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May 20, 2010

The Obama Administration: May 1-16, 2010

By Robert Arend

This article is the thirty-second 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.

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This article is the thirty-second 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.

"How do we plug this hole?"__Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, May 2, 2010

Day463/May1st/Saturday: In his Weekly Address, the President pledged to fight for reforms to stem the influence of massive industries and their lobbyists in Washington. Transcript Video

The President delivered the commencement address at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Transcript Video

The President and the First Lady Michelle Obama attended the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner, where the President delivered remarks. Transcript Video

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced McNeil Consumer Healthcare, a unit of Johnson & Johnson, has recalled all unexpired lots of seven products in 43 different flavors and sizes: Tylenol Infants' Drops, Children's Tylenol Suspensions, Infants' Motrin Drops, Children's Zyrtec liquids in bottles and Children's Benadryl Allergy liquids. McNeil posted a full list of the recalled product lots at http://mcneilproductrecall.com/. Full Statement Release of McNeil Consumer Healthcare

Day464/May2nd/Sunday: The President traveled to Venice, Louisiana where he surveyed the conditions resulting from the BP April 20, 2010, Deepwater rig explosion and oil spill and the federal response in the Gulf Region. While he toured, the President wondered aloud, "How do we plug this hole?"; then delivered remarks on the enormous scope of the disaster and the ongoing federal commitment. He also spoke about the incident in Time Square, New York and of the ongoing local and federal response. (less info) Transcript Video

The President returned to the White House where, at about 10:45 PM, he was updated on the work by the New York City Police Department (NYPD) in relation to the incident in Times Square. The President commended the quick action by the NYPD and asked John Brennan to communicate to NYPD that the federal government is prepared to provide support. Source

The United States Treasury computers were attacked by a virus that rerouted visitors to other websites that then attempted to install malware on the visitors' personal computers. Source

Day465/May3rd/Monday: The President delivered remarks at the Commander-in- Chief's Trophy Presentation to the United States Naval Academy Football Team in the Rose Garden of the White House. Transcript Video

The President continued for one year former U.S. President George W. Bush's May 11, 2004 Executive Order 13338: the national emergency declared with respect to certain actions of the Government of Syria. "The United States will consider changes in the policies and actions of the Government of Syria in determining whether to continue or terminate this national emergency in the future and would welcome progress by the Government of Syria on these matters," the President decided. Source Statement to the United States Congress

The President declared an emergency existed in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and ordered Federal aid to supplement State and local response efforts in the area affected by a water main break beginning on May 1, 2010, and continuing, authorizing the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts for the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, and Suffolk Counties. Specifically, FEMA was authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency. Emergency protective measures, limited to direct Federal assistance, were made available at 75 percent Federal funding.Source

The President declared a major disaster existed in the State of Alabama and ordered Federal aid to supplement State and local recovery efforts in the area struck by severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding during the period of April 24-25, 2010., making Federal funding available to affected individuals in DeKalb and Marshall Counties. Assistance was also made available in the form of grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster. Federal funding was also made available to State and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding in DeKalb and Marshall Counties. Federal funding was also made available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide. Source

The President issued a Presidential Memorandum ordering the establishment of a Task Force on Space Industry Workforce and Economic Development to develop, in collaboration with local stakeholders, an interagency action plan to facilitate economic development strategies and plans along the Space Coast and to provide training and other opportunities for affected aerospace workers so they are equipped to contribute to new developments in America's space program and related industries. The Secretary of Commerce and the Administrator of NASA were designated to serve as Co-Chairs of the Task Force. Source

The President spoke by telephone to Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen and Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, expressing his deepest condolences for the tragic loss of life and suffering caused by flooding in their states and pledging the federal government would respond quickly to requests for support as the states work to assess damage and plans for recovery. Source

The President dispatched FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate to Tennessee to view the flood damage first hand and to report back on any unmet needs. Source

The President and Admiral Thad Allen spoke by telephone with local officials including mayors, county supervisors, parish presidents and more from the five states in the Gulf Region. The President voiced his commitment to engaging local governments as critical partners in the response to the BP oil spill and urged these officials to stay in touch with his team. In addition, Admiral Allen described the command structure and encouraged local officials to keep him informed of their questions and concerns. Source

The President was briefed six times throughout the day by John Brennan about the investigation of the attempted Time Square bombing of May 1, 2010, and was notified of the Faisal Shahzad arrest at 12:05 am. Source

The President telephoned Times Square vendor Duane Jackson to thank him for his vigilance in reporting the suspicious vehicle in Times Square. Source

The President hosted a dinner in the evening for the Business Council in the State Dining Room of the White House.

