Barack Obama - News from Politicians - http://barackobama.govne.ws/ Press releases, blog posts, photos, videos, and more from the politicians and candidates you select. News en-us <![CDATA[Weekly Address: The Honor of Serving You as President]]> Sat, 14 Jan 2017 05:00:00 CST

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<![CDATA[Weekly Address: The Honor of Serving You as President]]> Sat, 14 Jan 2017 05:00:00 CST <![CDATA[Weekly Address: President Obama’s Farewell Address to the Nation]]> Sat, 07 Jan 2017 05:00:00 CST <![CDATA[Weekly Address: President Obama’s Farewell Address to the Nation]]> Sat, 07 Jan 2017 05:00:00 CST

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<![CDATA[Weekly Address: Working Together to Keep America Moving Forward]]> Sat, 31 Dec 2016 05:00:00 CST <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Working Together to Keep America Moving Forward]]> Sat, 31 Dec 2016 05:00:00 CST <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Merry Christmas from the President and the First Lady]]> Sat, 24 Dec 2016 05:00:00 CST

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<![CDATA[Weekly Address: Merry Christmas from the President and the First Lady]]> Sat, 24 Dec 2016 05:00:00 CST <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Ensuring a Fair and Competitive Marketplace]]> Sat, 17 Dec 2016 05:00:00 CST <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Ensuring a Fair and Competitive Marketplace]]> Sat, 17 Dec 2016 05:00:00 CST

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<![CDATA[Weekly Address: It’s Time to Get Covered on the Health Insurance Marketplace]]> Sat, 10 Dec 2016 05:00:00 CST <![CDATA[Weekly Address: It’s Time to Get Covered on the Health Insurance Marketplace]]> Sat, 10 Dec 2016 05:00:00 CST <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Pass the 21st Century Cures Act]]> Sat, 03 Dec 2016 05:00:00 CST

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<![CDATA[Weekly Address: Pass the 21st Century Cures Act]]> Sat, 03 Dec 2016 05:00:00 CST <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Coming Together On Thanksgiving]]> Thu, 24 Nov 2016 00:05:00 CST <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Coming Together On Thanksgiving]]> Thu, 24 Nov 2016 00:05:00 CST

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<![CDATA[Weekly Address: Building on a Record of Economic Progress]]> Sat, 19 Nov 2016 05:00:00 CST <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Building on a Record of Economic Progress]]> Sat, 19 Nov 2016 05:00:00 CST <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Honoring Our Veterans ]]> Sat, 12 Nov 2016 05:00:00 CST

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<![CDATA[Weekly Address: Honoring Our Veterans ]]> Sat, 12 Nov 2016 05:00:00 CST <![CDATA[Weekly Address: The Progress We've Made Because of the Affordable Care Act]]> Sat, 05 Nov 2016 05:00:00 CDT <![CDATA[Weekly Address: The Progress We've Made Because of the Affordable Care Act]]> Sat, 05 Nov 2016 05:00:00 CDT

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<![CDATA[Weekly Address: Achieving the Mission of the Cancer Moonshot]]> Sat, 29 Oct 2016 05:00:00 CDT <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Achieving the Mission of the Cancer Moonshot]]> Sat, 29 Oct 2016 05:00:00 CDT <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Ensuring America Leads the World Into the Next Frontier]]> Sat, 15 Oct 2016 05:00:00 CDT

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<![CDATA[Weekly Address: Ensuring America Leads the World Into the Next Frontier]]> Sat, 15 Oct 2016 05:00:00 CDT <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Continuing to Strengthen the Middle Class ]]> Sat, 08 Oct 2016 05:00:00 CDT <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Continuing to Strengthen the Middle Class ]]> Sat, 08 Oct 2016 05:00:00 CDT

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<![CDATA[Weekly Address: It’s Time to Give Families Access to Paid Sick Leave]]> Sat, 01 Oct 2016 05:00:00 CDT <![CDATA[Weekly Address: It’s Time to Give Families Access to Paid Sick Leave]]> Sat, 01 Oct 2016 05:00:00 CDT <![CDATA[WEEKLY ADDRESS: It’s Time for Republicans in Congress To Do Their Jobs]]> Sat, 17 Sep 2016 05:00:00 CDT

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<![CDATA[WEEKLY ADDRESS: It’s Time for Republicans in Congress To Do Their Jobs]]> Sat, 17 Sep 2016 05:00:00 CDT <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Upholding the Legacy of Those We Lost on September 11th]]> Sat, 10 Sep 2016 05:00:00 CDT <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Upholding the Legacy of Those We Lost on September 11th]]> Sat, 10 Sep 2016 05:00:00 CDT

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<![CDATA[Weekly Address: Building Upon the Legacy of Labor Day]]> Sat, 03 Sep 2016 05:00:00 CDT <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Building Upon the Legacy of Labor Day]]> Sat, 03 Sep 2016 05:00:00 CDT <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Taking Action Against the Zika Virus]]> Sat, 27 Aug 2016 05:00:00 CDT

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<![CDATA[Weekly Address: Taking Action Against the Zika Virus]]> Sat, 27 Aug 2016 05:00:00 CDT <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service]]> Sat, 20 Aug 2016 05:00:00 CDT <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service]]> Sat, 20 Aug 2016 05:00:00 CDT

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<![CDATA[Weekly Address: Providing a Better, Cleaner, Safer Future for Our Children]]> Sat, 13 Aug 2016 05:00:00 CDT <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Providing a Better, Cleaner, Safer Future for Our Children]]> Sat, 13 Aug 2016 05:00:00 CDT <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Representing the Best of America in the Summer Olympics]]> Sat, 06 Aug 2016 05:00:00 CDT

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<![CDATA[Weekly Address: Representing the Best of America in the Summer Olympics]]> Sat, 06 Aug 2016 05:00:00 CDT <![CDATA[A Gem from the Archive: Happy Birthday, POTUS!]]> Thu, 04 Aug 2016 11:27:44 CDT <![CDATA[Weekly Address: It’s Time to Fill the Vacancy on the Supreme Court]]> Sat, 30 Jul 2016 05:00:00 CDT

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<![CDATA[Weekly Address: It’s Time to Fill the Vacancy on the Supreme Court]]> Sat, 30 Jul 2016 05:00:00 CDT <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Protecting the Progress We’ve Made with Wall Street Reform]]> Sat, 23 Jul 2016 05:00:00 CDT <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Protecting the Progress We’ve Made with Wall Street Reform]]> Sat, 23 Jul 2016 05:00:00 CDT

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<![CDATA[West Wing Week: 7/22/16 or, “Do-Gooders”]]> Fri, 22 Jul 2016 18:17:12 CDT <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Coming Together to Find Solutions ]]> Sat, 16 Jul 2016 05:00:00 CDT <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Coming Together to Find Solutions ]]> Sat, 16 Jul 2016 05:00:00 CDT

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<![CDATA[Weekly Address: Standing Together to Stop the Violence ]]> Sat, 09 Jul 2016 05:00:00 CDT <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Standing Together to Stop the Violence ]]> Sat, 09 Jul 2016 05:00:00 CDT <![CDATA[West Wing Week: 07/08/16 or, “This is an American Issue”]]> Fri, 08 Jul 2016 18:01:24 CDT

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<![CDATA[Weekly Address: Serving our Military Families This Fourth of July]]> Sat, 02 Jul 2016 05:00:00 CDT <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Serving our Military Families This Fourth of July]]> Sat, 02 Jul 2016 05:00:00 CDT <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Designating Stonewall National Monument]]> Sat, 25 Jun 2016 05:00:00 CDT

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<![CDATA[Weekly Address: Designating Stonewall National Monument]]> Sat, 25 Jun 2016 05:00:00 CDT <![CDATA[Mr. President Goes to Yosemite]]> Tue, 21 Jun 2016 16:03:32 CDT <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Addressing Puerto Rico’s Economic Crisis]]> Sat, 11 Jun 2016 05:00:00 CDT

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<![CDATA[Weekly Address: Addressing Puerto Rico’s Economic Crisis]]> Sat, 11 Jun 2016 05:00:00 CDT <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Building on America’s Economic Recovery]]> Sat, 04 Jun 2016 05:00:00 CDT <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Building on America’s Economic Recovery]]> Sat, 04 Jun 2016 05:00:00 CDT

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<![CDATA[Weekly Address: Remembering Our Fallen Heroes]]> Sat, 28 May 2016 05:00:00 CDT <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Remembering Our Fallen Heroes]]> Sat, 28 May 2016 05:00:00 CDT <![CDATA[5/20/16: White House Press Briefing]]> Fri, 20 May 2016 16:13:46 CDT

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<![CDATA[5/20/16: White House Press Briefing]]> Fri, 20 May 2016 16:13:46 CDT <![CDATA["We Have a Narrow Window of Opportunity" Tom Frieden & Anthony Fauci on Zika]]> Fri, 20 May 2016 16:12:38 CDT <![CDATA[West Wing Week: 05/13/16 or, "Stylin', Huh?"]]> Fri, 13 May 2016 15:07:00 CDT

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<![CDATA[West Wing Week: 05/13/16 or, "Stylin', Huh?"]]> Fri, 13 May 2016 15:07:00 CDT <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Happy Mother’s Day From President Obama]]> Sat, 07 May 2016 05:00:00 CDT <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Happy Mother’s Day From President Obama]]> Sat, 07 May 2016 05:00:00 CDT

