Friday, March 19, 2010
Speaking at a rally in Virginia, he dismissed criticism of the bill from Republicans and some Democrats.
Appealing to lawmakers and citizens to back the legislation, he said: "The time for reform is right now."
Democrats are still working to secure enough House of Representatives votes to pass a Senate version of the bill.
Calling the battle to create the bill, "messy", "frustrating" and "ugly", Mr Obama said the final proposal was the culmination of a year of "hard debate".
"Every argument has been made," he told students at George Mason University.
"We have incorporated the best ideas from Democrats and Republicans into a final proposal."
"We are going to end the worst practices of insurance companies. This is a patients' bill of rights on steroids," he told a cheering crowd.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
I do not make this decision lightly. I opposed the war in Iraq precisely because I believe that we must exercise restraint in the use of military force, and always consider the long-term consequences of our actions. We have been at war for eight years, at enormous cost in lives and resources. Years of debate over Iraq and terrorism have left our unity on national security issues in tatters, and created a highly polarized and partisan backdrop for this effort. And having just experienced the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the American people are understandably focused on rebuilding our economy and putting people to work here at home."
Friday, October 9, 2009
President Obama on Friday won the Nobel Peace Prize, a stunning choice of a newly elected official who had been in office for less than two weeks before this year's nomination deadline.
Obama won the prize "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples," the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced, saying it had "attached special importance to Obama's vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons."
"Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future," Thorbjoern Jagland, chairman of the Nobel Committee said. "In the past year Obama has been a key person for important initiatives in the U.N. for nuclear disarmament and to set a completely new agenda for the Muslim world and East-West relations."
He added that the committee endorsed "Obama's appeal that 'Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges.'"
The Nobel committee received a record 205 nominations for this year's prize though it was not immediately apparent who nominated Obama.
"The exciting and important thing about this prize is that it's given too someone ... who has the power to contribute to peace," Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
Saturday, July 4, 2009
President Obama cited his own long struggle to quit the cigarettes he took up as a teenager as he signed the nation's strongest-ever anti-smoking bill Monday and praised it for providing critically needed protections for future generations.
"The decades-long effort to protect our children from the harmful effects of smoking has finally emerged victorious," Obama said during the sun-splashed Rose Garden signing ceremony.
The bill marks the latest legislative victory for Obama's first five months. Among his other successes: a $787 economic stimulus bill, legislation to expand a state program providing children's health insurance and a bill making it easier for workers to sue for pay discrimination.
The president has frequently spoken, in the White House and on the campaign trail, of his own struggles to quit smoking. He did so again during the ceremony, bringing it up while criticizing the tobacco industry for marketing its products to young people.
"I know — I was one of these teenagers," Obama said. "I know how difficult it is to break this habit."
Before dozens of invited guests, including children from the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, the president signed legislation giving the Food and Drug Administration unprecedented authority to regulate tobacco.
The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act allows the FDA to lower the amount of nicotine in tobacco products, ban candy flavorings that appeal to kids and block misleading labels such "low tar" and "light." Tobacco companies also will be required to cover their cartons with large graphic warnings.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
A North Korean rocket launch upstaged Obama's idealistic call to action, delivered in the capital of the Czech Republic, a former satellite of the Soviet Union. But Obama dismissed those who say the spread of nuclear weapons, "the most dangerous legacy of the Cold War," cannot be checked.
Few experts think it's possible to completely eradicate nuclear weapons, and many say it wouldn't be a good idea even if it could be done. Even backward nations such as North Korea have shown they can develop bombs, given enough time.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
"At a time when the Mexican government has so courageously taken on the drug cartels that have plagued both sides of the borders, it is absolutely critical that the United States joins as a full partner in dealing with this issue,"
Saturday, March 21, 2009
"We have serious differences that have grown over time," Obama said in the video. "My administration is now committed to diplomacy that addresses the full range of issues before us and to pursuing constructive ties among the United States, Iran and the international community."