The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson and Department of Energy Secretary Stephen Chu met with BP CEO Tony Hayward and BP American Chairman and President Lamar McKay to discuss ongoing, coordinated response efforts and receive an update on BP's spill mitigation plans for potentially affected Gulf Coast states. From a White House release: "BP is now accepting claims for the Gulf Coast oil spill. Please call BP's helpline at 1-800-440-0858. A BP fact sheet with additional information is available here. For those who have already pursued the BP claims process and are not satisfied with BP's resolution, can call the Coast Guard at 1-800-280-7118. More information about what types of damages are eligible for compensation under the Oil Pollution Act as well as guidance on procedures to seek that compensation can be found here." Source

The U.S. Department of Commerce's Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship announced the i6 Challenge, where an award up to $1 million each will be given to six winning teams with the most innovative ideas to drive technology commercialization in their regions. Anyone interested in participating in the i6 Challenge was encouraged to submit their application by the July 15, 2010 deadline. More information could be found at www.eda.gov/i6 where information on a special conference call for potential applicants on May 17, 2010 was available. Source

The Pentagon disclosed the number of nuclear warheads in the U.S. arsenal: 5,113, representing a 75 per cent reduction since 1989. Source: CBS Evening News, May 3, 2010.

Day466/May4th/Tuesday: The President addressed the annual meeting of the Business Council, an influential corporate group whose members include chief executives from a broad array of industries and companies, such as Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (FCX), Cardinal Health Inc. (CAH) and Goldman Sachs Groups Inc. (GS) (Source) at the Park Hyatt. Transcript Video

The President made calls to Times Square vendor Lance Orton and Officers Wayne Rhatigan and Pam Duffy to thank them for their vigilance that thwarted an attempted car bombing of Times Square. Lance Orton and Duane Jackson were the vendors who first reported the suspicious vehicle. Officers Rhatigan and Duffy were the officers on the scene whose actions led to the evacuation of the area and the immediate response. Source

The President had lunch with Elie Wiesel in the Private Dining Room of the White House. Source

The President and Vice President Joe Biden met with United States Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in the Oval Office of the White House.

The President welcomed Indonesia's announcement at the opening session of the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference that they are "initiating the process of the ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty." Source

The President declared a major disaster existed in the State of Tennessee and ordered Federal aid to supplement State and local recovery efforts in the area struck by severe storms, flooding, straight-line winds, and tornadoes beginning on April 30, 2010, and continuing, making Federal funding available to affected individuals in the counties of Cheatham, Davidson, Hickman and Williamson. Assistance also include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster. Federal funding was also made available to State and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis in the counties of Cheatham, Davidson, Hickman and Williamson for debris removal and emergency protective measures, including direct Federal assistance. Federal funding was also made available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide. Source

The President issued a Presidential Memorandum in which he ordered the U.S. Secretary of Energy: "By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including section 301 of title 3, United States Code, I hereby delegate to you the certification and reporting functions conferred upon the President by section 201(b) of the United States-India Nuclear Cooperation Approval and Nonproliferation Enhancement Act (Public Law 110-369). Source

Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the selection of 15 communities across the country to serve as pilot communities for eventual wide-scale use of health information technology through the Beacon Community program. The 15 Beacon communities, their awards, and key strategies for success can be found here. Video

Vice President Joe Biden chaired his monthly Cabinet-level meeting on Iraq. United States Ambassador to Iraq Christopher Hill and Commanding General of United States Forces in Iraq Raymond Odierno briefed Principals on political and security developments via secure video teleconference and the U.S. Departments of Justice, State, and Homeland Security discussed Rule of Law programs in Iraq. Participants included Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen, Commander of the U.S. Central Command General David Petraeus, National Security Advisor James L. Jones, Deputy National Security Advisor Thomas E. Donilon, State Deputy Secretaries James Steinberg and Jacob Lew, Deputy U.S. Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin, Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler, and representatives from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Departments of Energy and Commerce, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Source

