Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘U.S. Department of State’ Category

It has been quite some time since I vented here, but I cannot let this pass. This blog has been here for almost 12 years. One-third of that time was spent cataloging Hillary Clinton’s years as secretary of state, years during which she brought alienated friends back into the fold, stood firm against adversaries, kept us safe with the skillful use of diplomacy and smart power, and sometimes worked through illness, injury, and, frequently, through opposition attacks of the most outrageous kind.

There have been raging accusations. She used her FLOTUS position to gain political position and clout.  She allowed four Americans to be slaughtered in Benghazi. She used a private server (assigned to Bill Clinton as a former POTUS) for official emails which she later “bleached.”  In the end, she turns out to be one of the least culpable of public officials ever to be so battered by the opposition assisted by the press.  She has never been convicted of any crime.  No one can name any crime for which she should be “locked up.”  How many personal emails did you delete when you exited your last job?

Hillary Clinton, as we know, has a prominent spouse and an accomplished daughter.  She is a proud and loving grandmother, a loyal friend, a wise and generous leader, and a genuinely altruistic human being.

So now this.  The current secretary of state was under investigation by the same inspector general who investigated Hillary’s “email scandal.” In his case, the charges included his use of State Department staff to run personal errands as well as a possible Saudi arms deal sans required Congressional approval.

In response to the IG’s Pompeo investigations, Donald Trump fired the IG.

Turns out, according to Rachel Maddow on May 18, that Susan Pompeo had an office and staff at the CIA when her husband was there, and now has staff and security at the State Department. According to the article linked above, she also accompanies her husband on trips.

Imagine if Hillary had done any of this. I am old enough to remember folks questioning her designation of Bill Clinton as a one-time special emissary to North Korea to rescue two American reporters at the request of their boss, VP Al Gore. What special diplomatic skills/clout does Susan Pompeo possess?

The IG was correct to be investigating Pompeo on several counts. This was the fourth firing of an IG in a matter of weeks. Inspectors General are to be non-partisan. Mr. Linick certainly was judging from his history. Mr. Trump explained the firing by noting that Linick was an Obama appointee. That business about serving “at the pleasure” of the president only goes so far. Some service is meant as a check on the president and the cabinet.

A dominant tactic of the first two years of the Trump regime was whataboutism brilliantly executed by Kellyanne Conway who lately is eclipsed by her younger clone Kayleigh McEnaney.

Maybe it is time the Democrats started turning this usually empty-handed, badly aligned practice against the ruling regime. Certainly the Dems can draw more appropriate analogies than the White House Communications office.

I am happy to see that my senator, Bob Menendez, is investigating this latest firing. Especially in the midst of this horrible pandemic, Democrats need to fight back. The incompetence is killing us. Remember values clarification? We need that again.

 

Read Full Post »

Just in case there are any questions about why this happened, it was at her request.

Clinton’s security clearance withdrawn at her request

The State Department has revoked former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton‘s security clearance after she requested that it be withdrawn, according to a letter released Friday by a top GOP senator.

The State Department—in a letter dated Sept. 21 but publicly released Friday— told Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, that the security clearance was revoked on August 30 after Clinton requested that it be withdrawn.
“We would like to provide you with an update on the status of former Secretary Clinton’s security clearance and the ongoing administrative review pertaining to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other current and former department officials,” Charles Faulkner, the acting assistant secretary of legislative affairs, wrote to Grassley.
The State Department added in the letter to Grassley that five of Clinton’s aides had also had their security clearance revoked.
Four of the names are redacted but one aide listed in the email is Cheryl Mills, who worked as Clinton’s chief of staff.
Those of us who have been here awhile can probably guess a few of those redacted names.

Edited to add:

  1. It is not unusual for officials to maintain clearances when they leave office;
  2. Hillary and her researchers were working on Hard Choices after she retired, so no, she is not working on a new book at the moment;
  3. Here is the request.


Here is the background.


