BREAKING NEWS: Inspiring a New Generation to Defy the Bounds of Innovation: A Moonshot to Cure Cancer

Inspiring a New Generation to Defy the Bounds of Innovation: A Moonshot to Cure Cancer

Three months ago, I called for a “moonshot” to cure cancer.

Tonight, the President tasked me with leading a new, national mission to get this done.

It’s personal for me. But it’s also personal for nearly every American, and millions of people around the world. We all know someone who has had cancer, or is fighting to beat it. They’re our family, friends, co-workers.

If this disease has touched your life, I want to hear your story.

Today, cancer is the leading cause of death worldwide. And that’s only expected to increase in the coming decades — unless we make more progress today.

I know we can.

From my own personal experience, I’ve learned that research and therapies are on the cusp of incredible breakthroughs. Just in the past four years, we’ve seen amazing advancements. And this is an inflection point.

Over the course of the past few months, I’ve met with nearly 200 of the world’s top cancer physicians, researchers, and philanthropists.

And the goal of this initiative — this “Moonshot” — is to seize this moment. To accelerate our efforts to progress towards a cure, and to unleash new discoveries and breakthroughs for other deadly diseases

The science is ready. 

Several cutting-edge areas of research and care — including cancer immunotherapy, genomics, and combination therapies — could be revolutionary. Innovations in data and technology offer the promise to speed research advances and improve care delivery.

But the science, data, and research results are trapped in silos, preventing faster progress and greater reach to patients. It’s not just about developing game-changing treatments — it’s also delivering them to those who need it.

Right now, only 5 percent of cancer patients end up in in a clinical trial. Most aren’t given access to their own data. At the same time, community oncologists — who treat more than 75 percent of cancer patients — have more limited access to cutting-edge research and advances.

So I plan to do two things.

1.) Increase resources — both private and public — to fight cancer.

2.) Break down silos and bring all the cancer fighters together — to work together, share information, and end cancer as we know it.

And the goal of this initiative is simple — to double the rate of progress. To make a decade worth of advances in five years.

Here’s how we can do it:

Over the next year, I will lead a dedicated, combined effort by governments, private industry, researchers, physicians, patients, and philanthropies to target investment, coordinate across silos, and increase access to information for everyone in the cancer community.

Here’s what that means: The Federal government will do everything it possibly can — through funding, targeted incentives, and increased private-sector coordination — to support research and enable progress.

We’ll encourage leading cancer centers to reach unprecedented levels of cooperation, so we can learn more about this terrible disease and how to stop it in its tracks.

Data and technology innovators can play a role in revolutionizing how medical and research data is shared and used to reach new breakthroughs.

We will help the oncology community improve communication with doctors across the United States and around the world, so the same care provided to patients at the world’s best cancer centers is available to everyone who needs it.

And we will ensure that the patient community is heard — so patients and their families are treated as partners in care, with access to their own data and the opportunity to contribute to research.

And we’re getting started right away.

This Friday, I’ll head to the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine to talk to their physicians and researchers and continue this national dialogue.

Next week, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, I’ll meet with a group of international experts to discuss the current state of cancer research and treatment, and opportunities to accelerate this fight.

And later this month, I’ll convene and chair the first of several meetings with cabinet secretaries and heads of all relevant agencies to discuss ways to improve Federal investment and support of cancer research and treatment.

Fifty-five years ago, President John F. Kennedy stood before a joint session of Congress and said, “I believe we should go to the moon.”

It was a call to humankind. 

And it inspired a generation of Americans — my generation — in pursuit of science and innovation, where they literally pushed the boundaries of what was possible.

This is our moonshot. 

I know that we can help solidify a genuine global commitment to end cancer as we know it today — and inspire a new generation of scientists to pursue new discoveries and the bounds of human endeavor.

That is the history of the journey of this country. If there’s one word that defines who we are as Americans, it’s possibility. These are the moments when we show up.

We must move forward, right now. I know we can.


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President Barack Obama to Deliver His Final State of the Union TONIGHT!

President Barack Obama is set to deliver his last State of the Union speech to the America at 9PM EST. This will be a historic speech as alluded to by White House staffers. As President Obama moves into the last twelve months of his presidency, it is possible that the State of the Union will feature the highlights of the first African American to hold the title of the leader of the free world.

Media pundits and political analysts have debated whether President Obama will address the arrest of American soldiers by Iranian forces. WATCH President Obama’s historic and final State of the Union address at:

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White House Announces Guests in First Lady’s Box – State of the Union Address

White House Announces Guests in First Lady’s Box – State of the Union Address


WASHINGTON, DC – The following individuals will be seated in the box with the First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden and Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President, at the State of the Union Address on Tuesday.


For the President’s final State of the Union address, the individuals who will be seated in the guest box of First Lady Michelle Obama represent the progress we have made since the President first delivered this speech seven years ago – from the brink of a second Great Depression and two costly wars to an economy that is growing and renewed American leadership abroad. Their stories – of struggle and success – highlight where we have been and where America is going in the future, building on the best of what our country has to offer. The guests personify President Obama’s time in office and most importantly, they represent who we are as Americans: inclusive and compassionate, innovative and courageous.


Information about these guests and news about the State of the Union is available at


A Vacant Seat for the Victims of Gun Violence

Last week, the President took a series of commonsense steps to help reduce gun violence in America and make our communities safer.


We leave one seat empty in the First Lady’s State of the Union Guest Box for the victims of gun violence who no longer have a voice – because they need the rest of us to speak for them. To tell their stories. To honor their memory. To support the Americans whose lives have been forever changed by the terrible ripple effect of gun violence – survivors who’ve had to learn to live with a disability, or without the love of their life. To remind every single one of our representatives that it’s their responsibility to do something about this.


Sue Ellen Allen (Scottsdale, AZ)

Criminal Justice Reform

Sue Ellen Allen knows the difficulties that formerly incarcerated individuals face after prison – both as the co-founder of a nonprofit helping inmates reenter society and as a former inmate starting over after her release in 2009. Her organization, Gina’s Team, supports women in Arizona prisons and upon release, gives them the resources they need and teaches them how give back to the community. Named for her cellmate in prison who died in incarceration, Sue Ellen started Gina’s Team with Gina’s parents in an effort to provide women a path out of prison, back into the community and out of additional trouble with the law. She wrote the President to thank him for the launch of a new pilot program that enables incarcerated Americans to receive Pell Grants and to encourage a national dialog that includes women in prison reform. Sue Ellen is proud to be accompanied to Washington by Gina’s mother, Diane, whose daughter gave her a renewed purpose in life.


Gloria Balenski (Schaumburg, IL)

Letter Writer

Like many American families during the Great Recession, Gloria and Norb Balenski faced real economic struggles: Gloria lost her job after 34 years at a major electronics company, the money they invested for their son’s college dried up in the free-falling stock market, and Norb’s job at Chevrolet was threatened when the auto industry cratered. But the actions the President took when he came into office to pull us away from the brink of depression and to secure quality, affordable health care for millions of Americans, helped safeguard Norb’s job and his health insurance. And just in time as he suffered a major heart attack in 2012, racking up $400,000 in medical bills. Gloria and Norb wrote the President a letter last year thanking him for the economic priorities he pursued at a time of turmoil, which Gloria credits with helping her family to bounce back. Today, Gloria is retired, her husband has recovered, and her son recently married, has a job and purchased a new home.


Jennifer Bragdon (Austin, TX)

Community College Student

Jennifer Bragdon’s story showcases how community colleges can adapt to the needs of students. Jennifer, 42, and her husband, George, work full time to pay for bills and provide childcare for their one-year-old daughter, and Jennifer’s other responsibilities restrict her to one class at a time. Even though she won’t graduate for a few more years, she plans to complete her degree and become a middle school teacher. She enrolled in a new developmental math course at Austin Community College (ACC) after being out of a traditional classroom for more than 20 years, and has now successfully completed her college algebra requirements. In March, Dr. Biden met Jennifer at ACC and learned about the campus’ high-tech learning lab that provides more than 600 computer stations for individualized learning and small group sessions, highlighting the ways community colleges are providing flexibility and support for students to stay on track to earn their degrees. Jennifer works as a massage therapist and lives in Austin, Texas with her family.


