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Archive for March, 2011

Truth time: I have long had an intellectual crush on Lévy. He is an odd mix of philosopher-journalist, and his logic is always superbe! Speaking with Eliot Spitzer on CNN’s In The Arena tonight, he said that we should listen more to Mrs. Clinton. He said that she was right from the beginning and that he was witness to that. (Starts at 02:31.)

On the show tonight because he is the one who convinced Sarkozy to take up the free Libyan cause,  he said that he told the French President that there were French flags flying in Benghazi,  and if Sarkozy did nothing, there would be blood on the French flags.  What a dramatic image! Uncomplicated and  true.

That same Mrs. Clinton has come up in recent polls with her highest approval ratings to date.  According to Gallup, 40% among Republicans,  62% among Independents, and  92% among Democrats,   It seems to me that it might be time for the DNC to do what I long have said they would need to do and should do: get on their knees and beg her to run in 2012 for the top office which they wrongly prevented her from doing in 2008.  While they are kneeling, they should pray that she will say yes.  Side note: HRC is certain to have plans for domestic troubles about which she currently cannot speak.

Yes, I think it is high time for a woman to shatter that glass ceiling,  and the woman who has always been meant to do that is Hillary Rodham Clinton.  DNC, talk to her.

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Announcing the New Special Envoy for Sudan

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
March 31, 2011

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SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon, everyone. I’m very pleased to be here this afternoon to introduce Ambassador Princeton Lyman as our new special envoy for Sudan. I’m also delighted to welcome his wife, Lois, and to thank her for being a partner as she has been throughout your very distinguished career to the service that you render our country, Princeton.

Now, Ambassador Lyman is taking over the helm of our important work as the special envoy to Sudan from another very dedicated public servant, Scott Gration. And Scott has been instrumental to our work in Sudan over the last two years. We are absolutely delighted that the President has nominated him to be our next Ambassador to Kenya, and we will continue to rely on his passion and skills for the people of the region, and we thank you for your service.

This is a critical moment in Sudan’s history. Two months ago, in a peaceful display of democratic values, the people of Southern Sudan expressed their clear unequivocal choice. They want to live in a free, independent country, and now we look forward to a peaceful separation of these two states in July. The Government of Sudan played an important role by creating the conditions that allowed voters to express their will without fear, intimidation, or coercion. And since the vote, the government has continued to move this process forward with the same spirit of cooperation.

But as Princeton and I were just discussing with Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson, who’s been our partner in this endeavor, there is still so much work to be done and so much in the way of challenges that lie ahead. One of the most important tasks is to end the conflict in Darfur and to alleviate, and hopefully end, the suffering of its people. I continue to call on all parties to come together immediately to reach a peaceful solution. To do this, all parties should join the peace process in Doha. The Liberation and Justice Movement, the Justice and Equality Movement, and the Government of Sudan must engage in direct face-to-face negotiations and reach a settlement that includes a ceasefire.

Now is the time for meaningful dialogue that produces concrete results. The United States is committed to working with the international community to bring all parties together, to end the suffering and conflict, and forge a lasting peace that will contribute to the better days ahead for the people of both the North and the South.

We are also concerned about the dangerous standoff in the Abyei region of Sudan. We call on both sides to take immediate steps to prevent future attacks and restore calm. Violence is simply unacceptable. The deployment of forces by both sides is in violation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement and undermines the goodwill from January’s referendum, which was a very important foundation for the peaceful future of Sudan. Before July’s deadline, as outlined by the CPA, both sides must reach an agreement on Abyei that meets the needs of all communities in the region and is consistent with the CPA’s Abyei protocol.

The United States is committed to the peace, security, and prosperity of both the North and the South, which is why the President has chosen Ambassador Lyman for this important job. His experience as U.S. Ambassador during South Africa’s transition from apartheid to democracy will prove invaluable during the next few months. His diplomatic skills were on display during the mediation talks between the North and South, and he is well positioned to advise the Sudanese people at this critical juncture. With Princeton guiding our efforts, the United States will continue to support both sides as they work to fulfill the CPA and make the transition to independence. In this new role, Ambassador Lyman will help the Sudanese people make good on the work they’ve already accomplished.

