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Saturday, May 11, 2013

LANL News: Neutron Reactions and Climate Uncertainties Earn Los Alamos Scientists DOE Early Career Awards

LANL News: Neutron Reactions and Climate Uncertainties Earn Los Alamos Scientists DOE Early Career Awards

TROOP MORALE AND GUACAMOLE


Air Force Master Sgt. John P. Garcia Jr., Air Forces Central Command vehicle fleet manager, and Air Force Tech. Sgt. Mishal Crane, Combined Air and Space Operations Center noncommissioned officer in charge of commander support staff, prepare ingredients for guacamole at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia on May 3, 2013. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Rachelle Elsea
FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Face of Defense: NCO's Guacamole Boosts Troop Morale
U.S. Air Forces Central

SOUTHWEST ASIA, May 8, 2013 - La conversacion es la comida del alma: "Conversation is food for the soul." But what better way to start conversation than with food?

Master Sgt. John P. Garcia Jr., Air Forces Central Command vehicle fleet manager, is a native of Los Angeles currently on his eighth trip to this side of the world. And on each trip, he has made it his mission to bring a little bit of home to his fellow airmen.

"Over the years, I have learned to use my talent in the culinary world to teach others about my Mexican culture, while enjoying some authentic and sometimes secret recipes," Garcia said. "The conclusion is always the same; it pulls all of us together, as kind of an ice breaker, which ultimately increases morale."

Garcia's signature dish, guacamole, originated in the 16th century with the Aztecs, and since then it has been passed down through generations, each adding their own touch and flavor. When Garcia and his wife, Jenny, both rich in Mexican heritage, married seven years ago, it was no different with their family.

"The current recipe is a combination of my wife's family secrets and ours," Garcia said. "As for my mastering the art, I owe it all to Mom and Grandma Rosie, teaching me as a young bachelor how to represent."

Although Garcia has been making the dish for years, he acknowledged it is not without its challenges.

Finding the ingredients can be tricky, since grocery stores are not readily available in deployed locations.

"The first time I make guacamole at a new base, it is sometimes a struggle to find everything I need," Garcia said. "But, after the airmen taste it for the first time, the avocados start showing up on my desk. With a little networking, and the excitement of a traditional Mexican dish, there is always enough motivation to find a way to pull it all together."

But that isn't his only trick.

"Worst case scenario, if there is any ingredient that cannot be found in country, I'll grow it," he said. "I have a jalapeno plant growing now, and should have some nice and spicy chili by the end of May."

Garcia said the first time he grew jalapenos was in 1993 at a Mideast location, and he's been growing them ever since.

"There is nothing like the freshest ingredients," he added.

Once all the materials are assembled, the only obstacle is finding the time.

"Most Mexican recipes are very simple, but take a while," said Air Force Master Sgt. Jordi Sancho, AFCENT transportation manager, who sometimes helps Garcia with his signature dish.

Over the course of the past few months, Garcia has enlisted several airmen in addition to Sancho to help him make the dish. This, in turn, cuts down on the production time.

"At first, most see it as a chance to break up the monotony, but after the second or third time they begin to get involved and some even take over," Garcia said. "This brings peace to me, knowing something so simple makes such a big difference for so many folks. There has been multiple times where the tradition continues even after I'm long gone."

His deployment to the Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan, was one of them and it seems this assignment will be too.

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Mishal Crane, Combined Air and Space Operations Center noncommissioned officer in charge of commander support staff, is another helper and said she plans to use the recipe in deployments to come.

"It reminds me a lot of home," said Crane, who grew up in the same neighborhood as Garcia, and is of Hispanic descent. "If the ingredients are available, I will most definitely be carrying on this tradition."

Garcia said his recipe, containing one secret step, is only passed on to those who are willing to work alongside him and learn.

But whether the recipe and tradition are passed down or not, he said, just seeing the smiling faces of airmen enjoying his guacamole is all that matters.

U.S. OFFICIAL'S REMARKS ON THE CHANGING MIDDLE EAST

FROM: U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
America and a Changing Middle East
Remarks
William J. Burns
Deputy Secretary of State
Princeton University
Princeton, New Jersey
May 6, 2013

Thank you, Dan. It’s an honor to be back at Princeton, and back at the Woodrow Wilson School, an institution whose commitment to public service I have long admired. It’s an honor to be among so many people whose service to our nation I respect so much -- from George Mitchell to Ryan Crocker. And it’s a particular honor to be introduced by my friend, Dan Kurtzer. There is, quite simply, no better model of skill and professionalism and decency in American diplomacy than Dan.

I’ve been asked this morning to offer a few reflections on American policy across a Middle East in the midst of profound and turbulent change. I promise to be brief, which is probably a healthy instinct at this hour on a Saturday morning.

I wish I could also promise to be uplifting, but that’s a little harder. The Middle East is a place where pessimists seldom lack for either company or validation, where skeptics hardly ever seem wrong. It is a place where American policymakers often learn humility the hard way … a place where you can most easily see the wisdom in Winston Churchill’s famous comment that what he liked most about Americans was that they usually did the right thing in the end; they just liked to exhaust all the alternatives first.

I’ve learned a few things about the Middle East during my own checkered thirty-one year career in the Foreign Service. I’ve learned that stability is not a static phenomenon, and that regimes which do not offer their citizens a sense of political dignity and economic possibility ultimately become brittle and break. I’ve learned that change in the Middle East is rarely neat or linear, but often messy and cruel, and deeply unpredictable in its second and third order consequences.

I’ve learned not to underestimate the depth of mistrust of American motives that animates so many people in the region, and I’ve learned that we often get far more credit than we deserve for complicated conspiracies. I’ve learned that, with all its stubborn dysfunction, the Middle East is a place where people and leaders are capable of great things … and that America diplomacy, with all of our own occasional dysfunction, can make a real and enduring difference.

So let me first talk briefly about why the Middle East still matters in American foreign policy and how the Middle East is changing, and then outline several elements of a positive American policy agenda -- what we can do to help shape, within the limits of our influence, the great generational struggle between moderation and extremism that is unfolding across the Middle East today.

Why the Middle East Still Matters and How It Is Changing

After a post 9/11 decade dominated by two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s not hard to see why Americans would seek to rebalance our priorities. We live in a rapidly changing world, in which American interests are pulled in many directions. I just returned from a long trip to Asia, and it’s obvious that the Asia-Pacific region is not only the most dynamic part of the global economy in the new century which lies ahead, but also a logical centerpiece of U.S. foreign policy. The transformation of the global energy market through the shale technology revolution is also affecting our views of the Middle East. With the U.S. likely to overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s leading oil producer in the next five years or so, and with the prospect of genuine energy independence in the next twenty years or so, it’s natural to wonder if we really need to pay so much attention to the Middle East. And it is a truism that American’s chief foreign policy challenge is domestic renewal, strengthening our home-grown capacity to compete and promote our interests and values around the world.

Tempting though it may be, we do not have the luxury of pivoting away from the Middle East, which sometimes has a nasty way of reminding us of its relevance. We don’t have the luxury of pivoting away from a part of the world that holds some of our closest allies, and a very sizeable chunk of the world’s oil reserves, on which the global economy is still dependent even if we are headed towards self-sufficiency. And we don’t have the luxury of pivoting away from a part of the world that holds several of the world’s most poisonous regional conflicts, and violent extremists who feed on the region’s bitterness and alienation.

We cannot, in short, afford to neglect what’s at stake in a region going through its own awakening, at once promising and painful, and potentially every bit as consequential for international order as the changes which swept over Europe and Eurasia two decades ago.

It’s important to understand that the Arab Awakening is about several layers of change -- within, among and beyond Arab states. Within a number of states, the spark produced by a desperate Tunisian vendor, tired of too many indignities and too many lost hopes, proved highly combustible. Within months of that tragic self-immolation, a half-century old political order collapsed in several Arab states, including Egypt, the biggest of all. Societies that for far too long had known far too little freedom, far too little opportunity and far too little dignity began to erupt. But what also spilled out, in addition to the thirst of individual citizens for dignity, were all the demons of sectarian and communal tension that authoritarian rulers had forcefully contained.

That dynamic in turn helped set off new uncertainties and frictions among states in the region, as sectarian troubles and old Sunni-Shia passions spilled across borders still not firmly rooted nearly a century after their post-World War One formation.

Meanwhile, beyond Arab states, violent extremist groups were quick to try to fill emerging vacuums and take advantage of post-revolutionary chaos. Non-Arab regional powers like Turkey, Israel and Iran loomed larger as traditional Arab powers like Egypt turned inward, and major external players like China and India grew even more reliant on access to regional energy supplies. And across this whole shifting landscape, the Arab Awakening stirred up familiar debates about the role of religion in politics, gender equality, individual human rights and globalization.

