Email from Dr. Robert Ballard: Our oceans are our future

In tandem with President Obama’s designation of the new Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, Dr. Robert Ballard sent the below message to the White House email list. If you didn’t get the message, you can sign up here.

In 1974, I led an expedition to explore the great New England Seamount Chain. Thousands of feet underwater, the chain includes four underwater volcanic mountains that formed over 100 million years ago when the North American plate migrated over a “hot spot” — an area where heat rising through the earth melts rock into magma, creating massive undersea volcanoes like in the Hawaiian Islands.

Standing high above the surrounding ocean floor, these massive undersea mountains are visible oases of life in an otherwise vast, undersea desert. On their rocky slopes, fragile deep sea corals feed in the nutrient rich waters that flow past.

Protecting these unique habitats is critical to the survival of not only these beautiful coral gardens, but also the small fish and other marine creatures that call these magical gardens home. They need these nurseries of the very deep in order to survive. And we need them — as a foundational element of our food chain.

That’s why I am so pleased that today President Obama designated the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument — protecting these mountains and canyons, their surrounding area, and the wildlife they sustain for our future.

As the first-ever national marine monument established in the Atlantic Ocean, this designation is vital to both the ongoing protection of some of our most important underwater ecosystems and the future climate resiliency of our oceans, which are essential guardians of our future.

The monument will provide refuge for protected animals, like sea turtles and whales, as well as species of coral found nowhere else on Earth. It also encompasses three underwater canyons that are even deeper than the Grand Canyon.

Protecting this area bolsters the sea’s ability to sustain itself, but it is also critical to protecting ourselves — and our future. It’s also an ongoing reflection of President Obama’s commitment to conservation. To date, he has protected more land and water than any other president in history.

That’s pretty incredible.

I hope you’ll take a moment to explore this awe-inspiring deep sea wonder and celebrate our first Atlantic monument with me.


Dr. Bob Ballard

Department of Ocean Engineering

The University of Rhode Island

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President Obama designates the world's largest marine protected area


Today, President Obama expanded the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument off the coast of Hawaii to encompass more than half a million square miles making it the world’s largest marine protected area. Home to more than 7,000 marine mammals, some of them critically endangered, the monument will also permanently protect pristine coral reefs, deep sea marine habitats, and important ecological resources. 

Here’s what you need to know:


The monument was originally created in 2006 by President George W. Bush and designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010.  Since that time, new scientific exploration and research has revealed new species and deep sea habitats as well as important ecological connections between the existing monument and the adjacent waters.  


The expansion provides critical protections for more than 7,000 marine species, including whales and sea turtles listed under the Endangered Species Act and the longest-living marine species in the world — black coral, which have been found to live longer than 4,500 years. Additionally, as ocean acidification, warming, and other impacts of climate change threaten marine ecosystems, expanding the monument will improve ocean resilience, help the region’s distinct physical and biological resources adapt, and create a natural laboratory that will allow scientists to monitor and explore the impacts of climate change on these fragile ecosystems.

The expanded monument area also contains resources of great historical and cultural significance. The expanded area, including the archipelago and its adjacent waters, is considered a sacred place for the Native Hawaiian community. It plays a significant role in Native Hawaiian creation and settlement stories, and is used to practice important activities like traditional long-distance voyaging and wayfinding. Additionally, within the monument expansion area, there are shipwrecks and downed aircraft from the Battle of Midway in World War II, a battle that marked a major shift in the progress of the war in favor of the Allies.


This designation will expand the existing Marine National Monument by 442,781 square miles, bringing the total protected area of the expanded monument to 582,578 square miles. It was made in response to a proposal put forward by Hawaii Senator Schatz and prominent Native Hawaiian leaders, in addition to significant input and local support from Hawaii elected officials, cultural groups, conservation organizations, scientists and fishermen. This step also builds on a rich tradition of marine protection in Hawaiian waters and world-class, well managed fisheries, including a longline fishing fleet that is a global leader in sustainable practices. 

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Email from Charles W. Scharf: Why equal pay is good business

On Women’s Equality Day, Charles W. Scharf, CEO of Visa, sent the below message to the White House email list. If you didn’t get the message, you can sign up here.

In June, the White House convened women from around the world for the United State of Women Summit — an effort to celebrate all the progress women have made on gender equality issues so far, and to tackle the obstacles that still remain.

As part of this effort, the White House launched the Equal Pay Pledge, encouraging companies from across the U.S. to take action to advance equal pay.

As CEO of Visa, I did not hesitate. Today, I want to tell you why.

