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The Obama Administration: November 16-30, 2009

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This article is the twenty-first in a continuing series chronicling the unfolding history of the Obama Administration. The writer's opinions are not offered, leaving the readers to arrive at their own conclusions.

Day298/Nov16th/Monday: The President visited with United States Consulate employees and their families.

The President held a bilateral meeting with Chinese Party Secretary, Yu Sheng, and Mayor of Shanghai, Han Zheng, in the banquet hall of the Xijiao State Guest House, where, afterward, they participated in a working lunch.

The President hosted a town hall meeting with future Chinese leaders at the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum. People throughout China attended the event virtually in classrooms, coffee houses, living rooms, and at "watch parties" organized by the U.S. Embassy and Consulates. The President pushed for unrestricted internet and expanded political freedoms and announced: "The United States will dramatically expand the number of our students who study in China to 100,000. And these exchanges mark a clear commitment to build ties among our people." Transcript Video

The President departed Shanghai, China en route Beijing, China, where he was greeted at a welcome ceremony at the Capitol International airport.

The President, in the evening, was greeted by President Hu Jintao of China in Yangyuan Hall of the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, where, afterward, both leaders participated in a bilateral meeting, then had dinner in the Banquet Hall.

The President released a statement concerning the release of Household Food Security in the United States. "It is particularly troubling that there were more than 500,000 families in which a child experienced hunger multiple times over the course of the year. Our children's ability to grow, learn, and meet their full potential -- and therefore our future competitiveness as a nation -- depends on regular access to healthy meals," he stated. The President pointed out the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program aid has been extended to those hardest hit by the economic downturn. Transcript

The President sent these nominations to the United States Senate:

Walter Crawford Jones, of Maryland, to be United States Director of the African Development Bank for a term of five years

Ian Hoddy Solomon, of Maryland, to be United States Executive Director of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development for a term of two years

Leocadia Irine Zak, of the District of Columbia, to be Director of the Trade and Development Agency

Voting began for the United States Education Department's importance of education contest. According to the White House Blog, "Since September 21st, hundreds of students across the country responded to the President's call to take greater responsibility for their education by creating videos explaining why education is important. Students submitted more than 600 video entries". The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Communications and Outreach reviewed each submission and narrowed the submissions down to 10 finalists based on creativity, strength and originality of content, and ability to inspire. These videos were available for voting at www.youtube.com/Iamwhatilearn. Voting for the videos ran from November 16 to December 4, 2009. The three videos with the most votes at the end of the period each won a $1,000 prize issued by the U.S. Department of Education.

Day299/Nov17th/Tuesday: The President, in China, was welcomed at a ceremony at the Great Hall of the People.


The President held a bilateral meeting and an expanded bilateral meeting with President Hu Jintao of China in the Great Hall of the People. Remarks: President Obama & President Hu before Expanded Bi-lateral Meeting

The President and President Hu Jintao of China delivered joint statements to the press.


The President toured the Forbidden City, then signed the guest book at the Gate of Loyal Obedience.


The President visited United States Embassy employees and their families in the atrium of the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.


The President held a bilateral meeting with Chairman Wu Bangguo.


The President, in the evening, attended a State Dinner in the Great Hall of the People.

United States & China Joint Statement United States & China Clean Energy Announcements Joint Press Statement: President Obama & President Hu

The President sent these nominations to the United States Senate:

Julie Simone Brill, of Vermont, to be a Federal Trade Commissioner for the term of seven years from September 26, 2009

Scott H. DeLisi, of Minnesota, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Nepal

Earl F. Gohl, Jr., of the District of Columbia, to be Federal Cochairman of the Appalachian Regional Commission

Edith Ramirez, of California, to be a Federal Trade Commissioner for the term of seven years from September 26, 2008

Beatrice Wilkinson Welters, of Virginia, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Trinidad and Tobago. Source Bios

The President signed an Executive Order to establish an interagency Financial Fraud and Enforcement Task Force, led by the United States Justice Department and charged with investigating and prosecuting "significant financial crimes and other violations relating to the current financial crisis and economic recovery efforts, recover the proceeds of such crimes and violations, and ensure just and effective punishment of those who perpetrate financial crimes and violations". Executive Order

Day300/Nov18th/Wednesday: The President and Premier Wen Jiabao of China held a bilateral meeting in the interview hall of the Beijing Hotel, followed by a working lunch. Remarks of the President & Premier Wen Jiabao at Bi-lateral Meeting

The President toured the Great Wall of China.

The President departed Beijing, China, in the evening, for Seoul, Korea, where he was greeted in a welcome ceremony.

