Ed. note: Today at 4:10 ET, tune in to whitehouse.gov/live to see President Obama deliver remarks at a White House Hanukkah Reception
See the full size gallery
Among the gifts from heads of state that are in the holdings of the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum is a menorah presented to President Truman by Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion. The menorah dates back to at least 1767, when it was donated to a synagogue in Buergel, Germany.
The menorah was used in the synagogue until 1913, when it was found broken in pieces. A man by the name of Siegfried Guggenheim asked for the broken pieces and provided a replacement. The Guggenheim family restored the old menorah for their personal use, and brought it to the United States when they immigrated in the 1930s. Eventually, the menorah was acquired by the Jewish Museum in New York.
When Prime Minister Ben-Gurion visited the United States in 1951, he searched for a suitable gift to give to Harry S. Truman in light of the President’s recognition and support of the State of Israel. The Jewish Museum suggested the menorah, and Prime Minister Ben-Gurion presented it to Truman on his birthday, May 8, 1951.
In 1979, Jimmy Carter participated in lighting a Hanukkah menorah on the Ellipse, just south of the White House. Each President since then has commemorated Hanukkah at the White House. The ceremonies have ranged from small presentations in the Oval Office to large parties with the First Family, but they have all shared the common element of a Hanukkah menorah.
“You have stage IV cancer”.
“Well, how many stages are there? Five, Six, Ten?”
“There's only four”.
Two months after proposing to my wife and just three months before my 36th birthday, those were the first words spoken to me by my oncologist.
A check-up with my family doctor only days before spawned a whirlwind of appointments, scans, and tests. I sat, listening in awe, trying to wrap my head around the reality of balancing fear and uncertainty with wanting to fight, but not really knowing how. I learned that I was now a stage IV, metastatic colorectal cancer patient. A cancer that usually afflicts those 65 and older wasn’t just inside my body, it was growing and making its way through my body, spreading from my colon to a tumor in my liver and possibly a lesion on my lungs.
I was otherwise healthy my whole life – 35 years old, an athlete into college, professionally doing important work I’d only dreamed of, and finally about to be married and start my own family. Fighting to survive a catastrophic disease was NOT part my plans.
Thankfully, I was fortunate enough to have insurance through my employer and my cancer was treatable and curable they said. Thankfully, because I had insurance, they said, if I gave them the next year for treatment, they’d give me back the rest of my life.
But imagine if I didn’t have access to health insurance through my job. Until that week, just 16 months ago, I could have made the case that I almost didn’t “need” to spend money on health insurance. Technically, with only yearly check-ups and mostly needing only over-the-counter medicines, I could have afforded to pay for my healthcare needs myself.
The United States economy continues to recover from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and while substantial progress has been made, more work remains to boost economic growth and speed job creation. Despite ten consecutive quarters of GDP growth and 7.8 million private sector jobs added since early 2010, the unemployment rate is unacceptably high at 7.3 percent, and far too many families are still struggling to regain the foothold they had prior to the crisis.
The Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program authorized by Congress in 2008 has provided crucial support to the economy and to millions of Americans who lost jobs through no fault of their own. Under current law, EUC will end on December 28, 2013.
This report argues that allowing EUC to expire would be harmful to millions of workers and their families, counterproductive to the economic recovery, and unprecedented in the context of previous extensions to earlier unemployment insurance programs.
Download the full report here or read a summary below, including state-by-state effects of allowing EUC benefits to expire.
Since their inception in 2008, extended unemployment insurance (UI) benefits have provided critical support to millions of workers and their families:
Nearly 24 million workers have received extended UI benefits
Recipients are a diverse group: roughly half have completed at least some college, including 4.8 million with bachelor’s degrees or higher
Including workers’ families, nearly 69 million people have been supported by extended UI benefits, including almost 17 million children
In 2012 alone, UI benefits lifted an estimated 2.5 million people out of poverty
For the first three days of the Whatever Shopping Guide 2013, I’ve let authors and creators tell you about their work. Today is different: Today is Fan Favorites day, in which fans, admirers and satisfied customers share with you a few of their favorite things — and you can share some of your favorite things as well. This is a way to discover some cool stuff from folks like you, and to spread the word about some of the things you love.
Fans: Here’s how to post in this thread. Please follow these directions!
1. Fans only: That means that authors and creators may not post about their own work in this thread (they may post about other people’s work, if they are fans). There are already existing threads for traditionally-published authors, non-traditionally published authors, and for other creators. Those are the places to post about your own work, not here.
2. Individually created and completed works only, please. Which is to say, don’t promote things like a piece of hardware you can find at Sears, shoes from Foot Locker, or a TV you got at Wal-Mart. Focus on things created by one person or a small group: Music CDs, books, crafts and such. Things that you’ve discovered and think other people should know about, basically. Do not post about works in progress, even if they’re posted publicly elsewhere. Remember that this is supposed to be a gift guide, and that these are things meant to be given to other people. So focus on things that are completed and able to be sold of shared.
