Tag: White House

President Obama to Announce New Executive Action On Guns To Expand Background Checks

President Barack Obama (Courtesy: YouTube)
President Barack Obama (Courtesy: YouTube)

In his continued effort to curb gun violence and strengthen gun laws, President Obama is set to announce an executive action on gun sales at the top of the new year, CNN reports.

While the president and his administration have not yet fleshed out the action, changes include expanding the “background check requirement to additional sellers,” the report notes. Those close to the proposal, however, warn “unforeseen circumstances could delay an announcement.”

From CNN:

Gun control advocates and White House officials say the focus remains on the so-called “gun show loophole,” which allows certain sellers of guns — at gun shows and elsewhere — to avoid conducting background checks before making sales.

Months after the Newtown, Connecticut elementary school massacre that claimed 26 victims, the then-Democratic majority Senate rejected a similar proposal.

Congress would still need to act in order to make background checks fully universal. But advocates and administration lawyers have struck upon a provision in the law that could allow for Obama to expand the background check requirement to additional sellers.

[…]

Aside from the background check provision, people familiar with Obama’s plans say his new gun control announcement will include new funding for government agencies to better enforce existing gun laws.

The White House did not comment on an accurate timeline for the executive order, but White House spokesman Eric Schultz said the president was “expressing urgency” to effectively push forth steps to curb gun violence on his own following the number of mass shootings Obama has had to address in just the last year alone.

article via newsone.com

Michelle Obama Awards 13 Youth Arts Programs at White House

WASHINGTON (AP) — Calling a group of artistic youth the “next generation of fabulous,” Michelle Obama presented national arts and humanities awards to 12 after-school programs from across the country and one international program from Honduras.

Honorees included a musical theater program co-created by comedian Rosie O’Donnell that serves low-income students in New York City.

The first lady presented the awards Tuesday to recognize the nation’s best youth programs that use arts and humanities to develop skills and increase academic achievement. She honored programs that teach ceramics, dance, music, writing, science and more. Each of the U.S. programs will receive $10,000.

The annual White House ceremony included a live performance from winning program, A Commitment to Excellence, or ACTE II. The New York group performed a song and dance medley including “I Got Rhythm,” ”Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” and “Empire State of Mind.”

“Wow…that wasn’t singing, that was ‘sanging,’” Mrs. Obama quipped, referring to the group which she predicted is destined for Broadway.

Mrs. Obama urged continued funding and support for arts and humanities programs, which she said also teach students problem-solving, teamwork and discipline.

“There are millions of kids like these with talent all over the place, and it’s hidden and it’s untapped and that’s why these programs are so important,” Mrs. Obama said. “We wouldn’t know that all this existed without any of these programs and that would be a shame.”

The 2015 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards are hosted by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities in partnership with three national cultural agencies.

The 13 programs recognized with a National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award during the White House ceremony are:

— A Commitment to Excellence (ACTE II), New York.

—Action Arts and Science Program, Sioux Falls, S.D.

—Art High, Pasadena, Calif.

—CityDance DREAM Program, Washington.

—Spy Hop Productions, Salt Lake City.

—Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee.

—Ogden Museum of Southern Art, Inc., New Orleans.

—VSA Indiana, Inc. , Indianapolis.

—The Center for Urban Pedagogy, Inc., Brooklyn, N.Y.

—Deep Center, Inc., Savannah, Ga.

—The Telling Room, Portland, Maine.

—Caldera, Portland, Oregon.

—Organization for Youth Empowerment (OYE), El Progreso, Honduras.

article by Stacy A. Anderson, AP via blackamericaweb.com

Mathematician Katherine G. Johnson, Slugger Willie Mays and the Late Shirley Chisholm to Receive Presidential Medals Of Freedom

Shirley Chisholm, Willie Mays and Katherine G. Johnson (photo via GBN)
2015 Presidential Medal of Freedom Honorees Shirley Chisholm, Willie Mays and Katherine G. Johnson (photo via GBN)

Ninety-seven-year-old Katherine G. Johnson was a pioneer in American space history.  A NASA mathematician, Johnson’s computations have influenced every major space program from Mercury through the Shuttle program.

Willie Mays, 84, who ended his esteemed baseball career with 660 home runs, became the fifth all-time record-holder in the sport.