Read Full Post »

Having studied Russian at Moscow State University and having been a Ford Foundation Fellow in Soviet Studies, Condoleeza Rice was George W. Bush’s Russia expert. No one, Republican or Democrat, questioned her qualifications in that realm.

It is, therefore, stunning that she has chosen to side with Vladimir Putin against her successor at the State Department, Hillary Clinton.

dailycaller.com

Rice Blames Hillary For Russian Election Meddling

Benny JohnsonReporter At Large

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice put some of the blame for Russian election on Hillary Clinton in a wide-ranging MSNBC interview on Thursady

Rice, who has considerable experience with Vladimir Putin, did not hold back on her assessment of the motivations behind Russian election meddling.

She said that then-Secretary of State Clinton criticizing Putin for Russia’s 2012 elections encouraged the foreign leader to seek revenge. Rice said that Putin is an “eye for an eye” kind of person and that he was out to hurt Clinton in order to prove that America could also have flawed elections.

“With Vladimir Putin, this was an eye for an eye. He’s an eye for an eye kind of person, and Hillary Clinton criticized his election. Now he wants to show that he can sow chaos in ours.”

 

Read more >>>>

Condi is wrong on several counts.

1. Hillary commented (no she did not “meddle” – that is something different but back to that later) on the 2010 Russian parliamentary elections not Putin’s 2012 presidential election.

In her memoir of her State Department years, Hard Choices, Hillary Clinton portrays Putin’s worldview as “shaped by his admiration of the powerful czars of Russian history” and his view of geopolitics as a zero-sum game. Following the December 2010 parliamentary elections in Russia, widespread reports of fraud brought tens of thousands of protestors out into the frigid Russian streets. Hillary recalls stating, “The Russian people, like people everywhere, deserve the right to have their voices heard and their votes counted…. That means they deserve fair, free, transparent elections and leaders who are accountable to them.” She goes on to describe Putin blaming her for “setting the tone” for the widespread demonstrations that followed the elections. Nothing in Hillary’s memoir nor elsewhere  provides any account of Hillary speaking out against Putin’s 2012 reelection or any protests, for that matter.

2.  Hillary Clinton was not “meddling” when she made her comments. This is meddling. As secretary of state, Hillary was well within her “paygrade” to make a comment regarding elections and unrest in another country.

3. Victim-blaming is always a cheap shot and always wrong! It is especially disturbing coming from a former secretary of state about her successor. I have this quote in the right sidebar here. It bears repetition. “What I have always found is that when it comes to foreign policy, it is important to remember that politics stops at the water’s edge.” -HRC 11-04-10. Had Condi remained at the State Department in December 2010, she, too, would have been expected to comment on the elections and protests in Russia – especially given her academic background. Would her remarks have been so different?

The cyber attacks against independent election observers that Hillary describes in Chapter 11 of Hard Choices foreshadow some of what we saw happen here in 2016. Some. But not all. Not the worst. We also deserve fair, free, transparent elections and commentary about a foreign country from a candidate never justifies elements from that country interfering in our elections in any way.

Reuters Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice meets with President-elect Barack Obama’s Secretary of State nominee Hillary Clinton at the State Department.

 

Read Full Post »

From the article:

 


Rex Tillerson is pictured. | AP Photo
The move — believed to be ordered by a top aide to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson — reflects the Trump administration’s rightward turn from the Obama administration on family planning issues. | Hussein Malla/AP Photo

State Department officials have been ordered to pare back passages in a soon-to-be-released annual report on global human rights that traditionally discuss women’s reproductive rights and discrimination, according to five former and current department officials.

The directive calls for stripping passages that describe societal views on family planning, including how much access women have to contraceptives and abortion.

A broader section that chronicles racial, ethnic and sexual discrimination has also been ordered pared down, the current and former officials said.

The move, believed to have been ordered by a top aide to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, reflects the Trump administration’s rightward turn from the Obama administration on family planning issues. It also appears to highlight the stated desire of Tillerson and President Donald Trump to make human rights a lower priority in U.S. foreign policy.