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<![CDATA[West Wing Week: 05/06/2016 or, “But Is It?”]]> Fri, 06 May 2016 19:19:15 CDT <![CDATA[Weekly Address: It’s Time for the Senate To Do Its Job ]]> Sat, 30 Apr 2016 05:00:00 CDT <![CDATA[Weekly Address: It’s Time for the Senate To Do Its Job ]]> Sat, 30 Apr 2016 05:00:00 CDT

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<![CDATA[Weekly Address: Building a Fairer and More Effective Criminal Justice System]]> Sat, 23 Apr 2016 05:00:00 CDT <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Building a Fairer and More Effective Criminal Justice System]]> Sat, 23 Apr 2016 05:00:00 CDT <![CDATA[WEEKLY ADDRESS: Ensuring Our Free Market Works for Everyone]]> Sat, 16 Apr 2016 05:00:00 CDT

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<![CDATA[WEEKLY ADDRESS: Ensuring Our Free Market Works for Everyone]]> Sat, 16 Apr 2016 05:00:00 CDT <![CDATA[President Obama Explores America's Newest National Monument]]> Wed, 13 Apr 2016 12:20:46 CDT <![CDATA[“It’s a prototype!” Tune in for President Obama’s Last Science Fair, April 13th]]> Tue, 12 Apr 2016 16:02:38 CDT

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<![CDATA[TBT Gem! “There are things that are important. And you’ll need to fight for them in your lives.”]]> Tue, 12 Apr 2016 14:48:05 CDT <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Playing by the Same Rules]]> Sat, 09 Apr 2016 05:00:00 CDT <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Playing by the Same Rules]]> Sat, 09 Apr 2016 05:00:00 CDT

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<![CDATA[WEEKLY ADDRESS: Securing the World from Nuclear Terrorism]]> Sat, 02 Apr 2016 05:00:00 CDT <![CDATA[WEEKLY ADDRESS: Securing the World from Nuclear Terrorism]]> Sat, 02 Apr 2016 05:00:00 CDT <![CDATA[David Cameron & François Hollande Reflect on the Nuclear Security Summit (March 31, 2016)]]> Fri, 01 Apr 2016 16:52:49 CDT

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<![CDATA[Weekly Address: Defeating ISIL]]> Sat, 26 Mar 2016 05:00:00 CDT <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Defeating ISIL]]> Sat, 26 Mar 2016 05:00:00 CDT <![CDATA[Weekly Address: President Obama’s Supreme Court Nomination]]> Sat, 19 Mar 2016 05:00:00 CDT

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<![CDATA[Weekly Address: President Obama’s Supreme Court Nomination]]> Sat, 19 Mar 2016 05:00:00 CDT <![CDATA[Weekly Address: The Legacy of Nancy Reagan]]> Sat, 12 Mar 2016 05:00:00 CST <![CDATA[Weekly Address: The Legacy of Nancy Reagan]]> Sat, 12 Mar 2016 05:00:00 CST

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<![CDATA[Weekly Address: The American Spirit of Innovation]]> Sat, 05 Mar 2016 05:00:00 CST <![CDATA[Weekly Address: The American Spirit of Innovation]]> Sat, 05 Mar 2016 05:00:00 CST <![CDATA[Dr. Seuss Was Right]]> Tue, 01 Mar 2016 18:59:27 CST

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<![CDATA[Weekly Address: Degrading and Destroying ISIL]]> Sat, 27 Feb 2016 05:00:00 CST <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Degrading and Destroying ISIL]]> Sat, 27 Feb 2016 05:00:00 CST <![CDATA[Weekly Address: A New Chapter with Cuba]]> Sat, 20 Feb 2016 05:00:00 CST

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<![CDATA[Weekly Address: A New Chapter with Cuba]]> Sat, 20 Feb 2016 05:00:00 CST <![CDATA[Weekly Address: The State of American Politics]]> Sat, 13 Feb 2016 05:00:00 CST <![CDATA[Weekly Address: The State of American Politics]]> Sat, 13 Feb 2016 05:00:00 CST

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<![CDATA[West Wing Week: 01/28/2016 or, “Snowzilla”]]> Mon, 01 Feb 2016 11:08:16 CST <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Affordable Care Act is Making a Difference for Millions of Americans]]> Sat, 23 Jan 2016 05:00:00 CST <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Affordable Care Act is Making a Difference for Millions of Americans]]> Sat, 23 Jan 2016 05:00:00 CST

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<![CDATA[Improving Economic Security by Strengthening and Modernizing the Unemployment Insurance System]]> Sat, 16 Jan 2016 05:00:00 CST <![CDATA[Improving Economic Security by Strengthening and Modernizing the Unemployment Insurance System]]> Sat, 16 Jan 2016 05:00:00 CST <![CDATA[Weekly Address: America Can Do Anything]]> Sat, 09 Jan 2016 05:00:00 CST

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<![CDATA[Weekly Address: America Can Do Anything]]> Sat, 09 Jan 2016 05:00:00 CST <![CDATA[Just Announced! Release Date for the President's 2017 Budget]]> Thu, 07 Jan 2016 17:00:00 CST <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Making America Safer for Our Children]]> Fri, 01 Jan 2016 05:00:00 CST

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<![CDATA[Weekly Address: Making America Safer for Our Children]]> Fri, 01 Jan 2016 05:00:00 CST <![CDATA[Backstage with Esperanza Spalding at the White House]]> Tue, 29 Dec 2015 18:36:27 CST <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Merry Christmas from the President and First Lady]]> Fri, 25 Dec 2015 05:00:00 CST

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<![CDATA[Weekly Address: Merry Christmas from the President and First Lady]]> Fri, 25 Dec 2015 05:00:00 CST <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Top 10 Things that Happened in 2015]]> Sat, 19 Dec 2015 05:00:00 CST <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Top 10 Things that Happened in 2015]]> Sat, 19 Dec 2015 05:00:00 CST

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<![CDATA[Weekly Address: Standing Strong in the Face of Terrorism]]> Sat, 12 Dec 2015 05:00:00 CST <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Standing Strong in the Face of Terrorism]]> Sat, 12 Dec 2015 05:00:00 CST <![CDATA[Weekly Address: We Will Not Be Terrorized]]> Sat, 05 Dec 2015 05:00:00 CST

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<![CDATA[Weekly Address: We Will Not Be Terrorized]]> Sat, 05 Dec 2015 05:00:00 CST <![CDATA[West Wing Week: 11/27/2015 or, "This Turkey is Hereby Pardoned"]]> Fri, 27 Nov 2015 14:40:26 CST <![CDATA[Weekly Address: This Thanksgiving, Recognizing the Greatness of American Generosity]]> Thu, 26 Nov 2015 05:00:00 CST

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<![CDATA[Weekly Address: This Thanksgiving, Recognizing the Greatness of American Generosity]]> Thu, 26 Nov 2015 05:00:00 CST <![CDATA[Weekly Address: In the Face of Terror, We Stand As One]]> Fri, 20 Nov 2015 20:14:29 CST <![CDATA[Weekly Address: In the Face of Terror, We Stand As One]]> Fri, 20 Nov 2015 20:14:29 CST

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<![CDATA[Weekly Address: Giving Veterans their Chance]]> Sat, 14 Nov 2015 05:00:00 CST <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Giving Veterans their Chance]]> Sat, 14 Nov 2015 05:00:00 CST <![CDATA[Weekly Address: If You Haven’t Gotten Covered, Now’s Your Chance]]> Sat, 07 Nov 2015 05:00:00 CST

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<![CDATA[Weekly Address: If You Haven’t Gotten Covered, Now’s Your Chance]]> Sat, 07 Nov 2015 05:00:00 CST <![CDATA[Weekly Address: It’s Time To Reform our Criminal Justice System]]> Sat, 31 Oct 2015 05:00:00 CDT <![CDATA[Weekly Address: It’s Time To Reform our Criminal Justice System]]> Sat, 31 Oct 2015 05:00:00 CDT

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<![CDATA[Weekly Address: Protecting our Planet for Future Generations]]> Sat, 24 Oct 2015 05:00:00 CDT <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Protecting our Planet for Future Generations]]> Sat, 24 Oct 2015 05:00:00 CDT <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Working for Meaningful Criminal Justice Reform]]> Sat, 17 Oct 2015 05:00:00 CDT

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<![CDATA[Weekly Address: Working for Meaningful Criminal Justice Reform]]> Sat, 17 Oct 2015 05:00:00 CDT <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Writing the Rules for a Global Economy]]> Sat, 10 Oct 2015 05:00:00 CDT <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Writing the Rules for a Global Economy]]> Sat, 10 Oct 2015 05:00:00 CDT

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<![CDATA[West Wing Week: 10/09/2015 or, "#StartTheConvo"]]> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 19:40:27 CDT <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Congress Should Do its Job and Pass a Serious Budget]]> Sat, 03 Oct 2015 05:00:00 CDT <![CDATA[Weekly Address: Congress Should Do its Job and Pass a Serious Budget]]> Sat, 03 Oct 2015 05:00:00 CDT

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<![CDATA[Press Briefing by Press Secretary Josh Earnest, 9/30/2015]]> Thu, 01 Oct 2015 15:53:00 CDT James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

**Please see below for a correction, marked with an asterisk.

12:52 P.M. EDT

MR. EARNEST:  Good afternoon, everybody.  It’s nice to see you.  I’ve got a couple of announcements to do at the top, and then we’ll get to your questions.  This morning, the President was briefed by his top Homeland Security Advisor, Lisa Monaco, about preparations that are underway for the possible landfall of Hurricane Joaquin.  FEMA, through its regional offices in Atlanta, Philadelphia and New York, continues to monitor Hurricane Joaquin, and remains in close contact with state, tribal and local officials up and down the Eastern Seaboard.

