President Barack Obama Weekly Address August 27, 2016 (Video/Transcript)

President Barack Obama 
 Weekly Address
The White House
August 27, 2016 
Earlier this year, I got a letter from a South Carolina woman named Ashley, who was expecting her third child.  She was, in her words, “extremely concerned” about the Zika virus, and what it might mean for other pregnant women like her.

I understand that concern.  As a father, Ashley’s letter has stuck with me, and it’s why we’ve been so focused on the threat of the Zika virus.  So today, I just want to take a few minutes to let you know what we’ve been doing in response, and to talk about what more we can all do.

Since late last year, when the most recent outbreak of Zika started popping up in other countries, federal agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been preparing for it to arrive in the U.S.  In February – more than six months ago – I asked Congress for the emergency resources that public health experts say we need to combat Zika.  That includes things like mosquito control, tracking the spread of the virus, accelerating new diagnostic tests and vaccines, and monitoring women and babies with the virus.

Republicans in Congress did not share Ashley’s “extreme concern,” nor that of other Americans expecting children.  They said no.  Instead, we were forced to use resources we need to keep fighting Ebola, cancer, and other diseases.  We took that step because we have a responsibility to protect the American people.  But that’s not a sustainable solution.  And Congress has been on a seven-week recess without doing anything to protect Americans from the Zika virus.

So my Administration has done what we can on our own.  Our primary focus has been protecting pregnant women and families planning to have children.  For months now, the CDC has been working closely with officials in Florida and other states.  NIH and other agencies have moved aggressively to develop a vaccine.  And we’re working with the private sector to develop more options to test for and prevent infection.  For weeks, a CDC emergency response team has been on the ground in South Florida, working alongside the excellent public health officials there – folks who have a strong track record of responding aggressively to the mosquitoes that carry viruses like Zika.  They know what they’re doing.

Still, there’s a lot more everybody can and should do.  And that begins with some basic facts.
Zika spreads mainly through the bite of a certain mosquito.  Most infected people don’t show any symptoms.  But the disease can cause brain defects and other serious problems when pregnant women become infected.  Even if you’re not pregnant, you can play a role in protecting future generations.  Because Zika can be spread through unprotected sex, it’s not just women who need to be careful – men do too.  That includes using condoms properly.

If you live in or travel to an area where Zika has been found, protect yourself against the mosquitoes that carry this disease.  Use insect repellant – and keep using it for a few weeks, even after you come home.  Wear long sleeves and long pants to make bites less likely.  Stay in places with air conditioning and window screens.  If you can, get rid of standing water where mosquitoes breed.  And to learn more about how to keep your family safe, just visit

But every day that Republican leaders in Congress wait to do their job, every day our experts have to wait to get the resources they need – that has real-life consequences.  Weaker mosquito-control efforts.  Longer wait times to get accurate diagnostic results.  Delayed vaccines.  It puts more Americans at risk.

One Republican Senator has said that “There is no such thing as a Republican position on Zika or Democrat position on Zika because these mosquitoes bite everyone.”

I agree.  We need more Republicans to act that way because this is more important than politics.  It’s about young mothers like Ashley.  Today, her new baby Savannah is healthy and happy.  That’s priority number one.  And that’s why Republicans in Congress should treat Zika like the threat that it is and make this their first order of business when they come back to Washington after Labor Day.  That means working in a bipartisan way to fully fund our Zika response.  A fraction of the funding won’t get the job done.  You can’t solve a fraction of a disease.  Our experts know what they’re doing.  They just need the resources to do it.

So make your voices heard.  And as long as I’m President, we’ll keep doing everything we can to slow the spread of this virus, and put our children’s futures first.

 Thanks everybody.


Donald Trump’s new loose cannon

In choosing Stephen Bannon to be the CEO of his campaign, Donald Trump has accomplished the extraordinary: He has found somebody as outrageous as he is.

Bannon, who had been publisher of the far-right website Breitbart, has called the pope a “commie” and said Catholics are trying to boost Hispanic immigration because their “church is dying.” He called Gabby Giffords, a former congresswoman who was shot in the head, a “human shield” and the mayor of London a “radical Muslim.” Hillary Clinton, in Bannon’s telling, is a “grifter” who would take the country to the “last days of Sodom.”