To ensure consistent coordination with the Gulf Coast states, Admiral Thad Allen, Secretaries Janet Napolitano and Ken Salazar, Administrator Lisa Jackson and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Deputy Under Secretary Monica Medina began daily calls with the Governors from the five Gulf Coast states to provide updates on the response to the BP oil spill and answer any questions that arise. Governors Haley Barbour, Charlie Crist, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry and Bob Riley were invited to participate in the daily calls moving forward.Source

The White House and the U.S. Department of Education announced Kalamazoo Central High School in Kalamazoo, Michigan, was the winner of the first annual Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge, earning the prize of President Obama delivering the school's commencement address. Source

Sallie Mae, the largest private student lender in the United States, announced that as of May 10, 2010 rates on its Smart Option Student Loan will be 2.88% to 10.25%, based on the current London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR), the benchmark for the variable-rate loan; down from a range of 4.38% to 12.88%. Source

United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) would host a National Rural Summit, on Thursday, June 3, 2010, in Hillsboro, Missouri, to discuss the future of rural America. Source

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the first-ever national rules to ensure the safe disposal and management of coal ash from coal-fired power plants. The rules were to ensure that protective controls, such as liners and groundwater monitoring, are in place at new landfills to protect groundwater and human health. Existing surface impoundments would also require liners, with strong incentives to close the impoundments and transition to safer landfills, which store coal ash in dry form. Environmentally safe and desirable forms of recycling coal ash, known as beneficial uses, were to be promoted. Source

United States Attorney General Eric Holder addressed the May 1, 2010 Times Square attempted bombing at a press conference. Transcript

Day467/May5th/Wednesday: The President met with United States Senator Jon Kyl in the Oval Office of the White House. Source

The President met with United States Senator Orin Hatch in the Oval Office. Source

The President delivered remarks in the State Dining Room of the White House and signed the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010, which was designed to improve health care services for veterans and expand caregiver benefits and training. Transcript Video The Act:

(1) Provides veterans' caregivers with training, counseling, supportive services, and a living stipend; provides health care to the family caregivers of injured veterans under the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) and requires independent oversight of the caregiver program

(2) Requires the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to report to the U.S. Congress on its comprehensive assessment of the barriers in providing health care to the 1.8 million women veterans' currently receiving VA health care and it requires VA to train its mental health providers in the treatment of military sexual trauma. It also mandates that VA implement pilot programs to provide child care to women veterans receiving medical care and provide readjustment services to women veterans

(3) Expands VA's authority to provide incentives so that VA can recruit and retain high-quality health care providers; provides travel reimbursements for veterans receiving treatment at VA facilities and grants for veterans service organizations transporting veterans residing in highly rural areas

(4) Authorizes the Secretary to utilize non-VA facilities for the care and treatment of veterans suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) when the Secretary: (a) is unable to provide such treatment or services at the frequency or for the duration necessary; or (b) determines that it is optimal to the veteran's recovery and rehabilitation

(5) Establishes and increases eligibility for Iraq and Afghanistan service members, including National Guard and Reserve members, to receive readjustment counseling, and requires VA to conduct a study on veteran suicides

(6) Emphasizes VA's commitment to provide medical care for certain Vietnam-era veterans exposed to herbicide and Gulf-War era veterans who have insufficient medical evidence to establish a service-connected disability

(7) Eliminates copayments for veterans who are catastrophically disabled. Source

The President sent a message to the United States Congress concerning a nuclear agreement with Australia that had been negotiated in accordance with sections 123 b. and 123 d. of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended (42 U.S.C. 2153(b), (d) and other applicable law. "In my judgment, it meets all applicable statutory requirements and will advance the nonproliferation and other foreign policy interests of the United States," according to the President. Source

The President expressed his sadness of the news of Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua's passing. Source

The President delivered remarks at an evening Cinco de Mayo reception in the Rose Garden of the White House. Transcript Video

United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack participated in the Clean Energy Economy Forum on bio-energy and energy opportunities for rural economic development that was streamed live on WhiteHouse.gov/live. Source

The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) ordered airlines to speed up checks of names added to the no-fly list, a requirement that might have prevented Faisal Shahzad, the accused May 1, 2010 Times Square bomber, from boarding a flight to Dubai on the night of May 3, 2010. Source

United States government-backed mortgage firm Freddie Mac announced a 6.7 billion dollar loss in the first quarter, and requested an additional 10.6 billion dollars from the U.S. Treasury to cover losses. Source

Day468/May6th/Thursday: The President met with his national security team on Afghanistan and Pakistan in the Situation Room of the White House.