What all of these layers of change add up to is the most significant transition in the Arab world since the revolutions of the 1950’s. And what they have laid bare is the long-term question of whether an "Arab center", as my friend and former Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher has described it, can eventually replace the old order … gradually establishing democratic institutions to manage sectarian differences and provide an outlet for individual dignity … or whether hardliners and extremists of one stripe or another will prove more resilient. The United States has a powerful stake in that very complex competition, and in shaping a careful, long-term strategy for enhancing the chances for a new, moderate order which best protects our interests and reflects our values.

Elements of a Positive American Agenda

If "rebalancing" has been a central feature of American foreign policy under President Obama more generally, it also applies in particular to how we’re approaching a rapidly changing Middle East. With the end of the war in Iraq, the U.S. military footprint in the region has become smaller, although it’s obvious that our security commitments remain enormously important. Diplomatic and economic tools get greater emphasis, as does the value of applying American leadership to build partnerships with key players inside and outside the region to support positive changes. We need to convey a clear sense of what we stand for, not just what we stand against -- an agenda that offers a powerful antidote to extremists, who are much better at tearing things down than building anything up.

It seems to me that a workable, long-term American strategy has three inter-connected elements: support for democratic change, economic opportunity, and regional peace and security. All three are crucial to our broader goal of enhancing the chances that moderates will shape the new regional order more than extremists. All three require us to look carefully at where the United States can uniquely make a difference, and at how best to mobilize other countries, inside and outside the region, in common cause. And all three require us to find a sensible course between self-defeating inaction and unsustainable unilateralism. We also have to be honest with ourselves: there will inevitably be some tough tradeoffs among these priorities at different moments, and times when it will be hard to weigh the long-term benefits of pushing democratic reforms against short-term security demands. But all three elements have to frame our broader agenda. Let me touch quickly on each.

Democratic reform can proceed in different ways and at different paces in different places in the region, but there won’t be a moderate outcome to the Arab Awakening over the next generation without it. Whether in countries in post-revolutionary transition, or countries trying to stay ahead of the wave of change through evolutionary reform, the United States consistently emphasizes a common set of principles: respect for the rule of law; peaceful and inclusive political processes; protecting the fundamental rights of all citizens -- including women and minorities and people of all faiths; and steady focus on building strong democratic institutions, real checks and balances, and vibrant civil societies.

We try to hold leaders and parties of every political shape to these standards. When it comes to building sustainable democracies, the most consequential distinction is not between Islamists and secularists, but between those who embrace pluralism based on rule of law, and those who seek to impose their own vision on others. All parties need to engage in the political process and not sit on the sidelines. Those in power have a special responsibility to make clear that force is no substitute for politics, and that a majority is no substitute for dialogue and consensus. And all must condemn and prevent violence, which truly poisons politics.

Whether in fragile, post-revolutionary states like Tunisia or Egypt … or in monarchies trying to keep pace with their people’s expectations, like Morocco or Jordan … sustainable democratic change depends upon the full participation of all citizens in political and economic life; the belief of all citizens that their peacefully-expressed views are heard and respected; and the conviction of all citizens that they share a stake in their country’s future.

No democratic transition can succeed without a sense of confidence in a better and more inclusive economic future. Unless the Arab Awakening is accompanied by an economic awakening, it will collapse. The hard truth is that most Arab societies have ducked serious economic reform for far too long; where economic liberalization has occurred, its benefits have often been limited to a privileged few. But serious reform cannot take place in a sustainable manner without basic political consensus on the rules of the game, lest it provoke chaos and instability. That’s why inclusive politics and inclusive economic change have to go hand in hand, and why the long term goal should be societies in which getting ahead depends less on who you know and more on what you know.

There is much more that we and other outsiders can do to support long-term economic reform. Even more than conventional assistance, we can use the promise of market access and open trading arrangements to encourage reform and create jobs. We can use initiatives like the new Enterprise Funds in Egypt and Tunisia to support small and medium-sized enterprises. And we can invest even more actively in helping to renovate educational systems and promoting scholarships and exchanges, so that the next generation is better-equipped to compete and succeed. Those are some of the very best investments in a moderate future for the region that I can imagine.

Finally, just as sustainable democratic reform and economic opportunity depend on one another, both depend on a more stable regional environment. I hardly need to tell any of you how hard it will be to make progress on the deepening crisis in Syria, or the Iranian nuclear issue, or the long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process. But these are areas in which American diplomacy and influence can make a difference, and in which we have a profound stake. Our interests and credibility are at risk on each of them. While I realize that there are lots of other significant security priorities for American policy -- from the continuing importance of Iraq’s stable evolution, as Ryan Crocker has rightly emphasized recently, to getting ahead of growing terrorist threats in the Maghreb -- let me offer a few brief thoughts on Syria, Iran, and the Palestinian-Israeli issue, and I’d be glad to address other challenges in our discussion.

The scale and scope of the human tragedy in Syria today is staggering, and it is inexorably becoming a regional tragedy. More than 70,000 Syrians have died. According to the United Nations, one out of three Syrians will have been forced from their homes by the end of 2013. Jordan is overwhelmed by the burden of 500,000 Syrian refugees -- a number which could reach a million by the end of the year. The crisis in Syria has spilled over to seriously inflame politics in Iraq and Lebanon. State structures in Syria are crumbling, extremists are expanding their influence among the opposition, and the dangers of long-term sectarian conflict and fragmentation are growing rapidly. Apparent use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime is deeply troubling, and we continue to press for a comprehensive UN investigation to fully establish the facts, as we consider our options for responding.

The simple truth is that there can be no stability in Syria, no resolution of the crisis, without a transition to new leadership. The longer Asad clings to power, the greater the odds of state implosion, fragmentation, and regional spillover. President Obama and Secretary Kerry have made clear that our strong preference remains a negotiated transition. The Geneva framework of last summer offers a reasonable starting point, but Asad refuses to engage. Russia has been resistant, to put it mildly, to using its leverage on the Asad regime; Secretary Kerry’s visit to Moscow in a few days is an opportunity to test whether cooperation is possible.

We’re working intensively with a range of partners to strengthen the Syrian opposition and help shift the balance on the ground, which is essential to any chance of shifting Asad’s calculus. The Secretary announced last month that we’ve doubled non-lethal assistance to the opposition, and the Administration is actively considering our other options. There is a mounting urgency to this effort, as both the human and strategic costs grow.

I wish I could offer you a neat, new prescription this morning, but I cannot. All I can tell you is that we have to work even harder with our allies and the opposition to accelerate Asad’s exit, while there’s still a Syria left to save, and to prepare for what will inevitably be a very difficult day after -- more likely, very difficult years after.

Whatever decisions we make on further steps in Syria, it is crucial to mobilize as much regional and international support as we can -- leveraging our actions to help produce a stronger and more inclusive opposition coalition; and a stronger and more coordinated set of outside backers. That kind of "compact" has been the aim of Secretary Kerry’s very energetic diplomatic efforts over recent weeks. If we’ve learned anything from the experience of the last decade, it’s that on extraordinarily tough, complex Middle East problems like Syria, we want to build as much shared purpose and responsibility as we can -- we should want company on the take off, because we will all need it for the landing, in the huge challenge of post-Asad Syria.

On Iran, let me say simply that our concerns are profound, and they extend beyond the nuclear issue, across a range of dangerous Iranian behavior that threatens our interests and those of our friends in the region, and to the Iranian regime’s denial of the human rights of its citizens. The President has emphasized since his first days in office our readiness, along with our P5+1 partners, to seek a negotiated resolution of the Iranian nuclear problem. That shouldn’t be impossible -- if Iran is serious about meeting its international obligations and demonstrating through concrete steps the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear ambitions. Unfortunately, Iran has been stubbornly unwilling, so far, to seriously address international concerns, and has given rise to new ones with its steady, defiant expansion of its nuclear program, in direct violation of numerous UNSC resolutions and IAEA decisions. At recent meetings in Almaty, the P5+1 put a reasonable, reciprocal confidence building proposal on the table, aimed at beginning to create some sense of trust and allow time and space for negotiation of a more comprehensive arrangement. Unfortunately, Iran’s response gave no indication that it is willing to take meaningful steps to address international concerns.

There is still time for diplomacy, and we and our partners hope Iran will take advantage of it. But there is also increasing urgency on this issue too. The President has made very clear that he will do whatever it takes to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. We and our partners have put in place an unprecedented set of sanctions, which has had a significant and growing impact on Iran’s economy. I continue to hope that serious diplomacy is still possible; too many opportunities have been missed before, including the abortive fall 2009 deal on the Tehran Research Reactor, in which I played a direct part. It would be a huge miscalculation for Iran to miss this one too.