Read more >>>>

Read Full Post »

 


China accused of building ‘island fortresses’ as Philippine newspaper obtains aerial images

An aerial picture of Chinese construction activities in the South China Sea

 

The surveillance pictures were mostly taken between June and December last year. Photograph: Inquirer.net/Philippine Daily Inquirer

Beijing has been accused of building “island fortresses” in the South China Sea after a newspaper in the Philippines obtained aerial photographs offering what experts called the most detailed glimpse yet of China’s militarisation of the waterway.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer said the surveillance photographs – passed to its reporters by an unnamed source – were mostly taken between June and December last year and showed Chinese construction activities across the disputed Spratly archipelago between the Philippines and Vietnam.

Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have overlapping claims in the region.

Images from the Philippine Daily Inquirer showing Mischief Reef  Fiery Cross Reef in the South China Sea

Read more >>>>

From 2011.

Vodpod videos no longer available.
South China Sea, posted with vodpod

The South China Sea

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
July 22, 2011

We commend this week’s announcement that ASEAN and China have agreed on implementing guidelines to facilitate confidence building measures and joint projects in the South China Sea. This is an important first step toward achieving a Code of Conduct and reflects the progress that can be made through dialogue and multilateral diplomacy. We look forward to further progress.

The United States is encouraged by this recent agreement because as a Pacific nation and resident power we have a national interest in freedom of navigation, open access to Asia’s maritime domain, the maintenance of peace and stability, and respect for international law in the South China Sea.

We oppose the threat or use of force by any claimant in the South China Sea to advance its claims or interfere with legitimate economic activity. We share these interests not only with ASEAN members and ASEAN Regional Forum participants, but with other maritime nations and the broader international community.

The United States supports a collaborative diplomatic process by all claimants for resolving the various disputes in the South China Sea. We also support the 2002 ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. But we do not take a position on the competing territorial claims over land features in the South China Sea. We believe all parties should pursue their territorial claims and accompanying rights to maritime space in accordance with international law, including as reflected in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention.

The United States is concerned that recent incidents in the South China Sea threaten the peace and stability on which the remarkable progress of the Asia-Pacific region has been built. These incidents endanger the safety of life at sea, escalate tensions, undermine freedom of navigation, and pose risks to lawful unimpeded commerce and economic development.

In keeping with the 2002 ASEAN-China Declaration, each of the parties should comply with their commitments to respect freedom of navigation and over-flight in the South China Sea in accordance with international law, to resolve their disputes through peaceful means, without resorting to the threat or use of force. They should exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability including, among others, refraining from taking action to inhabit presently uninhabited islands, reefs, shoals, cays, and other features, and to handle their differences in a constructive manner.

The United States encourages all parties to accelerate efforts to reach a full Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.

We also call on all parties to clarify their claims in the South China Sea in terms consistent with customary international law, including as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention. Consistent with international law, claims to maritime space in the South China Sea should be derived solely from legitimate claims to land features

Bolded emphasis is mine.  We never signed onto L.O.S.T. and therefore have no seat at the table. Hillary had also warned about that. See the right sidebar.

Read Full Post »

For the first OAS General Assembly of his tenure at the State Department, Rex Tillerson is sending a surrogate.

Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan delivers remarks at the 47th General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Cancun, Mexico, on June 20, 2017.

Today, Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan led the U.S. delegation at the 47th Regular Session of the Organization of American States (OAS) General Assembly in Cancun, Mexico.

In his remarks to 33 heads of delegation from Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada, Deputy Secretary Sullivan outlined U.S. goals for engagement in the Americas for mutual security and shared prosperity, the principles and values we share with fellow OAS member states, and our support for collective OAS action when these principles and values are threatened, such as in Venezuela.