3. One post per fan. In that post, you can list whatever creations you like, from more than one person if you like, but allow me to suggest you focus on newer stuff. Note also that the majority of Whatever’s readership is in the US/Canada, so I suggest focusing on things available in North America.
4. Keep your description of the work brief (there will be a lot of posts, I’m guessing) and entertaining. Imagine the person is in front of you as you tell them about the work and is interested but easily distracted.
5. You may include a link to a sales site if you like by using standard HTML link scripting. Be warned that if you include too many links (typically three or more) your post may get sent to the moderating queue. If this happens, don’t panic: I’ll be going in through the day to release moderated posts. Note that posts will occasionally go into the moderation queue semi-randomly; Don’t panic about that either.
6. Comment posts that are not about fans promoting work they like will be deleted, in order to keep the comment thread useful for people looking to find interesting gifts.
Got it? Excellent. Now: Geek out and tell us about cool stuff you love — and where we can get it too.
I have some new holiday cards for you! The line of Wondermark greeting cards — Monocle Poppers™ — are always popular around this time of year, and I’m pleased to share these 2014 DEBUT DESIGNS:
The design above is by the wonderfully talented Emily Partridge! Emily gave me this design last year and told me I could do what I wanted with it, and what I want to do is pay her a royalty on these cards. Because they’re super great and I like ‘em!
These and dozens of other card designs are available for you to order right now, if you like!
The 2014 Wondermark Calendar
Is available now for pre-order! Its title is:
Roll-A-Sketch Yearbook: 2014 Graduating Class
A Record; A Reminiscence; A Catalog; A Chronicle; An Indictment; A Regret; A Cautionary Tale For All Time of The Grand Experiment & Mistake.
LIKE EVERY YEAR SINCE 2008 — it is available in strictly limited edition only, each piece individually signed and numbered.
LIKE EVERY YEAR SINCE 2009 — you can get the calendar with display apparatus included, or just the cards themselves, if you want to reuse the stand from last year.
LIKE LAST YEAR — this is a biweekly progressive calendar, meaning rather than being broken into months, it’s broken into 14-day chunks, and no matter what day of the month it is, you can always see at least two weeks ahead. (More on the unique design in these posts from last year: Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3)
LIKE LAST YEAR — The art is created by me, and beautifully watercolored by my friend Max Loren Shepard!
New For This Year
The art on the calendar is Roll-a-Sketch drawings, with added biographical information about each strange creature! The art is all mine, and the color is by Max.
Last year, we ordered wooden backboards cut to size and then had to spend a bunch of time sanding and drilling holes in every single board. This year, however, I’ve made the acquaintance of a man with a laser cutter! (Seen here working on the deluxe editions of the Machine of Death game.)
The backboards available this year are custom laser-cut wood, with integrated easel legs, manufactured to order by my new best friend, Jason Lioi of Dapper Devil. The separate metal easel is no longer required; this backboard comes in three pieces and can stand on its own once assembled (which takes all of two seconds).
Of course, the cards themselves are fully backwards compatible with last year’s stands.
In addition, I am offering — as an exclusive bonus with the calendars — a brand new book, called Horrid Little Stories:
Horrid Little Stories collects all the calendar content (art and text both — not the grids, though, because who cares) from the 2008-2012 Wondermark calendars. Sixty grim little tales in all! (Max painted the cover to this one too.)
The book is available as an option with the calendar, if you like! All copies of the book that ship with the calendar will be signed by me. For the moment, this particular book is only available here, now, with the calendar.
OH YES AND THIS IS ALSO IMPORTANT
I still have all of last year’s original paintings from the Gaxian Almanac. They look like this:
They’re super wonderful pieces of art — my halfway-okay pencil drawings were really enlivened by Max’s beautiful paintings!
So this year, I’m offering the ultra-limited ART COLLECTOR BUNDLE, which gets you the new 2014 calendar, the Horrid Little Stories book, and one of these pieces of original art, matted with that card’s text from last year’s calendar, and signed by me and Max.
The overall matted pieces are 8×10″. Only 29 Art Collector Bundles are available! And only 250 calendars overall are available!
This is a PRE-ORDER. The calendars, books, and original art will ship by December 18.
(If you order greeting cards and a calendar both, unless you specify otherwise I will ship you the cards right away, then follow up with the calendar later in a separate shipment.)
THE 2014 WONDERMARK CALENDAR: AVAILABLE NOW.
Enliven your life in 2014 with 27 fortnights of Wondermark and Roll-a-Sketch!!
President Barack Obama delivers remarks on economic mobility during an event hosted by the Center for American Progress at Town Hall Education Arts Recreation Campus in Washington, D.C., Dec. 4, 2013.
(Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
Today in Southeast Washington, DC, President Obama spoke about what he called the defining challenge of our time: reversing a decades-long slope toward growing inequality and a lack of upward mobility. It's a trend that has jeopardized middle-class America’s basic bargain, the idea that if you work hard, you have a chance to get ahead.
