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Archive for July, 2011

We wish you continued years of happiness!

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A year ago, the internet was all abuzz about the pending wedding of Chelsea Victoria Clinton to Marc Mezvinsky. We knew the site was Rhinebeck, N.Y. People were arriving, and in Hillary-Hood we wondered about the gowns, the hair, and whether we would get to see any good pictures. Cable news and networks had teams covering the arrivals and the doings around Rhinebeck. There was much excitement in the air, and rumors were flying about who was or was not on the guest list. Everything was very secret.   The first glimpse we got of the Clintons that day came in the evening when Bill and Hillary Clinton showed up at a reception given in their honor the night before the wedding. We did not see the bride or groom that night.

So, here we are a year later, and all the drama on cable news today is over the negotiations on Capitol Hill to save the country from default on its debt. It seems almost unreal that our great country could be on the verge of economic disaster – unnecessary, avoidable disaster, at that. The leadership vacuum has never been more obvious. Once again the president got on Saturday morning TV and read us a laundry list of the terrible things that will happen if the bad Republicans do not fall into line. Well, I think we all have known what is on that list for weeks and did not need yet another George W. Bush style speech from Barack Obama to remind us. Both of these presidents use the same rhetoric: statement of the obvious. I could have given that speech without the teleprompter!  Where is the speech about what he is going to do to save us from the disaster?   Why is this White House so afraid of the 14th Amendment?

To assuage my anxiety and yours I offer this lovely slideshow of two great leaders who are afraid of nothing.  Neither of these two people would hesitate to take the reins of leadership in this crisis.  So, in the words of the eloquent Sarah Palin, “How’s that hopey changey thing workin’ out for ya?”

Enjoy the show!  The SOS could not have looked more glamorous!  Just exquisite!  She is beautiful enough to be a movie star, but I have a better job in mind for her.

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As I have said in the past, I do not post the remarks the Secretary of State sends out to countries on their national days as a routine.   I post them when they are somehow  particularly significant.  Back in May, I posted her remarks on Yemen’s national day.  It was significant due to ongoing events in that country.  The following day she issued a statement critical of Yemeni leadership.

So in that vein, I am posting these national day greetings.  Morocco is one of our oldest allies.  When she was our newly-minted SOS, in April 2009,  and received Moroccan Foreign Minister Fihiri at the State Department,  Secretary Clinton stated:

I think Morocco was the very first country that recognized us, going back a long time.

The first!  The very first!  Well, then certainly we owe our very oldest friend and ally a shout out on their national day!

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) is greeted by Abdeslam Jaidi, Moroccan consul to the United Nation upon her arrival at Marrakech airport early on November 1, 2009. She is scheduled to meet on Monday and Tuesday with her Arab counterparts attending the sixth Forum for the Future, jointly organised by Morocco and Italy. The Forum for the Future is a joint initiative between the Group of Eight industrial powers and some 20 countries in the Middle East and North Africa, along with the European Commission and the Arab League. AFP PHOTO ABDELHAK SENNA/POOL (Photo credit should read ABDELHAK SENNA/AFP/Getty Ima

Morocco National Day

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
July 29, 2011

On behalf of President Obama and the American people, I send my warmest wishes to King Mohamed VI and the Moroccan people on the occasion of your country’s national day this July 30.

During this time of profound change in the Middle East and North Africa, the United States supports your efforts to strengthen the rule of law, human rights and good governance. I congratulate King Mohamed VI and the Moroccan people on the peaceful constitutional referendum held July 1, and welcome it as an important step toward democratic reform.

Morocco is a longstanding friend, partner, and ally of the United States. Wherever you celebrate this special day, know that the United States stands with you. I look forward to continuing to strengthen this partnership as we work together toward our common goals.

It is the Swiss Confederation’s 720th Birthday! Yes, 720!!! Amazing. Curiously, for a country many of us have always considered progressive, Switzerland’s women were not granted suffrage until 1971. Here is a very interesting and instructive timeline on the granting of suffrage to women.   We are happy that they finally updated their status in that regard!

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) is welcomed by Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey before the signing ceremony of Turkey and Armenia peace deal in Zurich October 10, 2009. Turkey and Armenia plan to sign a deal to end a century of hostility stemming from the World War One mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman forces although it could fall prey to nationalists further down the line. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann (SWITZERLAND POLITICS)

Happy Birthday, Switzerland!

Statement On the Occasion of Switzerland’s National Day

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
July 29, 2011

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to congratulate the people of Switzerland on the 720th anniversary of your republic this August 1.

In the seven centuries since the first Federal Charter was signed, the Swiss Confederation has played an important role in world affairs. Your rich history of neutrality gives you the ability to mediate and reconcile difficult conflicts. You have been a vital partner for over 30 years representing American interests in Iran and other countries throughout the world.