Read more >>>>

It is not the first time that Tillerson has taken a back seat, and we can wager it will not be the last. Hillary Clinton, when she was secretary of state, often emphasized the importance of face-to-face meetings. It is no secret that the Trump administration plans to pare down the state department and de-emphasize diplomacy in general, but this kind of abdication of presence comes as a shock nevertheless.

Multinational summits and assemblies are prime ground for networking among peers. For Tillerson to turn his back on 33 counterparts from our backyard smacks of lunkheaded isolationism on our part as a nation and betrays a dangerous consolidation of power and authority at the top.

Foreign ministers and secretaries of state knew, when they met with Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, that major concerns voiced to them would be passed on to the president. Depriving these officials of the opportunity to meet with Tillerson eliminates an important conduit.

Hillary Clinton’s first appearance at an OAS GA coincided with a push on that body’s part to readmit Cuba which Hillary opposed without strict conditions on human rights reform. She also, everywhere she went, made a point of meeting not only with officials but also with civic leaders and organizations.

You can read about some of her Latin American diplomacy here.

venezuela-hugo-chavez-hillary-clinton-barack-obama-summit

US Secretary of State Clinton shakes hands with Mexican Foreign Secretary Espinosa after a news conference at the foreign ministry in Mexico City

MEXICO-US-CLINTON

elsalvadorflag

This was “smart power,” as Hillary dubbed it. At summits and assemblies, the presence of the top official is key. Seems now we are reverting to a counter-productive foreign policy.  All power is consolidated in the man at the top and excludes his official top diplomat. This is the Trump Doctrine: Stupid Power.

Read Full Post »

Every year, the U.S. Department of State issues a Human Rights Report based on data collected from sources operating in U.N. member states and countries receiving U.S. assistance.  Upon the release of the 2009 Human Rights Report, Hillary Clinton announced that the United States would be added to the list of countries under review.  Republicans and conservatives did not take this news well.

Human rights are universal, but their experience is local. This is why we are committed to holding everyone to the same standard, including ourselves. This year, the United States is participating in the Universal Periodic Review process in conjunction with our participation in the UN Human Rights Council. In the fall, we will present a report, based on the input of citizens and NGOs, gathered online and in face-to-face meetings across the country attended by senior government officials. Assessing opportunities for progress and soliciting citizen engagement is one way that we demonstrate our commitment in word and deed to the basic principles that guide us toward a more perfect union and a more peaceful world.

Read more >>>>

The U.N. also reviews human rights conditions among member states.

It should be no secret to readers here that an organization exists that formulates legislation to be put forth in multiple states. If you were watching MSNBC in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s killing, you saw Karen Finney unveil ALEC.

One example of  Karen’s  effect at MSNBC was her unmasking of ALEC  (American Legislative Exchange Council) behind the Stand Your Ground laws in many states, including Florida, in the wake of George Zimmerman’s fatal attack on Trayvon Martin.  No one, in my experience of viewing multiple hours of MSNBC,  had ever mentioned ALEC.  But after Karen filled in for Bashir that day, it seemed that not an hour went by without some anchor bringing up ALEC.

Read more >>>>

This comes as disturbing news.

The UN Has Stepped In To Issue A Severe Warning To GOP After Their Plans To Strip Americans Of Freedoms Is Exposed

If you thought your rights are protected in the USA, think again. There are lawmakers who are working hard to under-handedly take them away. Sixteen states have proposed bills that would criminalize peaceful protests. This is a worrying trend that may result in fatal blows to our rights and freedom to peacefully protest, assemble, and express our opinions and voices.

It is so concerning, that even the United Nations has weighed in on the trend. In an unprecedented move, representatives from the UN have sent a letter to the US government offering a strong condemnation for proposed legislation in sixteen states that is meant to limit peaceful protest.

The letter, penned by David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and Maina Kiai, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, claims that if passed, these bills would be “incompatible with US obligations under international human rights law.”

