President Obama issued a memorandum requiring that the partners of gay federal employees be extended more benefits, adding to the list that the president had already conferred last year.
The Washington Post reports that a review conducted by the Office of Personnel Management and the Justice Department found that more changes could legally be made without Congress' action. So some agencies will soon begin to "permit credit union and gym memberships and access to counseling services, adoption counseling, and agency events or outings." Meanwhile, "a limited number of intelligence and financial regulatory agencies… will be able to provide reimbursements for health-insurance premiums, dental and vision insurance, business travel accident insurance and tax reimbursements for gym memberships, physical exams and homeowners' insurance."
By ALINA SELYUKH
While the stimulus has allocated extra funding for Head Start, it may not be sufficient if the relationship between elementary and secondary education is not better coordinated, said William Gormley, Georgetown Public Policy Institute dean, speaking on the GPPI conference education panel at the Cannon House Office Building. The effects of participation in early education persist or fade over time depending on what school the student attends later, so addressing school assignment and teacher assessment practices should closely follow Head Start and early learning re-evaluation, in Gormley's view.
Head Start has a budget of approximately $7 billion and serves about 900,000 children -- only about 40 percent of eligible children, according to the National Head Start Association. At this point, Gormley said, state pre-K programs serve more four-year-olds than Head Start.
Obama told the National Academy of Sciences that he wants to dedicate more than 3 percent of the gross domestic product (about $420 billion) to funding scientific research and development.
Obama's $75 billion Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan includes a provision allowing bankruptcy judges to adjust a mortgage's value. Speaking in Phoenix, Obama said his plan would "allow judges to reduce home mortgages on primary residences to their fair market value -- as long as borrowers pay their debts under a court-ordered plan." He held "ordinary homeowners" separate from "homebuyers who knowingly borrowed too much from lenders."
As the Guantanamo Bay detention center enters its ninth year of use, the Obama administration is still undecided about what to do with the detainees and how to replace the facility.
The activist group Witness Against Torture chose the anniversary to protest outside the White House dressed as hooded detainees, demanding that Obama close the prison. The group has also planned a hunger strike for 12 days until Jan. 22 -- the deadline Obama set for closing the prison shortly after he took office.
Some critics like Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., are opposed to trying detainees in American criminal courts or releasing them to countries such as Yemen, where the attempted Christmas Day terrorist plot was allegedly planned.
According to recent polling, more Americans are willing to keep the detention center open now than in November.
White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske announced an additional $60 million in grants for communities working to "prevent and reduce youth substance abuse," according to a press release.
Obama has exempted defense and national security from his plan for a spending freeze.
The fiscal 2011 budget proposed by the White House calls for increasing the Department of Homeland Security's discretionary funding to $43.6 billion. This includes $734 million to buy up to 1,000 advanced imaging machines to screen for weapons at airports.
Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan, was flown to Denmark to discuss the war effort with Obama this week.
Haiti will receive $2 million for counter-narcotics efforts as part of a $50 million aid package.
Obama today announced the "Educate to Innovate" campaign, a public-private initiative to encourage students to study math and science. "Administration officials say that the breadth of participation in Educate to Innovate is wider than in previous efforts, which have failed to produce a perceptible rise in test scores or in most students’ perceptions of math and science," the New York Times reports.