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Hi, all. I hope you continue to have a great holiday. Today's report features:

West Wing Week, 11/26/10: The White House's video restrospective on the week just past.

DREAM Act: On Nov. 29, take part in a webchat on the DREAM Act at WhiteHouse.gov/live.  The President strongly supports passage of the DREAM Act.

First Lady launches new Let's Move! Project: Also on Nov. 29, join a conference call with Mrs. Obama and faith/community leaders discussing efforts to end childhood obesity.

Administration blog round-up: The Obama Administration requires reporting of every dollar spent in the Recovery Act, an unprecedented level of federal transparency. The Office of National Drug Control Policy reaches out with drug prevention and treatment resources and health messages.  And NASA will give $20 million to support a national program to inspire student interest in science, engineering, and mathematics with a focus on robotic technology.

See Blackwaterdog's latest post.

• West Wing Week, 11/26/10 •

From the White House, Nov. 25, 2010:

West Wing Week: 11/26/10 or "The Turkey Behind the Turkey"

Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Walk step by step with the President as he attends the NATO Summit in Portugal, visits Kokomo, Indiana, participates in the traditional turkey pardoning and volunteers alongside the First Family at Martha's Table, a local organization that provides nutrition and other family services to those in need, and more.

• DREAM ACT NEWS •

From the White House, Nov. 24, 2010;

Join us for a Youth Webchat on the DREAM Act

Posted by Kalpen Modi

The White House Office of Public Engagement invites you to an interactive webchat on the DREAM Act with Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Cecilia Munoz on Monday, November 29th, 2010 at 3 p.m. EST on WhiteHouse.gov/live.

The DREAM Act is designed to stop punishing innocent young people for the actions of their parents, by giving them the chance to either obtain legal status by pursuing a higher education, or by serving in the U.S. armed forces for the country they’ve grown up in and love as their own. The DREAM Act has long enjoyed the support of both Democrats and Republicans, and has passed twice out of the Senate Judiciary Committee with bipartisan support. The President has been a strong supporter of the DREAM Act, and was a co-sponsor when he was in the Senate.

Join us in learning more about how the Administration is doing whatever it takes to support Congressional leadership’s efforts to pass the bill and participate in the conversation and Q&A.

Here's how you can participate:
Ask your questions in advance on Facebook
Join the discussion live through the White House Facebook application
Watch the chat through WhiteHouse.gov/live

Office of the Press Secretary, November 16, 2010:

Readout of the President's Meeting with Representatives of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Today

In an Oval Office meeting today, the President and leaders of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) – U.S. Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, U.S. Representative Nydia Velazquez of New York, and U.S. Representative Luis Gutierrez of Illinois – discussed the options on immigration reform immediately facing the Congress.  He thanked them for their constant efforts on this issue.  The President and the CHC leaders believe that, before adjourning, Congress should approve the DREAM Act.  This legislation has traditionally enjoyed support from Democratic and Republican lawmakers and would give young people who were brought as minors to the United States by their parents the opportunity to earn their citizenship by pursuing a college degree or through military service.

The President reiterated his support for fixing the broken immigration system and urged the CHC leaders to work to restore the bipartisan coalition backing comprehensive immigration reform.  The President repeated his hope that, with the election season’s pressures past, Congressional Republicans would work with their Democratic colleagues not only to strengthen security at the nation’s borders, but also to restore responsibility and accountability to what everyone agrees is a broken immigration system.  The President reiterated his strong support for bipartisan Congressional action on immigration reform at the earliest opportunity, noting that the American people expect both parties to work together to tackle the challenges confronting our nation.

From the White House, Oct. 19, 2010:

Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans

President Obama speaks about improving educational opportunities and outcomes for Hispanic students as he signs the Executive Order for the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans.

Office of the Press Secretary, October 19, 2010:

Remarks by the President at Signing of Executive Order for the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans

THE PRESIDENT:

.... And as I’ve said before, Congress should finally pass the DREAM Act.  I’ve supported this bill -- (applause) -- I have supported this bill for years, and I’ll do everything it takes to sign it into law on behalf of students seeking a college education and those who wish to serve in our country’s uniform....

From the White House, Sept. 15, 2010:

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's 33rd Annual Award Gala

President Obama speaks to members and guests at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's 33rd Annual Award Gala in Washington, D.C.

