Tbilisi Silk Road Forum: Next Steps for Georgia and the Silk Road

And now a longer report with Sarah for our institutional home RUSI looking at the Tbilisi Silk Road Forum a conference we attended last year and are keen to try to engage with more. It sketches out some of the ideas to emerge from the event, and some ideas about how to take the project […] Read more »

Behind the Lens: Photographing the President in 50 Countries

Today, President Obama visits Kenya — the 50th country he has visited during his Administration. It’s also my 50th country traveling with the President.

To mark the occasion, as I did when the President visited his 50th state, I chose one photograph from each country that we’ve visited.

Traveling abroad with the President is very different.

Often times, I am at the mercy of the host country for access. Some countries are more accommodating to me than others. I am lucky to have counterpart official photographers in many countries who are extremely helpful to me in this regard. I of course try to return the help to them when they visit the White House with their head of state.

We’re also rarely in any one country for more than a couple of days, which gives us only a partial glimpse of each place. And because of security, the sites we are able to visit are often limited too.

All that said, we’ve had the incredible opportunity to visit the Pyramids in Egypt, Stonehenge in the United Kingdom, the Great Wall in China, Petra in Jordan, and the Shwedagon Pagoda in Myanmar (Burma). (So I really shouldn’t complain too much.)

I hope you enjoy this gallery. And stay tuned — we’ll be adding a photograph from Kenya and additionally, Ethiopia, following his visit next week.

Afghanistan, 2012

Boarding Air Force One at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, May 1, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

read more

Read more »

Asked and Answered: Hannah’s Song

This is the latest post in our "Asked and Answered" series, in which we periodically feature an exchange between the President -- or a Senior Administration Official -- and an American who wrote him. If you'd like to write the President yourself, you can do so here.

Meet Hannah, a rising 9th grader at Indian River High School in the North Country region of New York, home to many families from the Army’s 10th Mountain Division of Fort Drum. As the daughter of Lt. Col. Todd E. Bajakian, former commander of Fort Drum’s Warriors in Transition Battalion, Hannah knows first-hand how important it is that we give our military families the support they need.

This past May at the White House’s annual Mother’s Day Tea, Hannah had the opportunity to meet the First Lady and give her the lyrics to her original song, “All On The Line.”

read more

Read more »

"Tangerines" : It’s the Russians, Stupid

"Tangerines" is set in that tiny “nation” on the shores of the Black Sea, one of the ethnic enclaves that Vladimir Putin pried loose from Georgia just as he is now subverting as much of Ukraine as he can, en route to restoring, it it kills him, the imperial reach of the Soviet Union. It took a mini war to do detach Abkhazia from Georgia. Tangerines illustrates the divide-and-conquer tactics and the human cost of making ex-satellites pay for the temerity of refusing close association with Russia once they had a choice of allies. So "Tangerines" is a very political film, but it is more important than that. It is a very powerful anti-war film. Read more »

Can You Guess What These Charts Are Telling You?

Love charts? We’ve pulled together a select batch of them and removed the titles and labels. 

See if you can guess the story each of them tells – then challenge your chart-loving friends to take it, too. We guarantee you’ll learn something that surprises you.

Health Care in America Lockup

Please enable JavaScript to take the quiz.

What Am I: Can you guess what these charts are telling you?

Thanks to five years of the Affordable Care Act, health care looks a lot different in America. How different?

Find out by taking this quiz to see if you can figure out exactly what the President’s health care law is doing for millions of Americans across the country.

Begin Quiz

1. What am I?

  • Percentage of people watching Grey’s Anatomy
  • Percentage of Americans without health insurance
  • Number of emergency room visits in the U.S.
  • Total number of sick days used by workers in the U.S.

Well done. In fact, more than 16 million Americans have found an affordable, quality health care plan under the ACA, causing a cliff-like drop in the number of Americans living without the health insurance they need. And that’s a great thing!

