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Posted in: September 2011

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  • Solar Decathlon 2011

    WATCH THE VIDEO

    The Solar Decathlon is a competition that challenges collegiate teams from around the world to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are affordable, highly energy efficient, attractive, and easy to live in.

    New Zealand Students Do Solar Energy the “Kiwi” Way

    By Karin Rives | Staff Writer | 15 July 2011

    First Light was designed with outdoor living in mind, just like vacation cabins were half a century ago.
    Washington — Dotting the New Zealand landscape are small, simple vacation homes that the country’s growing middle class erected in the middle of the 20th century. Many New Zealanders have fond memories of beach parties held at “kiwi baches,” as they call these country cabins, and of childhood summer days spent in nature.
    Students at Victoria University of Wellington wanted to recreate the idea of a kiwi bach when designing the home that will join the Solar Decathlon 2011 competition in Washington in September. But they also wanted to add modern amenities such as running water and renewable electricity to their home, along with a sleek design. For the home’s power generation, they chose polycrystalline solar panels that can withstand coastal storms, conveniently concealing them in a timber roof canopy atop the regular roof. The canopy also helps cool the panels during the summer months.
    A large skylight at the center of the home, coupled with sliding doors on each side of the structure, keeps dwellers close to the outdoors at all times.
    “The heart of the house is where the concept of getting back to nature comes alive,” said Nick Officer, a 24-year-old member of Team New Zealand. “We’re kind of creating an outdoor area inside the house.”
    They named their solar-powered house First Light, another reminder of its New Zealand roots. The South Pacific island nation is the first major country on Earth to see the morning sunlight.
    Team New Zealand worked hard to obtain local material for their home, in part to keep costs down. Locally grown timber and ready-made, off-the-shelf products were a given — as was wall insulation with a New Zealand twist: sheep wool stuffed into the 250-millimeter-thick walls instead of glass fiber. But a wide range of expensive home technologies, including a state-of-the-art energy monitoring system and more solar panels than necessary, has taken the house out of the affordable range, Officer said.
    “It looks like it will come in quite a bit higher than the $250,000 we were aiming for. But if you were to commercialize it and take it to market, I think you could drop a few of the technologies, such as the energy monitoring system,” he said.

    This is the first year New Zealand or a team from the Southern Hemisphere participates in the Solar Decathlon.
    This year is the first time New Zealand is represented in the Solar Decathlon and the solar home project has received attention across the country. More than 100 corporate sponsors signed up in support of the project.
    First Light was also a hit when showcased on Wellington’s waterfront in late May. An estimated 10,000 visitors lined up to walk through and view the house, several of them giving kudos on the team’s Facebook page.
    “A fantastic team effort,” wrote Bonnie Joan Dewart. “You’ll wow ’em in Washington.”
    “I LOVE it and would love a little house like this for my little family,” echoed visitor Michelle Lemon.
    First Light was really designed to be a holiday home, but it seems to have an appeal beyond the typical kiwi bach, Officer said. “We like to think that people like it because it feels like a home; there’s been a lot of love and attention put into it,” he said.
    He dreams of one day being able to live in the house he helped create, or a similar house. It may happen, he said, when he earns money working as an architect designing sustainable homes and buildings for a living.

  • Daniel Pearl World Music Days 2011

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    A video message from Ruth and Judea Pearl about the upcoming Daniel Pearl World Music Days taking place around the world in October 2011.

    10th Annual Daniel Pearl World Music Days – October 1st – 31st, 2011

    Daniel Pearl World Music Days is an international network of concerts that use the power of music to reaffirm our commitment to tolerance and humanity. Since 2002, Daniel Pearl World Music Days has grown to include the participation of more than 6,700 performances in 111 countries. World Music Days is an awareness-raising program, not a fundraiser. There is no financial obligation to participate and all musicians are welcome. LEARN MORE

  • Photo Gallery: Women Innovators

    “When women thrive, families, communities and countries thrive and the world becomes more peaceful and prosperous.” — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, March 8, 2011

    Encouraging and increasing women’s economic participation is a priority for the Obama administration. The United States is sponsoring the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Women and the Economy Summit (WES) in San Francisco September 13–16. Participants will exchange ideas and make recommendations for concrete policies and projects supporting women’s involvement in economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region.

    While WES focuses on women from APEC member economies, there are inspiring women around the world who are setting an example through their entrepreneurial spirit. Read about six of them here.

    Indonesia’s Tri Mumpuni has made it her life’s work to bring electricity generated by small hydroelectric plants to dozens of remote villages in her country. Even being kidnapped by rebels hasn’t stopped her in her quest to bring electricity to poor people who, in turn, can use it in pursuit of their livelihoods. In 2010, at the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship in Washington, Mumpuni was introduced to President Obama, who saluted her in his speech. Mumpuni recently won the Ramon Magsaysay Award, known as “Asia’s Nobel Prize.”

    Russia’s Yulia Khitrova is the chief commercial officer at Speech Technology Center Limited, a St. Petersburg–based company that develops digital video and audio recorders, multichannel voice recorders for call centers, speech signal analyzers and units that filter out noise and enhance speech. Khitrova credits a retired U.S. business executive with “helping us conceptualize exactly what kind of a company we wanted to build.” Her advice to aspiring businesswomen? “Don’t copy other people’s road to success. Create your own individual approach.”

    Hsiu-Chu Shih owns and operates Dragonfly Beads Art Studio, a company she launched with her late husband’s support, in her native Taiwan. She is a member of the Paiwan tribe, one of 14 recognized indigenous tribes in Taiwan. The Paiwan people are renowned for their traditional glass beads, and Shih has helped revive that tradition. She employs other indigenous women and trains them as artisans in her studio, which produces prized beadwork. Entrepreneurs, Shih says, should “try to help those who are in need” while working toward their goals.

    Russia’s Tatiana Kirillova directs the Transcontinental Financial and Industrial Corporation, an investment management company she founded with her husband in St. Petersburg. The company, often referred to as the Russian Corporation, focuses on exploring and funding new energy projects. Kirillova says she worries about her employees, her company and the whole planet, so she looks for “opportunities to use innovative technology that helps us balance revenues with environmental costs.”

    Science wasn’t considered a career suitable for women when Nancy Ip was growing up in Hong Kong. But her interest in biological sciences brought her joy and she persevered in her studies. Today, she is the dean of science and director of the State Key Laboratory of Molecular Neuroscience at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. She also promotes molecular neuroscience through research. “The brain is the most complex organ” in the human body, she says. “I aim to understand the manner in which nerve cells communicate in the brain.”

    Janette Toral is at the top of the information technology industry in the Philippines. A self-described “evangelist” for the Internet, Toral — whose career keeps pace with information technology sector expansion — juggles the roles of consultant, educator, lobbyist, blogger and community leader. Known as “the mother of electronic commerce law in the Philippines,” she founded the Philippine Internet Commerce Society and lobbied hard for an e-commerce law, which passed in 2000 and made it much easier for Philippine companies to conduct online business worldwide.

  • Photo Gallery: Prominent Hispanics in the Arts

    Hispanic names can be found in any survey of prominent U.S. writers, painters, sculptors, actors, singers, filmmakers and fashion designers. These men and women are inspired by the complexity and richness of their American experience combined with their Latin American roots.

    (Born in New York City) Jennifer Lopez — an actress, singer, record producer, dancer, fashion designer and television producer of Puerto Rican descent — is arguably the best-known Latina entertainer in the United States. Lopez advocates for human rights and childhood vaccinations, and is an avid supporter of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

    (Born in New York City) The writings of Julia Alvarez are filled with her vivid memories of childhood in the Dominican Republic and her adjustment to life in New York City. Alvarez first made her mark as a poet but is best known for her novels, including How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents. She is regarded as one of the most critically and commercially successful Latina writers of her time. Alvarez is the current writer-in-residence at Middlebury College in Vermont.

    (Born in New York City) Oscar Hijuelos was the first Hispanic to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. A second-generation Cuban American, he earned a master’s degree in creative writing from City College of New York. His novel The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love (1989), about Cuban musicians in New York when Latin music first swept the country, was a rich exploration of the Hispanic immigrant experience. It became a bestseller and a movie, as well as earning Hijuelos the Pulitzer Prize. He is shown here (right) with actor Antonio Banderas.


    (Born in Staten Island, New York) The daughter of an Ecuadorean immigrant, singer Christina Aguilera has a powerful voice that has earned her four Grammy Awards and a Latin Grammy. She first appeared on national television in 1990 as a contestant on the Star Search program and went on to the television series The New Mickey Mouse Club. She became a singing sensation with the release of her debut album Christina Aguilera (1999). Subsequent albums have earned worldwide success, and Aguilera has sold more than 25 million albums worldwide.

    (Born in New York City) Soraida Martinez is an artist of Puerto Rican heritage who is known as the creator of Verdadism (abstract paintings juxtaposed with social commentaries based on her life experiences). Martinez has gained recognition and received many awards for her thought-provoking art style, which addresses issues of sexism, racism and stereotyping. She served as a member of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and is often featured in magazines and newspapers, as well as on radio and television.

  • Photo Gallery: Notable Hispanic Athletes

    Hispanic athletes are an important force in U.S. sports. This photo collection highlights some of their achievements.

    Tab Ramos came to the United States from Montevideo, Uruguay, with his family at the age of 11. He was elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2005 after three trips to the World Cup and stints on professional teams in Spain, Mexico and the United States (with the MetroStars). He played for the U.S. men’s soccer team at the 1988 Seoul Olympics and in three World Cups before retiring in 2000. Ramos now teaches youth soccer and runs the GOAL! Foundation, a nonprofit organization helping inner-city children with education through sports.

    Carlos Bocanegra has been captain of the U.S. Men’s National Team in football (called soccer in the United States) since 2007. Born in California, Bocanegra, a Mexican American, was drafted by U.S. Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire in 2000 after playing soccer at the University of California at Los Angeles. He was Rookie of the Year in 2000 and was named MLS Defender of the Year in 2002 and 2003. He currently plays for the Scottish Premier League club Rangers.

    Oscar De La Hoya, nicknamed the Golden Boy, is a Mexican-American boxer who defeated 17 world champions and won 10 world titles. In 1992, he won a gold medal in boxing at the Barcelona Olympic Games. De La Hoya retired from boxing in 2009. Outside the boxing ring, he has released a Grammy-nominated Latin pop album and started a charitable foundation to help educate underprivileged youth.

    Celebrated Puerto Rican right fielder Roberto Clemente started the trend of Hispanic players excelling in U.S. Major League Baseball. He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1954 and played 18 seasons for them. He won 12 Golden Glove awards for his fielding prowess and was named National League Most Valuable Player (1966) and World Series MVP (1971). Clemente died in 1972 in the crash of a plane that was delivering humanitarian supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. The next year, he became the first Latin American selected for the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

    Dara Torres was the first U.S. swimmer to compete in five Olympic Games (1984, 1988, 1992, 2000 and 2008), and, at age 41, the oldest swimmer ever to earn a place on the U.S. Olympic team. She qualified for the 2008 Olympic Trials three months after giving birth to her daughter. At the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Torres competed in the 50-meter freestyle, 4×100-meter medley relay, and 4×100-meter freestyle relay, winning a silver medal in each event. She holds 12 Olympic medals. Torres was born in Beverly Hills, California, and is of Spanish ancestry.

    St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols was born in the Dominican Republic. In 2001 he was named the National League’s Rookie of the Year. Pujols has won the league’s Most Valuable Player award three times, and in 2006 he led his team to the World Series title. He is the most feared hitter in baseball, according to a poll of baseball managers. Pujols has been selected as an All Star nine times. He founded an organization to sponsor charity games, support an orphanage and distribute free athletic equipment, clothes and food in the Dominican Republic. The organization also advocates for people with Down syndrome.

    Born in Anchorage, Alaska, of Mexican- and Colombian-American parents, Scott Gomez is the first Latino National Hockey League (NHL) player and the first Latino ever drafted by an NHL team. His professional career started when he was drafted by the New Jersey Devils for the 1999–2000 season and was named the league’s top first-year player. He twice helped the team win the Stanley Cup. In 2007, Gomez, a center, signed with the New York Rangers and was named alternate captain the next year. In 2009, Gomez was traded to the Montreal Canadiens.

    Quarterback Mark Sanchez is the New York Jets team captain. A Mexican American, Sanchez was born in Long Beach, California. He was drafted by the Jets in 2009 after playing football at the University of Southern California (USC). He participated in charity fundraisers at USC and was hailed as a significant role model for Hispanic youth. He continues to be involved in multiple charities, such as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Inner-City Games Los Angeles, an after-school program that provides “at-risk” youth with positive activities.


  • Secretary Clinton on Somalia

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    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers remarks during the high-level meeting on Somalia at the United Nations in New York, New York on September 26, 2011.

    TRANSCRIPT

    Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
    At UN High-Level Meeting on Somalia

    September 23, 2011
    United Nations
    New York, New York

    SECRETARY CLINTON:  Thank you very much, Secretary General.  Thanks also to African Union Chairman Ping and to Prime Minister Abdullahi for your remarks.  And to all of our colleagues, I have to say I sit through a lot of these meetings, as we all do, but I thought the remarks from Kenya, Burundi, and Uganda were especially substantive, very helpful, and help us all to focus our attention on the decisions that have to be made.