Office of the Press Secretary, September 15, 2010:

Remarks by the President at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's 33rd Annual Awards Gala

THE PRESIDENT:

.... Keep in mind, in the past, (the DREAM Act) was a bill that was supported by a majority of Democrats and Republicans.... I’ve been a supporter since I was in the Senate, and I will do whatever it takes to support the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ efforts to pass this bill so that I can sign it into law on behalf of students seeking a college education and those who wish to serve in our country’s uniform.  It’s the right thing to do.  We should get it done....

• FIRST LADY LAUNCHES NEW LET'S MOVE PROJECT •

Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships Blog, Nov. 25, 2010:

Faith and Community Leaders and members: Join the First Lady to launch Let’s Move Faith and Communities

Posted by Max Finberg and Alexia Kelley

On Monday, November 29th at 2:30 PM EST, First Lady Michelle Obama will join faith and community leaders on a conference call to launch Let’s Move Faith and Communities, as part of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! campaign.

On the call, the First Lady will highlight the important role that faith-based and community groups can play in ending childhood obesity in their neighborhoods. Several leaders will announce their responses to the Let’s Move! challenges. These community-based efforts are diverse and exciting, ranging from starting community gardens and farmers markets to getting children involved in the President’s Active Lifestyle Challenge. The First Lady will also unveil an electronic and print toolkit to support participation.

We have repeatedly witnessed the commitment of faith-based and neighborhood groups regarding childhood obesity. This past March we heard about creative efforts across the country at a Let’s Move! faith and community-based stakeholder meeting with the First Lady’s Office. In April, we participated in a series of visits to two local organizations committed to healthy living (Common Good City Farm – see video below -- and Healthy Solutions).

Faith-based and neighborhood organizations have a unique and critical role to play in ending childhood obesity and addressing related issues of hunger. Children learn many lessons about healthy living and well-being in faith- and community-based settings.

Please join us on Monday at 2:30 pm EST to hear about ways you can participate in this new initiative. With your engagement, Let’s Move! can have a lasting impact on children and families in our communities.  Here is the invitation:

A National Conference Call for Faith and Community Leaders with First Lady Michelle Obama

Date: Monday, November 29th, 2010

Time: 2:30 PM Eastern, 1:30 PM Central, 12:30 PM Mountain, 11:30 AM Pacific

Dial-in information: 1-888-790-3160 (no passcode needed)

You do not need to RSVP for this call.

Alexia Kelley is the Director of the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  

Max Finberg is the Director Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the U.S. Department of Agriculture

From DCeats, Feb. 3, 2010:

Common Good City Farm

Director and co-founder Liz Falk talks about Common Good City Farm, an urban farm in the LeDroit Park neighborhood of Washington, D.C.

Common Good City Farm is a productive community farm that increases fresh food access to low income DC residents. Participants learn to grow, cook and market produce.

• ADMINISTRATION BLOG ROUND-UP •

From the White House, Nov. 24, 2010:

Not Business as Usual

Posted by Andrea Mead, Recovery Act Press Secretary

President Obama and Vice President Biden have been clear since they took office that this Administration will not put up with business as usual when it comes to transparency and accountability.  They fundamentally believe that the American people have the right no know how their hard-earned tax dollars are being put to work.

That’s why, when the Recovery Act was passed and signed into law, it required tens of thousands of recipients of Recovery Act funds to report in every quarter on what exactly they are doing with the money -- and those reports are posted in full view on Recovery.gov.

This is unprecedented – never before has this level of transparency been available by the federal government.  When the Recovery Act was passed, the President and Vice President were adamant that we didn’t just take the necessary steps to begin to repair the economy by passing the largest economic recovery package in history – but that, while implementing that package, we made sure every dollar was accounted for and every official was held accountable.

And this was no small undertaking with $787 billion to distribute over just 2 years.  There has been repeated skepticism on whether this could be done effectively and efficiently.

Despite that skepticism, this effort proved to be extremely successful.  Of the 95,483 prime recipients required to file thus far, just 1 percent failed to file a report this quarter, the vast majority of which were first-time non-reporters. The remaining non-reporters – those that have failed to report repeatedly -- account for only 0.002% of Recovery Act funds awarded.

That said, non-compliance in any form is not acceptable.  We take these cases seriously.  For each recipient of Recovery Act funds that repeatedly fails to report, the maximum penalty possible is being pursued, with action ranging from withholding or rescinding funds to litigation, if necessary.