Not quite. It’s actually the percentage of Americans without health insurance since 2000. See how it takes a nosedive recently? That’s thanks to the ACA, which became law on March 23, 2010. Under this law, more than 16 million Americans have gained affordable, quality health care coverage, driving our country's uninsured rate to a new low.

Next Question

2. What am I?

  • Projected deficit reduction due to the ACA
  • Projected reduction in number of uninsured Americans
  • Projected reduction in patients harmed by hospital error
  • Projected temperature in Antarctica

Nice one. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the ACA will generate substantial deficit savings that grow over time, for a total savings of $1.7 trillion over two decades. This is important because lower long-term deficits have a domino-effect of higher national income and wages over time.

So close. This chart is actually a look at how much the ACA will reduce the deficit over time. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office determined that the ACA will generate a total savings of $1.7 trillion for our deficit over two decades. This is important because lower long-term deficits have a domino-effect of higher national income and wages over time.

Next Question

3. What am I?

  • Drop in young adults with health coverage
  • Drop in percent of patients harmed by hospital error
  • Drop in government spending on health care
  • Drop in Americans with health insurance

Right! The Affordable Care Act has helped reduce multiple different kinds of “patient harms,” including adverse drug events, pressure ulcers, infections, and more. The reduction in patient harms has helped prevent an estimated 50,000 deaths.

It’s actually the drop in patients harmed. Surprised? The Affordable Care Act has helped reduce multiple different kinds of “patient harms,” including adverse drug events, pressure ulcers, infections, and more, and the reduction in patient harms has helped prevent an estimated 50,000 deaths.

Next Question

4. What am I?

  • Percent of Americans who like pie charts
  • The first dogs’ approval rating
  • Percent of Marketplace enrollees who receive tax credits to help pay monthly premiums
  • Percent of Americans who visited the emergency room last year

Nailed it. The overwhelming majority of Americans who shopped on health care marketplaces qualified for tax credits, which are helping millions of Americans afford the coverage they need.

Nope! It’s actually the percent of Americans who qualified for tax credits while shopping on health care marketplaces, allowing them to afford the coverage they need.

Next Question

5. What am I?

  • Americans who no longer have lifetime limits
  • People who have access to free preventive services
  • Self-diagnoses on webmd each year
  • People no longer at risk of being denied coverage

Correct! Before the ACA, someone with a pre-existing condition, like cancer, could be denied the coverage they needed. The ACA prohibited that, ensuring that 129 million Americans will always have access to affordable, quality coverage.

Nope. Before the ACA, someone with a pre-existing condition, like cancer, could be denied the coverage they needed. The ACA prohibited that, ensuring that 129 million Americans will always have access to affordable, quality coverage.

Next Question

6. What am I?

  • Number of death panels created under the ACA
  • Number of free preventive services now available
  • Number of young adults who can stay on their parents’ plans
  • Number of women who have access to birth control with no co-pay

Exactly. Zero death panels were created as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

Sorry, but the correct answer is zero death panels. The Affordable Care Act has never created one, nor will it ever.

Finish

You got questions correct.

Most people don’t realize exactly what health reform has meant for millions of Americans. Learn something new in this quiz? We bet your friends will, too.

Challenge them to take it — then head to wh.gov/health-care-in-america to see more, including the President’s remarks about health care in America.