Edith Childs (Greenwood, SC)

Greenwood County Councilmember

When then-Senator Obama visited a June 2007 campaign stop in Greenwood, South Carolina, a small group of 38 supporters captured the enthusiasm and drive that defined the election. And Edith Childs, a Greenwood County Councilmember, summed up the passion with a simple chant: “Fired up! Ready to go!” When she noticed Senator Obama’s surprise at a fairly small gathering, she sought to energize the crowd calling out, “Fired up!” to which they replied “Fired up!” “Ready to go!” she countered. This call and response captivated larger and larger crowds, and became widely recognized as the unofficial slogan of the 2008 and 2012 campaigns. In December 2009, President Obama invited Edith to the White House for the first holiday celebration hosted by the Obamas in recognition of her ability to distill the enthusiasm that helped carry him to the White House. Edith lives in Greenwood with her husband, Charles. They have three children and six grandchildren.


Cynthia “Cindy” K. Dias (Las Vegas, NV)

Veteran, Veterans Homelessness Advocate

Cynthia “Cindy” K. Dias is a Navy veteran who served during the Vietnam War in a hospital ship as a registered nurse. She managed care for wounded soldiers, and worked alongside the Chaplin as the designated official to provide notification and care for families of wounded and deceased officers. After her service, she worked as a registered nurse in Florida and Louisiana and eventually moved to Las Vegas, where she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress and lost her job before eventually also losing her home. She found a place to live at Veterans Village, a non-profit working with the city of Las Vegas to provide resources for homeless veterans. She now volunteers with Veterans Village, and she works to care and advocate for veterans in the city. In November 2015, Las Vegas announced it had housed every homeless veteran as part of the Administration’s Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness. This challenge was launched in 2014 by First Lady Michelle Obama as part the First Lady and Dr. Biden’s Joining Forces initiative.


Mark Davis (Washington, D.C.)

Small Business Owner

A former basketball player in Washington, D.C., Mark Davis was inspired by the President’s focus on climate change to do something to protect the planet and help his community. Mark took classes, got certified, and started a small business that trains low-income individuals to install solar panels and prepares community members for local green tech jobs. Mark’s company, WDC Solar, is growing, profitable, and giving back. Since 2012, WDC has installed more than 125 solar systems in D.C. at no cost to homeowners with good credit through tax credits and private funds. One of Mark’s proudest moments was working with D.C. Sustainable Energy Utility to start a low-income program that has provided funding to install panels on more than 300 homes. And once the panels are installed, the extra power results in a profit every month – money going back into the community he’s working to transform. In 2016 he plans to implement similar programs in New York, Pennsylvania and Georgia.


Cary Dixon (Huntington, WV)

Mother, Opioid Reform Advocate

In October, Cary Dixon joined the President at a community forum in Charleston, West Virginia, on the opioid epidemic and spoke candidly about the struggles of having an adult child with a substance use disorder. Prescription drug abuse and heroin use have taken a heartbreaking toll on too many Americans and their families, while straining law enforcement and treatment programs. The President believes that resources should be put toward preventing substance use disorders from developing and getting effective treatment to those who need it. As many families have learned, substance use disorders do not discriminate and Cary has turned her experience into action, speaking up for those who are often too stigmatized to say anything. “For too long, we’ve been silent,” she told the panel. “And I think that is holding us back. We need to open our voices so that people don’t feel ashamed. This is a disease. It is a sickness.”


Lydia Doza (Klamath Falls, OR // Anchorage, AK)

College Student, STEM Advocate

Originally from Anchorage, Lydia Doza’s upbringing in three Alaskan tribes – Inupiaq, Tsimshian, and Haida – as well as her grandmother Joanne’s influence taught her the value of an education and the importance of mentorship. She discovered her passion for engineering early on through her high school robotics team, and, through her involvement with the Administration’s Generation Indigenous initiative to support Native American youth, she’s engaging with rural youth in disciplines across the STEM fields to apply their skills and education. Lydia, 24, is currently pursuing a degree in software engineering technology at Oregon Tech, where she’s also an event organizer for Engineering Ambassadors, which focuses on outreach to kids as young as three years old through high school to encourage a career in engineering. After obtaining her bachelor’s degree, Lydia hopes to work full time as a software engineer while continuing her involvement in the community to promote the importance of STEM and higher education. Lydia ultimately hopes to pursue a master’s degree in data science and encourage more women to go into STEM. Lydia’s mother, Maria Graham, and two brothers, Dorien and Leland, live in Wasilla, Alaska.


Refaai Hamo (Troy, MI)

Syrian Refugee

Growing up in Syria, Refaai Hamo lived what seemed to be the kind of life associated with the American Dream – the son of a farmer and housewife, he worked construction at night to pay his way through college on his way to a PhD, married his college sweetheart and built a family together. This life and happiness changed forever when a Syrian government anti-personnel missile tore through the complex Refaai designed and where his family lived; in total seven of his family members died, including his wife and one daughter. After the bombing, he fled to Turkey but couldn’t make a living without a residence permit and was diagnosed with stomach cancer in a country where he couldn’t seek treatment without insurance or health benefits. After two years in Turkey, he received refugee status to move to Troy, Michigan. Refaai’s story was featured on the website Humans of New York, where he received an outpouring of support and sympathy – including from the President. The President wrote in response to his story, “Welcome to your new home. You’re part of what makes America great.” Refaai arrived in Detroit with his three daughters and son on December 18, and like other families displaced from their homeland, they hope to find a new one in America.


Lisa Jaster (Houston, TX)

Major, U.S. Army Reserve, Ranger School Graduate

Major Lisa Jaster became the first female Army Reserve officer to graduate from the Ranger School, the elite leadership course of the Army. The 37-year-old engineer and mother of two is only the third woman to graduate from Ranger School, which began including female soldiers last year following an Administration directive to lift the ban on women in combat. Lisa graduated from the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York in 2000. She was on active duty for seven years and deployed in support of both Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom before leaving active duty in 2007 to work at Shell Oil Co. In 2012, Lisa returned to service, joining the U.S. Army Reserve, and took a leave of absence from Shell last April to pursue Ranger School. She is married to a Marine with whom she has two children, aged seven and three.


Mayor Mark Luttrell (Shelby County, TN)

Shelby County Mayor

Throughout his career in public service, Republican Mayor Mark Luttrell has built partnerships with local, state and federal agencies, and his unique background has focused him on criminal justice reform. As mayor of Shelby County, Tennessee, he helped create specialty courts for drug, mental health, and veterans’ cases to provide resources for effective rehabilitation instead of ineffectual incarceration. The county also put in place measures to reduce recidivism by streamlining and pooling resources to better provide formerly incarcerated individuals with the tools they need to re-enter society. Afterward, he was appointed as Director of Corrections for Shelby County, Tennessee and served there until he was elected Sheriff in 2002 and subsequently as Mayor in 2010. Mayor Lutrell and his wife, Pat, have three children and six grandchildren.


Gov. Dannel P. Malloy (Hartford, CT)

Connecticut Governor

Currently in his second term as Governor of Connecticut, Dannel P. Malloy has pursued many of the progressive priorities that the President laid out to make America stronger. From his criminal justice reforms, including a “Second Chance Society” initiative that emphasizes successfully reintegrating individuals with nonviolent offenses into society, to common-sense gun safety laws following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, Gov. Malloy has balanced important social reforms with strong economic priorities: Connecticut led America as the first state in the country to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 and pass legislation guaranteeing paid sick leave. Gov. Malloy also oversaw the successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act, driving down the state’s uninsured rate to historic lows and delivered the best job growth since the 1990s. Gov. Malloy and his wife, Cathy, have three sons, Dannel, Ben and Sam.