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

The President was briefed by Assistant to the President for Homeland Security John Brennan on the ongoing efforts in response to the severe weather and flooding in Tennessee and across the Southeast. Source

The President declared a major disaster existed in the State of Maryland and ordered Federal aid to supplement the State and local recovery efforts in the area struck by severe winter storms and snowstorms during the period of February 5-11, 2010. Federal funding was made available to the State and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe winter storms and snowstorms in Allegany, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Calvert, Caroline, Carroll, Cecil, Charles, Dorchester, Frederick, Garrett, Harford, Howard, Kent, Montgomery, Prince George's, Queen Anne's, Saint Mary's, Talbot, Washington, and Wicomico Counties and the Independent City of Baltimore. Assistance was also made available to the State and eligible local governments on a cost-sharing basis for emergency protective measures, including snow assistance, for a continuous 48-hour period during or proximate to the incident period in Allegany, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Calvert, Caroline, Carroll, Charles, Dorchester, Frederick, Garrett, Harford, Montgomery, Prince George's, Queen Anne's, Saint Mary's, Washington, and Wicomico Counties and the Independent City of Baltimore and for a continuous 72-hour period during or proximate to the incident period in Cecil, Howard, Kent, and Talbot Counties. Federal funding was also made available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide. Source

The President proclaimed May 7, 2010, as Military Spouse Appreciation Day.Source

Day469/May7th/Friday: The President commented from the South Driveway of the White House on the monthly jobs numbers. Transcript Video

The President announced the designation of a Presidential Delegation to San Jose, Costa Rica to attend the Inauguration of Her Excellency Laura Chinchilla as President of the Republic of Costa Rica on May 8, 2010. The Honorable Susan Rice, United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations, was designated leader of the delegation of:

The Honorable Anne S. Andrew, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Costa Rica

The Honorable Christopher J. Dodd, CT, Chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs

The Honorable Nancy Sutley, Chair, White House Council on Environmental Quality Source

The President sent these nominations to the United States Senate:

Phillip Carter III, of Virginia, 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 the Republic of Cote d'Ivoire.

Gerald M. Feierstein, of Pennsylvania, 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 the Republic of Yemen.

Peter Michael McKinley, of Virginia, 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 the Republic of Colombia. Source Bios

The President withdrew the September 29, 2009 nomination of Steven L. Jacques, of Kansas, to be an Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Source

The President declared a major disaster existed in the State of California and ordered Federal aid to supplement State and local recovery efforts in the area struck by an earthquake beginning on April 4, 2010, and continuing. Federal funding was made available to State and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the earthquake in Imperial County. Federal funding was also made available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.Source

The President signed into law:

H.R. 4360, which designates the Department of Veterans Affairs blind rehabilitation center as the "Major Charles Robert Soltes, Jr., O.D. Department of Veterans Affairs Blind Rehabilitation Center." Source

The President proclaimed May 9, 2010, as Mother's Day. Source

The President proclaimed May 9-15, 2010, as National Women's Health Week. Source

The President proclaimed May 15, 2010, as Peace Officers Memorial Day and May 9 through May 15, 2010, as Police Week. Source

The White House posted a limited waiver of the Ethics Pledge granted to Robert Bauer, Counsel to the President. The waiver can be read here.

The United states Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted a petition from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the chief lobbying group for the major studios, that would permit for a limited-period useof "selectable output control" technology for watching movies in the home. The technology disables video and audio outputs on set-top boxes to prevent illicit recording. Source

In a quarterly report filed late Friday to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Moody's quietly disclosed that its Wall Street Analytics unit is cooperating with an investigation by the SEC and the United States Justice Department into "certain financial institutions" and the valuations used in "certain financial instruments." Source

This week's West Wing Week was released.

Day470/May8th/Saturday: In his Weekly Address, the President spoke of the benefits in health insurance reform kicking in for young adults, retirees, and families, and of more benefits coming down the pike. Transcript Video

Day471/May9th/Sunday: The President spoke with German Chancellor Angela Merkel by telephone as part of his ongoing engagement with European leaders with regard to the economic situation there. They discussed the importance of the members of the European Union taking resolute steps to build confidence in the markets. Source

The President spoke with French President Nicolas Sarkozy as part of his ongoing engagement with European leaders about the economic situation there. They agreed on the importance of Europe taking resolute action to build confidence in the markets. Source

The President delivered the commencement address at Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia. Transcript Video

Day472/May10th/Monday: The President met with members of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board in the Oval Office of the White House.