Challenge someone:  Twitter Facebook

Start Over
back
skip

#quiz-no-javascript { display: block; } #quiz { display: none; } /* BUTTONS */ #quiz .btn-first::after { font-family: 'FontAwesome'; margin: 0 4px; content: 'f112'; } #quiz .btn-next::after { font-family: 'FontAwesome'; margin: 0 4px; content: 'f054'; } #quiz .btn-prev::before { font-family: 'FontAwesome'; margin: 0 4px; content: 'f053'; } /** * Button styling yoinked from fortyfour theme. */ #quiz .btn, #quiz li.btn, #quiz a.btn, #quiz button.btn { cursor: pointer; background-color: #4483bd; background-image: -webkit-gradient(linear, 50% 0%, 50% 100%, color-stop(0%, #64a3e3), color-stop(100%, #4483bd)); background-image: -webkit-linear-gradient(top, #64a3e3, #4483bd); background-image: -moz-linear-gradient(top, #64a3e3, #4483bd); background-image: -o-linear-gradient(top, #64a3e3, #4483bd); background-image: linear-gradient(top, #64a3e3, #4483bd); -webkit-border-radius: 5px; -moz-border-radius: 5px; -ms-border-radius: 5px; -o-border-radius: 5px; border-radius: 5px; -webkit-box-shadow: 0 1px 2px rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.4); -moz-box-shadow: 0 1px 2px rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.4); box-shadow: 0 1px 2px rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.4); text-shadow: 0 -1px 1px rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.2); border: none; color: #FFF!important; display: inline-block; font-size: 14px!important; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, "Nimbus Sans L", sans-serif!important; font-weight: bold!important; line-height: 1!important; margin-bottom: 10px!important; padding: 10px 15px!important; text-align: center; text-transform: uppercase; } #quiz .btn:hover { background: #1e65ab; text-decoration: none; color: #fff; } #quiz .btn-facebook { background-color: #64a3e3; background: url("/sites/default/themes/fortyfour/images/social-icons/fb_btn_icon2.png"), #64a3e3; background: url(/sites/default/themes/fortyfour/images/social-icons/fb_btn_icon2.png), -webkit-gradient(linear, 50% 0%, 50% 100%, color-stop(0%, #64a3e3), color-stop(100%, #4483bd)); background: url(/sites/default/themes/fortyfour/images/social-icons/fb_btn_icon2.png), -webkit-linear-gradient(top, #64a3e3, #4483bd); background: url(/sites/default/themes/fortyfour/images/social-icons/fb_btn_icon2.png), -moz-linear-gradient(top, #64a3e3, #4483bd); background: url(/sites/default/themes/fortyfour/images/social-icons/fb_btn_icon2.png), -o-linear-gradient(top, #64a3e3, #4483bd); background: url(/sites/default/themes/fortyfour/images/social-icons/fb_btn_icon2.png), linear-gradient(top, #64a3e3, #4483bd); background-repeat: no-repeat; padding-left: 48px; padding-right: 14px; } #quiz .btn-facebook:hover, #quiz .btn-blue-facebook:hover { background: url(/sites/default/themes/fortyfour/images/social-icons/fb_btn_icon2.png), #1e65ab; background-repeat: no-repeat; } #quiz .btn-twitter { background-color: #64a3e3; background: url("/sites/default/themes/fortyfour/images/social-icons/twt_btn_icon2.png"), #64a3e3; background: url(/sites/default/themes/fortyfour/images/social-icons/twt_btn_icon2.png), -webkit-gradient(linear, 50% 0%, 50% 100%, color-stop(0%, #64a3e3), color-stop(100%, #4483bd)); background: url(/sites/default/themes/fortyfour/images/social-icons/twt_btn_icon2.png), -webkit-linear-gradient(top, #64a3e3, #4483bd); background: url(/sites/default/themes/fortyfour/images/social-icons/twt_btn_icon2.png), -moz-linear-gradient(top, #64a3e3, #4483bd); background: url(/sites/default/themes/fortyfour/images/social-icons/twt_btn_icon2.png), -o-linear-gradient(top, #64a3e3, #4483bd); background: url(/sites/default/themes/fortyfour/images/social-icons/twt_btn_icon2.png), linear-gradient(top, #64a3e3, #4483bd); background-repeat: no-repeat; padding-left: 48px; padding-right: 14px; } #quiz .btn-twitter:hover { background: url(/sites/default/themes/fortyfour/images/social-icons/twt_btn_icon2.png), #1e65ab; background-repeat: no-repeat; } /* higher specificity to override theme link colors */ #quiz .btn:link { color: #fff; } #quiz .btn:visited { color: #fff; } /* TYPOGRAPHY */ #quiz h1, #quiz h2, #quiz h3, #quiz h4 { font-family: 'Whitney SSm A','Whitney SSm B', "Helvetica Neue", Helvetica, Arial, "Nimbus Sans L", sans-serif; font-size: 16px; font-weight: normal; margin-bottom: .292em; color: #333; } #quiz h1 { font-family: Georgia, "Times New Roman", "DejaVu Serif", serif; font-size: 35px!important; line-height: 38px!important; margin: 12px 0!important; /* Reset styles from page */ display: inherit!important; height: auto!important; text-indent: 0!important; width: auto!important; color: #333333!important; background: none!important; } #quiz h2 { font-size: 24px; line-height: 27px; } #quiz h3 { font-size: 22px; line-height: 