Braeden Mannering (Bear, DE)

Let’s Move!

After attending the White House Kids’ “State Dinner” as part of Let’s Move! and hearing the President and First Lady’s challenge for kids to make a difference in their own communities, Braeden Mannering, 12, was inspired to act. Braeden started his own nonprofit, Brae’s Brown Bags (3B), which provides healthy food to homeless and low-income individuals in his community. His mission is also to raise awareness about the problems of food insecurity and poverty, and to empower and inspire youth across the nation to become part of the solution. To date, Braeden has activated more than 2,600 volunteers, provided more than 4,500 “brown bags” of healthy food, and raised more than $52,000 for hunger relief. He co-hosted the first “hunger conference” in Delaware to include youth, and he continues to spread his mission in Delaware and other states, speaking at schools, conferences, and legislative sessions. Braeden is in sixth grade at Gauger-Cobbs Middle School and lives in Bear, Delaware with his mother Christy, stepfather Brian, brother Finnegan and sister Amelia. Braeden’s father, Michael, his fiancée Jennifer and their son Michael live in Middletown, Delaware.


Satya Nadella (Bellevue, WA)

Microsoft CEO

Satya Nadella is Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft, a position he’s held since February 2014 at the company he joined in 1992. Microsoft has been a leader in expanding access to computer science in K-12 classrooms, and in, a private public partnership to increase awareness of and support for the teaching profession. In September, the company announced a new $75 million effort to expand computer science education, including opportunities for engineers from Microsoft and other companies with teachers to team-teach computer science. In October 2015, under Satya’s leadership, Microsoft increased its paid leave benefits by eight weeks and now includes 20 weeks of paid leave for new mothers and 12 weeks for non-birth parents. Originally from Hyderabad, India, Satya received a master’s in computer science and a master’s in business administration from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee and University of Chicago, respectively. Satya and his wife, Anupuma, have three children.

Jim Obergefell (Cincinnati, OH)


Jim Obergefell was the named plaintiff in the landmark marriage equality case Obergefell v. Hodges, which ruled same-sex couples nationwide have the Constitutional right to marry. In 2013, Jim married his partner of 20 years, John, who was dying of ALS. Their marriage – performed in Maryland – wasn’t recognized in their home state of Ohio, setting off a legal proceeding over whether the marriage should be recognized under Ohio law and listed on John’s death certificate. While they won the initial legal battle, Ohio appealed, and their case eventually made its way to the Supreme Court, which declared marriage equality the law of the land. Jim considers himself an accidental activist, one who became entwined in a political statement larger than himself – a statement of equality and dignity that Americans have been fighting for since this nation’s founding – and he now remains committed to ensuring the civil rights for all Americans.


Chief Kathleen O’Toole (Seattle, WA)

Police Chief, Community Policing 

Since 2014, Chief Kathleen O’Toole has led the Seattle Police Department in developing its approach to community policing, and her focus on improving officer morale, implementing new policies and optimizing department resources has received national attention. Under her leadership, the department tested a six-month pilot program for body-worn police cameras focused on public transparency, and the Department of Justice awarded the department a $600,000 grant to expand the program. Last year, the Seattle Police Department presented its policies at the White House Police Data Initiative as part of its renewed emphasis on accountability and transparency. Prior to Kathleen’s role as Chief, she served as Chief Inspector of the Gardia Síochána Inspectorate in Ireland, responsible for developing best practices of the Irish police service and rose the ranks of Massachusetts law enforcement, finishing as the first female Boston police commissioner in 2004. Chief O’Toole is married to a retired police detective, Dan O’Toole, and they have a daughter, Meghan.


Ryan Reyes (San Bernardino, CA)


Ryan Reyes’s partner Larry “Daniel” Kaufman was one of the 14 victims of the December 2 terrorist attack at Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California. Daniel was a job trainer for adults with developmental disabilities at the Coffee N More shop, and he was on his lunch break at the time of the attack. He is credited with saving the lives of four people when he warned others, urging them to safety, before being shot and killed in the attack. Since Daniel’s death, Ryan, 32, has been vocal about the need for tolerance of all and rejection of the radicalized. “I speak for both Daniel and myself when I say that this attack should NOT encourage people to treat Muslims any differently than they would anyone else,” he wrote to media in the aftermath of the attack. “The twisted actions and beliefs of a few should not be used to view the majority.”


Ronna Rice (Greeley, CO)

Small Business Owner

A family-operated company since 1924 across five generations, Rice’s Lucky Clover Honey specializes in American raw and unfiltered honey for export globally. As CEO, Ronna Rice leads the business. The company has expanded across the U.S. and around the world, most recently in Japan, South Korea and China, allowing the company to grow domestically and hire more employees. Rice’s Lucky Clover Honey has export sales per year of about $500,000, and the 15 jobs in the company are supported by those exports. The company is based in Greeley, Colorado, and Ronna runs the company with her husband Jim, their three children, their son-in-law and a family friend.


Cedric Rowland (Chicago, IL)

ACA Navigator

Cedric Rowland is the lead navigator for Near North Health Service Corporation in Chicago. Working with people to find the best plans available at a price they can afford, Affordable Care Act navigators help people across the country take advantage of the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, and are part of the success of the law. Since November 1, 2015, nearly 11.3 million consumers – more than 3 million of them new customers – have signed up for health care in this open enrollment alone. Our uninsured rate is at the lowest rate on record, coverage is affordable, and we’re seeing a historic slowdown in the growth of health care costs. Cedric’s role in this progress can be seen in the story of Stephanie Lucas. Stephanie has diabetes and no longer qualified for Medicaid, but with Cedric’s help she transitioned to a Marketplace plan that met her needs and let her keep her doctor at a price she could afford – $62 a month after tax credits. Stephanie will watch the State of the Union from the White House. She thanks Cedric, and navigators like him, for helping Americans enroll in quality, affordable health care under the Affordable Care Act. Cedric is a new father of a baby girl.


Naveed Shah (Springfield, VA)

U.S. Army Veteran

Naveed Shah, originally from Saudi Arabia, grew up in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Springfield, Virginia after immigrating to the United States with his Pakistani parents. Like many immigrants who arrive here as children, Naveed noted that his birth country felt foreign while America is home. The terrorist attack on September 11, 2001 marked the ultimate distortion of Naveed’s faith – something he set out to combat, enlisting in the U.S. Army in 2006. He served our country for four years and deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Naveed returned to his hometown in 2010 for college and to work with veterans groups assisting in the transition between military and civilian life. When not volunteering, Naveed works as a real estate agent in Virginia and lives with his fiancé, Ashley, and 7-year-old son, Yusuf.


Earl Smith (Austin, TX)


Earl Smith first met then-Senator Barack Obama in February 2008 on the campaign trail at the Austin Hyatt Regency where he worked as the director of security. Encountering him in an elevator, Earl gave the Senator a military patch he had worn serving with an artillery brigade in Vietnam that sustained 10,041 casualties and received 13 Medals of Honor. Smith had held onto his patch for 40 years – from Vietnam, to his 1977 pardon after three years in prison for a wrongful conviction, to global work in the hospitality industry – before parting with it in the elevator that day. Then-Senator Obama carried the patch in his pocket for the rest of the campaign, but Earl had no idea of the impact his story had on the President until he heard it directly from him in the Oval Office in 2013. The patch will be archived in the Obama Library – a reminder of the people who made up the movement that led the President to the White House. Earl and his wife of nearly 35 years, Claudia, have two children.


