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Friday, April 29, 2011

Latinos Meet The President

President Obama met with influential leaders of the Hispanic community to discuss the importance of fixing the broken immigration system, education, and his deep disappointment that Congressional action on immigration reform has stalled and that the DREAM Act failed to pass in the U.S. Senate after passing the U.S. House with a bipartisan majority in December.

Emilio Estafan, Lili Estafan, and Don Francisco,
a Chilean television personality on the Univision network, pose at theWhite House. Photo/CD Brown.

Statement from White House Press Office

The President talked about the broken immigration system, including concerns he heard about when he met with leaders from the law enforcement, faith and business sectors last week. The President reiterated his concern that we educate the best and brightest but then ship that talent overseas or expel talented young people who have grown up as Americans and want to further their education or serve in our military. The President reiterated his commitment to comprehensive immigration reform that both strengthens security at our borders while restoring accountability to the broken immigration system, and pointed out that perpetuating a broken immigration system is not an option if America is to win the future.

The President also noted that the only way to fix what’s broken about our immigration system is through legislative action in Congress, and that he cannot unilaterally change the law. He made it clear that while his Administration continues to improve our legal immigration system, secure our borders, and enhance our immigration enforcement so that it is more effectively and sensibly focused on criminals, more voices are needed to elevate the immigration debate beyond the politics, false debates, and rhetoric that have dominated the issue.

The President urged meeting participants to help elevate the debate, and to reach out in their unique capacities and in a public way to forge partnerships across sectors and across demographics. There was broad agreement that more voices are needed to change the tone of the debate so that Congress acts to fix the broken system in a way that upholds America's history as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. The President reaffirmed that he will continue to work to forge bipartisan consensus and will intensify efforts to lead a civil debate on this issue in the coming weeks and months. Prior to meeting with the President, senior Administration officials also briefed participants on a range of issues of importance to Hispanics and all Americans including the economy and education.

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Also included in the meeting were Eva Longoria and Rosaria Dawson.   Both of whom will be present at this year's White House Correspondents' Dinner.

The Month of May Acknowledges Asian Americans, the Elderly, and Foster Care Service

The Month of May is not just for Cinco De Mayo and Memorial Day.

The president is also honoring Older Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Law Day, and National Foster Care, all with distinct proclamations.

On honoring older Americans the president writes: Older Americans are now living longer, healthier, and richer lives than ever before. As the eldest of the baby boomers turn 65, our Nation can look forward to the contributions of a new generation of American seniors. Each year, we set aside the month of May to honor older Americans, celebrate their role in steering the course of our history, and recognize their valuable insights and wisdom. Read more.

On recognizing Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month the president writes: This month, our Nation celebrates the contributions and accomplishments of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI). Our AAPI communities have roots that span the globe, but their stories of striving and success are uniquely American. As we celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we
recognize the entrepreneurship and fortitude of individuals who have helped build our country and shape the American dream for centuries.  Read more.

On recognizing Law Day, USA: At the core of our Nation's values is our faith in the ideals of equality and justice under law. It is a belief embedded in our most cherished documents, and honored by President Eisenhower when he established Law Day in 1958 as "a day of national dedication to the principles of government under law." Each Law Day, we uphold our commitment to the rule of law and celebrate its protection of the freedoms we enjoy. Honoring President John Adams, President Obama makes note of Adams' resolve to make the law equal for all. (We certainly could use a little more that these days.)  More

On National Foster Care Month: For nearly half a million youth in foster care across our country, the best path to success we can give them is the chance to experience a loving home where they can feel secure and thrive. During National Foster Care Month, we renew our commitment to ensuring a brighter future for foster youth, and we celebrate the selfless individuals who make a meaningful difference in their lives. 

Young people in foster care are in the system through no fault of their own, and each of our Nation’s children deserves a stable home and a devoted family. Strong support structures provide children with the environment needed to learn, grow, and reach their greatest potential. Permanence is critical to the future success of foster youth and must be a key component of foster care initiatives. Learn how the Obama administration supports foster care.

On the National Day of Prayer - NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 5, 2011, as a National Day of Prayer. I invite all citizens of our Nation, as their own faith or conscience directs them, to join me in giving thanks for the many blessings we enjoy, and I ask all people of faith to join me in asking God for guidance, mercy, and protection for our Nation. More.

See. The operative word here is God, not Allah. Putting to rest the notion that the president is Muslim.

Admiral Rochon Promoted to Homeland Security Position

Chief Usher Admiral Stephen W. Rochon, a highly decorated Coast Guard officer who has dedicated four years of service to the Executive Residence at the White House, will leave the White House to become the Principal Executive for Strategic Integration at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), one of the largest and most complex components of the Department of Homeland Security. Admiral Rochon is the eighth person and first ever African American to serve as Director of the President’s Executive Residence and “Chief Usher.”

Admiral Rochon on the White House grounds at the 2011 Easter Egg Roll.  Photo/CD Brown.
President George W. Bush appointed Admiral Rochon to the position in February 2007 and President Obama asked him to continue when he took office in January 2009. Admiral Rochon has successfully led a team of Executive Residence employees in executing major events from state visits and Presidential press conferences, to the annual Easter Egg Roll and East Room events, while preserving the most historic house in America.

“I am truly delighted to accept this great opportunity to assist the U.S. Customs and Border Protection with developing and implementing a strategic integration program to help protect our U.S. borders,” said Admiral Rochon. “My past four years as the Director of the Executive Residence and Chief Usher at the White House has been most rewarding, and I will greatly miss my phenomenal staff, who proudly provides superior service to the President and his First Family, but I am humbled and grateful to the President for having the confidence in me to take on this new challenge, and I look forward to returning home to the Department of Homeland Security.”

In his new role at CBP, Admiral Rochon will work on a wide range of integrated efforts to enhance border security, as well as to facilitate the flow of legitimate trade and travel across our nation’s borders. He will assist in ensuring that CBP’s resources and activities are closely aligned with measurable outcomes of improved homeland security.