On the Palestinian issue, I’m convinced that the status quo between Palestinians and Israelis is as unsteady, unsustainable and combustible as the sclerotic political systems that have crumbled elsewhere in the region over the past couple years. I have never been a big believer in the notion that we have to let the conflict "ripen" to the point that resolution seems more likely. I’m afraid the more likely effect of that approach is to watch the prospects for a two-state solution -- which is so deeply in the interests of Israel’s long-term security as well as the interests of the Palestinians and the region -- wither and die on the vine.

President Obama underscored in Jerusalem earlier this spring his belief that progress towards Middle East peace is necessary, just and possible. In only a few months in office, Secretary Kerry has been tireless in his efforts to find a path back to serious negotiations -- a path that blends a renewed political horizon for a two-state outcome, with steps to create an encouraging economic horizon for Palestinians, and a renewed focus on the decade-old promise of the Arab Peace Initiative, which the Secretary discussed with a visiting group of Arab foreign ministers last Monday.

None of this will be easy. It never has been. Former Secretary of State Jim Baker, a proud Princeton graduate, keeps a whole wall of caustic newspaper cartoons outside his office in Houston, which reflected the skepticism surrounding his trips to the Middle East before the Madrid Peace Conference in 1991. But he proved his doubters wrong, and American diplomacy worked. The landscape today is in many ways much less promising, but as Secretary Kerry knows as well as anyone, that is not an argument against trying, given all that is at stake.

Final Note
I’ll close with a simple thought.

I’m not naïve about the Middle East or how little we really know about where this period of profound change will take the region and its people. The story that is unfolding is also very much a story of Arab peoples taking their own destiny in their own hands, which should provide a cautionary note about the degree to which we can help shape their futures. The Middle East can be very unforgiving for American policymakers and diplomats, and it would be foolish to assume the best.

We’ve had our share of recent tragedies, including the death of my friend, Chris Stevens, our Ambassador in Libya, who was killed trying to help Libyans realize the promise of their revolution, and not let it be hijacked by extremists. But we cannot afford to pull back from the region, whether because of security risks or rebalanced priorities or policy fatigue or domestic preoccupations. There’s too much at issue right now, and we can increase the odds that moderates across the region can succeed over the next decade or two if we engage actively and creatively on behalf of democratic change, economic opportunity, and regional peace and security.

We will not get every judgment right, or take every risk that we should, but we are far better off working persistently to help shape events, rather than wait for them to be shaped for us.

Thank you very much.

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REMARKS BY SECRETARY OF STATE KERRY AND JORDANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER JUDEH

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Remarks With Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh
Remarks John Kerry
Secretary of State
Villa Taverna
Rome, Italy
May 9, 2013


SECRETARY KERRY:
Good morning, everybody. It’s my pleasure to welcome Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh here to Villa Taverna. Thank you very much, Nasser, for taking time to be here. We are, I would say, old and good friends. We’ve spent a lot of time together in the last few years before I became Secretary of State. And we are enormously appreciative for the incredible assistance that the Foreign Minister and King Abdullah have given to the peace process and to the relationship with the United States.

Foreign Minister Judeh was particularly helpful in helping to bring the Arab League together and in helping to lead the Arab League to a new engagement for the peace process, which I believe is very significant. King Abdullah in Jordan remains enormous committed to the possibilities of peace, and the Foreign Minister has graciously adjusted his schedule so that we could meet here in Rome as both of us travel in different directions, but recognizing the importance of this moment, particularly important because each day that goes by in the Middle East always brings the ability for someone somehow to create events that always threaten the ability of the process to continue smoothly.

And the Foreign Minister has agreed that it is absolutely critical for all of us to try to move speedily and with focus to try to get to a place where everybody understands we are engaged in a serious process to reopen negotiations. Jordan will play a key role in that. Jordan is an essential partner to peace. It borders Israel, has already engaged in many activities regarding security, regarding trade and relations, and we’re very, very grateful to King Abdullah and the Jordanians for their commitments in that regard.

But Jordan is also suffering a very significant impact of the events in Syria, and Jordan is a big stakeholder in the course of events in Syria. The Foreign Minister will work with us, as they have, to try to bring all the parties to the table so that we can effect a transition government by mutual consent on both sides, which clearly means that, in our judgment, President Assad will not be a component of that transitional government. The fourth largest city in Jordan today is a tent city, a refugee city. So Jordan feels the impact of what is happening more than any other country. And with that in mind today, President Obama has asked me to and authorized an additional $100 million in aid for humanitarian purposes, 43 million of which will be designated directly to Jordan in order to assist to relieve the burden that they are currently feeling.

And finally, I’d just say, Nasser, as we talk today about the peace process and things that could be done going forward, I just want to thank you for the longstanding commitment of Jordan to this kind of effort. King Hussein himself, in the year before he died, talked about the urgency of dignity for the Palestinian people, for Arabs living in the neighborhood. He talked about the urgency of their having the ability to share freedom of expression and peace and stability. And he talked greatly about the need for stability in the region.

King Abdullah and you remain committed to helping to make that happen, so I’m very grateful to you for sharing your thoughts here today, and more importantly, for putting yourself on the frontlines of peace, which is always difficult, and we thank you for that.

FOREIGN MINISTER JUDEH: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary, dear friend. Thank you for receiving me here today. And I am here today meeting again with my good friend and Jordan’s friend, His Majesty’s friend, Secretary John Kerry, to build on the extremely successful visit and very productive discussions that His Majesty The King had in Washington recently with the President and the Vice President, with your good self, and many officials in the Administration, and on Capitol Hill.

If there is one thing that characterizes the relationship between Jordan and the United States, it’s that we always say it’s not just a friendship; it’s a true partnership, and it’s across the board. And this is something that we cherish and something that we believe is a strategic relationship, and we’re extremely pleased and gratified by the successful visit by President Obama to Jordan a few weeks ago. And again, the fact that we meet regularly and remain in constant touch is a reflection of that special relationship that spans more than six decades, which again, we remind has stood the test of time and many challenges, but gets stronger by the day.

So, John, I’m extremely happy to have this opportunity to discuss all that interests us and all that poses a set of challenges for both our countries. No doubt that the meeting that we had in Washington, D.C., both bilaterally and with the Arab League Peace Initiative committee representatives, will be a launching pad for a productive and overarching conversation today on your efforts, your admirable efforts, the President’s commitment and your leadership of this effort to try and bridge the gap between Palestinians and Israelis, to – and to try and end and resolve this decades of conflict, one of the longest conflicts of our contemporary times.

I mentioned just when I arrived what a challenging day yesterday was with the developments in Jerusalem, and Jerusalem being something that is very, very important not just to Arabs and Muslims around the world, but to Jordan and His Majesty and – His Majesty, the King, in particular, with the custodianship of the holy sites in Jerusalem. And we need to avoid that as much as we can. Jerusalem has to be the symbol of peace, and I think Jerusalem is a very, very important component of all the final status discussions that will take place.

So we salute the efforts that the Secretary is conducting. He’s seen everybody. He’s seen the Palestinian leadership, he’s seen the Israeli leadership frequently since he took over as Secretary of State. And I have had the pleasure of seeing him frequently as well and being in constant touch with him, and he has spoken to His Majesty, the King, and met with him several times as well. It is all an indication of what a commitment he has to see this fight through. There have been many initiatives in the past. There have been many failed attempts, false starts, and there were attempts that resulted in limited success, perhaps, and we should build on all that. And this is why it’s important to look at the history and share our thoughts and our ideas and our approaches with each other so that we can try and bring the parties back to the negotiating table, perhaps in a different way and more effective way this time. So I look forward to our discussion on them.

A key challenge, as Secretary Kerry pointed out, remains Syria today – the bloodshed, the violence, and no political solution in sight. And we are extremely encouraged by the results of the Secretary’s meetings in Moscow with the President and with the Foreign Minister and salute your achievements in that regard by identifying a path forward, I believe, and I look forward to hearing the details as I go to Moscow myself today to meet with our colleague, Sergey Lavrov. So it will be important to share with you, sir, and to hear from you and to get your insight on where we go forward. Our position in Jordan has and continues to be very clear that it has to be a transitional period that results in a political solution that includes all the segments of Syrian society, no exclusion whatsoever, all inclusive, that – one that preserves Syria’s territorial integrity and unity, and one that guarantees that pluralism and opportunity for everybody exists.

So as the Secretary pointed out, we are at the receiving end of the humanitarian spillover of that crisis with more than 525,000 Syrian refugees on Jordanian soil today, and continuing at an average rate of 2,000 a day. We have 10 percent of our population today in the form of Syrian refugees. It is expected to rise to about 20 to 25 percent given the current rates by the end of this year, and possibly to about 40 percent by the middle of 2014.