As noted in ... USA Today, this tough action marks "the first time the government has taken action to enforce reporting requirements."

When we said we would provide unprecedented transparency of Recovery Act spending, we meant business.

From the Council on Women and Girls, Nov, 23, 2010:

Treating our Nation’s Teen Drug Problem

Posted by Gil Kerlikowske, Director, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy

.... As part of the Obama Administration’s effort to treat our nation’s drug problem as a public health threat, we are aggressively reaching out to underserved populations with vital drug prevention and treatment resources and health messages. This effort has included increased funding in the 2010 budget for drug prevention by $203 million and treatment programs by $137 million dollars, placing a heavier emphasis on early intervention programs in health settings, aligning criminal justice policies and public health systems to divert non-violent drug offenders into treatment instead of jail, and, through the Affordable Care Act, expanding access to substance abuse treatment. We’re also partnering more closely with communities to reach at risk youth populations through our National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign.

But we need your help.  Here’s what you can do today to help reverse these increases in youth drug use and make America healthier:

  1. Talk to your kids about drugs. Research shows parents are the best messengers to deliver critical information on drug use. Make sure they know of the harms that can result from drug use and that you don't approve of them. For tips and parenting advice visit www.TheAntiDrug.com .
  1. Learn to spot risk factors that can lead to drug use. Association with drug-abusing peers is often the most immediate risk factor that can lead young people to drug use and delinquent behavior. Other risk factors include poor classroom behavior or social skills and academic failure. Parents can protect their kids from these influences by building strong bonds with their children, staying involved in their lives, and setting clear limits and consistent enforcement of discipline.
  1. Go through your medicine cabinet. More than 70 percent of people who abuse prescription drugs get them from friends or family – often from the home medicine cabinet. Immediately remove unused or unneeded prescription drugs from your medicine cabinet. Click here to learn how to properly dispose of prescription drugs.

Office of Science and Technology Policy Blog, Nov. 24, 2010:

NASA Advancing Android Academics

Posted by Phil Larson

The Federal agency with perhaps the best known robots has just announced that it is going to encourage student tinkering here on Earth. On Monday NASA unveiled a plan that will provide up to $20 million over the next five years to support a national program to inspire student interest in science, engineering, and mathematics with a focus on robotic technology.

Having overseen the creation of such famous robotic adventurers as Spirit, Opportunity, and Robonaut, it seemed only natural for NASA to boost up a program to enhance automaton activities in academics. "This is the largest NASA-funded student program geared toward robotics activities," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "For the next five years, approximately 25,000 students across the country will not only learn from our nation's best and brightest, but also compete and have fun at the same time."

President Obama knows the coolness factor of robots firsthand, as he welcomed FIRST Robotics to the first-ever White House Science Fair last month and to the launch of Educate to Innovatee, the President’s science and math education improvement initiative.

Aptly, the centerpiece of NASA’s program is the annual FIRST Robotics Competition, in which teams of high school students are given identical batches of parts and have six weeks to build a robot. There are 45 regional competitions which culminate in an international championship in April.

For more information, read NASA’s full release, and to become involved visit [robotics.nasa.govhttp://robotics.nasa.gov/.

From the White House, Oct. 18, 2010:

White House Science Fair

President Obama speaks about the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics education to the country's economic future after viewing exhibits from science fair winners from across the country.

Office of the Press Secretary, October 18, 2010:

Remarks by the President at White House Science Fair

THE PRESIDENT:

.... It’s in these pursuits that talents are discovered and passions are lit, and the future scientists, engineers, inventors, entrepreneurs are born.  That's what’s going to help ensure that we succeed in the next century, that we're leading the world in developing the technologies, businesses and industries of the future.

And this is the reason my administration has put such a focus on math and science education -- because despite the importance of inspiring and educating our children in these fields, in recent years the fact is we’ve been outpaced by a lot of our competitors.  One assessment shows that American 15-year-olds ranked 21st in science and 25th in math when compared to their peers around the world.  Now, obviously the young people who are here all boosted our averages considerably.  (Laughter.)

But the point is, is that there are tens of millions of talented young people out there who haven’t been similarly inspired, and we’ve got to figure out how do we make sure that everybody who’s got that same talent and inclination, how do we give them the tools that they need so that they can succeed, so that they’re entering international science competitions, so that they’re up to snuff when it comes to math.

