Dr. Maya Angelou, whose timeless works such as I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings encouraged and stirred the souls of millions of readers, passed away last week at the age of 86.
Dr. Angelou's family arranged a private memorial service in Wake Forest University’s Wait Chapel on Saturday, June 7, at 10 a.m. Eastern Time.
The First Lady, who has called Dr. Angelou one of her "she-roes" as well as a friend, spoke at the service.
You can watch Wake Forest University's video of the service below or read the First Lady's remarks here.
In this week's address, President Obama underscored the importance of helping to lift the burden of crushing student loan debt faced by too many Americans and highlighted the efforts he’s taken to ensure we uphold America's commitment to provide a quality education for all who are willing to work for it. While the President will continue to take action on his own, he urged Congress to do its part and commended Senate Democrats for working on a bill that would help more young people save money.
This Tuesday, June 10, the President is hosting his first-ever Tumblr Q&A -- and he's taking your questions about education, college affordability, and reducing student loan debt. Ask your question here, and be sure to watch at WhiteHouse.gov/Live at 4 p.m. Eastern.
President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address at the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., May 30, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)
There was a lot of action this week, both in Washington and overseas. President Obama traveled to Europe, we announced the first-ever White House Maker Faire, the EPA proposed a rule to curb climate change and make our children healthier, and more.
Check out what else you may have missed in this week's wrap up:President Obama Heads to Europe
President Obama traveled to Europe this week, visiting Poland, Belgium, and France. It was a busy four days overseas, and we have all of the highlights here.
Finishing off the week, the President traveled to Normandy to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day -- and narrated a behind-the-scenes video in honor of the event.
Earlier today — the last day of his current trip across Europe — President Obama traveled to Normandy, France to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day.
After meeting with World War II and post-9/11 U.S. veterans, the President attended the 70th French-American Commemoration D-Day Ceremony at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial at Omaha Beach. In his remarks, he paid tribute to the American and Allied forces who fought during the D-Day landings in June of 1944.
"I’m honored to return here today to pay tribute to the men and women of a generation who defied every danger -- among them, our veterans of D-Day," President Obama said. He went on to thank the people of France for their generosity to Americans who have come "over the generations — to these beaches, and to this sacred place of rest for 9,387 Americans."
This week, the President embarked on a three country tour which took him to Poland, the G7 Summit in Brussels, Belgium and then onto France where the President reaffirmed the United States commitment of support for the people and government of Ukraine, announced broader efforts to strengthen and modernize NATO, highlighted our work to diversify European energy security, and deepened our negotiations around the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
Job growth exceeded 200,000 for the fourth straight month in May, and businesses have now added over a million jobs so far this year. This month’s report continued the trend of steady job growth. While the consistent pace of job gains means the economy has come a long way in recovering from the Great Recession, the President believes that more can and should be done to strengthen economic growth and expand economic opportunity. Continuing to press ahead using his executive authority wherever possible, the President will hold events next week focused on ways to take action to improve college affordability and support working families.
FIVE KEY POINTS IN TODAY’S REPORT FROM THE BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS
1. The private sector has added 9.4 million jobs over 51 straight months of job growth. Today we learned that total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 217,000 in May, mainly reflecting a 216,000 increase in private employment, slightly above the 197,000 average pace over the last twelve months. The three-month moving average of 229,000 is the highest in over a year.
Dexter McCoy discussed college affordability and student loans with Secretary Arne Duncan and Dr. Jill Biden. (Photo credit: U.S. Department of Education)
Dexter McCoy knew that going to college was the right decision for his future, but after graduating this spring from Boston University, he has something else on his mind: repaying about $30,000 in student loans.
Far too many American students, like Dexter, and their families are worried about paying for college or are struggling with student loan payments. Over the past five years, the Administration has been listening to students tell their stories and has taken steps to help – including increasing the maximum Pell Grant by about $1,000 and providing loan repayment options like Pay As You Earn, which caps monthly payments at an amount that based on how much you’re making so student loan bills are more manageable.
But we want to do more. That’s why today, Dexter joined more than a dozen recent graduates, education advocates, economists, and college presidents for a discussion with Dr. Jill Biden and Education Secretary Arne Duncan at the White House about college affordability and student loans.
“It’s the story of many people my age across the country,” Dexter said. “It’s really important to me that the White House is taking steps to address this issue.”
President Barack Obama talks with other G7 Summit leaders before the start of their plenary session on the global economy, in Brussels, Belgium. June 5, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
On the third day of President Obama's four-day European tour, he attended the 2014 G-7 Summit in Brussels, Belgium. The summit brought together like-minded, advanced industrial economies to discuss a number of key issues, including energy security, climate change, the global economy, development, and the situation in Ukraine.