The President announced in the East Room of the White House his nomination of United States Solicitor General Elena Kagan for Justice of the United States Supreme Court, which he sent to the United States Senate. Transcript Video

The President met with a number of Cabinet members and senior staff in the White House Situation Room to review BP efforts to stop the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico as well as to decide on next steps to ensure all is being done to contain the spread, mitigate the environmental impact and provide assistance to affected states, including individuals, businesses, and communities. Source

The President met with United States Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner in the Oval Office of the White House.

The President met with United States Secretary of Energy Steven Chu in the Oval Office.

The President issued an Executive Order establishing within the U.S. Department of State a temporary organization to be known as the Iraq Strategic Partnership Office, the purpose of which to perform the specific project of supporting executive departments and agencies in facilitating the strategic partnership between the U.S. Government and the Republic of Iraq, in further securing and stabilizing the country, and in continuing an effective diplomatic presence in Iraq. Source

The President expressed his sadness of the death of entertainer and civil rights activist Lena Horne. Source

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) summoned the heads of the New York Stock Exchange, Nasdaq and 6 other exchanges, and agreement was reached in principle on new trading rules, which would establish a "circuit-breaker" system for stocks that would slow down trading during periods of intense volatility. Source: CBS Evening News, May 10, 2010.

United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York Lewis A. Kaplan ruled Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, charged with helping in the bombing of two U.S. embassies in Africa while he was an aide to Osama bin Laden, cannot use allegations of torture by the CIA to dismiss the indictment. Source

Day473/May11th/Tuesday: The President and Vice President Joe Biden met with United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office of the White House.

The President and Vice President Joe Biden met with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry in the Oval Office.

The President met with United States Senator Patrick Leahy in the Oval Office.

The President and Vice President Joe Biden met with Commander International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and Commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A) General Stanley A. McChrystal and U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in the Oval Office.

The President spoke by telephone with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority. The President congratulated President Abbas on the start of Israeli-Palestinian proximity talks. He reiterated his strong support for the establishment of an independent, viable Palestinian State living in peace and security with Israel. Source

The President and Spanish President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero spoke by telephone as part of the President's ongoing consultations with close allies on the global economic situation. They discussed the importance of Spain taking resolute action as part of Europe's effort to strengthen its economy and build market confidence.Source

The President telephoned Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry and told the Governor his thoughts and prayers were with the people of Oklahoma as they cope with the devastating damage caused by tornadoes and severe storms across the state, and that he wanted to make sure they were getting the support they need from the federal government.Source

The President called David Cameron to extend his congratulations for the successful campaign that Cameron ran and for becoming the new British Prime Minister. Source

The President declared a major disaster existed in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and ordered Federal aid to supplement Commonwealth and local recovery efforts in the area struck by severe storms, flooding, mudslides, and tornadoes beginning on May 1, 2010, and continuing, making Federal funding available to affected individuals in the counties of Casey, Lewis, Lincoln, Logan, Metcalfe, Rockcastle, Rowan, and Woodford. Grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster were also made available. Federal funding was also made available to State and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe storms, flooding, mudslides, and tornadoes in the counties of Allen, Hart, Lewis, Logan, Metcalfe, Monroe, and Rockcastle. Federal funding was also made available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures for the entire Commonwealth. Source

The President issued a Presidential Memorandum for the heads of federal departments and agencies that ordered them to overhaul the way they recruit and hire their civilian workforce, stating, "Americans must be able to apply for Federal jobs through a commonsense hiring process and agencies must be able to select high-quality candidates efficiently and quickly. Moreover, agency managers and supervisors must assume a leadership role in recruiting and selecting employees from all segments of our society. Human resource offices must provide critical support for these efforts. The ability of agencies to perform their missions effectively and efficiently depends on a talented and engaged workforce, and we must reform our hiring system to further strengthen that workforce." The outline of procedures to fullfill the President's order was included in the Memorandum.

The President released the Administration's inaugural National Drug Control Strategy, which established five-year goals to reduce drug use and its consequences, including:

•Reduce the rate of youth drug use by 15 percent;
•Decrease drug use among young adults by 10 percent;
•Reduce the number of chronic drug users by 15 percent;
•Reduce the incidence of drug-induced deaths by 15 percent; and
•Reduce the prevalence of drugged driving by 10 percent.