The new Trump adviser calls himself a “populist nationalist” — his hiring has been cheered by white supremacists — and calls his fellow believers a “small, crazy wing” of the conservative movement. He has referred to the Civil War as the “war of Southern Independence” fought over “economic development.” He found “zero evidence” of racial motives in the Trayvon Martin shooting and warned that “cities could be washed away in an orgy of de-gentrification.”

The Trump campaign’s chief executive believes the Obama administration is “importing more hating Muslims” and asks whether Clinton is “complicit in a fifth column.” He doesn’t think Huma Abedin, a Muslim aide to Clinton, should have a security clearance, and he has alleged that Clinton’s vice-presidential nominee, Sen. Tim Kaine (Va.), has an “affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood.” He argued that Gretchen Carlson’s sexual harassment case, which forced the ouster of Roger Ailes at Fox News Channel, was a “total dud,” and he alleged the existence of a “militant-feminist legal wrecking crew.”

Fox News, in Bannon’s view, is a “centrist” outlet — and compared to Breitbart, it most certainly is. The site, which was closer to the mainstream under its late founder, Andrew Breitbart, has run these headlines under Bannon’s leadership:

“Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy.”

“Political Correctness Protects Muslim Rape Culture.”

“Suck It Up Buttercups: Dangerous Faggot Tour Returns to Colleges in September.”

“The Solution to Online ‘Harassment’ Is Simple: Women Should Log Off.”

“Two Months Left Until Obama Gives Dictators Control of Internet.”

“There’s No Hiring Bias Against Women in Tech, They Just Suck at Interviews.”

“Trannies Whine About Hilarious Bruce Jenner Billboard.”

“Khizr Khan Believes the Constitution ‘Must Always Be Subordinated to the Sharia.’ ”
Bannon’s Breitbart said the gay-pride flag is viewed as a “symbol of anti-Christian hate” and said birth control makes a woman into a “slut” and a “hideous monster,” arguing: “Your birth control injection will add on pounds that will prevent the injection you really want — of man meat.”

Trump echoes conspiracy theories proposed by Breitbart, and Breitbart has relentlessly promoted Trump. In short, Trump found in Bannon a character like himself: a bully who targets racial and religious minorities, immigrants and women. After Trump’s campaign manager was caught on tape roughing up Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields at an event, Fields and other staffers quit, complaining that Bannon’s management team sided with Trump.

In his writings and broadcast commentary, Bannon, a veteran and former banker, has argued that immigrants — legal as well as illegal — are to blame for crime, terrorism and disease. He disparages “anchor babies” and says FBI Director James Comey’s recommendation not to prosecute Clinton is “inextricably linked” to anti-police violence. He speaks of Megyn Kelly’s “blonde ambition” and alleges that the military is trying to “eradicate Christianity.” To counter “the Islamization of the United States,” he believes authorities should be going into mosques to find bad guys and “rounding them up.”

Breitbart has a tag for “black crime” and stokes fear of race wars with headlines such as “Race Murder in Virginia,” “Black Suspects Stalk Robbery Victim in Philadelphia,” “Career Criminal Accused of Assaulting Victim, Calling Her ‘White Bitch,’ ” “Black Rape Gangs Violate Two Detroit Women” and “Black Mob Swarms Georgia Walmart to See ‘How Much Damage’ They Could Do.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center protests that Breitbart “has been openly promoting the core issues of the Alt-Right, introducing these racist ideas to its readership.” Breitbart had a “lengthy defense” of white nationalists that ignored their openly racist views, the SPLC said.

Breitbart likened Pamela Geller’s “Muhammad Cartoon Contest” to the Selma-to-Montgomery march. The outlet has gone after the “big gay hate machine” and suggested that “the next step for marriage equality” is “likely polygamy.”

Breitbart ran a doctored photo showing House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in a bikini on all fours with her tongue out. It reported that Planned Parenthood was “comfortably surpassing Hitler” in its “body count.” It said Trump’s bogus claim that thousands of New Jersey Muslims celebrated the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, had been “100 percent vindicated,” and it alleged a “smoking gun” connecting the 9/11 hijackers to a “Bush family friend.”