Spencer Stone (Sacramento, CA)

Staff Sergeant, U.S. Air Force

While on a Paris-bound train with his childhood friends Anthony Sadler and U.S. Army Specialist Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone made headlines worldwide in August when the three Americans prevented a potentially catastrophic act of terrorism. Spencer, his two friends and a fourth British passenger subdued a gunman armed with a box cutter, a pistol, a can of lighter fluid, and an assault rifle with 300 rounds of ammunition as he tried to open fire aboard the crowded train. While restraining the suspect who repeatedly slashed with the box cutter, Spencer incurred injury to his neck and hand, nearly losing his finger, and upon return to the United States received a Purple Heart, the Airman’s Medal, and a promotion to Staff Sergeant. The President invited the three friends to the White House where he thanked them in person for saving so many lives and for representing the U.S. with heroism and humility. The 23-year-old EMT hopes to continue his work in medicine and lives in Sacramento, California.


Oscar Vazquez (Fort Worth, TX)

Veteran, DREAMer, STEM leader

Like many DREAMers, Oscar came to the United States as a child in search of a better life. From age 12 when he moved from Mexico to Phoenix, Arizona, Oscar excelled in the classroom. He excelled as a STEM student at Carl Hayden High School and led an unlikely and inspiring story of a group of under-resourced Hispanic high school students who took on an MIT team in an underwater robotics competition and won. That opportunity led to a college education in the STEM field, earning a B.S.E. in mechanical engineering from Arizona State University in May 2009. But without legal status, he couldn’t secure a job to provide for his new wife and newborn child. He returned to Mexico to apply for a visa, and with help from Sen. Dick Durbin, who spoke from the Senate Floor about Oscar’s case, he was granted a green card in August 2010. Six months later, Oscar enlisted in the Army to serve the country he loves and calls home. Oscar served one tour in Afghanistan and is now a proud U.S. citizen. He now works for Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railways as a business analyst in a web app development team, and is a passionate advocate on behalf on expanding STEM opportunities for Latino and other under-represented youth.

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                                                                             January 11, 2016



H.R. 3662 – Iran Terror Finance Transparency Act

(Rep. Russell, R-OK, and 62 cosponsors)


The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 3662, the Iran Terror Finance Transparency Act, which would prevent the United States from implementing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) by tying the Administration’s ability to fulfill U.S. commitments under the deal to unrelated, non-nuclear issues.


H.R. 3662 includes provisions that connect the United States’ JCPOA commitment to provide sanctions relief by delisting certain Iran‑related individuals and entities, including banks, to non‑nuclear issues outside of the scope of the JCPOA.  In addition, certain provisions would effectively preclude delisting of individuals or entities on Implementation Day of the JCPOA – the day on which the International Atomic Energy Agency verifies that Iran has completed key nuclear-related steps that significantly dismantle and constrain its nuclear program – based on activity that may have taken place and ended long before Implementation Day and involving persons or activity that will no longer be sanctioned post-Implementation Day.  By preventing the United States from fulfilling its JCPOA commitments, H.R. 3662 could result in the collapse of a comprehensive diplomatic arrangement that peacefully and verifiably prevents Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.  Such a collapse would remove the unprecedented constraints on Iran’s nuclear program that we achieved in the JCPOA, lead to the unraveling of the international sanctions regime against Iran, and deal a devastating blow to America’s credibility as a leader of international diplomacy.  This would have ripple effects, jeopardizing the hard work of sustaining a unified coalition to combat Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region, calling into question the effectiveness of our sanctions regime and our ability to lead the world on nuclear non-proliferation.


The Administration has consistently made clear that the purpose of the nuclear negotiations, and ultimately the JCPOA, was to address one issue only – the international community’s concerns over Iran’s nuclear program and to verifiably prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.  The JCPOA is the mechanism through which the United States was able to garner international support for our sanctions and achieve a diplomatic resolution.


As we address our concerns with Iran’s nuclear program through implementation of the JCPOA, the Administration remains clear-eyed and shares the deep concerns of the Congress and the American people about Iran’s support for terrorism.  Powerful sanctions targeting Iran’s support for terrorism, its ballistic missile activities, its human rights abuses, and its destabilizing activities in the region remain in effect.  Anyone worldwide who transacts with or supports individuals or entities sanctioned in connection with Iran’s support for terrorism or development of WMD and their means of delivery, including missiles – or who does the same with any Iranian individual or entity who remains on Treasury’s Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List – puts themselves at risk of being sanctioned.


The President has made it clear that he will veto any legislation that prevents the successful implementation of the JCPOA.  If the President were presented with H.R. 3662, he would veto the bill.


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Statement by National Security Council Spokesperson Ned Price on the Terrorist Attack in Turkey


January 12, 2016


Statement by National Security Council Spokesperson Ned Price on the Terrorist Attack in Turkey


The United States condemns in the strongest terms today’s terrorist attack in Istanbul, Turkey.  This heinous attack occurred in Istanbul’s historic heart, and struck Turks and foreign tourists alike.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of all those who have been killed and with those injured.  We stand together with Turkey, a NATO ally, a strong partner, and a valued member of the Counter-ISIL coalition, in the face of this attack and pledge our ongoing cooperation and support in the fight against terrorism.

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H.R. 1644 – STREAM Act

(Rep. Mooney, R-WV, and 34 cosponsors)


The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 1644, which would delay for at least three years updated regulations, known as the Stream Protection Rule, to protect streams from the effects of destructive surface coal mining practices.  Such a needless delay of these important safeguards would impact the communities and economies that depend on clean water and a healthy environment.


The current stream protection requirements governing surface mining activities are more than 30 years old and do not incorporate significant advances in scientific knowledge and mining and reclamation techniques.  An arbitrary three year restriction to block the updated modern, science‑based regulations would significantly impair the ability of the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) to accomplish the mission and responsibilities the Congress laid out in the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977, including preserving clean water, human health, and the environment.


H.R. 1644 would prevent the restoration of hundreds of streams, result in deterioration of water quality for thousands of stream miles, and create sustained regulatory uncertainty, as well as public health impacts for downstream communities.  In addition, the bill would impose arbitrary requirements and unnecessary processes that would seriously impede OSMRE’s ability to use the best available science to protect public health and the environment.


If the President were presented with H.R. 1644, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.

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The Musings Of An Intellectual Black Woman

Depression and Suicide: The Devil in a Black Dress

By Tracey Ricks Foster

Published August 13, 2014

Upon hearing about the apparent suicide of Oscar winning actor and comedian Robin Williams, once again my mind drifted to all those I have known who have decided that life is just not worth the struggle. It became too painful to wake up every morning to heartache and overwhelming stress. The anxiety and feelings of loneliness is all encompassing. Unbearable, in fact. The sun is nothing more than a massive dark circle that follows you around day in and day out. Depression is the Devil in a black dress. Millions of Americans suffer from some type of mental illness and depression is at the top of the list. Depression does not care about your bank account, your celebrity and marital status, familial ties, dreams and goals. Not a damn thing. Depression does not discriminate. Depression loves no one. Depression is the Devil in a black dress. For real.

When we hear of celebrities committing suicide, many of us are shocked for the wrong reasons. We immediately think, “What in the world did they have to be depressed about? They had everything in the world to make them happy. Why would they then simply end it all under the pretense of being unhappy?” Wealth, power, and fame does not bring long term happiness. Anyone who believes differently is delusional. Depression is an equal opportunity disorder. You can have everything you could possibly desire in the palm of your hands, but your mind will play a cruel and sad trick on you and make you believe that your life is hopeless and full of despair. That is the face of depression. There are others who experience depression in a different manner. They could have had the essential things that made life worthwhile. A career or secure employment. A family. A successful marriage. The loss of one or more of those elements could plunge them into a deep depression. Depression is real. Depression is the Devil in a black dress.

Children and teenagers suffer from bouts of clinical depression. Studies show that the onset of bipolar disorder or manic depression is the age of thirteen. This is the age where hormones are all over the place in adolescence and it is difficult to navigate the many feelings, periods of stress, loneliness, and anxiety during this transition from childhood to young adulthood. Statistics report that over 5,000 teens commit suicide each year. Thousands attempt suicide. I was one of them. The complete suicide statistics are that over 30,000 people take their own lives each year. 750,000 more attempt suicide. So, if you were to seriously break it down, on August 11, 2014, Robin Williams was not the only person in America who committed suicide on that day. Because of his fame, Robin’s tragic end put a recognizable face on depression and suicide. But there were other suicides on that day as well. Depression is the Devil in a black dress.