Admiral Rochon comes from a military family with members serving in nearly every branch of the military. In 1970, he enlisted in the Coast Guard and was quickly promoted up the enlisted and officer ranks where he developed an extensive background in personnel management, strategic planning, and effective interagency coordination. As the Coast Guard’s Commander of the Maintenance and Logistics Command Atlantic, Admiral Rochon was responsible for naval and civil engineering, financial management, personnel, legal, civil rights, electronic systems support, and contingency planning across 40 U.S. states, Puerto Rico, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

A New Orleans native, Admiral Rochon served as the Coast Guard's Director of Personnel Management in the aftermath of the 2005 hurricanes, providing support for Coast Guard personnel and their families, and ensuring they had housing and new job assignments. He helped rebuild and preserve the historic significance of three turn-of-the-century homes in New Orleans following the 2005 hurricanes. Admiral Rochon graduated with a BS degree in Business Management from Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans and a MS degree in National Resource Strategy from the National Defense University in Washington, D.C.

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sideNote:   Congratulations to Admiral Rochon on the assignment of his new post.  He was quite the celebrity at this year's White House Easter Egg Roll, taking pictures with those of us who appreciate his service.  We asked him if he was related to actress Lela Rochon.  The official word was... "We're all related", said Rochon.  Officially, however, they are not. 

President Obama Announces Key Changes To National Security Team

In a statement in the East Room of the White House Monday, President Obama announced key changes to the U.S. National Security team.

President Obama with Gates, Panetta, and Patreus. Photo/CD Brown.
 The president pegged CIA director, Leon Panetta to be Secretary of Defense, replacing Robert Gates.  Gates served 26 years in the CIA and the National Security Council. Under President George H.W. Bush Gates served as Director of Centeral Intelligence. 

"I am confident Bob Gates will be remembered as one of the finest Defense Secretaries in American history.  And I will always be grateful for his service", said President Obama.

Panetta - a former Republican turned Democrat - has more than 40 years of public service.  His career began in the Army as an intelligence officer in the 1960s.  Speaking of Gates Panetta said, "He’s a public servant without equal whose tenure as Secretary of Defense will go down as one of the most consequential and important examples of leadership in the history of the American government."
 
President Obama also nominated General David Patreus to serve as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Petraeus, a highly revered commander, had been serving as U.S. commander in Afghanistan (post Stanley McChrystal).  Petraeus has had bouts of illness during his tenure.  In 2009 he was diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer in  He underwent two months of successful radiation treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Last June, Petraeus momentarily fainted while being questioned by the Senate Armed Services Committee. He quickly recovered and was able to walk without assistance and attributed the episode to possible dehydration.

In accepting his new position, Petraeus said, "In short, I have enormous respect for the men and women of the agency and, if confirmed, I will do my utmost to serve, to represent, and to lead those great intelligence professionals, as well as to work closely with the DNI and the other intel community leaders, as Director Panetta has done so superbly over the past two and a half years."

President Obama also appointed U.S. Marine Lt. Gen. John Allen to lead the mission in Afghanistan when Petraeus steps down.

With the newly appointed team in place the president called his nominees men with "enormous integrity and talent who’ve devoted their lives to keeping our nation strong and secure."

The president said that with the "urgent challenges" the country is facing that he was "very, very grateful to each of them for accepting these new assignments." 

"In Iraq we’re working to bring the rest of our troops home as Iraqis secure their democracy. In Afghanistan we’re moving into a new phase, transferring responsibility for security to Afghan forces, starting to reduce American forces this summer, and building a long-term partnership with the Afghan people."

The president mentioned protecting Libya (though didn't mention how long US forces would remain in the region), and said "it was absolutely critical" that we had this team in place so that we can stay focused on our missions, maintain our momentum, and keep our nation secure". 

"We cannot compromise our ability to defend our nation or our interests around the world."

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First Lady Gets Tough Questions From Kids

The First Lady gets questioned by children of administration employees
on Take Our Sons and Daughters To Work Day. Photo/CD Brown.
First Lady Michelle Obama was asked questions about what she does in role of First Lady, and more, as sons and daughters of Obama Administration employees descended on the White House Monday for Take Our Sons and Daughters To Work Day.

About 200 young girls and boys got to visit the White House and speak with the First Lady to ask her a myriad of questions; ranging from her likes and dislikes to what it's like living in the White House.
When asked how surprise she was when her husband became President of the United States, Mrs. Obama called it "a shocking thing" to see the first African American president.  "And I think a lot of people didn’t believe that it was possible.  But I think a lot of people hoped that it could be possible, right?  Because we’re a country that’s all about equality, right?  That’s what my kids say.  Equal means equal.  That means everybody has the same opportunities to do whatever they want to do.  And I think it’s cool when that actually works on so many different levels, even the presidency of the United States."



Mrs. Obama also said she was "excited" and would be just as excited when a woman becomes president of the United States.

"And that's going to happen one day, as well.  And that will be exciting and shocking for the very same reasons", Mrs. Obama answered.

Mrs. Obama was also asked what her favorite color is (purple being one of them), her favorite sport (tennis, basketball), and her favorite part of the White House (the Rose Garden).

On living in the White House Mrs. Obama said she was also shocked seeing the residents area of  the White House, but has since gotten over it.

"I went on a tour just like everybody else did.  So I knew what to expect on this floor (East Room), but then you go upstairs where the President and the President’s family lives, and it was a shock.  But it’s not a shock anymore.  It’s just kind of normal."

When we asked one of the students what it was like talking with the First Lady Lady, she replied:  "It was awesome and overwhelming."


Mrs. Obama takes a question from a young girl at the White House. Photo/CD Brown.
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 Designed to be more than a career day, the Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work® program goes beyond the average “shadow” an adult. Exposing girls and boys to what a parent or mentor in their lives does during the work day is important, but showing them the value of their education, helping them discover the power and possibilities associated with a balanced work and family life, and providing them an opportunity to share how they envision the future and begin steps toward their end goals in a hands-on and interactive environment is key to their achieving success. Each year, we develop new interactive activities and partnerships that will assist us in taking girls and boys to the future they dream of.