There is more, but you don’t need to read it here. Just wait for Trump to say it.


Is Donald Trump a Racist?

Written by

HAS the party of Lincoln just nominated a racist to be president? We shouldn’t toss around such accusations lightly, so I’ve looked back over more than 40 years of Donald Trump’s career to see what the record says.

One early red flag arose in 1973, when President Richard Nixon’s Justice Department — not exactly the radicals of the day — sued Trump and his father, Fred Trump, for systematically discriminating against blacks in housing rentals.

I’ve waded through 1,021 pages of documents from that legal battle, and they are devastating. Donald Trump was then president of the family real estate firm, and the government amassed overwhelming evidence that the company had a policy of discriminating against blacks, including those serving in the military.

To prove the discrimination, blacks were repeatedly dispatched as testers to Trump apartment buildings to inquire about vacancies, and white testers were sent soon after. Repeatedly, the black person was told that nothing was available, while the white tester was shown apartments for immediate rental.

A former building superintendent working for the Trumps explained that he was told to code any application by a black person with the letter C, for colored, apparently so the office would know to reject it. A Trump rental agent said the Trumps wanted to rent only to “Jews and executives,” and discouraged renting to blacks.

Donald Trump furiously fought the civil rights suit in the courts and the media, but the Trumps eventually settled on terms that were widely regarded as a victory for the government. Three years later, the government sued the Trumps again, for continuing to discriminate.

In fairness, those suits date from long ago, and the discriminatory policies were probably put in place not by Donald Trump but by his father. Fred Trump appears to have been arrested at a Ku Klux Klan rally in 1927; Woody Guthrie, who lived in a Trump property in the 1950s, lambasted Fred Trump in recently discovered papers for stirring racial hatred.

Yet even if Donald Trump inherited his firm’s discriminatory policies, he allied himself decisively in the 1970s housing battle against the civil rights movement.

Another revealing moment came in 1989, when New York City was convulsed by the “Central Park jogger” case, a rape and beating of a young white woman. Five black and Latino teenagers were arrested.

Trump stepped in, denounced Mayor Ed Koch’s call for peace and bought full-page newspaper ads calling for the death penalty. The five teenagers spent years in prison before being exonerated. In retrospect, they suffered a modern version of a lynching, and Trump played a part in whipping up the crowds.

As Trump moved into casinos, discrimination followed. In the 1980s, according to a former Trump casino worker, Kip Brown, who was quoted by The New Yorker: “When Donald and Ivana came to the casino, the bosses would order all the black people off the floor. … They put us all in the back.”
In 1991, a book by John O’Donnell, who had been president of the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, quoted Trump as criticizing a black accountant and saying: “Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day. … I think that the guy is lazy. And it’s probably not his fault, because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is, I believe that. It’s not anything they can control.” O’Donnell wrote that for months afterward, Trump pressed him to fire the black accountant, until the man resigned of his own accord.

Trump eventually denied making those comments. But in 1997 in a Playboy interview, he conceded “the stuff O’Donnell wrote about me is probably true.”

The recent record may be more familiar: Trump’s suggestions that President Obama was born in Kenya; his insinuations that Obama was admitted to Ivy League schools only because of affirmative action; his denunciations of Mexican immigrants as, “in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists”; his calls for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States; his dismissal of an American-born judge of Mexican ancestry as a Mexican who cannot fairly hear his case; his reluctance to distance himself from the Ku Klux Klan in a television interview; his retweet of a graphic suggesting that 81 percent of white murder victims are killed by blacks (the actual figure is about 15 percent); and so on.

Trump has also retweeted messages from white supremacists or Nazi sympathizers, including two from an account called @WhiteGenocideTM with a photo of the American Nazi Party’s founder.
Trump repeatedly and vehemently denies any racism, and he has deleted some offensive tweets. The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi racist website that has endorsed Trump, sees that as going “full-wink-wink-wink.”

(Update: After this column was published, the Trump campaign emailed me the following statement: “Donald Trump has a lifetime record of inclusion and has publicly rebuked groups who seek to discriminate against others on numerous occasions. To suggest otherwise is a complete fabrication of the truth.”)

