Archive for March 11th, 2014

11
Mar
14

Tweet Of The Day

11
Mar
14

ObamaCare: Giving 8.6M People Peace Of Mind

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Jonathan Cohn: Obamacare Enrollment Now Up To 4 Million

Obamacare remains controversial, but lots of people seem to be using it. According to data that the Department of Health and Human Services released on Tuesday afternoon, more than 4.2 million Americans have used an Affordable Care Act marketplace to select a private insurance policy. Another 4.4 million have sought, and received, approval to enroll in Medicaid. Those figures remain shy of original, internal projections that HHS made. But that appears to be largely the result of Obamacare’s early technical problems, with federal and many states effectively non-functional for October and part of November. The day-to-day, week-to-week pace of enrollment is now close to what experts had predicted all along.

By the time open enrollment ends, on March 31, the total number of people selecting private plans almost certainly won’t be the 7 million target the administration once identified. But it should be more than 5 million and maybe a lot more. March 31 isn’t the end of the story, by the way. People can, and will, sign up for Medicaid all year long. People who lose insurance because of a life change—like a divorce, for example, or losing a job—will still be able to get insurance afterwards. In other words, people will be enrolling in Obamacare into April and May and all the way through the end of the year. And while the pace will be a lot slower than it is now, it’s not going to be zero.

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Dylan Scott: The Obamacare Recovery Continues: Now Up To 4.2 Million Sign-Ups

The Obamacare recovery continued in February, according to new numbers released by the Obama administration Tuesday: 942,000 Americans enrolled in private coverage last month, bringing the total through five months to 4.2 million. Sign-ups are still lagging behind the original 7 million enrollments projected for the entire six-month open enrollment period that ends March 31, but the law has made up significant ground. And if enrollments have been spiking in March as White House officials and health policy experts have long predicted, Obamacare could come closer to meeting that 7 million projection,

made by the Congressional Budget Office before the enrollment period began in October, than most would have thought possible after HealthCare.gov’s disastrous launch. Think of it this way: In October, when the website failed miserably and about 100,000 people signed up for insurance, enrollment stood at 21 percent of what the CBO had expected for that month. Now, assuming Obamacare has a good final month and gets to 5.5 million sign-ups, that’s nearly 80 percent of the original 7 million that had been projected. CBO revised its projection down to 6 million last month, accounting for HealthCare.gov’s problems.

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Sy Mukherjee: With One Month Left To Sign Up For Health Coverage, Obamacare Enrollment Surpass 4.2 Million Mark

Just one day after Gallup released a new survey finding that the U.S. uninsurance rate hashit a second consecutive five-year low, the Obama administration announced that more than 4.2 million Americans enrolled in private health plans through the Affordable Care Act’s state and federal marketplaces during the first five months of the health law’s open enrollment season. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released revised figures last month projecting that approximately six million Americans are expected to sign up for private Obamacare plans by March 31. The latest numbers released today indicate that the administration will at least come close to hitting that mark.

In an encouraging sign for the stability of Obamacare’s marketplaces, the White House reported that enrollment by younger Americans aged 18 to 34 remained stable between January and February at 27 percent of all signups — a three percentage point rise over the average for the first three months. That number is also expected to spike in the final month as the White House, nonprofit organizations, and insurance companies throughout the country engage in an all-out push to sign up as many uninsured Americans as possible — particularly younger and healthier people. This push involves some creative efforts to reach young people. On Tuesday morning, comedy site Funny or Die released an episode of Zach Galifianakis’ web showBetween Two Ferns featuring an interview with President Barack Obama in which the president hawked his signature health law to the young and uninsured. Administration officials announced that Funny or Die’s website had become the number one source of referrals to Healthcare.gov by Tuesday afternoon.

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NYT: Almost A Million More Sign Up For Health Coverage In February

The Obama administration said Tuesday that 943,000 people signed up last month for private health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, increasing the number of those who have selected health plans since Oct. 1 to more than 4.2 million. The number of people picking plans was smaller in February than in December or January. But administration officials predicted a surge of applications toward the end of this month, just before the open enrollment period ends. The latest figures were released as the White House makes a final push to increase enrollment, which got off to a slow start because of the technical problems that crippled the federal insurance marketplace in October.

Less than three weeks remain before the March 31 deadline for consumers to sign up. Of the people who have signed up so far, the administration said, 2.6 million were in the federal insurance marketplace, and 1.6 million were in states running their own exchanges. “Over 4.2 million Americans have signed up for affordable plans through the Marketplace,” said Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services. “Now, during this final month of open enrollment, our message to the American people is this: You still have time to get covered, but you’ll want to sign up today.”