- From the Daughters and Sons To Work web site.



Wednesday, April 27, 2011

White House Reveals Obama's Birth Certificate: BORN IN THE USA!

In what may prove to be a stunner for some, and an 'I told you so' for others, the White House has officially addressed the President's birth certificate issue (again). Live in the James Brady press room earlier this morning before departing for Chicago to do a taping for the Oprah Winfrey Show, President Obama made a statement surrounding the authenticity of his birth, saying "we don't have time to focus on the silliness of this issue."

And so I just want to make a larger point here. We've got some enormous challenges out there. There are a lot of folks out there who are still looking for work. Everybody is still suffering under high gas prices. We're going to have to make a series of very difficult decisions about how we invest in our future but also get a hold of our deficit and our debt -- how do we do that in a balanced way.

And this is going to generate huge and serious debates, important debates. And there are going to be some fierce disagreements -- and that’s good. That’s how democracy is supposed to work. And I am confident that the American people and America’s political leaders can come together in a bipartisan way and solve these problems. We always have.
But we’re not going to be able to do it if we are distracted. We’re not going to be able to do it if we spend time vilifying each other. We’re not going to be able to do it if we just make stuff up and pretend that facts are not facts. We’re not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers.

We live in a serious time right now and we have the potential to deal with the issues that we confront in a way that will make our kids and our grandkids and our great grandkids proud. And I have every confidence that America in the 21st century is going to be able to come out on top just like we always have. But we’re going to have to get serious to do it.

I know that there’s going to be a segment of people for which, no matter what we put out, this issue will not be put to rest. But I’m speaking to the vast majority of the American people, as well as to the press. We do not have time for this kind of silliness. We’ve got better stuff to do. I’ve got better stuff to do. We’ve got big problems to solve. And I’m confident we can solve them, but we’re going to have to focus on them -- not on this.
 
White House Communications Director, Dan Pfeiffer offers the following on the White House blog:


In 2008, in response to media inquiries, the President’s campaign requested his birth certificate from the state of Hawaii. The state sent the campaign the President’s birth certificate, the same legal documentation provided to all Hawaiians as proof of birth in state, and the campaign immediately posted it on the Internet. That birth certificate can be seen here.
When any citizen born in Hawaii requests their birth certificate, they receive exactly what the President received. In fact, the document posted on the campaign website is what Hawaiians use to get a driver’s license from the state and the document recognized by the Federal Government and the courts for all legal purposes. That’s because it is the birth certificate. This is not and should not be an open question.
The President believed the distraction over his birth certificate wasn’t good for the country. It may have been good politics and good TV, but it was bad for the American people and distracting from the many challenges we face as a country. Therefore, the President directed his counsel to review the legal authority for seeking access to the long form certificate and to request on that basis that the Hawaii State Department of Health make an exception to release a copy of his long form birth certificate. They granted that exception in part because of the tremendous volume of requests they had been getting. President Barack Obama's long form birth certificate can be seen here .

At a time of great consequence for this country – when we should be debating how we win the future, reduce our deficit, deal with high gas prices, and bring stability to the Middle East, Washington, DC, was once again distracted by a fake issue. The President’s hope is that with this step, we can move on to debating the bigger issues that matter to the American people and the future of the country.

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We totally agree.   As I was approached earlier this week by a gentleman hoping to win a Pulitzer for information he claims only he has on the President's birth, I am hopeful that today's information will finally prove to the likes of Donald Trump, and others, that President Obama was, in fact (as Bruce Springstein sang) BORN IN THE USA!
 
One more item.  Saw this posting on Twitter:    / Now that #PresidentObama released his birth certificate #DonaldTrump should show us his real hair /.

Related/Updated
Private Investigator Says President Obama Uses Deceased Man's SSN.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

White House Easter Roll: Sunny Skies, Hot Temps, A Bunny and Bo

Aw, Spring.   The time of year when the White House boasts beautiful flowers of all types in its garden, and where thousands of kids come to play and hang out with the First Family during the annual Easter Egg Roll, a tradition that started in 1876 by then President Rutherford B. Hayes.
President and First Lady cheer on youngsters during the annual White House Easter Egg Roll.  Photo/CD Brown.
Kids near and far attended the traditional rolling of the Easter egg down the White House lawn (with a spoon) as did as a few celebrities to boot.   Even Department of Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood braved the long lines of kids and parents, bringing with him his two grandchildren.

Rising rock star Willow Smith performed a few of her hits, while Colbie Caillat got things started by singing the National Anthem.  Weather guy Al Roker was on hand at one of the cooking stations preparing crepes with Mrs. Obama and 'Live With Regis and Kelly' talkshow host, Kelly Ripa.   Her handsome husband, Mark Consuelo, participated in a children's reading of 'Robot Zot'.  Speaking of husbands, Kimora Lee Simmons bought along her former and present husbands, and kids of both, to enjoy the festivities.  Actor, and DC Native, Jeffrey Wright brought along a couple of kids for the amusingly fun time as well.

The President participated in several exercise stations, part of the First Lady's Let's Move! initiative, including the basketball station (not surprising since the President loves the sport) with members of the Harlem Globetrotters.  The Commander In Chief also participated at the tennis station where he was photographed serving a tennis ball between his legs, Rafael Nadal style.  
The First Family also read to a group youngsters with First Dog Bo in tow.

"Everybody likes to read?   We've got some great readers in our family", said the President before his two daughters began to read Where The Wild Things Are.   Mrs. Obama and the President read from a book that Sasha and Milia were read to as small children called Chicka-Chicka-Boom-Boom.

Celebrating Easter just wouldn't be complete without a Sunday church service.  The First Family attended Easter services at the historic Shiloh Baptist Church.