Read more >>>>

There is a link to a PDF of the 19-page letter in the body of the article. I encourage you to take a look. At the end of the letter, there is a link to the U.N. Human Rights website.  Please also see that. Here are the letters sent regarding the U.S. in 2017 according to that page.

United States of America

  • 9 May 2017 – Intensified screening of travellers at the US border based on their religious affiliation – OL USA 6/2017

United States of America

  • 1 May 2017 – Intensified social media screening of travellers at the US border – OL USA 7/2016

United States of America

  • 27 March 2017 – Draft bills on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression – OL USA 3/2017

Those are the letters sent this year.  Further down the same page is a list of  all communications sent since 2011 divided by country. Here are the letters sent to the U.S.

United States of America

  • 30 September 2016: Proposal to request travelers’ social media information on immigration forms – USA 9/2016.
  • 20/04/2016 – Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement –USA 4/2016

Read more >>>>

There is a danger of rapid erosion of human rights afoot. The U.N. is watching. It is not clear the degree to which such pending legislations will make their way into the State Department’s Human Right Report for 2017.  The easy out for this administration would be for DOS to exclude the U.S. from that report as it had been until Hillary Clinton included us.

The multiple pending legislations are most likely the work of ALEC. When you look at the menu bar on their website,  you see a “more” category.  There is a drop-down where you can access their “free speech” position.  The proposed curtailment of protest rights appears to be tied to recent protests against right wing speakers on university campuses.

This is going to become a matter of framing as our friend George Lakoff often reminds us. We need to make sure that protest remains framed as freedom of expression and not as the enemy or abrogation of someone else’s right to speak. That, from what I see on their page, is how they plan to frame these legislations.

While it is encouraging that the U.N. Human Rights folks are looking out for us, it also raises concerns that our own local governments are working formally to curtail our rights. The federal government, specifically the State Department, could potentially stand down on reviewing and reporting on rights violations within our borders. Lastly, and most dangerously, this administration, already inimical to the U.N. having its headquarters here, could move to exit the U.N. altogether.  I know that sounds far-fetched, but we ought to keep that in mind. Though I doubt it would ever pass, there are factions in our country that despise the U.N.  We need to be vigilant.

Amendment 1 – Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Read Full Post »

Here is Rex Tillerson’s address to the Arctic Council in Fairbanks. Bolded emphasis is mine.

Remarks

Rex W. Tillerson
Secretary of State
Fairbanks, Alaska
May 11, 2017

SECRETARY TILLERSON: Well, it’s my pleasure to welcome all of you, foreign ministers, permanent participant heads of delegation, Arctic Council observers, and honored guests. And I want to thank again the tribal leaders of the aboriginal groups for their greeting this morning and their very meaningful message to all of us, and we appreciate their opening this session for us.

I want to welcome all of you to the 10th Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting and this beautiful city of Fairbanks, and we thank them again for their great hospitality in hosting us.

I would now call your attention to the provisional agenda for this meeting and seek its adoption.

(No response.)

SECRETARY TILLERSON: As I see no delegates seeking the floor, I take it that the agenda can be adopted without change. It is so decided.

As the next agenda point, I would like to call for the adoption of the SAO Report to Ministers.

(No response.)

SECRETARY TILLERSON: As I see no delegations seeking the floor, I take it that the report can be adopted without change. It is so decided.

Let’s turn to the agenda item on the accomplishments of the Arctic Council during the U.S. chairmanship.

The United States had been privileged to lead the Arctic Council at a time when the Arctic Region has been facing unprecedented change and challenges.

I am grateful for the level of cooperation that the nations and the peoples of the Arctic have demonstrated as they continue to address these challenges.

The Arctic Council, which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, has proven to be an indispensable forum in which we can pursue cooperation. I want to affirm that the United States will continue to be an active member in this council. The opportunity to chair the Council has only strengthened our commitment to continuing its work in the future.