At Visa, we have made it a priority to advance diversity and inclusion in our workplace. My leadership team and I believe that this value is not only non-negotiable, but is a strategic business imperative. It’s good for our business because it harnesses the broad perspectives and diversity of thought needed to create and deliver better solutions for our clients. It’s good for our organization because we need a talented workforce that reflects the communities in which we work and serve every day.

Promoting an environment that values diversity and inclusion also means a commitment to paying all employees fairly and equitably.

I am proud to sign this pledge, which affirms our commitment to pay equity for women at Visa.

Other businesses interested in signing on are encouraged to take the pledge. I hope that many will join us in this effort — I firmly believe it is the right thing to do.

Charles W. Scharf

CEO of Visa

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Email from Daymond John: Why I'll Be at Today's Global Entrepreneurship Summit

Daymond John, the founder of FUBU and Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship, sent the below message to the White House email list. Didn’t get the message? Sign up here for updates

Tune in to watch President Obama participate in a discussion with Mark Zuckerberg and entrepreneurs at 1:45 PM ET:

When I was 20, living in my mom’s house, the new sound of hip hop was breaking out from the streets to the stores. Records were flying off the shelves, and although my community was underserved in resource, we were rich with hustle. I knew it was time for a brand that represented this rise and movement — a brand that was “For Us By Us.”

But I was broke with no guidance on how to make my dream a reality. So I started sewing and stitching at night. I made forty hats-and my brand FUBU was born. At the time, I didn’t know how to access capital or source material. I didn’t know how to build a business.

So I got my neighbor, L.L. Cool J, to take a photo wearing a FUBU hat. I spent my last dollars mailing that photo to trade buyers. It was my big break. Suddenly, every major music artist was begging to wear my swag and I amassed over $300,000 in orders. To meet demand, my three partners and I transformed my childhood home into a full-on clothing factory. I learned to exercise what I call “The Power of Broke.” By harnessing that power and that drive, I managed to turn FUBU into a multi-billion dollar iconic brand.

The challenges I faced and the journey I took mirror the potential of millions of young entrepreneurs here and around the world. They have the drive and spirit to imagine, innovate, and create-but we must all come together in order to keep lifting them up.

That’s why, in 2015, I became a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE), working with the White House to develop the next generation of entrepreneurs across the globe, providing opportunities and pathways to capital and skills, and helping to inspire success in others.

This year I am proud to travel with President Obama to the seventh annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) at Stanford University. With over 700 entrepreneurs from 170 countries and 350 investors in attendance, we’re bringing the world to Silicon Valley and Silicon Valley to the world.

I’m excited to meet people like Sumana Shrestha, who started Medication for Nepal, an organization that uses technology to tackle inefficiencies and high health care costs, ensuring medical access for the most vulnerable populations in her country. And Evans Wadongo from Kenya, the co-founder of GreenWize Energy, which is advancing cutting edge African-designed renewable energy products and solutions in Sub-Saharan Africa.

I hope you’ll join me in watching the President’s remarks at this year’s Global Entrepreneurship Summit.


Daymond John

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Here's Why the U.S. and China Are Signing the Historic Paris Agreement on Earth Day


Over the past three years, climate change efforts have become a pillar of the U.S.-China bilateral relationship. Both countries efforts together and at home to build green, low-carbon and climate-resilient economies have helped galvanize global actions – culminating this past December in the historic, ambitious Paris Agreement.

The Paris Agreement, which establishes a long term, worldwide framework to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, will enter into force – or begin – once 55 countries accounting for at least 55% of global emissions formally commit to undertaking the low carbon measures it outlines. This is an ambitious plan and, now, the United States and China have brought us within reach of its execution.

Today, President Obama and President Xi Jinping announced that they will both sign the Paris Agreement on April 22 (Earth Day), and will formally join the agreement as soon as possible this year.

What makes this such a critical milestone?


As the world’s two largest polluters, the United States and China account for 40% of global emissions. With their joint commitment to the Paris Agreement, the threshold for implementation is well within reach.

The Paris Agreement puts in place the framework to achieve the emissions reductions we need. By coming forward today with the most significant step possible towards early entry into force, the U.S. and China are demonstrating to the international community that there is no turning back on the path towards a low carbon future.

Today’s announcement is a fitting third act in our joint effort to advance international climate action, and will accelerate the momentum that the U.S. and China have worked to sustain since our first joint action on climate change in 2014.

Cassandra Marketos is the Deputy Director of Digital Outbound. 

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