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President Obama Signs Health Care Abortion Ban Executive Order

Posted by: TheLCster


President Obama signed an executive order on Wednesday to reaffirm that the new health law he signed Tuesday will not allow any federal funds for abortion. The White House released a photo of the invitees. The anti-abortion House Democrats, led by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) (fourth from left), who voted yes on the health bill after Obama pledged to sign the executive order.

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President Obama: Strengthening America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Posted by: Audiegrl

President Barack Obama signs an executive order for the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Friday, Feb. 26, 2010, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

President Barack Obama signed an executive order strengthening the capacity of and increasing the access to Federal funding for the nations historically black colleges and universities.

Obama says these schools have felt the pain of the recession most acutely because they enroll a higher proportion of low and middle-income students. He’s calling for increased funding for historically black colleges in his proposed budget.

President Obama says historically black colleges and universities still play a vital role and their success is crucial to a better future for all Americans. He’ll speak at the commencement ceremony for one of these institutions, Hampton University in Virginia, this spring.

The executive order is below:

Promoting Excellence, Innovation, and Sustainability at Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Members of Virginia State University's Trojan Explosion Marching Band carry their drums through the Grand Foyer before performing at the White House. The band then watched as President Barack Obama signed an executive order for the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Feb. 26, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Recognizing What Historically Black Colleges and Universities Mean to America

Written by William Jawando, Deputy Associate Director of the Office of Public Engagement (cross-posted from WhiteHouse.gov)

“As I stood watching the Virginia State University drum-line perform in the White House this week (likely the first time an HBCU drum-line has ever performed at the White House), I was reminded of how far we have come as a nation and hopeful about where we are heading. The nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities have served our nation since 1837. They educated freed slaves, giving them the priceless gift of a mind filled with world’s possibilities. Today, this noble goal of our HBCUs continues as they unveil for their students the world of possibilities for themselves, their communities and our nation.

Guests attending this White House event left with a glow not unlike that of January 20, 2009, but they also left with a resolve to do the work that will be necessary to ensure all students have access to a high quality education and armed with the tools they need to reach for the American Dream.

When the President reflected on some of the legends that have matriculated through HBCU’s – Thurgood Marshall, Dr. Martin Luther King, WEB Dubois -I thought about how important and critically necessary these institutions have been to the fabric of our nation. I was reminded of the tremendous legacy of HBCUs and that when we invest in our young people at these schools we are preparing the way for the next King, Marshall, and Dubois.

President Obama has demonstrated his commitment to these institutions not just with this event, but also through his budget. The 2011 budget calls for $98 million in new money for HBCUs, including a commitment of $850 million over ten years. These are resources the schools can use however they see fit to build their capacity to deliver a quality education to their students. For the students, this year’s budget calls for an increase in the Pell Grant program, raising it to $5,710 annually. More than 50 percent of the students attending HBCUs qualify for Pell Grants and other forms of support. This is important because, as President Obama said, one in two students at HBCUs are the first in their family to attend college, and HBCUs continue to educate many students who often times would not be able to go to college for financial reasons.

The HBCU presidents and other guests present nodded in agreement as the President talked about the need to increase access and completion at HBCUs and the critical role they play. President Obama believes we must continue investing and supporting HBCUs as part of meeting his mission to develop a world-class education system in America. This is not just for the benefit of African Americans, but as we work to compete with our neighbors around this globe, it is to the benefit of all Americans.

Often in Washington we get mired in partisan debate and lose track of what’s really important. Education. Access to opportunity. A fair and living wage. These are things that matter and can make a difference in the lives of people no matter who they are, what they look like or where they are from. We were reminded of these truly American values this week, and for that I am eternally grateful. Now let’s get to work!”

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We Are The World 25 For Haiti

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We Are the World

The recording of ‘We Are The World 25 For Haiti’ embodies the same enthusiasm, sense of purpose and generosity as the original recording 25 years ago. Through the contributions of the new voices to this rendition of ‘We Are The World,’ and with the help of our partners, the We Are The World Foundation will be committed to transparency and will help further the spirit of activism that was at the heart of the original song and movement.

