Nativism on the March?

Has the pendulum swung away from the global spread of democracy which characterized Europe and elsewhere after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 until the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008 and the subsequent rise and fall of the Arab Spring? The forces of reaction are powerful draws in times of turbulence and disruption - draws that we too often forget. 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)

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Regional Roundup: What America’s Newspapers are Saying About the Iran Deal

This week, the President announced that the United States – with our allies and partners – has reached a comprehensive, long-term deal with Iran that will prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon. The world’s superpowers as well as ... Read more »

A Message from President Obama: Preventing Iran from Acquiring a Nuclear Weapon

President Obama sent the following message to the White House email list laying out how today's historic understanding with Iran will prevent Iran from producing a nuclear weapon. Didn't see it in your inbox? Sign up to get email updates here

Today, the United States, together with our allies and partners, reached a historic understanding with Iran.

If fully implemented, this framework will prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, making our nation, our allies, and our world safer.

For decades, Iran has been advancing its nuclear program. When I took office, Iran was operating thousands of centrifuges -- which can produce the materials for a nuclear bomb -- and was concealing a secret nuclear facility. I made it clear that the United States was prepared to find a diplomatic resolution, if Iran came to the table in a serious way.

But that didn't happen.

So we rallied the world to impose the toughest sanctions in history, profoundly impacting Iran's economy. Sanctions couldn't stop Iran's nuclear program on their own, but they helped bring Iran to the negotiating table.

And after many months of tough and principled diplomacy, the United States -- joined by the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, China, and the European Union -- achieved the framework for a deal that will cut off every pathway Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon.

I want you to understand exactly what this deal entails:

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President Obama Awards the Medal of Honor to First Lieutenant Alonzo H. Cushing

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Earlier this afternoon, President Obama awarded the Medal of Honor to First Lieutenant Alonzo H. Cushing for his heroic acts of bravery while serving as an artillery commander during the Civil War.

On July 3, 1863, Lieutenant Cushing went above and beyond the call of duty when fighting against Confederate forces. Even after being struck twice, he refused to abandon his command. As a result, his gallant efforts helped open wide gaps in the Confederate Army's line of command.

The Medal of Honor is typically awarded within a few years of the action, but as the President noted, “sometimes even the most extraordinary stories can get lost in the passage of time.” At today's ceremony, the President was joined by more than two dozen of Lieutenant Cushing's family members. Helen Loring Ensign, a cousin twice removed of the Lieutenant, accepted the award on his behalf.

“For this American family, this story isn’t some piece of obscure history -- it is an integral part of who they are. And today, our whole nation shares their pride, and celebrates what this story says about who we are.”

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Weekly Wrap Up: A Look at Our Week

This week at the White House, the President updated the nation on our government-wide response to Ebola, we discussed efforts against ISIL with our international efforts, and the First Lady asked, “Turnip for What?” 

Photo of the Week

 

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President Obama talks on the phone with HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell concerning the latest update on the Ebola situation.

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We Continued to Respond to Ebola

On Wednesday, the President met with Cabinet officials and Dr. Tom Frieden -- of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) -- in the Cabinet Room of the White House. 
 
After the meeting, President Obama laid out our comprehensive plan to contain Ebola, prevent its spread in the United States, and combat it at its source in West Africa.
 
Have questions about how exactly the disease spread? We’ve got the facts:
  • Ebola cannot be spread through the air, water, or food in the U.S. You cannot contract Ebola through casual contact with someone who has no symptoms. 
  • Ebola can only be contracted through bodily fluids, contaminated objects, or infected animals.
  • Ebola only spreads when people are showing symptoms. 
Now that you’ve got the key facts, pass it on to someone else who needs to know

Worth sharing: Here are the facts on #Ebola, and what we're doing to respond → http://t.co/RMFwal2IB8 pic.twitter.com/UJLnOsP7RV

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) October 16, 2014

Today, the President appointed Ron Klain to coordinate the government’s comprehensive response to Ebola. Mr. Klain has served as Chief of Staff to two Vice Presidents, and his talent and managerial skills extend far beyond the White House. He has a great working relationship with leading Members of Congress and brings extensive intergovernmental operations experience to the job.

We Joined International Military Leaders to Discuss Efforts Against ISIL

On Tuesday, President Obama headed to Joint Base Andrews to meet with military leaders from over 20 partner nations and discuss coalition efforts to ultimately degrade and destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL.
 
At the meeting, hosted by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Dempsey, the President reiterated that: 
  • The U.S. will take action against targets in both Iraq and Syria, so ISIL cannot find safe haven anywhere.
  • The U.S. will act as part of a broad international coalition, because this is not our fight alone.
President Obama meets with more than 20 foreign chiefs of defense to discuss coalition efforts in the campaign against ISIL

President Barack Obama participates in a meeting hosted by Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, with more than 20 foreign chiefs of defense to discuss the coalition efforts in the ongoing campaign against ISIL. Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, Commander, U.S. Central Command also participates in the meeting at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, Oct. 14, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

FLOTUS asked: “Turnip for What?”

On Tuesday, the First Lady hosted her very first Vine and Twitter Q & A to answer questions about Let's Move! before welcoming students to the White House for the annual fall harvest. During the Q & A, the First Lady answered a range of questions – including healthy Halloween ideas, her favorite fall vegetables, the status of the White House bees, and asked, turnip for what?

Take a look at the full Q & A on Storify, and be sure to follow Mrs. Obama on Twitter and Instagram for additional updates.