President Barack Obama, with Vice President Joe Biden, announces Sylvia Mathews Burwell as his nominee to succeed Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, in the Rose Garden of the White House, April 11, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
Today, a bipartisan majority of Senators confirmed Sylvia Mathews Burwell as the new Secretary of Health and Human Services. In a statement released this afternoon, President Obama commended the group of Senators and reiterated his confidence in Burwell's leadership.
I applaud the strong, bipartisan majority of Senators who today confirmed Sylvia Mathews Burwell as America’s next Secretary of Health and Human Services. Sylvia is a proven manager who knows how to deliver results, and over her career she has built deep relationships with Democrats and Republicans alike. I’m confident Sylvia’s unparalleled experience will serve her well in her new role as she works to ensure the safety of our food and drug supply, protect our nation from outbreaks or bioterror attacks, keep America at the forefront of medical research, and make sure every American has access to quality, affordable healthcare.
We’re excited to announce that on Tuesday, June 10, at 4:00pm ET President Obama will take to Tumblr to answer your questions about education, college affordability, and reducing student loan debt.
Getting a higher education is the single-most important investment students can make in their own futures. At the same time, it’s never been more expensive. That’s why since taking office, the President has made historic investments to make college more affordable – and it's why he's inviting you to join a conversation about the issue. Starting today, you can submit questions for the President at ObamaIRL.tumblr.com.
President Barack Obama meets with President-elect Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine during a bilateral meeting in Warsaw, Poland, June 4, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Kicking off the second day of his trip to Europe, President Obama took part in a bilateral meeting with Ukrainian President-elect Petro Poroshenko in Warsaw, Poland.
In remarks following the meeting, President Obama said that they discussed the President-elect's plans to bring "peace and order to the east," along with the need for the international community to step up and support Poroshenko's efforts:
The challenge now for the international community is to make sure that we are supporting Petro’s efforts. And the United States has already stepped up in a number of ways. We’re supplementing the assistance that the IMF is providing with $1 billion in additional loan guarantees, and we’ve discussed additional steps that we might take to help during this reform and transition process. We’ve discussed additional steps that we can take to help train and professionalize the Ukrainian law enforcement and military so they can deal with some of the challenges that are still taking place in certain portions of the country. And, in fact, today we announced some additional non-lethal assistance that we can provide -- things like night vision goggles that will help a professional Ukrainian military force do its job.
What They're Saying Around the Country: Support for Commonsense, Responsible Steps to Curb Carbon Pollution
On Monday, as part of the President’s Climate Action Plan, the EPA proposed the first-ever carbon pollution guidelines for power plants. We already regulate pollution like sulfur, arsenic, mercury, and lead, but we let power plants release as much carbon pollution as they want.
The EPA’s proposal will prevent as many as 150,000 asthma attacks in kids each year while helping combat the impacts of global warming, which are already being felt in communities across the country. It provides states the flexibility to meet the standards using the energy sources that work best for them.
These commonsense, responsible steps to curb carbon pollution are already being hailed by editorial boards across the country. Here’s a sample of what they’re saying:
Make no mistake, this is not anti-business. A lot of folks in the utility industry will be pleased to see the regulations move forward, chiefly because it will finally bring some consistency to the market and create new opportunities for renewable power. Meanwhile, burning less coal will also mean reducing harmful and potentially cancer-causing byproducts like mercury and sulfuric acid that are a threat to human health and the environment as well.
Today, with help from the creative band OK Go, we are announcing the date for the first-ever White House Maker Faire: June 18!
Like OK Go, the President is fired up about hosting the first-ever White House Maker Faire, where he will celebrate America’s students and entrepreneurs who are inventing the future by using new tools and techniques to make just about anything in local communities and classrooms.
America has always been a nation of tinkerers, inventors, and entrepreneurs, which has fueled our economic growth. In recent years, a growing number of Americans have gained access to technologies such as 3D printers, laser cutters, easy-to-use design software, and desktop machine tools. These tools are enabling more Americans to design and build almost anything. Across the country, vibrant grassroots communities of innovators, visionaries, and manufacturers are organizing Maker Faires, creating local makerspaces, and mentoring the next generation of inventors.
During the "Ask Me Anything," Administrator McCarthy answered questions on a range of topics -- including President Obama's plan to fight climate change, what people can do in their own communities, and her thoughts on Marvin Gaye.
You can see all of the responses on Reddit, or check out the questions and responses below.
Early this morning, President Obama landed in Warsaw, Poland — his first stop on a four-day trip to Europe in which he will also visit Belgium and France.
Shortly after he landed, the President took part in an arrival ceremony at Warsaw Chopin Airport with President Bronisław Komorowski of Poland. "It is wonderful to be back in Poland," President Obama said, adding that the country is "one of our great friends and one of our strongest allies in the world."