No country can cope with numbers as huge as the numbers I just described, and therefore, we appreciate the help that is coming from the international community, and particularly from the United States of America. And I’m extremely grateful for the announcement that the Secretary has just made with 42 million additional assistance to Jordan. And the more that comes, the better, but the United States has provided not just 200 million earlier, but another 42 million, and we’re extremely grateful to that – for that.

I hope that we can support each other in the weeks and months to come in that regard. We recently sent a letter to the Security Council to express the gravity of the situation when it comes to the refugees, and we thank our friends for the support that we’re getting there. We’re hoping that the United Nations will continue to shoulder its responsibility when it comes to assisting Jordan, to continue carrying this burden on behalf of the international community.

Sir, I look forward to our discussion again today, and I thank you for this opportunity, I thank you for your friendship, and may the friendship between our two countries continue forever.

SECRETARY KERRY: Inshallah. Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER JUDEH: Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: I’ll just mention to everybody that I asked Ambassador Robert Ford to continue on from Moscow to Istanbul, which he has done, and he has already been engaged in talks with the Syrian opposition, and they’ve been very productive. And the Secretary General of the United Nations has been in touch with me with respect to the way forward for this conference. So we are going to forge ahead very, very directly to work with all of the parties to bring that conference together. I spoke yesterday with the foreign ministers of most of the countries involved, and there’s a very positive response and a very strong desire to move to this conference and to try to find, at least exhaust the possibilities of finding a political way forward.

And so we’re going to keep the focus on that, and obviously, in conjunction with our discussions about the Middle East peace process, we will also have some discussion about Syria. So thank you all very much, appreciate it.

UN PUBLISHES AFGHANISTAN OPINUM REPORTS

Opium Field In Afghanistan.  Credit:  U.S. Marine Corps
FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Afghanistan Opium Survey and Opium Risk Assessment

Fact Sheet
Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
May 6, 2013


The Afghanistan Opium Survey and Afghanistan Opium Risk Assessment (ORAS) are two distinct reports that aid the Afghan government in policy development and the U.S. Government and other donors in foreign assistance planning. Both reports are joint publications by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics. The United States, as well as a number of other international donors, provides funding for these important tools.
The 2012 UNODC Afghanistan Opium Survey, which covers the 2012 opium poppy crop, was published on May 6. This is a final report that builds on the 2012 UNODC Afghanistan Opium Survey Summary findings which were published on November 20, 2012. The UNODC Afghanistan Opium Survey is a comprehensive, quantitative estimate of actual poppy cultivation and opium production each year in Afghanistan based on an extensive and rigorous public methodology. It is completed after the end of the poppy harvest season and relies on satellite imagery analysis of the poppy crop during its peak growth period.
The 2013 Opium Risk Assessment (ORAS), which covers the 2013 opium poppy crop, was published on April 15, 2013. The ORAS is an informal, qualitative prediction of poppy cultivation trends over the upcoming year, based on interviews with village leaders during the planting season. Unlike the annual Opium Survey estimate, ORAS interviews are not cross-verified with satellite imagery as the opium poppy crop cannot be detected remotely until much later in the plant’s growth cycle. This report is meant to provide an early indication of broad cultivation trends in each province to help policymakers adjust delivery of counternarcotics and development assistance prior to the poppy harvest.
The U.S. Government also produces a quantitative estimate of opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan each year. The UNODC and U.S. surveys differ in methodology and their estimates do not always align, although trend lines are generally similar at the national level. The U.S. Government does not produce a qualitative forecast of cultivation trends similar to the Opium Risk Assessment (ORAS).


ALL-WOMEN IRAQI POLICE OFFICER TRAINING CLASS STARTS IN U.S.

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

First All-Women Iraqi Police Officer Class Attending Training in the United States
Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
May 8, 2013

 

A delegation of ten women police officers from Iraq arrived in the United States this week for three weeks of training, the first all-female delegation to participate in the U.S. Department of State’s Iraq Police Education Program (IPEP). After meeting the group yesterday, Ambassador William R. Brownfield, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) praised Iraqi Ministry of Interior (MOI) efforts to mainstream female officers and, by providing advanced training, to prepare them for leadership roles.

The officers represent a cross-section of the Iraqi MOI, including criminal investigation, domestic violence, and training units. Working with police forces in Michigan and Maryland, they will partner with American officers in classroom and "on the job" settings, and gain exposure to American culture. Specialized training will focus on criminal investigation, forensics, and crime scene processing, while emphasizing techniques for countering violence against women. Leadership and management training will provide the tools for career advancement.

IPEP is managed by the International Association of the Chiefs of Police and its partner police departments and funded under an INL grant. The five-year, $8 million grant has facilitated training for more than 100 Iraqi police officers since the program’s inception in 2010.

Press Briefing | The White House

Press Briefing | The White House

GLOBAL WARMING AND RAINFALL


 



Model simulations spanning 140 years show that warming from carbon dioxide will change the frequency that regions around the planet receive no rain (brown), moderate rain (tan), and very heavy rain (blue). The occurrence of no rain and heavy rain will increase, while moderate rainfall will decrease. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

FROM: NASA

NASA Study Projects Warming-Driven Changes in Global Rainfall

WASHINGTON -- A NASA-led modeling study provides new evidence that global warming may increase the risk for extreme rainfall and drought.

The study shows for the first time how rising carbon dioxide concentrations could affect the entire range of rainfall types on Earth.

Analysis of computer simulations from 14 climate models indicates wet regions of the world, such as the equatorial Pacific Ocean and Asian monsoon regions, will see increases in heavy precipitation because of warming resulting from projected increases in carbon dioxide levels. Arid land areas outside the tropics and many regions with moderate rainfall could become drier.

The analysis provides a new assessment of global warming's impacts on precipitation patterns around the world. The study was accepted for publication in the American Geophysical Union journal Geophysical Research Letters.

"In response to carbon dioxide-induced warming, the global water cycle undergoes a gigantic competition for moisture resulting in a global pattern of increased heavy rain, decreased moderate rain, and prolonged droughts in certain regions," said William Lau of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and lead author of the study.

The models project for every 1 degree Fahrenheit of carbon dioxide-induced warming, heavy rainfall will increase globally by 3.9 percent and light rain will increase globally by 1 percent. However, total global rainfall is not projected to change much because moderate rainfall will decrease globally by 1.4 percent.

Heavy rainfall is defined as months that receive an average of more than about 0.35 of an inch per day. Light rain is defined as months that receive an average of less than 0.01 of an inch per day. Moderate rainfall is defined as months that receive an average of between about 0.04 to 0.09 of an inch per day.

Areas projected to see the most significant increase in heavy rainfall are in the tropical zones around the equator, particularly in the Pacific Ocean and Asian monsoon regions.

Some regions outside the tropics may have no rainfall at all. The models also projected for every degree Fahrenheit of warming, the length of periods with no rain will increase globally by 2.6 percent. In the Northern Hemisphere, areas most likely to be affected include the deserts and arid regions of the southwest United States, Mexico, North Africa, the Middle East, Pakistan, and northwestern China. In the Southern Hemisphere, drought becomes more likely in South Africa, northwestern Australia, coastal Central America and northeastern Brazil.

"Large changes in moderate rainfall, as well as prolonged no-rain events, can have the most impact on society because they occur in regions where most people live," Lau said. "Ironically, the regions of heavier rainfall, except for the Asian monsoon, may have the smallest societal impact because they usually occur over the ocean."

Lau and colleagues based their analysis on the outputs of 14 climate models in simulations of 140-year periods. The simulations began with carbon dioxide concentrations at about 280 parts per million -- similar to pre-industrial levels and well below the current level of almost 400 parts per million -- and then increased by 1 percent per year. The rate of increase is consistent with a "business as usual" trajectory of the greenhouse gas as described by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Analyzing the model results, Lau and his co-authors calculated statistics on the rainfall responses for a 27-year control period at the beginning of the simulation, and also for 27-year periods around the time of doubling and tripling of carbon dioxide concentrations.
They conclude the model predictions of how much rain will fall at any one location as the climate warms are not very reliable.

"But if we look at the entire spectrum of rainfall types we see all the models agree in a very fundamental way -- projecting more heavy rain, less moderate rain events, and prolonged droughts," Lau said.

Friday, May 10, 2013

U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT CONCERNED WITH THREATENING LEAFLETS IN SYRAI

FROM: U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT

Leaflets over Qusayr, Syria
Press Statement
Jen Psaki
Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
May 10, 2013

We are deeply concerned by reports that the Assad regime has begun dropping leaflets over Qusayr that tell all civilians to evacuate or be treated as combatants. We strongly condemn any shelling of innocent civilians or threats to do so. Ordering the displacement of the civilian population under these circumstances is the latest demonstration of the regime’s ongoing brutality.