    And I also want to congratulate the Somali leaders and the international partners gathered today by signing the roadmap for ending the transition in Somalia.  You have taken a crucial step toward building a stable, prosperous future for the Somali people.  And we have an opportunity today because of the withdrawal of al-Shabaab forces from most parts of Mogadishu.  That has created a welcome shift in momentum, and that allows the Transitional Federal Government an unexpected opportunity to show Somalis that you can deliver security and basic services and lay the foundation for a stable, functioning government.  That is what we want to see for the people of Somalia.

    The political instabilty, the limited rule of law, the security threats have tragically affected Somalis for many years, and today it has an added tragic consequence because it has prevented many Somalis from getting acess to aid during the drought and famine.  Fully one-third of all Somalis are now displaced in their own country or in countries bordering Somalia.  And I thank the bordering countries for their generosity and hospitality under very difficult circumstances.

    But al-Shabaab’s efforts to block NGO access to the most vulnerable areas of Somalia and its limitations on the delivery of life-sustaining humanitarian assistance has exacerbated this crisis.  As the famine persists and al-Shabaab continues to deny Somalis access to life-saving assistance, the TFG and the international community have to work even harder together.

    The U.S. has provided more than $600 million in this crisis response, including approximately 102 million directly for Somalia to increase access to clean water, sanitation, heath, and of course, food.  And I am pleased that the United States today will be contributing an additional $42 million for the region with $30 million specifically for the people of Somalia.

    But we have to send a message to al-Shabaab.  And we and all of our partners, including the Arab League and the OIC, must continue to call on al-Shabaab to allow unfettered access.  I honestly do not understand what is in it for them, what possible ideological or political motive can compel them to see women and children die because they cannot get access to help.

    But it’s not only that we as the international community have an obligation to assist in this crisis.  We have an obligation to support Somali efforts to develop a politically stable government.  And I am encouraged that such a broad range of partners has committed to fulfill the goals of the roadmap and its four prioirty tasks to be accomplished by August.  These are ambitious but necessary goals.

    By securing Mogadishu, we can create the conditions for the TFG and other international actors to provide basic services.  So I join in the request that I already heard to help strengthen and expand the number of AMISOM troops on the ground within the current mandate and to purchase equipment and uniforms and support training.

    Secondly, we want to put the process toward a constitution to protect the rights of all Somalis, a timeline for parliamentary reforms and credible elections for the president and speaker of the parliament in August 2012.

    Third, we will continue to call for all Somalis to renounce violence, lay down their arms, and to continue this good work with regional leaders to try to create a culture in which such violence is not tolerated.

    And finally, we wish to assist in promoting better governance by fighting corruption and increasing transparency that in turn will give Somali people confidence in their officials and public institutions.

    I think it’s important that we be absolutely clear.  Somalis have suffered for too long.  And we see the success of those Somalis who have been forced out of their homes who are living in countries around this table.  They are doctors and nurses.  They are business leaders.  They are hard-working people.  We are proud to have many Somali Americans in the United States.

    But they have a right to have a country that is safe and secure and where they can have opportunities for themselves and their children.  Time may be running out.  If we don’t do this right now, given the fact that AMISOM has been successful in opening up the space in Mogadishu, if Somali leaders do not follow the roadmap that has been negotiated by Africans for Africans, then I don’t know that the international community will be here next year and the year after with support.  It is now up to Somalis.  We have created the space.  It’s not been easy.  And as the secretary general has said, many, many Somalis, but also soldiers from Burundi and Uganda and elsewhere have died to give the Somali people this opportunity.

    So there’s a lot of hard work ahead of us, but we can build a stable, legitimate government that delivers for its people.  And the United States stands ready to suport in achieving that goal.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

  • MDG Countdown 2011: Celebrating Success and Innovations

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    UK Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell and USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah highlight major success and innovations by countries around the world towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

    Leaders Cite Progress in Improving Mother-Child Nutrition

    By Charlene Porter | Staff Writer | 21 September 2011

    Washington — An international campaign to boost nutrition for mothers and children is making progress toward fulfilling the Millennium Development Goal to halve hunger worldwide by 2015. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton joined U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other world leaders at a September 20 event marking the achievements of the Scale Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement.

    “The lives of millions of children are at stake,” said Ban, who hosted the New York event on the fringes of the U.N. General Assembly session. “We can help them realize their physical and intellectual potential.”

    The SUN Movement provides support and resources for countries that have committed to a new drive to achieve better nutrition.

    Secretary Clinton attended the event to applaud the progress and recommit the United States to helping nations striving to boost nutrition.

    “The United States is firmly committed to our investments in global nutrition,” Clinton said. “And we believe fervently that improving nutrition for pregnant women and children under 2 is one of the smartest investments we or anyone can make.”

    Clinton said U.S. government funding for global nutrition has more than doubled, from $35 million in 2007 to $90 million in 2011, inching up even while the nation is weathering an economic downturn.

    Ban said the SUN Movement supports countries in their efforts to enhance the nutritional content of diets generally, and particularly for pregnant mothers. Clinton said SUN is different from other assistance programs because its leadership remains at the local level.

    “We are seeing better results with country-owned leadership,” she said. “When results are measured transparently and are used to improve strategies, and when all parties are held accountable for delivering on their promises, we actually can see the progress being made.”

    Clinton praised Tanzania, Guatemala, Uganda, Peru, Mozambique and Burkina Faso for introducing accountability and reforms in nutrition programs, and for creating political leadership that enables the success of nutrition programs on a broad scale.

    The SUN Movement is working in tandem with the 1,000 Days campaign, which is another malnutrition initiative backed by the U.S. State Department and several nongovernmental organizations. This campaign is oriented toward raising awareness of the critical importance of adequate nutrition in an infant’s first 1,000 days, a period that influences an individual’s development and achievement throughout the remainder of life.

    Helping individuals everywhere begin life with a healthy start is a goal underpinning other Obama administration initiatives, Clinton said, including Feed the Future and the Global Health Initiative.

    “That means building clinics that help expectant mothers enrich their diets and those of their babies,” she said. Feed the Future will help farmers produce more robust corps, “not just filling stomachs but really helping to create healthier people.”

    Clinton said the United States is advancing this two-track aid strategy in the Horn of Africa today. The more than $600 million in the U.S. commitment is being used to meet immediate needs, Clinton said, but a portion is also being devoted to “long-term investments in food security to try to avoid such crises in the future.”

  • Secretary Clinton on the Statement of the Middle East Quartet

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    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers remarks on the release of the statement of the Middle East Quartet during the United Nations General Assembly in New York, New York on September 23, 2011.

    Secretary Clinton Restates U.S. Goals in the Middle East
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    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton restates U.S. goals for a two-state solution in the Middle East during a press availability before a bi-laterial meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba at the Waldorf Astoria in New York, New York on September 20, 2011.

    Statement by Middle East Quartet on Israeli-Palestinian Peace
    23 September 2011

    U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

    Office of the Spokesperson
    September 23, 2011

    MEDIA NOTE

    Statement of the Middle East Quartet

    Following is the text of a statement issued after the meeting of U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Union Catherine Ashton in New York on September 23, 2011.

    Begin text:

    The Quartet takes note of the application submitted by President Abbas on 23rd September 2011 which is now before the Security Council.

    The Quartet reaffirmed its statement of 20th May 2011, including its strong support for the vision of Israeli-Palestinian peace outlined by United States President Barack Obama.

    The Quartet recalled its previous statements, and affirmed its determination to actively and vigorously seek a comprehensive resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict, on the basis of UN Security Council Resolutions 242, 338, 1397, 1515, 1850, the Madrid principles including land for peace, the Roadmap, and the agreements previously reached between the parties.

    The Quartet reiterated its commitment to a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East and to seek a comprehensive resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and reaffirms the importance of the Arab Peace Initiative.

    The Quartet reiterated its urgent appeal to the parties to overcome the current obstacles and resume direct bilateral Israeli -Palestinian negotiations without delay or preconditions. But it accepts that meeting, in itself, will not re-establish the trust necessary for such a negotiation to succeed. It therefore proposes the following steps:

    1. Within a month there will be a preparatory meeting between the parties to agree an agenda and method of proceeding in the negotiation.

    2. At that meeting there will be a commitment by both sides that the objective of any negotiation is to reach an agreement within a timeframe agreed to by the parties but not longer than the end of 2012. The Quartet expects the parties to come forward with comprehensive proposals within three months on territory and security, and to have made substantial progress within six months. To that end, the Quartet will convene an international conference in Moscow, in consultation with the parties, at the appropriate time.

    3. There will be a Donors Conference at which the international community will give full and sustained support to the Palestinian Authority state-building actions developed by Prime Minister Fayyad under the leadership of President Abbas.

    4. The Quartet recognizes the achievements of the Palestinian Authority in preparing institutions for statehood as evidenced in reports to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, and stresses the need to preserve and build on them.  In this regard, the members of the Quartet will consult to identify additional steps they can actively support towards Palestinian statehood individually and together, to secure in accordance with existing procedures significantly greater independence and sovereignty for the Palestinian Authority over its affairs.

    5. The Quartet calls upon the parties to refrain from provocative actions if negotiations are to be effective. The Quartet reiterated the obligations of both parties under the Roadmap.

    6. The Quartet committed to remain actively involved and to encourage and review progress.  The Quartet agreed to meet regularly and to task the envoys and the Quartet Representative to intensify their cooperation, including by meeting prior to the parties’ preparatory meeting, and to formulate recommendations for Quartet action.

  • The Role of Women in Feeding the Future

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    In this Feed the Future video, narrator Matt Damon discusses the importance of increasing food production around the world and notes the importance of equipping women with the right tools, training, and technology to see as much as a 30 percent increase in food production. Feed the Future is the U.S. global hunger and food security initiative.

    WATCH THE VIDEO

    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton participates in the UN High-Level Meeting on Nutrition at the United Nations in New York, New York on September 21, 2011.

    Fact Sheet on U.S. Government’s Feed the Future Initiative
    03 March 2011

    U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

    Office of the Spokesman
    March 3, 2011

    FACT SHEET

    U.S. Government’s Feed the Future Initiative Helps Countries Cope with Rising Food Prices

    In response to the spike in global food prices in 2007-2008, President Obama pledged $3.5 billion to help poor countries fight hunger by investing in agricultural development. The U.S. Government’s Feed the Future Initiative utilizes innovation, research, and development to improve agricultural productivity, link farmers to local and regional markets, enhance nutrition, and build safety nets. These investments will increase the supply of food where it is needed and help vulnerable people withstand price shocks better.

    • The United States will continue to provide food aid during times of crisis, but a lasting solution to hunger requires a long-term commitment to agricultural growth.

    • Agricultural growth fosters economic growth, reduces poverty, improves health, and is necessary to meet the needs of a growing world population in the face of climate change and other environmental challenges.

    • The U.S. Government’s Feed the Future Initiative addresses the root causes of hunger that limit the potential of millions of people, using a combination of bilateral programs and multilateral mechanisms.

    • Feed the Future promotes growth in the agriculture sector, facilitates local and regional trade, and invests in game-changing innovations and technologies to support productivity increases, so that countries are better able to combat hunger, feed their people, and contribute to stable global food supplies.

    • An important component of Feed the Future is the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP). This multilateral trust fund has mobilized commitments nearing $1 billion from seven development partners to finance food security strategies in the world’s poorest countries. In 2010, GAFSP awarded $337 million in grants to eight countries, financing projects that enhance rural infrastructure, access to improved seeds and fertilizer, and better water management.

    • Recently, USAID announced support for the World Economic Forum’s new agricultural framework – “Realizing a New Vision for Agriculture” – that also has the support of 17 global firms. It seeks to encourage private sector investments that boost agricultural growth, as well as enhance global food and nutrition initiatives.

    • The United States works through multilateral and bi-lateral fora with stakeholders from civil society, the private sector, and governments to strengthen and support country-led initiatives. Examples of these efforts follow.

    – In Tanzania, Feed the Future investments will improve rural community links to markets by improving roads. This will increase agricultural and other rural-based production, improve rural communities’ access to reasonably priced food, and stimulate greater off-farm employment opportunities.

    – In Rwanda, where over 90 percent of households practice some form of farming, USAID is partnering with the World Food Program to develop new market opportunities for maize and bean producers. The Feed the Future initiative will support improvements in post-harvest handling to reduce losses, and the World Food Program will purchase these commodities from farmer cooperatives for use as food aid.

    – Feed the Future investments will help Bangladesh cope with the impacts of climate change by investing in new technologies to improve rice production. Rice is the primary staple crop in Bangladesh.

    Leaders Cite Progress in Improving Mother-Child Nutrition
    By Charlene Porter | Staff Writer | 21 September 2011

    Washington — An international campaign to boost nutrition for mothers and children is making progress toward fulfilling the Millennium Development Goal to halve hunger worldwide by 2015. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton joined U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other world leaders at a September 20 event marking the achievements of the Scale Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement.

    “The lives of millions of children are at stake,” said Ban, who hosted the New York event on the fringes of the U.N. General Assembly session. “We can help them realize their physical and intellectual potential.”

    The SUN Movement provides support and resources for countries that have committed to a new drive to achieve better nutrition.

    Secretary Clinton attended the event to applaud the progress and recommit the United States to helping nations striving to boost nutrition.

    “The United States is firmly committed to our investments in global nutrition,” Clinton said. “And we believe fervently that improving nutrition for pregnant women and children under 2 is one of the smartest investments we or anyone can make.”