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11
Mar
14

President Obama Goes Shopping At The Gap

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President Barack Obama looks for gifts for his family with saleswoman Susan Panariello after stopping off at the GAP in New York

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President Barack Obama shops at a GAP clothing store in Manhattan during his unannounced visit. Obama used the visit to talk about raising the minimum hourly wage standards and applauded the GAP, who earlier in the year announced it was raising minimum wage for its employees

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Mary Bruce: President Obama Visits NYC, Takes Surprising Shopping Trip To The Gap

Apparently even President Obama knows that New York City is a great place to shop. During a trip to the Big Apple today, the president made a surprise stop at the Gap. Obama checked out some khakis and sweatshirts. A cheery saleswoman talked him through a few options, including a V-neck pink sweater. Obama said he was worried the V-neck would “slip” off his daughter’s shoulders. He ultimately settled on a light pink crewneck for Sasha and a bright pink one for Malia.

A White House official explained the president’s impromptu stop: “In his State of the Union address, the President called for businesses to raise workers’ wages, and today the President will visit a Gap store to show his support for Gap Inc.’s decision to increase wages for their US based employees.” During his visit to the store, Obama also picked out navy blue zip-up workout shirtfor the first lady. The president then greeted the woman behind the counter, who told him he was better looking in person. “You hear that?” The president said to reporters. “I think the ladies will be impressed with my style sense,” the president said as his items were rung up.

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Continue reading ‘President Obama Goes Shopping At The Gap’

11
Mar
14

ObamaCare: #GetCoveredNow

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Joshua Axelrod: Obama’s 10 Funniest Moments With Galifianakis

It was only a matter of time before Funny or Die’s “Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis” landed a high-profile interview subject. No, not small potatoes like Justin Bieber, James Franco or Jennifer Lawrence. They were all just warm-ups for the guest of the century: President Barack Obama, who took a break from running the free world to take on Galifianakis’s hard-hitting and inappropriate interviewer.

For once, it was Galifianakis who couldn’t take the heat. Every barb he threw the president’s way (“What’s it like to be the last black president?”) was returned with a healthy dose of snark from the usually stoic Obama (“What’s it like for this to be the last time you ever talk to a president?”).

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TPM: Obama’s Funny-Or-Die Appearance Driving Top Traffic To HealthCare.gov

President Barack Obama’s appearance with actor Zach Galifianakis on FunnyOrDie.com has made the website the top referrer to HealthCare.gov Tuesday, a White House official said. Tara McGuinness, a senior communications adviser who focuses on Obamacare, tweeted the news. The plug was the point of the interview, for which Galifianakis knowingly chided Obama. “Have you heard about HealthCare.gov?” Obama asked after Galifianakis inquired about his online browsing habits.

“Okay, here we go,” the actor lamented. “Let’s get this out of the way. What’d you come here to plug?” “I think it’s fair to say I wouldn’t be here with you if I didn’t have something to plug,” Obama cracked before touting Obamacare and its website. At the end of the video, a link to HealthCare.gov flashes on the screen. The video has been viewed nearly three million times, according to FunnyOrDie.com’s stats.

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President Obama’s hilarious appearance on Between Two Ferns. Good luck trying to imitate President Obama; GOP. Tell us how that works out for you. At this moment, the video has 5.4M hits.

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White House: Twenty Reasons To Get Covered, Twenty Days Left To Enroll

As of today, there are just 20 days left to enroll in health care coverage at healthcare.gov before open enrollment ends on March 31. If don’t already have health insurance, head over to healthcare.gov to get covered now. You can compare your options based on price, benefits, quality and other features, and enroll in a plan that fits your needs and your budget. Six in ten uninsured Americans can get coverage for less than $100 a month. Preventive services like well-woman visits, cancer screenings, flu shots and more cost you nothing out of pocket. Health insurers are prohibited from charging women more than men for the exact same coverage.

It’s illegal for insurance companies to charge more or deny coverage due to a pre-existing condition.Birth control for women is covered with no out-of-pocket costs or co-pays. Insurance companies can’t cancel your coverage when you get sick. All plans must cover essential health benefits including outpatient care, hospital visits, prescriptions, and more. Because accidents happen, and no one is invincible.  You can apply for coverage online at healthcare.gov. on the phone by calling 1-800-318-2596, in person (find local help here) or by mail (download the application to mail in here) — the whole process takes most people about 15 to 20 minutes.

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Funny Or Die: GIFs From The Barack Obama Between Two Ferns

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11
Mar
14

President Obama Wins Tuesday

This cannot be posted and watched enough times. It is going viral on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, TV, etc. Bravo, Mr. President!