The President sent these nominations to the United States Senate:

" Robert A. Petzel, Under Secretary for Health, Department of Veterans Affairs
"
Arthur Elkins, Jr., Inspector General, Environmental Protection Agency
"
Nicole Y. Lamb-Hale, Assistant Secretary of Commerce (Manufacturing and Services), Department of Commerce Source Bios

United States Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and U.S. Small Business Administrator Karen G. Mills convened a forum on small business financing issues for a range of key stakeholders, including policymakers, lenders, and small business owners, to explore new ideas and strategies for expanding access to financing for small businesses. Source

The United States Department of Labor announced nearly $55 million in grants to help workers, many in underserved communities, find jobs in expanding green industries. Of the grants announced, $48.8 million will focus on collecting and disseminating labor market information to enable job seekers to connect with green job banks and help to ensure that workers find employment after completing training. In addition, $5.8 million in grants have been awarded to increase the capacity of 62 current Labor Department grant recipients to provide training opportunities specifically focused on jobs in expanding green industries. Source

The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM), announcing "an advance notice of rulemaking that would govern the overall operations and conduct of where to place excess oil from mountaintop mining," took steps to reverse a Bush Administration rule that allowed coalmine operators to dump excavated material into streams. Source

Day301/Nov19th/Thursday: In Seoul, Korea, the President visited with United States Embassy staff and their families.

The President was greeted in an arrival ceremony at the Blue House, the South Korean presidential compound in Northern Seoul.

The President held a bilateral meeting with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, then an expanded bilateral meeting. Remarks: President Obama & President Lee before Bilateral Meeting

The President and President Lee held a joint press conference at the Blue House, followed by a working lunch. Remarks: President Obama & President Lee Myung-bak Video

The President delivered remarks for United States service members at
Osan Air Base in South Korea. Among the President's remarks, he told those soldiers:

"We've increased the size of the Army and Marines Corps ahead of schedule. We've approved a temporary increase in the Army. And we've halted reductions in the Navy and the Air Force -- which will give you more time home between deployments. And it will help us to put an end, once and for all, for stop-loss for those who've done their duty."

"As you fulfill your duties, we're going to take care of your families. That's why we're increasing pay". That's why we're increasing child care. That's why we're increasing support to help spouses and families deal with the stress and separation of war." Transcript Video

The President departed South Korea for return to Washington, DC.

Interview President Obama Xiang Xi Southern Weekly

The President sent these nominations for the Broadcasting Board of Governors to the United States Senate:

Walter Isaacson, Chair, Broadcasting Board of Governors

Michael Lynton, Member, Broadcasting Board of Governors

Susan McCue, Member, Broadcasting Board of Governors

Michael P. Meehan, Member, Broadcasting Board of Governors Bios

Victor H. Ashe, Member, Broadcasting Board of Governors

Dennis Mulhaupt, Member, Broadcasting Board of Governors

Dana Perino, Member, Broadcasting Board of Governors

S. Enders Wimbush, Member, Broadcasting Board of Governors Bios

The President proclaimed November 16 through November 22, 2009, as National Entrepreneurship Week. Source

Day302/Nov20th/Friday: Absent scheduled public events, perhaps the President spent this day recovering from time zone fatique.

The President did announce his intent to nominate the following individuals to key administration posts:

Maria Sally Matiella, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Financial Management, Department of Defense

Paul L. Oostburg Sanz, General Counsel of the Department of the Navy, Department of Defense

Solomon B. Watson IV, General Counsel of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense

Kathleen S. Tighe, Inspector General, Department of Education

Orlan Johnson, Chair, Board of Directors of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation

Sharon Y. Bowen, Vice-Chair, Board of Directors of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation Source&Bios

The President sent these nominations to the United States Senate:

Elizabeth Littlefield, President of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation

Harry K. Thomas, Jr., Ambassador to the Republic of the Philippines

David Adelman, Ambassador to the Republic of Singapore Bios

The President did proclaim the week ending on Thanksgiving Day of each year as National Farm-City Week. Source

The President did proclaim November 22, 2009, as National Child's Day. Source

The President did proclaim November 22 through November 28, 2009, as National Family Week. Source

Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Christopher Hill conferred by telephone about the status of Iraq's election law. Ambassador Hill updated the Vice President on the situation and they discussed efforts to ratify the law so that elections can go forward in Iraq early next year. Source

The White House, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Health and Human Services hosted another Clean Energy Economy Forum. A group of stakeholders, business and community leaders discussed clean energy and climate legislation work, and the benefits towards public health. Source Video

The White House Office of Public Engagement hosted a reception commemorating the 540th anniversary of the birth of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the first guru in Sikhism. It was the first time that this holiday had ever been celebrated at the White House. Members of the Sikh community from around the country were invited to celebrate the occasion with traditional hymns led by the Sikh Kirtani Chanters from the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India. Source

Day303/Nov21st/Saturday: In his Weekly Address, recorded in Seoul, South Korea, the President discussed his trip to Asia. He talked about his push to stop nuclear proliferation in North Korea, Iran, and around the world. He talked about promoting America's principles for an open society in China while making progress on joint efforts to combat climate change. He talked about the primary objective of his trip: engaging in new markets that hold tremendous potential to spur job creation in the United States. Transcript Video

Day304/Nov22nd/Sunday: The Chronicler presumes the President rested.