    Clinton said U.S. government funding for global nutrition has more than doubled, from $35 million in 2007 to $90 million in 2011, inching up even while the nation is weathering an economic downturn.

    Ban said the SUN Movement supports countries in their efforts to enhance the nutritional content of diets generally, and particularly for pregnant mothers. Clinton said SUN is different from other assistance programs because its leadership remains at the local level.

    “We are seeing better results with country-owned leadership,” she said. “When results are measured transparently and are used to improve strategies, and when all parties are held accountable for delivering on their promises, we actually can see the progress being made.”

    Clinton praised Tanzania, Guatemala, Uganda, Peru, Mozambique and Burkina Faso for introducing accountability and reforms in nutrition programs, and for creating political leadership that enables the success of nutrition programs on a broad scale.

    The SUN Movement is working in tandem with the 1,000 Days campaign, which is another malnutrition initiative backed by the U.S. State Department and several nongovernmental organizations. This campaign is oriented toward raising awareness of the critical importance of adequate nutrition in an infant’s first 1,000 days, a period that influences an individual’s development and achievement throughout the remainder of life.

    Helping individuals everywhere begin life with a healthy start is a goal underpinning other Obama administration initiatives, Clinton said, including Feed the Future and the Global Health Initiative.

    “That means building clinics that help expectant mothers enrich their diets and those of their babies,” she said. Feed the Future will help farmers produce more robust corps, “not just filling stomachs but really helping to create healthier people.”

    Clinton said the United States is advancing this two-track aid strategy in the Horn of Africa today. The more than $600 million in the U.S. commitment is being used to meet immediate needs, Clinton said, but a portion is also being devoted to “long-term investments in food security to try to avoid such crises in the future.”

  • President Obama Addresses the UN General Assembly

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    After a difficult decade of war, the President says we stand at a crossroads of history with the chance to move decisively in the direction of peace. September 21, 2011.

    Obama Urges Leaders to Seek Lasting Peace in Imperfect World
    By Merle David Kellerhals Jr. | Staff Writer | 21 September 2011

    President Obama at United Nations (AP Images)

    Washington — Saying that pursuing peace in an imperfect world is their greatest responsibility, President Obama called on world leaders at the United Nations to recommit to seeking a lasting peace — for nations and for individuals — that is built on a sense of justice and opportunity, of dignity and freedom.

    “It depends on struggle and sacrifice, on compromise, and on a sense of common humanity,” Obama said September 21 in an address to the opening of the 66th Session of the U.N. General Assembly. World leaders began convening in New York on September 19 for the annual opening of the General Assembly, which serves to set a work agenda for the year and to highlight issues and challenges for the 193-member organization to tackle in the coming months.

    South Sudan became the newest nation to be seated at the United Nations on July 14.

    The array of issues that diplomats will address in protracted debate over the course of the year ranges from border disputes to battling the causes of noncommunicable diseases, to food security and nutrition, to poverty, to controlling the proliferation of nuclear weapons. As Obama highlighted in his 35-minute address, the most difficult challenge is forging lasting peace amid a world confronted by protracted conflicts.

    “True peace depends on creating the opportunity that makes life worth living,” he said. “And to do that, we must confront the common enemies of humanity: nuclear weapons and poverty, ignorance and disease.”

    “These forces corrode the possibility of lasting peace, and together we’re called upon to confront them,” Obama said.

    YEAR OF TRANSFORMATION

    Obama told world leaders that the past year has been one of significant transformation as nations have cast off decades-old authoritarian regimes in pursuit of freedom and universal human rights. The United Nations was built in October 1945 as an organization not just to end one war, but to avert all other wars and to prevent conflict while seeking to address its causes, the president said.

    “The fact is peace is hard. But our people demand it,” Obama told leaders in the cavernous General Assembly hall. “Over nearly seven decades, even as the United Nations helped avert a third world war, we still live in a world scarred by conflict and plagued by poverty. Even as we proclaim our love for peace and our hatred of war, there are still convulsions in our world that endanger us all.”

    Obama praised the transformations that have occurred in Côte D’Ivoire, Tunisia, South Sudan, Egypt and Libya, while also praising reforms in Bahrain. “America is a close friend of Bahrain, and we will continue to call on the government and the main opposition bloc, the Wifaq, to pursue a meaningful dialogue that brings peaceful change that is responsive to the people,” he said.

    At the same time, Obama said, it has been a difficult decade for the United States — thrust into conflict in Afghanistan by terrorism and then into Iraq — but “the tide of war is receding.” When he became president in 2009, Obama said, there were approximately 180,000 U.S. military personnel serving in those countries, but by the end of this year that number will be cut in half and it will continue to decline. U.S. forces are being fully withdrawn from Iraq by the end of the year, and a gradual removal of forces from Afghanistan is beginning as the Afghan government and national security forces assume effective control of their own security, he said.

    “So, yes, this has been a difficult decade. But today, we stand at a crossroads of history with the chance to move decisively in the direction of peace,” Obama told world leaders.

    Obama warned, though, that progress toward a world free and whole can be reversed. The United Nations and its members must do their part to support the basic aspirations of people so that they can live in sustained freedom, dignity and security.

    The president noted that Iran continues to refuse to recognize the rights of its own people, and that men and women and children are being tortured, detained and murdered by the Syrian regime. The United States, he added, has already imposed sanctions on Syria’s leaders and it supports a transfer of power that is responsive to the Syrian people.

    America supports the aspirations of the people of Yemen for a nation free of corruption and violence, Obama said.

    MIDEAST PEACE

    Obama told world leaders that there is no shortcut to resolve the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians that has endured for decades. “Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations,” he added.

    “Ultimately, it is the Israelis and the Palestinians who must live side by side. Ultimately, it is the Israelis and the Palestinians — not us — who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them: on borders and on security, on refugees and Jerusalem,” Obama said.

    Obama said the United States wants the Palestinian people to have full statehood, but to achieve that goal will require negotiations between the two peoples. The integrity, security and sovereignty of the Israelis and Palestinians must be respected and must be recognized by both sides.

    “Each side has legitimate aspirations, and that’s part of what makes peace so hard,” Obama said. “And the deadlock will only be broken when each side learns to stand in the other’s shoes, each side can see the world through the other’s eyes.”

  • President Obama Salutes the People of Libya

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    In a high-level meeting at the U.N. General Assembly, the President vows the new country has a friend in the US. September 20, 2011.

    President Obama’s Remarks at U.N. Meeting on Libya
    20 September 2011

    THE WHITE HOUSE

    Office of the Press Secretary
    September 20, 2011

    REMARKS BY PRESIDENT OBAMA AT HIGH-LEVEL MEETING ON LIBYA

    United Nations
    New York, New York

    11:12 A.M. EDT

    PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Good morning.  Mr. Secretary General, on behalf of us all, thank you for convening this meeting to address a task that must be the work of all of us — supporting the people of Libya as they build a future that is free and democratic and prosperous.  And I want to thank President Jalil for his remarks and for all that he and Prime Minister Jibril have done to help Libya reach this moment.

    To all the heads of state, to all the countries represented here who have done so much over the past several months to ensure this day could come, I want to say thank you, as well.

    Today, the Libyan people are writing a new chapter in the life of their nation.  After four decades of darkness, they can walk the streets, free from a tyrant.  They are making their voices heard — in new newspapers, and on radio and television, in public squares and on personal blogs.  They’re launching political parties and civil groups to shape their own destiny and secure their universal rights.  And here at the United Nations, the new flag of a free Libya now flies among the community of nations.

    Make no mistake — credit for the liberation of Libya belongs to the people of Libya.  It was Libyan men and women — and children — who took to the streets in peaceful protest, who faced down the tanks and endured the snipers’ bullets.  It was Libyan fighters, often outgunned and outnumbered, who fought pitched battles, town-by-town, block-by-block.  It was Libyan activists — in the underground, in chat rooms, in mosques — who kept a revolution alive, even after some of the world had given up hope.

    It was Libyan women and girls who hung flags and smuggled weapons to the front.  It was Libyans from countries around the world, including my own, who rushed home to help, even though they, too, risked brutality and death.  It was Libyan blood that was spilled and Libya’s sons and daughters who gave their lives.  And on that August day — after all that sacrifice, after 42 long years — it was Libyans who pushed their dictator from power.

    At the same time, Libya is a lesson in what the international community can achieve when we stand together as one.  I said at the beginning of this process, we cannot and should not intervene every time there is an injustice in the world.  Yet it’s also true that there are times where the world could have and should have summoned the will to prevent the killing of innocents on a horrific scale.  And we are forever haunted by the atrocities that we did not prevent, and the lives that we did not save.  But this time was different.  This time, we, through the United Nations, found the courage and the collective will to act.

    When the old regime unleashed a campaign of terror, threatening to roll back the democratic tide sweeping the region, we acted as united nations, and we acted swiftly — broadening sanctions, imposing an arms embargo.  The United States led the effort to pass a historic resolution at the Security Council authorizing “all necessary measures” to protect the Libyan people.  And when the civilians of Benghazi were threatened with a massacre, we exercised that authority.  Our international coalition stopped the regime in its tracks, and saved countless lives, and gave the Libyan people the time and the space to prevail.

    Important, too, is how this effort succeeded — thanks to the leadership and contributions of many countries.  The United States was proud to play a decisive role, especially in the early days, and then in a supporting capacity.  But let’s remember that it was the Arab League that appealed for action.  It was the world’s most effective alliance, NATO, that’s led a military coalition of nearly 20 nations.  It’s our European allies — especially the United Kingdom and France and Denmark and Norway  — that conducted the vast majority of air strikes protecting rebels on the ground.  It was Arab states who joined the coalition, as equal partners.  And it’s been the United Nations and neighboring countries — including Tunisia and Egypt — that have cared for the Libyans in the urgent humanitarian effort that continues today.

    This is how the international community should work in the 21st century — more nations bearing the responsibility and the costs of meeting global challenges.  In fact, this is the very purpose of this United Nations.  So every nation represented here today can take pride in the innocent lives we saved and in helping Libyans reclaim their country.  It was the right thing to do.

    Now, even as we speak, remnants of the old regime continue to fight.  Difficult days are still ahead.  But one thing is clear — the future of Libya is now in the hands of the Libyan people.  For just as it was Libyans who tore down the old order, it will be Libyans who build their new nation.  And we’ve come here today to say to the people of Libya — just as the world stood by you in your struggle to be free, we will now stand with you in your struggle to realize the peace and prosperity that freedom can bring.

    In this effort, you will have a friend and partner in the United States of America.  Today, I can announce that our ambassador is on his way back to Tripoli.  And this week, the American flag that was lowered before our embassy was attacked will be raised again, over a re-opened American embassy.  We will work closely with the new U.N. Support Mission in Libya and with the nations here today to assist the Libyan people in the hard work ahead.

    First, and most immediately:  security.  So long as the Libyan people are being threatened, the NATO-led mission to protect them will continue.  And those still holding out must understand — the old regime is over, and it is time to lay down your arms and join the new Libya.  As this happens, the world must also support efforts to secure dangerous weapons — conventional and otherwise — and bring fighters under central, civilian control.  For without security, democracy and trade and investment cannot flourish.

    Second:  the humanitarian effort.  The Transitional National Council has been working quickly to restore water and electricity and food supplies to Tripoli.  But for many Libyans, each day is still a struggle — to recover from their wounds, reunite with their families, and return to their homes.  And even after the guns of war fall silent, the ravages of war will continue.  So our efforts to assist its victims must continue.  In this, the United States — the United Nations will play a key role.  And along with our partners, the United States will do our part to help the hungry and the wounded.

    Third:  a democratic transition that is peaceful, inclusive and just.  President Jalil has just reaffirmed the Transitional National Council’s commitment to these principles, and the United Nations will play a central role in coordinating international support for this effort.  We all know what is needed — a transition that is timely, new laws and a constitution that uphold the rule of law, political parties and a strong civil society, and, for the first time in Libyan history, free and fair elections.

    True democracy, however, must flow from its citizens.  So as Libyans rightly seek justice for past crimes, let it be done in a spirit of reconciliation, and not reprisals and violence.  As Libyans draw strength from their faith — a religion rooted in peace and tolerance — let there be a rejection of violent extremism, which offers nothing but death and destruction.  As Libyans rebuild, let those efforts tap the experience of all those with the skills to contribute, including the many Africans in Libya.  And as Libyans forge a society that is truly just, let it enshrine the rights and role of women at all levels of society.  For we know that the nations that uphold the human rights of all people, especially their women, are ultimately more successful and more prosperous.

    Which brings me to the final area where the world must stand with Libya, and that is restoring prosperity.  For too long, Libya’s vast riches were stolen and squandered.  Now that wealth must serve its rightful owners — the Libyan people.  As sanctions are lifted, as the United States and the international community unfreeze more Libyan assets, and as the country’s oil production is restored, the Libyan people deserve a government that is transparent and accountable.  And bound by the Libyan students and entrepreneurs who have forged friendships in the United States, we intend to build new partnerships to help unleash Libya’s extraordinary potential.

    Now, none of this will be easy.  After decades of iron rule by one man, it will take time to build the institutions needed for a democratic Libya.  I’m sure there will be days of frustration; there will be days when progress is slow; there will be days when some begin to wish for the old order and its illusion of stability.  And some in the world may ask, can Libya succeed?  But if we have learned anything these many months, it is this:  Don’t underestimate the aspirations and the will of the Libyan people.