The regime’s continued indiscriminate aerial bombing in civilian areas – including bakeries, breadlines, and hospitals - violates international humanitarian law. As horrifying reports of regime atrocities and massacres continue to emerge, the Assad regime and all its supporters who commit crimes against the Syrian people should know that the world is watching and that they will be identified and held accountable. As the Syrian people address questions of accountability, the United States will continue to work with Syrians and the international community to support the documentation of violations.

Remarks by Secretary Hagel at the Annual Washington Institute for Near East Policy's Soref Symposium, Washington, D.C.

Remarks by Secretary Hagel at the Annual Washington Institute for Near East Policy's Soref Symposium, Washington, D.C.

U.S. State Department Daily Press Briefing - May 10, 2013

Daily Press Briefing - May 10, 2013

U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL HOLDER SPEAKS AT UNIVERSITY OF AUCKLAND

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Attorney General Eric Holder Speaks at the University of Auckland
Auckland, New Zealand ~ Monday, May 6, 2013


Thank you, Vice-Chancellor McCutcheon, for those kind words – and thank you all for such a warm welcome. It’s a pleasure to be here in Auckland today. And I’d particularly like to thank our hosts at the University of Auckland for providing a forum for this important discussion – and for bringing together such a distinguished group. It’s great to be among so many students, faculty members, and current and future leaders of New Zealand’s legal community.

As one of this country’s leading universities, and one of the world’s preeminent centers of higher education, this institution has served as a training ground for generations of students who have gone on to shape every segment of Kiwi society; who have positively impacted countless industries – and individuals – around the world; and who have been instrumental in writing every chapter of the rich history of this island nation. Of course, despite this university’s well-deserved reputation as a place of academic rigor, and a meeting ground where issues of consequence are discussed and addressed – as your motto states, "by natural ability and hard work" – the University of Auckland first arose from humble beginnings.

When it was formally opened – 130 years ago this month – its population totaled less than a hundred, including just 4 teachers and 95 students. Its facilities consisted of an old courthouse and a disused jail. And its most popular programs helped to train teachers and law clerks, whose efforts – to expand educational opportunities and strengthen New Zealand’s legal system – undoubtedly had a profound impact on generations of Kiwis that followed in their footsteps.

Now, there’s no question that you’ve come a long way since those days. But I’m pleased to note that your noble mission – and ambitious vision for the future – remain very much the same. And that’s why, as we gather this afternoon – to confront current challenges, achieve common goals, and honor the values that have always joined our nations together – I can think of no better place to reaffirm the spirit of optimism that once drove your founders to assemble in an old courthouse, confident that their students would someday change the world – and then set out to make that dream a reality.

It’s a similar spirit that brings me to New Zealand this week, to meet with Attorney General Finlayson and our counterparts from Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. For the United States, and for our Quintet allies, these meetings present an important chance to exchange ideas and share expertise; to advance the principles of peace, security, and equal justice that form the common foundation for our respective legal systems; and to explore strategies for working together – to address both domestic and international challenges – in order to build the brighter, safer future that all of our citizens deserve.

Although we gather in a time of unprecedented difficulty – at a moment of true consequence – I believe we can all be proud of what our nations have achieved in recent years. By collaborating closely – in common cause, in good faith, and with mutual respect – we’ve addressed a host of transnational issues. From combating cybercrime, terrorism, and human trafficking, to fighting corruption and protecting our citizens from exploitation, abuse, and violence – together, we’ve made significant progress on a variety of fronts. And this week, we’re sharing best practices for protecting some of the most vulnerable members of society – and prosecuting those who commit acts of sexual violence against women and children. Together, we will examine how we can improve domestic investigations and prosecutions of these serious crimes, as well as how we can increase our joint response to transnational sexual violence – including in the contexts of human trafficking, online child pornography, and armed conflicts.

As we look toward the future of this work, I’m confident that we’ll be able to continue building on the record of achievement that’s been established – so long as we remain committed to working together. That’s why I’m so grateful for this opportunity to discuss just a few of our priorities with you today. And it’s why I’d like to begin with a shared challenge that demands international coordination, robust action, and constant vigilance: our ongoing efforts to combat terrorism and related security threats.

From the Quintet’s inception, working together to respond to terrorism has been one of our central themes. The importance of this work was brought into sharp focus just last month, in the most shocking and tragic of ways – when a deadly terrorist attack in the United States, along the route of the Boston Marathon, left three innocent people dead and hundreds badly injured. In the days that followed this heinous act – thanks to the valor of state and local police, the dedication of federal law enforcement and intelligence officials, and the vigilance of members of the public – those suspected of carrying out this terrorist act were identified. One person has been brought into custody and charged in a federal civilian court with using a weapon of mass destruction. And three others have been arrested in connection with this investigation.

Now, this matter remains open – and my colleagues and I are determined to hold accountable, to the fullest extent of the law, all who are found to bear responsibility for this attack. We will be resolute in our efforts to seek justice on behalf of the civilians and brave law enforcement officers who were killed or injured, and to bring help and healing to those who lost friends or loved ones. And we will continue to rely on the support, assistance, and critical intelligence and information-sharing capabilities of our Quintet allies as we advance this and other investigations – and strengthen our broader national security and anti-terrorism efforts.

Over the last four years, I’m proud to report that my colleagues and I have obtained considerable results in this regard. We have uncovered – and prevented – multiple plots by foreign terrorist groups as well as homegrown extremists. Alongside essential partners like the members of the Quintet, we’ve bolstered information sharing in a manner that’s consistent with the rule of law and with our most sacred values. We’ve brought cases – and secured convictions – against scores of dangerous terrorists. And, together, we have taken significant steps to fulfill our mutual obligation to protect and improve the lives of our citizens. The Quintet has been an important mechanism for advancing our joint efforts in this regard.

But all of this is only the beginning. Our governments have long recognized that regional and national problems invariably demand international solutions. Particularly in recent years, we’ve also found that transnational cooperation is frequently just as important when it comes to addressing domestic challenges. That’s another reason why we’ve come together this week to engage with – and learn from – one another, and to reinforce the ideals of fairness, tolerance, and inclusion that form the foundations of our legal systems and lie at the heart of our shared history.

This history, and these ideals, are on full display here at the University of Auckland, where tomorrow’s leaders are learning to grapple with the challenges – and thorny legal questions – that we’ll undoubtedly face together in the years ahead. Every day, you’re acquiring the skills and knowledge you’ll soon need to take up positions of responsibility in all sectors of society – not only here in New Zealand, but around the world. No matter how you choose to put this training to work – whether you build a career in business, science, politics, or the law; whether you envision a future defending the accused, bringing criminals to justice, ruling from the bench, leading a corporation, working for an NGO, or charting some other path altogether your own – each of you will soon be charged with upholding these principles in your own lives, and continuing the progress that this University’s founders set in motion 130 years ago. And all of you will be called upon – in a variety of ways – to help honor and preserve the values that our nations have always shared.

In the United States, my colleagues and I are working hard to live out these values – and to instill them in a new generation of American leaders – by fighting to protect the safety, and the sacred civil rights, to which of every member of society is entitled. We’re firmly committed to preserving the principles of equality, opportunity, and justice – from America’s housing and lending markets, to our schools and boardrooms, military bases, immigrant communities, border areas, and voting booths. And we’re striving to uphold the rights of every citizen – regardless of race, religion, gender, gender identity, economic means, social status, or sexual orientation.

In many ways, no single right is more fundamental to our democratic values than the right of every eligible citizen to participate in the act of self-governance – by casting a ballot. The U.S. Department of Justice is working diligently to safeguard this right by vigorously enforcing key voting protections in order to prevent discriminatory changes to elections systems. We’re working closely with elected leaders across America to make more fair – and to modernize – our voting systems; to expand access and participation in the electoral process; and to prevent and punish fraudulent voting practices – however rare they may be.

Beyond this work, we’re moving – both fairly and aggressively – to promote the highest standards of integrity, independence, and transparency in the enforcement of all civil rights protections. We’re combating exploitation, discrimination, intimidation, and bias-motivated violence. And we’re taking significant measures to address repugnant practices like human trafficking – and to prevent the gun-, gang-, and drug-fueled violence that afflicts too many communities across the United States, and too often decimates the lives of our most vulnerable citizens: our children.

Last December, a horrific mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut took the lives of 20 young children and 6 adults. It shocked our entire nation, and captured headlines around the world. Just days later, I traveled to the school where these unspeakable acts took place. I walked the halls, saw the blood stains, and met with first responders and crime scene investigators. When those brave men and women asked me, with tears in their eyes, to do everything in my power to prevent such a thing from happening again, I told them I would not rest until we had secured the changes our citizens need – and kept the promise that we’ve made to all Americans whose lives have been shattered by gun violence.