Want to see even more? Be sure to check out the White House Blog, this week's episode of West Wing Week, and the White House's official Twitter account:

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Weekly Wrap Up: September 6-12

This week, President Obama spoke about the threat posed by ISIL and commemorated the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, we marked the 20th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and the First Lady hosted a "prep" rally in Atlanta.

Check out what else you may have missed this week in our weekly wrap up.

“If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”

On Wednesday evening, from the State Floor of the White House, President Obama spoke to the American people about our comprehensive strategy to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant).

ISIL was formerly al Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq and has since infiltrated territories on both sides of the Iraq-Syrian border. Although ISIL calls itself the “Islamic State,” the President highlighted that:

ISIL is not ‘Islamic.’ No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim. And ISIL is certainly not a state. ... It is recognized by no government, nor the people it subjugates.

In his remarks, the President outlined the four key components of the United States’ strategy to defeat ISIL:

  1. We will work with the Iraqi government to conduct a systematic campaign of airstrikes against ISIL.
  2. We will increase support of forces fighting ISIL on the ground.
  3. We will work with our partners to continue to draw on our substantial counterterrorism capabilities to prevent ISIL attacks and sustain an effective long-term campaign against ISIL.
  4. We will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to the innocent and vulnerable civilians displaced by ISIL in Iraq and Syria.

The President reiterated and assured the American people that “If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”

Watch the President’s full remarks on ISIL here.

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President Obama Delivers an Update on the Economy, Iraq, and Ukraine

President Obama Delivers a Statement on the Economy, Iraq, and Ukraine

President Barack Obama delivers a statement in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, August 28, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

At the White House this afternoon, President Obama provided an update on important issues ahead of his attendance at the NATO Summit in the United Kingdom next week.  

The President first addressed the "number one thing that most Americans care about" -- our economy. He noted that the economy is growing "at a stronger clip" than predicted and that we have more work to do to continue this momentum: 

This morning, we found out that our economy actually grew at a stronger clip in the 2nd quarter than we originally thought.  Companies are investing.  Consumers are spending.  Over the past four and a half years, our businesses have created now nearly 10 million new jobs. So there are reasons to feel good about the direction we’re headed.  But as everybody knows, there’s a lot more we should be doing to make sure more Americans benefit from the progress that we've made and I am going to be pushing Congress hard on this when they return next week.

As the U.S. military continues to carry out targeted airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq and to address the humanitarian situation on the ground, the President reiterated his commitment as Commander-in-Chief to "always do what is necessary to protect the American people and defend against evolving threats to our homeland."

"Our military action in Iraq has to be part of a broader, comprehensive strategy to protect our people and to support our partners who are taking the fight to ISIL. And that starts with Iraq’s leaders building on the progress they’ve made so far and forming the inclusive government that will unite their country and strengthen their security forces to confront ISIL."

The President reported that our strikes have cost ISIL terrorists arms and equipment, and Iraqi and Kurdish forces are continuing to push them back. The U.S. will consider a range of options but he made clear that a successful strategy will require working with an inclusive Iraqi government and strong regional partners to meet this threat:

Now ISIL poses an immediate threat to the people of Iraq and the people throughout the region. And that’s why our military action in Iraq has to be part of a broader, comprehensive strategy to protect our people and to support our partners who are taking the fight to ISIL. And that starts with Iraq’s leaders building on the progress they’ve made so far and forming the inclusive government that will unite their country and strengthen their security forces to confront ISIL.

Any successful strategy, though, also needs strong regional partners. I’m encouraged so far that countries in the region -- countries that don’t always agree on many things -- increasingly recognize the primacy of the threat ISIL poses to all of them.  And I’ve asked Secretary Kerry to travel to the region to continue to build the coalition that’s needed to meet this threat.  As I’ve said, rooting out a cancer like ISIL will not be quick or easy but I’m confident that we can -- and we will -- working closely with our allies and partners. 

For our part, I’ve directed Secretary Hagel and our Joint Chiefs of Staff to prepare a range of options. I’ll be meeting with my National Security Council again this evening as we continue to develop that strategy. And I’ve been consulting with Congress and I’ll continue to do so in the days ahead.

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President Obama Provides an Update on the Latest in Iraq and Ferguson, Missouri

Watch on YouTube This afternoon at the White House, President Obama delivered a statement on the latest developments in Iraq and in Ferguson, Missouri — two issues he has been following closely each day. First, the President relayed to the natio... Read more »

Weekly Wrap Up: Iraq and Ferguson, Raising the Wage, and Modernizing Government

This week, President Obama gave updates on the continuing humanitarian crisis in Iraq and the situation in Ferguson, Missouri; the White House announced progress on raising the minimum wage; and the Administration launched the U.S. Digital Service to help modernize our government.

Check out what else you may have missed this week in our weekly wrap up.

A Statement on Iraq and Ferguson

Yesterday, President Obama delivered a statement about what's happening in Iraq. He said that although conditions are still dire for Iraqis who are "subjected to ISIL's terror throughout the country," the situation for civilians stranded on Mount Sinjar has "greatly improved and Americans should be very proud of our efforts."

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The President also spoke about the events in Ferguson, Missouri following the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. He called on the Attorney General and the U.S. Attorney on the scene to work with local officials in making sure the investigation is open and transparent. "Now is the time for healing," he added.

I know that emotions are raw right now in Ferguson and there are certainly passionate differences about what has happened. There are going to be different accounts of how this tragedy occurred. There are going to be differences in terms of what needs to happen going forward. That’s part of our democracy. But let’s remember that we’re all part of one American family. We are united in common values, and that includes belief in equality under the law; a basic respect for public order and the right to peaceful public protest; a reverence for the dignity of every single man, woman and child among us; and the need for accountability when it comes to our government.

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