Now, we understand the peaceful separation of these two states will be difficult, but we believe there is a clear path to a stronger, more stable, and peaceful future. I know that Princeton is really so committed to this, ready to go. He has the confidence of both President Obama and myself, he’s got a great team that will be backing him up and working with him, and we just want to thank you for taking on yet another challenge that is important not only to the people of Sudan, but to the United States as well.

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I almost resent, Vice President Bush, your patronizing attitude that you have to teach me about foreign policy.
– Geraldine Ferraro SOURCE: The New Republic

On this last day of Women’s History Month 2011, we sadly put to rest a woman who made American history.  In 1984, Geraldine Ferraro ran for Vice President of the United States.  She was the first woman to do so, and on the campaign trail as well as in the debates she did us proud.  She was brilliant, beautiful, and tough, much like the presidential candidate she chose to support 23 years later.  Hillary Clinton attended Geraldine’s funeral mass at St. Vincent Ferrer Church this morning.  It was a private funeral, but cameras caught her arrival.

Many dignitaries, friends and colleagues of Geraldine’s, attended.  We do not have photos of them all.  I know Nancy Pelosi and Walter Mondale, Geraldine’s 1984 running mate were there, although I have not found their photos.  Below is a slideshow of some familiar faces and the casket entering and leaving the church.  It rained.  My mother used to say that if it rained on the day of your funeral, it was a sign that your soul went straight to heaven.  It rained for my mom.  When we buried my dad, I was apprehensive because it was not raining, but at the cemetery there was a sudden cloudburst, and it rained a deluge.  There was a cloudburst as Celia Cruz’s horse-drawn hearse came within one block of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  And, as you see, today it rained for Gerri.

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We will miss you, Gerri.  Thank you for your service and for all you did for women.  We will never forget you or the history you made.

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Public Schedule for March 31, 2011

Public Schedule

Washington, DC
March 31, 2011

SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON:
9:30 a.m.
Secretary Clinton attends the funeral mass for Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro, in New York City.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

3:00 p.m. Secretary Clinton meets with President Obama at the White House.
(MEDIA DETERMINED BY WHITE HOUSE)

3:50 p.m. Secretary Clinton announces the new U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan, in the Treaty Room at the Department of State.
(OPEN PRESS COVERAGE)

 

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This afternoon, Secretary Clinton testified before a closed, classified session at the House of Representatives, so we have no video or transcript of what she said there.  We do have these pictures of her arriving and leaving.  Keatsian comment of the day: I love this outfit on her! She looks great with ruffles and a slightly deeper neckline.  Exquisite!

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Remarks at a Ceremony Celebrating the Negotiation of Agreements Between the United States and 100 Open Skies Partners

Remarks

Washington, DC
March 30, 2011

 


SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much.  And it’s a real pleasure for me to welcome you to the Benjamin Franklin Room here on the eighth floor of the State Department as we celebrate the negotiation of agreements between the United States and 100 Open Skies partners. I’d like to extend my appreciation to all the negotiators, government officials, members of the airline and airport industries, the labor community, and other stakeholders in this 100-strong partnership who came to mark this special occasion with us.

I’m also delighted that Secretary Ray LaHood, who is one of the leaders in many of our Open Skies agreements, our State Department team with Under Secretary Bob Hormats, Assistant Secretary Jose Fernandez, and of course, all the excellent negotiators led by Kris Urs.  I want to especially acknowledge both Congresswoman Granger and former Secretary Maneta and a number of ambassadors who are here from our Open Skies partners.  I want to extend a special greeting to Colombian Ambassador Gabriel Silva, whose country became our 100th partner last November.  So thank you so much.  (Applause.)

Now, I don’t need to tell this audience that we know what the benefits are of these Open Skies agreements.  They not only allow us to cross great distances, which I have been doing a lot of recently, but also to open up markets, create jobs, allow people in far -removed countries to interact, share information, and build businesses together.

For too long, however, restrictive agreements between governments cut off all of these potential connections.  They kept airlines from entering certain markets.  They forced shipping companies to fly inefficient routes with half-empty airplanes.  And, by stifling competition, they kept air fares artificially high.