In addition, the Strategy outlines three significant drug challenges on which the Administration will specifically focus in 2010: prescription drug abuse, drugged driving, and preventing drug use. Source

The White House released a statement in which the President expressed the disappointment of the United States in "the Egyptian government's decision to extend the State of Emergency which has been in effect continuously since 1981. We call on the Egyptian government to fulfill its pledge to the Egyptian people to replace the Emergency Law with a counterterrorism law that protects the civil liberties and dignity of Egyptian citizens". Source

The United States Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis announced the Department of Labor's Career Video Challenge that asked Americans to create short videos highlighting 15 in-demand occupations including nursing, medical lab technicians, weatherization, carpentry, steamfitting and more. The Labor Department's Employment and Training Administration staff planned to narrow it down to the top three videos in each field, but the final choice by vote of the public would determine the $1,000 cash prize winner in each field. Entries could be submitted through June 18, 2010, on the Department of Labor website Source

Day474/May12th/Wednesday: The President held a bilateral meeting with President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan in the Oval Office of the White House; then held a joint press conference with President Karzai in the East Room of the White House. Transcript Video

The President and President Karzai had lunch along with several members of the U.S. national security team and their Afghan counterparts in the Cabinet Room of the White House.

The President sent notice to the United States Congress the he was continuing the national emergency with respect to the stabilization of Iraq (declared in Executive Order 13303 of May 22, 2003, as modified in scope and relied upon for additional steps taken in Executive Order 13315 of August 28, 2003, Executive Order 13350 of July 29, 2004, Executive Order 13364 of November 29, 2004, and Executive Order 13438 of July 17, 2007), beyond May 22, 2010. Source Notice

The President declared a major disaster existed in the State of New Hampshire and ordered Federal aid to supplement State and local recovery efforts in the area struck by severe storms and flooding during the period of March 14-31, 2010. Federal funding was made available to State and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe storms and flooding in Rockingham County. Federal funding was also made available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.Source

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

Mark Feierstein, Assistant Administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean, USAID

Osvaldo Gratacós, Inspector General, Export-Import Bank of the United States Source&Bios

The President announced the designation of the following individuals to be United States Delegates to the Sixty-third World Health Assembly of the World Health Organization from May 17-21, 2010:

The Honorable Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, to be Chief Delegate

The Honorable Betty King, Permanent Representative of the United States to the European Office of the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva, to be a Delegate

Nils Daulaire, M.D., M.P.H., Director, Office of Global Health Affairs, Department of Health and Human Services, to be a Delegate Source

The President designated the following individuals to be Alternate United States Delegates to the Sixty-third World Health Assembly of the World Health Organization:

The Honorable Kerri-Ann Jones, Ph.D., Assistant Secretary for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs and Special Representative on Avian and Pandemic Influenza, Department of State

The Honorable RADM Nicole Lurie, M.D., Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, United States Public Health Service, Department of Health and Human Services

The Honorable Vice Admiral Regina M. Benjamin, M.D., M.B.A., Surgeon General, United States Public Health Service, Department of Health and Human Services

The Honorable Margaret Hamburg, M.D., Commissioner, Food and Drug Administration, Department of Health and Human Services

Mary Wakefield, Ph.D., R.N., Administrator, Health Resources and Services Administration, Department of Health and Human Services

Ann S. Blackwood, Director for Health Programs, Bureau of International Organization Affairs, Department of State

David E. Hohman, Health Attaché, United States Permanent Mission to the European Office of the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva Source

The President sent a Presidential Memorandum to Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi in which he proposed an amendment to Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 proposals in his FY 2011 Budget. The amendment included General Provision proposals for the Departments of Labor, Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, the Interior, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and the Treasury, and the Environmental Protection Agency, to be considered as emergency requirements in response to urgent and essential needs of critical funds and authorities needed to respond to the Deepwater BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill as well as changes to current law that included a provision that would lift the $75 million liability cap protecting oil companies from economic damages caused by oil spills. Source Proposed Budget Annendment PDF

A Grand Jury for United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa indicted these 9 individuals on federal charges of accessing President Barack Obama's student loan records while they were employed for a Department of Education contractor in Iowa: Andrew J. Lage, 54, Patrick E. Roan, 51, Sandra Teague, 54 and Mercedes Costoyas, 53, all of Iowa City; Gary N. Grenell, 58, and Lisa Torney, 49, of Coralville; Anna C. Rhodes, 32, of Ainsworth; Julie L. Kline, 38, of West Branch; and John P. Phommivong, 29, for whom no hometown was listed. Source