25px; } #quiz h4 { text-transform: uppercase; font-size: 17px; line-height: 20px; } #quiz p { font-size: 16px; font-family: "HelveticaNeue-Light", "Helvetica Neue Light", "Helvetica Neue", Helvetica, Arial, "Nimbus Sans L", sans-serif; font-weight: normal; line-height: 23px; color: #333; } #quiz p.summary { font-size: 20px; font-family: Georgia, "Times New Roman", "DejaVu Serif", serif; font-weight: normal; line-height: 32px; color: #565656; } #quiz p a, #quiz p a:link, #quiz p a:visited, #quiz p a:hover, #quiz p a:active { font-weight: 700; } /* Quiz Styles */ #quiz { position: relative; text-align: center; border: 3px solid #003366; margin: 24px 0 16px 0; } #quiz > section { padding: 16px; } #quiz .image-header { background-position: center; background-size: cover; height: 300px; margin: 16px auto; } /* Question Pages */ #quiz .question ul li{ list-style-type: none; } /* Last Page */ #quiz .feedback-step { background-color: #003366; color: #ffffff; padding: 16px; } /* Footer */ #quiz .pagination { position: relative; height: 64px; text-align: center; font-size: 11px; font-family: 'Helvetica', 'Arial', sans-serif; background-color: #003366; background-image: -webkit-gradient(linear, left top, left bottom, color-stop(0, #4473A1), color-stop(1, #003366)); background-image: -o-linear-gradient(bottom, #4473A1 0%, #003366 100%); background-image: -moz-linear-gradient(bottom, #4473A1 0%, #003366 100%); background-image: -webkit-linear-gradient(bottom, #4473A1 0%, #003366 100%); background-image: -ms-linear-gradient(bottom, #4473A1 0%, #003366 100%); background-image: linear-gradient(to bottom, #4473A1 0%, #003366 100%); } #quiz .pagination p { position: absolute; top: 15px; bottom: 0; left: 50%; right: 50%; height: 40px; width: 40px; margin: 0 0 0 -20px; border-radius: 40px; -webkit-border-radius: 40px; -moz-border-radius: 40px; line-height: 40px; color: #003366; background-color: #7da2c1; text-align: center; font-weight: bold; letter-spacing: 2px; font-size: 11px; } #quiz .pagination div { display: inline-block; width: 50%; line-height: 24px; padding: 20px 0; color: #7da2c1; text-transform: uppercase; text-decoration: none; } #quiz .pagination div:hover { background: #003366; } $(document).ready(function() { /********* Initialization *********/ var quizContainer = $('#quiz'), quizFooter = quizContainer.find('.pagination'), quizPages = quizContainer.find('section'), buttonFirst = quizContainer.find('.btn-first'), buttonPrev = quizContainer.find('.btn-prev'), buttonNext = quizContainer.find('.btn-next'); quizContainer.css('display', 'block'); $('#quiz-no-javascript').css('display', 'none'); quizPages.not(':first-child').hide(); quizFooter.hide(); /********* Answers *********/ var answers = []; quizContainer.find('.question').find('.choice') .bind('click', function (evt) { var page = getVisiblePage(), choice = $(evt.currentTarget).attr('data-answer'), answer = page.find('.answer').filter("[data-answer='" + choice + "']"); page.find('.question').hide(); page.find('.btn-next').show(); answer.fadeIn(400); answers[getQuestionPages().index(page)] = answer.hasClass('correct'); }); /********* Pagination Buttons *********/ buttonFirst.bind('click', function () { firstPage(); }); buttonPrev.bind('click', function () { prevPage(); }); buttonNext.bind('click', function () { nextPage(); }); /********* Helper Functions *********/ var firstPage = function () { switchPage(getVisiblePage(), quizPages.filter(':first-child')); answers = []; }; var nextPage = function () { var page = getVisiblePage(); switchPage(page, page.next('section')); }; var prevPage = function () { var page = getVisiblePage(); switchPage(page, page.prev('section')); }; function switchPage(fromPage, toPage) { if (fromPage.length !== 1 || toPage.length !== 1) return; fromPage.hide(); toPage.show(); initializePage(toPage); } function initializePage(page) { if (isQuestionPage(page)) { page.find('.question').show(); page.find('.answer, .btn-next').hide(); quizFooter.show(); quizFooter.find('p').text(getQuestionPages().index(page) + 1 + '/' + getQuestionPages().length); } else { quizFooter.hide(); finishQuiz(); } } function finishQuiz() { var correct = 0, total = getQuestionPages().length; answers.forEach(function (ans) { if (ans) correct++; }); var ratio = (correct / total), headers = getVisiblePage().find('div.feedback-step'), index = Math.ceil(ratio * headers.length) - 1; if (index == -1) index = 0; headers.hide(); headers.eq(index).show(); quizContainer.find('.score-container').text(correct + '/' + total); } function getQuestionPages() {return quizContainer.find('section').not(':first').not(':last');} function getVisiblePage() {return quizContainer.find('section').filter(':visible');} function isQuestionPage(page) {return !!page.find('.question').length} })