We look forward to working with Finland as they assume the leadership role of this council. There are still issues of great concern to each of us that we can address, including advancing the welfare and living conditions of those who call the Arctic home; recognizing that each country has a strategic interest in being part of the Arctic’s future; and making sure that we continue to be vigilant in protecting the fragile environment.

In the United States, we are currently reviewing several important policies, including how the Trump administration will approach the issue of climate change. We are appreciative that each of you has an important point of view, and you should know that we are taking the time to understand your concerns. We’re not going to rush to make a decision. We’re going to work to make the right decision for the United States. The Arctic Council will continue to be an important platform as we deliberate on these issues.

I could not hope to mention all of the individual initiatives and programs that the Council has brought to fruition over the past two years under U.S. chairmanship. Each of the Council’s subsidiary bodies has done outstanding work in this respect, and I do wish to acknowledge and commend all of their efforts, even as I highlight but a few.

The signing of the Agreement on Enhancing International Arctic Scientific Cooperation will facilitate the movement of scientists, scientific equipment, and importantly, data sharing across the international boundaries of the Arctic.

The Council has produced the first-ever assessment of telecommunications infrastructure in the Arctic. During the Finnish chairmanship, the Arctic Council will build on this work in conjunction with the private sector to advance this ongoing effort to strengthen connectivity throughout the Arctic Region.

Arctic Council members have conducted multiple exercises to prepare for potential search-and-rescue events in the Arctic as well as to coordinate responses to environmental incidents. These exercises significantly advanced our capacity to address risks inherent in the increased human activity that is undergoing and will continue to expand in the Arctic Region.

At the community level, the council broke new ground in a number of ways. A compelling initiative known as RISING SUN has produced resources that will prove truly valuable to Arctic residents in addressing suicide prevention, particularly among indigenous youth. The council also built on work initiated by the State of Alaska to improve water and sanitation capacity in rural Arctic communities.

As Arctic shipping continues to increase, the Council took a number of measures designed to ensure that such shipping remains safe and reliable, including the Arctic Ship Traffic Database that will improve our understanding of the ship traffic in the Arctic, including the number and types of vessels in the Arctic, their exact routing, and other important information.

And finally, the Council has strengthened resilience at the national and local levels in the face of environmental and other change.

I could go on at length about our shared accomplishment, but I am certain other speakers today will mention the many other Arctic Council projects deserving of recognition.

Let me close my remarks by thanking again all of those involved in these initiatives – the many government officials, the permanent participants, the working group and task force chairs, the secretariats, the observers and invited experts. The last two years have witnessed remarkable growth in the reach and productivity of the Arctic Council, thanks to all of you. And I am confident that, under the leadership of Finland, the Council is poised to do even more.

With that, we’re ready to move to the next agenda item, which is the statements from the Arctic States and from the permanent participants. I now offer the floor to each of the other heads of delegation in turn for these statements, beginning with Canada.

Here is an update on the administration’s position on the Paris Agreement.  It remains no position.

The Paris Climate Agreement: Why is President Trump Still Waffling?

By Joel B. Stronberg

Predictably there’s been a lot written over the last few weeks about the Paris Climate Agreement and whether the Trump administration will continue to sit with other nations.

Driving the coverage is the on-again off-again meeting between Trump and a pace of senior advisors. The ultimate decision will be his to make—purportedly after the G-7 summit at the end of May. His advisors are divided. EPA Administrator Pruitt leads the leavers, while Secretary of State Tillerson, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump are shepherding those advising to stay.

Read more >>>>

Looks like there might be a big battle there.

Here is Hillary Clinton’s statement on the Paris Agreement issued in December, 2015.

Hillary Clinton Statement on the Paris Climate Change Agreement

Hillary Clinton released the below statement following the conclusion of an international climate agreement at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The agreement solidifies greenhouse gas pollution reduction targets from more than 180 countries accounting for more than 90 percent of global emissions; establishes transparency provisions to measure global progress and hold countries accountable; and mobilizes financial support and private-sector investment to help developing countries adapt to the impacts of climate change and achieve sustainable economic growth.