Related
History of the White House Easter Egg Roll
Facts About the 2011 Easter Egg Roll
Time Mag's Top Ten Things You Didn't Know About Easter

Our Photos

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

One Year Later And The Oil Is Still There

Today marks the one year mark of the BP/Deep Water Horizon oil spill off the coast of New Orleans.   Over 200 million barrels of oil spilled into its waters when an oil rig exploded, killing almost a dozen people.  The event has been lauded as the worst oil spill since the Exxon Valdez spill of 1989.

Now, one year later, the costly affects of the spill have many doubting whether its shores will return to normalcy, whether its sea food is safe, and perhaps most of all -  the cost of human suffering.

Organizations like National Research Damage Assessment are tasked with assessing the damages, a fund for the victims has been created to compensate workers (though most say they have received too little or next to nothing in compensation, and have sued the fund for negligence), and families talk about losing loved ones.

Recent reports suggest that there are still substantial amounts of oil beneath the Gulf's surface (video), while BP officials argue that dispersants have gotten rid of 80 percent of the spilled oil.

Despite BP's disaster in the Gulf, and being under investigation by the FBI, the company is still being awarded government contracts.

The Obama administration, in a statement issued today, says his administration continues to hold BP accountable and continues to monitor the spill's aftermath.  

"We continue to hold BP and other responsible parties fully accountable for the damage they’ve done and the painful losses that they’ve caused. We’re monitoring seafood to ensure its continued safety and implementing aggressive new reforms for offshore oil production in the Gulf so that we can safely and responsibly expand development of our own energy resources. And EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson is leading a task force to coordinate the long-term restoration effort based on input from local scientists, experts, and citizens."

The administration, shortly after the BP spill, put a moritorium on deep water drilling, but has since lifted the moritorium and has called for cleaner fuel alternatives to reduce U.S. dependence on oil.

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Related
Images of Gulf Oil Spill
Scientists Oppose Use of Dispersants
Oil Spill Contained?
Films:  BP Says It's Sorry | Hip Hop Rev On Going Green

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

White House 2011 Easter Egg Roll

The White House announces the program, activities, and talent line-up for the 2011 White House Easter Egg Roll, a tradition in its 133rd year.

This year’s theme is “Get Up and Go!” The theme focuses on promoting health and wellness and encouraging children to lead healthy and active lives. This is a central part of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative, which is a national effort to combat childhood obesity.


The Easter Egg Roll is the largest annual public event at the White House.

30,000 people from all 50 states and the District of Columbia have received tickets to the event.

For the third year in a row, tickets were distributed online. Members of the public from all over the country had the opportunity to enter an online lottery for a chance to win tickets to the event. Over 200,000 tickets were requested via the online lottery, and guests from all 50 states and the District of Columbia were selected as winners.

The timing for this year’s event has been extended even further than previous years, with a start time of 7:30 AM and an end time of 6:20 PM. 30,000 tickets have been distributed in 5 different groups. Each group of 6,000 guests will be able to spend two full hours on the South Lawn.

The Ellipse will have an entertainment pavilion. Guests are able to enjoy musical acts and games as they prepare to enter the South Lawn. DJs and the official Emcee of the Easter Egg Roll will be on the Ellipse welcoming guests in, spinning music, and getting the guests excited about their two hours on the South Lawn!

The entire Easter Egg Roll event, including all of the headliner music acts and Storytime Stage readers, will be broadcast live on www.whitehouse.gov/live. A full schedule will be posted on the morning of April 25th so people from across the country will be able to participate in the event.

With the “Get Up and Go!” theme, all of the activities on the South Lawn promote healthy and active living. The activities include obstacle courses, yoga, dancing, playing sports with professional athletes, and of course, the traditional egg roll. The full list of events is below:

An Easter egg hunt & the traditional Easter egg roll

Rockin’ Egg Roll Stage - Live musical performances for all ages.

Storytime Stage - Celebrities bring books to life.Hop To It! - An instructional dance party on the South Lawn! Get up and go jump rope, hula hoop, dance and more. Eggtivity Zone Obstacle Course - A series of obstacles and drills, including soccer, football and baseball obstacle courses.Basketball and Tennis- Get hands-on training from basketball and tennis pros on the President’s court!Yoga Garden- Come enjoy a session of yoga from professional instructors. Eggspress Yourself - An arts and crafts workshop filled with egg dying, egg decorating, face painting and more.

Play with your Food - Family Farmer’s Market, Kids’ Kitchen, Make-your-own Garden, Buzzing about Bees, and more led by the White House chefs and celebrity guest chefs. This activity center is built around the White House Kitchen Garden.

Talent Line-up

Colbie Caillat, Greyson Chance, Willow Smith, Mindless Behavior, John Lithgow, Sesame Street, and Little Beats and DJ WillyWow will perform on the Rockin’ Egg Roll Stage. Colbie Caillat will sing the National Anthem.

Reading on the Storytime Stage will be Kelly Ripa, Mark Consuelos and family; John Lithgow; Elmo, Maria and Gordon of Sesame Street; John Bemelmans Marciano; Kristi Yamaguchi; and Geena Davis.

Chefs Jacque Pepin, Art Smith and trainer Az Ferguson, Marcella Valladolid, Carla Hall and the White House Chefs will prepare healthy eating demonstrations in the Play with your Food station.

In the Eggtivity Zone, professional players and coaches from professional sports teams will teach kids how to play sports and show kids easy, fun ways to stay active and fit.

Athletes participating in the Eggtivity Zone include Olympic stars Tyson Gay and Bryan Clay; Lorenzo Alexander with the NFL; DC United’s Bryan Namoff, Josh Wolff and Ben Olsen; the Washington Nationals Jim Riggleman, Adam Laroche and Ryan Zimmerman; along with Sean Casey and others.

Alana Beard and Crystal Langstrom from the WNBA, Nick Young from the Wizards, former basketball player Darryl Dawkins, and the Harlem Globetrotters will participate in basketball.

Chris Evert, Katrina Adams, Brian Vahaly, Mal Washington, Patrick Monroe and Chanda Rubin will be joining kids on the tennis courts, along with the Washington Kastles Mascots.