    So I want to conclude by speaking directly to the people of Libya.  Your task may be new, the journey ahead may be fraught with difficulty, but everything you need to build your future already beats in the heart of your nation.  It’s the same courage you summoned on that first February day; the same resilience that brought you back out the next day and the next, even as you lost family and friends; and the same unshakeable determination with which you liberated Benghazi, broke the siege of Misurata, and have fought through the coastal plain and the western mountains.

    It’s the same unwavering conviction that said, there’s no turning back; our sons and daughters deserve to be free.

    In the days after Tripoli fell, people rejoiced in the streets and pondered the role ahead, and one of those Libyans said, “We have this chance now to do something good for our country, a chance we have dreamed of for so long.”  So, to the Libyan people, this is your chance.  And today the world is saying, with one unmistakable voice, we will stand with you as you seize this moment of promise, as you reach for the freedom, the dignity, and the opportunity that you deserve.

    So, congratulations.  And thank you very much.  (Applause.)

  • Apps4Africa: African Solutions to Climate Change

    FOLLOW APPS4AFRICA ON TWITTER

    LIKE US ON FACEBOOK: U.S. Department of State: Bureau of African Affairs

    WATCH THE VIDEO: Secretary Clinton Congratulates Last Year’s Winners

    BRAINSTORM

    Across 15 countries in West, East, Central and Southern Africa, brainstorming sessions will bring together local innovators, entrepreneurs, NGOs, government officials and others, to identify and discuss approaches to solving climate problems.

    Entrants can participate by selecting from a number of categories. Find out all the relevant competition dates, deadlines and rules.

    There will be three regional A4A challenges this year, beginning in West & Central Africa, continuing to East Africa, concluding in Southern Africa in early 2012.

    CHALLENGE

    A total of nine winners (three from each region) will be selected, winning prizes for their innovative solutions to the Climate Challenge.

    INNOVATE

    “Across Africa, we have seen countless examples of people taking control of their destiny, and making change from the bottom up.”- President Obama in Ghana


    Apps4Africa: Climate Change Media Note

    As part of our engagement with emerging African partners in addressing the challenge of climate change, the U.S. Department of State will sponsor Apps4Africa: Climate Challenge, a public diplomacy program comprised of three African regional competitions to address local climate change challenges through the use of mobile technology.

    In coordination with software developer Appfrica International, the U.S. Department of State will bring civil society, academia and private sector organizations together with African technology innovators to develop applications that address local climate change adaptation challenges. In doing so, we seek to raise African public awareness of climate change adaptation and U.S. involvement in Africa on these issues; support the development of civil society and private-sector networks; and highlight African solutions to local climate change adaptation challenges.

    The 2011 competitions are linked to three African regional climate change workshops organized by the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. Department of State. The workshops are part of the broader Adaptation Partnership, which brings together practitioners and policy-makers to address key adaptation challenges in their region. Climate change issues identified at these workshops will be used to inspire ideas for mobile applications for the competitions.

    The Apps4Africa: Climate Challenge builds on the success of the 2010 Apps4Africa: Civic Challenge in which civil society challenged program developers to find innovative technological solutions to everyday problems on issues ranging from transparency and governance to health and education. The 2011 competition begins in Western and Central Africa in September, with Eastern and Southern Africa to follow. Winners will receive prizes, including cash awards. Private partners, including TED and Indigo Trust, are contributing technical assistance, prizes, and follow-on support for the new partnerships created by this platform.

  • American Born Chinese CHINESE Subtitled

    视频:美国出生的华人(中文字幕)

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    In his critically acclaimed graphic novel, American Born Chinese, Gene Yang shares his struggle to reconcile his Chinese heritage with his American homeland. This comedic, touching and deeply personal book shows that, as a community of diverse individuals, America offers everyone the opportunity to create a culture of their own.

    Being Asian in America

    A new exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution explores what it’s like to be Asian in America. Above, Shirai’s Fortune Telling shows the artist incorporating the Japanese apple-peeling tradition into her identity after moving to New York City.

    By Brittany Bybee | Staff Writer | 16 August 2011Washington — What does it mean to be Asian-American? In a new exhibition that opened August 12 and runs through October 14, 2012, the Smithsonian Institution explores the complex issue of identity among the members of this culturally diverse group.

    The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery and Asian Pacific American Program collaborated to present a showcase of contemporary Asian-American portraiture that explores transnational identity, diversity and inclusion in the United States.

    “Portraiture Now: Asian American Portraits of Encounter is a provocative show that affirms the complex realities of Asian identity in today’s culture,” said Martin Sullivan, director of the National Portrait Gallery.

    Through the work of seven artists, the exhibition offers thought-provoking stories of the Asian-American experience and challenges common stereotypes.

    The artists, who themselves represent the diversity of Asian Americans, use concepts of migration and transnationalism to interpret what it means to be Asian-American.

    Roger Shimomura, a third-generation American of Japanese descent, spent his career as a college professor fighting stereotypes through art. He challenges Disney, Hello Kitty and Pikachu characters throughout his self-portraits.

    Korean artist Hye Yeon Nam hopes her audience finds connections between her work and their lives. Her short videos contrast women in Korea and women in the United States by exploring everyday activities. Using humor and warmth, she addresses feelings of awkwardness in common activities, such as eating, drinking and walking.

    Fine-art photographer CYJO, who was born in Seoul, raised in the United States and now resides in Beijing, shows a collection of photographs of Korean Americans. From public figures to average citizens, portraits line the hallway of the gallery, as more than 240 individuals reflect on their ancestral culture. At first glance, they look similar, but with a second look, it is clear that each person has an exceptional story.

    Other artists in the exhibition include Hong Chun Zhang, a Chinese-born artist who references her identity through images of her family’s hair, and Shizu Saldamando, born to parents of Japanese and Mexican descent, who incorporates the music that influenced her identity while growing up in Southern California.

    Artist Tam Tran’s photographs illustrate the changing relationship she has with her identity. From the time she was a young girl in South Vietnam to her family’s move to Memphis, she struggled with two overlapping cultures. Finally, Satomi Shirai’s detailed photographs document her relocation to New York City after leaving Japan.

    During an August 9 preview, Konrad Ng, director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program, said he believes the show “provides symbols for what it means to be Asian-American.” He added that he sees the exhibition as an affirmation of identity and inclusion in the United States as it honors Asian Americans and their contributions to U.S. society and culture.

    “The audience will come away from the show with a better understanding of Asian Americans and diversity,” Ng said.

    As the viewer moves from room to room, it becomes clear that no two artists have had the same experience. Charcoal strands of black hair contrast with childhood cartoons while exotic self-portraits and video of spilled orange juice illustrate that each artist interprets and values his or her Asian-American identity in a distinct way, and each has found a place in U.S. society through art.

    “Asian American Portraits of Encounter provides engaging points of view that will enrich the understanding of Asian Pacific America,” Ng said. “These exceptional works are portals into the souls of the American experience, world cultures and their intersections.”

    The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program aims to provide vision, leadership and support for Asian and Pacific Islander American initiatives to better reflect their contributions to the American experience and world culture.

    The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery seeks to tell the history of the United States through the individuals who have shaped its culture. Using visual arts, performing arts and new media, the gallery portrays poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, and actors and activists whose lives tell the American story.

    30 Videos: 30 Days is a video series highlighting the many faces of America. It is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. It is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State.

  • Gael Garcia Bernal & Diego Luna visit the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs

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    Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna, winners of WOLA’s 2011 Human Rights Award, discuss their biggest concerns for Latin America in the coming decade in this excerpt from a discussion at the Department of State.

  • USA’s J-1 Visa: Study, Work, Teach

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    LEARN MORE AT: J1VISA.STATE.GOV

    What is a J-1 Visa?

    The Exchange Visitor (J) non-immigrant visa category is for individuals approved to participate in work-and study-based exchange visitor programs. Participants are integral to the success of the program. Here you can learn more about obtaining the J-1 Visa and other relevant visas.

    HOW TO APPLY

    To take part in one of the J-1 Visa programs, locate and contact a designated sponsor.

    The designated sponsors supervise the application process and are the main point of contact throughout the exchange program process. Contact the sponsors directly to take part in one of the exchange programs.

    Sponsors screen and select their program participants according to the eligibility criteria for each program category. Some categories require that a personal interview be part of the screening and selection process. In addition to program-specific criteria, all participants must satisfy English language proficiency and insurance requirements. Sponsors are to provide participants with pre-arrival information prior to their departure from their home countries and an orientation upon their arrival in the United States. Sponsors are also required to monitor the progress and welfare of the participants for the duration of their programs.

    English Language Proficiency

    Participants must possess sufficient proficiency in the English language to participate in their programs. [22 CFR 62.10(a)(2)]

    Insurance

    Participants and any J-2 dependents (spouses and minor unmarried children under the age 21) accompanying them are required to carry medical insurance at the minimum benefit levels stated in the program regulations. Program sponsors are required to ensure that all participants have the appropriate medical insurance. Sponsors will verify that the participant’s medical insurance meets the regulatory requirements, and will facilitate the purchase of coverage for participants who do not have their own insurance, or whose coverage does not meet the requirements. Participants interested in obtaining appropriate medical insurance should contact the responsible officer of their sponsor organization sponsoring their program. Willful failure on the part of the participant and/or any J-2 dependents to maintain active insurance coverage is grounds for termination from the program. Please refer to the regulations for details. [22 CFR 62.14]

    Pre-Arrival Information

    Sponsors are required to provide their participants with information about the program and related matters before they leave their home countries for the United States. Sponsors must also provide their participants with specific program information and any contractual obligations relevant to their program category. For details, please refer to the regulations. [22 CFR 62.10 (b)(1-8) and specific regulations for categories of interest]

    Orientation

    Sponsors must offer appropriate orientation for all participants, and are encouraged to offer orientation to the participant’s family (J-2 spouses and dependents), especially those expected to remain in the United States for at least one year. For details, please refer to the regulations. [22 CFR 62.10 (c)(1-7) and specific regulations for categories of interest]. Orientation materials should include information about the region, state and locale.

    Monitoring

    Sponsors are required to monitor the progress and welfare of their participants. Sponsors are to ensure that the participants’ activities are consistent with the program category identified on the participants’ Form DS-2019. Sponsors are also to require their participants to provide current contact (address and telephone number) information and to maintain this information in their files.

    All program categories require that sponsors provide emergency, 24-hour contact information to their participants. Participants should not hesitate to contact the responsible officer if they need assistance. For additional information, please refer to the regulations. [22 CFR 62.10(e) and specific regulations for categories of interest]

    Fees

    Program Fees

    Unless you are in a federally funded exchange program, sponsor organizations charge participants program fees. Fees vary from sponsor to sponsor based on the exchange category, the sponsor’s program, program duration, etc. Be sure to check with your sponsor to get a breakdown of all costs and fees.

    SEVIS Fee

    When you are accepted into an exchange visitor program, the program sponsor will issue you a form DS-2019. The program sponsor will tell you if you must pay a SEVIS I-901 fee to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or if this fee is already part of your program fees. If your sponsor pays the SEVIS fee on your behalf, the Sponsor will provide you with a receipt confirming payment. VisitSEVIS-901 fee on the DHS website for more information.

    Visa Fees

    Nonimmigrant visa application processing fee – Each exchange visitor who applies for a visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate must pay the nonimmigrant visa application processing fee. Read more aboutcurrent fees for State Department services. Visit the Bureau of Consular Affairs website to learn more on how to apply for a J visa. Visa applicants need to demonstrate their eligibility for a visa during an interview by a consular officer at the U.S. embassy or consulate, generally in their country of residence.

    You will need to provide a receipt showing the visa application processing fee has been paid when you come for your visa interview. NOTE: U.S. Government sponsored exchange visitor J visa applicants and their dependents are not required to pay visa application processing fees if participating in a Department of State, a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), or a U.S. Government funded educational and cultural exchange program that has a program serial number beginning with G-1, G-2, G-3, or G-7 printed on form DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status.

    Visa issuance fee – Please review the visa reciprocity tables to determine if an additional visa reciprocity fee must be paid upon visa issuance and the amount of the fee. NOTE: U.S. Government sponsored exchange visitor (J visa) applicants and their dependents are not subject to visa application or issuance fees.

  • A U.S.-Japan Baseball Exchange

    2011 Japan Baseball English
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    2011 Japan Baseball Japanese
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    In August, 16 Japanese youth from the region affected by the devastating earthquake and tsunami in March participated in the first international sports exchange between the U.S. and Japan. They met Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and baseball legend Cal Ripken.

    U.S. Japan: Bonding Through Baseball

  • Ambassador Davies Comments on Iran’s Nuclear Program

    Ambassador Davies Comments on Iran’s Nuclear Program

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    Ambassador Glyn Davies, Permanent Representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency, comments on Iran’s nuclear facility in Fordow in Vienna, Austria, on September 15, 2011.

    U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice on Iran

  • Assistant Secretary Feltman Delivers Remarks in Libya

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    Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, delivers remarks at a news conference at the start of his visit to Libya on September 14, 2011 in Tripoli, Libya.

    Video: Secretary Clinton on Libya, Syria
    Video: President Obama on Libya

  • Let’s Move! With Michelle Obama

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    First Lady Michelle Obama announces Let’s Move! Museums and Gardens. http://letsmove.gov

    More Let’s Move videos feature Michelle Obama
    Flash Workout With Michelle Obama
    Video: First Lady Michelle Obama Hosts Three Sisters Garden Planting & Harvest
    Video: Let’s Move! For Military Kids and Families

    Announcing Let’s Move! Museums and Gardens

    Posted by Susan Hildreth, Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services on May 23, 2011

    The space shuttle wasn’t the only launch in Houston last week!  At a meeting with thousands of museum professionals I had the great honor of joining First Lady Michelle Obama as we launched Let’s Move! Museums and Gardens.