Although there have been no requests for federal Stafford Act assistance, FEMA continues to stand ready to assist states and tribes as needed and as requested.  At all times, FEMA maintains commodities, including millions of liters of water, millions of meals, and hundreds of thousands of blankets strategically located at distribution centers throughout the United States and its territories.  

It’s no coincidence -- or maybe it is a coincidence -- that today is the final day of National Preparedness Month.  And the storm in the Atlantic serves as a reminder that we all must take action to prepare now, and throughout the year, for the types of emergencies that could affect us where we will, where we work, and where we visit.  

In any emergency it’s always important to follow the instructions provided by state, local, tribal and territorial emergency management officials.  FEMA encourages all Americans to visit Ready.gov, or Listo.gov, to learn more about how to be prepared and how to protect your families during emergencies.  That seems particularly important today for those of us that live in the Mid-Atlantic.

And as we’re talking about emergency response, it seems also appropriate that we would have in our thoughts and prayers our first responders.  And on Sunday, October 4th -- this coming Sunday -- the President will travel to Emmitsburg, Maryland to deliver remarks at the 34th National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service.  The President will honor 84 heroic firefighters who died in the line of duty in 2014, and three other firefighters who died in previous years.  The President looks forward to thanking our nation’s firefighters for the extraordinary courage they display every day, particularly during these challenging times as communities across the Western United States combat the recent outbreak of wildfires that we’ve seen there.

We’ll have additional details about the President’s trip to Emmitsburg and his participation in that solemn event in the days ahead.

So with all that, Josh, let’s go to your questions.

Q    Thanks, Josh.  Some foreign policy topics for you today.  Does the U.S. know who Russia is targeting with airstrikes in Syria at the moment?

MR. EARNEST:  Josh, the Department of Defense is obviously reviewing the ongoing Russian military activity inside of Syria.  You’ll recall that when President Obama and President Putin had the opportunity to meet just two days ago, both Presidents agreed that it was a priority for both countries that tactical, practical conversations between our militaries take place to ensure that our military activities inside of Syria are properly de-conflicted.

That continues to be a priority.  The U.S. military officials have been in touch with their Russian counterparts already to set up those discussions.

Q    But Russia says they’re going after ISIS.  We see reports coming from the region that other groups are being struck, including Nusra and even a U.S.-backed rebel group, which would, at least the way you’ve described it in the past, mark a larger effort by Putin to try and shore up Assad’s government, not to simply go after extremists like the Islamic State that we share a mutual goal of ousting.  So what do you make of the fact that it seems like they’re bombing in areas that are not necessarily ISIS-held, and could be expanding this military operation to really try and shore up the Assad regime?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, the Department of Defense is going to take a look at the Russian military activities there.  And it’s too early for me to say exactly what targets they were aiming at and what targets were eventually hit.

Q    I guess, do you take Putin at his word that he’s only going after the Islamic State?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, the Department of Defense will take a look at the Russian military activities in Syria, and they may have more information to share about that in the days ahead.

Your question, though, does raise I think something that warrants mentioning here at the outset -- which is we are seeing the Russians ramp up their support for President Assad.  They’ve been supporting him for quite some time, and it’s clear that they’ve made a significant military investment now in further propping him up.  The fact that Russia has to take these noteworthy steps to ramp up their support for Assad is an indication of how concerned they are about losing influence in the one client state that they have in the Middle East.  

And this is in contrast to -- or at least calls into question their strategy, because when President Putin and President Obama had to the opportunity to meet at the U.N. earlier this week, much of their discussion was focused on the need for a political transition inside of Syria.  Now, there are well-known differences of opinion about what that transition looks like, but there was agreement on both parts about the need for a political solution to the problems that are plaguing Syria.  That means Russia will not succeed in imposing a military solution on Syria any more than the United States was successful in imposing a military solution on Iraq a decade ago, and certainly no more than Russia was able to impose a military solution on Afghanistan three decades ago.  

So this goes to the case that the President made in his speech at the U.N. on Monday, which is that to confront these significant global challenges, nations around the world can exercise strength and exercise influence by being part of a large international effort to address those challenges.  That’s precisely what the United States is doing inside of Syria.  The President is leading a coalition of now 65 countries that are implementing an integrated strategy that includes a robust military effort but also includes efforts to try to counter ISIL’s online radicalization efforts, shut down the flow of foreign fighters, engage in efforts to counter their financing efforts.  

And that is part of -- that is the most effective way for the United States to lead the international community.  It’s also the most effective way for us to advance U.S. interests in the region and around the world.  It also is the most effective way for us to eventually arrive at the kind of solution to the significant problems that are plaguing that war-torn country.

Q    In Afghanistan, amid a new setback in Kunduz, military commanders from the U.S. are recommending that they’d like to see additional troops remain in Afghanistan beyond that small presence at the embassy that we’ve talked about in the past.  Does the President agree with those recommendations and is that something that he’s actively considering?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, Josh, let me start by saying that the United States continues to monitor efforts by the Afghan national defense and security forces to retake Kunduz.  U.S. and coalition forces are providing advisory support and have conducted a limited number of airstrikes, primarily for the purposes of force protection.

The United States will continue to work closely with President Ghani, the rest of the Afghan government, and our international partners to ensure that Afghan forces have the capabilities and training necessary to preserve the gains that have been made by the Afghans and the international community over the last 13 years.  When it comes to policy decisions, I think there -- I don’t have a lot of news to make in this regard.  But there are two observations that I have.  The first is that the President, when announcing these decisions in the past when it comes to our military commitment to Afghanistan, has routinely noted that the conditions on the ground influence that policy process.  And so I would expect that that would be the case in this circumstance as well.

At the same time, we have always warned against the inclination to essentially make snap decisions on policy almost literally overnight.  And so that’s why we’re going to continue to monitor the efforts by the Afghan government and Afghan security forces to retake Kunduz, and that will factor into a longer-term assessment of the conditions on the ground, which will influence longer-term policy decisions that the President will have to make.

Q    Has the President received those recommendations from commanders in any kind of a formal way as of this time?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, I don’t have any update for you in terms of the kind of communication between the Commander-in-Chief and the commanders on the ground, but as you know, Josh, the President does receive regular briefings and regular updates from his military commanders through the chain of command.  And that certainly will continue.

Q    And at the United Nations today, Palestinian President Abbas said he is no longer bound by agreements with Israel; they’re going to start pursuing legal means to pursue Palestinian statehood and are basically abandoning the direct-negotiations approach that has been your position for a very long time now.  So what is the U.S. response to the Palestinians dismissing that approach?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, I believe that Prime Minister Abbas was speaking -- or President Abbas was speaking right as I walked out here.  So I don’t have any direct response to what he has said.  I will just say as a general matter that the United States has long been and continues today to be committed to achieving peace that the Palestinians and Israelis deserve.  And we’ve described the resolution of this conflict as a two-state solution that results in two states for two peoples, with a sovereign, viable and independent Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with a Jewish and democratic Israel.  

That's been our position for quite some time, and that continues to be our position today.

Julia.

Q    Thanks, Josh.  Going back to Russia’s involvement in Syria, you just told Josh that the Defense Department is reviewing those actions.  The Deputy Defense Secretary told lawmakers on the Hill today that Russia’s move was “alarming and aggressive” and had come before discussions that they were promised to have on de-conflicting.  Is that same level of surprise being shared by the White House?

MR. EARNEST:  I didn't see those particular comments.  I think what is clear is that we have known for quite some time -- and when I say “we,” I’m including all of you -- because we’ve had active public discussions in here about the significant deployment of military assets and personnel by the Russians into Syria.

And so I don't think it’s particularly surprising that Russia is using those new military capabilities, particularly in light of their longstanding efforts to prop up the Assad regime.  And in light of the continuing weakness of the Assad regime, in terms of their ability to control territory inside that country, the Russians felt that they need to ramp up their efforts.  

And the reason that -- I think the second data point that I would remind you of is that there’s also a reason that both President Putin and President Obama have prioritized and agreed on the need for operational, tactical-level conversations to de-conflict military operations inside of Syria.  You wouldn’t need to have conversations to de-conflict military activities inside of Syria if you didn't have plans for military operations inside of Syria.

So the point is that U.S. military officials have been in touch with their Russian counterparts to set up those conversations, and I would expect that those conversations would take place in short order.

Q    So, yes, President Obama and President Putin discussed the need for conversations to de-conflict.  But during that hour-and-a-half conversation they had at the United Nations, did anything -- did President Obama get any kind of indication from President Putin about the timing of these strikes, or the targets?  Or was this something left completely off the table?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, I think what I would say is that there was not an operational-level conversation in the meeting between the two Presidents.  Those operational conversations were the kinds of conversations that both Presidents expect their military officials to engage in.  And like I said, the United States has been in touch with Russian military officials to begin those tactical, practical-level conversations to ensure that our military activities and Russian military activities are properly de-conflicted. 