We are developing mechanisms to permit our donors and members of the community to monitor the funds raised, the expenses paid, and the charitable grants funded by the We Are The World Foundation, a newly created not-for-profit organization founded by Quincy Jones and Lionel Richie who have invited Wyclef Jean, Paul Haggis, Randy Phillips, Peter Tortorici and Ambassador Luis Moreno of the Inter-American Development Bank to join them on the board. The Foundation is dedicated to raising money and to making grants to charitable organizations with meaningful and efficient relief and development programs that are responding to the continuing crisis in Haiti.

Please visit the website, to learn more…

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The President and First Lady Host: In Performance at the White House: A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement

Posted by: Audiegrl

February 9, 2010 marked the beginning of the 2010 White House music series with “In Performance at the White House: A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement” – a concert celebrating Black History month.

Earlier that day, the White House also hosted a “Music that Inspired the Movement” workshop. High school students from across the country participate in a workshop to learn about how music influenced the Civil Rights Movement.

Robert Santelli, the executive director of The GRAMMY Museum, and Smokey Robinson, the legendary Motown singer, will facilitate the workshop with performances by Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, one of the original Freedom Singers in the 1960s who traveled around the country carrying stories in song of local Civil Rights Movement campaigns to national audiences. Other artists participated as well, including: John Legend, John Mellencamp, and Toshi Reagon.

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In the evening, the President and First Lady hosted the “In Performance at the White House: A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement” concert, featuring songs from the Civil Rights Movement as well as readings from famous Civil Rights speeches and writings with participants including Yolanda Adams, Joan Baez, Natalie Cole, Bob Dylan, Jennifer Hudson, John Legend, John Mellencamp, Smokey Robinson, Seal, the Blind Boys of Alabama, the Howard University Choir and The Freedom Singers, featuring Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, Rutha Harris, Charles Neblett, Toshi Reagon and more. Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Queen Latifah and Joanne Woodward will be guest speakers.

“The civil rights movement was a movement sustained by music,” Obama said as he welcomed his audience.

He said activists from coast to coast were inspired by spirituals, felt their will sharpened by protest songs and base broadened by artists of hope. He said their work paved the way toward a more just America that allowed him to make history in 2008 with his election.

“Tonight, we celebrate the music of the movement,” Obama said.

Singer Yolanda Adams’ moving rendition of Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” was an early highlight of a night filled with amazing performances.

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The celebration was supposed to come on Wednesday, but faced with another major winter storm the White House decided to move the concert ahead by a day to beat what could be a second crippling snowfall in a week. As guests packed the first floor of the executive mansion, heavy snow landed on the South Lawn and blanketed the rest of Washington.

Morgan Freeman

Actor and activist Morgan Freeman

Morgan Freeman, who read excerpts from historical works throughout the night, harkened back to the song lyrics Obama invoked during his election-night victory speech in Chicago’s Grant Park.

“A long time coming,” Freeman said.

He later deadpanned: “I wish I could sing.”

Obama said the music helped the movement’s faith as their leaders were jailed and their churches bombed.

“It’s hard to sing when times are rough,” Obama said. “The hymns helped … advance the cause of the nation.”

The concert was to be televised at 8 p.m. Thursday on public broadcasting stations nationwide as part of the “In Performance at the White House” series. National Public Radio also planned a one-hour concert special from the event to be broadcast nationwide on NPR stations beginning Friday.

