@petesouza: Pres Obama pokes his head through a hole where visitors pose as the President at the Women’s Rights Park
In 2010 President Obama greeted Sgt. First Class Cory Remsburg at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., where Remsburg was recovering from severe injuries sustained in Afghanistan
NYT: President and Soldier: 3 Meetings, And a Lesson in Resilience
Three times, mainly by chance and in very different circumstances, Sgt. First Class Cory Remsburg has met President Obama.
They were introduced near Omaha Beach in France in 2009, when Sergeant Remsburg was part of a select Army Ranger group chosen to re-enact a parachute drop for celebrations of the 65th anniversary of the D-Day landings in World War II.
The second meeting came less than a year later at a military hospital outside Washington, where Mr. Obama was stunned to see among the wounded troops from Afghanistan a familiar young man — now brain-damaged, a track of fresh stitches across his skull, and partly paralyzed.
The third time was two weeks ago in a private visit in Phoenix, where Sergeant Remsburg did something that neither Mr. Obama nor military doctors would once have predicted: he stood up and saluted his commander in chief.
First lady Michelle Obama is joined by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at the future site of a Northgate Market in Inglewood, Calif., Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012. Michelle Obama says the proposed new supermarket in the middle of a blue-collar Hispanic neighborhood in Southern California is an example of how the effort to bring healthy foods to low-income communities is paying off.
AP: First lady Michelle Obama on Wednesday said the campaign to bring healthy food to all Americans is happening neighborhood by neighborhood.
Standing in a vacant Southern California store set to be refurbished and reopened this summer, Obama lauded efforts to bring large grocery retailers to inner-city areas that traditional supermarket chains spurn.
…. Obama, who is on the second day of her two-day visit to the Los Angeles area, made the stop in the blue-collar, largely Hispanic neighborhood as part of her “Let’s Move!” campaign to boost healthy food and fitness.
Part of the campaign includes promoting initiatives such as the $264 million California FreshWorks Fund, which finances grocery businesses willing to open in urban areas.
…. After the Inglewood event, Obama was scheduled to appear on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and to deliver a luncheon speech at the Democratic National Committee.
Washington Post: U.S. factories grew in January at the fastest pace in seven months, boosted by a rise in new orders. And builders ended a poor year for construction by spending more on homes and projects for the fifth straight month.
The reports bolster other data showing the U.S. economy started the year strong.
The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers, said Wednesday that its manufacturing index rose last month to 54.1 from 53.1 in December. Readings above 50 indicate expansion.
Consumers are buying more cars and trucks, while businesses ordered more machinery and other equipment. That has driven manufacturing, which expanded for the 30th straight month.
Both new orders and order backlogs rose to nine-month highs. Increasing order backlogs suggest manufacturers are lacking the capacity to meet demand. That could mean more growth in production and employment in the near future, economists said.
Export orders also rose, a sign that U.S. manufacturers haven’t yet been affected by Europe’s slowing economy.
“This is a very encouraging report on manufacturing activity that shows particular strength in leading indicators,” said John Ryding, an economist at RDQ Economics.
Steve Benen: For campaign watchers, Florida’s Republican presidential primary was the big draw yesterday, but there was another noteworthy race on the other side of the country: a U.S. House special election in Oregon’s 1st congressional district.
Just two weeks ago, the National Republican Congressional Committee took an interest in the race, airing attack ads against Democratic candidate Suzanne Bonamici. The GOP candidate, Rob Cornilles, even released an internal poll showing him trailing by only four points.
Yesterday, however, it became clear Republicans were chasing a mirage.
Democrat Suzanne Bonamici swept to victory Tuesday in Oregon’s 1st Congressional District, continuing her party’s nearly four-decade-long hold on the seat covering the northwestern corner of the state. With the bulk of ballots counted, Bonamici was defeating Republican Rob Cornilles by about 15 percentage points…..
TPM: The Obama administration announced Wednesday that the Medicare Advantage program, which allows seniors to receive health coverage through a private insurer, is enjoying lower costs and more customers as a result of the health care reform law.
Yahoo: If you watched President Obama’s Google+ hangout Monday night, you saw two interesting exchanges between the president and Jennifer Wedel, a 29-year-old Texas mother of two.
It turns out that Wedel’s digital meeting convinced her to vote for Obama in this year’s presidential election – despite her support for the GOP.
…. Afterwards, Wedel, who described herself as a “good Republican,” is now planning to vote for Obama in this year’s presidential election.
“I didn’t vote for him four years ago. But I have been so disappointed with the presidential race. I haven’t seen anybody who would have been a good replacement. I know how Obama is now. I know how he rolls. So I’d probably vote him back in,” said Wedel in an interview with The Atlantic. “I (feel) like I know him a little more,” Wedel said. “There was a connection. He should definitely do this with more people…..”
….. for those who watched the event, a slightly odd moment near the end might have jumped out. During that personal question round, Wedel asked Obama if he would do a little jig. Obama demurred. What was that about? It’s a YouTube meme thing, explained Wedel. An extremely popular video on the site is a minute-and-a-half clip of then-candidate Obama shaking it on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” back in 2007; one version has 12 million hits and counting.
“It’s so funny,” said Wedel. “You’ve got to watch it.”
USA Today: The unemployment rate dropped in 34 states in March from February, the Labor Department said Tuesday. That’s the largest number of states to record a decline since June. The rate rose in seven states and was unchanged in nine and Washington, D.C.
Employers hired more workers in 38 states. A government survey of employer payrolls found only 12 states plus Washington, D.C. lost jobs last month, the fewest since October.
….Nationally, the unemployment rate fell in March to a two-year low of 8.8%, and private employers added more than 200,000 jobs for the second consecutive month.
New Mexico reported the biggest monthly drop in unemployment among all states, falling from 8.7% in February to 8.1% in March. Florida, Oklahoma, Indiana, Missouri and Ohio posted the next biggest monthly declines.
Texas added 37,200 net jobs in March, the most of any state. It was followed by Missouri and Florida, both of which reported strong gains. California lost 11,600 net jobs – the most of any state. Connecticut, Louisiana, Maryland and Maine all had large job losses, too.
WH: Today’s employment report shows that the unemployment rate fell sharply to 9.0 percent and private sector payrolls increased by 50,000 in January. Revisions to private sector payroll data show that 1.1 million jobs were added during 2010, the strongest private sector job growth since 2006. The 0.8 percentage point decline in the unemployment rate over the past two months is a welcome development; however, the rate remains unacceptably high.
Reuters: Despite the conflicting signals in the Labor Department’s report on Friday, economists agreed a recovery in the labor market was proceeding apace if not gaining speed. Many investors also saw the data as a sign of strength …. a household survey, which is used to determine the jobless rate, showed nearly 600,000 more people reported they were employed.
That surge in employment pushed the unemployment rate to 9 percent from 9.4 percent in December. The rate has dropped 0.8 percentage point since November, the biggest two-month decline since 1958.
…Data on manufacturing and retail sales has suggested the economy’s strong momentum continued into the new year. Economists said January’s employment report, excluding the weather effect, was consistent with the economy growing above 3 percent.
“We see significant potential strength in this report and will be looking to see whether the drop in the unemployment rate persists,” said Michael Gapen, an economist a Barclays Capital in New York. “If it does, then it will be a further signal that underlying job growth is stronger than reported and conditions in labor markets are better than advertised by the establishment survey.”
Last month’s drop in the unemployment rate was encouraging because it reflected more people finding work, even after adjustments for updated population controls.