    Speaking via video message to attendees of the Association of Children’s Museums and American Association of Museums Annual Meetings, Mrs. Obama said, “Everyday, in museums, public gardens, zoos, and so many other places, you expose our children to new ideas and inspire them to stretch their imaginations.  You teach them new skills and new ways of thinking.  And you instill a love of learning that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.  Every day, you all make such a difference in the lives of our children.  And that’s why I’m so excited to work with you on an issue that is so critical to their health and well-being.”

    The national initiative, coordinated by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, will provide opportunities for millions of museum and garden visitors to learn about healthy food choices and physical activity through interactive exhibits and programs.

    Museums and gardens are eager to do their part in making a difference. Many of them have core missions that focus on creating healthy environments for children and their families.

    Let’s Move! Museums & Gardens will focus on interactive exhibits, afterschool, summer programming and food service that help young people to make healthy food choices and be physically active.

    A few examples of how museums and gardens are already moving include:

    • The Children’s Museum of Manhattan (CMOM) (NY), in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), launched a national obesity prevention program called “Eat Sleep Play.” The fun, arts based early childhood approach adapts the NIH’s “We Can!” curriculum for families with young children. The programs, piloted in the south Bronx and New Orleans, have demonstrated positive behavior trends, as demonstrated by ongoing research.
    • The Sojourner Truth Multicultural Art Museum (Sacramento, CA) runs “Hip Hop to Wellness,” a Kaiser-sponsored program that addresses childhood obesity by involving the family in making healthy changes in diet and encouraging physical activities through programs such as the Oak Park Kids Run and hip-hop, African dance and salsa workshops.
    • Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens (Pittsburgh, PA) is committed to promoting healthy living for children through its educational programs and Green Certified café. The organization’s programs enlighten young minds about healthy food choices and the sources of their food. Nutritious snacks are provided to school groups, and summer camps offer opportunities for kids to grow their own food to eat from the garden.
    Child participating in Children’s Museum of Manhattan workshop.

    Museums and gardens have great collective power to reach children and their families with important health messages.  There are more than 17,500 museums and gardens in the United States and they reach an estimated 850 million people each year.

    Museums and gardens that wish to become a Let’s Move! Museum or a Let’s Move! Garden are encouraged to visitwww.imls.gov/letsmove.

  • Secretary Clinton Releases International Religious Freedom Report

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    Clinton Highlights Religious Freedom, Tolerance as U.S. Values
    By MacKenzie C. Babb | Staff Writer | 13 September 2011

    Washington — The protection of religious freedom and the promotion of religious tolerance around the world are fundamental concerns of the United States, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said at the roll-out of the State Department’s 13th annual International Religious Freedom Report.

    “As we release this report, we reaffirm the role that religious freedom and tolerance play in building stable and harmonious societies,” Clinton said September 13 at the State Department event.

    “When governments crack down on religious expression, when politicians or public figures try to use religion as a wedge issue, or when societies fail to take steps to denounce religious bigotry and curb discrimination based on religious identity, they embolden extremists and fuel sectarian strife,” she said.

    Clinton added that the reverse is also true: Governments that respect religious freedom and work with civil society to promote mutual respect can “create a climate of tolerance that helps make a country more stable, more secure and more prosperous.”

    She said the United States will continue efforts to support religious freedom both at home and abroad, as religious tolerance is an essential element “not only of a sustainable democracy, but also of a peaceful society that respects the rights and dignity of each individual.”

    Clinton said people who have a voice in how they are governed, no matter their religion, are more likely to have a stake in the success of both their government and society. “That is good for stability, for American national security and for global security,” she said.

    The secretary applauded Turkish authorities for taking recent steps to improve religious tolerance. She said the government issued a decree in August inviting non-Muslims to reclaim churches and synagogues confiscated 75 years ago. Clinton said Turkey now allows women to wear headscarves at universities, “which means female students no longer have to choose between their religion and their education.”

    She said the goals of the new report are to call attention to steps taken to improve religious freedom and to promote tolerance while also shining a spotlight on violations of religious freedom. She was joined at the release by Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Michael Posner and Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Suzan Johnson Cook.

    The report is submitted each year to Congress in compliance with the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. It documents major developments with respect to religious freedom and tolerance in 198 countries and territories. Although the report typically covers a one-year period, the September release only spans July to December 2010, as the State Department is shifting to a calendar-year reporting period.

    (This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/iipdigital-en/index.html)

  • President Obama Honors 9/11 Victims, Heroes

    President Obama gives remarks at “A Concert for Hope”
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    President Barack Obama commemorates the tenth anniversary of 9/11 at “A Concert for Hope” from the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. September 11, 2011.

    President Obama Attends 9/11 Memorial Service in NYC
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    The President and First Lady joined family members at the new 9/11 Memorial, on the site of the World Trade Center. September 11, 2011.

    President Obama Attends 9/11 Memorial Service at the Pentagon
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    The President and First Lady joined family members and presented a wreath at a Pentagon memorial service in Arlington, Virginia. September 11, 2011.

    President Obama Attends 9/11 Memorial Service in Shanksville, Pennsylvania
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    The President and First Lady joined family members and presented a wreath during a ceremony. September 11, 2011.

    A Message to the Families of 9/11
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    President Obama tells those who lost a loved one, “your courage, your resilience has been an inspiration to my family, and an inspiration to the American people.”

     

    Obama Says U.S. Is a Stronger Nation After 9/11 Attacks
    By Stephen Kaufman | Staff Writer | 11 September 2011
    Washington —- President Obama led Americans in marking the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks on New York and Washington, saying the perpetrators had failed to undermine the unity, character and values of the United States, and that Americans “refuse to live in fear.”

    Obama used his weekly address from the White House September 10 to tell Americans that a decade after the attacks, their country is stronger and that al-Qaida, which carried out the attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, “is on the path to defeat.”

    “We’ve shown that America doesn’t hunker down and hide behind walls of mistrust. We’ve forged new partnerships with nations around the world to meet the global challenges that no nation can face alone. And across the Middle East and North Africa, a new generation of citizens is showing that the future belongs to those that want to build, not destroy,” the president said.

    On September 11, the president and first lady Michelle Obama were joined by former President George W. Bush and Laura Bush, and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg at a ceremony on the site of the World Trade Center, where family members and friends of those who were killed in the attacks read out the names of the victims and paid homage to their loved ones.

    The president used to the occasion to read a passage from Psalm 46 from Hebrew and Christian scriptures.

    “We will not fear, even though the earth be removed, though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea. Though its waters roar and be troubled, and the mountains shake with its swelling,” Obama said.

    Former President Bush read from a letter President Abraham Lincoln wrote in 1864 to Mrs. Lydia Bixby, who had lost five sons in the American Civil War:

    “I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save,” Bush read to the audience. “I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.”

    Mayor Bloomberg described the day of the attacks as a time when “the morning turned into the blackest of nights.”

    “Since then, we’ve lived in sunshine and in shadow,” he said. “And although we can never un-see what happened here, we can also see that children who lost their parents have grown into young adults, grandchildren have been born, and good works in public service have taken root to honor those we loved and lost.”

    President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama place a wreath at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

    Following the memorial service in New York, the president attended a wreath-laying ceremony near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where passengers that were hijacked on Flight 93 and diverted toward Washington rose up against their captors and forced the plane to crash in a rural field rather than reach its intended target.

    Vice President Biden spoke at the site of the crash September 10 with former President Bush and former President Bill Clinton where a memorial was dedicated to the passengers.

    “None of them asked for what happened. They didn’t … board that plane to fight a war,” Biden said. “But when they heard the news, when they found out what happened in New York, they knew that they were going through … something more than a hijacking. They knew it was the opening shot in a new war.”

    The vice president quoted poet Maya Angelou, saying that despite the wrenching pain of history, it cannot be unlived, but “if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”

    “We are not here to unlive history. We are here to honor those whose courage made history and is going to inspire generations of Americans to come,” he said.

    “Know with certitude that there is not a single, solitary tragedy that America cannot overcome. There is not a single moment of hardship that cannot be transformed into one of national strength. The seeds of doubt, planted by those who wish to harm us, will instead grow into flowering meadows like this one where we stand in today,” he said.

    Speaking at the Pentagon on September 11 where American service members and passengers on Flight 77 died when their plane slammed into the building, Biden said al-Qaida and other extremists still fail to appreciate “the true source of American power,” which is that “as Americans we draw our strength from the rich tapestry of the American people.”

    The perpetrators “never imagined that the 3,000 people who lost their lives that day would inspire 3 million to put on the uniform, and harden the resolve of 300 million Americans,” he said.

    Biden said the United States is marking the anniversary of the attacks with memorials to honor, to remember and to heal “because that’s what this is ultimately about.”

    He said those who died at the Pentagon were already heroes to their loved ones before the attack, and told the assembled family members and friends that “my prayer for you is that 10 years later when you think of them … that it brings a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eyes.”

  • Terrorism Will Not Diminish U.S. Values, Clinton Says

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    By Stephen Kaufman | Staff Writer | 09 September 2011

    Washington — Ahead of the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against New York and Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the United States will not allow the threat of terrorism to harm its traditions or values. She also said nations that undergo democratic transitions will be better able to stand up to violent extremism.

    Secretary Clinton Rings Opening Bell at NY Stock Exchange
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    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton rings the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange in New York, New York, on September 9, 2011.

    Deputy National Security Advisor Rhodes Speaks on the 10th Anniversary of September 11th
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    U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes Speaks at the Foreign Press Center in Washington, D.C., on the Tenth Anniversary of September 11th on September 8, 2011

    Speaking at John Jay College in New York September 9, Clinton said “we are determined not to let the specter of terrorism darken the national character that has always been America’s greatest asset.”

    “The United States has thrived as an open society, a principled nation, and a global leader. And we cannot and will not live in fear, sacrifice our values, or pull back from the world,” nor close borders to overseas visitors, workers and students, she said.

    The Obama administration is continuing to target the al-Qaida network, which carried out the attacks, by going after its leaders, disrupting its operations and attacking its safe havens, financial sources and ideology.

    But Clinton said the United States is focused not only on fighting against al-Qaida, but also on fighting for U.S. values such as tolerance, equality, opportunity, universal rights and the rule of law. “That’s a fight we can be confident of and a mission we can be proud of,” she said.

    She noted that, across the Middle East and North Africa, people are peacefully charting a future of greater freedom and opportunity that is a rebuke to al-Qaida and its hateful ideology, but Clinton warned that democratic transitions still risk being hijacked by new autocrats, or derailed by sectarian conflicts.

    “How this moment plays out, and what happens in these transitions, will have profound consequences for our long-term struggle against violent extremism,” Clinton said.

    “We believe that democracies are better equipped than autocracies to stand up against terrorism for the long term. They offer constructive outlets for political grievances, they create opportunities for upward mobility and prosperity that are clear alternatives to violent extremism, and they tend to have, over time, more effective governing institutions,” she said.

    It is in the U.S. interest to continue its direct support for the development of strong democracies in the region, as well as for Americans to “live up to our own best values and traditions,” she said. “The people of these nations in transition are looking at us with fresh eyes. And we need to make sure they see us as a source of opportunity and hope, as a partner, not an adversary.”

    GLOBAL COUNTERTERRORISM FORUM

    The secretary also announced that the United States and Turkey will be the founding co-chairs of a new Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) where countries can cooperate and share best practices in the struggle against violent extremists.

    She said it would be the first dedicated international venue where key counterterrorism (CT) policymakers and practitioners from around the world will be able to convene regularly to share experiences, expertise, strategies, capacity needs and capacity-building programs.

    According to a September 9 fact sheet released by the State Department, the GTCF will be officially launched in New York later in September on the margins of the U.N. General Assembly meetings and will “focus on identifying critical civilian CT needs, mobilizing the necessary expertise and resources to address these issues and build global political will.”

    Initial working groups will focus on the criminal justice sector and the rule of law, ways to counter violent extremism, and CT capacity building for the African regions of Sahel and the Horn of Africa, as well as for Southeast Asia.

    Speaking at a United Nations commemoration of the September 11th attacks in New York September 9, U.S. Permanent Representative to the U.N. Susan Rice said the United States and its partners around the world have made great strides in the shared struggle against terrorism over the past 10 years.

    “We’ve made clear the stark difference between our shared values of freedom, peace, prosperity and partnership, and the bitter and bankrupt vision” of al-Qaida, she said.

    The United States will continue to work with countries around the world to “disrupt, dismantle, and defeat” al-Qaida and prevent more attacks, she said.

    “We must all remain vigilant. But we must also remain confident in our shared ability to overcome such a hateful ideology,” Rice said.

    (This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/iipdigital-en/index.html)

  • U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice on Iran

    Ambassador Rice Addresses Iran’s Nuclear Program

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    Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, addresses Iran’s nuclear program after a UN Security Council Stakeout Session at the United Nations in New York, New York, on September 7, 2011.

    Ambassador Rice Delivers Remarks on Iran and Resolution 1737

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    Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, delivers remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on Iran and Resolution 1737, at the United Nations in New York, New York, on September 7, 2011.