The United States Treasury Department announced the U.S. posted an $82.69 billion deficit in April, 2010, the 19th straight monthly budget deficit; nearly four times the $20.91 billion shortfall registered in April, 2009, and the largest on record for that month. Source

Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, testified in a United States Senate hearing against the President's decision to cancel America's return to the moon and the President's vision for America's future in space, voicing skepticism of the President's plan to rely on new space taxis developed by private companies after the space shuttles are retired. "If the leadership we have acquired through our investment is simply allowed to fade away, other nations will surely step in where we have faltered," Armstrong said. "I do not believe that this would be in our best interests." Eugene Cernan, the last astronaut on the moon, testified the President's budget for human space exploration "presents no challenges, has no focus, and in fact is a blueprint for a mission to 'nowhere." Source

Day475/May13th/Thursday: The President spoke with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev by telephone, informing President Medvedev that he was sending the New START Treaty to the United States Senate for its consideration later in the day. Source

The President submitted to the United States Senate the New START Treaty, which he signed April 18, 2010, in Prague. Source

The President declared a major disaster existed in the State of South Dakota and ordered Federal aid to supplement State and local recovery efforts in the area struck by a severe winter storm on April 2, 2010. Federal funding was made available to State and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe winter storm in the counties of Corson, Perkins, and Ziebach. Federal funding was also made available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide. Source

The President sent these nominations to the United States Senate:

Mark Feierstein, of Virginia, to be an Assistant Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development

Osvaldo Luis Gratacós Munet, of Puerto Rico, to be Inspector General, Export-Import Bank Source Bios

The President Barack Obama announced his intent to appoint the following individuals to key administration posts:

Thomas R. Acevedo, Member, National Advisory Council on Indian Education

Derek J. Bailey, Member, National Advisory Council on Indian Education

Robin A. Butterfield, Member, National Advisory Council on Indian Education

Robert B. Cook, Member, National Advisory Council on Indian Education

Deborah Jackson-Dennison, Member, National Advisory Council on Indian Education

Alyce Spotted Bear, Member, National Advisory Council on Indian Education

Irasema Coronado, Member, Joint Public Advisory Committee of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation

Geoffrey Garver, Member, Joint Public Advisory Committee of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation

Felicia Marcus, Member, Joint Public Advisory Committee of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation

Diane Takvorian, Member, Joint Public Advisory Committee of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation

Jonathan Waterhouse, Member, Joint Public Advisory Committee of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation Source & Bios

The President transmit to the United States Congress, pursuant to section 1251 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (Public Law 111-84) the report on the plan to enhance the safety, security, and reliability of the nuclear weapons stockpile of the United States; modernize the nuclear weapons complex; and maintain the delivery platforms for nuclear weapons, along with the estimate of budget requirements over a 10-year period. Source

The President issued an Executive Order providing an order of succession within the United States Department of Agriculture. The Order of Succession

The President proclaimed May 16 through May 22, 2010, as Emergency Medical Services Week. Source

The President traveled to Buffalo, New York, where he met with a group of family members of the victims of Continental Connection Flight 3407, which crashed on February 12, 2009, during its approach to Buffalo Niagara International Airport.

The President toured the facilities of Industrial Support Inc., a manufacturing services company, delivered remarks on the economy and took questions from workers and small businesses in the audience. Transcript Video Raw Video

The President delivered remarks at the Real Time Crime Center in New York, New York. Transcript

The President delivered remarks at a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) fund-raising dinner in New York, New York. Transcript

Vice President Joe Biden telephoned Shane Terblanche, General Manager of the Navistar Modec Electric Vehicle Alliance at Navistar International Corporation, and the rest of the Indiana-based Navistar electric truck team to congratulate them on shipping the first electric vehicle produced as a result of the $2.4 billion in Recovery Act advanced battery and electric drive grant awards made last year. Source

The United States Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board announced the first government-wide system to move to the Cloud. It is moving Recovery.gov to the cloud, Cloud computing is a new model for delivering computing resources, such as networks, servers, storage, or software applications. Cloud users access computing power from a pool of shared resources. Source