The Hop To It Stage offers a variety of interactive dance, sports, and other physical fun, including Zumba, the National Double Dutch League, the Happiness Club, Rhythm Child, and KidTribe.

The Isiserettes, an Iowa based drill team and drum corp, will perform on the South Lawn, as well as help guide the visitors on and off of the South Lawn. The United States Marine Corps Band will perform again this year.

DJ Rekha and DJ WillyWow will perform on the ellipse. The official Emcee of the 2011 White House Easter Egg Roll is Tommy McFly. He will introduce acts on the music stage and get everyone excited about the different Egg Roll activities to make for another wonderful Easter Egg Roll.

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//Fun Facts//

Ticketing

1) 205,739 tickets were requested through the online public lottery.

2) 48,164 applications were received through the online public lottery.

3) This was the third year an online lottery was used. This gave people from all over the United States the chance to attend.

4) At least one family from all 50 states was successful in the public lottery.

5) About 3,000 tickets were distributed to public schools in DC, Maryland and Virginia.

6) Over 4,000 tickets were distributed to military families.


Eggs

7) The souvenir wooden eggs are available in four pastel colors – purple, green, yellow, and pink. They include the stamped signatures of the President and First Lady.

8) The wooden eggs are produced through a process of wood turning and barrel dying. They are made in the US from FSC-certified, US hardwood.

9) The souvenir wooden eggs will be given to children 12 and younger at the event.

10) A total of 83,000 souvenir wooden eggs were produced for this year’s event.

11) The National Park Foundation produces and sells the rest of the souvenir wooden eggs. You can purchase them at http://easter.nationalparks.org/ .

12) 14,500 hard-boiled and dyed eggs will be used between the egg roll and the egg hunt.

13) 4,500 boiled white eggs will be decorated at the Egg Dying station throughout the course of the day.

14) “Chirping eggs” will be available for visually impaired children participating in the Egg Roll and Egg Hunt.

Healthy Activities

(15) The activities are centered on the theme of the event, “Get Up and Go!” The theme is based on the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative to encourage healthy and active living. 16) The Play with your Food station is a hands-on environment that enforces the message that nutritious eating is both delicious and energizing. 17) What’s in Season features seasonal produce from the White House gardens and local organic farms. Kids can explore the different fruits and vegetables, learn about seasonal eating, and learn how to find fresh produce in the junior farmer’s market. 18) Kids are able to take home seedling cups in egg cartons to start their own garden in Make Your Own Garden.19) Children will have the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of basketball and tennis from professional athletes on the President’s court.20) Kids will be able to relax and learn yoga moves in the Yoga Garden.21) The Egg Roll is accessible to children in wheelchairs with the addition of wheelchair matting.

History

22) The Easter Egg Roll is a White House tradition dating back to 1878 and President Rutherford B. Hayes, but there are records of informal egg rolling events as early as Abraham Lincoln’s administration.

23) After the Civil War, egg rolling often took place on the Capitol building’s grounds. But by 1876, Congressmen grew tired of the torn up grounds and rowdy crowds and passed a law prohibiting the use of the Capitol Grounds as a play area.

(24) On Easter day in 1878, when the ban on egg rolling at the Capitol went into effect, some claim that President Hayes saw tearful children while riding by the Capitol Grounds in his carriage and invited them to play on the White House lawn.

25) By 1899, the White House Easter Egg Roll had become quite popular, with over 8,000 people in attendance. This year, over 30,000 were invited to attend the event.

26) The Easter Egg Roll has been held at the White House every year except during World War I, World War II and the Truman Renovation of the White House, when it was moved to other Washington locations or cancelled.

27) President Ronald Reagan was the first President to hide autographed eggs for children to find in the Egg Hunt.

28) President Nixon and First Lady Pat Nixon were the first to include the White House Easter Bunny in the festivities.

29) President George H.W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush were the first to affix the signature of the President and First Lady to the commemorative egg.

30) First Lady Grace Coolidge was known for her love of pets, but none were more famous than her pet raccoon, Rebecca, who made an appearance at the White House Easter Egg Roll in the 1920’s.

Easter Bunny and Ceremony

31) The First Lady is the official host of the White House Easter Egg Roll. 32) The event cannot officially be called the White House Easter Egg Roll until the opening ceremony, when the Easter Bunny makes an appearance.

Poster Contest

33) The White House held a poster competition and invited local Elementary and Middle school children in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia to submit entries for the 2011 White House Easter Egg Roll Official Poster.

34) There were a total of 464 posters submitted from 135 schools.

35) Students were asked to incorporate this year’s theme, “Get Up and Go!” into their posters.

36) The First Lady selected the winning designs. There were two winners again this year.

37) Morgan Ferrans was selected for the official 2011 Easter Egg Roll Program Cover. Morgan is twelve years old and attends Maryvale Preparatory School in Brooklandville, Maryland.

38) Alyssa Pendergast’s submission was selected for the official 2011 Easter Egg Roll Poster. Alyssa is twelve years old and attends Harper Park Middle School in Leesburg, Virginia.

39) Morgan and Alyssa will be attending the White House Easter Egg Roll along with their classes, teachers and parents.

Sustainability

40) All goody bags are recyclable and are made from recycled materials. 41) The packaging of the eggs, made from recyclable paperboard, was designed to minimize waste and environmental impact. 42) The wooden souvenir eggs are made in the US from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) - certified US hardwood. 43) 90 trash bins and 90 recycling bins will be placed throughout the South Lawn and Ellipse.

Volunteers

44) 10 professional American Sign Language interpreters are volunteering their time for the event. There will also be 6 nurses and 2 physicians from George Washington University.45) The White House Easter Egg Roll is made possible by the hard work of close to 1,200 volunteers.46) All volunteers attended at least one training session and some traveled from as far away as Germany to be part of this year’s event.47) Many volunteers will arrive for their shifts as early as 5:00 AM to help get the Easter Egg Roll rolling.

Fun in Numbers

(48) The Egg Roll will use 72 wooden spoons and 8 whistles.