Shirley Chisholm made history in 1968 by becoming the first African-American woman elected to Congress. She helped found the Congressional Black Caucus, ran for president in 1972, and served seven terms in the House of Representatives.

Now, they are among 17 Americans who will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the U.S., to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.

President Barack Obama will present the awards on November 24 during a ceremony at the White House.

“I look forward to presenting these 17 distinguished Americans with our nation’s highest civilian honor,” the statement reads. “From public servants who helped us meet defining challenges of our time to artists who expanded our imaginations, from leaders who have made our union more perfect to athletes who have inspired millions of fans, these men and women have enriched our lives and helped define our shared experience as Americans.”

Chisholm’s medal will be presented posthumously.

Click here to read the complete list of award-winners.

article by Lynette Hollowayvia newsone.com; additions by Lori Lakin Hutcherson 

White House Announces In-State Tuition Rates at all Public Colleges for U.S. Veterans, Families

Obama And Biden Discuss Job Skills Training In Pennsylvania

WASHINGTON, Nov 11 (Reuters) – All recent U.S. military veterans and their families will now be offered in-state tuition rates to public colleges and universities throughout the country, the White House said on Wednesday.

Announced in honor of the U.S. federal holiday Veterans Day, which fell on Wednesday, the change is part of President Barack Obama‘s “steadfast commitment” to military families and aims to make sure veterans can both access and get the most out of higher education, administration officials said.

Officials also announced the launch of a revamped comparison tool to offer veteran-specific admissions statistics, which aims to help applicants better evaluate programs, and a new effort to curb deceptive enrollment tactics used by schools aiming to recruit veterans.

Cecilia Munoz, a top domestic policy adviser to the president, said while Obama is pressing his administration to push these changes forward quickly, he is also calling on Congress to move forward on three pieces of legislation to help improve veterans’ education.

“These pieces of legislation will really ensure that veterans have the opportunities and assistance to … realize the American dream,” Munoz told reporters on a conference call.

One bill would heighten standards for schools receiving G.I. Bill funds, while another would help protect G.I. Bill benefits for veterans whose schools close mid-term. A third, just introduced on Tuesday, would increase regulation of for-profit colleges, many of which target veterans.

“What we think this does is ramp up the accountability” of those schools, Munoz said, adding that it ensures “we are requiring a high-quality education for veterans that have served us well.”

article by Megan Cassella and Sandra Maler via huffingtonpost.com

Obama: Black Lives Matter Activists Have Legitimate Concerns

President Barack Obama at a White House event on criminal justice reform moderated by The Marshall Project. (PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama said Thursday that the Black Lives Matter movement has “legitimate” concerns, and indicated it was unfair to portray its activists as opposed to law enforcement. At the same time, Obama called on activists to recognize that police officers have a tough job.

Obama said activists are drawing attention to a legitimate concern about whether African-Americans are treated unfairly in specific jurisdictions or are subject to excessive force more frequently. He added that the “overwhelming majority of law enforcement is doing the right thing and wants to do the right thing.”

His comments came at an event at the White House on criminal justice reform that was moderated by The Marshall Project.

“We as a society, particularly given our history, have to take this seriously,” Obama said of the fact that African-Americans are treated unfairly by the criminal justice system. “The African-American community is not just making this up, and it’s not just something being politicized. It’s real, and there’s a history there.”

Obama also said it was important to recognize that the criminal justice system is a reflection of society.

“We as a society, if we are not investing in opportunity for poor kids, and then we expect just the police and prosecutors to keep them out of sight and out of mind, that’s a failed strategy. That’s a failure on our part as a whole,” Obama said. “If kids in the inner city are not getting treatment and opportunity, that’s as much of a problem as if it’s happening to our kids, and we’ve got to think of all our children in that same way.”

The president also addressed “All lives matter,” the frequent response to the “Black lives matter” refrain, saying that organizers of the Black Lives Matter movement were not suggesting black lives are more important than others, but rather that some things happen in black communities that wouldn’t be tolerated in other communities.