For me, for President Obama, and for our colleagues throughout the Administration – responding to this senseless violence, and working to prevent future tragedies, constitutes a top priority. We remain determined to achieve common-sense changes to reduce gun-related crimes, to keep deadly weapons from falling into the wrong hands, and to make America’s neighborhoods and schools more secure. More broadly, we’re also seeking ways to improve America’s criminal justice system as a whole – and to promote public safety, deterrence, efficiency, and fairness at every level. We’re leading historic efforts to expand vital legal services for those who cannot afford them – and to ensure that quality legal representation is available, affordable, and accessible to everyone, regardless of status or income. We’re tackling criminal justice challenges that are common to countries around the world – by exploring strategies to address sentencing disparities; to tear down barriers that prevent formerly incarcerated individuals from rejoining their communities; to consider potential reforms of sentencing policies in order to afford more flexibility to judges; and to ensure that incarceration is used to punish, to deter, but also to rehabilitate – not simply to warehouse and to forget.

Above all – throughout the Justice Department I’m honored to lead, and across the American government in which I’m privileged to serve – we’re working to safeguard the rights of every individual, to stand up for the rule of law, to protect our citizens, and to advance the cause of justice. Although our concerns, and our approaches, may differ at times from the precise challenges that all of you are called to contend with – as leaders and future leaders here in New Zealand – I know our priorities and values will always be the same. And our values – our common values – must always be our guides. Our joint commitment, and the bonds of friendship that unite us, are stronger than ever before. And that’s why – as I look around this crowd – I can’t help but feel confident in our ability to build upon the work that’s underway in both our countries; to continue the progress that the Quintet has convened to carry forward; and to extend the tradition of excellence that has always defined this University – and that must continue to drive our ongoing pursuit of justice – in New Zealand, in the United States, and around the world.

In this work, I am grateful for your leadership – and partnership. I know I speak for all of my colleagues and counterparts when I say we are proud of you. We are eager to see what your generation will achieve – and where you will lead us – in the critical days ahead. We are optimistic about the future you will surely help to build. With the gifts you have been given, with the training you will receive at this wonderful institution, comes a profound responsibility that you must feel, now and always. A responsibility to make the world better, more fair and more accepting. You will have that power and a unique 21st century opportunity to make this so. Use it wisely and for the betterment of our world. You are the best and the brightest – I am counting on you all.

Thank you.

West Wing Week: 05/10/13 or “I Dare You to Do Better” | The White House

West Wing Week: 05/10/13 or “I Dare You to Do Better” | The White House

European Space Agency United Kingdom (EN) Update

European Space Agency United Kingdom (EN) Update

FEMA RELEASES NUMBERS OF SANDY DISASTER ASSISTANCE TO NEW JERSEY

 
April 30, 2013 -- Keyport, N.J., April 30, 2013- A construction worker oversees the demolition of a Keyport marina restaurant devastated by Hurricane Sandy. Rosanna Arias/FEMA

FROM: U.S. FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY 
New Jersey Recovers From Superstorm Sandy: By The Numbers
Release date:
May 6, 2013
Release Number:
4086-154

TRENTON, N.J. -- Disaster assistance to New Jersey survivors of Superstorm Sandy by the numbers as of May 6:
$393.6 million in FEMA grants approved for individuals and households
$339.3million for housing assistance
$54.3 million for other needs
$755.8 million in SBA disaster loans approved for homeowners, renters and businesses
$307.3 million approved in FEMA Public Assistance grants to communities and some nonprofit organizations that serve the public
$3.4 billion in total National Flood Insurance Program payments made on claims to date
261,442 people contacted FEMA for help or information
182,226 housing inspections completed
123,416 visits to Disaster Recovery Centers made

CLOSING REMARKS AT U.S.-LIBERIA PARTNERSHIP DIALOGUE

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
U.S.-Liberia Partnership Dialogue Closing Remarks
Remarks
Wendy Sherman
Under Secretary for Political Affairs
United States Institute of Peace (USIP)
Washington, DC
May 7, 2013

I want to thank you, Minister Ngafuan, for sharing your reflections on the U.S.-Liberia Partnership Dialogue, they were indeed very eloquent.

I also as you did want to recognize the hard work of the U.S. Institute of Peace staff, of course its leader Congressman Jim Marshall, our Liberian colleagues, and my U.S. Government colleagues, including those in the State Department’s Africa Bureau, in making the inaugural session such a success.

Throughout today, as I understand from talking briefly to the Minister and with our staff, we have advanced the U.S.-Liberia bilateral relationship -- a relationship already deeply rooted not only in our historical ties, but our shared commitment to democracy, human rights, and economic advancement.

This joint statement that Minister Ngafuan and I just signed affirms our commitment to work together to address the challenges Liberia currently faces in its agriculture and energy sectors, and acknowledges their importance to Liberia’s overall economic development.

We have committed to hold the next session of the U.S.-Liberia Partnership Dialogue in Monrovia, Liberia within the next year. At that session we plan to convene the first meeting of the Human Development Working Group.

The high-level participation from both our governments demonstrates the significance of the U.S.-Liberia Partnership Dialogue to our bilateral relationship, and the importance of the sectors that were discussed today in the working groups.

In the Agriculture and Food Security Working Group, for example, colleagues discussed policy and institutional constraints to private sector-led development of Liberia’s agriculture sector, and ways to address these constraints. Together, we explored opportunities to expand bilateral cooperation to increase food security and nutrition, especially under the Feed the Future Initiative.

The Energy and Power Infrastructure Working Group reviewed Liberia’s efforts to meet its growing power generation, transmission and distribution requirements. We will continue to collaborate on how we can encourage private sector investment in Liberia’s energy sector by improving regulatory policies and to accelerate the development of a well-governed and inclusive Liberian energy sector.

Though the official government-to-government portion of the U.S.-Liberia Partnership Dialogue has come to an end, I am delighted that the Foreign Minister and the rest of the Liberian delegation will participate in a public outreach event that will discuss how the Government of Liberia and its partners plan to transform Liberia into a middle-income country through an inclusive and equitable economic development strategy. This event, open to the press and public, will further highlight the achievement made today and will allow private sector, civil society, Diaspora, and others to engage with the Government of Liberia on its plan for Liberia’s economic future. We all have a role to play in Liberia’s progress toward a growing and sustainable economy. It is clear to me that this is led by the Liberians themselves, which is as it should be, with all the rest of us in support of your vision and your destiny.

Liberia’s future is full of promise and great opportunities. Thank you all for a very successful inaugural session of the U.S.-Liberia Partnership Dialogue and for your friendship with the United States.

We look forward very much, I in particular, to meeting again in Monrovia. I commend to you Acting Assistant Secretary Yamamoto, who is going to take my place in any question and answer that follow. I greatly appreciate all the work done today.

Thank you very much.

FEMA,SBA HAVE APPROVED $7 BILLION IN DIRECT ASSISTANCE FOR THOSE AFFECTED BY HURRICANE SANDY

Credit:  FEMA
FROM: U.S. FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT ADMINISTRATION

New York: By the Numbers
Release date:
May 6, 2013
Release Number:
NR-217

NEW YORK
— The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Small Business Administration have approved $7 billion in direct assistance to homeowners, renters, businesses, government agencies and nonprofits that were affected by Hurricane Sandy.

Individual Assistance
More than $3.4 billion in National Flood Insurance Program payments made to policy holders
More than $967 million in FEMA grants approved for individuals and households
More than $828 million for housing assistance
More than $139 million for other needs
More than $1.4 billion in SBA disaster loans approved for homeowners, renters and businesses

Public Assistance
More than $1.19 billion in Public Assistance grants to reimburse local, state and tribal governments and eligible private nonprofits for some of the costs of:
emergency response;
debris removal; and
repairing or rebuilding damaged public facilities
5.6 million cubic yards of debris removed

Other assistance
271,743
people have registered for assistance in the 13 designated counties
184,073 housing inspections completed
183,145 visits to Disaster Recovery Centers
More than 500 voluntary agencies involved in recovery
26 languages used to communicate assistance information to survivors

SECRETARY OF STATE KERRY'S REMARKS TO STAFF AND FAMILIES OF MOSCOW EMBASSY

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Meeting With Staff and Families of Embassy Moscow
Remarks
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Spaso House
Moscow, Russia
May 8, 2013

 

AMBASSADOR MCFAUL:
Well, ladies and gentlemen, it is a great privilege and honor to have with us today Secretary Kerry. I think we had an extraordinary day of diplomacy yesterday, and two things I just want to say in front of you Secretary Kerry.