"This process will not be advanced by threats. We seek instead engagement that is honest and grounded in mutual respect," he said.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
“I sign this order not just as a president, but as a son, as a grandson, a husband and a father. I saw my grandmother work her way up to become one of the first women bank vice presidents in the state of Hawaii, but I also saw how she hit a glass ceiling—how men no more qualified than she was kept moving up the corporate ladder ahead of her.”
Obama credited his wife, Michelle, for “juggling work and parenting with more skill and grace than anybody that I know.” But the president said he was also aware that those burdens often weighed on his wife.
“I also saw how it tore at her at times. When she was at work, she was worrying about the girls. When she was with the girls she was worrying about work,” he said.
Obama said the new White House Council on Women and Girls would be chaired by his longtime friend and senior adviser, Valerie Jarrett. The director of public liaison at the White House, Tina Tchen, is to serve as executive director of the group. “It will meet on a regular basis,” the president said, without elaborating. The panel’s mandate will be to make sure that all federal agencies take into account how their policies and actions affect women and girls.
“We need to take a hard look at where we’re falling short,” Obama said.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
"Too many supporters of my party have resisted the idea of rewarding excellence in teaching with extra pay, even though we know it can make a difference in the classroom," he said, delivering the first major education speech of his presidency before a meeting of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. "Too many in the Republican Party have opposed new investments in early education, despite compelling evidence of its importance."
But he argued that a far-reaching overhaul of the nation's education system is an economic imperative that can't wait despite the urgency of the financial crisis and other matters.
"Despite resources that are unmatched anywhere in the world, we have let our grades slip, our schools crumble, our teacher quality fall short, and other nations outpace us," he said. "The relative decline of American education is untenable for our economy, unsustainable for our democracy, and unacceptable for our children. We cannot afford to let it continue. What is at stake is nothing less than the American dream."
Since entering the White House, Mr Obama has:
Ordered the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison camp
Outlawed the use of harsh interrogation techniques by the CIA
Enabled states to set tougher car emissions standards
Reversed the ban on federal funding for aid agencies that perform abortions
Removed "conscience" protections for health workers who refuse to issue contraception
Obama's political tract, The Audacity of Hope, and his life story, Dreams from My Father, became UK bestsellers during his 2008 run for office.
Dreams from My Father was written before Obama thought of entering politics and was originally published in 1995. It tells of his early life as a black boy growing up with his white grandparents and is frank about his drug use and flirtations with the Black Power movement.
Monday, March 9, 2009
"Let’s be clear: promoting science isn’t just about providing resources – it is also about protecting free and open inquiry. It is about letting scientists like those here today do their jobs, free from manipulation or coercion, and listening to what they tell us, even when it’s inconvenient – especially when it’s inconvenient. It is about ensuring that scientific data is never distorted or concealed to serve a political agenda – and that we make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology.
...That is why today, I am also signing a Presidential Memorandum directing the head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop a strategy for restoring scientific integrity to government decision making. To ensure that in this new Administration, we base our public policies on the soundest science; that we appoint scientific advisors based on their credentials and experience, not their politics or ideology; and that we are open and honest with the American people about the science behind our decisions."
"Today, with the Executive Order I am about to sign, we will bring the change that so many scientists and researchers; doctors and innovators; patients and loved ones have hoped for, and fought for, these past eight years: we will lift the ban on federal funding for promising embryonic stem cell research. We will vigorously support scientists who pursue this research. And we will aim for America to lead the world in the discoveries it one day may yield.
... In recent years, when it comes to stem cell research, rather than furthering discovery, our government has forced what I believe is a false choice between sound science and moral values. In this case, I believe the two are not inconsistent. As a person of faith, I believe we are called to care for each other and work to ease human suffering. I believe we have been given the capacity and will to pursue this research – and the humanity and conscience to do so responsibly."
Thursday, March 5, 2009
The amount the government spends on contracting has ballooned over the past eight years, with outlays for goods and services increasing from $200 billion in 2000 to more than $500 billion in 2008. The president said his plan would make the contracting process more competitive and accessible to independent contractors — and more difficult for contractors to defraud taxpayers.
"It's time for this waste and inefficiency to end," the president said Wednesday morning at the White House. "It's time to invest only in what works."