It is a special honor to be here as Poles celebrate the 25th anniversary of the rebirth of Polish democracy. And this year also marks the 15th anniversary of Poland’s membership in NATO. I’m starting the visit here because our commitment to Poland’s security, as well as the security of our allies in Central and Eastern Europe, is a cornerstone of our own security and it is sacrosanct.
On Friday, President Obama will visit Normandy to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion by Allied forces. To honor the Americans who fought and died in the campaign, President Obama and President Hollande will participate in a ceremony at the American cemetery close to Omaha Beach, the site of the American landing in Normandy.
We suggest that Americans wishing to attend the ceremony at the cemetery as part of the general public, please email the U.S. Embassy in Paris for additional information. If you are a World War II veteran attending the ceremony, please email the U.S. Defense Attaché Office in Paris.
We expect large numbers of visitors at the events on the 6th. To aid in your visit, we suggest contacting these U.S. Offices even if you have received tickets in advance so we may assist all Americans as much as possible on this day of events.
Congratulations to the 27 private-sector partners of “Beyond the Grid” – a new Power Africa initiative to unlock investment and growth specifically for off-grid and small-scale energy solutions – announced today by Secretary Moniz at the U.S.-Africa Energy Ministerial in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
President Obama launched Power Africa nearly one year ago to double access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa – electricity needed for students to succeed, businesses to thrive, and African economies to grow. The challenge is greatest beyond the electric grid serving dense urban populations. More than 240 million people live without electricity in rural and peri-urban communities across the six Power Africa focus countries. Too many do not even show up on government plans to expand the grid over the next decade.
But, bolstered by the falling cost of renewable energy generation; rapid advances in energy storage, smart meter, and mobile payment technologies; and innovative business models, new distributed energy companies are now delivering clean, reliable energy in Africa at a competitive price point. While the market is still young, it holds great promise to follow the mobile phone in leapfrogging centralized infrastructure across Africa.
Beyond the Grid will double down on Power Africa’s support for this potentially game-changing sector, building on more than 25 small-scale energy projects already in the Power Africa pipeline. Beyond the Grid’s 27 founding partners – including impact investors, venture philanthropists, clean-energy enterprises, and practitioners – have committed to invest over $1 billion over the next five years to seed and scale distributed energy solutions for millions of African homes, businesses, schools, and other public facilities.
Here at the White House, we've been busy working to develop a Write API for We the People, our online petitions platform.
The API (which stands for Application Programming Interface) is a set of methods that will eventually allow people to sign White House petitions using new technologies, and on sites other than WhiteHouse.gov. While We the People already has more than 14 million users, we want to open up the platform -- and make it even easier to petition the White House.
That's why, last week, we invited our Write API beta testers here to the White House for a hackathon -- a chance for civically minded technologists, developers, and open-data enthusiasts to code projects based on the API -- as part of the second annual National Day of Civic Hacking.
Last week, instead of recording his weekly address at the White House as usual, President Obama taped it at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
In his address, the President discussed the EPA's new actions to cut carbon pollution — and at the medical center, he visited children whose asthma is aggravated by air pollution.
Take a look at what the President and the kids had to say — and pass this on:
If you agree that we need to fight climate change and its effects on our communities, add your name to stay involved with the President's Climate Action Plan.
This morning, the Obama administration put forward the first-ever plan to reduce carbon pollution from power plants. Cutting carbon emissions will help prevent up to 6,500 premature deaths and 150,000 asthma attacks among children. It will also reduce electricity bills by approximately 8 percent by increasing energy efficiency and reducing demand in the electricity system, while creating tens of thousands of jobs across the country. We have set limits for arsenic, mercury, and lead pollution, but we let power plants emit as much carbon pollution as they want – until today.
For decades, state, city, county, and tribal leaders have led the way in reducing pollution, making our communities healthier and cleaner. This carbon pollution standard proposal puts tools in the hands of each state – there’s no one-size-fits-all approach here. Governors will have flexibility to meet the proposed standards using the energy sources that work best for each state.
And let’s remember that the idea of setting higher standards to cut carbon pollution isn’t new. 47 states have utilities that run demand-side energy efficiency programs, 38 have renewable portfolio standards or goals, and 10 have market-based greenhouse gas emissions programs. More than 1,000 mayors have signed a climate protection agreement. And county and tribal leaders are on the front lines dealing with climate impacts every day.
As co-chairs of the President’s bipartisan State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, we have had the chance to travel to regions throughout the country. The community leaders we’ve met with are not consumed by Washington ideological debates; they want to discuss how they are dealing with the floods, fires, droughts, and super storms that are putting the health and well-being of their communities at stake. And in addition to dealing with the existing impacts of climate change, these elected leaders are taking bold action to reduce the carbon pollution that is causing climate change.