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Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis: President Obama

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Between Two Ferns and #BetweenTwoFerns has been trending on Twitter

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Continue reading ‘President Obama Wins Tuesday’

11
Mar
14

Rise and Shine

President Obama waits in the Green Room prior to signing an Executive Order for the White House Council on Women and Girls in the East Room of the White House, March 11, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today (All Times Eastern):

10:0: President Obama receives the Presidential Daily Briefing

11:30: Designates the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands as a national monument

2:15: Departs White House

3:25: Arrives New York City

5:15: Attends a DNC fundraiser; private residence; New York City

2:15: Delivers remarks and answers questions at a DSCC Event; private residence; New York City

9:10: Departs New York

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Freaking Hilarious. Watch Here

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LA Times: Obamacare Meeting Goal Of Reducing Number Of Uninsured, Data Indicate

Evidence has begun to resolve one of the odder controversies surrounding Obamacare: The new law appears to be achieving its top goal of reducing the number of Americans who lack health insurance. The dispute over that question is a strange one because the answer would seem to be fairly obvious: Under the Affordable Care Act, the government will spend hundreds of millions of dollars to subsidize families who decide to buy insurance, a product that the vast majority of Americans value highly. Basic economics would seem to say that those subsidies would have to increase the number of people buying insurance. Gallup, which surveyed about 28,000 Americans concerning their health insurance from Jan. 2 to Feb. 28, found that the percentage who say they lack any form of insurance has dropped significantly, from 18% of the U.S. adult population to 15.9%.

That would translate to between 4 and 5 million fewer people without insurance. As the unemployment rate has dropped, some people may have gained coverage at work, but Gallup’s numbers indicate that employer coverage has ticked downward by about 2 percentage points. Increases have come in the share of Americans buying their own insurance and the share covered by Medicaid, which the new law expanded. Those trends are all consistent with what the new law was expected to do. The other new piece of data comes from the McKinsey Co., which has conducted four surveys of people who are eligible to sign up for insurance under Obamacare. McKinsey found that 27% of those who signed up on the law’s new marketplaces in February were previously uninsured, up from 11% in its earlier surveys.

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NYT: Little Know Health Act Fact: Prison Inmates Are Signing Up

In a little-noticed outcome of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, jails and prisons around the country are beginning to sign up inmates for health insurance under the law, taking advantage of the expansion of Medicaid that allows states to extend coverage to single and childless adults — a major part of the prison population. State and counties are enrolling inmates for two main reasons. Although Medicaid does not cover standard health care for inmates, it can pay for their hospital stays beyond 24 hours — meaning states can transfer millions of dollars of obligations to the federal government. But the most important benefit of the program, corrections officials say, is that inmates who are enrolled in Medicaid while in jail or prison can have coverage after they get out.

People coming out of jail or prison have disproportionately high rates of chronic diseases, especially mental illness and addictive disorders. Few, however, have insurance, and many would qualify for Medicaid under the income test for the program — 138 percent of the poverty line — in the 25 states that have elected to expand their programs. Health care experts estimate that up to 35 percent of those newly eligible for Medicaid under Mr. Obama’s health care law are people with histories of criminal justice system involvement, including jail and prison inmates and those on parole or probation. “For those newly covered, it will open up treatment doors for them” and potentially save money in the long run by reducing recidivism, said Dr. Fred Osher, director of health systems and services policy for the Council of State Governments Justice Center. He added that a 2009 study in Washington State found that low-income adults who received treatment for addiction had significantly fewer arrests than those who were untreated.

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The Detroit News: Dexter Cancer Patient Who Called Health Care ‘Unaffordable’ Will Save More Than $1K

A Dexter cancer patient featured in a conservative group’s TV ad campaign denouncing her new health care coverage as “unaffordable” will save more than $1,000 this year. Julie Boonstra, 49, starred last month in an emotional television ad sponsored by Americans for Prosperity that implied Democratic U.S. Rep. Gary Peters’ vote for the Affordable Care Act made her medication so “unaffordable” she could die. Peters of Bloomfield Township is running for an open U.S. Senate seat against Republican Terri Lynn Land.

The Detroit News and fact checkers last month cast doubt on the accuracy of the TV ad. On Monday, Boonstra acknowledged which health plan she chose, offering the first evidence of cost savings. Boonstra’s old plan cost $1,100 a month in premiums or $13,200 a year, she previously told The News. It didn’t include money she spent on co-pays, prescription drugs and other out-of-pocket expenses. By contrast, the Blues’ plan premium costs $571 a month or $6,852 for the year. Since out-of-pocket costs are capped at $5,100, including deductibles, the maximum Boonstra would pay this year for all of her cancer treatment is $11,952.