My view is that “racist” can be a loaded word, a conversation stopper more than a clarifier, and that we should be careful not to use it simply as an epithet. Moreover, Muslims and Latinos can be of any race, so some of those statements technically reflect not so much racism as bigotry. It’s also true that with any single statement, it is possible that Trump misspoke or was misconstrued.
And yet.

Here we have a man who for more than four decades has been repeatedly associated with racial discrimination or bigoted comments about minorities, some of them made on television for all to see. While any one episode may be ambiguous, what emerges over more than four decades is a narrative arc, a consistent pattern — and I don’t see what else to call it but racism.


President Barack Obama Weekly Address August 16, 2016 (Video/Transcript)

Barack Obama 
 Weekly Address
The White House
August 20, 2016 
Hi everybody. Earlier this summer, Michelle, Malia, Sasha and I headed west—to the national parks at Carlsbad Caverns and Yosemite. And I’ve got to say, it was a breath of fresh air. We explored hundreds of feet underground, standing beneath dripping stalactites in New Mexico. We hiked up a misty trail next to a waterfall in California. And I even took a few pictures of my own – not bad, right?

But the truth is, no camera – especially one with me behind it – can fully capture the beauty and majesty of America’s national parks. From Glacier and Denali to Gettysburg and Seneca Falls, our more than 400 parks and other sites capture our history and our sense of wonder. As FDR once said: “There is nothing so American as our national parks… the fundamental idea behind the parks… is that the country belongs to the people.”

This month, we’re celebrating the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. And I want to encourage all of you to “Find Your Park” so that you and your family can experience these sacred places, too. If you’re a military family, you can even get in free through Michelle and Jill Biden’s Joining Forces initiative. And if you’ve got a fourth grader in your family, you can get a free pass, too, by going to

I hope you do. Because all across the country, the National Park Service is preparing for a big year. We’re revitalizing a grove of giant Sequoias in Yosemite; repairing the Lincoln Memorial; and enhancing the iconic entrance to our first national park at Yellowstone.

As President, I’m proud to have built upon America’s tradition of conservation. We’ve protected more than 265 million acres of public lands and waters – more than any administration in history.

We’ve recovered endangered wildlife species and restored vulnerable ecosystems. We’ve designated new monuments to Cesar Chavez in California, the Pullman porters in Chicago, and the folks who stood up for equality at Stonewall in New York – to better reflect the full history of our nation. And we’ve got more work to do to preserve our lands, culture, and history. So we’re not done yet.

As we look ahead, the threat of climate change means that protecting our public lands and waters is more important than ever. Rising temperatures could mean no more glaciers in Glacier National Park. No more Joshua Trees in Joshua Tree National Park. Rising seas could destroy vital ecosystems in the Everglades, even threaten Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.

So in the coming years and decades, we have to have the foresight, and the faith in our future, to do what it takes to protect our parks and protect our planet for generations to come. Because these parks belong to all of us. And they’re worth celebrating – not just this year, but every year.

Thanks everybody. Have a great weekend. And see you in the parks!


'Paradise Lost': How To Help Our Oceans Before It's Too Late

Interview Conducted By

In the past 50 years, Earth's oceans have been depleted and acidified to alarming degrees. Sylvia Earle, a longtime marine scientist, explains her plan to save at least a small part of them -- along with our planet.  

 The swarm of carangidae looks like a silver wall in front of the divers. Bright sunlight breaks through the water surface and makes the fishes' scales shimmer like an artfully forged mirror. As if following an invisible sign, the animals abruptly turn and fly up before quickly returning, as one undulating mass.

Sylvia Earle, 80, glides slowly past the bodies, an underwater camera in her hand. The photo yield has been plentiful today, on the reef at Cabo Pulmo, a small coastal town on the southern end of Mexico's Baja California peninsula. The tiny village on the Sea of Cortez had once been a normal fishing village. The reef provided a decent income for a handful of families, but then the wealth of fish spread by word of mouth.

First came the recreational fishermen, then the trawlers with their longlines and nets. By 1980, the reef had been fished bare. After pressure from locals, Cabo Pulmo was declared a national park. Since then, fishing has been banned here. In the last three decades, the biomass of fish has more than quadrupled. And the people are earning good money from ecotourism.