It is important that all of us realize that depression is not a disorder that one can ‘snap’ out of. Depression is not cured simply by popping a few pills either. Managing depression is an ongoing process. Depression wears many faces. Those faces could come complete with pearly white smiles and exuberant conversations filled with what we may think is optimism. Depression can wear a blank and lost expression, with pain-filled eyes. Depression can wear the face of desperation and frustration coupled with deep anxiety. Depression can wear the face of a laughing clown hiding the hauntingly horrible feelings of despair. Depression has proven itself to be a serial killer and in order to beat this Devil in a black dress, awareness of the signs and symptoms of depression and suicide prevention is key. Please take a moment to review these websites and as always, IF you are trying to cope with feelings of hopelessness, despair, and pain and you are considering suicide as an option, please, I beg you to call 1-800-272-8255.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

Anxiety and Depression Association of America:

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By Tracey Ricks Foster, Senior White House Correspondent

It all started on Monday, June 22, 2015. President Obama was a guest on the popular podcast, WTF, hosted by Marc Maron. The president clarified the statement he made directly after the Charleston, South Carolina shooting deaths of nine African Americans in the basement of a church by a racist. President Obama made it clear that as far as racism is concerned, “we are not cured of it. And its not just a matter of it not being polite to say ‘nigger’ in public.” By his using the word, ‘nigger’ instead of the politically correct term, ‘the n-word,’ President Obama sent the media into a tailspin. Why? Well, the unpublished book of politically correct language has socially eliminated the word ‘nigger’ from the its lexicon. Recently, even if an African American uses the word, let’s say for instance like CNN’s Don Lemon, to provoke appropriate conversation or discussion on race, it is frowned upon. However, the president is the…well, the PRESIDENT and he can say what the __________he wants. And boy did he ever! By being unafraid of the pushback and negative public opinion that he knew would come his way, President Obama didn’t stutter when he said ‘nigger’ and kept it moving towards his point that America still has a ways to go towards the effort to be a complete union of people that judge people on the content of their character, and not the color of their skin. African Americans needed to hear President Obama use the word ‘nigger’ without fear because it made a clear statement. The statement that African Americans have wanted this president to make for six years: Black Lives Matter.

Speaking of President Obama’s six years in office, the majority of it has been spent on what? Healthcare. The Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010 and Republicans have fought it tooth and nail. Remember all the town hall meetings with scary militia men hanging around outside carrying assault weapons screaming about patriotism? Do you recall Sarah Palin and others proclaiming that Americans would need to hide their grandparents because the dreaded ‘death panels’ were coming for them? After two unsuccessful attempts by the attorneys for the GOP to ‘dismantle and replace’ The Affordable Care Act in part, or in its entirety, by way of taking the matter to the highest court in the land, on Thursday, June 25th, President Obama was vindicated. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, in a landmark decision that sent FOX NEWS spinning! To see the president gloat during his noon press conference was exciting. Washington is still cleaning the bloodied battleground that Democrats, Republicans, and the now ineffective and inactive Tea Party waged in the name of Obamacare. There were casualties. Some lost their bid for re-election. Seats were lost and won on the strength of defeating Obamacare and subsequently, President Obama. Yet as the president pointed out in his weekly address to the nation, “it is time to stop refighting battles that have been settled again and again.  It’s time to move on. Because as Americans, we don’t go backwards, we move forwards.”

Yes. Can you say, ‘winning’?

Then TWO things happened the very next day. Friday, June 26th, the U.S. Supreme Court declared in a historic decision that same sex marriage is constitutionally legal and should be acknowledged in ALL fifty states. The court announced that states should not “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” President Obama, before stepping to the podium to make an official statement, took to Twitter and tweeted “#LoveWins.” The president later remarked that even though Americans are still divided on the religious issue of same sex marriage, and the definition of marriage, the Supreme Court’s definitive historic decision “also gives us hope that on many issues with which we grapple, real change is possible. A shift of hearts and minds is possible.” After years of vacillating on same sex marriage, teetering towards the religious left, and then ‘evolving’ publicly in an interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts, President Obama took a fierce stand for same sex marriage that was contagious. The White House was even lit in the rainbow colors that have long symbolized pride in the LGBTQI community.

And…how, how can any of us forget the soul stirring eulogy that President Obama gave at Mother Emmanuel for Reverend Clementa Pickney? The president spoke about the end of racism and gun violence and the tragedy of losing loved ones senselessly. But it is when President Obama began to speak on the power of God’s ‘amazing grace’ that not only rocked the historic church in Charleston, S.C.; it rocked the entire nation that watched the funeral service. As President Obama concluded his eulogy on grace, Amazing Grace, no he didn’t break out singing! Yes. He really did. President Obama stood there at the podium, in front of what would amount to the entire country, and the world by way of social media and You Tube, and sang the opening verse of  ‘Amazing Grace’. The mourners in the audience rose to their feet, and lifted their voices in accompaniment with President Obama. What more could he have said if not through song? Did President Obama care that it was unrehearsed and spontaneous? No. He just fearlessly went for it! The results? Incomparable.

President Barack Obama has had many shining moments during his presidency, but none will ever compare to the fascinating week he had in June 2015. With a little more than a year and a half to go in the White House, I get the impression that the shades of the Barack Obama the GOP desperately attempted to label a radical community activist and faithful follower of Reverend Jeremiah Wright may be seeping out. Is that a bad thing? I don’t think so. I think that the president should courageously and fearlessly be the man he really is and speak his mind. There are no more elections to be won or campaign trails to stomp. I believe that the title of ‘lame duck’ will not  apply to President Barack Obama. I think that the Phoenix has awakened and we need to buckle up because it is going to be one hell of a ride!!!

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By Tracey Ricks Foster, Senior White House Correspondent


The White House was aglow in the trademark colors of the LGBTQI community Friday evening after the Supreme Court’s landmark decision that legalized same sex marriage in all of America’s fifty states. The Supreme Court declared that “under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, no State shall “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.  The fundamental liberties protected by this Clause include most of the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights. See Duncan v. Louisiana, 391 U. S. 145, 147–149 (1968).  In addition these liberties extend to certain personal choices central to individual dignity and autonomy, including intimate choices that define personal identity and beliefs. See, e.g., Eisenstadt v. Baird, 405 U. S. 438, 453 (1972); Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U. S. 479, 484–486 (1965).”

What does this mean? All fifty states in these United States will be obligated to acknowledge same sex marriage applicants, and in the actuality of marriage, all privileges and rights due to and through marriage, will be afforded to those who enter it. The Supreme Court further explains that “the nature of marriage is that, through its enduring bond, two persons together can find other freedoms, such as expression, intimacy, and spirituality.  This is true for all persons, whatever their sexual orientation.”

Justices Scalia, Roberts, Thomas, and Alito were dissenters in the historic 5-4 decision. Justice Roberts argued in his dissent that “the truth is that today’s decision rests on nothing more than the majority’s own conviction that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry because they want to, and it would disparage their choices and diminish their personhood to deny them this right. Whatever force that belief may have as a matter of moral philosophy, it has no more basis in the Constitution than did the naked policy preferences.”

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PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA ON BALTIMORE (During joint press conference with Prime Minister Abe of Japan):

With respect to Baltimore, let me make a couple of points.  First, obviously our thoughts continue to be with the family of Freddie Gray.  Understandably, they want answers.  And DOJ has opened an investigation.  It is working with local law enforcement to find out exactly what happened, and I think there should be full transparency and accountability.

Second, my thoughts are with the police officers who were injured in last night’s disturbances.  It underscores that that’s a tough job and we have to keep that in mind, and my hope is that they can heal and get back to work as soon as possible.