“I applaud President Obama, Secretary Kerry and our negotiating team for helping deliver a new, ambitious international climate agreement in Paris. This is an historic step forward in meeting one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century—the global crisis of climate change.

“The Paris agreement is testament to America’s ability to lead the world in building a clean energy future where no one is left out or left behind. And it was made possible in part by every person, business owner, and community in the United States and around the world that stepped up to prove we don’t have to choose between growing our economy and protecting our kids’ health and future—we can do both.

“But we will only succeed if we redouble our efforts going forward to drive innovation, increase investment, and reap the benefits of the good-paying jobs that will come from transitioning to a clean energy economy. The next decade of action is critical—because if we do not press forward with driving clean energy growth and cutting carbon pollution across the economy, we will not be able to avoid catastrophic consequences.

“We cannot afford to be slowed by the climate skeptics or deterred by the defeatists who doubt America’s ability to meet this challenge. That’s why as President, I will make combating climate change a top priority from day one, and secure America’s future as the clean energy superpower of the 21st century.”

Read more >>>>

2016_campaign_pic

This is no longer about a political campaign and should not be a political football.  It is about the future, and it is urgent!

Read Full Post »

You probably saw some photos like this from yesterday kindly provided by the Russian Foreign Ministry since American photo journalists were barred from the Oval Office during this meeting.

My prediction was incorrect about a Lavrov/Tillerson meeting. They did indeed meet at the State Department although Tillerson was not included in the White House sit-down.

Then there is this. The bolded emphasis is mine.

The Arctic Council: Fostering Cooperation, Preservation, and Prosperity in the Far North

By: David A. Balton, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oceans and Fisheries, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs

Icebergs float off the port of Ilulissat, Greenland. June 17, 2016.

The Arctic is a special place.

Its awe-inspiring natural beauty suggests a land untouched by time. But it is not a park — people have been living in the Arctic for thousands of years. Today, the ways of life of Arctic peoples, along with the Arctic itself, is changing rapidly and profoundly. Many of these changes — environmental, social and economic — transcend national borders, making international cooperation critical for the Arctic’s future.

The Arctic Council serves as the forum where Arctic nations and peoples collaborate to protect the Arctic’s environment while also fostering development of its economic potential in responsible and sustainable ways. This week in Fairbanks, Alaska, the United States will proudly conclude a successful two-year Arctic Council Chairmanship with concrete achievements that will improve economic and living conditions in the Arctic region; enhance Arctic Ocean safety, security and stewardship; and strengthen the resilience and adaptation capabilities of Arctic communities in the face of climate change.

Several of our achievements during our Chairmanship deserve special attention. The Council completed an assessment that identifies gaps in telecommunications capabilities across the region which, when remedied, will improve the lives and boost the economies of the countries in the Arctic region. The Arctic Council has also created a groundbreaking new tool, the Arctic Ship Traffic Database, to track shipping routes and prepare for an anticipated increase in activity. This surge in shipping will stimulate investment in infrastructure and benefit the economies of Arctic nations.

To ensure continued responsible development in the Arctic, the Arctic Council focused on initiatives that enhance the safety and good stewardship of the region. As we see more human activity in the Arctic, we need to be better prepared to protect the people who live and work there. Under U.S. leadership, the Council worked together to enhanced search and rescue readiness through live exercises. The recent entry into force of an agreement to cooperate on oil spills in the Arctic and an updated guide on how to respond if one happens help prepare and protect us from potential challenges in the future.

We are especially proud to announce a landmark scientific cooperation agreement, through negotiations led by the United States and Russia, which will usher in a new era of Arctic science by breaking down the barriers to research and exploration in the region. Together, we will increase our knowledge about the challenges and opportunities in the Arctic.