Day305/Nov23rd/Monday: The President delivered remarks at an event in the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building that launched the "Educate to Innovate" Campaign for Excellence in Science, Technology, Engineering & Math Education, a n

ationwide effort that includes over $260 million in public-private investments to move American students to the top of the pack in science and math achievement over the next decade. The President's remarks were live streamed; afterward Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Office of Science and Technology Policy Director John Holdren held a live online chat to discuss the initiatives. Source Transcript Video

The President conducted a Cabinet meeting, primarily focus on the economy and jobs, in the Cabinet Room of the White House. After the meeting, the President provided a summation of the meeting to reporters.
Transcript Video

The President met with United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office of the White House.

The President, at evening, delivered remarks and presented the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award to Magodonga Mahlangu and her organization, Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), in a ceremony in the East Room of the White House. Transcript Video

The President proclaimed Thursday, November 26, 2009, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. Source

The President issued an Executive Order meant to reduced improper payments and eliminate waste in federal programs. Within 90 days of the date of this order, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) shall:

(1) identify Federal programs in which the highest dollar value or majority of Government-wide improper payments occur

(2) establish, in coordination with the executive department or agency responsible for administering the high-priority program annual or semi-annual targets (or where such targets already exist, supplemental targets), as appropriate, for reducing improper payments associated with each high-priority program

(3) issue Government-wide guidance on the implementation of this order and

establish a working group consisting of Federal, State, and local officials to make recommendations to the Director of OMB designed to improve the Federal Government's measurement of access to Federal programs by the programs' intended beneficiaries

Within 180 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of the Treasury in coordination with the Attorney General and the Director of OMB, shall publish on the Internet information about improper payments under high-priority programs. The information shall include, subject to Federal privacy policies and to the extent permitted by law:

(1)the names of the accountable officials designated under section 3 of this order

(2)current and historical rates and amounts of improper payments

(3)current and historical rates and amounts of recovery of improper payments

(4)targets for reducing as well as recovering improper payments the entities that have received the greatest amount of outstanding improper payments

The full text of the Executive Order can be found here.

The White House launched a "list" on the official White House account on Twitter to make it easier for people to follow U.S. Government Twitter feeds. Included are a variety of accounts from Cabinet Secretaries, Agencies and Departments. Source

White House Director of the Office of Management and Budget Peter Orszag and other top White House officials met Tuesday with United States Senate Budget Committee Chairman Senator Kent Conrad to discuss empowering a deficit-cutting commission. Writing for Firedoglake.com , David Dayen wrote "The Conrad-Gregg commission would be able to make recommendations that Congress would have to actively reject with an up or down vote and no filibuster, actually taking the lawmaking process out of the hands of elected lawmakers". Source

Day306/Nov24th/Tuesday: The President and the First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India and Gursharan Kaur, the Prime Minister's wife, to the White House. Transcript Video

The President and the Prime Minister Singh held a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office of the White House, then an expanded bilateral meeting in the Oval Office.

The President and Prime Minister Singh held a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House. Transcript Video

The President held separate meetings with his senior advisers, United States House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and United States Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Vice President Joe Biden in the Oval Office.

The President signed an Executive Order creating a new Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. The President's Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues will advise the President on bioethical issues that may emerge from advances in biomedicine and related areas of science and technology. The Commission will work with the goal of identifying and promoting policies and practices that ensure scientific research, health care delivery, and technological innovation are conducted in an ethically responsible manner. The President appointed Amy Gutmann to serve as Chair and James W. Wagner to serve as Vice Chair of the Commission. Bios&Source

The President and First Lady Michelle Obama, in the evening, greeted Prime Minister Singh and Mrs. Kaur on their arrival at the North Portico of the White House for the State Dinner.

The President and First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a State Dinner in honor of Prime Minister Singh and Mrs. Kaur on the South Lawn.