(49) The event will incorporate almost 60 volunteer face painters.

50) 2,000 eggs will be used to provide breakfast for the volunteers.

Dr. Biden to Deliver Commencement Addresses

Dr. Jill Biden will deliver two commencement addresses this spring at Montgomery County Community College in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania and at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island.

On Sunday, May 15th, Dr. Biden will address the 61st graduating class at Salve Regina. Founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1947, Salve Regina is a Catholic, coeducational university of the arts and sciences that enrolls more than 2,500 undergraduate and graduate students from across the U.S. and around the world. Salve Regina University is also the home of the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy, which encourages international dialogue to achieve a more peaceful world and prepares citizens for an informed and active role in local, national, and world affairs.

On Thursday, May 19th, Dr. Jill Biden will address graduates at Montgomery County Community College’s 44th Commencement Ceremony at the Valley Forge Convention Center in King of Prussia, PA. Montgomery County Community College has campuses in Blue Bell and Pottstown and enrolls close to 34,000 students in credit and non-credit programs. The College has a nationally recognized, award-winning faculty committed to working closely with students to ensure their success. Through the College’s work in the Achieving the Dream effort, they have made notable progress in the areas of developmental studies.
Dr. Biden, an educator of 30 years, has taught English in community colleges for the past 18 years and continues to teach English courses at a community college in Northern Virginia. Last year, Dr. Biden addressed the University of Delaware’s winter graduating class and spoke at the Columbia University Teachers’ College Doctoral Commencement.

First Lady Michelle Obama will also deliver commencement addresses.  Beginning May 7th, she is scheduled to speak at the University of Northern Iowa, Spelman College in Atlanta Georgia on May 15th, and Quantico Middle High School on June 3rd.  She will speak on May 20th to graduates and families at West Point which helps underscore Mrs. Obama’s commitment to supporting and highlighting the strength of America’s military and their families.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Tax Payers' Delight?

President Obama and Vice President Biden’s Tax Returns and Tax Receipts

Today, the President released his 2010 federal income and gift tax returns. He and the First Lady filed their income tax return jointly and reported an adjusted gross income of $1,728,096. The vast majority of the family’s income is the proceeds from the sale of the President’s books. The Obamas paid $453,770 in total federal tax.

In his State of the Union Address, President Obama promised that this year, for the first time ever, American taxpayers would be able to go online and see exactly how their federal tax dollars are spent. You can visit the taxpayer receipt and after entering a few pieces of information about your taxes, the taxpayer receipt will give you a breakdown of how your tax dollars are spent on priorities like education, veterans benefits, or health care.

View the President and First Lady’s tax receipt here.

View the Vice President and Dr. Biden’s tax receipt here.

Understand how and where your own tax dollars are being spent. Click here.

More at the White House blog.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Down With the Speech. Up For Hill Grammy.

All work and no play makes Joe Biden a dull (and a bit sleepy) Vice President.

During President Obama's speech this week at GWU on fiscal and responsibilty his right hand guy, and our Vice President, Joe Biden was caught catching a few zzzzs.

In other Biden news, he was honored during this year's Grammy On The Hill event, the largest and most influential music lobby day in Washington, D.C.

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Related
President Obama was accused of making not so flattering remarks during his speech at a DNC fundraiser last evening when he thought the mics weren't on. 

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney clarifies:   "What POTUS said on the hot mic last night is the same as what he has said in public, and he is not embarrassed about anything he said."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Joining Forces

Video of yesterday's White House event introducing the First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden's Joining Forces initiative.



Related
Stanley McChrystal Joins Forces
Military Child of the Year

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Amid Budget Protest DC Mayor Talks of Arrest

41 members of the DC council, including Mayor Vincent Gray, were arrested yesterday outside the Dirksen Senate office building when they protested the President's budget deal which would leave DC with little control over the use of its own taxpayer funds.


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The Mayor explains his position on sticking up for the District's residents.



Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) both praised and thanked D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, members of the D.C. Council, and D.C. residents for rallying against attachments to Friday’s full-year continuing resolution (CR) agreement by the Obama administration, Senate Democrats and House Republicans, and for the arrests led by the Mayor and Council members.

She said DC Vote particularly deserved the gratitude of every D.C. resident for its leadership in organizing the rally in just a couple of days, after learning that the city had been singled out in the CR for a prohibition on spending its own local funds for abortions for low-income women and for a new voucher program. Norton, who is still trying to get the riders removed and will go to the Rules Committee again tomorrow, decided not to attend Monday’s rally so that members of Congress could see that it was entirely a “people’s rally”, not an action that had or needed her leadership. She said that it was critical for Congress to see the faces of D.C. residents, and not her, when Congress invades the city’s self-governing rights.

Ever since Congress convened in January, Norton has been protesting multiple anti-home-rule actions by the Congress. However, she said that the rally and arrests were particularly important now because the CR shows that the city is on its own, and has only the protection from loss of home-rule that citizens can provide. The CR invited and deserved today’s strong reaction from residents, she said that, the continued presence of local elected leaders and residents just showing up, even with less dramatic responses, will be necessary in the coming months.” She warned that without a continuing reaction from local officials and city residents, more riders and other invasions of home rule will come quickly. However, Norton said, yesterday’s large turnout and arrests showed the House, Senate, and the Administration that local residents were acting out of deep and personal outrage and that citizens have a new resolve to fight back.

 In the video below Holmes let her thoughts be known and offers a recommendation for Congress.




Photos

Monday, April 11, 2011

Students' Field Trip to Washington Goes On. Meeting The President: Priceless.

President Obama surprises eighth graders from Altona Middle School in Longmont, CO on the South Lawn of the White House earlier today.

One of the student's parents, Shalini Schane, wrote a letter to the president on April 6 begging him to find some agreement to keep the government open for her son's 8th-grade trip to Washington. 

President Obama mentioned the letter in his remarks after reaching a deal with Congressional leaders to prevent a government shutdown.

Watch the video of the student's surprise viewing of the President.