In the years after World War II, America built the largest middle class the world has ever known, President Obama said.
[D]uring the post-World War II years, the economic ground felt stable and secure for most Americans, and the future looked brighter than the past. And for some, that meant following in your old man’s footsteps at the local plant, and you knew that a blue-collar job would let you buy a home, and a car, maybe a vacation once in a while, health care, a reliable pension. For others, it meant going to college -- in some cases, maybe the first in your family to go to college. And it meant graduating without taking on loads of debt, and being able to count on advancement through a vibrant job market.
“Everyone’s wages and incomes were growing,” President Obama said “And because of upward mobility, the guy on the factory floor could picture his kid running the company some day.”
But by the late 1970s, this social compact began to unravel as jobs began to disappear and our economic foundation weakened. Inequality started to grow, and it got harder for children of lower-income families to move upward. Today, a family in the top 1 percent has a net worth 288 times higher than the typical family. And a child born in the top 20 percent has about a 2-in-3 chance of staying at or near the top, while a child born into the bottom 20 percent has a less than a 1-in-20 shot at making it to the top.
Sometimes the news is so insane, you can't not blog it.
An unarmed, emotionally disturbed man shot by the police as he was lurching around traffic near Times Square in September has been charged with assault, on the theory that he was responsible for bullet wounds suffered by two bystanders, according to an indictment unsealed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan on Wednesday.
Initially Mr. Broadnax was arrested on misdemeanor charges of menacing, drug possession and resisting arrest. But the Manhattan district attorney's office persuaded a grand jury to charge Mr. Broadnax with assault, a felony carrying a maximum sentence of 25 years. Specifically, the nine-count indictment unsealed on Wednesday said Mr. Broadnax "recklessly engaged in conduct which created a grave risk of death."
"The defendant is the one that created the situation that injured innocent bystanders," said an assistant district attorney, Shannon Lucey.
The two police officers, who have not been identified, have been placed on administrative duty and their actions are still under investigation by the district attorney's office, law enforcement officials said. They also face an internal Police Department inquiry.
Administrative duty! An internal Police Department inquiry! Well, that's all right, then.
I mean, all the cops did was shoot someone. It's not like they "recklessly engaged in conduct which created a grave risk of death." Definitely, who you want to prosecute is the mentally ill guy who wandered out into traffic. Perish forbid you should prosecute any police.
Really! Hooray for brave prosecutors like ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY SHANNON LUCEY who identify and target the real threat: pathetic losers who make otherwise fine and upstanding police officers lose their shit. Look what you made me do. Excellent moral discernment, ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY SHANNON LUCEY.
Our descendants will marvel at what we put up with.
This afternoon, youth leaders from across the country gathered here for our White House Youth Summit. The Summit was made of up 160 of this country's finest national and local leaders aged 18-35. Joined by White House and Administration staff, these millennial participants discussed issues important to their generation -- especially spreading the word about the Affordable Care Act and organizing to get people enrolled in their respective communities. They also participated in a series of panels and breakout workshops with administration officials, stakeholder groups, and advocates.
To kick off the event, a very special guest dropped by to speak to the Youth Summit: President Obama -- who let young Americans know he needed their help.
President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the White House Youth Summit on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building South Court Auditorium, Dec. 4, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
So I'm going to need you all to spread the word about how the Affordable Care Act really works, what its benefits are, what its protections are and, most importantly, how people can sign up. I know people call this law Obamacare. And that's okay -- because I do care. I care about you. I care about families. I care about Americans.
But no matter how much I care, the truth is, is that for your friends and your family, the most important source of information is not going to be me, it's going to be you. They are going to trust you. If you're taking them on a website, walking them through it saying, look at the price you're able to get, look at the benefits you're able to get. That's what's going to be making a difference.
Ed. note: This is cross-posted from Homeroom, the official blog of the Department of Education. Read the original post here.
Last August, President Obama outlined an ambitious plan to increase value and affordability in postsecondary education. There were a number of commitments he made in his proposal, and, today, the U.S. Department of Education is announcing further action on the President’s initiatives.
President Obama told students and families that helping to ensure their debt is manageable is a priority, and equipping counselors and advisers with the resources they need to help students prepare for higher education and understand college costs is a key component. To meet these goals, the Department has launched a “one-stop shop” for guidance counselors, college advisers, mentors and volunteers to assist students through the process of choosing and financing their higher education.
The Financial Aid Toolkit, available at FinancialAidToolkit.ed.gov, consolidates financial aid resources and content into a searchable online database. That makes it easy for individuals to quickly access the information they need to support students on their path to college, including details on how to apply for financial aid along with presentations, brochures and videos.
By equipping counselors and advisers with financial aid information in an easy-to-use format, we can help to ensure that current and potential students get the assistance they need to successfully navigate the process of planning and paying for a postsecondary education.