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)

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Jonathan Powell’s Terrorists at the Table – Book Review Essay

Powell’s latest book Terrorists at the Table: Why Negotiating is The Only Way to Peace to be released in the US June 30, 2015, tells the Northern Ireland story from the position of one of the major negotiators. But he does much more. He uses it as a vehicle, an example of lessons learned (and too often forgotten), to argue that there are times when governments need to talk with an opposition that uses violence to fight for its goals because, he argues, violence is not an end in itself but a means to an end and that end is foremost political and access to the state’s scarce resources. Read more »

The President Wraps Up Trip in Burma, Heads to Australia

President Obama Walks Toward Air Force One in Burma

President Barack Obama walks towards Air Force One past honor guards and a group of representatives from Burmese ethnic groups before departing from Naypyitaw International Airport in Burma. November 14, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama has spent the week traveling in China, Burma, and Australia to help further the U.S. rebalancing strategy and his firm belief that our economic ties to the Asia Pacific region are integral to America's economic growth.

After securing a historic agreement with China to reduce carbon pollution, the President traveled to Naypyitaw and Rangoon, Burma for the East Asia Summit, the U.S.-ASEAN Summit, and for a bilateral meeting with Burmese President Thein Sein. 

Two years ago, President Obama became the first American president to visit this country. On this visit, both Presidents discussed the progress that Burma has made in the pursuit of a more open democracy and the work that's left to do: 

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We Will Stop Ebola in West Africa

 

USAID Administrator Raj Shah meets with Ebola Responders in Liberia

USAID Administrator Raj Shah and U.S. Ambassador Deborah R. Malac meet with Doland Willis and Gabriel Frank of the U.S. Army JFC Operation United Assistance Liberia at the Ebola Emergency Operations Center in Monrovia. October 14, 2014. (by Morgana Wingard)

Ed. Note: Below are excepts of an op-ed by USAID Administrator Raj Shah for USAToday. Read his op-ed in its entirety here

In the heart of the Ebola epidemic, there is a clear sense of hope. I've just returned from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, where I met dozens of health workers, humanitarians and community leaders who are making a difference in this fight.

There is no question that the pace, ingenuity, and scale of our global response must continue to grow quickly. But at a time when fear and misinformation spread panic faster than a virus, let's not miss the opportunity to scale up what's working, fix what isn't and bring the best of science, technology and innovation to bear on this devastating disease.

I spoke with Ebola survivors who now care for sick patients in the very same Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) that saved their lives. I met local workers on burial teams who enter communities threatened by Ebola and endure the stigma of the virus to bury loved ones. At a training session for health care workers, I met a young doctor from Germany who gave up her holiday to put on a personal protective suit in the stifling heat and train others to work in the hot zone. We need hundreds more just like her. And we must ensure that when these brave individuals do volunteer to serve, we not prevent or unduly discourage them from undertaking this indispensable and selfless work.

...

Time and again, we've seen the value of innovation in crisis response. We relied on satellite-based predictive modeling to save lives in advance of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and during the 2011 famine and drought in the Horn of Africa. We need similarly creative and bold thinking today. That is why President Obama announced Fighting Ebola: A Grand Challenge for Development, a grant competition designed to invent better tools to tackle this disease in a matter of weeks, not years.

We're exploring advances in diagnostics that reduce the difficulty of transporting blood samples over terrible roads; new laboratory solutions, such as vaccines and therapeutics; improved designs for personal protective equipment; and real-time data to better predict spikes and valleys in active cases.

But the United States cannot end this epidemic alone. Already the U.S. response -- in dollars alone -- accounts for more than one-third of the global commitment. As President Obama has stressed, governments, international organizations and the private sector must step up far more aggressively.

Like every Ebola outbreak in history, this one will be stopped. I know because I've met the heroes on the front lines who fight when so many others flee and who face what so many others fear. We owe them more than our thanks. We owe them our commitment to stand shoulder-to-shoulder until we beat Ebola at its source.

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What We Are Reading… October 3, 2014

International News Coverage Middle East, ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Terrorism, and Counterterrorism ISIS losing hearts and minds in its heartland ELIZABETH PALMER & KHALED WASSEF / CBS News The people of Raqqa, by and large, are forced to toe the line and follow the diktats of their new rulers. But along with the smell of lamb, roasting […]

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Combating Climate Change: Secretary Hagel Hosts the U.S.-ASEAN Defense Forum

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel hosts a roundtable meeting with defense ministers from the Association of South East Asian Nations in Honolulu, Hawaii, April 2, 2014. (DoD Photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo) ... Read more »

In Typhoon Haiyan’s Wake

But why do Americans know so little about how their tax dollars are spent? Or that so very little can do so much good and create such good will for the US abroad? In 2004 the US provided some of the same kinds of humanitarian assistance to the survivors of the huge tsunami which devastated Aceh, Indonesia and the previously anti-American population there made an about-face. Why then is this country’s role in international humanitarian relief and the good it does abroad so underreported here at home? Is it simply because positive stories aren’t news? Or is it something more? Read more »

What We Are Reading

ASP ICYMI - #haiyan #typhoon #philippines #birdflu #egypt #morsi #iran #saudiarabia #solitary #revolutionaryguard #china #third-plenum #reform #syria

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