That’s why the Department of State and Department of Transportation negotiated the first Open Skies Agreement, with the Netherlands, in 1992.  Now, today, we have agreements with countries in every region of the world, from major economies, such as Japan, Canada and the European Union, to smaller but equally important countries such as El Salvador and Senegal.  And on the President’s recent trip to Latin America, we concluded our new agreement with Brazil, our 101st partner.  And we look forward to expanding these partnerships around the world.

In each case, an Open Skies agreement has powerful benefits – fewer government restrictions, more competition, more jobs in the air and on the ground; more people trading, exchanging and interacting; cheaper flights, more tourists, new routes to new cities – so that we now have passengers and shippers enjoying direct services between cities like Las Vegas and Seoul, or Phoenix and Montreal.

Just consider for a minute what this agreement with one country, Colombia, will mean.  Now, one of Colombia’s biggest exports – fresh-cut flowers – will make it to the flower stands of the United States even faster because shippers will now have more direct access to more American cities.  And on the U.S. side, our computers, sensitive electronics, and spare parts for all types of equipment will make it to Colombia more quickly and efficiently.  And with more direct services between more points, we’ll see more recreational and business travel between our two countries.

Now, Open Skies agreements have another big plus:  They deepen relationships between people in very personal ways.  I’m a big believer in people-to-people diplomacy, and this is actually a means toward achieving that.  It’s what I call citizen diplomacy, and it’s one of the ways we can meet the challenges of the 21st century.  Building a continuous airborne corridor of prosperity around the world is one of our goals.

Now, I unfortunately will have to leave, so I’m going to miss Ray’s remarks because, as Ray and Kay well know, I just came from a classified briefing on Libya to the House and I have to be at the Senate for a classified briefing to the Senate at 4:30.  And as a former member, I know I’d better not be late.  (Laughter.)  So I’m going to now turn the podium over to Department of Transportation Assistant Secretary Susan Kurland, who will follow me and will introduce Ray.  But let me once again thank you all for what you’ve done to make this moment possible, and thank you for coming to celebrate with us.  (Applause.)

 

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When the U.S. joined the U.N. Human Rights Council, some people were angry that we would sit on a panel where Libya was a member.  My,  how things change.  The State Department released the following statement and a fact sheet marking the second anniversary of U.S. membership.  Here is a picture of the SOS just because….

 

The United Nations Human Rights Council

Press Statement

Mark C. Toner
Acting Deputy SpokesmanOffice of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
March 30, 2011

The United States is pleased to note the landmark achievements of the most recent session of the UN Human Rights Council.

This session included bold, assertive action by the Council to highlight the deteriorating human rights situation in Iran by establishing a new Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in that country, the first country-specific mandate created by the Council since it came into being. The Council also charted a new course for global efforts to condemn intolerance, discrimination, and violence based on religion or belief while protecting and promoting freedom of expression. The Council established a Commission of Inquiry to examine serious abuses and violations of human rights in Cote d’Ivoire, and extended the Council’s scrutiny of the ongoing serious human rights abuses in Burma. And in conjunction with the session, the United States led a ground-breaking effort to get 85 UN member-states to join a statement supporting the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Taken collectively, the actions taken by the 16th Human Rights Council represent a significant positive change in the Council’s trajectory.

However, much work remains to be done to ensure that the Council realizes fully its intended purpose. In particular, the United States remains determined to take all possible steps to end the Council’s biased and disproportionate focus on Israel. The United States maintains a vocal, principled stand against this focus, and will continue its robust efforts to end it. We also will continue to work to thwart the efforts to elect as Council members governments that clearly do not merit membership given their own human rights records. And the United States remains determined to continue to push the Council to address a broad range of urgent and serious human rights concerns worldwide. To this end, the United States Government intends to pursue a second term on the Council at the Human Rights Council elections in New York in May 2012.

We believe that U.S. engagement in the Human Rights Council has directly resulted in real progress. In our two years on the Council, we’ve not been happy with every outcome, and have firmly denounced Council actions we disagree with, but the Council has made important strides. Much work remains to be done for the Human Rights Council to sustain the gains of the last two years and to fully realize its potential, and the United States looks forward to continuing our efforts to do so.