That's why Earle has selected Cabo Pulmo as a "Hope Spot." She has identified about 200 of these kinds of locations through her foundation, Mission Blue. Together with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), she is working on a global action plan for marine reserves. In an interview, she explains why the ocean is so important for life on earth.

SPIEGEL: What is it that's so special about Cabo Pulmo?

Earle: Cabo Pulmo is a small place, but it is making a big difference in terms of inspiring hope. This village shows that if you make an investment, care for a place, it can recover. The fish had been depleted, the coral reefs were in trouble, but by taking the pressure off, by creating a safe place in the ocean for the wildlife that is here, recovery has taken place. The people took their ocean back, replaced the fishing with ecotourism, and the community is thriving. What I love about this place is the idea that you can use the ocean without using it up. People here show us that the best way to ensure continued prosperity is through sustainable use. The living ocean is their bank, their treasure, their hope.

SPIEGEL: What is the current situation in the Earth's oceans? What kind of crisis are we facing?

Earle: Since I began exploring the ocean in the 1950s, 90 percent of the big fish have been stripped away. Tuna, sharks, swordfish, cod, halibut, you name it, the numbers have just collapsed. Also, about half of the coral reefs are gone, globally, from where they were just a few decades ago. We have found ways to capture, kill and market ocean wildlife on an unprecedented scale. It's an absolute catastrophe. The ocean seemed like a sea of Eden. But now we are facing paradise lost.

SPIEGEL: Aren't you exaggerating? After all, the ocean seems to be endless.

Earle: We humans have this idea that the ocean is so big, so vast, so resilient that it doesn't matter what we do to it. That may have been true 1,000 years ago. But in the last 100, especially the last 50 years, we have destroyed the assets that make our lives possible. I am haunted by tomorrow's children asking why we didn't do something on our watch to save sharks, bluefin tuna, squids and coral reefs -- while there was still time. We are depleting this immense diversity and abundance of life, and it matters tremendously for the future of the planet.

SPIEGEL: Why is that?

Earle: Life in the ocean makes Earth hospitable. We are sailing along in the universe and we have a blue engine that is making everything alright. The ocean governs the climate and the weather, it is taking care of the temperature and it is shaping the chemistry of our planet. The oxygen cycle, the nitrogen cycle, the carbon cycle, the water cycle -- all of these are linked to the existence of life in the sea. The Earth is a tiny blue speck in a universe of unfriendly options. And the ocean is our life support system. No blue, no green. It's really a miracle that we have got a place that works in our favor. And if you think the ocean isn't important, imagine Earth without it.

SPIEGEL: Mars comes to mind….

Earle: Indeed. There was a movie recently, "The Martian," that says it all. You can survive, but what kind of life is that? We are blessed with a place that is open to the universe and, despite this, supports this very thin envelope of air we call atmosphere, which holds just the right amount of oxygen for us to breathe. Our job is to keep what is working intact and not destroy what we have got. In the past few decades, Earth's natural systems have endured more pressure than in all preceding human history. What we put into the atmosphere in terms of burning fuel is unprecedented. We are not only warming the ocean and the planet as a whole, but we are also acidifying the ocean and changing its chemistry. The ocean is dying, and we have no place to escape to if this experiment doesn't go in our favor.

SPIEGEL: You spend 300 days a year traveling as kind of an ambassador for the ocean. What drives you?

Earle: If I seem like a radical it's because I have seen things that others have not. I am driven by what I know; that the world I love is in trouble. I've spent thousands of hours under water. And even in the deepest dive I have ever made, 2.5 miles (about 4 kilometers) down, I saw trash and other tangible evidence of our presence. When I was 12, we moved from New Jersey to Florida. The Gulf of Mexico was literally my backyard. Every day, I could see the ocean. At low tide I went out and played in seagrass meadows that used to come right up to the shore, filled with tiny seahorses, pipefish and soft corals. There was so much life! But then I witnessed the change, the loss of the shoreline, the loss of the mangrove trees, the loss of the seagrass meadows. Shallow bay areas were turned into parking lots. People call that reclamation, but it is the transformation of a healthy living system into something that is barren and dead.