Number one, with an incredibly productive, intense at some times, discussion with President Putin, and then later with a marathon day of diplomacy that I think ended at about 2:30 a.m. with Minister Lavrov, we got a new infusion and a new framing and a new strategic vision about how to talk about U.S.-Russian relations. And I want to tell you, Secretary Kerry, your trip could not have come at a better time, and I came away from that meeting thinking we have a very concrete set of issues to work with. We’re not always going to agree, as you said many times yesterday, but I thought the framing at the strategic level was at a very important time in U.S.-Russian relations.

And number two, I just want to say, on Syria in particular, we don’t know how it’s going to end, as you said yesterday many times, but I found it to be extraordinary the amount of time and effort that you are putting to work with our Russians on what I think is one of the biggest issues before our time. So for that infusion of new energy, I thank you greatly. I am enthused to be going back to work tomorrow. I’m glad that you all helped on this trip. And without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, Secretary of State John Kerry. (Applause.)

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much. Thank you Mr. Ambassador, Michael. Thanks for the job that you’re doing, and Donna. Where’d Donna go out there? She’s here? Hey, Donna. Thank you very much. I appreciate your work with disabilities and children and everything. Thank you. And that’s Luke. We got Luke here. And Cole’s at school, is that right?

MRS. MCFAUL: Model UN.

SECRETARY KERRY: Oh, no. He’s at the model UN. He’s Helsinki – what am I talking about? – which is very exciting. But anyway, thank you very, very much for what you do.

And it’s always nice to be in the humble home of an ambassador in a foreign country. (Laughter.) I’m looking around here. I was talking to the President the other day, because he’d been to a couple places and I’d been to a couple places. I said, "Boy, these ambassadors have better homes than any of the rest of us." The President said, "Even better than the White House in some cases." But thank you all for coming out here this morning.

And kids, thank you very much for being part of this. You all look terrific. Did I get you out of school? (Laughter.) Yeah. Pretty exciting. So that’s really worthwhile, right? You’ll remember this forever, the guy who got you out of school. You won’t remember who I am or what I do – (laughter) – but gosh, you got out of school for a day and that was really fun.

Anyway, it’s really special for me to be here. Spaso House is an incredible place, historic obviously, when I think that Ambassador Bullitt was here and George Kennan, Ambassador Kennan, and our own Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns. I was here once. I remember doing a big reception here with Bob Strauss when he was here. So historically, we have always had savvy, competent political players who also have a sense of history and an ability to do things in our ambassadors here, and Mike McFaul is no exception to that, and nor are any of you who work here, in terms of the tradition of the importance of this posting.

Russia is complicated, we all know, but vital. And the relationship with a Permanent Five member with as important a capacity to play a global role as Russia is is one of the most important diplomatic postings there is. We have had sort of a merry-go-round/rollercoaster ride over the last 20 years when the Soviet Union no longer – ceased to exist, and we’ve been transitioning. And I don’t think anybody can expect that kind of complicated transition to produce this ideal within this short span of time. It rarely does.

Look at the United States of America. I mean, you think of the 1700s and the turmoil between the Articles of Confederation and then later the Constitution, and then a civil war in the 1860s and then a civil rights movement in the 1960s, and we’re still trying to fill out the full promise of our own country’s Constitution. So we need to be thoughtful as we look at other countries as they go through their economic and social transformations.

And what all of you get to do is not just be sort of present at the creation, to think of a great book about diplomacy, but you get to be shaping the creation and involved in helping people to understand their way forward. There really isn’t a more exciting challenge, to be honest with you. And we can’t do it without you. It doesn’t matter what you do within the Embassy, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a Foreign Service Officer or a Civil Service or whether you are temporarily assigned to duty or whether you are here as a representative of a different agency of government among the many agencies that get housed under an embassy. We all have to work as a team.

And we particularly need the help of the locally hired, locally employed people. Those of you who are Russian or third-party, third-country employees are just as important as anybody else, because we can’t do it without your knowledge of the locality, your ability to guide us, the language abilities, knowing the social customs and the culture. All of that contributes to our ability to be able to be better diplomats.

I had the privilege, last Friday, I think it was – it’s a blur – to swear-in the newest class of young Foreign Service Officers. And it was really interesting. There were a group of former military personnel, former Peace Corps volunteers, former teachers, former journalists. Almost every one of them was coming to this mission with some other work experience behind them. Ninety-eight percent of the people that we brought in in this new class have lived abroad, traveled abroad, studied abroad extensively, and every single one of them had broad language skills.

So I think if you want to pick something to do in life in a world that is going through enormous change and enormous confrontation, there is no more exciting challenge than to be on the frontlines of representing the United States of America, our interests and our values, and working to build relationships with people in other countries. Every single one of you, whether you’re doing an interview in a consulate and you get tired doing it because you got too many people to process every day – you’re the face of America. In many cases, you may be the only government official people ever meet. You’ll be the impression and you’ll be the ambassador of our country to say to those people here’s how we behave in America, here’s what we believe in America, here’s how we treat people in America, here are the door of opportunities that we open to you because we are America.

So stand tall, don’t get tired, keep fighting. I know sometimes it’s frustrating. We’re just starting to get at the bureaucracy and all those kinds of issues. I hate bureaucracy. I’m sure you do too. We’re working hard to try to break down some of the walls and barriers, speed things up. I hope over the course of the next year you’ll begin to see some of those changes.

But from me, from President Obama, from the American people, thank you. A profound thank you to you for being here, for packing up your family, going to a new school. I remember what that was like. I was 11 years old when my dad was in the Foreign Service, and I thought it was the biggest adventure in a lifetime. I didn’t have a clue where I was, but it worked. And so somewhere here, maybe you’re a future Secretary of State. Would you like to be Secretary of State? (Laughter.) She’s nodding her head. Okay, guys. (Laughter.) We got – just wait a few years, when I’m finished. (Laughter.)

It really was a great adventure, and it’s something that has stayed with me all my life, because it helped to open my eyes so I could begin to look at other people not just as an American and not just through our view of the world, but begin to see things through their view of the world. And it’s better to balance things that way and have an understanding of how everybody else thinks works and doesn’t work.

So on behalf of America, thank you for being here in Moscow. And if you’re in a consulate somewhere else and happen to be visiting, thank you for that. But we are profoundly grateful to all of you, and I’m privileged to be here for a couple of days.

We, incidentally, did have a great day yesterday. I think we, hopefully, found a cooperative way forward to maybe try – I can’t guarantee you can – but try to bring people together to deal effectively with Syria and hopefully end bloodshed and see if there isn’t a way to find a way forward. It is not easy. Nothing is easy in this process.

I just met with a group of your civil society folks who are struggling to find their voice in their own country, who courageously stand up and fight for what we take for granted in many cases in America. And so you’re part of that journey too. Every single part of this is a mosaic, are the pieces that all come together to create the values and the policies that represent our great nation.

And I’m very proud to be at the State Department, where I promise you I will have your back. Let me count on you to have mine, and together we’re going to fight hard to make real the values that motivated most of you to join up in the first place. Thank you, and God bless. Appreciate it. (Applause.)

U.S. State Department Daily Press Briefing - May 9, 2013

Daily Press Briefing - May 9, 2013

THE MAWSON PEAK LAVA FLOW





FROM: NASA

Lava Flow on Mawson Peak, Heard Island

In October 2012, satellites measured subtle signals that suggested volcanic activity on remote Heard Island. These images, captured several months later, show proof of an eruption on Mawson Peak. By April 7, 2013, Mawson's steep-walled summit crater had filled, and a trickle of lava had spilled down the volcano’s southwestern flank. On April 20, the lava flow remained visible and had even widened slightly just below the summit.

These natural-color images were collected by the Advanced Land Imager (ALI) on the Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite. Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory

Thursday, May 9, 2013

TARGETING IRAN'S NUCLEAR PROGRAM

FROM: U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
State Department Actions Targeting Iran's Nuclear Enrichment and Proliferation Program
Press Statement
Patrick Ventrell
Acting Deputy Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
May 9, 2013

Today the Secretary of State imposed sanctions on four Iranian nuclear support companies and one individual as Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferators and their Supporters pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13382. These entities and individual were designated because they provide the Iranian government goods, technology, and services that increase Iran’s ability to enrich uranium and/or construct a heavy water moderated research reactor, both of which are activities prohibited by UN Security Council Resolutions. These designations generally prohibit transactions between the named entities and any U.S. person, and freeze any assets the designees may have under U.S. jurisdiction. This action was taken in light of the ongoing concerns that the international community has with respect to Iran’s nuclear program, which Iran continues to refuse to address .