It is unacceptable to me, and I know it’s unacceptable to you, for us to be ranked on average as 21st or 25th -- not with so much at stake.  We don't play for second place here in America.  We certainly don't play for 25th.

So I’ve set this goal:  We will move from the middle to the top in math and science education over the next decade.  We are on our way to meeting this goal.  (Applause.)

We’re doing it in a couple of ways.  Under the leadership of my Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, we’ve launched an initiative called Race to the Top.  And through Race to the Top, states are actively competing to produce innovative math and science programs, to raise standards, to turn around struggling schools, and to recruit and retain more outstanding teachers.

And when budget cuts across America threatened the jobs of countless teachers, we fought some tough opposition to save the jobs of hundreds of thousands of educators and school workers, because nothing is more important than the investment we’re making in education.  These are the folks in the classroom right now who are there because we refuse to accept a lesser education for our children, even when the economic times are tough.

But what I’ve said for a long time is, is that success is not going to be achieved just by government.  It depends on teachers and parents and students, and the broader community supporting excellence.  And that’s why last year I challenged scientists and business leaders to think of creative ways that we can engage young people in math and science....

From University of Massachusetts, Lowell, Nov, 2, 2010:

NASA's First Robotic Astronaut

On November 2, NASA unveiled a prototype of Robonaut 2, the world's first human-like robotic astronaut, during a pre-launch news briefing at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Science & Technology Writer Edwin Aguirre of UMass Lowell's Public Affairs Office was there to cover the event. R2, as the robot is fondly called, was scheduled to fly to the International Space Station last week aboard the space shuttle Discovery, but a series of technical glitches and bad weather forced the shuttle to delay its launch until November 30 at the earliest. R2 is designed to assist human astronauts in maintenance and repair work in the space station.

From NASA.gov:

What is a Robonaut?

A Robonaut is a dexterous humanoid robot built and designed at NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Our challenge is to build machines that can help humans work and explore in space. Working side by side with humans, or going where the risks are too great for people, Robonauts will expand our ability for construction and discovery. Central to that effort is a capability we call dexterous manipulation, embodied by an ability to use one's hand to do work, and our challenge has been to build machines with dexterity that exceeds that of a suited astronaut.

There are currently four Robonauts, with others currently in development. This allows us to study various types of mobility, control methods, and task applications. The value of a humanoid over other designs is the ability to use the same workspace and tools - not only does this improve efficiency in the types of tools, but also removes the need for specialized robotic connectors. Robonauts are essential to NASA's future as we go beyond low earth orbit and continue to explore the vast wonder that is space....

In the current iteration of Robonaut, Robonaut 2 or R2, NASA and General Motors are working together to accelerate development of the next generation of robots and related technologies for use in the

automotive and aerospace industries. Robonaut 2 (R2) is a state of the art highly dexterous anthropomorphic robot. Like its predecessor Robonaut 1 (R1), R2 is capable of handling a wide range of EVA tools and interfaces, but R2 is a significant advancement over its predecessor. R2 is capable of speeds more than four times faster than R1, is more compact, is more dexterous, and includes a deeper and wider range of sensing....

From UML.edu, Sept. 8, 2010:

UMass Lowell Now Offers Robotics Minor

Program Will Help Students Prepare for High-Tech Jobs

Starting this fall, UMass Lowell is offering a robotics minor. This interdisciplinary program is offered within three of the University’s undergraduate-degree programs, namely Computer Science (CS), Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) and Mechanical Engineering (ME).

"There is considerable demand in industry for individuals with an expertise in robotics," says CS Assoc. Prof. Fred Martin. "This includes regional robotics firms, such as iRobot, Foster-Miller and Segway, and companies that focus on defense and homeland-security applications, law enforcement, environmental monitoring, industrial manufacturing, biotechnology equipment, medical devices and consumer products."

According to a report released by the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council in 2009, more than 80 robotics companies have their headquarters in the Commonwealth and, with the industry’s 47 percent average annual growth rate, they are projected to add more jobs. The report estimates that 70 percent of the companies plan to hire in the next year or two, with 90 percent of all hires coming from local manpower....

Update [2010-11-26 13:39:40 by Kat 4 Obama]: Barbara Walters interviews the President and First Lady tonight on ABC at 10 p.m. ET.

Originally posted to Kat 4 Obama on Fri Nov 26, 2010 at 08:40 AM PST.

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