Q    Another question.  On the Hill yesterday, lawmakers reached a compromise on the annual defense authorization bill.  And they have it so that it would use $90 billion believe from special war funds to avoid sequestration.  Would the White House oppose this bill on the grounds that it would end sequestration for defense but not other programs?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, I think that we would oppose the bill for the reasons that you have described because that's an irresponsible way to fund our national defense priorities.  Even Republicans in Congress have referred to this is as a “slush fund.”  So this is not a partisan response.  In fact, we know that this is actually a view that is shared by some Republicans on Capitol Hill.

I’d also point to you -- direct you to the statement that was released by the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Jack Reed, a West Point graduate from Rhode Island.  And according to his news release, he said, “There are many needed reforms in the committee conference report, but the use of emergency war funds does not realistically provide for the long-term support of our forces.”  Senator Reed continued saying, “I cannot sign this conference report because it fails to responsibly fix the sequestration and provide our troops with the support that they deserve.”  

The position that's articulated by Senator Reed is the position that President Obama has advocated, as well.  That's why if the President got this bill he’d veto.

Q    He’d veto it.  Okay, thank you.

MR. EARNEST:  Let’s move around.  Justin.

Q    Just a quick one on Russia.  Based on your language, is it fair to say that the U.S. wasn’t given -- or didn’t have any of these de-conflicting conversations, or conversations about coordination before the airstrikes began?

MR. EARNEST:  It is fair to say that U.S. officials had already been in touch with their Russian counterparts to set up those meetings.  But it is accurate to say that those de-confliction conversations have not yet occurred, though I would expect that they will begin in short order.

Q    And when those conversations start, is it merely going to be Russia or the U.S. saying, “We plan to act in this area, so keep your military interests out and safe,” or will there be any sort of coordination of efforts between the U.S. and Russia?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, I think it’s hard to prejudge at this point exactly what those conversations look like other than that they will abide by the description that I have used here for a couple of weeks now -- that these will be tactical, practical-level conversations.  And we have long said that we would welcome constructive Russian contributions to our counter-ISIL campaign, so I certainly wouldn’t rule out any coordination; we would welcome Russian coordination.  But the purpose of the conversations is to ensure that our military activities and the military activities of our coalition partners are effectively and safely de-conflicted from any military operations that the Russians may be planning.

Q    I wanted to shift over to the budget.  There were some reports on Capitol Hill yesterday that the President had spoken to leaders from both parties about the possibility of a longer-term budget deal that could happen over the next month before Speaker Boehner leaves.  I’m wondering if you could talk kind of detailing the conversations of what your guys’ goals for those talks are, what the parameters of the deal that you guys and the congressional leaders are looking for.

MR. EARNEST:  Well, the kinds of conversations that we are interested in having are conversations that prevent a government shutdown and conversations that ensure that our national security and economic priorities are adequately funded, which means that Congress needs to arrive at the kind of bipartisan budget agreement that was reached by Senator Murray and Chairman Paul Ryan from the House that essentially raised the sequester caps to ensure that those priorities were adequately funded.

Now, what the President made clear -- has made clear at every turn, and is something that I’ve made clear -- what the President has made clear at every turn in his private conversations is something that you’ve heard me say many times in public, which is that Republicans have not succeeded and will not succeed in passing budget legislation strictly along party lines.  They’ve tried that countless times now.  It doesn’t work.  They don’t have enough unity within the Republican caucus to advance legislation like that.  And I think that’s even evident when you take a look at the vote that we expect to see in the House of Representatives for a clean CR to prevent a government shutdown.  Hopefully that will happen today.

So what that means is it means that Republicans are going to need to work with Democrats in Congress to pass compromise legislation.  And that’s why we have insisted at every turn that if Republicans in Congress are interested in negotiations, then they should walk over to Senator Reid’s office and to Leader Pelosi’s office, and accept their invitation to engage in bipartisan negotiations.  Any effort to circumvent Senator Reid and Leader Pelosi will ultimately fail because they’re going to -- Republicans are going to need the support of Democrats in the House and the Senate in order to pass this legislation.

Q    Well, I mean, on that point specifically, it doesn’t seem that Republicans don’t want to negotiate with Democrats; they want to negotiate with the President directly.  And so I’m wondering if you could -- 

MR. EARNEST:  The President is not the leader of the House of Representatives, and the President, he’s certainly not the leader of the Senate, either.  There are elected representatives of the House Democratic caucus and the Senate Democratic caucus, and of course the administration has influence in those two caucuses, and the kind of highly functioning working relationship that we’ve had with those caucuses have been able to advance critical pieces of the President’s agenda.  But, ultimately, while the administration will certainly be involved in these budget discussions, Leader Reid and Leader Pelosi and their support is going to be necessary to get this done.

Q    Why do you think Senator McConnell only wants to work through the White House?  Have you guys indicated that you’re willing to consider something that House Democrats or Senate Democrats haven’t?

MR. EARNEST:  I don’t quite know exactly what their thinking is on this.  Senator McConnell frequently does news conferences on Capitol Hill, so it might be a good question to ask him.  I will say that the President is also mindful of the fact that Democrats in the House and Democrats in the Senate will need to support this legislation for it to pass.

So in the same way that it would be foolish for Leader Reid and Speaker Boehner to try to circumvent Democrats in Congress, the President wouldn’t support that effort either.  It seems unlikely that the President would support the kind of budget agreement that wouldn’t also get strong support from Democrats on Capitol Hill, so maybe that’s just a hypothetical exercise.  But the fact is, the President understands quite directly that a budget deal will not be possible without the support of Democrats in Congress, which is why it would be foolish to leave Democrats in Congress out of those negotiations.

Q    Sorry, last one.

MR. EARNEST:  It’s okay.  I don’t mind talking about this at all.  (Laughter.)

Q    I mean, on that issue, if Republicans think that the most effective way for them to negotiate is directly with the President, the President certainly has done that in the past.  Why not just have direct one-on-one negotiations between Leader McConnell and President Obama, come up with a plan that you guys think can sell, and go present it?  The President could protect the interests of Democrats, as you just said, and carry sway in both those Houses, and the Republicans would be responsible for taking care of their part.  

MR. EARNEST:  There are a variety of reasons for that.  The first one is that there is a basic constitutional responsibility that Congress has, which is to pass a budget.  And that’s what members of Congress were elected to do, that’s their basic responsibility, and the American people are counting on them to get it done.

The second thing is, the last time we were faced with this dilemma, the last time that Congress was challenged to pass bipartisan legislation to keep the government functioning at a level that appropriately invested in our economic and national security priorities -- that was an agreement that was reached in bipartisan discussions that took place on Capitol Hill.  

Senator Patti Murray and House Republican Paul Ryan sat down across the negotiating table and hammered out a good agreement.  It’s not an agreement that anybody thought was perfect, but it was an agreement that represented a genuine compromise.  And it’s a compromise that succeeded in passing essentially a two-year budget agreement, which is why it’s been two years since we last had this standoff.  But the unfortunate thing about last time is that the country had to go through a 17-day shutdown before Republicans would agree to those kinds of conversations.  We’re hopeful that Republicans will agree to those kinds of conversations before a government shutdown this time.  

But I guess the shorter answer to your question, Justin, is that we know that that is a strategy that works and we know that that is a strategy that’s essentially consistent with the Constitution.

Jon.

Q    Josh, back to Syria.  What is the President’s strategy regarding Syria right now?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, Jon, first and foremost, the President’s top priority when it comes to Syria is making sure that the national security interests of the United States are protected.  And that has involved the use of military force by the United States against extremists that are operating inside of Syria.  

So you’ve seen recent announcements from the Pentagon about Hajji Mutazz, who’s an ISIL -- leading ISIL operational figure who was killed in a U.S. military airstrike inside of *Syria Mosul last month.  The Department of Defense reported earlier this month that a U.S. airstrike in Syria over the summer led to the death of David Drugeon.  He was an extremist not affiliated with ISIL, but an extremist who was actively engaged in leading efforts to strike the United States and the West.  And we’ve talked quite a bit about the U.S. military operation that the President ordered inside of Syria against Abu Sayyaf that resulted in the death of that leading ISIL official and the exploitation of some intelligence material that was located there.  There are a list of other extremists and other ISIL leaders that we can go through, but that is the top priority.  

The second priority has been the effort that’s been made by the United States and our coalition partners to back the efforts of opposition fighters that are on the ground inside of Syria.  So these are fighters like Syrian Kurds, Syrian Arabs, even some Turkomen fighters inside of Syria that have had some success in pushing back ISIL.  So the President, you’ll recall, earlier this year made a decision to resupply Kurdish fighters in Kobani who were under siege from ISIL fighters.  Because they were resupplied, those Kurdish fighters did mount an offensive against ISIL fighters, and drove them out of Kobani and actually drove them out of a large swatch of northern and northeastern Syria.  So there have been elements of that strategy that have been successful against ISIL.

But ultimately, despite that important military activity that is critical to protecting the basic fundamental national security interests of the United States, the President is keenly aware of the fact that there is no military solution that can be imposed by Russia or anybody else on Syria, and that the root of this problem can only be solved with the kind of political transition that results in President Assad leaving power.

Q    Okay.  So you’ve listed some priorities and you’ve listed some operations that have taken place.  But let’s try it again.  Just give me, in short, what is our strategy in Syria?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, our strategy, first and foremost, is to protect the basic core national security interests of the United States, and that basically means preventing extremists like ISIL, but other groups who may be trying to capitalize on the chaos inside of Syria, to establish a safe haven that can be used to plot and carry out strikes against the United States or our allies.  So that is the overriding priority.

What the President has also made clear is that we’re not going to commit U.S. military personnel to a drawn-out offensive ground operation against ISIL or anybody else inside of Syria.  So, that said, we are going to need ground fighters inside of Syria, and there have been a couple of ways that we’ve tried to build that effort.  One way has been this Department of Defense train-and-equip operation that as we’ve been -- we’ve been pretty blunt about the fact that that hasn’t worked out very well so far.  The Department of Defense is considering some changes to that program that could improve the results.

What has been more successful -- significantly more successful than that -- is the support of the United States and our coalition partners for those Kurdish, Arab and Turkomen fighters inside of Syria that have had some success in driving ISIL out of some part of Syria.  We’ve also been able to enlist the support of other U.S. allies, including Turkey, in an effort to try to close the border between Turkey and Syria.  This is a border that stretches some 500 or 600 miles.  There’s now a very narrow corridor that ISIL is operating in to get access to the border that’s only about 60 miles wide.  So we’ve got some more work to do, but we’re enlisting our allies in that effort.

But, ultimately, the root solution here to this problem is a political transition that results in President Assad leaving power.

Q    But given the failure of our efforts to train and equip an opposition -- a moderate opposition in Syria, and given the significant change in the facts on the ground, now that you have the Russians conducting airstrikes and moving in a significant military personnel and equipment, is there an effort to rethink the entire approach -- a comprehensive review of our strategy?

MR. EARNEST:  I would not describe it that way.  When it comes to opposition fighters, I’ve routinely conceded, and I would do once again, that our training-and-equip operation has not performed well.

Q    It’s been a failure.  I mean, you had four or five --

MR. EARNEST:  Well, there’s a dramatic way to say it, which is what you’ve described.  But I think we can agree that it certainly has not performed well.  

But the point that I want to make, though, Jon, is that those are not the only opposition fighters on which we can rely; that there are other reliable opposition fighters who we have backed both by providing them some assistance and also by carrying out military airstrikes in support of their operations on the ground.  

So there is a fighting force on the ground, inside of Syria, with whom we are able to make progress against ISIL.  But the reason that we have considered this training-and-equip operation is because we’d like to see more of those fighters.  And that’s why the Department of Defense is considering changes to that program that would improve its performance.

Q    Okay, one last quick -- totally different topic.  We learned today the Vatican confirmed that the Pope met with Kim Davis while he was here in Washington.  What’s the White House reaction to that meeting?

MR. EARNEST:  I don’t have a specific reaction to the meeting.  The President did note in his comments over the weekend that it’s important for Americans across the country to say clearly that our religious freedom doesn't grant us the freedom to deny our fellow Americans their constitutional rights.

So the President talked about the importance of religious freedom when the Pope was at the White House on the South Lawn last week.  But the President has been just as clear that our religious freedom doesn't grant us the freedom to deny our fellow Americans their basic constitutional rights.

Q    So the President would disagree with Pope Francis that Kim Davis acted “courageously,” as her lawyer characterized his --

MR. EARNEST:  Well, secondhand.  I think what I would say is our position about Ms. Davis is quite clear, that the President believes strongly in the rule of law.  And that's a principle that applies to those who are engaged in public service, starting at the level of the President of the United States, but even going down all the way to the level of the Rowan County Clerk in Kentucky.

Alexis.

Q    Josh, following up on Congressman McCarthy’s comments on television about the Benghazi committee.  His spokesman today is saying that Congressman McCarthy believes that the Benghazi committee has nothing to do with politics.

MR. EARNEST:  Oh?  (Laughter.)  That is an interesting spin, huh?

Q    So I was wondering what the White House reaction to Congressman McCarthy’s remarks might be, and whether there is a difference of opinion about whether the committee is interested in politics and specifically Secretary Clinton?

MR. EARNEST:  I think everybody here at the White House takes Mr. McCarthy at his word -- Congressman McCarthy at his word.

I think the thing that's happening here is that Leader McCarthy has committed the classic Washington gaffe of saying something that everybody already knows is true.  And I think that's quite apparent what happened on Fox News last night.

Q    Okay, can I follow up with a question on Syria?

MR. EARNEST:  Sure, absolutely.  Unless you want to talk more about Mr. McCarthy.  I’d be happy to do that, as well.

Q    You covered that I think pretty completely.

MR. EARNEST:  Okay.

Q    On Syria, you said that it isn’t particularly surprising what has occurred with Russian-led airstrikes.  Russia is saying today that Western airstrikes in Syria are illegal and that Russian strikes are legal because they were requested by President Assad.  So my question to you is:  As the White House is trying to wrestle with the idea of what constructive -- the definition of constructive offensive action might be by the Russians, how is the administration going to assess what Russia’s intentions are; how the strikes are being called in; how they're being identified; what the results are; and what the implications might be for the Western coalition trajectory?

MR. EARNEST:  It comes to mind to me that I think there are three ways for us to do that.  The first would be that one of the things that both President Putin and President Obama have asked their teams to do is to continue to consult.  And so I would anticipate that Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Lavrov will have additional conversations about Russia’s activities inside of Syria.

They’ve been consulting regularly about this, and I know that they’ve met -- they're probably up to four or five times -- they’ve probably met four or five times now just this week in New York to discuss these issues.  So that ongoing consultation will be one channel.

The second would be that there will be these practical operational-level discussions between U.S. military officials and Russian military officials geared toward de-conflicting our activities inside of Syria.  Those conversations will give us a sense of what exactly Russia’s operations are.

The third is that we have a variety of ways, particularly given our presence in the region, to evaluate exactly what Russia’s military operations are resulting in.  And that's something that our Department of Defense will continue to look at.  

There’s one other aspect of our question that I also wanted to just remind you directly.  We’ve talked about this in here before, but it had been a while so I thought I would remind all of you of the legal justification that we have cited for the actions of the United States and our coalition partners inside of Syria.  So I do want to take this opportunity to get this back on the record again, which is that the United States provided public notification to the United Nations Security Council that the United States is using force against ISIL in Syria in the collective self-defense of Iraq and in U.S. national self-defense consistent with Article 51 of the U.N. Charter.

And it was probably -- it may have been even a year since we talked about this, but the concern that we have long had -- and I think it was -- this was a concern that was justified -- is that ISIL would use the chaos inside of Syria to establish a safe haven, and then use that safe haven inside of Syria to expand their operations into Iraq.  And that's what we saw that they did in the summer of 2014.  And that is what has precipitated the kind of action that the United States military and our coalition partners have taken inside of Syria.  And that's entirely consistent with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.

Q    Just to follow up, would the coalition -- the U.S.-led coalition -- if it differs dramatically with the Russians over choice of targeting, what the aims are, the strategy, is the U.N. then the body that the United States and Russia would disagree together -- would appeal to the U.N. based on what you just were reminding us? 

MR. EARNEST:  Well, I think the kinds of practical, operational discussions that would take place between U.S. military officials and Russian military officials would be geared toward preventing the circumstance that you just presented.  And that's why both President Putin and President Obama have acknowledged that those kinds of de-confliction conversations are a priority, and it’s why I would expect those conversations to take place in short order.  I don't think there’s any indication that either side believes that that kind of conflict would be in the interest of either country.

Q    And can you just remind us, because of Jens Stoltenberg’s comments about this in the last few days, is NATO involved in those de-conflicting discussions?  Does NATO play a role?

MR. EARNEST:  Not that I’m aware of, but you might check with the Department of Defense.  My understanding, based on the conversation between President Putin and President Obama, is that those de-confliction talks would take place between U.S. military officials and Russian -- U.S. and Russian military officials bilaterally at an operational, tactical level.

Michelle.

Q    Thanks.  A senior administration official told CNN today that what Russia is doing seems to have no strategic purpose against ISIS.  And it looks like they're hitting just groups that are opposed to Assad, and this is proof that their focus is not ISIS.  Is that not consistent with what you're seeing?  And if so, how is that going to affect what the coalition is trying to do there?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, that's not something I’m prepared to say at this point because the Russian military activity inside of Syria is something that the Department of Defense is closely reviewing.  So it’s possible that that source was at the Defense Department and may have access to more information, at least more immediately than I do.  These operations have only been taking place for a few hours now.  So that analysis is underway at the Department of Defense.

The priority that we have right now is trying to get those tactical-level conversations to de-conflict Russia’s military activities with the U.S. and coalition military activities.  Russia shares that priority, and we’ve -- U.S. military officials have already been in touch with their counterparts to try to arrange those talks.  And I would anticipate that those talks will take place in short order.

Q    Yes, but if that's a shared priority, if that were true, wouldn’t that mean that they would have these conversations before they start airstrikes?  And isn’t that an indication that they're not as committed to that kind of communication being a priority? 

MR. EARNEST:  Well, again, I think the way that we’ll eventually be able to tell this is how serious Russia actually is in participating in these discussions.  And based on the conversation between the two Presidents and based on the conversations that have already taken place between U.S. and Russian military officials to try to arrange those talks, and based on the pretty obvious observation that it’s hard to see how Russia would benefit from their activities coming into direct conflict with U.S. and coalition military activities, I think we can have some confidence that they’ll engage in that process seriously.  But we’ll see.

Q    But the fact that they haven’t started that process -- which was agreed to in this rare, high-level meeting -- doesn't this indicate that they're not that serious, that they didn't have that contact before they actually began?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, there was contact between U.S. and Russian officials to set up those conversations, but those conversations haven’t begun yet.  But I would anticipate that they’ll take place in short order.

Look, if we find that the Russians don't participate in those talks, or if Russia is less than cooperative in participating in those talks, then I think that we would have grounds to raise some questions about how serious they take this matter.  

But at this point I think it’s too early to reach that assessment.  Based on what President Putin has said both publicly and privately, I think -- and based on the obvious strategic calculation that I think is evident from the facts on the ground, it’s in everybody’s interest here for these de-confliction talks to occur.

Q    Well, we know that U.S. -- based on the press release that went out, that U.S. airstrikes are continuing as planned.

MR. EARNEST:  That's correct.

Q    So we know that obviously even without this communication going on, we know that there is no risk of these two operations getting in the way of each other.  So we know that the Russians don't see the U.S. prioritize targets as their targets.  And after the bilateral meeting, we heard Ben Rhodes say that it seems that the Russians are focused on ISIS.  

But knowing what another administration official said just today, and knowing that what they're doing is in no way related or at risk with what the coalition is doing, does that change your view that they are focused on ISIS?  Or does that raise serious questions?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, again, I think at this point it’s -- well, let me say a couple of things.  The other thing that the two Presidents agreed upon in their discussions at the U.N. on Monday was the risk that ISIL poses to U.S. interests, to Russian interests not just in the region, but around the world.  Both countries share that priority.  So the question, though, is what can we discern about Russia’s military strategy.  And I think I would just -- I’m certainly no military expert, but it does seem unwise to start drawing those kinds of firm conclusions based on military strikes that have just take place over the last few hours.

So we’ll have a variety of ways to get greater insight into their eventual strategy.  That will include conversations between Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Lavrov.  That will include the operational level de-confliction talks.  And it will include the Department of Defense’s analysis about exactly what targets Russia has hit, and what the result of those strikes has been.

Q    But the fact that no one is saying they seem to be hitting anything to do with ISIS, does that not bother you?

MR. EARNEST:  I’m just saying that our experts are taking a close look at this, and it’s too early for me to share any conclusions with you at this point.  The Department of Defense, if they have greater analysis, I’m sure they’ll share it with you.

Mark.

Q    Josh, putting aside the question of exactly what was targeted today, did the President, or has anyone on the U.S. side said to President Putin or others in the Russian government, we are arming -- “we are backing some groups in Syria; do not target them”?  Have you issued that warning?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, I think that would be part of the kind of -- well, let me say a couple things.  I can’t account for all of the conversations, and certainly would refer you to the State Department for a little more texture about the conversations between Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Lavrov.  

President Putin and the Russians are keenly aware of the strategy that I described to Jon earlier in this briefing, which is that the United States recognizes that boots on the ground will be required to stabilize the situation inside of Syria and ultimately to root out ISIL.  The President has made clear that those will not be U.S. boots on the ground.  And I think we’ve seen some indications from the Russians that they’re reluctant to put Russian boots on the ground.  They are aware of the fact that the United States has made some progress against ISIL by relying on other opposition forces inside of Syria. 

I think the other thing that bears mentioning is that President Putin, in the context of his meeting with President Obama, noted the importance of a political transition inside of Syria.  Now, he’s not willing to make the same commitment that we are -- or the same observation, frankly, that we have that President Assad has lost legitimacy to lead.  But implicit even in President Putin’s description of the need for a political transition is the need for some kind of functioning opposition; that you can’t really have a political transition in which the politics don’t change.  

So I think President Putin understands that at some level there’s going to have to be more of a political contribution from the opposition inside of Syria, and that’s why the United States has worked hard both to build up the capacity of -- the military capacity of the moderate Syrian opposition inside of Syria, but also worked to support the U.N.-led talks to facilitate conversations between the Assad regime -- representatives of the Assad regime and the moderate Syrian opposition.

Q    Are you not able to say with any certainty that there was a warning issued to the Russians -- “do not touch this moderate opposition that we are supplying and backing and training”?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, what I’m willing to say is that there was not this kind of operational-level discussion between President Obama and President Putin.  It was, as you would expect from two Commanders-in-Chief, it was a relatively high-level conversation.  But certainly when it comes to de-conflicting our efforts, that would include making sure that Russia is not taking military strikes against U.S. military forces or other forces that are advancing the same goal that we are in coordination with our coalition.  

Q    But the U.S. would take a dim view of any attacks that targeted groups that U.S. equipment is being used by and that we’re training and supplying -- whether or not they’re operating against ISIL, because some of them are also operating against the Syrian regime?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, I think it is -- let me try to say it this way.  We have sought a Russian contribution to our counter-ISIL campaign that’s constructive.  There are 65 nations that have worked with the United States to advance our strategy inside of Syria that includes backing opposition forces on the ground.  There are a variety of ways that those forces can be helped.  In some cases, that is providing some military air support.  In other cases, that is providing them some military assistance.  In some cases, it’s even providing assistance like MREs and medical equipment that can be useful to fighters on the battlefield.  

And the United States has provided I believe the last tally is about $400 million in that kind of assistance to Syrian opposition fighters.  And we certainly wouldn’t want Russian military operations to come into conflict with that ongoing effort, which is why both President Obama and President Putin have placed a priority on de-confliction talks.

Bob.

Q    Josh, a quick follow-up to that.  In his newfound zeal to fight Islamic State, did Putin suggest to the President that maybe the U.S. and its coalition partners should -- I don’t know if maybe there’s a better word, but stand down on the airstrikes in Syria?  Kind of a let-us-handle-this attitude in the meeting?

MR. EARNEST:  The focus of their conversations with regard to our ongoing military operations and their planned military operations was the need for ensuring that those operations were properly de-conflicted.  And both President Obama and President Putin placed a priority on those talks taking place at an operational level.  And shortly after that meeting concluded, U.S. officials were in touch with their Russian counterparts to begin arranging that meeting.  Those talks haven’t occurred yet, but I would expect they would occur in short order.

Q    There was no suggestion, let us handle this?  

MR. EARNEST:  Well, no, there was no specific request like that. 

Nadia.

Q    Josh, can you confirm that a Russian commander informed the U.S. military in Iraq that the strike was going to take place within an hour?  And do you think this is appropriate considering that both Secretary Kerry and Mr. Lavrov are in the same city, most likely in the same building?  And do you think that’s a slap in the face?  And why don’t you take it seriously?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, first, let me say I believe that the State Department has confirmed some version of that notification.  So I’d refer you to them for the details.

The second is, I don't know that -- I don't know exactly what time that took place, but based on the way that I learned about this, I suspect that took place overnight.  So I don't think it would be accurate to say that both Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Lavrov were inside the same building at the same time.  Presumably they were both asleep.

Q    (Inaudible) the day before.

MR. EARNEST:  Sure.  But I take your point, and so that gets me to the point that I would want to make, which is simply that beginning these military-to-military conversations about de-conflicting our activities is important.  And the kind of notification that you've just described is obviously not the most efficient way for us to ensure that our military activities are de-conflicted.  And that's why both Presidents have ordered military officials in their countries to coordinate at an operational level to more formally ensure that those operations are de-conflicted.

Q    Senator McCain had a blistering attack on the administration this morning. 

MR. EARNEST:  Must be a day that ends in Y. 

Q    He said you're being weak, abdicating the leadership, et cetera.  He said that you're inviting President Putin to the Middle East, first time to come back in full force since the ‘70s, after Sadat kicked them out of Egypt.  Does this alarm you?  Does this cause you to look back at the strategy once again from your answer to Jon of revisiting what exactly that you wanted to do in Syria?

MR. EARNEST:  The short answer to your question is, no.  The longer answer to your question is to observe that Russia has treated Syria as a client state for quite some time now.  Five years ago, that client state was pretty stable.  And right now it’s a client state that is in utter chaos, where the leader that they have propped up for years is losing his grip on power. 

And I think that's a pretty clear indication that Russia is not flexing its muscles when it comes to Syria.  Right now they are trying to prop up an investment that's about to go south.  And we’ve made clear that any sort of effort to double-down on their support for the Assad regime is a losing bet.  And so I think that's -- and that's the first observation.

The second thing that I would say is that we would welcome a constructive Russian contribution to the counter-ISIL campaign.  There are clearly priorities that we share.  The leaders of both nations recognize the threat that is posed by ISIL.  Both nations -- the leaders of both nations recognize that there is a fundamental political problem inside of Syria that has led to this chaos, that has taken the form not just of ISIL, but other extremists that are hoping to use the chaos in Syria to carry out attacks against countries around the world.  

It also has precipitated a terrible humanitarian crisis and a flood of refugees fleeing violence inside of Syria.  That kind of refugee movement is not in anybody’s interest.  And so there is plenty when it comes to our interests that Russia and the United States should be able to find such that Russia could be a constructive participant in our counter-ISIL campaign.  

Thus far that's not been the strategy that they have chosen to pursue.  And if they're not going to be integrated into our broader counter-ISIL effort that includes 65 nations, then we want to make sure that any Russian military activities that are taking place inside of Syria, that are unilateral, are activities that are at least formally de-conflicting with our ongoing operations inside of Syria.  And President Putin agreed that that should be done.

Q    Your opinion that this military strike would shift the dynamics to the degree that it might speed up or delay the political process?

MR. EARNEST:  Again, after one day I think it’s hard to tell.  What we have said is that if Russia uses its military assets inside of Syria to prop up the Assad regime, that will make a political transition more difficult.  

And the reason for that is simply it’s only going to ensure that the Assad regime alienates even more of the population and could essentially be run counter to the goals that both President Obama and President Putin say they share, which is the defeat of ISIL.  By further alienating the population inside of Syria, you essentially serve as a recruitment tool for the extremists that are operating inside of Syria.  And that's why we believe that doubling down on Assad is a bad bet for the Russians, and it’s why we have encouraged them to contribute constructively to our effort there.

Cheryl.

Q    Thanks, Josh.  Two domestic questions.  One, you’ll recall last February the President was pushing the Department of Labor to adopt a fiduciary duty rule, or you can call it conflict-of-interest rule.  Today, a House committee is marking up a bill to delay that.  Will the President veto such legislation?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, as you point out, they're still marking up some of this legislation.  But it clearly -- so I’m not prepared to issue a veto threat at this point.  But what you've described certainly runs counter to the priority that this administration and this President has placed on making sure that we're protecting the retirement savings of middle-class families.

Some studies indicate that because this rule is not in place, that American families lose $17 billion in retirement savings every year -- $17 billion.  That's a substantial risk that is not worth taking.  

The fact is -- and this is the case that we’ve made -- the fact is that a responsible financial manager wouldn’t have to do anything differently.  And rather, this is a rule that would ensure that there is no conflict of interest, and the retirement savings of middle-class families is effectively managed.  And failing to implement this rule puts at risk $17 billion in retirement savings -- and that doesn't seem like a good idea.  And that's why the President and his administration have moved forward with this particular rule.  And we certainly would take a dim view of efforts by Republicans who are acting at the behest of Wall Street interests by the way to block it.

Q    And just slightly different.  Is the White House far more concerned now, with Speaker Boehner stepping down, about increasing the debt limit in the end of November, December? 

MR. EARNEST:  Well, to be direct about it, this is an important responsibility of the United States Congress.  And when you're talking about something this important, and you're dealing with a Congress that has been this unreliable, there’s always going to be a source of concern.  And I think that's a concern that I would articulate to you whether the Speaker of the House is John Boehner or Kevin McCarthy or, frankly, anybody else.

But it’s something we're certainly mindful of and tracking closely.  But ultimately this is the responsibility of Congress.  And we’re hopeful that they’ll do the responsible thing that, to their credit, that they’ve done two or three times since 2011, which is ensure that the debt limit was raised without a bunch of drama that would unnecessarily inject additional volatility into the financial markets.

That certainly wouldn’t be good for the economy.  It wouldn’t be good for middle-class families.  And if Republicans in Congress focus on those priorities, then we won’t have anything to worry about.  So hopefully they will.

Chris. 

Q    Thanks, Josh.  So given that the confirmation was given by the Pentagon about what was essentially a knock on the door at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, and that as we’ve well established, both Presidents have agreed -- they looked at each other, in the eye presumably, and they agreed that it was a priority to de-conflict -- was an hour’s notice what President Obama had in mind when he spoke with Putin?  

MR. EARNEST:  Well, let me start by saying this, Chris, which is that there was no persuasion that was needed on either side to make de-confliction a priority.  Both Presidents readily acknowledge that.  

And so it wasn’t a matter of trying to persuade one side or the other that this should be a priority.  Both Presidents readily agreed that because it’s so clearly in the interest of both our countries to make sure that our operations don't come into conflict there. 

Q    Did President Obama take that agreement to mean one hour’s notice? 

MR. EARNEST:  Well, I think the President took that agreement to mean that U.S. military officials would be in touch with Russian military officials to set up talks to engage in a formal process of de-conflicting those operations at a formal level.  The outreach has occurred to begin setting up that meeting, but those actual talks have not yet taken place, but I’m confident that they will take place in short order.

Q    Does one hour’s notice at least violate the spirit of that conversation?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, no, the spirit of the conversation is the construction of a more formal process, where U.S. military officials and Russian military officials can engage in a regular dialogue to de-conflict their activities.  That’s the spirit of that agreement and that’s what we expect to be set up in relatively short order.

Q    So in the meantime, given that the Russians have launched airstrikes, does the U.S. just in the interim I guess trust that Russia is not going to conflict with U.S. military operations?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, I think the Russians have made clear that they’re not interested in provoking a conflict.

Q    And you trust them with that?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, again, that’s something that they have said and that their actions thus far indicate that that’s what they believe.  But, ultimately, the more effective way and more efficient way for these activities to be properly de-conflicted is for these talks to take place between military officials at a tactical, operational level, and we anticipate that will take place soon.

April.

Q    Josh, I want ask you a couple of questions on a couple of different subjects.  Back on Russia, the relationship with the U.S. and Russia is complicated at the very best.  And I want to find out -- you’re taking the higher ground and talking about the situation that happened with Russia and Syria, but I want to go to reality.  What’s the level of tension here at the White House with Russia’s actions, especially as you’re trying to de-conflict and preparing for talks, what’s the level of tension around here?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, I was asked earlier about whether or not this Russian action would prompt a comprehensive reevaluation of the situation inside of Syria, and it won’t.  The fact is, President Putin and the Russians have been trying to prop up Assad for a long time.  And the fact that they are now having to ramp up that support is an indication that their previous efforts to prop him up weren’t very successful.  And the reason they were trying to prop him up is because this is essentially the client state that they’ve had in the Middle East for quite some time now, and they’re eager to try to preserve that toehold in the region.  And so that principally is why we’re seeing what we’re seeing there.  

At the same time, the President believes that it’s important for Russia’s military activities to not come into conflict with our efforts there.  And, in fact, if Russia is willing, we would welcome their constructive contribution to this effort.  The fact that they have not decided to make a constructive contribution to our counter-ISIL effort means that Russia is not doing exactly what we would like them to do in Syria, and that’s not unusual in the relationship between our two countries.  

But I think I’ve also pointed out on a couple of occasions here that there are areas of common interest that we have inside of Syria, and that relates to not just the priority that’s placed on de-confliction, but also on the priority that’s placed on degrading and ultimately destroying ISIL.  That’s the goal of our coalition, and that is a goal that President Putin, I’m confident, would say that he shares.  

There also was an acknowledgement on the part of the Russians that our view of the necessity of a political transition inside of Syria is correct -- that, at root, this is political problem, and that the problems that ISIL has caused will not be solved over the long term until a political solution is reached.  What that means is it means that Russia is not going to be successful in imposing a military solution inside of Syria, and they’ll be no more successful in that regard than the United States was in imposing a military solution in Iraq in the last decade, and certainly no more successful than Russian efforts to impose a military solution on Afghanistan three decades ago.

Q    I want to attack in another way.  What was the level of surprise and upset after the meeting two days ago, and finding out what’s happening today?  What was the level of upset and surprise here in the White House?

MR. EARNEST:  Quite low.  Again, the reason that we’ve been having conversations about Russia’s military commitment inside of Syria is because all of you were keenly aware of the fact that Russia had moved all kinds of military equipment, including fighter jets, into Syria.  That wasn’t a secret; therefore, it’s difficult to be taken by surprise.  And it’s entirely consistent with the kind of efforts that they’ve undertaken in the last five years to prop up the Assad regime.

So it certainly represents an escalation of those efforts, but the trajectory is the same.  And obviously we would like to see Russia do something different.  I’m not trying to suggest to you that this is what we wou]]> <![CDATA[Statement by the Press Secretary on H.R. 23, H.R. 719, H.R. 2051, H.R. 3614, S. 230, S. 501 and S. 2082]]> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 20:12:00 CDT On Wednesday, September 30, 2015, the President signed into law:

H.R. 23, the "National Windstorm Impact Reduction Act Reauthorization of 2015," which reauthorizes the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program through FY 2017, and makes modifications to the Program;

H.R. 719, the "Continuing Appropriations Act, 2016" which provides fiscal year 2016 appropriations for continuing projects and activities of the Federal Government through, Friday, December 11, 2015; requires the Transportation Security Administration to implement changes to come into compliance with existing Federal law concerning criminal investigator positions; and requires the Department of Homeland Security to provide a variety of security-related updates and reports to the Congress;

H.R. 2051, the "Agriculture Reauthorizations Act of 2015," which extends the Livestock Mandatory Reporting Act of 1999; reauthorizes certain authorities of the United States Grain Standards Act; and authorizes appropriations for the National Forest Foundation;

H.R. 3614, the "Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2015," which extends authorization for Federal Aviation Administration programs and related revenue authorities for six months, through March 31, 2016;

S. 230, which transfers to the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation a specified parcel of Federal land in Bethel, Alaska, by warranty deed;

S. 501, the "New Mexico Navajo Water Settlement Technical Corrections Act," which modifies and makes technical corrections to current law relating to the Navajo water rights settlement in the State of New Mexico; and

S. 2082, the "Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act of 2015," which extends certain expiring authorities affecting veterans and their families, including:  health care; benefits; homelessness; and miscellaneous authorities; and amends various VA authorities related to medical facilities projects.

