From the White House

President Obama: “It’s never too late to say thank you”

On Tuesday, President Obama presented Medals of Honor, posthumously, to two soldiers from World War I , Private Henry Johnson, of Albany, New York, an African-American, and Sergeant William Shemin, of Bayonne, New Jersey, a Jewish man.

We are a nation — a people — who remember our heroes. We take seriously our responsibility to only send them when war is necessary. We strive to care for them and their families when they come home. We never forget their sacrifice. And we believe that it’s never too late to say thank you. That’s why we’re here this morning.

Today, America honors two of her sons who served in World War I, nearly a century ago. These two soldiers were roughly the same age, dropped into the battlefields of France at roughly the same time. They both risked their own lives to save the lives of others. They both left us decades ago, before we could give them the full recognition that they deserved.

Our country did not do a great job with the “caring for them and their families when they come home” part when it came to Private Henry Johnson:

Henry was one of the first Americans to receive France’s highest award for valor. But his own nation didn’t award him anything –- not even the Purple Heart, though he had been wounded 21 times. Nothing for his bravery, though he had saved a fellow solder at great risk to himself. His injuries left him crippled. He couldn’t find work. His marriage fell apart. And in his early 30s, he passed away.

Now, America can’t change what happened to Henry Johnson. We can’t change what happened to too many soldiers like him, who went uncelebrated because our nation judged them by the color of their skin and not the content of their character. But we can do our best to make it right. In 1996, President Clinton awarded Henry Johnson a Purple Heart. And today, 97 years after his extraordinary acts of courage and selflessness, I’m proud to award him the Medal of Honor.

Full transcript below.

Weekly Address: President Obama – Pass the USA Freedom Act

The President’s Weekly Address post is also an Open News Thread. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.

From the White HouseWeekly Address

In this week’s address, the President addressed critical pieces of national security business that remained unfinished when the Senate left town. This Sunday at midnight, key tools used to protect against terrorist threats are set to expire. The USA Freedom Act strikes a balance between security and privacy, reauthorizing important measures that give our national security professionals the authorities they use to keep us safe, while also implementing reforms that enhance the privacy and civil liberties of our citizens. But currently, a small group of senators is standing in its way.

The President asked Americans to speak with one voice to the Senate to put politics aside, put the safety of the American people first, and pass the USA Freedom Act now.

Weekly Address: President Obama – Honoring Our Fallen Heroes this Memorial Day

The President’s Weekly Address post is also an Open News Thread. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.

From the White HouseWeekly Address

In this week’s address, the President commemorated Memorial Day by paying tribute to the men and women in uniform who have given their lives in service to our country.

The President will spend the first Memorial Day since the end of the war in Afghanistan at Arlington Cemetery, remembering the more than 2,200 American patriots who gave their lives in that conflict, as well as all of our fallen soldiers. The President asked that all Americans spend Monday honoring the memory and sacrifice of those heroes, and remain committed to the cause of freedom and the country for which they fought.

President Obama: “Climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security”

In an address to Coast Guard graduates, President Obama on Wednesday made his strongest statements yet about the impact of climate change not only on our ability to survive as a species but on the threat it poses to national security:

“I am here today to say that climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security, and make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country,” he said during the Coast Guard Academy’s graduation ceremony.

Speaking to cadets, who he said were already battling climate change, Obama said, “This is not just a problem for countries on the coast or for certain regions of the world. Climate change will impact every country on the planet. No nation is immune.” …

The Pentagon has called climate change “a threat multiplier,” making conflicts more difficult to confront.

Obama said Wednesday that this threat multiplier is not just about the future. The burdens of climate change, he said, are already felt by the U.S. national security apparatus.

He said that in Nigeria and Syria the effects of climate change have given radical groups space to capitalize on existing instability.

The President’s address is below the fold …

President Obama Speaks to Youth and Law Enforcement in Camden NJ

From the White House:

Today, the President is in Camden to talk about the promising progress that city is making in enhancing community policing. Last December, President Obama launched the Task Force on 21st Century Policing to better understand specific policing challenges and help communities identify actions they can take to improve law enforcement and enhance community engagement. Since that time, we have seen law enforcement agencies around the country working harder than ever to make the promise of community policing real.

Many of the Task Force’s recommendations emphasize the opportunity for departments to better use data and technology to build community trust. As a response, the White House has launched the Police Data Initiative, which has mobilized 21 leading jurisdictions across the country to take fast action on concrete deliverables responding to these Task Force recommendations in the area of data and technology. Camden is one such jurisdiction.