 

Key U.S. Accomplishments at the UN Human Rights Council

Fact Sheet

Washington, DC
March 30, 2011

This September will mark the two-year anniversary of U.S. membership on the United Nations Human Rights Council. U.S. engagement at the Council has led to a number of new mechanisms to spotlight and address serious human rights concerns and focused international attention to some of the world’s most egregious human rights abusers. Much work remains before the Council can fully realize its mandate as the international community’s focal point for the protection and promotion of human rights. The United States will continue to work hard to diminish the Council’s biased disproportionate focus on Israel. The United States maintains a vocal, principled stand against this focus, and will continue its robust efforts to end it.

Key accomplishments over the past two years include:

DEEPENING ENGAGEMENT IN COUNTRY SITUATIONS

Iran: The Council took bold, assertive action to highlight Iran’s deteriorating human rights situation by establishing a Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in Iran. The rapporteur will investigate and report on abuses in Iran and call out the failure of the Iranian government to meet its human rights obligations.

Cote d’Ivoire: U.S. leadership led to a Special Session on the situation in Cote d’Ivoire, sending Laurent Gbagbo a clear message that the world is watching what he does and that atrocities and human rights violations would not go unnoticed. At its most recent session, the Council established a Commission of Inquiry to investigate these abuses and amplified the international community’s unequivocal message that President Ouattara must be allowed to serve as the elected head of state.

Libya: The United States played a pivotal role in convening the Council’s Special Session in February 2011 during which the Council condemned the recent human rights violations and other acts of violence committed by the Government of Libya, created an independent Commission of Inquiry to investigate those violations, and recommended to the UN General Assembly that it suspend Libya’s membership rights on the Council. The UN General Assembly acted on that recommendation several days later.

Kyrgyzstan: The United States worked with Kyrgyzstan to draft and galvanize support for the first-ever resolution to address human rights violations there in the wake of the killings and abuses that took place in June 2010. It called for a credible investigation by the Government and international assistance for victims and requested the High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide follow-up reporting. The resolution paved the way for a Commission of Inquiry to investigate these events.

Guinea: The United States led the Council to adopt several resolutions on Guinea. The Council condemned the September 2009 violence, welcomed the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ decision to open a country office, and requested technical assistance from the international community for the transition to democracy, which produced concrete results on the ground.

Tunisia: The United States worked with the EU and the interim government of Tunisia to adopt a resolution that welcomed the process of political transition that has started in Tunisia, invited the UN to provide technical assistance to the transitional process in Tunisia, and encouraged the government of Tunisia to implement recommendations of the High Commissioner from its report on its mission earlier this year.

Burma: The United States has worked to ensure the continuation of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Burma. The Special Rapporteur plays a critical role in reporting on the ongoing human rights abuses in Burma, including calling for a commission of inquiry into the situation.

North Korea: The United States has worked to ensure the continuation of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in North Korea. While the government of North Korea strongly opposes this mandate, the number of votes in favor of the resolution increased this year, demonstrating the level of international concern with the situation there.

Sudan: The United States led efforts to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert tasked with monitoring human rights throughout Sudan, including Darfur, over the Sudanese government’s strong opposition.

INITIATING CONCRETE ACTION TO DRIVE HUMAN RIGHTS PRIORITIES

Protecting Freedom of Assembly and Association: The U.S. Government co-sponsored a resolution to create the first-ever Special Rapporteur to protect Freedom of Assembly and Association, to monitor crackdowns on civil society groups and advance protection of the right to free assembly and association through its vigilant exposure of state conduct.

Combating Discrimination Against Women: The United States championed the establishment of a Working Group of Independent Experts to prevent Discrimination Against Women; the five independent experts will address discrimination against women in law and practice. One of the experts is the first Israeli citizen to be appointed by the Human Rights Council President to a special mechanism.

A Strong Statement on LGBT Rights: The United States led a group of 85 countries to sign a statement entitled “Ending Acts of Violence and Related Human Rights Violations Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.” It represents a landmark moment in UN efforts to highlight human rights abuses faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people around the world.

DEFENDING CORE PRINCIPLES

Protecting Freedom of Expression in the Context of Religious Intolerance: The United States was instrumental in galvanizing support for a consensus resolution that marks a sea change in the global dialogue on countering offensive and hateful speech based upon religion or belief. The “Combating Discrimination and Violence” resolution underscores the vital importance of protecting freedom of expression and ends the divisive debate over the highly problematic concept of “defamation of religions.”

 

 

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