Point number three, there’s no excuse for the kind of violence that we saw yesterday.  It is counterproductive.  When individuals get crowbars and start prying open doors to loot, they’re not protesting, they’re not making a statement — they’re stealing.  When they burn down a building, they’re committing arson.  And they’re destroying and undermining businesses and opportunities in their own communities that rob jobs and opportunity from people in that area.

So it is entirely appropriate that the mayor of Baltimore, who I spoke to yesterday, and the governor, who I spoke to yesterday, work to stop that kind of senseless violence and destruction.  That is not a protest.  That is not a statement.  It’s people — a handful of people taking advantage of a situation for their own purposes, and they need to be treated as criminals.

Point number four, the violence that happened yesterday distracted from the fact that you had seen multiple days of peaceful protests that were focused on entirely legitimate concerns of these communities in Baltimore, led by clergy and community leaders.  And they were constructive and they were thoughtful, and frankly, didn’t get that much attention.  And one burning building will be looped on television over and over and over again, and the thousands of demonstrators who did it the right way I think have been lost in the discussion.

The overwhelming majority of the community in Baltimore I think have handled this appropriately, expressing real concern and outrage over the possibility that our laws were not applied evenly in the case of Mr. Gray, and that accountability needs to exist.  And I think we have to give them credit.  My understanding is, is you’ve got some of the same organizers now going back into these communities to try to clean up in the aftermath of a handful of criminals and thugs who tore up the place.  What they were doing, what those community leaders and clergy and others were doing, that is a statement.  That’s the kind of organizing that needs to take place if we’re going to tackle this problem.  And they deserve credit for it, and we should be lifting them up.

Point number five — and I’ve got six, because this is important.  Since Ferguson, and the task force that we put together, we have seen too many instances of what appears to be police officers interacting with individuals — primarily African American, often poor — in ways that have raised troubling questions.  And it comes up, it seems like, once a week now, or once every couple of weeks.  And so I think it’s pretty understandable why the leaders of civil rights organizations but, more importantly, moms and dads across the country, might start saying this is a crisis.  What I’d say is this has been a slow-rolling crisis.  This has been going on for a long time.  This is not new, and we shouldn’t pretend that it’s new.

The good news is, is that perhaps there’s some newfound awareness because of social media and video cameras and so forth that there are problems and challenges when it comes to how policing and our laws are applied in certain communities, and we have to pay attention to it and respond.

What’s also good news is the task force that was made up of law enforcement and community activists that we brought together here in the White House have come up with very constructive concrete proposals that, if adopted by local communities and by states and by counties, by law enforcement generally, would make a difference.  It wouldn’t solve every problem, but would make a concrete difference in rebuilding trust and making sure that the overwhelming majority of effective, honest and fair law enforcement officers, that they’re able to do their job better because it will weed out or retrain or put a stop to those handful who may be not doing what they’re supposed to be doing.

Now, the challenge for us as the federal government is, is that we don’t run these police forces.  I can’t federalize every police force in the country and force them to retrain.  But what I can do is to start working with them collaboratively so that they can begin this process of change themselves.

And coming out of the task force that we put together, we’re now working with local communities.  The Department of Justice has just announced a grant program for those jurisdictions that want to purchase body cameras.  We are going to be issuing grants for those jurisdictions that are prepared to start trying to implement some of the new training and data collection and other things that can make a difference.  And we’re going to keep on working with those local jurisdictions so that they can begin to make the changes that are necessary.

I think it’s going to be important for organizations like the Fraternal Order of Police and other police unions and organization to acknowledge that this is not good for police.  We have to own up to the fact that occasionally there are going to be problems here, just as there are in every other occupation.  There are some bad politicians who are corrupt.  There are folks in the business community or on Wall Street who don’t do the right thing.  Well, there’s some police who aren’t doing the right thing.  And rather than close ranks, what we’ve seen is a number of thoughtful police chiefs and commissioners and others recognize they got to get their arms around this thing and work together with the community to solve the problem.  And we’re committed to facilitating that process.

So the heads of our COPS agency that helps with community policing, they’re already out in Baltimore.  Our Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division is already out in Baltimore.  But we’re going to be working systematically with every city and jurisdiction around the country to try to help them implement some solutions that we know work.

And I’ll make my final point — I’m sorry, Mr. Prime Minister, but this is a pretty important issue for us.

We can’t just leave this to the police.  I think there are police departments that have to do some soul searching.  I think there are some communities that have to do some soul searching.  But I think we, as a country, have to do some soul searching.  This is not new.  It’s been going on for decades.

And without making any excuses for criminal activities that take place in these communities, what we also know is that if you have impoverished communities that have been stripped away of opportunity, where children are born into abject poverty; they’ve got parents — often because of substance-abuse problems or incarceration or lack of education themselves — can’t do right by their kids; if it’s more likely that those kids end up in jail or dead, than they go to college.  In communities where there are no fathers who can provide guidance to young men; communities where there’s no investment, and manufacturing has been stripped away; and drugs have flooded the community, and the drug industry ends up being the primary employer for a whole lot of folks — in those environments, if we think that we’re just going to send the police to do the dirty work of containing the problems that arise there without as a nation and as a society saying what can we do to change those communities, to help lift up those communities and give those kids opportunity, then we’re not going to solve this problem.  And we’ll go through the same cycles of periodic conflicts between the police and communities and the occasional riots in the streets, and everybody will feign concern until it goes away, and then we go about our business as usual.

If we are serious about solving this problem, then we’re going to not only have to help the police, we’re going to have to think about what can we do — the rest of us — to make sure that we’re providing early education to these kids; to make sure that we’re reforming our criminal justice system so it’s not just a pipeline from schools to prisons; so that we’re not rendering men in these communities unemployable because of a felony record for a nonviolent drug offense; that we’re making investments so that they can get the training they need to find jobs.  That’s hard.  That requires more than just the occasional news report or task force.  And there’s a bunch of my agenda that would make a difference right now in that.

Now, I’m under no illusion that out of this Congress we’re going to get massive investments in urban communities, and so we’ll try to find areas where we can make a difference around school reform and around job training, and around some investments in infrastructure in these communities trying to attract new businesses in.

But if we really want to solve the problem, if our society really wanted to solve the problem, we could.  It’s just it would require everybody saying this is important, this is significant — and that we don’t just pay attention to these communities when a CVS burns, and we don’t just pay attention when a young man gets shot or has his spine snapped.  We’re paying attention all the time because we consider those kids our kids, and we think they’re important.  And they shouldn’t be living in poverty and violence.

That’s how I feel.  I think there are a lot of good-meaning people around the country that feel that way.  But that kind of political mobilization I think we haven’t seen in quite some time.  And what I’ve tried to do is to promote those ideas that would make a difference.  But I think we all understand that the politics of that are tough because it’s easy to ignore those problems or to treat them just as a law and order issue, as opposed to a broader social issue.

That was a really long answer, but I felt pretty strongly about it.

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U.S-Japan Joint Statement on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)

U.S-Japan Joint Statement on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)


1.      Japan and the United States reaffirm our commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons and to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). We commit to work together for a successful Review Conference in New York that strengthens each of the Treaty’s three pillars: nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation, and peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  The NPT remains the cornerstone of the global non-proliferation regime and an essential foundation for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament. In this 70th year since the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we are reminded of the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons use.  Hiroshima and Nagasaki will be forever engraved in the world’s memory. Concerns over the use of nuclear weapons underpin all work to reduce nuclear dangers and to work toward nuclear disarmament, to which all NPT parties are committed under Article VI of the Treaty. We affirm that it is in the interest of all States that the 70-year record of non-use should be extended forever and remain convinced that all States share the responsibility for achieving this goal.