SPIEGEL: What do you suggest doing to help the ocean?

Earle: When you are a child you learn your alphabet, your numbers, but increasingly, we must learn from the earliest stages that the highest priority has to be to maintain the world as a safe place for humankind. Fortunately, we know more about the problems that we have than in all preceding history. We know now the consequences of the things that we put into the air, into the water -- of the way we treat life on Earth. We understand that we must make peace with nature -- that our lives depend on it. With knowing comes caring. The next 10 years could be the most important in the next 10,000. It is not too late to turn things around. We still have 10 percent of the sharks. We still have half of the coral reefs. However, if we wait another 50 years, opportunities might well be gone.
SPIEGEL: Your foundation supports the designation and protection of so called "Hope Spots" around the world. What are you aiming for?

Earle: There are now more than 4,000 places in the sea around the world that have some kind of protection. The bad news: You have to look hard to find them. What you find instead is destructive fishing, mining, gas and oil exploration. Only two percent of the ocean is fully protected right now. We believe that this area has to increase at least tenfold by 2020. That's why we look globally for places that are in great shape, pristine areas that, if protected, can serve as a source of renewal. We have about 200 places already nominated as Hope Spots. Hope Spots encourage people to take the initiative, to take action on a community level.

SPIEGEL: Most people, however, feel powerless. What can each one of us do individually?

Earle: Everybody can make choices that will make peace with the natural world. You can choose not to eat tuna, not to eat swordfish, not even to eat the little herring. Eating wildlife is probably not the smartest thing that we can do in terms of maintaining the integrity of natural systems. Fish from all over the world, from deep in the sea, wind up in countries from Germany to Japan. That is just crazy. We are taking way more out of the ocean than the ocean can replenish. You should ask where your food is coming from. You should know what is taken out of the ecosystem in order to give you a moment's sustenance. Give the ocean a break. Give yourself a break. If you make the choice to just go with the flow, that is a choice to make a difference in a negative way.

SPIEGEL: What gives you hope?

Earle: Places like Cabo Pulmo do. Imagine taking the miracle that happened here and spreading hope around the world so people change the way they think about respecting nature, treating all creatures, including one another, with dignity and understanding. You can do that too, in your own life, in your community, in your country and internationally. With care and protection, with safe havens in the ocean, there is still a good chance that we can turn things around. We don't have to be that greedy generation that just continued to take down the underpinnings of what makes the planet work in our favor. Use your power to do whatever it takes to secure for humankind an enduring place on this little blue speck in the universe -- our only hope.

Sylvia Earle, born in 1935, took part in one of the very first marine research expeditions in the Indian Ocean in 1964. In 1979, she set foot on the ocean floor near Hawaii, encased in a steel diving suit, the legendary Jim Suit. Soon after, she descended to a depth of 1,000 meters on board the Deep Rover, one of the world's first deep-sea submarines. Earle later became a scientist at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Today, she travels around the world 300 days a year as an ambassador for the ocean.


President Barack Obama Weekly Address August 13, 2016 (Video/Transcript)

President Barack Obama 
 Weekly Address
The White House
August 13, 2016 
Hi, everybody.  One of the most urgent challenges of our time is climate change.  We know that 2015 surpassed 2014 as the warmest year on record – and 2016 is on pace to be even hotter.

When I took office, I said this was something we couldn’t kick down the road any longer – that our children’s future depended on our action.  So we got to work, and over the past seven-and-a-half years, we’ve made ambitious investments in clean energy, and ambitious reductions in our carbon emissions.  We’ve multiplied wind power threefold.  We’ve multiplied solar power more than thirtyfold.  In parts of America, these clean power sources are finally cheaper than dirtier, conventional power.  And carbon pollution from our energy sector is at its lowest level in 25 years, even as we’re continuing to grow our economy.

We’ve invested in energy efficiency, and we’re slashing carbon emissions from appliances, homes, and businesses – saving families money on their energy bills.  We’re reforming how we manage federal coal resources, which supply roughly 40% of America’s coal.  We’ve set the first-ever national standards limiting the amount of carbon pollution power plants can release into the sky.