    TRANSCRIPT

    United States Mission to the United Nations
    Office of Press and Public Diplomacy
    USUN Press Release
    New York, NY
    September 7, 2011

    Remarks by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, at a Security Council Briefing on Iran and Resolution 1737, September 7, 2011

    Mr. President, let me begin by thanking Ambassador Osorio for his report and briefing today. We appreciate your continued leadership as the Chair of the 1737 Committee.

    The IAEA Director General’s latest report – just released last week – once again highlights Iran’s failure to comply with its international nuclear obligations, and its violations of several UN Security Council resolutions. Iran refuses to address outstanding issues related to its nuclear program. The Director General reports that Iran is continuing enrichment and heavy water-related activities in defiance of both this Council and the IAEA Board of Governors. Iran still refuses to respond substantively to information regarding possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program.

    Iran’s reported installation of centrifuges at Qom constitutes yet another intentional violation of UN Security Council resolutions and a clear provocation. This is unacceptable.

    We condemn Iran’s persistent refusal to fulfill its international nuclear obligations. Iran’s actions underscore the continuing necessity of full enforcement of sanctions by the international community in order to motivate Iran to comply with those obligations and to deny Iran the ability to advance in its proscribed programs.

    The United States encourages the 1737 Committee to enhance its efforts to actively implement its mandate. We are pleased that the Committee has concluded its review of the Panel of Expert’s useful and informative Final Report. We are also pleased the Committee has started to act on a number of the Panel’s excellent recommendations; however, much work remains to be done. We urge the Committee to take steps to complete this work and implement the Panel’s recommendations as soon as possible.

    I would also like to stress that my government remains seriously concerned that the Panel of Expert’s Final Report has not yet been posted to the Committee’s website. We strongly believe this report must be made available to all UN Member States as soon as possible as it highlights information and best practices that can help States carry out their obligations. Furthermore, failure to circulate these documents contravenes the Committee’s commitment to transparency and undermines the entire purpose behind having a Panel of Experts. We urge a prompt solution to this impasse.

    Since we last met, the United States, with France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, reported Iran’s violation of paragraph 9 of Resolution 1929 (2010), which prohibits Iran from launches using ballistic missile technology. My government stands ready to cooperate fully with the Committee and its Panel of Experts in their investigation of this violation. We encourage all Member States to report sanctions violations to the Committee and Panel of Experts.

    Mr. President the United States remains dedicated to preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. Iran’s nuclear intentions are a major concern, not just for the United States, but for the region, for this Council, and for the world.

    Let there be no doubt, the United States is committed to a dual-track policy of applying pressure in pursuit of a diplomatic resolution of international concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear activities.

    We also remain committed to working closely with our partners in the 1737 Committee, the Panel of Experts, and this Council on this important issue. Our joint efforts will demonstrate the international community’s resolve to address Iran’s continued disregard of its international nuclear obligations.

    We have made important progress in strengthening our implementation and enforcement of UN sanctions on Iran. We must redouble our efforts to sharpen the choice for Iran’s leaders to abandon their dangerous course.

    Thank you, Mr. President.

  • NASA Congratulates USAID on Education Strategy

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    NASA astronauts Ron Garan and Mike Fossum congratulated the United States Agency for International Development for its education strategy and the “amazing positive impact you’re making on our world.” The video, taped aboard the International Space Station 220 miles above the Earth, will open a celebration of International Literacy Day.


    President Obama Calls the Space Station

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    On the final mission for Space Shuttle Atlantis and NASA’s Space Shuttle program, President Obama called the International Space Station as the shuttle was docked and spoke with the crew of Atlantis and the crew of Increment 28 about their mission.

  • Famine Spreads in Somalia

    Video: Dr. Biden, Senator Bill Frist in Kenya

    Photo Gallery: Dr. Jill Biden in Africa

    Data Crucial to Famine Relief

    Famine to Worsen in Somalia

    Somalia’s Famine-Affected Area Expands

    By Charlene Porter | Staff Writer | 06 September 2011

    These people have left their villages and gone to a camp in Mogadishu to find food. Security problems still hamper the delivery of supplies, according to the United Nations.

    Washington — Famine conditions are creeping across southern Somalia, reports an analysis group, with six regions of the country now affected and 750,000 people now facing “imminent starvation.”

    The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) issued its latest findings on the extent of the hardships in Eastern Africa September 5. FEWS NET is an analysis group that predicted the likelihood of famine more than a year ago, based on careful study of rainfall, growing conditions and crop yields. With funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), FEWS NET works with the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU), a U.N.-backed entity, to monitor about 30 famine-prone nations and alert the international aid community to the possible development of humanitarian crisis situations.

    The FEWS NET–FSNAU report adds the Bay region of southern Somalia to the list of regions previously declared at risk of famine, including the districts of Lower and Middle Shabelle regions, the Afgoye corridor, and the internally displaced persons who have descended on Mogadishu in search of help because of insufficient supplies in their home villages.

    The report finds that a total of 4 million people in Somalia are in crisis, with 750,000 “at risk of death in the coming four months in the absence of adequate response.” That estimate of the number of people in crisis has increased from 3.7 million in July. Tens of thousands of people have already died, and the report says that 3.3 million are in need of lifesaving assistance. It predicts that famine conditions will grip all areas of southern Somalia within the next few months.

    While malnutrition and the potential for famine are most serious in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti are also facing severe food shortages. More than 12 million people are estimated to be in need across the four nations.

    The United States is the single largest donor nation providing assistance. The U.S. commitment for aid donations topped $600 million with a new contribution of $23 million announced by USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah August 31. In large part, this assistance is passed on to U.N. and humanitarian organizations providing direct relief services. A USAID fact sheet says the latest assistance will “help treat severely malnourished children, improve access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities, and expand health surveillance and disease prevention efforts.” In addition, some of the funds flow directly to community members when they are hired to assist in aid efforts, thereby boosting cash flow in the communities.

    The worst drought the region has experienced in about 20 years and subsequent crop failures have led to hardships that touch the lives of close to 12.5 million people in Eastern Africa. One chart in the FEWS NET–FSNAU September 5 report puts 2011 cereal harvests in the region at about 55,000 metric tons, compared to a 2010 harvest of about 325,000 tons.

    Many people in this region are pastoralists, raising herds of animals — mostly goats, cattle and sheep — as a source of both income and nutrition. But dry conditions have laid brown much of the region, so these herders have traveled unusually long distances to find grazing for their animals in areas where the land supports a little more vegetation. But that has grouped too many animals on areas with limited pasture and water.

    The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that herds will suffer a mortality rate as high as 60 percent in cattle, 40 percent in sheep and about 30 percent in goats, although no official calculation of losses has been conducted. Losses of such a magnitude would have “profound impact at the household and national economic levels,” according to a situation report from the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

    U.S. Africa Hunger Aid Tops $600 Million

    By Charlene Porter | Staff Writer | 01 September 2011

    Washington — The U.S. funding commitment to alleviate the massive humanitarian disaster in the Horn of Africa has passed the $600 million mark after a top aid official announced a $23 million increase August 31.

    U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah made the announcement at a community forum in Minneapolis. He said $10 million of the latest allocation will be devoted to the needs of people in Somalia. Prior to this latest allocation, the United States had pledged about $580 million to feed the hungry and ease suffering in the region.

    An estimated 4.6 million people in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia benefit from U.S. assistance. The worst drought in 60 years and ensuing agricultural failures have been major factors in causing the food crisis in the region. For the people of Somalia, ongoing violence and the activity of the al-Shabaab terrorist group have worsened conditions and escalated a crisis into famine in six districts. Famine is expected to spread more widely through southern Somalia in the weeks to come, according to one recent assessment.

    The food shortages in Somalia began in early 2011, but al-Shabaab barred international humanitarian assistance workers from entering territory it controlled and refused shipments of food.

    An estimated 12.4 million people in eastern Africa are at risk of malnutrition. People have responded to deprivation with their feet, leaving their villages and heading to refugee camps on Somalia’s borders. Ethiopia and Kenya host the camps even while their domestic populations also suffer from hunger and malnutrition.

    USAID’s Shah also told the Minneapolis forum, organized by U.S. Representative Keith Ellison, that the United States is committed to relieving the crisis of the current moment, but also to helping the region develop better agricultural practices to break a recurring pattern of food shortages.

    The Obama administration has developed a program called Feed the Future, which seeks to create greater food security in the region through better agricultural skills, techniques and infrastructure development.

    Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has been a high-profile advocate of Feed the Future. Describing the program in August to a Washington audience, Clinton said the plan is designed to help farmers at the local level, but it also calls on governments to adopt new policies on a national level. “They need to move toward free trade in grain imports and exports,” Clinton said. “They need to improve credit and land-use policies to support farmers and herders. They need to ensure that public grain reserves are available when shortages loom. And they need to welcome new technologies to bolster drought tolerance, disease resistance and crop yields.”

  • Obama honors Muslim American victims, heroes of 9/11

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    At the White House Iftar dinner on August 10, 2011, President Obama spoke of the heroism and sacrifice of Muslim Americans during the attacks on September 11, 2001.

    Celebrating Ramadan at the White House

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    The President hosts an Iftar dinner celebrating Ramadan in the State Dining Room.

    President Obama Honors American Muslims at White House Iftar

    By Stephen Kaufman | Staff Writer | 10 August 2011

    Washington — President Obama, continuing the White House tradition of hosting a dinner in recognition of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, told guests the United States will continue to stand for a society where people have the right to worship as they chose.

    “Ramadan is a time of reflection and a time of devotion.  It’s an occasion to join with family and friends in celebration of a faith known for its diversity and a commitment to justice and the dignity of all human beings,” Obama said August 10 at a White House iftar for approximately 100 guests.

    For Muslims, Ramadan is a period of reflection and devotion that includes daily fasting from sunrise to sunset. The iftar is a meal that breaks the daily fast after sunset.

    In his remarks, the president cited the upcoming 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, and said that “proud and patriotic Muslim Americans” were among those who lost their lives and who responded to the emergency.

    The nation for which the victims died and heroes sacrificed does not merely tolerate people of different backgrounds and beliefs, but treats all of its citizens with dignity and respect, he said.

    It is a nation “where our fundamental freedoms and inalienable rights are not simply preserved, but continually renewed — among them the right of every person to worship as they chose,” he said.

    Joining Obama were family members of Muslim September 11 victims, police and firefighters, as well as members of the U.S. armed forces.  The guest list also included members of his Cabinet, members of the diplomatic corps in Washington – including ambassadors from predominantly Muslim or Middle Eastern countries – and members of Congress, including Representatives Keith Ellison of Minnesota and André Carson of Indiana, who are the first two Muslims to serve in the U.S. Congress.

    In 1805, President Thomas Jefferson hosted what many consider as the first such dinner in honor of Tunisian envoy Sidi Soliman Mellimelli. White House iftars have been held annually for the past 10 years.

    After the president spoke, he joined his guests at the dinner, which was held in the State Dining Room, whose tables were covered in crimson and gold damask featuring tall white tapers surrounding floral centerpieces.

    Transcript of Remarks by the President at the White House Iftar

    8:35 P.M. EDT

    THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Thank you so much.  (Applause.)  Everyone, please have a seat, have a seat.

    Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the White House.  Tonight is part of a rich tradition here at the White House of celebrating the holy days of many faiths and the diversity that define us as a nation.  So these are quintessentially American celebrations — people of different faiths coming together, with humility before our maker, to reaffirm our obligations to one another, because no matter who we are, or how we pray, we’re all children of a loving God.

    Now, this year, Ramadan is entirely in August.  That means the days are long, the weather is hot, and you are hungry.  (Laughter.)  So I will be brief.

    I want to welcome the members of the diplomatic corps who are here; the members of Congress, including two Muslim American members of Congress — Keith Ellison and Andre Carson; and leaders and officials from across my administration.  Thank you all for being here.  Please give them a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

    To the millions of Muslim Americans across the United States and more — the more than one billion Muslims around the world, Ramadan is a time of reflection and a time of devotion.  It’s an occasion to join with family and friends in celebration of a faith known for its diversity and a commitment to justice and the dignity of all human beings.  So to you and your families, Ramadan Kareem.

    This evening reminds us of both the timeless teachings of a great religion and the enduring strengths of a great nation.  Like so many faiths, Islam has always been part of our American family, and Muslim Americans have long contributed to the strength and character of our country, in all walks of life.  This has been especially true over the past 10 years.

    In one month, we will mark the 10th anniversary of those awful attacks that brought so much pain to our hearts.  It will be a time to honor all those that we’ve lost, the families who carry on their legacy, the heroes who rushed to help that day and all who have served to keep us safe during a difficult decade.  And tonight, it’s worth remembering that these Americans were of many faiths and backgrounds, including proud and patriotic Muslim Americans.

    Muslim Americans were innocent passengers on those planes, including a young married couple looking forward to the birth of their first child.  They were workers in the Twin Towers — Americans by birth and Americans by choice, immigrants who crossed the oceans to give their children a better life.  They were cooks and waiters, but also analysts and executives.

    There, in the towers where they worked, they came together for daily prayers and meals at Iftar.  They were looking to the future — getting married, sending their kids to college, enjoying a well-deserved retirement.  And they were taken from us much too soon.  And today, they live on in the love of their families and a nation that will never forget.  And tonight, we’re deeply humbled to be joined by some of these 9/11 families, and I would ask them to stand and be recognized, please.  (Applause.)