Obama Administration Gives McChrystal A (Second) Fighting Chance

 Joining Forces

Gen Stanley McChrystal with wife Anne.
Almost a year after Stanley McChrystal resigned (was given the boot) from his post as U.S. / NATO commander for his disparaging remarks about the President, he's getting the opportunity to rejoin his former Commander In Chief.

No sooner had the president uttered these words last June in a Rose Garden ceremony: "... McChrystal's conduct does not meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general", McChrystal is set to join the president's wife, First Lady Obama, and Dr. Jill Biden in their efforts to support military families.

"I'm so proud that General McChrystal will continue to serve our country through this critical effort to support our nation’s military families,” First Lady Michelle Obama said in a statement, “He will be a unique and powerful advocate for the millions of Americans who serve our country selflessly. This program will build upon our nation's great patriotism by asking all Americans to take action and ensure our military families have the support they have earned. General McChrystal will be a powerful leader in this cause."

McChrystal will help oversee Joining Forces the initiative created by the First Lady and Dr. Biden to encourage government, business, and the philanthropic community to become involved with assisting the various, unique challenges facing military families.  Patty Shinseki, wife of former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, will also help oversee the initiative.



The First Lady and Dr. Biden have been committed to supporting military families, advocating for their priorities and shedding light on their stories.  Their efforts also builds upon the President’s directive to establish a coordinated and comprehensive Federal approach to supporting military families.

McChrystal's new position is expected to be officially announced tomorrow at the White House as the First Lady gets set to announce her latest military families initiative where she and Dr. Biden will tour military communities across the country.

Earlier this week, the First Lady took part in The Military Child of the Year Award ceremony at the Ritz Carlton Pentagon City Hotel in Arlington, Va.  The award recognizes children that are part of a military family who are doing outstanding work in their communities and with their families.  See the recipients here.

Related
More On Joining Forces
Military Child of the Year

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Boehner and the Budget

President Obama met today with House Speaker John Boehner on budget negotiations.

There were no clear cut concessions between the two. The president remarked during the White House press briefing.

The president said he was more than willing to work with Republicans, but the Republicans bawked at an earlier agreement set by the two parties.

The president explained that Speaker Boehner and Chairman Rogers' called for $73b in cuts. "We have agreed to $73b in cuts", said Obama, (among them Pell Grants for college students).  President Obama announced that the Republicans have expressed they don't like the cuts currently proposed.

"Nobody gets 100% of what they want, but the American people should get the sense that somebody is worried about them. I want to get the business of the American people done", the President said.

With the threat of various government agencies shutting down, the powers that be did agree last month to extend operations through this Friday, April 8th.   Time is running out.
 
"I can't have our various agencies .... making decisions based on two-week at-a-time budgets. We are now at a point where there is no excuse to extend this any further", the president said.
 


Because of Senate rules, Democrats could be forced to break two GOP filibusters in order to pass a spending bill if no agreement has been reached by Friday.

"We don't have time for games... We can't have a my way, or the highway approach."

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Related

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today issued the following statement in response to language in the House Republican’s Fiscal Year 2012 Budget Resolution to eliminate funding for the D.C. Tuition Assistance Grant (DCTAG) program in order to offset, by means-testing, the cost of the Republican D.C. private school voucher bill, which passed the House last week:


“The Republicans insisted on putting their D.C. private school voucher bill on the floor last week without paying for it. Their new budget would sacrifice thousands of D.C. college students to pay for a smaller number of private school voucher students in the District of Columbia, effectively killing DCTAG. Fortunately, a budget resolution is not a bill, but almost certainly the Republican appropriators will place this proposal in next year’s appropriations bill. If so, money would be taken from a publically funded program to pay for private elementary and secondary school tuition.

“Congress passed DCTAG, pressed by Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate, to replicate a state university system all of which offer many varieties of two- and four- year public institutions. For example, Maryland and Virginia each have more than 30 public institutions. The District has only one public university, the University of the District of Columbia (UDC), and it recently created a much-needed community college. However, UDC is not a state university system like those in the 50 states.

“Three times as many students have used DCTAG than private school vouchers. Means-testing DCTAG would actually raise tuition for many of these voucher students and make DCTAG inaccessible for them upon graduating from their private voucher program. It must be remembered that DCTAG pays only for tuition and not room and board. DCTAG is indispensible to education in this city, where virtually all decent jobs require some college education. The program has doubled college attendance here, and unlike vouchers, it has always had support from Republican and Democratic presidents, all of whom placed the program in their own budgets, and was created with bi-partisan sponsorship in both chambers. It is disgraceful that Republicans violated their own promise to cut spending by adding $300 million to deficit with the D.C. voucher bill. It is worse that they now propose to rob Peter to pay Paul."

Presidential Nominations

President Obama has announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key Administration posts:

· D. Brent Hardt, Ambassador to the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, Department of State.  Hardt is a member of the Senior Foreign Service and currently serves as ChargĂ© d'Affaires ad interim at the U.S. Embassy to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean

· Donald W. Koran, Ambassador to the Republic of Rwanda, Department of State.  Koran is Director for the Office of Africa Analysis in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the U.S. Department of State

· Geeta Pasi, Ambassador to the Republic of Djibouti, Department of State.  Pasi is currently the Director of East African Affairs in the Africa Bureau at the Department of State

The President also announced his intent to appoint Michael Les Benedict as a Member of the Permanent Committee for the Oliver Wendell Holmes Devise. Benedict is a leading scholar of American constitutional history and the Civil War and Reconstruction.  He is the author of The Blessings of Liberty, The Impeachment and Trial of Andrew Johnson, and Preserving the Constitution, a selection of essays on the constitutional politics of Reconstruction.

Internet Regulation: H.J. Res 37

Keep Your Hands Off My Internet!


The Obama Administration has zealously campaigned for equal Internet access for all Americans, especially in areas of both rural America and in underserved U.S. cities. 