We also set standards to increase the distance our cars and light trucks can go on a gallon of gas every year through 2025.  And they’re working.  At a time when we’ve seen auto sales surge, manufacturers are innovating and bringing new technology to market faster than expected.  Over 100 cars, SUVs, and pick-up trucks on the market today already meet our vehicles standards ahead of schedule.  And we’ve seen a boom in the plug-in electric vehicle market – with more models, lower battery costs, and more than 16,000 charging stations.

But we’re not done yet. In the weeks and months ahead, we’ll release a second round of fuel efficiency standards for heavy-duty vehicles. We’ll take steps to meet the goal we set with Canada and Mexico to achieve 50 percent clean power across North America by 2025.  And we’ll continue to protect our lands and waters so that our kids and grandkids can enjoy our most beautiful spaces for generations.

There’s still much more to do.  But there’s no doubt that America has become a global leader in the fight against climate change.  Last year, that leadership helped us bring nearly 200 nations together in Paris around the most ambitious agreement in history to save the one planet we’ve got.  That’s not something to tear up – it’s something to build upon.  And if we keep pushing, and leading the world in the right direction, there’s no doubt that, together, we can leave a better, cleaner, safer future for our children.

Thanks, everybody.  Have a great weekend.


President Barack Obama Weekly Address August 6, 2016 (Video/Transcript)

President Barack Obama 
 Weekly Address
The White House
August 6, 2016 
Every four years, our nation’s attention turns to a competition that’s as heated as it is historic.  People pack arenas and wave flags.  Journalists judge every move and overanalyze every misstep.
Sometimes we’re let down, but more often we’re lifted up.  And just when we think we’ve seen it all, we see something happen in a race that we’ve never seen before.

I’m talking, of course, about the Summer Olympics.

This month, Rio is hosting the first-ever Games held in South America – and we’re ready to root on Team USA.  We’re excited to see who will inspire us this time; whose speed will remind us of Jesse Owens; whose feats will remind us of Bob Beamon’s amazing jump?  Which young American will leave us awestruck, the way a teenager named Kerri Strug did when she stuck that landing, and when another kid named Cassius Clay gave the world its first glimpse of greatness?  Who will match Mary Lou Retton’s perfection; or pull off an upset like Rulon Gardner’s; or dominate like the Dream Team?

That’s why we watch.  And we have a lot to look forward to this year.  Team USA reminds the world why America always sets the gold standard: We’re a nation of immigrants that finds strength in our diversity and unity in our national pride.
Our athletes hail from 46 states, D.C., and the Virgin Islands.  Our team boasts the most women who have ever competed for any nation at any Olympic Games.  It includes active-duty members of our military and our veterans.  We’ve got basketball players who stand nearly seven feet tall and a gymnast who’s 4-foot-8.  And Team USA spans generations: a few athletes who are almost as old as I am, and one born just a year before my younger daughter.

Our roster includes a gymnast from Texas who’s so trailblazing, they named a flip after her.  A young woman who persevered through a tough childhood in Flint, Michigan, to become the first American woman to win gold in the boxing ring.  And a fencing champion from suburban Jersey who’ll become the first American Olympian to wear a hijab while competing.  And on our Paralympic team, we’re honored to be represented by a Navy veteran who lost his sight while serving in Afghanistan and continues to show us what courage looks like every time he jumps in the pool.

When you watch these Games, remember that it’s about so much more than the moments going by in a flash.  Think about the countless hours these athletes put in, knowing it could mean the difference in a split-second victory that earns them a lifetime of pride, and gives us enduring memories.  It’s about the character it takes to train your heart out, even when no one’s watching.  Just hard work, focus, and a dream.  That’s the Olympic spirit – and it’s the American spirit, too.

In our Olympians, we recognize that no one accomplishes greatness alone.  Even solo athletes have a coach beside them and a country behind them.  In a season of intense politics, let’s cherish this opportunity to come together around one flag.  In a time of challenge around the world, let’s appreciate the peaceful competition and sportsmanship we’ll see, the hugs and high-fives and the empathy and understanding between rivals who know we share a common humanity.  Let’s honor the courage it takes, not only to cross the finish line first, but merely to stand in the starting blocks.  And let’s see in ourselves the example they set – proving that no matter where you’re from, with determination and discipline, there’s nothing you can’t achieve.