Toast Remarks President Obama and Prime Minister Singh at State Dinner Video

State Dinner Invited Guest List

Joint Statement Between Prime Minister Singh and President Obama

Fact Sheets US Indian Cooperation

United States Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced a $620 million investment in "the Smart Grid"--building on a $3.4 billion investment announced by President Obama last month as part of the Recovery Act. Video

Day307/Nov25th/Wednesday: The President proclaimed December 1, 2009, as World AIDS Day, stating, "I urge the Governors of the States and the territories subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, and the American people to join in appropriate activities to remember those who have lost their lives to AIDS, and to provide support and comfort to those living with this disease." Source

The President participated in the traditional turkey pardoning ceremony in the Rose Garden. Transcript Video

The first family (President Obama, First Lady Michelle, daughters Sasha, Malia and First Grandmother Marian Robinson were joined by about a dozen others, including Obama half-sister Maya Soetoro-Ng, her husband, Konrad Ng and their two daughters, Suhaila and Savita) celebrated Thanksgiving by handing out turkeys, pumpkin pies, vegetables, stuffing and other Thanksgiving groceries Wednesday afternoon at Martha's Table, just a few miles from the White House.

The Obama Administration released a list of more than 1600 records of visits to the White House. The records include visits through August 31 of this year. List of White House Visitors

Day308/Nov26th/Thursday: The President called two service members in each of the five military branches to wish them a Happy Thanksgiving and to let them know how much Michelle and he are truly thankful for their service and sacrifice on behalf of the nation.

Day309/Nov27th/Friday: The Chronicler and the President were likely eating leftover unpardoned turkey.

Day310/Nov28th/Saturday: In his Weekly Address, the President expressed gratitude to America's military men and women and their families, and gave thanks for our nation's many blessings. He also discussed the steps his administration is taking to repair the damaged economy. Transcript Video

Vice President Joe Biden spoke by telephone to Iraqi leaders to commend them for working together to find a solution to the election law impasse. He encouraged them to finalize an arrangement that would be fair to all sides and that would allow national elections, as desired by the Iraqi people and as outlined in Iraq's constitution. Source

Day311/Nov29th/Sunday: Perhaps the President enjoyed another rare family day.

Day312/Nov30th/Monday: The President met with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd of Australia in the Oval Office of the White House.

The President sent these nominations to the United States Senate:

United States Attorneys:

Christopher A. Crofts, District of Wyoming

James L. Santelle, Eastern District of Wisconsin

Thomas G. Walker, Eastern District of North Carolina

Barbara L. McQuade, Eastern District of Michigan Bios

And

Willie Lee Richardson, Jr., of Georgia, to be United States Marshal for the Middle District of Georgia for the term of four years Bio

And these nominations:

Allan J. Katz, of Florida, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Portuguese Republic.

Ian C. Kelly, of Maryland, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be U.S. Representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, with the rank of Ambassador.

Patrick K. Nakamura, of Alabama, to be a Member of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission for a term of six years expiring August 30, 2010

Patrick K. Nakamura, of Alabama, to be a Member of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission for a term of six years expiring August 30, 2016. (Reappointment)

Bisa Williams, of New Jersey, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Niger.

Raul Yzaguirre, of Maryland, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Dominican Republic. Source

The President sent written notice to United States Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi of his decision to exercise his statutory alternative plan authority under 5 U.S.C. 5304a to set alternative January 2010 locality pay rates. In the letter, the President wrote:

"A national emergency, within the meaning of chapter 53 of title 5, has existed since September 11, 2001. Likewise, our country continues to face serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare and most Americans would not understand or accept that Federal employees should receive an average pay increase of 18.9 percent while many of their fellow citizens are facing employment cutbacks or unemployment. Such an increase would cost $19.9 billion more than the 2.0 percent overall Federal civilian pay increase that I proposed in my 2010 Budget and would build in later years.

Accordingly, I have determined that under the authority of section 5304a of title 5, United States Code, the locality pay percentages currently in effect as shown in the attachment shall remain in effect in 2010." Full Text of the Letter

The United States operated Millennium Challenge Corporation announced it will give 262 million dollars in aid to Moldova to improve agriculture and roads. "This grant represents new opportunities, new jobs, new technologies, expanded productivity, and increased access to markets and commerce," Darius Teter, an MCC executive, said in a statement. Source

Citing a recent change in federal law that allows the pictures to be withheld, the Supreme Court threw out an appeals court ruling ordering the disclosure of photographs of detainees allegedly being abused by their U.S. captors. The justices issued an order directing the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York to take another look at a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to obtain the photos of detainee abuse. Source

[Author's note: all days in these chronicles are full days. The Obama Inauguration on January 20, 2009 was a half-day, so not counted.]

 

Retired, Robert Arend was president of an AFSCME local from 1997-2007.

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