read more

Read more »

Behind the Lens: Photographing an American Hero

Six years ago — on June 6, 2009 — I photographed Cory Remsburg for the first time.

It was amid a whirlwind day in France for President Obama — and for me. We’d had an event with U.S. embassy personnel in Paris; a flight on Air Force One from Paris to Caen; a state visit with then-President Sarkozy; a picturesque helicopter ride into Normandy; the 65th anniversary of D-Day; a helicopter, then a plane ride back to Paris; and finally a tour with the Obama family at the Cathedral de Notre Dame. The President and First Lady greeted hundreds of people that day, including a small group of Army Rangers in Normandy.

Eight months later, I accompanied the President as he made his regular quarterly trip to visit wounded warriors at National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda. The 10th patient he visited that day did not at all look familiar to me. The patient, an Army Ranger, had suffered a severe brain injury caused by a roadside explosion in Afghanistan.

His name was Cory Remsburg.

read more

Read more »

This Day in History: John F. Kennedy Was Born

Today in 1917, John F. Kennedy -- the 35th President of the United States, and the first to be born in the 20th century -- was born in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Of Irish descent, President Kennedy was the youngest man to be elected President, and was also the youngest to die.

Graduating from Harvard in 1940, he entered the Navy. In 1943, when his PT boat was rammed and sunk by a Japanese destroyer, Kennedy, despite grave injuries, led the survivors through perilous waters to safety.

Having returned from the war, he became a Democratic Congressman from the Boston area, advancing in 1953 to the Senate. He married Jacqueline Bouvier on September 12, 1953. In 1955, while recuperating from a back operation, he wrote Profiles in Courage, which won the Pulitzer Prize in history. Read more about President Kennedy's life and legacy here.