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Washington Post: Senate Easily Passes McCaskill’s Military Sexual Assault Bill

A bipartisan plan to overhaul the way sexual-assault cases are handled in the military was easily approved by the Senate Monday evening.  The measure written by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) was approved 97 to 0 — a rare unanimous vote. But Congress has been quick to respond to the rising rate of assault and rape in the ranks. Last year lawmakers voted to revamp the military’s legal system, ending the statute of limitations on assault and rape cases, making it a crime to retaliate against victims who report assaults and requiring the dishonorable discharge or dismissal of anyone convicted of sexual assault or rape.

McCaskill’s proposal goes further by eliminating the “good soldier” defense that takes irrelevant factors such as the service record of the accused into account. In cases where there is a dual jurisdiction because the crime occurred off of a military base, the victim would get a say in whether the case would be handled in a civilian or military court. The proposal would extend protections to students in service academies. It also would require that in every decision on every promotion in the military, that commander’s record on the handling of sexual-assault cases would have to be taken into account. Although it passed easily in the Senate, the proposal’s fate remains unclear in the House.

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Simon Shuster: Putin’s Man In Crimea Is Ukraine’s Worst Nightmare

A month ago, when Ukraine’s old regime was just starting to crack under the pressure of a revolution, few people in the country had ever heard of Sergei Aksyonov. He was then a marginal figure even in the local politics of the region of Crimea. His Russian Unity party had only three seats in the regional legislature and no representation anywhere else. But that has not stopped him from taking charge. In late January, as the protesters in Kiev began seizing government buildings, Aksyonov started to form an army on the Crimean peninsula. Now he is the de facto leader of the entire region, a post that has thrust him into the center of the most dire political crisis Europe has confronted in years. From the beginning, the stated aim of his paramilitary force was to defend against the revolutionary wave that was sweeping across Ukraine and, ultimately, to break away from the country entirely.

Its first battalion of 700 men came from the youth group of Aksyonov’s political party, and as he continued calling in the proceeding weeks for a “full scale mobilization,” hundreds of others joined his Crimean self-defense brigades. By Feb. 21, the day the Kiev uprising toppled the Ukrainian government, Aksyonov was in command of several thousand troops. “All of them,” he says, “answer to me.” His rise to power has made him a valuable ally to Moscow and a serious threat to Ukraine and its Western partners. His written appeal to Russian President Vladimir Putin is what opened the door for the Russian occupation of Crimea at the beginning of this month, and on March 4, Putin recognized Aksyonov as the legitimate leader of Crimea, apparently without ever having met the man.

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Bloomberg: Ukraine Starts Military Exercises As Russia Warns On East 

Ukraine began military drills as Russian forces tightened their hold on the Crimean peninsula and the Foreign Ministry in Moscow warned of “lawlessness” in the former Soviet republic’s eastern provinces. Ukraine’s armed forces are testing the combat-readiness of troops, the Defense Ministry said today on its website, reiterating the government’s desire for a peaceful end to the standoff in Crimea. Russia, which has vowed to defend the ethnic Russians that dominate Crimea after an uprising in Kiev, accused Ukraine of ignoring radicals in the nation’s east.

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I. LOVE. THE. OBAMA. WHITE. HOUSE.

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Think Progress: Why Obama’s Appearance On ‘Between Two Ferns’ Worked

Usually, Galifianakis is the one making his guests feel incredibly uncomfortable (“I just have never interviewed a 7-year-old before,” he told Justin Bieber when the young star appeared on the show), but that dynamic was mostly flipped with Obama. Yes, Galifianakis did stumble over Obama’s name in the way he does for most guests (‘Bieber’ became ‘Beevers’), but almost immediately Obama was the one making Galifianakis feel awkward. “If I ran a third time, it’d be sort of like doing a third hangover movie,” Obama dug. “It didn’t really work out very well, did it?”

Obama took a risk going on a show as weird as Between Two Ferns; it could have made him look weird and awkward and bumbling. But he hacked it, flipping that dynamic back around on his host. This also made it easy for Obama, who is clearly trying to enroll the youth stoner demographic though his signature health care law, to make his plug for Healthcare.gov. Obama’s presidency has overlapped with the rise of the meme, and both he and Michelle have taken advantage of this. They have both made frequent appearances on late night shows (Obama is one of the politicians who’s slow jammed the news), and his administration is responsible for the pajama boy meme and the McKayla Maroney ‘not impressed’ face picture. Obama even embraced the existing meme of his ‘Not Bad’ faceduring a Reddit “ask me anything.”