    Muslim Americans were first responders — the former police cadet who raced to the scene to help and then was lost when the towers collapsed around him; the EMTs who evacuated so many to safety; the nurse who tended to so many victims; the naval officer at the Pentagon who rushed into the flames and pulled the injured to safety.  On this 10th anniversary, we honor these men and women for what they are — American heroes.

    Nor let us forget that every day for these past 10 years Muslim Americans have helped to protect our communities as police and firefighters, including some who join us tonight.  Across our federal government, they keep our homeland secure, they guide our intelligence and counterterrorism efforts and they uphold the civil rights and civil liberties of all Americans.  So make no mistake, Muslim Americans help to keep us safe.

    We see this in the brave service of our men and women in uniform, including thousands of Muslim Americans.  In a time of war, they volunteered, knowing they could be sent into harm’s way.  Our troops come from every corner of our country, with different backgrounds and different beliefs.  But every day they come together and succeed together, as one American team.

    During the 10 hard years of war, our troops have served with excellence and with honor.  Some have made the ultimate sacrifice, among them Army Specialist Kareem Khan.  Galvanized by 9/11 to serve his country, he gave his life in Iraq and now rests with his fellow heroes at Arlington.  And we thank Kareem’s mother, Elsheba, for being here again tonight.  (Applause.)  Like Kareem, this generation has earned its place in history, and I would ask all of our service members here tonight — members of the 9/11 Generation — to stand and accept the thanks of our fellow Americans.  (Applause.)

    This year and every year, we must ask ourselves:  How do we honor these patriots — those who died and those who served?  In this season of remembrance, the answer is the same as it was 10 Septembers ago.  We must be the America they lived for and the America they died for, the America they sacrificed for.

    An America that doesn’t simply tolerate people of different backgrounds and beliefs, but an America where we are enriched by our diversity.  An America where we treat one another with respect and with dignity, remembering that here in the United States there is no “them” or “us;” it’s just us.  An America where our fundamental freedoms and inalienable rights are not simply preserved, but continually renewed and refreshed — among them the right of every person to worship as they choose.  An America that stands up for dignity and the rights of people around the world, whether a young person demanding his or her freedom in the Middle East or North Africa, or a hungry child in the Horn of Africa, where we are working to save lives.

    Put simply, we must be the America that goes forward as one family, like generations before us, pulling together in times of trial, staying true to our core values and emerging even stronger.  This is who we are and this is who we must always be.

    Tonight, as we near a solemn anniversary, I cannot imagine a more fitting wish for our nation.  So God bless you all and God bless the United States of America.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

  • Hispanic Heritage Month Profiles: Ambassadors Arreaga, Martinez, Diaz

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    U.S. Ambassador to Iceland, Luis Arreaga, discusses what being Hispanic means to him and how he thinks Hispanic heritage month should be celebrated.

    Hispanic Heritage Month: Ambassador Martinez

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    Vilma Martinez, U.S. Ambassador to Argentina, discusses her pride in her Hispanic heritage and the importance of education.

    Hispanic Heritage Month: Dr. Miguel Humberto Diaz

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    How does it feel to live between two cultures? In this video, Miguel Diaz, U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, talks about being a Cuban American and the meaning of Hispanic Heritage Month.

  • Video: Secretary Clinton on Libya, Syria

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    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers remarks on the situation in Libya during a press availability in Paris, France, September 1, 2011.

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    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton comments on the situation in Syria during a press availability in Paris, France, September 1, 2011

    World Community Welcomes Libya’s Transitional Council
    02 September 2011

    Washington — Leaders of nations and international organizations are welcoming Libya back into the community of nations, while recognizing that Libyan civilians need continued NATO protections until the threat of violence has passed.
    “Nearly 70 countries so far have recognized the TNC [Transitional National Council], including 18 African nations, the Arab League and now Russia,” said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at a Paris briefing September 1. “It is time for others to follow suit,” she said after a multilateral meeting where leaders sketched the outline of a new Libya, won through a citizen uprising that began six months ago.
    Mustafa Abdul Jalil, chairman of the TNC, attended the Paris meeting, organized after the rebels gained control of the capital, Tripoli, about a week ago. Jalil said in Paris that the world had placed a bet on the success of the insurgents. “The Libyans showed their courage and made their dream real,” he said.
    International leaders acknowledged that the TNC will need help to set the nation aright after 40 years in the grip of President Muammar Qadhafi, and giving the rebel leadership access to national assets is a key step.
    “The United States and our partners have worked through the United Nations to unfreeze billions of dollars in order for Libya to get access to their state assets to meet critical needs,” said Clinton. She said a release of Libyan funds was in motion, with the expectation that $1.5 billion might be disbursed within days.
    French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who hosted the meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron, also expressed willingness to recognize the TNC as the legitimate claimant to those funds. “We are committed to returning to the Libyans the monies of yesterday for the building of tomorrow,” Sarkozy said.
    Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon represented the United Nations in Paris and called on the Security Council to make a decision on deployment of a civilian mission to assist in stabilizing the country and building civic institutions.
    In return for international support, Jalil said, the fledgling leadership of Libya must “have security in Libya, tolerance and forgiveness must be promoted, the state of law must be respected.”
    Clinton commended the TNC for its repeated pledges to pursue those values in governance. “The international community will be watching and supporting Libya’s leaders as they keep their commitments to conduct an inclusive transition, act under the rule of law, and protect vulnerable populations,” Clinton said. “And that should include enshrining the rights of women as well as men in their new constitution.”
    The TNC leaders requested the expertise of other governments in a wide range of activities, Clinton said, such as establishing an accountable and transparent financial system and an impartial and independent police force. She said the TNC will also seek assistance from the international community in resolving social needs such as housing for citizens who fled the violence and return to wrecked homes.
    Clinton said the Paris meeting “validated the confidence that all the other nations around the table had placed in the TNC.” At the same time, she said, “they still have a huge hill to climb here.”
    With the sanction of a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing a no-fly zone over Libya, the U.S., European and Arab partners began operations in March to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe in Libya and address the threat posed to international peace and security as Qadhafi violently cracked down on protesters and civilians fled the country.

    Clinton Remarks in Paris on Libya

    01 September 2011
    U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
    Office of the Spokesperson
    September 1, 2011
    2011/T52-01
    REMARKS

    Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
    Press Availability
    September 1, 2011
    Chief of Mission Residence
    Paris, France
    SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, this is my ninth trip to discuss the current crisis in Libya, and each time I have urged that our partners stay focused on the ultimate objective of helping the Libyan people chart their way to a better future. And today, that future is within their reach. All of us are inspired by what is happening in Libya.
    Six months ago, Libyans stood up to demand fundamental rights and freedom. And when Qadhafi met their peaceful protest with violence, the Libyan people refused to back down. While their struggle is not over, the Libyan people are taking back their country. Libya’s transformation is the – largely the result of their own courage and their resilience in the face of very difficult days. The sacrifice that the Libyan people have been willing to make in order to obtain freedom and dignity has been extraordinary.
    But the United States and our international partners are also proud of our own contributions. When Qadhafi threatened Benghazi, we assembled an unprecedented coalition that included NATO and Arab countries, and acted quickly to prevent a massacre. We sought and won local, regional, and international support, including the backing of the UN and the Arab League. And after deploying our unique military capabilities at the outset, the United States played a key role in a genuinely shared effort as our allies stepped up. As time went on, our coalition grew even stronger.
    Today, the international community must maintain the same sense of resolve and shared responsibility. We know from experience that winning a war is no guarantee of winning the peace that follows. That is why even as we sought to protect civilians and pressured Qadhafi to step down, we have supported the Libyans as they laid the groundwork for a transition to democracy that is just, inclusive, and sustainable.
    What happens in the coming days will be critical, and the international community has to help the Libyan people get it right. First, as I told my counterparts earlier today, we need to continue NATO’s military mission as long as civilians remain under threat of attack. For the sake of the Libyan people, we have called on Qadhafi and those around him to recognize that their time is over and lay down their arms. And as the new Libyan authorities consolidate power, we will support their efforts to demobilize and integrate fighters into a single security force.
    Second, we need to welcome Libya back into the community of nations. Nearly 70 countries so far have recognized the TNC, including 18 African nations, the Arab League, and now Russia. It is time for others to follow suit.
    Third, we must continue to support the interim Libyan authority’s efforts to meet the needs of the Libyan people. The United States and our partners have worked through the United Nations to unfreeze billions of dollars in order for Libya to get access to their state assets to meet critical needs. I am pleased to announce that by the end of today, the United States expects to have delivered $700 million to help the TNC pay for fuel and civilian operating costs and salaries, with another 800 million on the way. We are working with the TNC to ensure that these funds are disbursed in a transparent, accountable manner. It must be clear to Libyans and to the world that this money is being used to serve the Libyan people.
    Fourth, the international community, led by the United Nations, needs to help the Libyan people and their leaders pave a path to peaceful, inclusive democracy – one that banishes violence as a political tool and promotes tolerance and pluralism. After 42 years of Qadhafi’s rule, it is going to take time to build institutions, strengthen civil society, write a constitution, hold free and fair elections, and put in place an elected, legitimate Libyan government. We encourage the world’s democracies to offer expertise and technical assistance along the way.
    As Libya’s leaders have emphasized repeatedly, Libya’s transition must proceed in a spirit of reconciliation and justice, not retribution or reprisal. Libyans must continue to stand against violence extremism and work with us to ensure that weapons from Qadhafi’s stockpiles do not threaten Libya or Libya’s neighbors or the world.
    In fact, the international community will be watching and supporting Libya’s leaders as they keep their commitments to conduct an inclusive transition, act under the rule of law, and protect vulnerable populations. And that should include enshrining the rights of women as well as men in their new constitution.
    A great deal of work lies ahead to build a stable, unified, and free Libya – a Libya that has never before existed in its modern history. The challenges may be formidable, but so is the progress we have already seen. We have stood with the Libyan people in their moment of need and we must continue to stand with them for the foreseeable future.
    Finally, I want to say a few words about Syria. President Asad’s brutality against unarmed citizens has outraged the region, the world, and most importantly the Syrian people themselves. The Arab League, the GCC, the Jordanian and Egyptian governments have all condemned his abuses. And after repeated warnings, Turkey’s president announced that he too has lost confidence in Asad.
    The violence must stop, and he needs to step aside. Syria must be allowed to move forward. Those who have joined us in this call must now translate our rhetoric into concrete actions to escalate the pressure on Asad and those around him, including strong new sanctions targeting Syria’s energy sector to deny the regime the revenues that fund its campaign of violence. The EU has already taken important steps, and I’m pleased to hear that more are on the way.
    Just as we have done in Libya, we are also encouraging the Syrian opposition to set forth their own roadmap for a tolerant, inclusive, and democratic path forward, one that can bring together all Syrians, Christians, and Alawites. Everyone who lives in Syria today must be part of the new Syria that should be developed in the months ahead. The people of Syria, like people everywhere, deserve a government that respects their rights equally and without discrimination. Syria’s transition to democracy has already begun. It is time for President Asad to acknowledge that and step aside so the Syrian people themselves can decide their own future.
    It is very heartening that this year, Tunisian, Egyptian, and Libyan families will celebrate Eid at a moment of promise. May this be a year when the tide of freedom and progress rises around the world. And I want to wish Muslims everywhere an Eid Mubarak.
    And with that, I will take your questions.
    MS. NULAND: We have time for (inaudible). The first question, CNN, Elise Labott.
    QUESTION: Thank you, Madam Secretary. I was wondering if you could speak a little bit about what the Libyans spoke to you about what it is that they need, how the international community can help. And how do you envision a UN mission working towards this end? How quickly do you think one could get on the ground? And how do you see the UN working as a coordinator of international response?
    SECRETARY CLINTON: Elise, I was very encouraged by the meeting today. I want to again commend President Sarkozy and Prime Minister Cameron for bringing us all together, along with Chairman Jalil and Prime Minister Jibril. I think that what we heard today was very promising, in that the TNC has specific requests that they wish to make to the international community. They did so in my bilateral meeting with them, and of course, they did so in the larger meeting as well.
    What they are looking for is, number one, continuing support to ensure that the violence ends, that there can be no credible effort by Qadhafi and those still supporting him to continue wreaking violence against Libyans. And they were very clear in their request that the NATO role continue, and NATO, in turn, was very clear that it will maintain its presence over Libya until there is no longer a need to protect civilians from attacks or the threat of attacks.
    And of course, NATO is also focused on trying to do all we can to protect Libya from Qadhafi and those troops that are still under his command. Secondly, the TNC was very clear that they need to have the funds that are Libyan state funds unfrozen and released to them as soon as possible. I’m very pleased that the United States was able to persuade the United Nations to lift the sanctions and to approve the release of $1.5 billion. That is being matched by hundreds of millions of dollars coming from others who have frozen assets within their borders. And now, we’ve got to do everything possible to make sure that the TNC has the resources it needs. There are a lot of humanitarian urgent needs that have to be met.
    Thirdly, we want what they want – more recognition. As I said in my opening remarks, more than 70 nations have recognized the TNC, but we want to seat the TNC, representing Libya, in every international organization, including the United Nations. We’re pleased that the Arab League had introduced that resolution and that the TNC now represents Libya in the Arab League.
    Fourth, I think it’s important that they requested assistance in all kinds of areas where they need expertise, whether it is ensuring that the financial mechanism they’re setting up has the level of accountability and transparency that is required, to helping them put together an impartial, independent police force, to helping them find ways to provide housing for Libyans who have been bombed out or had their homes destroyed or who will be coming back from having sought refuge elsewhere.
    And I guess, finally, the Libyans were very responsive to the long list of ideas that were presented throughout the day. And I was impressed by their openness. And they still have a huge hill to climb here. They don’t yet have their whole country secure. But they are working with the international community to secure both chemical weapon stockpiles as well as conventional weapons. They are taking action against extremism wherever they find it.
    So I guess in general, I would have to stay that today’s meeting validated the confidence that all the other nations around the table had placed in the TNC. And they were realistic about how much they have to do and how much they still face in the days ahead. But it was an excellent transition from the Contact Group, which dealt primarily with protecting civilians and ending the terror of the Qadhafi regime, to the reconstruction, rebuilding, transition period.
    QUESTION: What about our UN mission, Madam Secretary?
    SECRETARY CLINTON: I think the UN mission is going to be put together in an expeditious manner. Ban Ki-moon met with the TNC leadership at the larger meeting. He spoke about the kinds of assets the UN could bring. All of us support the UN taking the lead in the reconstruction and transition period ahead, so they’re going to be working through all the details of that. And importantly, countries are reopening embassies. The Italians reopened their embassy in Tripoli today and have a new ambassador named. I’m sending a team to Tripoli to check out our Embassy building and see what we need to do to be able to get our diplomatic presence at the highest level again.
    So there was so much discussed and so many decisions that we ticked down. It was a worthwhile and productive day.
    MS. NULAND: Last question (inaudible).
    QUESTION: Hi, Madam Secretary. There’s a lot of anger on Capitol Hill and in the U.S. at large about Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, the fact that he’s still at large in Libya. We understand you brought the issue up with Libya’s new leaders. Could you tell us what you asked of them and how they responded?
    SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Nicole, first I want to underscore the fact that I share the anger. As you know, I represented New York for eight years. A lot of the people who were killed came from either Syracuse University or nearby in upstate New York. And as I have said many times, the United States categorically disagrees with the decision that was made two years ago by the Scottish executive to release al-Megrahi and return him to Libya. We have never wavered from our disagreement and condemnation of that decision. He should be behind bars. We have consistently extended our deepest sympathies to those families who have to live every day with the knowledge that they lost their loved ones, and they wanted justice to prevail, and we think justice was aborted.
    So we will continue to pursue justice on behalf of the victims of this terrorist attack. The United States has kept open the case concerning the Lockerbie bombing. We have raised the investigation with the TNC. We’ve conveyed the importance that the United States places on this issue. We want more information, and we want to have access to those who might have been somehow involved in the planning or execution of the bombing.
    We recognize the magnitude of all of the issues that the TNC is facing, and we know that they have to establish security, the rule of law, good governance. But at the same time, they’ve assured us that they understand the sensitivities surrounding this case, and they will give the matter the consideration it richly deserves at the earliest opportunity.
    Thank you all.