“I think everybody understands all lives matter,” Obama said. Everybody wants strong and effective law enforcement, he said, and nobody wants to see police officers hurt who are doing their jobs fairly.

article by Ruby Mellen and Ryan J. Reilly via huffingtonpost.com

First Lady Michelle Obama to Appear on Disney Jr.’s “Doc McStuffins” to Honor Child Health Day

hqdefault_36
Doc McStuffins will feature first lady Michelle Obama in an Oct. 5, 2015, episode. (YOUTUBE SCREENSHOT)

First Lady Michelle Obama is joining forces with Disney’s animated young children’s program about a veterinarian for toys, “Doc McStuffins.” The first lady’s appearance will coincide with Child Health Day as she invites Doc and her friends to the White House.

This special episode of “Doc McStuffins” premieres Monday, October 5 (9:00 a.m., ET/PT).  During Doc’s visit, Obama appoints her the official toy doctor of the White House. To see a clip, watch below:

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

Architect Everett L. Fly and Historian Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham to Receive National Humanities Medals

photo of Everett L. Fly
Everett L. Fly (Photo by Rosalinda Fly)

Architect and preservationist Everett L. Fly, who in 1977 became the first African American to earn a master of landscape architecture degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD), and Thomas Professor of history and of African and African American studies at Harvard Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham are among the 10 recipients of the 2014 National Humanities Medal announced yesterday.

The National Humanities Medal honors an individual or organization whose work has deepened the nation’s understanding of the human experience, broadened citizens’ engagement with history and literature or helped preserve and expand Americans’ access to cultural resources. Fly’s medal citation praises him:

for preserving the integrity of African-American places and landmarks. A landscape architect, Mr. Fly has worked tirelessly to win historical recognition for Eatonville, Florida, Nicodemus, Kansas, and other sites central to African-American history, preserving an important part of our broader American heritage.

Higginbotham’s citation honors her:

for illuminating the African-American journey. In her writings and edited volumes, Dr. Higginbotham has traced the course of African-American progress, and deepened our understanding of the American story.

According to the biography of Fly provided by the NEH, when he noticed that his GSD classes rarely mentioned buildings and places significant to African-American culture and heritage, he began a career-long study of the origin and evolution of historic black settlements in America. Ever since, he has been unearthing and saving historically significant but forgotten or unrecognized Native- and African-American settlements, more than 1,200 to date. “If we want our American cities to be healthy and sustain them in the future,” he says, “we have to find ways to value not just new office buildings and developers that have the most money and political clout. You find collective history in places where everyday people worked and made contributions that are just as valuable as a big businessperson or landowner. If you can find those connections to their history, people can have a closer relationship to their community.”

higginbothamweb_0
Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham (Photo via of Harvard University)

Higginbotham “knew from childhood” that she “wanted to teach, research, and write about the history of African Americans,” according to her biographical sketch. She moved from learning the stories of her family’s history to uncovering and sharing the stories of “individuals, groups, and institutions left out of the traditional American narrative” through her own works and as editor in chief of The Harvard Guide to African-American History and as co-editor of the 12-volume African American National Biography.

At Harvard, she has also fostered social engagement among students in the department of African and African American studies, seeking “a curriculum that said you could be socially responsible and engaged, and yet still be intellectually rigorous—that those two things could be wed together.”

Higginbotham and Fly will receive their medals from President Obama in a White House ceremony on September 10, as the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) enters its golden anniversary year.

article by Jean Martin via harvardmagazine.com

R.I.P. Emma Didlake, 110 Year-Old Woman Believed to Be Nation’s Oldest Veteran

President Barack Obama meets with Emma Didlake, 110, of Detroit, the oldest known World War II veteran, Friday, July 17, 2015, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Barack Obama meets with Emma Didlake, 110, of Detroit, the oldest known World War II veteran, Friday, July 17, 2015, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich. — A Michigan woman who was believed to be the nation’s oldest veteran at 110 has died, about a month after meeting President Barack Obama in the Oval Office.

Emma Didlake died Sunday in West Bloomfield, northwest of Detroit, according to the Oakland County medical examiner’s office.

Didlake was a 38-year-old wife and mother of five when she signed up in 1943 for the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. She served about seven months stateside during the war, as a private and driver.

She spent time with the president in July during a trip to Washington that was arranged by Talons Out Honor Flight, a southwest Michigan chapter of a national nonprofit that provides free, one-day trips for veterans to visit monuments and memorials in the nation’s capital.