That idea – that you can succeed no matter where you’re from – is especially true this year.  We’ll cheer on athletes on the first-ever Olympic Refugee Team: Ten competitors from the Congo, Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Syria who personify endurance.

To all of our Olympic and Paralympic athletes wearing the red, white, and blue – know that your country couldn’t be prouder of you.  We admire all the work you’ve done to get to Rio and everything you’ll do there.  Thank you for showing the world the best of America.  And know that when you get up on that podium, we’ll be singing the National Anthem – and maybe even shedding a tear – right alongside you.

Now go bring home the gold!

Vice President Joe Biden and Retired Federal Judge Timothy Lewis Weekly Address July 30, 2016 (Video/Transcript)

 Weekly Address
The White House
July 30, 2016 
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Hi, folks. Joe Biden here and I’m sitting with Tim Lewis, a retired federal judge who was nominated to the bench by a Republican President and confirmed by a Democratic Senate—within four weeks of a presidential election. 

JUDGE LEWIS: Hello, everyone. That’s right. And I’m living proof that President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court—Chief Judge Merrick Garland—deserves similar consideration by today’s Senate.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Not only because Merrick Garland is recognized—without exception—by the right and the left as one of America’s sharpest legal minds and a model of integrity.

JUDGE LEWIS: But also because that’s what the Constitution requires. The sitting President shall—not may—but shall nominate someone to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court, with the advice and consent of the Senate.  That includes consulting and voting. 

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Here’s how it works. For 17 years, I was chairman or ranking member of Senate Judiciary Committee, which overseas nominations to the Court. I presided over nine total nominations—more than anyone alive. Some I supported. Others I didn’t. But every nominee was greeted by committee members.  Every nominee got a committee hearing.  Every nominee got out of the committee to the Senate floor, even when a nominee did not receive majority support in my committee.  And every nominee, including Justice Kennedy—in an election year—got an up or down vote by the Senate. Not much of the time. Not most of the time. Every single time. That’s the Constitution’s clear rule of Advice and Consent. And that’s the rule being violated today by Senate Republicans.

Nobody is suggesting that Senators have to vote “yes” on a nominee. Voting “no” is always an option. But saying nothing, seeing nothing, reading nothing, hearing nothing, and deciding in advance simply to turn your backs—is not an option the Constitution leaves open.

JUDGE LEWIS: And it has real consequences for all of us. In the four months since Merrick Garland’s nomination, we’ve already seen how the Senate’s refusal to act is preventing the Court from fulfilling its duty of interpreting what the law is and resolving conflicts in lower courts. Historic obstruction is leading to greater litigation costs and delays—the burden falling mostly on average Americans rather than corporations with endless resources. Unresolved decisions by the Supreme Court are leading to federal laws that should apply to the whole country being constitutional in some parts but unconstitutional in others. If this continues, our freedom of speech, our freedom to practice our faith, our right to vote, our right to privacy—all could depend on where we happen to live. 

THE VICE PRESIDENT: And the longer the vacancy remains unfilled, the more serious the problem—with greater confusion and uncertainty about our safety and security. If you have eight Justices on a case, Justice Scalia himself wrote, that it raises the, “possibility that, by reason of a tie vote, the Court will find itself unable to resolve the significant legal issue presented by the case.”  And if Republican Senators fail to act, it could be an entire year before a fully staffed Supreme Court can resolve any significant issue before it.

Folks, there’s enough dysfunction in Washington, D.C. Now is not the time for it to spread to the Supreme Court.

JUDGE LEWIS: And we’re better than what we’re seeing. As a country, we’re only as strong as the traditions we value—that we sustain by dedicating ourselves to something bigger than ourselves. 

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Folks, the defining difference of our great democracy has always been that we can reason our way through to what ails us and then act as citizens, voters, and public servants to fix it. But we have to act in good faith.  For unless we find common ground, we cannot govern. For the sake of the country we love—we all have to do our job. The President has done his. Senate Republicans must do theirs.

Thanks for listening and have a great weekend.