Left: Alaskan Sunset in July near Anchorage — 12:10 am. Right: placid view in Tutka Bay with near mirror-like conditions reflecting grand mountain scenery off the waters. Alaska, Kenai Peninsula, Kachemak Bay. (NOAA National Ocean Service)

Alaska is America’s Arctic. It is tough, beautiful, and complex.

The United States looks forward to hosting the foreign ministers of the other Arctic nations and leaders of indigenous Arctic groups in Fairbanks this week to celebrate the conclusion of our successful chairmanship. We wish great success to Finland which will serve as the next chair. Thanks to the dedication of the many groups and individuals supporting it, we know the Arctic Council will continue to preserve and protect the economic opportunities and unique beauty of the Arctic for future generations.


Originally published on blogs.state.gov on May 10, 2017.

Oh those shipping routes! And about those “challenges and opportunities,” does oil figure in there in some sneaky way? Sigh!

Related:

Hillary Clinton to Canadians: Watch Putin in the Arctic as well as in Europe

#WatchThis Space: Arctic Activity

Arctic Activity…. #WatchThisSpace! Keep Watching!

 

Read Full Post »

When I posted Tillerson’s Folly,  my thinking was that, in barring the press from his first official trip, Rex Tillerson was alienating a potentially valuable set of allies. Brassy Rebel pointed out, in her comment there, that his attitude vis-à-vis the press might indicate a broader administration policy of downgrading diplomacy. Indeed, Trump’s cabinet picks in general seem to indicate antagonism toward the very departments these folks head.

Hillary Clinton spent her first weeks at the State Department roaming the halls when she had a chance and popping into offices to ask what the folks there did.  Foreign Policy‘s article by Robert Jervis, presents a secretary of state cut off from others in the building and even from the Oval Office.

Remember when everyone said Hillary got off on the wrong foot with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with her reset button?

She did go on to work very successfully with him on New START, didn’t she?

Did you wonder when Tillerson was going to meet with Lavrov? Well, according to Jervis, he already has and that did not go swimmingly.

A minor indicator was his ignorance of the protocol to be followed when he met his Russian counterpart and neglected to make the standard introductory remarks. This shows that Tillerson was disconnected from his building’s expertise, that he ignored what he was told, or that his subordinates went out of their way to embarrass him.

The reason we did not know about it, of course, is the absence of press and paucity of press briefings under Tillerson. Here is the schedule for March so far. There was no briefing today. In contrast, here is the schedule for January – the last three weeks of John Kerry’s tenure.  Here is the schedule for March 2012, five years ago this month and the last year Hillary was secretary of state.  There is definitely something going on there. Mark Toner is still the spokesperson, but he is speaking far less these days than under Hillary and John Kerry.  It is also a little odd that Tillerson has not appointed his own spokesperson.

Jervis’s analysis is well worth a read. He takes a broad look at Tillerson’s State Department and his conclusions bode ill for the department and for diplomacy.  It reminds me of George W. Bush appointing Christie Whitman to head the EPA and then knee-capping her at every turn. She finally left in frustration after only  two-and-a-half years.  Fine thanks for giving him Barney!

 

Argument

Rex Tillerson Might Be the Weakest Secretary of State Ever

 

The administration that promised to drain the swamp is draining Foggy Bottom.  This, from The Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove also offers some interesting insights. They are blaming the smaller plane on budget cuts. Just wondering what effect those cuts will have on embassy and consulate security.  This passage is particularly ironic.

Tillerson found himself being lectured on press freedoms during a visit to Bonn, Germany, last month by none other than Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the foreign policy czar of journalist-snuffing strong man Vladimir Putin.

“Why did you shush them out?” Lavrov demanded after Tillerson’s handlers ejected reporters from a bilateral meeting as the Secretary of State began to speak; Lavrov, who frequently travels with a full complement of journalists on his official plane, had already taken a press question. (Due to lack of witnesses from the Fourth Estate, Tillerson’s reply, if any, went unrecorded.)

Read more >>>>

You might want to rethink canceling your subscription to The Guardian.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: