Yesterday, President Obama demonstrated his continued commitment to increasing the diversity of our federal judiciary, so that it better reflects the nation it serves. He nominated four distinguished women to serve on four different courts—women who not only have the necessary intellect, integrity and fair-mindedness to serve as federal judges, but whose nominations also represent important “firsts” in their state or district: If confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, Judge Carolyn McHugh would be the first woman from Utah to serve on that court.
President Obama today signed a Presidential Memorandum that will shave months, and even years, off the time it takes to review and approve major infrastructure projects. This means that states, local governments, and private developers will be able to start construction sooner, create jobs earlier, and fix our nation’s infrastructure faster. On March 22, 2012, the President issued an Executive Order launching a government-wide initiative to improve the efficiency of federal review and permitting of infrastructure projects. Since then, agencies have expedited the review and permitting of 50 major projects, including bridges, transit , railways, waterways, roads, and renewable energy projects.
Editor's note: This post was originally published on the official blog of the U.S. Department of Education . In only two years, the 12 states with Race to the Top grants continue to show improvements in teaching and learning in their schools. Last week, the U.S. Department of Education released state-specific reports for the 12 Race to the Top states, providing detailed, transparent summaries of each state’s accomplishments and challenges in year two, which covered the 2011-12 school year. The 12 states—Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island and Tennessee—reached a number of benchmarks in year two, as they implemented unique plans built around Race to the Top’s four assurance areas: Implementing college- and career-ready standards and assessments, Building robust data systems to improve instruction, Supporting great teachers and school leaders, and Turning around persistently low-performing schools. read more
President Obama announced today that he wants Mary Jo White, a former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, who has built a reputation as a tough and effective prosecutor with a proven record of bringing criminals to justice, to head up the Security and Exchange Commission in his second term. As U.S. Attorney, White specialized in investigating and prosecuting large scale white collar crimes and complex securities and financial institution fraud — and won convictions against the terrorists responsible for bombing the World Trade Center and American embassies in Africa, as well as John Gotti, the head of the Gambino crime family. As President Obama said during the personnel announcement
Click here to see the photo gallery. This holiday season, the official White House Christmas tree honors our troops, veterans, and military families. Decorated with ornaments handmade by military children from U.S. bases all over the world, the Joining Forces tree stands 18-feet and 6-inches tall in the Blue Room. The tree represents what is best about America, and it reminds us how grateful we are for our service members’ courageous service. At the 2012 Holiday press preview, the First Lady called the Joining Forces tree one of her favorites in the White House: This very special Joining Forces tree is covered with hand-decorated ornaments made by military children living in U.S. bases around the world.
President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, daughters Sasha and Malia, and Marian Robinson participate in the lighting of the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C., Dec. 6, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson) Last night, President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and their daughters, Malia and Sasha, made their way to the Ellipse, just south of the White House, where they helped to light the National Christmas Tree. “We’ve been lighting the National Christmas Tree for 90 years now,” the President said . “In times of war and peace, triumph and tragedy, we’ve always come together to rejoice in the Christmas miracle.” The President used the occasion to describe another Christmas tree — one he saw in a Staten Island neighborhood, devastated by Hurricane Sandy. “This evening, in Midland Beach, New York, on a street lined with houses and businesses devastated by the storm, a great big Christmas tree shines out of the darkness,” he said. “Just a couple of weeks ago, as impacted families were still seeking some sense of getting back to normal, one local nursery donated the tree, another chipped in for the lights and a star, and 70-year-old Tom Killeen and his longtime buddies from the area planted it at the end of the street, overlooking the town beach. As Tom says, the tree has one message: 'It’s Christmas time, not disaster time.' ” The President urged Americans to keep the communities affected by the storm, as well as all those less fortunate, in our hearts this holiday season. First Lady Michelle Obama reads “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” with Rico Rodriguez to children onstage during the lighting of the National Christmas Tree event on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C., Dec. 6, 2012.(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) With the 28-foot blue spruce lit up in white lights and topped with a yellow star, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas here in Washington. Watch the video here .
The Obama Administration has continued to bring all available resources to bear to support the states affected by Hurricane Sandy as they continue to respond and recover from the storm. On Thursday, November 15th, the President travelled to New York, marking his second trip to the region since Sandy made landfall. The President announced that he has asked Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan to continue to work closely with Governors, mayors and local officials in the affected states as they identify longer term priorities to help communities rebuild and recover. SEE THE PHOTO GALLERY FROM SEC DONOVAN'S VISIT TO COMMUNITIES IMPACTED BY SANDY In this new role, Secretary Donovan will coordinate Federal support as States design individual redevelopment plans, identify priorities, and over time work to implement them. This structure will streamline the process for Governors as they seek assistance for longer-term projects and identify community redevelopment priorities. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) continue to provide all available federal resources to support the immediate response and recovery efforts. read more
Click here to see the photo gallery. See the full-size gallery Did you know that before the 1940s Thanksgiving was not on a fixed date but was whenever the President proclaimed it to be? George Washington issued the first Presidential proclamation for the holiday in 1789 . That year he designated Thursday, November 26 as a national day of “public thanksgiving.” The United States then celebrated its first Thanksgiving under its new Constitution. Seventy-four years later, in 1863, Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday on the last Thursday in November .