds like the “middle ground” he talks about — if he can get theaters and filmmakers to back him up.

Related: Heard at Sundance: ‘Black lives matter’

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