America’s Founders were inspired by the ideas and values of early Swiss philosophers like Jean-Jacques Burlamaqui and Emer de Vattel, and the 1848 Swiss Constitution was influenced by our own U.S. Constitution. Swiss commitment to democracy is an example for nations and people everywhere who yearn for greater freedoms and human rights.

As you celebrate this special day, know that the United States stands with you and we look forward to a future filled with friendship and cooperation.

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Well, we have no new pictures today.  This time last year, the Clintons were preparing for Chelsea’s wedding. I thought I would share, once again, these pictures from July 27, 2010, as Mme. Secretary arrived for a final fitting of her MOTB gown, which, you will remember, was truly fit for a princess.  Happy Anniversary, Chelsea and Marc!

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Public Schedule

Washington, DC
July 29, 2011

SECRETARY HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON

9:15 a.m.  Secretary Clinton joins Deputy Secretary Burns’* meeting with Chinese Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Wang Yi, at the Department of State.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

9:20 a.m.  Secretary Clinton meets with the Assistant Secretaries of the regional bureaus, at the Department of State.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

10:00 a.m.  Secretary Clinton meets with will.i.am regarding the 100,000 Strong Initiative, at the Department of State.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

3:00 p.m.  Secretary Clinton joins President Obama’s multilateral meeting with Benin President Boni Yahi, Guinea President Alpha Conde, Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou, and Cote D’ivoire President Alassane Ouattara, at the White House.
(MEDIA DETERMINED BY WHITE HOUSE)

*Bill Burns newly named Deputy Secretary of State as of yesterday.  The announcement was released last night.

Press Statement
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
July 28, 2011

Today, Bill Burns began serving as the Department of State’s newest Deputy Secretary of State, alongside Tom Nides. I am grateful for Bill’s decision to continue his nearly 30 years of service to the American people as we implement President Obama’s ambitious foreign policy agenda.

As our most senior Foreign Service Officer, Bill has advanced U.S. interests all over the world. He has been on the frontlines during some of the most significant foreign policy breakthroughs in recent years, from building international consensus on free trade, to curbing the nuclear threat posed by Iran, to nurturing democracy in the Middle East, to helping negotiate the historic START arms control treaty with Russia.

Wherever he has served, Bill has set the standard for leadership in our Senior Foreign Service. He is our country’s senior-most professional diplomat for a reason — he is the best in this business, a role model for generations of Foreign Service Officers and someone whose counsel both the President and I hold in the highest regard.

I look forward to working even more closely with Bill to tackle some of the most difficult challenges we face, as we help build a more peaceful and prosperous world.

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The Secretary of State was out of the country when the horrific attacks in Oslo and the Island of Utoeya occurred. This morning, she took the opportunity to visit the Norwegian Embassy in D.C. to express her sympathy and sign the book of condolence.

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Remarks at USAID’s Saving Lives at Birth Development Exchange Awards Ceremony “77 Inventions That Could Save Moms and Babies”

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Ronald Reagan Building
Washington, DC
July 28, 2011

Oh, Raj, thank you so much. Well, I want to begin by, of course, thanking Raj for his leadership, his imagination, innovation, his extraordinary commitment to the work that USAID does and the really driving force behind translating into reality what we have hoped to see happen. And I am delighted to be with you again to lend my voice and support for the goal of protecting the health and lives of mothers and children at birth.I would echo what Raj said in thanking all of our partners. This is a great opportunity for us to internationalize our innovative efforts to bring to the table those who have such a track record in accomplishing positive changes, but also share our vision about what is possible.

I also want to express my sympathy and solidarity with the government and people of Norway. I just came from the Norwegian ambassador’s home, signing the condolence book, and it is just a commonplace statement to make, which is that Norwegian people and successive governments have been so generous and supportive in ending conflicts, in bringing people together, in pioneering development, and we’re very grateful, First Secretary, that you are here representing the people and Government of Norway.

We have a tremendous opportunity to take advantage of all of the changes that are occurring in the world today and put them to work on behalf of development. We know that it’s moving so quickly, there is no way to keep up with the fast-paced global innovation contest that is happening on products and goods and services, but we can do our part to make sure that we harness all of that scientific and technological capacity on behalf of the poor and the needy. And we want to do development more effectively, that has been our goal. We want to teach people to fish, not just keep providing fish to them. We want to change systems; we want to find ways to leverage the assistance we provide to change the way governments care for their own people. We want to deliver the highest possible impact for each and every taxpayer dollar that we spend, and one of the ways we’re doing that is seeking out good ideas and putting them to work.

