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Posts Tagged ‘Secretary of State’

Monday I posted this: #WatchThis Space: Arctic Activity.  Well you really have to watch! Things are moving fast, and there are a lot of moving parts. This, from Michael Grunwald in Politico.

Rex Tillerson Tried to Get This Rule Killed. Now Congress Is About To Do It For Him

Should oil companies disclose payments to foreign governments? The GOP, and former Exxon CEO, think not.

February 01, 2017

… back in 2010, ExxonMobil’s then-CEO, Rex Tillerson, was deeply worried about Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reforms, a bipartisan amendment that required drilling and mining companies to disclose any payments they make to foreign governments. So Tillerson and one of his lobbyists paid a half-hour visit to the amendment’s Republican co-author, then-Senator Richard Lugar, to try to get it killed.

Tillerson argued that forcing U.S. oil firms to reveal corporate secrets—such as paying foreign governments—would put them at a competitive disadvantage. He also explained that the provision would make it especially difficult for Exxon to do business in Russia, where, as he did not need to explain, the government takes a rather active interest in the oil industry.

SNIP

Today, seven years later, Republicans confirmed Tillerson as President Trump’s Secretary of State, despite allegations that he’s too cozy with Russia. At the same time, the GOP is preparing to try to kill the disclosure rule created under Section 1504, despite warnings from international aid groups that the move would provide a wink-and-nod blessing to hidden corporate payments to petro-thugs. The House is expected to act this afternoon, and since the move relies on a special mechanism for reversing rules enacted late in a presidential term, Senate Republicans will need a mere majority rather than a filibuster-proof 60 votes to follow suit.

Read more >>>>

As you probably could have guessed …

U.S. House Passes Resolution to Kill Extractive Anti-Graft Rule

Four years to the day since Hillary Clinton exited the State Department, Tillerson will occupy Foggy Bottom, and Congressional Republicans have blown smoke and fog over corporate payments to foreign governments. This in conjunction with the Arctic activity slips past much of the MSM while they occupy themselves with Trump thinking Frederick Douglass is still alive.

Just a reminder: The Benghazi-cum-server-cum emails Oversight Committee railed and wailed a lot in the course of their hearings about Hillary’s State Department initiatives promoting American businesses overseas.  That is part of the Secretary of State’s job, and all of those initiatives were transparent.

John Kerry’s successor enters with a cloak of invisibility ready made.

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Keep watching this space!  The war in Urkraine is escalating.  Remember that plank in the Republican platform that Trump had removed?

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The United States has four coasts subject to the perils presented by climate change: the Atlantic, the Pacific, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Arctic. As a nation with land above the Arctic Circle, we belong to the Arctic Council.

When she was secretary of state, Hillary Clinton participated regularly in Arctic Council summits hosted by a variety of the eight member nations. This was one. I have bolded the list of member states.

Lisa Murkowski  was nice enough to post this picture on her Facebook page along with this comment about an hour ago.

Lisa Murkowski

Heading home from the Arctic Council in Nuuk, Greenland. But wanted to share a picture: with the Ministers of the eight Arctic nations in attendance, as well as Secretary Clinton and Secretary Salazar.

Here is a fact sheet released by the State Department about the Arctic Council meeting results.

Secretary Clinton Signs the Arctic Search and Rescue Agreement with Other Arctic Nations

Fact Sheet

Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
May 12, 2011

On May 12, 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton joined representatives of the other seven Member States of the Arctic Council (Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, and Sweden) in signing an Agreement on Cooperation on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue (SAR) in the Arctic (Agreement). The Agreement is the first legally-binding instrument negotiated under the auspices of the Arctic Council. It coordinates life-saving international maritime and aeronautical SAR coverage and response among the Arctic States across an area of about 13 million square miles in the Arctic.

As Arctic sea ice coverage decreases, ship-borne activities are increasing significantly in the Arctic. Flight traffic is also on the rise as new polar aviation routes cross the Arctic air space in several directions. As human presence and activities in the Arctic expand, the potential for accidents increases as well. Limited rescue resources, challenging weather conditions, and the remoteness of the area render SAR operations difficult in the Arctic, making coordination among the Arctic nations imperative. The SAR Agreement will improve search and rescue response in the Arctic by committing all Parties to coordinate appropriate assistance to those in distress and to cooperate with each other in undertaking SAR operations. For each Party, the Agreement defines an area of the Arctic in which it will have lead responsibility in organizing responses to SAR incidents, both large and small. Parties to the Agreement commit to provide SAR assistance regardless of the nationality or status of persons who may need it.

Read more >>>>

(See more like this here>>>>)

It is immediately apparent why there is a need for this council. Russia is a player.

After Hillary left the State Department, she launched a series of  speaking engagements. One of these was in Canada.

Speaking to the Montreal Board of Trade last night, Hillary Clinton warned the audience of increased Russian activity in the Arctic and hung responsibility for another Cold War on Vladimir Putin’s doorknob.

As Secretary of State,  Hillary was an active participant in the Arctic Council and repeatedly echoed the message that we are an Arctic nation.  The concerns she voiced in Canada are as much an issue for the U.S. as they are for Canada.

Along with the disquiet she expressed regarding Russia’s activities in the north came further comments about recent activities in Europe.

Read more >>>>

In light of the above, this is of some concern or should be to all the member nations including ours.

Russian servicemen of the Northern Fleet’s Arctic mechanised infantry brigade participate in a military drill on riding reindeer and dog sleds near the settlement of Lovozero outside Murmansk, Russia January 23, 2017. Picture taken January 23, 2017. Lev Fedoseyev/Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation/Handout via REUTERS
By Andrew Osborn | MURMANSK, Russia

The nuclear icebreaker Lenin, the pride and joy of the Soviet Union’s Arctic great game, lies at perpetual anchor in the frigid water here. A relic of the Cold War, it is now a museum.

But nearly three decades after the Lenin was taken out of service to be turned into a visitor attraction, Russia is again on the march in the Arctic and building new nuclear icebreakers.

It is part of a push to firm Moscow’s hand in the High North as it vies for dominance with traditional rivals Canada, the United States, and Norway as well as newcomer China.

SNIP

Grigory Stratiy, deputy governor of the Murmansk Region, told Reuters there was strong interest in sea route from Asian nations however and that new icebreakers would allow for year-round navigation in the 2020s.

“Whatever the weather, the Northern Sea Route will be needed. Its use will definitely grow,” said Stratiy, who said Russia was keen to attract foreign investment to the Arctic.

When asked about his country’s military build-up, he smiled.

“There’s no reason to be afraid I can reassure you,” he said, saying it was driven only by a need to modernize.

“Russia has never had any aggressive aims and won’t have them. We are very friendly people.”

Read more >>>>

Anyone thinking that Putin is playing nice friendly reindeer games up there is, of course, deluded despite the “peaceful and cooperative nature of the Arctic Region” as stated on the State Department page.  We should never trust Putin, as Hillary warned, especially when his military is involved. So this military build up is one thing to watch.

It’s nice to have ice breakers available when you need them, and the Russians were very helpful the time the whales were trapped under the ice as portrayed in that Drew Barrymore movie. Those missile installations, though. No wonder we sent troops to Norway.

The North Sea Route concept, characterized in the article as a mini Suez Canal, is an obvious business venture, but of course the real target is oil. Drilling in the Arctic is an enterprise popular with Republicans.

Lastly, how the hell did “newcomer China” get into this competition? It has no land above the Arctic Circle. Or does it?  Is it building synthetic islands up there, too?

The new administration has a dangerously narrow view of China’s adversarial scope. It goes beyond trans-Pacific trade and artificial islands to expand its continental limit in the South China Sea and East China Sea. China has invested in significant “development” enterprises in Africa centered largely on resource extraction with tandem infrastructure upgrades benefiting their ability to move products for shipment and not benefiting local residents or their farms or businesses in any way. I don’t think I have ever heard Donald Trump say the word “Africa.”  At the very least, China’s presence in the Arctic deserves a question.

As for Russia, and its military push, we always do well to heed the warnings of Hillary Clinton.

 

 

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In late January, 2013, only days before she left office, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was joined by former Secretary James Baker to launch the State Department Diplomacy Center.

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In early September 2014, she returned to the State Department again joined by predecessors Henry Kissinger, James Baker, Madeleine Albright, and Colin Powell as well as her successor, John Kerry, for a ceremonial ground-breaking 0f the U.S. Diplomacy Center.

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Hillary returned once more today to celebrate the completion of U.S. Diplomacy Center Pavilion, the first floor of which was dedicated and named the Hillary Rodham Clinton Pavilion. Best compliments, Mme. Secretary! You earned this!  We cannot wait to visit this impressive new landmark museum!

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Just before Christmas six years ago, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rushed to the Capitol to see the Senate vote and ratify the New START treaty.  The treaty was the result of hard work and long cooperation between her and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and their teams. Here is her statement from that day.

Senate Approval of New START

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
December 22, 2010

Today the Senate took a great step forward in enhancing our national security by providing its advice and consent to ratification of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty between the United States and the Russian Federation. I congratulate the Senators of both parties who worked tirelessly to ensure that New START was approved, and I thank all the Senators who voted for this treaty for their commitment to our national security.

Once this Treaty enters into force, on-site inspections of Russia’s strategic nuclear weapons facilities can resume, providing us with an on-the-ground view of Russia’s nuclear forces. The information and insight from these inspections forms the core of our ability to “trust but verify” compliance with New START. A responsible partnership between the world’s two largest nuclear powers that limits our nuclear arsenals while maintaining strategic stability is imperative to promoting global security. With New START, the United States and Russia will have another important element supporting our “reset” relationship and expanding our bilateral cooperation on a wide range of issues.

President Obama and Vice President Biden have been unwavering in their dedication to this treaty to both strengthen our domestic security and reduce the international threat of nuclear weapons. This day would not have been possible without their leadership or the efforts of Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen. I also thank President George H.W. Bush and all the former Secretaries of State who added their support to this Treaty and worked to see New START approved. I and all my colleagues at the State Department look forward to working with our Russian partners to conclude the approval of New START in Russia, bring the Treaty into force, and deliver the global and national security benefits of New START.

It was a wonderful Christmas present for all of us.  It is a treaty and is in place.

Thank you, Hillary, for this important agreement between the U.S. and Russia. We live in a safer world because of your work. Amicable relations between our countries rely on respect for treaties which both leaders have signed and both governments have ratified more than they do on congratulatory notes and mutual admiration between leaders.

The Senate ratification was the final step in a long process.

(Read more about what it took to arrive at this treaty here >>>>)

Mme. Secretary, we wish you and your family a Merry Christmas.  Thank you for all of your hard work and this legacy of success in protecting us. Thank you for the effort you put into your campaign. We are grateful and are always here for you and with you.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, keeps her fingers crossed as she comes to see the vote on the New START Treaty. on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, keeps her fingers crossed as she comes to see the vote on the New START Treaty. on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton leaves after the vote on the New START Treaty, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton leaves after the vote on the New START Treaty, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton walks past the exit to the Senate floor after the Senate ratified the START nuclear arms reduction treaty at the US Capitol in Washington, December 22, 2010. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY)

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton walks past the exit to the Senate floor after the Senate ratified the START nuclear arms reduction treaty at the US Capitol in Washington, December 22, 2010. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES – Tags: POLITICS MILITARY)

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton greets people just off the Senate floor after the Senate ratified the START nuclear arms reduction treaty at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, December 22, 2010. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY)

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton greets people just off the Senate floor after the Senate ratified the START nuclear arms reduction treaty at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, December 22, 2010. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES – Tags: POLITICS MILITARY)

Happy Holidays to everyone here at Still 4 Hill!  Thank you for all of your hard work this year, too!

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In an afternoon reminiscent of her days as secretary of state, Hillary spent her afternoon in New York meeting with foreign dignitaries in town for the U.N. General Assembly.

Campaign 2016 Clinton

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton shakes hands with with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in New York, Monday, Sept. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Abe, Clinton affirm importance of U.S.-Japan alliance

U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton (L) and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shake hands in New York on Sept. 19, 2016. They affirmed the importance of the U.S.-Japan alliance for stability in Asia. (Kyodo via AP Images) ==Kyodo

Campaign 2016 Clinton

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton meets with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, right, in New York, Monday, Sept. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

STAND

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Seven days late and seven million dollars short, the Republicans of the Select Committee on Benghazi released their report today.  No Democrats on the Committee were involved in crafting the 800-page Republican report.  They released a report of their own yesterday.

To the surprise of no one, the Republican report contains no new evidence that Hillary Clinton did anything wrong, slept through the 3 a.m. phone call, gave any stand-down command, or that she blamed the attack on a video – which did exist – but she never cited that video as the motivation behind the attack.  Neither did any “Clinton administration” have anything to do with these attacks. One ended in 2001 and the other doesn’t begin until 2017.  Trey Gowdy’s slips of the tongue really say it all.

Nothing has been so wasteful in time and tax dollars as this so-called investigation.

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Hillary’s defense team was quick to respond to the Republican move.

“New Revelations” From Benghazi Report Notably Old

Republican efforts to exploit the Benghazi tragedy to score political points against Hillary Clinton has been both disturbing and fruitless.

Two years and $7 million after its inception, the taxpayer-funded partisan witch hunt known as the Benghazi Committee concluded quite fittingly: Republican members, who insisted in breaking precedent and releasing their own report rather than a bipartisan one from the committee, selectively leaked out portions of their report in the middle of the night.

As objective viewers quickly determined, the report offers no new evidence of wrongdoing by Hillary Clinton. So, having once again failed in their efforts to uncover a smoking gun, committee Republicans have opted to repackage previously known information and present it as new. Here are a few examples:

“NEW REVELATION” – A team of Marines was delayed on a runway in Spain as there were deliberations over what uniforms they should wear.

Benghazi Republicans Report Summary: “The following facts are among the many new revelations in Part I… A Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team (FAST) sat on a plane in Rota, Spain, for three hours, and changed in and out of their uniforms four times.”

FACT – The uniform issue was revealed in 2013. It was again confirmed by Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee in 2014. Moreover, it had zero impact on the mission, and safety was the driving concern.

Fox News, 1/22/2013: “Fox News has learned that U.S. Marines who were part of a FAST (Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team) responding to Libya were told by the State Department to deplane, change out of their U.S. military uniforms and put on civilian clothes before flying to Tripoli… Defense Department spokesman George Little says that the FAST team would not have been in Libya in time to save any lives, and any delays to change out of military uniforms likely did not make a difference since all surviving State Department personnel left the consulate for the CIA Annex about an hour and 45 minutes after the attack began”

GOP Armed Services Committee Report on Benghazi, 2/2014: “Presumably, warfighters changed out of uniform because of concerns that the arrival of combat-ready troops might unduly alarm or inflame Libyan observers.  Although General Dempsey acknowledged to the Senate that this action delayed the platoon’s arrival in Libya, he said it was not enough to prevent it from getting to Benghazi before attack survivors departed.”

Select Committee on Benghazi Interview of Marine FAST Commander, 9/2/2015: QUESTION: And you mentioned that, even had you had aircraft collocated and loaded up within an hour, you could not have made it to Benghazi prior to the second attack. Is that right?

FAST COMMANDER: That is correct, ma’am. And as per FAST mission, we are not designed as a hostage rescue force. We are not—what was happening on the deck on the evening of the 11th to the morning of the 12th is not within the parameters of FAST mission. […]

QUESTION: And you mentioned in the last hour even the confusion you had over the uniforms did not make a difference in your ability to complete your mission. Is that right?

FAST COMMANDER: Absolutely not.

Pentagon Joint Staff Director For Operations Admiral Kurt Tidd, Interview with Select Committee on Benghazi, 4/4/2016: “It was from a security perspective that, I think, they were thinking of not moving uniformed marines at night in buses through the—you know—or, actually, in the early hours of the morning through downtown Tripoli to the embassy.”

“NEW REVELATION” – Clinton had planned to visit Libya at the end of 2012, and witness testimony asserted that she wanted the Benghazi post made permanent.

Benghazi Republicans Report Summary: “The following facts are among the many new revelations in Part III… Emails indicate senior State Department officials, including Cheryl Mills, Jake Sullivan, and Huma Abedin were preparing for a trip by the Secretary of State to Libya in October 2012. According to testimony, Chris Stevens wanted to have a “deliverable” for the Secretary for her trip to Libya, and that “deliverable” would be making the Mission in Benghazi a permanent Consulate.”

WaPo: House Benghazi report: Clinton was planning a trip to Libya before the attacks

The Hill: “Among the report’s new revelations is the notion that Ambassador Chris Stevens, one of the Americans killed, was in Benghazi with the aim of erecting a permanent diplomatic post, to replace the temporary one that came under fire.”

FACT – In 2013, Gregory Hicks, the Deputy Chief of Mission to Libya, publicly testified that Clinton had wanted the Benghazi post made permanent and had planned to visit Tripoli.

House Oversight Committee Hearing, 5/8/2013: REP. THOMAS MASSIE [R-KY]: Did you tell the Accountability Review Board about Secretary Clinton’s interest in establishing a permanent presence in Benghazi? […]

GREGORY HICKS: Yes, I did tell the Accountability Review Board that Secretary Clinton wanted the post made permanent. Ambassador Pickering looked surprised. He looked both ways on the — to the members of the board, saying, “Does the 7th floor know about this?” And another factor was our understanding that Secretary Clinton intended to visit Tripoli in December.

 

“NEW REVELATION” – Hillary Clinton attended a video conference that was held on the night of the attacks.

NBC News: “In a newly revealed two-hour secure video conference on the night of the attacks led by White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and attended by Clinton and others…”

FACT – The video conference was previously known about; Hillary Clinton even wrote about it in her own book, ‘Hard Choices’.

Hillary Clinton, Hard Choices, pg. 327: “I headed to the Operations Center for a secure videoconference between various government agencies and the White House Situation Room, officials from the National Security Council, the CIA, the Department of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other agencies. This was a Deputies meeting that did not include Principals, but protocol was the last thing on my mind. I downloaded to the group my discussions with Greg and President Magariaf, and I stressed how critical it was to get our people out of Benghazi as quickly and safely as possible.”

Hillary chimed in briefly from the campaign trail in Denver where she unveiled a technology and innovation agenda.

Time to move on and worry about the almost 33,000 gun-related deaths a year in the United States.
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Last week, the Republicans on the House Select Committee on Benghazi failed to meet their own self-imposed deadline for issuing a report. Democrats on that committee, mindful of their accountability to the American people who employ them, have proactively issued a report of their own with recommendations for better security at diplomatic missions.

The committee, established pursuant to H. Res. 567 passed on May 8, 2014, has spent two years chasing its own tail in efforts to bring down the then potential candidacy of Hillary Clinton who testified before the committee in an astounding 11-hour marathon on October 22, 2015 and essentially wore the adversarial Republicans down and out.

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No committee has been more transparently and abusively political except the House UnAmerican Actitives Committee (HUAC) which functioned from 1938 to 1975 and investigated alleged disloyalty and subversive activities of private citizens for the stated purpose of combating communism in government, education, entertainment and other aspects of American life.  Many innocent lives were scarred.

The Democratic report, just under 340 pages, heavy with documented testimony, and broad in scope, takes explicit and direct aim at the Republican political agenda and misuse of the committee and the information sought and gathered.  It is not Janet Evanovich,  Mary Higgins Clark or Dan Brown, but it is recommended summer reading that is sure to figure in the debates.

Read the report here >>>>

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