The programs, originally laid out in the stimulus bill, include an effort to double the production of renewable energy in three years, primarily through tax breaks and loan guarantees for the industry.
The budget summary also increases funding for energy conservation in government buildings and private homes. It provides more money for cleaner coal-fired power plants, and to transform the country's aging electric grid.
So, as Vice-President Jo Biden recently said it would be, the reset button on US relations with Russia has been pressed. Mrs Clinton has herself spoken of a "fresh start."
Obama's move is a bold one aimed at breaking the stalemate, which has lasted years, over attempts at preventing Iran securing a nuclear weapons capability.
Obama made the extraordinary offer last month in a letter to the Russian president, Dmitri Medvedev, hand-delivered to the Russian government by US officials in Moscow. Officials told the New York Times that while it did not offer a direct quid pro quo, the letter was intended to give Moscow an incentive to join the United States in a common front against Iran.
Medvedev responded today by sayingthat Moscow will cooperate with Washington in dealing with the Iranian nuclear standoff, but confirmed there was no talk about a quid pro quo on missile defense and Iran.
Monday, March 2, 2009
Holder's declaration underscored President Barack Obama's break with the former Bush administration's anti-terrorist policies, which were condemned around the world by human-rights groups, civil liberties advocates and U.S. allies.
"Waterboarding is torture. My Justice Department will not justify it, will not rationalize it and will not condone it," Holder, who his heading a review of the treatment of terrorism suspects, said in a speech to the Jewish Council of Public Affairs in Washington. His vow was greeted by applause.
The Justice Department released nine legal opinions showing that following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Bush administration determined that certain constitutional rights would not apply during the coming fight. Within two weeks, government lawyers were already discussing ways to wiretap U.S. conversations without warrants.
The Bush administration eventually abandoned many of the legal conclusions, but the documents themselves had been closely held. By releasing them, President Barack Obama continued a housecleaning of the previous administration's most contentious policies.
"Too often over the past decade, the fight against terrorism has been viewed as a zero-sum battle with our civil liberties," Attorney General Eric Holder said in a speech a few hours before the documents were released. "Not only is that school of thought misguided; I fear that in actuality it does more harm than good."
President Barack Obama last week outlined what some have called one of the most ambitious agendas for social change ever seen in the United States, pledging to raise taxes on the rich to boost services for those lower on the economic ladder.
Saturday, February 28, 2009
"Let me say this as plainly as I can: By Aug. 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end," Obama told U.S. Marines in a speech at Camp Lejeune, N.C.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Want Obama wants, Obama gets. Scoring the first major victory of his nascent term, the White House announced today that President Barack Obama will indeed keep his BlackBerry (eat it, Sectera Edge). President Obama will use the BlackBerry to keep in touch with “senior staff and a small group of personal friends.” As we’ve mentioned previously, Obama’s decision will have significant effects on the transparency of his communications.
Gibbs said the presumption from the White House counsel’s office is that e-mails will be subject to the Presidential Records Act, the law that requires the National Archives to preserve presidential records. But he also said that some exemptions in the law allow for “strictly personal communications.” He did not say how that classification would be determined but made clear that the device could be used for both business and personal communication.
How did Obama get the deal done? By turning the NSA loose on his BlackBerry:
On Monday, a government agency said that the Obama administration — but that is probably the National Security Agency — added to a standard BlackBerry a super-encryption package…. and Obama WILL be able to use it … still for routine and personal messages.
President Barack Obama approved adding some 17,000 U.S. troops for the flagging war in Afghanistan, his first significant move to change the course of a conflict that his closest military advisers have warned the United States is not winning.
"This increase is necessary to stabilize a deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, which has not received the strategic attention, direction and resources it urgently requires," Obama said in a statement.
That was a slap at his predecessor, George W. Bush, whom Obama has accused of slighting urgent national security needs in Afghanistan in favor of war in Iraq.
The White House said the new commander in chief would send a Marine unit and one additional Army brigade to Afghanistan this spring and summer. About 8,000 Marines are expected to go first, followed by an Army brigade totaling about 4,000 troops, and 5,000 support forces. The United States has slightly more than 30,000 troops in the country now.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
But we do know this much. Just as in the presidential campaign, Obama has once again outwitted the punditocracy and the opposition. The same crowd that said he was a wimpy hope-monger who could never beat Hillary or get white votes was played for fools again.