The FCC wants to regulate Internet and Broadband industries i.e. proposing that internet providers could not limit a consumers access to websites.  Then there's the issue of  Net Neutrality:  the consumer's right to use any equipment, content, application or service without interference from the network provider.

Under FCC regulation, the freedom of Internet speech as we know it, could be drastically altered.

People are divided on the issue.  Some say there is too much "freedom" on the Internet.  Since the Internet invasion, there have been more hate crime web sites, white supremacist sites, and porn sites than ever before.  

Perhaps there needs to be regulation there.

But people like James Valvo, Director of Government Affairs for the Americans for Prosperity, an organization that claims to mobilize citizens as advocates in the public policy process, has come out in support of blocking the FCC's proposed plan to regulate the Internet.   "The explosion of investment, innovation and adoption in the Internet and IP-enabled devices is the greatest free market success story of our time. By any measure there is no market failure that necessitates government intervention", writes Valvo in a letter to Congress.

The Obama Administration "strongly opposes House passage of H.J. Res. 37", saying the resolution does nothing but "undermine a fundamental part of the Nation’s Internet and innovation strategy", and "facilitates innovation and investment, protects consumer choice, and enables free speech."

A letter from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) cites that "disapproval of the rule would threaten those values and raise questions as to whether innovation on the Internet will be allowed to flourish, consumers will be protected from abuses, and the democratic spirit of the Internet will remain intact."

The President plans to veto regulation that would not safeguard the free and open Internet.

USDA Announces Summer Food Program Changes to Expand Nutrition Assistance for Kids in Need

Agriculture Under Secretary Kevin Concannon today announced that more low-income kids will have access to nutrition assistance when school is out and during critical gap periods. USDA's Food and Nutrition Service provided waivers to simplify existing regulations making it easier to provide critical meals through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). The changes will expand and enhance the ability of the SFSP to provide nutritious meals and snacks to children in low-income areas during the summer months and long vacation periods for schools on year-round schedules.

"When it comes to our kids, we must do everything we can to provide them with the nutrition they need to grow up and win the future," Concannon said. "The changes we have made to the Summer Food Service Program will improve program efficiency and start to reduce unnecessary barriers for participation so that local SFSP sponsors who are on the frontlines of ending childhood hunger can provide nutrition assistance to those in need."

Waivers announced today:

Eliminate time restrictions between meal services, giving sponsors added flexibility. Sponsors will no longer be required to ensure that specific time periods elapse between meals or snacks when they schedule meal services at each site.

Extend the "Offer Versus Serve" option to all sites, replacing the requirement that meals be provided as a unit with an alternative that allows children to decline food items they do not intend to eat. This option has been successfully used by schools to help reduce plate waste and food costs in the school meals programs, and it has been available to school food authority sponsors operating SFSP.

Simplify requirements to conduct site visits during the first week of meal service operations for sites in good standing. This change relieves sponsors of the requirement to visit sites that have already demonstrated success in the program, so that they can target their resources to new sites and those that need additional oversight.

The SFSP delivers nutrition assistance to about 3 million children at sponsored sites which include schools, government agencies, residential and non-residential camps and faith-based organizations. The SFSP served nearly 134 million meals at eligible sites in 2010. In the near future, USDA's Food and Nutrition Service will issue additional waivers that will ease application rules for experienced sponsors in good standing, and expand meal site options. FNS will also provide guidance to highlight flexibilities that already exist at the state level to simplify and improve the delivery of nutrition assistance to low-income children during the summer months.

Simplifying SFSP regulations is part of a broader effort to feed more hungry children during gap periods when schools are not in session. Let's Move Faith and Communities is working with partners on the ground to host new summer feeding program sites at congregations or neighborhood organizations. Additionally, USDA also announced pilot projects to develop and test new ways to feed low-income children and reduce their risk of hunger during the summer months. Those pilots include the Summer Delivery and Food Backpack Projects which will operate in six states, the Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer for Children Demonstration projects in Missouri, the Extending Length of Operation Incentive Project in Arkansas, and the Activity Incentive Project in Mississippi.

Improving child nutrition is the focal point of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. The legislation authorizes USDA's child nutrition programs, including the Summer Food Service Program, the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. The Act allows USDA, for the first time in over 30 years, the chance to make real reforms to the school lunch and breakfast programs by improving the critical nutrition and hunger safety net for millions of children, and help a new generation win the future by having healthier lives. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is the legislative centerpiece of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative to end childhood obesity in a generation.

USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) oversees the administration of 15 nutrition assistance programs, including the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs, that touch the lives of one in four Americans over the course of a year. These programs work in concert to form a national safety net against hunger. Visit www.fns.usda.gov for information about FNS and nutrition assistance programs.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Vice President Biden to Visit University of New Hampshire to Discuss Issue of Sexual Assault at our Nation’s Schools and Colleges

Vice President, Secretary Duncan to announce new guidance for preventing and responding to sexual violence in school and on campus

 On Monday, April 4, Vice President Biden will visit the University of New Hampshire in Durham, New Hampshire with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to call attention to the high rates of sexual assault and violence committed against young women in schools and on college campuses across the country. In remarks beginning at 11:45 AM, the Vice President and Secretary Duncan will introduce new guidance to help schools, colleges and universities understand their civil rights obligations to better prevent and respond to sexual assault.

For over 20 years, Vice President Biden has led the fight to combat violence against women. As the author of the landmark Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) of 1994, then-Senator Biden exposed high rates of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking experienced by women every day in this country – redefining the way domestic violence is handled through changes in law enforcement, improvements in the criminal justice system and the establishment of shelters and services for victims. As Vice President, he has continued the cause, creating unprecedented coordination and cooperation across the federal government to combat violence against women.

Yet in spite of the significant progress made since the passage of VAWA, the threat of violence and abuse continues for a new generation of women. Young women aged 16-24 experience the highest rates of rape and sexual assault, while 1 in 5 will be a victim of sexual assault during college. With Secretary Duncan, the Vice President will highlight the Administration’s commitment to raising awareness and promoting policies to prevent violence and sexual assault against women of all ages.