Live at 3:10pm Eastern Time. UPDATE: The speech has concluded.

(President Obama Speaks to Youth and Law Enforcement – Camden, New Jersey – Start time 3:10 PM EDT)

UPDATE: Transcript

Weekly Address: President Obama – Creating Opportunity for All

The President’s Weekly Address post is also an Open News Thread. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.

From the White HouseWeekly Address

In this week’s address, the President highlighted the importance of expanding opportunity for all Americans — a principle that has guided his work throughout the past six years. This past week, the President attended a summit at Georgetown University where he discussed issues like poverty and inequality, and what we can do to ensure everyone gets a fair shot.

We’ve seen real results in this area, but there is still more that can be done. And lack of opportunity is not the only barrier to success. That’s why, on Monday, the President will travel to Camden, New Jersey to visit with local law enforcement, meet with young people, and hear directly about efforts to build trust between the police and the community in a city that has faced one of the highest crime rates in America.

First Lady Michelle Obama at Tuskegee University

From the White House:

First Lady Michelle Obama greets Tuskegee alum and Selma civil rights leader, Dr. Amelia Boynton Robinson, age 103 and Latifya Mohammed

This past Saturday, First Lady Michelle Obama delivered the commencement address to the Class of 2015 at Tuskegee University — a historically black university in Tuskegee, Alabama. Founded by Booker T. Washington in 1881, Tuskegee is the only university in America to be designated as a National Historic Site.

In her remarks, the First Lady detailed Tuskegee’s rich history — spotlighting a number of the distinguished alumni that have previously walked the university’s halls — and encouraged the current class of graduates to not be intimidated by the legacy of their predecessors, or the expectations of others.

Mrs. Obama explained that she understood that kind of pressure herself — not only as a First Lady, but as the first African American First Lady of the United States.

Video and transcript below.

Weekly Address: President Obama – Honoring the 70th Anniversary of V-E Day

The President’s Weekly Address post is also an Open News Thread. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.

From the White HouseWeekly Address

In this week’s address, the President honored the 70th anniversary of V-E Day. On this occasion, we commemorate the Allied victory in Europe during World War II. It is a day to pay tribute to the men and women who decades ago served and sacrificed for the cause of freedom. This was the generation that, by ending the war, literally saved the world, laying a foundation for peace.

The President asked that in addition to commemorating this important anniversary, we honor the men and women in uniform who currently serve our country, and recommit ourselves to the values we share with our allies in Europe and beyond: freedom, security, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law around the world.

Weekly Address: President Obama – Ensuring Every Child Gets a Great Education

The President’s Weekly Address post is also an Open News Thread. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.

From the White HouseWeekly Address

In this week’s address, the President reiterated his commitment to expanding access to education, and to spreading the joy of reading to more children and young adults.

Earlier this week, the President announced two new efforts that, building on the progress already made by his ConnectED initiative, will do just that: a challenge to mayors, libraries, and school leaders to help every student get a library card; and commitments from libraries and major publishers to provide more than $250 million in free e-Books for low-income students. In his address, the President also previewed his upcoming commencement speech at Lake Area Tech, in Watertown, South Dakota, where he will discuss his plan to make two years of community college as free and universal for every American as high school is today.

The President is working to ensure every child has the access to the education and resources they need to be successful.

Thank you, Eric Holder!

Attorney General Eric Holder: The People’s Lawyer

Eric Holder bids final farewell, heralds ‘Golden Age’ at Justice Dept.

Attorney General Eric Holder bid a final farewell to what he predicts will be recognized in the next half-century as a new “Golden Age” at the Department of Justice, leaving behind a historic six-year tenure as the first African-American man to serve as the nation’s top attorney.

“This is something that has meant the world to me, it has helped define me as an individual and as a lawyer, as a man,” Holder said in his final send-off Friday with the department employees who served under him. […]

In a nod to his historic achievements, the Justice Department released a video earlier in the day featuring prominent politicians from President Bill Clinton to Rep. John Lewis to Sen. Patrick Leahy, describing Holder’s legacy as “the people’s lawyer.” […]

Slipping off his wrist a black band with the inscription “Free Eric Holder” – a fashion statement among his supporters in the Justice Department during the months-long stand-off over Lynch’s confirmation – Holder tossed the rubber bracelet into the crowd in his final act as attorney general.

“I think we can officially say now that Eric Holder is free,” he said.

Transcript of farewell speech below the fold.