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Looking for more stories on the First Lady? Check out our brand new section: FLOTUS: All Things Michelle Obama

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First Lady Michelle Obama Graces Season Premiere of Iron Chef America; Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford Will Compete

Posted by Audiegrl

Another first from the Obama White House Kitchen…First Lady reveals “secret ingredient

First Lady Michelle Obama, Comerford, Brown, Batali and Lagasse

First Lady Michelle Obama, Flay, Comerford, Brown, Batali and Lagasse

Obama Foodorama—First Lady Michelle Obama will make a special appearance on the season premiere of the popular Food Network show Iron Chef America in January, in a savvy move to extend her healthy food messaging to a new audience. Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford will compete on the show in a special two hour “super chef battle.” Comerford’s teammate is grill master Bobby Flay, who guest-cheffed at the White House for the Father’s Day event in June, when he cooked up some lovely steaks with President Obama. Spoiler alert: Mrs. Obama will be revealing the “secret ingredient” that the chefs will use in their televised cook-off, which is a hallmark of the Iron Chef America series. The “secret ingredient” in this case is anything that grows in the White House Kitchen Garden, which leaves things wiiiide open, because the Kitchen Garden has produced a stunning variety of crops this year. Comerford and Flay are competing against the highly competitive team of celeb chefs Emeril Lagasse, who specializes in Southern/New Orleans cooking, and Mario Batali, an Italian cooking superstar.

Comerford in the Kitchen Garden during the Iron Chef America filming, harvesting with teammate Flay

Comerford in the Kitchen Garden during the Iron Chef America filming, harvesting with teammate Flay

Scenes for the show were already shot at the White House, with Comerford and the three other chefs harvesting crops from the Kitchen Garden, and Mrs. Obama having face-time with the guest chefs and discussing the importance of getting kids to eat their veggies. In her onscreen cameo, Mrs. Obama will discuss her campaign to reduce childhood obesity through better school lunches, community gardens, farmers’ markets and exercise, which is now known as the Healthy Kids Initiative around the White House. The show’s January air-date is timed perfectly to be right before Congress comes back into session, when legislators will ostensibly be addressing the re-authorization of the Child Nutrition Act, which provides federal funding for school feeding programs. Better school lunches are one of Mrs. Obama’s priorities, and President Obama’s too; Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack frequently notes in his public remarks that this was the very first subject President Obama discussed with him during their “job interview.”

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More @ Obama Foodorama, where you can find White House Food Initiatives…And Other Bipartisan Bytes of Food Politics

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CREW and the Obama Administration Reach Historic Legal Settlement–White House Will Post Visitor Records Online

Guests and their canine companions from the Helen Keller National Center

White House guests and their canine companions from the Helen Keller National Center


Posted by Audiegrl
Today’s statement from the White House says that it will release the names of visitors. Three to four months after the visit they will be posted online. This does not apply to visits that are regarding national security, or extreme confidentiality, or visits to the First Family that are of a personal nature.

This new move will end the lawsuits filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW), a Washington based watchdog group. You can read more about what CREW is calling a ‘historic legal settlement here.

As another indication of his commitment to an open and transparent government, the President announced today that for the first time in history, records of White House visitors will be released. Each month, records of visitors from the previous 90-120 days will be made available online.
“For the first time in history, records of White House visitors will be made available to the public on an ongoing basis,” said President Obama. “We will achieve our goal of making this administration the most open and transparent administration in history not only by opening the doors of the White House to more Americans, but by shining a light on the business conducted inside. Americans have a right to know whose voices are being heard in the policymaking process.”

Aside from a small group of appointments that cannot be disclosed because of national security imperatives or their necessarily confidential nature (such as a visit by a possible Supreme Court nominee), the record of every visitor who comes to the White House for an appointment, a tour, or to conduct business will be released.

Previous administrations fought disclosure of White House visitor logs in court. This administration began a review of the policy during its first days in office.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a government reform organization which has long objected to administrations keeping White House visitor logs secret, said in a statement from its executive director Melanie Sloan:

“Today the Obama administration has proven its pledge to usher in a new era of government transparency was more than just a campaign promise. The Obama administration will have the most open White House in history. Providing public access to visitor records is an important step in restoring transparency and accountability to our government.”

The administration thanks CREW for their participation in the development of this new policy.

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