The G.O.P. doesn’t recognize that it emerged from the stimulus battle even worse off than when it started. That obliviousness gives the president the opening to win more ambitious policy victories than last week’s. Having checked the box on attempted bipartisanship, Obama can now move in for the kill.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Monday, February 9, 2009
Obama signed two orders on Monday. One required the Department of Transportation (DOT) to enforce a law that will increase fuel-economy standards to a minimum of 35 miles per gallon by 2020. The law was passed in 2007, but detailed rules telling automakers how to comply were never implemented by the Bush administration. The second order signed by the president calls for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to revisit a request from the state government of California asking for permission to implement emissions standards that are more strict than federal rules. Those standards call for decreasing carbon-dioxide emissions from new vehicles by 30 percent by 2016; more than a dozen other states have since followed California's example. Under President Bush, that request was denied, but experts say it's likely that the EPA will now approve it.
US President Barack Obama has signed a bill to expand government-funded health insurance to cover an additional four million children. He acted just hours after the House of Representatives backed the $32.8bn (£23bn) expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Programme.
"And I'm happy to get good ideas from across the political spectrum, from Democrats and Republicans. What I won't do is return to the failed theories of the last eight years that got us into this fix in the first place, because those theories have been tested, and they have failed. And that's what part of the election in November was all about."
"We can't posture and bicker and resort to the same failed ideas that got us in into this mess in the first place"
"I can't tell you with 100% certainty that every single item in this plan will work exactly as we hoped, but what I can tell you is... that endless delay and paralysis in Washington, in the face of this crisis, will only bring deepening disaster."
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Firms will also have to publicly disclose "all the perks and luxuries bestowed upon senior executives, and provide an explanation to taxpayers and to shareholders as to why these expenses are justified". "We're asking these firms to take responsibility, to recognize the nature of this crisis and their role in it," said the president.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Monday, February 2, 2009
Obama taps a Nobel physicist for his Cabinet
This work by Steven is pretty cool: http://www.arb.ca.gov/research/seminars/chu/chu.pdf
"What I do know is that history returned that day with a vengeance; that, in fact, as Faulkner reminds us, the past is never dead and buried -- it isn't even past. This collective history, this past, directly touches my own. Not merely because the bombs of Al Qaeda have marked, with an eerie precision, some of the landscapes of my life -- the buildings and roads and faces of Nairobi, Bali, Manhattan; not merely because, as a consequence of 9/11, my name is an irresistible target of mocking websites from overzealous Republican operatives. But also because the underlying struggle -- between worlds of plenty and worlds of want; between the modern and the ancient; between those who embrace our teeming, colliding, irksome diversity, while still insisting on a set of values that binds us together, and those who would seek, under whatever flag or slogan or sacred text, a certainty and simplification that justifies cruelty toward those not like us -- is the struggle set forth, on a miniature scale, in this book. I know, I have seen, the desperation and disorder of the powerless: how it twists the lives of children on the streets of Jakarta or Nairobi in much the same way as it does the lives of children on Chicago's South Side, how narrow the path is for them between humiliation and untrammeled fury, how easily they slip into violence and despair. I know that the response of the powerful to this disorder -- alternating as it does between a dull complacency and, when the disorder spills out of its proscribed confines, a steady, unthinking application of force, of longer prison sentences and more sophisticated military hardware -- is inadequate to the task. I know that the hardening of lines, the embrace of fundamentalism and tribe, dooms us all."
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Saturday, January 31, 2009
Thursday, January 29, 2009
The president said their actions "were the height of irresponsibility".
He said his administration would tell bankers they needed to show some discipline and restraint.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
US President Barack Obama has used his first formal TV interview since taking office to reach out to the Muslim world - saying Americans are not its enemy.
Speaking to the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya network, Mr Obama reiterated that the US would extend the hand of friendship to Iran if it "unclenched its fist".