Aaron Shikler's iconic 1971 portrait of President Kennedy in a contemplative pose hangs in the cross hall in the central corridor of the White House's State Floor.

Watch White House Curator Bill Allman tell the story of that portrait, and how it came to be painted:

Read more »

Asked and Answered: A World War II Veteran Writes the President

We periodically feature an exchange between the President and an American who wrote him. Check back soon for more — and if you'd like to write the President yourself, you can do so here.

I work in the Office of Presidential Correspondence, and one of the most rewarding parts of my job is helping process correspondence from our nation’s veterans.

On the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day (V-E Day), I wanted to share with you one of the thousands of letters the President has received from WWII veterans and their families. The President was raised with the help of his grandparents — a veteran who served in the European Theater during WWII, and a Rosie the Riveter who worked on a bomber assembly line during the war. And I think partly for that reason, this mail always seems to really grab the President’s attention.

Below is one of these letters. World War II veteran Ernest Lovato of Albuquerque, New Mexico wrote the President to thank him for a visit to the Southwest, and shared photos of two of the B-17 Flying Fortresses he painted while serving in the Army Air Corps' 100th Bombardment Group. The President responded — and he included a photograph of his own.

Today, as we watch World War II-era planes fly over the White House in honor of the anniversary of V-E Day, we pay tribute to all those like Mr. Lovato and the President’s grandmother, who helped build and maintain these planes helping lead the Allied forces to victory. And we solemnly remember all those we lost, remaining deeply humbled by all those who served.

Take a look at Mr. Lovato's letter, and the amazing photos he enclosed — including the B-17s he painted during WWII and the charming photo from his wedding day 72 years ago:

read more

Read more »

Behind the Lens: Photographing the President in 50 States

This week, the President will visit South Dakota, marking the 50th state he has visited during his administration (as such, it's also my 50th state with him). To mark the occasion, I chose one photograph from each state that we’ve visited. This was not as easy as I thought it would be. With help from photo editor Phaedra Singelis, I tried to depict a variety of situations. Some are more lighthearted; some are sad, and some are poignant. Some are with the Vice President; some are with the First Lady, and a couple are with the entire family. A selection of photos are centered on policy, and others on politics. Some focus on the President as Commander-in-Chief -- others on his role as consoler for the nation.

I hope you enjoy this gallery. And stay tuned -- we’ll be adding a photograph from South Dakota following his visit there on Friday.

Alabama, March 7, 2015. Marching at the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Alabama, March 7, 2015. Marching at the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Alaska. Nov 12, 2009. Air Force One refueling at Elmendorf Air Force Base. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

Alaska. Nov 12, 2009. Air Force One refueling at Elmendorf Air Force Base. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

Arizona, Aug. 16, 2009. Viewing the Grand Canyon. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

Arizona, Aug. 16, 2009. Viewing the Grand Canyon. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

read more

Read more »

We Don’t Have Time to Wait

This is a picture of Taylor Smith from Holly Springs, Georgia, with her sister, Gabrielle.

Taylor Smith photo

Taylor Smith (right) with her sister, Gabrielle Smith.

Taylor died of an overdose.

Her mother, Tanya Smith, writes: 

"Taylor was a freshman, junior varsity and varsity squad basketball and football cheerleader at Creekview High School; known for her quick wit and infectious squeaky laugh, she was an avid animal rescuer, and quickly came to the defense of those she felt were treated unfairly. She was 20 years old when she overdosed in the company of friends, who subsequently dumped her body in the yard of an abandoned trailer to avoid arrest for drug possession.”

Taylor might still be alive if her friends had known that Georgia, along with 21 other states and the District of Columbia, has legal protections in place that shield people possessing drugs from criminal liability if they’re helping someone having an overdose. 

Her mother Tanya has channeled her grief into action, pushing to make sure that law enforcement officers in her town now carry naloxone — the antidote for opioid overdose. 

read more

Read more »