  • U.S. Africa Hunger Aid Tops $600 Million

    Video: Dr. Biden, Senator Bill Frist in Kenya

    Photo Gallery: Dr. Jill Biden in Africa

    Data Crucial to Famine Relief

    Famine to Worsen in Somalia

    U.S. Africa Hunger Aid Tops $600 Million

    By Charlene Porter | Staff Writer | 01 September 2011

    Washington — The U.S. funding commitment to alleviate the massive humanitarian disaster in the Horn of Africa has passed the $600 million mark after a top aid official announced a $23 million increase August 31.

    U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah made the announcement at a community forum in Minneapolis. He said $10 million of the latest allocation will be devoted to the needs of people in Somalia. Prior to this latest allocation, the United States had pledged about $580 million to feed the hungry and ease suffering in the region.

    An estimated 4.6 million people in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia benefit from U.S. assistance. The worst drought in 60 years and ensuing agricultural failures have been major factors in causing the food crisis in the region. For the people of Somalia, ongoing violence and the activity of the al-Shabaab terrorist group have worsened conditions and escalated a crisis into famine in six districts. Famine is expected to spread more widely through southern Somalia in the weeks to come, according to one recent assessment.

    The food shortages in Somalia began in early 2011, but al-Shabaab barred international humanitarian assistance workers from entering territory it controlled and refused shipments of food.

    An estimated 12.4 million people in eastern Africa are at risk of malnutrition. People have responded to deprivation with their feet, leaving their villages and heading to refugee camps on Somalia’s borders. Ethiopia and Kenya host the camps even while their domestic populations also suffer from hunger and malnutrition.

    USAID’s Shah also told the Minneapolis forum, organized by U.S. Representative Keith Ellison, that the United States is committed to relieving the crisis of the current moment, but also to helping the region develop better agricultural practices to break a recurring pattern of food shortages.

    The Obama administration has developed a program called Feed the Future, which seeks to create greater food security in the region through better agricultural skills, techniques and infrastructure development.

    Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has been a high-profile advocate of Feed the Future. Describing the program in August to a Washington audience, Clinton said the plan is designed to help farmers at the local level, but it also calls on governments to adopt new policies on a national level. “They need to move toward free trade in grain imports and exports,” Clinton said. “They need to improve credit and land-use policies to support farmers and herders. They need to ensure that public grain reserves are available when shortages loom. And they need to welcome new technologies to bolster drought tolerance, disease resistance and crop yields.”

  • West Wing Week: Biden in Asia

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    This week we are broadcasting dispatches from travel with Vice President Joe Biden through China, Mongolia and Japan.
    In between meeting with world leaders, and speaking with locals the Vice President took in the sights, sounds and culture of the far east.
    Join the Vice President as he opens new channels of communication with China gets to know Mongolian leaders and culture at a traditional Naadam festival and visits Japanese communities recovering from the March earthquake and tsunami before speaking to US troops in Tokyo and Hawaii. That’s August 18th through the 25th or — West Wing Week: Dispatches from Asia.

    Video: Biden in Asia: Cultural Performances in Mongolia

    Photo Gallery: VP Biden, Secretary Clinton Host Hu at the State Department

    Photo Gallery: President Obama Welcomes Chinese President Hu Jintao

    Biden Works to Strengthen U.S.-Mongolia Political, Economic Ties

    By MacKenzie C. Babb | Staff Writer | 22 August 2011

    Washington — Vice President Biden says the United States is impressed by Mongolia’s “remarkable transition to democracy,” and he has met with Prime Minister Sukhbaatar Batbold to discuss strengthening political, economic and cultural ties between the two nations.

    “Today, Mongolia is not just a shining example for other nations in transition, but it’s an emerging leader in the worldwide democratic movement, a responsible actor on the world stage and a close friend and partner of the United States,” Biden said during a joint press conference with Batbold August 22. The two addressed reporters after holding talks on a series of bilateral issues in Mongolia’s capital city, Ulaanbaatar.

    Batbold said Biden’s visit shows U.S. support for Mongolia’s successful transition to democracy after the Cold War, and said his country is “ready to share its experiences in promoting democratic values and culture” with the world. In July, Mongolia assumed the chairmanship of the Community of Democracies, a coalition of democratic countries dedicated to promoting democracy around the world. Biden said the country’s term as chair will culminate in 2013 with a democratic summit in Ulaanbaatar.

    In addition to shared political ties, the vice president said the United States and Mongolia are each committed to worldwide peace and security. Biden said that during the past decade, Mongolia’s army has worked alongside U.S. forces and peacekeepers in countries across Africa, including Sierra Leone, Chad and Sudan. Biden said that Mongolian soldiers have also served with U.S. and international coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Biden said the United States and Mongolia are also working toward closer economic relations, and that both countries are working to develop a transparency agreement to make Mongolia “an even more attractive destination” for foreign investors.

    The vice president said the United States “remains strongly committed to helping the Mongolian people build a better future.” He said the U.S. Agency for International Development has provided more than $200 million to the country during the last 20 years for grant assistance, with a focus on programs that bolster democracy and economic growth. Biden added that through the Millennium Challenge Corporation compact, the United States has committed another $285 million to assist the Mongolian government in combating corruption, improving rule of law, providing job training for citizens and developing critical infrastructure across the country.

    After meeting with Batbold, Biden was scheduled to hold talks with President Tsakhia Elbegdorj. He was also set to take part in a cultural display of Mongolia’s traditional sports later that afternoon. The vice president’s visit builds largely on bilateral talks between President Obama and Elbegdorj, who visited Washington in June.

    White House officials have called Biden’s trip to Mongolia a “truly historic visit,” as it marks the first time a U.S. vice president has traveled to the Northeast Asian nation in more than 60 years. The August 22 stop is the second on Biden’s nine-day, three-nation visit to the region, following an August 17–22 visit to Beijing and Chengdu in China. He is set to visit Tokyo and Sendai in Japan before leaving for Washington August 24.

    (This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/iipdigital-en/index.html)

    Biden in Beijing

    By Merle David Kellerhals Jr. | Staff Writer | 17 August 2011

    Washington — Vice President Biden flew to Beijing August 17 for a five-day official visit as the guest of Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping and was greeted by a host of officials led by Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.

    Biden’s first stop in Beijing was to watch the Georgetown University men’s basketball team take on a team from Shanxi province in a “Friendship Match” at the Olympic Sports Center Gymnasium. Biden had promised Georgetown fans that he would take in a game while visiting Beijing and Chengdu. The gymnasium complex is part of the massive sports facilities that were built by the Chinese for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing and surrounding areas.

    Georgetown University is a Roman Catholic college located in Washington. Biden is an avid basketball fan, and after arriving he took a front row seat behind the Georgetown bench and was cheered by fans who had traveled to China with the team, according to a White House press pool report.

    Biden was sitting with U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke, the first Chinese American to hold the post of U.S. ambassador to China. Locke, himself, arrived only last week in Beijing and presented his diplomatic credentials to Chinese President Hu Jintao on August 16.

    White House officials said in advance of the trip that Biden will discuss Northeast Asian security issues and economic and commercial relations between the two countries during his visit. He also will use the visit to meet with the future leaders of China, the White House officials said. The trip is part of a series of high-level visits between U.S. and Chinese officials agreed to by President Obama and President Hu when they met in Washington January 19 during a state visit.

    Chinese officials have been monitoring quite closely economic events in the United States and the debate in the Congress recently on raising the U.S. debt limit. China holds $1.17 trillion in U.S. Treasury securities.

    Locke created a bit of excitement even before arriving in Beijing when he was photographed buying coffee at the Seattle-Tacoma Washington airport while wearing a black backpack as he was en route to China with his family. The photograph has been posted to the Internet and generated considerable interest in China. China Daily, an English-language newspaper, ran a commentary on relations with the United States and said in the headline that “Backpack Makes a Good Impression.” According to press reports, the Chinese have regarded Locke carrying his own backpack and buying his own coffee as a significant sign of humility for an official from a country as large as the United States, something not as common among senior Chinese officials.

    AIRPORT ARRIVAL

    There was a light rain falling at Beijing International Airport for Biden’s arrival ceremony, which included an 18-member Chinese military honor guard. The official party included Yang, Assistant Foreign Minister Zhang Kunsheng, Ambassador to the United States Zhang Yesui and U.S. Ambassador Locke.

    The official welcome ceremony will be held on August 18 at the Great Hall of the People adjacent to Tiananmen Square and the ancient Imperial City. Biden will meet with Vice President Xi after the welcoming ceremony, and both leaders will meet briefly with reporters.

    Later in the day, Biden will meet with the National People’s Congress Chairman Wu Bangguo at the Great Hall, according to the White House. That evening Biden will attend a banquet dinner hosted by Xi.

    Biden will deliver a major policy speech on U.S.-China relations at Chengdu’s Sichuan University on August 21. Following his speech, Biden will meet with senior provincial officials from Sichuan. He will then travel to Dujiangyan, a city in Sichuan province that was severely damaged in the May 2008 Wenchuan earthquake, according to the White House.

    Biden and Xi will meet with students at the rebuilt Qingchengshan High School.

    After the visit to Chengdu, Biden travels to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, and then to Tokyo and Sendai in Japan.

    The vice president’s trip follows closely on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s recent travel to meetings with foreign ministers at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Lower Mekong Initiative and the East Asia Summit in Bali, Indonesia. Clinton also delivered a major U.S. economic policy speech in Hong Kong on July 25, and then held meetings with State Councilor Dai Bingguo in the southern city of Shenzhen.

    In Hong Kong, Clinton told Asian business executives that the most urgent task facing the United States and its Asian allies and trading partners is realigning their economies in the wake of the 2007–2009 global financial crisis. That means pursuing a balanced strategy for global economic growth, Clinton said in the July 25 speech. It is an approach that has been embraced by President Obama and Chinese President Hu, and is promoted by the Group of 20 advanced economies.

    Obama will host the 19th annual meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Honolulu on November 12–13, where it is likely that he will meet with Hu. And they will meet later during the annual ASEAN Summit in Bali, November 17–19, and at the East Asia Summit after the ASEAN meeting.

    (This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/iipdigital-en/index.html)

  • Hispanic Heritage Month: Ambassador Martinez

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    Vilma Martinez, U.S. Ambassador to Argentina, discusses her pride in her Hispanic heritage and the importance of education.


    Hispanic Heritage Month: Dr. Miguel Humberto Diaz

    WATCH THE VIDEO

    How does it feel to live between two cultures? In this video, Miguel Diaz, U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, talks about being a Cuban American and the meaning of Hispanic Heritage Month.