“Emma Didlake served her country with distinction and honor, a true trailblazer for generations of Americans who have sacrificed so much for their country,” Obama said Monday afternoon in a statement. “I was humbled and grateful to welcome Emma to the White House last month, and Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to Emma’s family, friends, and everyone she inspired over her long and quintessentially American life.”

Didlake was born in Alabama and moved with her family to Detroit in 1944. She was known to her family as “Big Mama” and recently moved to an assisted living family in suburban Detroit.

She was deemed the oldest U.S. veteran based on information gleaned by Honor Flight representatives through national outreach campaigns.

Granddaughter Marilyn Horne told The Associated Press last month that when Talons Out officials presented her grandmother with a short-sleeved shirt bearing the group’s logo to wear on the trip to Washington, Didlake took a look and said: “‘I don’t have Michelle Obama arms — I’m going to need a jacket.'”

During her visit to the White House, Didlake wore a patriotic-themed neck scarf and sat in her wheelchair in the same spot in the Oval Office where foreign leaders sit when they meet with Obama.

article by Associated Press via nbcnews.com

First Lady Michelle Obama Teams Up With Wale for “Reach Higher” Education Initiative

First Lady Michelle Obama has tapped Wale for her Reach Higher education initiative that will promote higher education and career opportunities for young adults. The program will invite more than 130 college-bound students to the 2015 Beating the Odds Summit in Washington, D.C. These students will represent at-risk, special needs, homeless, foster and other underrepresented youth.

Wale is set to appear at the White House this Thursday to speak with the students and treat them to a show.

“I’m beyond honored and grateful to be involved in the First Lady’s ‘Reach Higher’ initiative and to have the opportunity to sit down with her, as well as perform for the kids of D.C.,” Wale said in a statement. “I believe that the youth are the first step in creating a better country, so to be involved in a program that aims to enrich their lives is truly the greatest reward. Having grown up in Washington, D.C., being invited to the White House by the first lady is a dream come true. Thank you to Mrs. Obama and her entire staff for this opportunity.”

Other participants at the Beating the Odds Summit will include Brown University student Manuel Contreras, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and E! News co-host Terrence Jenkins.

To learn more about the Reach Higher program, visit whitehouse.gov/reach-higher.

article by Dorkys Ramos via bet.com

Cicely Tyson and Rita Moreno Among 2015 Kennedy Center Honorees

George Lucas Cicely Tyson Rita Moreno
George Lucas, Cicely Tyson, Rita Moreno (GETTY IMAGES)

Cicely Tyson, Rita Moreno, George Lucas, singer-songwriter Carole King, conductor Seiji Ozawa and the Eagles have been selected to receive this year’s Kennedy Center Honors, the center said Wednesday.

The artists will be celebrated Dec. 6 at a gala to be broadcast Dec. 29 on CBS.  President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are expected to attend along with other notables from the worlds of showbiz, politics and business.

The Honors gala, now in its 38th year, will again cap a weekend of celebrations to include a private dinner at the U.S. State Department the preceding evening hosted by Secretary of State John Kerry. Honorees receive their colorful medallions at that event. In addition, the Obamas will host honorees and others at the White House prior to the gala performance.

Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein saluted this year’s selections, which were chosen based on the recommendation of the Center’s Special Honors Advisory Committee. Other input is offered by the center’s board of trustees, its artists committee and the public.

Rubenstein praised Tyson for her range of strong female roles on stage and screen that “have broken boundaries for women of color,” and said Moreno’s “iconic spitfire roles” are embedded in the heart of American culture, while Ozawa’s artistic leadership as a conductor has “set a new standard for orchestras around the world.” He

Rubenstein said the music of the Eagles “has endured as the quintessential American rock and roll sound for generations.” The core band members to be feted are Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Timothy B. Schmit and Joe Walsh.

King, another pop hitmaker, has a canon of “heartfelt lyrics and tunes (that) are woven throughout the tapestry of American music.” Films from Lucas have “enriched our world with stories of epic adventure,” said the KenCen chieftain.

Kennedy Center president Deborah Rutter said the latest slate of honorees shares a powerful common theme — artists as history-makers and artists who defy both convention and category. “Each honoree and their career-spanning achievements exemplify a rare quality of artistic bravery,” she said. “They have pushed the limits of their gifts as musicians, actors, and storytellers to inspire generations of Americans and those around the world.”

article by Paul Harris via Variety.com