So in reaching out to the global community, NGOs, international partners, and working with likeminded governments and foundations and other institutions, we have established this program of Grand Challenges. And few challenges are as persistent or heartbreaking as the health of mothers and children, because we are well aware that the single most critical window for maternal and child health occurs from the onset of labor to 48 hours after childbirth. And for too many people in too many places, what should be a moment of great joy ends in tragedy.

You know the statistics: a woman still today in 2011 dies in childbirth every two minutes. In 2009, according to the WHO, 2.6 million children were stillborn, one million newborns die every year in the two days after birth, and we just cannot watch that happening without saying, “How can we prevent these deaths?” And we know this can be impacted on when pregnant women have access to adequate nutrition and prenatal care, lifesaving medicines, skilled health workers when they do give birth. And we’ve seen progress. From 1990 to 2008, the global maternal mortality rate dropped by 34 percent; in some places like Bangladesh, even more – it went down 40 percent. In Nepal, it has now dropped 50 percent, and I have to say, very proudly, in large measure due to USAID programs and interventions.

And yet over her lifetime, a woman in Sub-Saharan Africa today remains 136 times more likely to die in childbirth than one in a developed country. So how do we find affordable, scalable, sustainable ways to change the equation? How do we reach women and children in faraway places? How do we make it our priority to put this on the agenda of governments that have not always paid enough attention? Well, we wanted to mobilize a global community of innovators, and so many of you are representing that global community.

We identified three major barriers to saving lives at birth. First, a lack of medical technologies appropriate for the community or clinic setting. Second, a shortage of trained, equipped caregivers in positions to help. And third, a lack of demand – too many mothers still don’t know about the care they need and where and how they can find it.

So in March we issued this challenge, and we said, “Bring us your best ideas.” And as Raj said, we’ve been overwhelmed by the response. From Nairobi to Islamabad to Palo Alto, people have answered the call. Now, I don’t yet know who the winners are; I’m going to leave that to the judges. But I want to tell you that so many of your submissions, which were reviewed to me, are so exciting that, whoever the winners are, you’re all winners, and you all need to continue to pursue the innovation that was selected to bring you here.

For example, if you are dealing with the very common problem of bleeding during childbirth or a postpartum hemorrhage, the most common treatment, a drug called Oxytocin, is delivered by injection. And you know injections are complicated; you require sterile equipment, trained medical personnel, the drug degrades if it isn’t kept cold, which is very difficult to do in a lot of the settings we’re concerned about. And so we know that new mothers in many communities bleed to death without access to the right medicines. There was a very disturbing article on the front page of I think The New York Times in the last week about what is happening in Uganda, a country that has had more attention and has developed more facilities, but even there has not kept up with the demand that is required.

So converting that medical intervention into an aerosol spray that can be inhaled through a simple disposable device immediately after childbirth – no needles, no cold storage, no bloodborne diseases – has the potential to save many lives. Or working continuously to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS – ideally, women receive treatment during their pregnancies that will prevent transmission, and if they don’t, those who are in the process of delivery, they have a 24 hour window after birth to get their children to a clinic to receive medication to prevent their child from contracting HIV. But think about it: Within 24 hours of birth, you’re exhausted, you may be recovering; how are you going to get your child to where the child goes? Because we still don’t have enough clinics and other settings where all these services are available in one place.

It’s been a particular cause of mine, and it’s part of the driving motivation behind our Global Health Initiative is don’t make these women travel hours to get their HIV/AIDS treatment and then travel in a different direction to get maternal care and then travel in a different place in order to get the kind of high, tertiary care treatment for delivery. So now researchers are developing a pouch that can last for months and, apparently, looks like something that you get at a fast food restaurant, like one of those little ketchup containers. And then a mother can have it on hand and will be able to care for her child immediately.

So we have lots of great ideas that are here, and to the 600 entrants all over the world and to the 77 finalists and the eventual winners my message is the same: Please keep going with these ideas. There were so many great ideas. And figure out ways, and we will try to help you figure out ways to make them scalable, sustainable, deliverable interventions. And this is the kind of creative approach toward enhancing development that I think is in the best interests of the people whom we are hoping to serve, but it’s also necessary in these times of great budgetary strains on all governments, not just my own, so that we can deliver higher impact in way that will keep our publics continuing to support this very important work.

So I thank Raj and his team for hosting us today, and I really commend all of you for participating. I wish everybody the very best and to the finalists, when you are announced, congratulations. But to every one of us, please – these grand challenges shouldn’t stop with the announcement of winners. We have to keep making our best efforts in order to overcome the challenges that we are aiming at. So I’m grateful to you and I want to do everything I can to support you, and we will work through USAID with all of our partners to deliver better development results for the entire world.

Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

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