White House Assistant Chef and the Food Initiative Coordinator Sam Kass announced the "Chefs Move to Schools" program an opportunity for chefs around the country to adopt a local school to help solve the childhood obesity epidemic within a generation. "Chefs Move to Schools" would pair chefs with schools in their communities to bring fun to fruits and vegetables, and teach kids about food, nutrition and cooking in an engaging way. And by working with school food service employees, administrators and teacher's chefs could help deliver these messages from the cafeteria to the classroom. Source

The Obama Administration announced its decision to join the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations aimed at fostering greater cross-cultural understanding. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters that the United States will, for the first time, attend an alliance gathering when Brazil hosts the next forum in Rio de Janeiro on May 28-29, 2010. Source

The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced raids on several locations in the northeastern United States as part of an investigation into the failed May 1, 2010 Times Square car bombing. Two individuals encountered during the searches were taken into federal custody in connection with immigration violations. Source

United States District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Henry H. Kennedy,Jr. ordered the Obama Administration to take ""all necessary and appropriate diplomatic steps"forthwith" to release Ravil Mingazov, 42, a former Russian Army ballet dancer turned devout Muslim who was captured in Pakistan in 2002 and turned over to U.S. forces. Source

Day476/May14th/Friday: The President delivered remarks at a ceremony honoring the 2010 National Association of Police Organizations TOP COPS award winners in the Rose Garden of the White House. Transcript Video

The President met with members of his Cabinet and other senior Administration officials to determine the next steps in the ongoing effort to stop the Deepwater BP oil spill, contain its spread, and help affected communities.

The President delivered remarks on the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill in the Rose Garden. Transcript Video

The President concluded the actions and policies of the Government of Burma continued to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, and he continued the national emergency declared on May 20, 1997, and the measures adopted on that date, on July 28, 2003, in Executive Order 13310, on October 18, 2007, in Executive Order 13448, and on April 30, 2008, in Executive Order 13464 to deal with that emergency beyond May 20, 2010. Source Message on Burma

The President signed into law:

H.R. 5146, which eliminates an automatic adjustment in pay for Members of the United States Congress during FY 2011. Source

The President proclaimed the third Saturday of each May as Armed Forces Day. Source

The President proclaimed Friday, May 21, 2010, as National Defense Transportation Day and the week of May 16 through May 22, 2010, as National Transportation Week. Source

The President proclaimed May 16 through May 22, 2010, as World Trade Week. Source

The United States Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) shut down Midwest Bank and Trust Company in Elmwood Park, Ill., which had about $2.4 billion in deposits and $3.2 billion in assets, as well as three smaller banks: New Liberty Bank, based in Plymouth, Michigan, Southwest Community Bank, based in Springfield, Missouri; and Satilla Community Bank, based in Saint Marys, Georgia. FirstMerit Bank, N.A., of Akron, Ohio, agreed to assume all the deposits of Midwest Bank and Trust and essentially all the assets. The FDIC and Firstmerit Bank agreed to share losses on about $2.3 billion of Midwest Bank and Trust assets. The move is expected to cost the deposit insurance fund about $216.4 million. The bank closings brought the number of U.S. bank failures for 2010 to 72. Source

United States Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geither briefed David Rockefeller and Lynn Forester de Rothschild and other members of the Board of Directors of the Peter C. Peterson Institute for International Economics on the Obama Administration's agenda for economic growth and strengthening the global financial system. Source

According to a Reuters/MSNBC report, "Indonesian militants captured in recent police raids were planning a series of attacks including a Mumbai-style hotel siege targeting foreigners and an assault on the president at an independence day ceremony, police said" and, "The men also planned to target U.S. President Barack Obama, who is scheduled to visit the country later this year, and plotted the attacks to install sharia law in the world's most populous Muslim nation, officials said."

This week's West Wing Week was released.

Day477/May15th/Saturday: In his Weekly Address, the President explains how Wall Street Reform would end bailouts and bring accountability for big banks, but, also, empower consumers, shareholders and community banks. Transcript Video

The President delivered remarks at the National Peace Officers' Memorial at the U.S. Capitol, a memorial ceremony for families of peace officers who died in service in 2009. Transcript Video

Day478/May16th/Sunday: The President, when he tried to leave the White House to play basketball at Fort McNair, had to traverse thousands of bees that swarmed the White House in the morning. The swarm, however, was gone by the time the President returned at noon. Source

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



Submitters Bio:

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

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