The designations of these entities and individual pursuant to E.O. 13382, an executive authority that targets entities in connection with Iran’s support for proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their supporters, carry consequences under the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 (CISADA). Foreign financial institutions that facilitate significant transactions to or from the sanctioned entities and individual are exposed to potential loss of access to the U.S. financial sector. We urge financial institutions to act in a manner that preserves their access to the U.S. financial system by cutting financial ties to these companies and individual.

Iranian private sector firms should heed the risks incurred by conducting business with those who support Iran’s proscribed nuclear activities and should choose to focus their activities on legitimate international commerce. The United States will continue to investigate and research similar activities, and additional companies making material contributions to the Iranian government’s proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or their means of delivery will likely be designated.

The Individuals and Entities Designated Today by the Department of State Pursuant to E.O. 13382 include:

Aluminat

AKA: Aluminat Production and Industrial Company

Address: Unit 38, 5th Floor, No. 9, Golfam Avenue, Africa Avenue, Tehran, Iran

Address: Factory – Kilometer 13, Arak Road, Parcham Street, Arak, Iran

Aluminat is an Iranian entity involved in the procurement of aluminum products for Iran’s nuclear program. For several years Aluminat has provided centrifuge components to sanctioned Iranian entities Kalaye Electric Company and Iran Centrifuge Technology Company (TESA). In mid-June 2012, Aluminat attempted to procure a tube-rolling machine with direct applications for Iran’s proscribed heavy water-related activities.

Pars Amayesh Sanaat Kish

AKA: PASK

AKA: Vacuumkaran

AKA: Vacuum Karan

AKA: Vacuum Karan Co.

Address: 3rd Floor, No. 6, East 2nd, North Kheradmand, Karimkhan Street, Tehran, Iran

In late 2012, Pars Amayesh Sanaat Kish (PASK) worked with the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) to procure vacuum equipment, which is an essential component for the Iranian nuclear program. PASK is known to supply sanctioned items to Iranian industries. From late 2012 through early 2013, PASK has sought Western-origin vacuum pumps and accessories through Asia-based intermediaries.

Parviz Khaki

AKA: Martin

DOB: 26 August 1968

POB: Tehran, Iran

Parviz Khaki is an Iranian citizen who has procured and attempted to procure goods for Iran’s nuclear program that can be used to construct, operate, and maintain gas centrifuges to enrich uranium. Since at least 2008, Khaki attempted to procure C-350 maraging steel, 7075-O aluminum alloy rods, Arnokrome III (magnetic tape), mass spectrometers, magnetic gauging and vacuum system equipment, including certain pumps, accessories, valves, and gauges. These items can be used to construct a device capable of producing or utilizing atomic energy materials, such as a gas centrifuge to enrich uranium.

Pishro Systems Research Company

AKA: Pishro Company

AKA: Advanced Systems Research Company

AKA: ASRC

AKA: Center for Advanced Systems Research

AKA: CRAS

Location: Tehran, Iran

Pishro Systems Research Company (Pishro) is responsible for research and development efforts across the breadth of Iran’s nuclear program. The company is understood to be the replacement for the Kalaye Electric Company’s Research and Development Department, although it is not restricted to "enrichment research." Pishro is a subsidiary of Novin Energy, which was designated pursuant to E.O. 13382 by the Department of the Treasury on January 4, 2006. Pishro likely has or will have a facility in the Pars District of Tehran.

Taghtiran Kashan Company

AKA: Taghtiran Kashan Company

AKA: Taghtiran P.J.S.

Address: Flat 2, No. 3, 2nd Street, Azad-Abadi Avenue, Tehran, Iran 14316

Address: KM 44 Kashan-Delijan Road, P.O. Box Kashan 87135/1987, Iran

Taghtiran Kashan Company (Taghtiran) is an Iranian entity involved in the procurement of sensitive material for Iran’s proscribed nuclear activities. Taghtiran was involved in the procurement of uranium hexafluoride (UF6) containers on behalf of UN- and U.S.-designated Kalaye Electric Company. Taghtiran also has worked on behalf of U.S.-designated Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group (SHIG) and Iran Centrifuge Technology Company (TESA). In 2010, Taghtiran attempted to procure a flange heater for use at Iran’s Heavy Water Research Reactor, also known as the IR-40.

ISAF NEWS FOR MAY 9, 2013

 
U.S. Defense Department contractors and linguists working with the Regional Corps Battle School watch as mortar increments burn near Camp Shorabak in Afghanistan's Helmand province, May 4, 2013. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Ezekiel R. Kitandwe

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Combined Force Arrests Haqqani Facilitator in Logar Province
From an International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Release

KABUL, Afghanistan, May 9, 2013 - A combined Afghan and coalition security force arrested a Haqqani network attack facilitator and another insurgent in the Pul-e Alam district of Afghanistan's Logar province today, military officials reported.

The facilitator is responsible for procuring and distributing weapons, improvised explosive device-making components and other military equipment to insurgents. He also coordinates logistics for insurgent training in the area, and was planning a high-profile attack involving vehicle-borne IEDs and suicide bombers, officials said.

The security force also seized a pistol, two magazines, ammunition and IED materials.

In other Afghanistan operations today:

-- Also in Logar's Pul-e Alam district, a combined force arrested an insurgent during a search for a Haqqani network leader who is responsible for attacks against Afghan and coalition forces and oversees the acquisition and distribution of money, weapons and military equipment.

-- Afghan commandos, advised by coalition forces, killed three insurgents and detained four others in Nangarhar province's Khogyani district during an operation designed to degrade insurgent activity in the area.

In other news, a combined force in Helmand province's Garm Ser district wounded an insurgent yesterday during a search for a Taliban IED expert responsible for attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. He also trains subordinate Taliban fighters on the construction, emplacement and employment of IEDs, and serves as an intelligence operative, relaying local operational information to senior Taliban leadership.

REMARKS BY SECRETARY OF STATE KERRY AND ISRAELI JUSTICE MINISTER LIVNI

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Remarks With Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni Before Their Meeting
Remarks
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Villa Taverna
Rome, Italy
May 8, 2013

 

SECRETARY KERRY: Thanks, all, for being patient. We appreciate it. I am really very pleased to welcome Minister Tzipi Livni to the American Ambassador’s residence, Villa Taverna, here in Rome, together with the Special Envoy from Israel on these talks, Yitzhak Molcho. And this is a continuation of a number of conversations that we’ve been having. Most recently, we had a conversation in Washington; we did not have time to complete the task. And so she is on her way back to Israel, and I am on my way back to the United States, and this was a convenient way to complete the conversation, which is important right now because we are really working with very serious purpose on the behalf of everybody who’s been part of this – Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Abbas, the folks working around them. I met last week in Washington with Saeb Erekat, the envoy for President Abbas.

And I think it’s fair to say that we are working through a threshold of questions, that we’re doing it with a seriousness and purpose that I think Minister Livni would agree with me has not been present in a while. And we all believe that we’re working with a short time span. We understand an imperative to try to have some sense of direction as rapidly as we can.

So I’m grateful for their ability to be here. I think the announcement by the Arab League last week was an important step forward. And I spoke again this morning with Prime Minister Hamad bin Jasim of Qatar, who represented – who was the chairman of that committee. They want to keep the progress moving. They have asked for ongoing meetings, and we will have those ongoing meetings, but with a purpose. We don’t want to have a meeting for the sake of a meeting.

So over the course of the next weeks, we’re going to continue our work. I will be traveling back to Israel to meet with both Prime Minister Netanyahu as well as President Abbas around the 21st or 22nd of this month. So I’m grateful for the Minister for coming here, and we look forward to a productive session this afternoon.

JUSTICE MINISTER LIVNI: Thank you. I would like to express our appreciation to your efforts. We feel that peace between Israel and the Palestinians is in Israel interest, and I believe it is also in Palestinian interest. But yet we are, after some years of stalemate, and your determination and enthusiasm and efforts can change the realities. And I believe that what you are doing here will create hope in the region, because some of us lost hope. And this is something that we need, not just as a vague idea, but something which is concrete and thank you for (inaudible).

And I do believe that having the meeting with the Arab League and having the statement come from Hamad bin Jasim after the meeting was very good news, because there’s the need for the support of the Arab states. I hope that they would also support Abu Mazen in entering the negotiations room, giving the support of negotiations, and an understanding, which is very important for us that peace with the Palestinians means also peace with the Arab world. So I wish to congratulate you on this successful meeting with the Arab League.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. Thanks so much, guys. Thanks so much. Okay.

QUESTION: Minister Livni, is Israel thinking about reciprocating the Arab League gesture in any way?

SECRETARY KERRY: Folks, we’ll have more to say as we go forward here, I promise you.