2.      We reaffirm our commitment to a step-by-step approach to nuclear disarmament, and recognize the progress made since the height of the Cold War. We recognize that further progress is needed. Immediate next steps should include further negotiated nuclear reductions between the United States and Russia, the immediate start of multilateral negotiations of a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty, entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and the protocols to the existing nuclear weapon free zone treaties, and the continued reduction of all types of nuclear weapons, deployed and non-deployed, including through unilateral, bilateral, regional and multilateral measures.  We further emphasize the importance of applying the principles of irreversibility, verifiability and transparency in the process of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. In this regard, the United States welcomes Japan’s leadership in the Non-proliferation and Disarmament Initiative and Japan’s role as the Co-Chair Country for the Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the CTBT, and Japan welcomes the U.S. initiative to launch the International Partnership on Nuclear Disarmament Verification. We affirm our readiness to cooperate closely on this new initiative, which will facilitate further cooperation between the nuclear-weapon States and non-nuclear-weapon States with respect to nuclear disarmament efforts.


3.      We further note the positive role played by civil society, and hope that activities such as the UN Conference on Disarmament Issues and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty’s Group of Eminent Persons Meeting, both to be held in Hiroshima in August, and the Pugwash Conference to be held in Nagasaki in November, will strengthen momentum toward disarmament and non-proliferation.


4.      We unequivocally support access to nuclear technology and energy for peaceful purposes by states that comply with their non-proliferation obligations.  We are especially pleased to announce that both the United States and Japan which strongly support the role of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in promoting the benefits of the peaceful uses of nuclear technology have pledged to extend their financial support to the IAEA Peaceful Uses Initiative over the next five years.  The U.S. pledge of $50 million and Japan’s pledge of $25 million will ensure that applications of nuclear science and technology continue to advance medical care and health improvement including cancer treatment and Ebola diagnosis, food and water security, clean oceans and disease eradication in regions of the world most in need. 


5.      The IAEA safeguards system is a fundamental element of that framework and plays a critical role in preventing and addressing challenges to the global non-proliferation regime, by verifying that states are not diverting peaceful nuclear energy programs to develop weapons, and by responding to cases of non-compliance.  We call on all states that have not yet done so to adhere to a Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement and the Additional Protocol as the recognized IAEA safeguards standard, and renew our willingness to assist states to implement safeguards agreements. We support the evolution of IAEA safeguards at the State level, and emphasize the importance of maintaining the credibility, effectiveness and integrity of the IAEA safeguards system. To preserve the future integrity of the NPT, action is needed to discourage any state from withdrawing from the Treaty as a way to escape its responsibilities or to misuse the fruits of peaceful cooperation with other states, as well as to encourage States Parties to remain in the Treaty by demonstrating tangible progress in all three pillars of the Treaty.


6.      We underscore the imperative of addressing challenges to the integrity of the NPT and the non-proliferation regime posed by cases of noncompliance.  We welcome the EU/E3+3 deal with Iran and encourage completion of the work that remains to fully resolve the international community’s concerns regarding the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program as well as to ensure that Iran does not acquire nuclear weapons.  We also remain committed to a diplomatic process to achieve North Korea’s complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization. We urge North Korea to take concrete steps to honor its commitments under the 2005 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks, fully comply with its obligations under the relevant UNSC Resolutions, refrain from further provocation including nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches, return to the NPT and IAEA safeguards, and come into full compliance with its nonproliferation obligations.  


7.      We also underscore the importance of promoting stringent export control in Asia and globally. We are determined to continue to work together to conduct outreach activities for Asian countries with a view to further enhancing their export control capacity as well as to promoting recognition that rigorous export controls foster confidence of trade or investment partners, and create a favorable environment for further economic growth rather than impeding trade and investment.


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The U.S. – Japan Enter A Joint Agreement Of Reconcilliation: Official Statement

U.S.-Japan Joint Vision Statement


Today the United States and Japan honor a partnership that for seven decades has made enduring contributions to global peace, security, and prosperity.  In this year which marks 70 years since the end of World War II, the relationship between our two countries stands as a model of the power of reconciliation:  former adversaries who have become steadfast allies and who work together to advance common interests and universal values in Asia and globally.  Together we have helped to build a strong rules-based international order, based on a commitment to rules, norms and institutions that are the foundation of global affairs and our way of life. 


This transformation into a robust alliance and global partnership was not inevitable.  Generations of people from all walks of life built the relationship between our countries over time, working in the belief that the experiences of the past should inform but not constrain the possibilities for the future.  This endeavor has brought the United States and Japan to where we stand today:  two of the world’s leading economies, advancing regional prosperity through a mutually beneficial economic partnership, anchored by an unshakeable Alliance that is the cornerstone of peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region and a platform for global cooperation.  The journey our two countries have traveled demonstrates that reconciliation is possible when all sides are devoted to achieving it.


Over the past 70 years, the U.S.-Japan relationship has successfully grown and adapted to challenges and significant changes in the international system.  Together we helped to win the Cold War and manage its aftermath; we have worked together to fight terrorism after the September 11, 2001 attacks; we cooperated to strengthen the international financial architecture following the global financial crisis; we responded to natural disasters such as the tragic Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011; we have confronted North Korean nuclear and missile threats, as well as human rights abuses and abductions; we have worked together to address concerns about Iran’s nuclear program; and we have cooperated to address complex transnational challenges.


Today’s meeting between President Obama and Prime Minister Abe marks a historic step forward in transforming the U.S.-Japan partnership.  Through the United States’ Asia-Pacific Rebalance strategy, and Japan’s policy of “Proactive Contribution to Peace” based on the principle of international cooperation, we are working closely together to ensure a peaceful and prosperous future for the region and the world.  We recognize that the security and prosperity of our two countries in the 21st century is intertwined, inseparable, and not defined solely by national borders.  Our current and future commitments to each other and to the international order reflect that reality.

The United States and Japan are committed to a transparent, rules-based, and progressive approach in pursuing the prosperity of the region.  Our leadership in this area encompasses trade and investment through the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), development cooperation, and internet governance. The United States and Japan are leading efforts to set the rules for trade and investment, both in the dynamic and fast-growing Asia-Pacific region and around the world.  As the two largest economies in TPP, we are working to finalize the most high-standard trade agreement ever negotiated.  TPP will drive economic growth and prosperity in both countries and throughout the Asia-Pacific region by supporting more jobs, raising wages, and reinforcing our work together on a range of long term strategic objectives, including the promotion of regional peace and stability. We welcome the significant progress that has been made in the bilateral negotiations and reaffirm our commitment to work together to achieve a swift and successful conclusion to the broader agreement.


The new Guidelines for U.S-Japan Defense Cooperation will transform the Alliance, reinforce deterrence, and ensure that we can address security challenges, new and old, for the long term.  The new Guidelines will update our respective roles and missions within the Alliance and enable Japan to expand its contributions to regional and global security.  The new Guidelines will enable us to work more closely on issues including maritime security, and to partner with other countries that share our aspirations, in the region and beyond.  As we strengthen an Alliance that has become global in reach, the United States stands resolute and unwavering in all of its commitments under the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty, based upon a stable, long-term U.S. military presence in Japan. 


The United States and Japan are building a partnership that addresses global challenges.  Our agenda is broad:  we will work together to address climate change and environmental degradation, one of the greatest threats facing humanity; to further strengthen our economies and to promote strong, sustainable and balanced global growth; to deliver secure, affordable, sustainable and safe energy; to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development; to promote human security; to counter violent extremism; to strengthen the NPT regime to achieve the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons; to promote global trade and investment; to combat epidemics and threats to global health; to advance scientific inquiry and promote resilience in space; to ensure the safe and stable use of cyber space based on the free flow of information and an open internet; to promote disaster risk reduction and relieve those afflicted by natural disasters and humanitarian emergencies; to advance human rights and universal freedoms; to promote girls education and empower women and girls around the world; and to strengthen U.N. peacekeeping.  The United States looks forward to a reformed U.N. Security Council that includes Japan as a permanent member.  Seventy years ago this partnership was unimaginable.  Today it is a fitting reflection of our shared interests, capabilities and values.