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Katie Valentine: Neil DeGrasse Tyson To Science Deniers: ‘Science Is Not There For You To Cherry Pick

Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist and host of National Geographic and Fox’s new show Cosmos, said Sunday that he thinks the media needs to stop providing false balance in stories on scientific subjects like climate change. Host of CNN’s Reliable Sources Brian Stelter asked Tyson whether he thought the media had a responsibility portray science correctly, particularly when discussing climate change. “The media has to sort of come out of this ethos that I think was in principle a good one, but it doesn’t really apply in science,” Tyson said. “The ethos was, whatever story you give, you have to give the opposing view. And then you can be viewed as balanced.”

Stelter showed a clip of President Obama’s climate speech last year, in which he decried climate deniers by saying the country didn’t have time for a “meeting of the flat Earth society.” Tyson said the president’s reference was a good example of how the idea of “balance” in scientific stories doesn’t make sense. “In the clip you showed of the president — you don’t talk about the spherical Earth with NASA, and then say ‘now let’s give equal time to the flat Earthers,” he said. “Plus, science is not there for you to cherry pick…You can decide whether or not to believe in it but that doesn’t change the reality of an emergent scientific truth.”

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Philly Mag: NYT: Christie Turned Twin Towers Wreckage Into “Politically Motivated Gifts”

The New York Times reports this morning that Chris Christie’s administration used wreckage from 9/11 as “politically motivated gifts,” part of a politicization of the Port Authority that is coming under increasing scrutiny from federal prosecutors in the wake of the Bridgegate scandal. For a state that lost hundreds of lives on Sept. 11, the gifts were emotionally resonant: pieces of steel from the ruins of the World Trade Center. They were presented by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to 20 carefully chosen New Jersey mayors who sat atop a list of 100 whose endorsements Gov. Chris Christie hoped to win. At photo opportunities around the mangled pieces of steel, Bill Baroni, Mr. Christie’s top staff appointee at the Port Authority, told audiences how many people wanted a similar remnant of the destroyed buildings, and how special these mayors were.

Mayors lower on the list of 100 — such as Mark Sokolich, of Fort Lee, at No. 45 — received other Port Authority perquisites: an intimate tour of the National September 11 Memorial, or the new World Trade Center construction site, or Port Authority money for jobs programs or new firefighting equipment, even in towns far from the port. Turning wreckage of the twin towers into politically motivated gifts before Mr. Christie’s 2013 re-election was only one example. The authority became a means to reward friends (or hire them) and punish adversaries, and a bank to be used when Mr. Christie sought to avoid raising taxes. Major policy initiatives, such as instituting a large toll and fare increase in 2011, were treated like political campaigns to burnish the governor’s image.

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Zach Johnson: Aretha Franklin On President Obama’s “Respect” Flub: “Spelling And Giving It Is A Huge Difference”

Aretha Franklin realizes everyone make mistakes—even the President of the United States. After Barack Obama botched the spelling of “Respect” during the White House’sWomen of Soul Event last week, the Queen of Soul herself released a statement regarding the politician’s flub. “I’m sure the President had much on his agenda and was just a little tired,” Franklin told E! News. “However, spelling and giving it, is a huge difference. The President and I are mutual when it comes to R-E-S-P-E-C-T.”

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On This Day:

President Barack Obama greets members of the U.S. Senate youth program at the South Portico of the White House, March 11, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama meets with the Congressional Black Caucus to discuss health care reform in the State Dining Room of the White House, March 11, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama delivers remarks before a screening of the HBO ten-part World War II miniseries “The Pacific” in the Family Theater of the White House, March 11, 2010. Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, the two executive producers of “The Pacific”, sit in the front row (Photo by Pete Souza)

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First Lady Michelle Obama participates in a “Let’s Move!” and NHL partnership event with Chicago Blackhawks and Washington Capitals players on the South Lawn of the White House, March 11, 2011 (Photo by Samantha Appleton)

President Obama talks with members of the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks following a ceremony to honor the team’s 2009-10 championship season on the South Lawn of the White House, March 11, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama talks on the phone with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai from his vehicle outside the Jane E. Lawton Community Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland, Sunday, March 11, 2012. The President called to express his shock and sadness over the reported killing of Afghan civilians. (Photo by Pete Souza)

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First Lady Michelle Obama participates in a “Let’s Move!” Twitter Office Hour in the First Lady’s East Wing Office of the White House, March 11, 2013 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)




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