As we work to expand our global cooperation, we will be guided by shared principles:


·         Respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity;

·         Commitment to the peaceful resolution of disputes without coercion;

·         Support for democracy, human rights, and the rule of law;

·         Expansion of economic prosperity, through open markets, free trade, transparent rules and regulations, and high labor and environmental standards;

·         Promotion of globally recognized norms of behavior in shared domains, including the freedom of navigation and overflight, based upon international law;

·         Advancement of strong regional and global institutions; and

·         Support for trilateral and multilateral cooperation among like-minded partners. 


Today the international order faces fresh challenges, ranging from violent extremism to cyber attacks.  State actions that undermine respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity by attempting to unilaterally change the status quo by force or coercion pose challenges to the international order.  Such threats put at risk much that we have built.  We must and will adapt again, working in concert with other allies and partners.  But we also have before us exciting opportunities to raise our collaboration to a new level, in areas like science and technology, energy, infrastructure, and arts and culture.  The spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship in these and other areas, supported by public-private collaboration, will continue to be the driving force of economic growth and prosperity in our two countries.  The benefits of our work in these diverse fields will be global in reach.  As we move forward, we will actively promote people-to-people exchange as a key pillar of our relationship, especially among younger generations.  We take up these challenges and opportunities, knowing that the strength and resilience of our 70-year partnership will ensure our success in the decades ahead. 


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Readout of the President’s Meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch

Readout of the President’s Meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch

Following her swearing-in this afternoon, President Obama met with Attorney General Loretta Lynch at the White House to welcome her to the team and reiterate that he looks forward to her leadership at the Department of Justice. The Attorney General thanked the President then updated him on several issues, including the events occurring in Baltimore, Maryland following the death of Freddie Gray, which the Department of Justice is currently investigating. Attorney General Lynch assured the President that she would continue to monitor events in Baltimore and that the Department of Justice stands ready to provide any assistance that might be helpful there.

Earlier today, the President also spoke with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake about the ongoing situation in Baltimore. The Mayor updated the President on efforts to address the demonstrations and maintain peace throughout the city. The President highlighted the Administration’s commitment to provide assistance as needed and will continue to receive updates on the situation from Attorney General Lynch and White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett. Jarrett also spoke with Maryland Governor Larry Hogan today.

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Statement by NSC Spokesperson Bernadette Meehan Regarding the Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia

Statement by NSC Spokesperson Bernadette Meehan Regarding the Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia

Today, the President submitted the Protocol to the Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia to the U.S. Senate for its advice and consent to ratification.  This is the latest step demonstrating the U.S. commitment to nuclear non-proliferation and to reducing nuclear dangers worldwide. The President looks forward to working closely with the Senate to secure early ratification of this Protocol, as well as the previously submitted Protocols to the African Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty and the South Pacific Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty.

Regional nuclear-weapon-free zone agreements reinforce both the commitment of nations not to pursue nuclear weapons and the nearly 70-year record of their non-use.  This protocol, upon entry into force, would obligate the United States not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon States within the regional zone who are Party to the Central Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (CANWFZ) Treaty and in compliance with their nuclear nonproliferation obligations.

In order to continue to build upon this commitment to nonproliferation and international peace and security, the United States will also continue to work toward the signing of the Protocol to the Southeast Asian Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty.  In the context of this month’s NPT Review Conference and beyond, the United States will continue to aggressively pursue practical measures to advance all of the NPT’s fundamental pillars, disarmament, nonproliferation, and peaceful uses of nuclear technology.

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President Obama to Honor Teachers of the Year

President Obama to Honor Teachers of the Year


WASHINGTON, DC – On Wednesday, April 29, President Obama will honor the 2015 National Teacher of the Year and finalists, thanking them for their hard work and dedication each and every day in the classroom.  Providing all children in America with the opportunity to get a world-class education is critical to their success and the success of our nation, and there is no more important factor in successful schools than great teachers.


The National Teacher of the Year is chosen from among the State Teachers of the Year by a national selection committee representing the major national education organizations organized by the Council of Chief State School Officers.

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Statement by NSC Spokesperson Bernadette Meehan on the Earthquake in Nepal

Statement by NSC Spokesperson Bernadette Meehan on the Earthquake in Nepal

The American people express deep condolences for the lives lost in today’s earthquake.  The earthquake and subsequent landslides caused widespread damage and loss of life in Nepal, India and Bangladesh. The United States is deploying a team of disaster response experts to Nepal, is providing an initial one million dollars in disaster relief assistance, and stands ready to assist the Government and people of Nepal and the region further in this time of need.

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President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts, “I am pleased to announce that these experienced and committed individuals have decided to serve our country. I look forward to working with them”

President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Barack Obama announced his intent to appoint the following individuals to key Administration posts:

  • Mauro Morales – Staff Director, United States Commission on Civil Rights
  • Daniel Weiss – Member, United States Holocaust Memorial Council

President Obama said, “I am pleased to announce that these experienced and committed individuals have decided to serve our country.  I look forward to working with them.”

President Obama announced his intent to appoint the following individuals to key Administration posts:

Mauro Morales, Appointee for Staff Director, United States Commission on Civil Rights

Mauro Morales is currently Assistant Director in the Office of Public Engagement at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), a position he has held since 2014.  From 2009 to 2014, he served as Attorney Advisor in the Office of the General Counsel at OPM.  In 2006, Mr. Morales founded The Morales Law Group, where he served as Managing Partner until 2009.  He served as General Counsel and Director of Public Affairs for Verches Associates from 2004 to 2006, and he was General Counsel for Lambco Engineering, Inc. from 2000 to 2004.  From 1997 to 2000, Mr. Morales was a staff member for Congresswoman Lorreta Sanchez, serving as Legislative Director and then as District Director.  From 1993 to 1997, he was a Senior Associate Attorney at McGuiness & Williams and was an Associate Attorney at Pereyda, Delnick and Ruedaflores from 1992 to 1993.  From 1990 to 1992, Mr. Morales was a Senior Law Clerk with the Orange County, California District Attorney’s Office.  He began his career as a Legislative Assistant for Congressman Esteban Torres from 1983 to 1988.  Mr. Morales received a B.S. from Georgetown University and a J.D. from the University of Southern California.

Daniel Weiss, Appointee for Member, United States Holocaust Memorial Council

Daniel Weiss is Managing Partner of Angeleno Group LLC, a private equity firm he co-founded in 2001.  Previously, Mr. Weiss was an attorney at O’Melveny & Myers LLP from 1998 to 1999.  Mr. Weiss is currently a member of the Pacific Council on International Policy and the Council on Foreign Relations.  He is also a member of the Board of Trustees of Temple Israel of Hollywood, the Board of Directors of World Resources Institute, and the Advisory Board of the Institute the Environment and Sustainability at the University of California, Los Angeles.  Mr. Weiss received a B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, and an M.A. and J.D. from Stanford University.

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Statement by the President on the Confirmation of Loretta Lynch as Attorney General

Statement by the President on the Confirmation of Loretta Lynch as Attorney General

Today, the Senate finally confirmed Loretta Lynch to be America’s next Attorney General – and America will be better off for it.  Loretta has spent her life fighting for the fair and equal justice that is the foundation of our democracy.  As head of the Justice Department, she will oversee a vast portfolio of cases, including counterterrorism and voting rights; public corruption and white-collar crime; judicial recommendations and policy reviews – all of which matter to the lives of every American, and shape the story of our country.  She will bring to bear her experience as a tough, independent, and well-respected prosecutor on key, bipartisan priorities like criminal justice reform.  And she will build on our progress in combatting newer threats like cybercrime.  Loretta’s confirmation ensures that we are better positioned to keep our communities safe, keep our nation secure, and ensure that every American experiences justice under the law.

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July 2020
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