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<![CDATA[Readout of Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco’s Meeting with Afghan Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah]]> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 19:19:00 CDT Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco met today with Chief Executive of Afghanistan Dr. Abdullah Abdullah.  Ms. Monaco congratulated him on the one year anniversary of the National Unity Government, and reiterated the ongoing U.S. commitment to a stable, sovereign Afghanistan.  During the meeting, Ms. Monaco praised Afghan Security Forces’ efforts to counter the Taliban’s recent advances in Kunduz and reaffirmed continued U.S. And Coalition support.  Both leaders agreed on the importance of the National Unity Government, led by President Ghani and supported by Chief Executive Abdullah, working together to deliver on its promises to the Afghan people.  Ms. Monaco and Dr. Abdullah acknowledged that this is a critical time of transition for Afghanistan and discussed how the United States and Afghanistan can ensure that Afghan security forces have the capabilities and training necessary to preserve the gains made over the past 13 years. Additionally, Ms. Monaco and Dr. Abdullah affirmed the importance of continuing to work together to maintain a productive security and counterterrorism partnership in the years ahead.




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<![CDATA[Presidential Proclamation -- National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, 2015]]> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 18:58:00 CDT NATIONAL CYBERSECURITY AWARENESS MONTH, 2015

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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA A PROCLAMATION

In our increasingly connected digital world, we have the power to innovate in unprecedented ways.  With the advent of new and improved technologies, we must also keep pace with safeguarding our critical infrastructure networks that, although empowering, create previously unforeseen vulnerabilities. During National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, we recognize the importance of remaining vigilant against any and all cyber threats, while recommitting to ensuring our people can use new digital tools and resources fearlessly, skillfully, and responsibly.

My Administration is working to keep our country's cyberspace safe and protected -- both in the public and private sectors -- and is dedicated to addressing this issue as a matter of not only public safety, but also economic and national security.  Earlier this year, I signed an Executive Order to promote information sharing about cyber threats between Government and the private sector -- because this is a shared mission, and all of us must work together to do what none of us can achieve alone.  Additionally, as part of our comprehensive strategy, we continue to work with industry leaders to implement the Cybersecurity Framework my Administration launched last year, which promotes best practices to identify, mitigate, detect, respond to, protect against, and recover from cybersecurity incidents.  And we continue to support security researchers and educators who are developing the skills, tools, and workforce required for a safer technology future.

But these efforts will only go so far.  It is the responsibility of every American to proactively defend our digital landscape.  The Department of Homeland Security's "Stop.Think.Connect." campaign is designed to inform our citizenry of the dangers posed by cyber threats and to provide the tools needed to confront them.  I urge all Americans to take measures to decrease their susceptibility to malicious cyber activity, including by choosing stronger passwords, updating software, and practicing responsible online behavior.  I also encourage everyone to visit www.DHS.gov/StopThinkConnect to learn more about how you can help strengthen America's cybersecurity.

We now live in an era of the Internet -- our children will never know a world without it.  Our financial systems, our power grid, and our health systems run on it, and though widely helpful, this reliance reminds us of our need to remain aware, alert, and attentive on this new frontier.  By working together to prevent and disrupt threats to our digital infrastructure, America can continue pioneering new discoveries and expanding the boundaries of humanity's reach.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 2015 as National Cybersecurity Awareness Month.  I call upon the people of the United States to recognize the importance of cybersecurity and to observe this month with activities, events, and training that will enhance our national security and resilience. 

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.

 

BARACK OBAMA

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<![CDATA[Presidential Proclamation -- National Youth Justice Awareness Month, 2015]]> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 18:41:29 CDT NATIONAL YOUTH JUSTICE AWARENESS MONTH, 2015

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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

All our Nation's children deserve the chance to fulfill their greatest potential, and nothing should limit the scope of their futures. But all too often, our juvenile and criminal justice systems weigh our young people down so heavily that they cannot reach their piece of the American dream. When that happens, America is deprived of immeasurable possibility. This month, we rededicate ourselves to preventing youth from entering the juvenile and criminal justice systems and recommit to building a country where all our daughters and sons can grow, flourish, and take our Nation to new and greater heights.

Involvement in the justice system -- even as a minor, and even if it does not result in a finding of guilt, delinquency, or conviction -- can significantly impede a person's ability to pursue a higher education, obtain a loan, find employment, or secure quality housing. Many who become involved in the juvenile justice system have experienced foster care or grown up in environments where violence and drugs were pervasive and opportunities were absent. Some studies have found that many youth in juvenile justice facilities have had a mental or substance use disorder in their young lives. These children are our Nation's future -- yet most of them were afforded no margin of error after making a mistake.

Each year, there are more than 1 million arrests of young people under the age of 18, and the vast majority of those arrests are for non-violent crimes. Estimates show that half of black males, 44 percent of Hispanic males, and nearly 40 percent of white males are arrested by age 23. Nearly 55,000 individuals under age 21 are being held in juvenile justice facilities across the United States -- a disproportionate number of whom are young people of color, including tribal youth. The proportion of detained and incarcerated girls and young women, often victims of abuse, has also significantly increased over the past few decades.

In addition to those serving time in juvenile justice facilities, on any given day, more than 5,000 youth under age 18 are serving time in adult prisons or local jails. Nine States prosecute all 17-year-olds as adults regardless of the crime committed, including two States that do the same for 16-year-olds; and all States have transfer laws that allow or require criminal prosecution of certain youth. This continues despite studies showing that youth prosecuted in adult courts are more likely to commit future crimes than similarly situated youth who are prosecuted for the same offenses in the juvenile system.

To hold a young person in a State-operated facility can cost upwards of $100,000 per year per individual. That money could be better spent -- with improved youth and public safety outcomes -- by investing in our children in ways that help keep them out of the juvenile and criminal justice systems in the first place, or that prevent them from penetrating deeper into the system. As a Nation that draws on the talents and ambitions of all our people, we must remain focused on providing the institutional support necessary to stop our youth from being locked into a cycle from which they cannot recover or fully take their place as citizens.

My Administration is committed to working with States, as well as tribal and local jurisdictions, to implement reforms that reduce recidivism and improve youth outcomes. Last year, the Department of Justice launched the Smart on Juvenile Justice initiative to advance system-wide reforms that improve outcomes, eliminate disparities, and save money while holding youth appropriately accountable. These efforts include emphasizing prevention, promoting cost-effective and community-based alternatives to confinement, and sustaining programs that provide job training and substance use disorder treatment and counseling to youth in juvenile facilities. The Departments of Education and Justice are leading efforts to revamp school discipline policies and support underfunded schools so that our education system serves as a pathway to opportunity, rather than a pipeline to prison. Additionally, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice are working to build better diversion policies to screen and treat youth for substance abuse, trauma, and unmet mental, emotional, and behavioral needs.

Last year, I launched My Brother's Keeper -- an initiative to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and ensure all young people can reach their inherent potential. As part of this initiative, we are focused on reducing rates of violence while improving outcomes for all our youth. I also launched the Generation Indigenous initiative, which seeks to improve the lives of Native youth through new investments and increased engagement so they can achieve their highest aspirations.

America is a Nation of second chances, and justice means giving every young person a fair shot -- regardless of what they look like or what zip code they were born into. The system we created to safeguard this fundamental ideal must do exactly that. During National Youth Justice Month, let us recommit to ensuring our justice system acts not as a means for perpetuating a cycle of hopelessness, but as a framework for uplifting our young people with a sense of purpose so they can contribute to America's success.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 2015 as National Youth Justice Awareness Month. I call upon all Americans to observe this month by getting involved in community efforts to support our youth, and by participating in appropriate ceremonies, activities, and programs.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.

BARACK OBAMA

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<![CDATA[Statement from the Press Secretary on the Passage of H.R. 719]]> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 17:44:00 CDT With today’s bipartisan vote, Congress has taken a step away from the brink – and the President will sign the bill into law once he receives it. But, the American people deserve far better than last-minute, short-term legislating. That’s why Congress should pass a budget that reverses harmful spending cuts known as sequestration to allow for critical investments in our military readiness, infrastructure, schools, public health, and R&D that keep our companies on the cutting edge. Congress can and should get this work done without delay. There is no reason that we should deny American families and businesses the certainty and support they need by kicking the can down the road again. At a time when our businesses have created more than 13 million new jobs over the past five and a half years, Washington can choose to support our American comeback or to stall its momentum. To the President, the choice is clear.




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<![CDATA[Remarks by the President Meeting with State Legislators]]> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 17:26:00 CDT South Court Auditorium
Eisenhower Executive Office Building

**Please see below for corrections, marked with an asterisk.

4:18 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:   Thank you so much.  Everybody have a seat.  Well, welcome to the White House.  I invited all of you here because if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you’ve got to be nice to state legislators.  (Laughter.)  You never know when one of them might end up being President.  (Laughter.)  So you want to treat them with respect.

It is great to see all of you.  I hope that Jerry has been treating you and our team have been treating you reasonably well.  (Applause.)  I am partial to state legislators -- particularly, by the way, senators.  I’m sorry, House members.  (Laughter and applause.)  I’m just saying we tend to be a little more sensible, at least at the state levels -- I don’t know about the federal.  (Laughter.)

I see my friend Jim from Illinois back here -- Jim Clayborne.  And he and I served together, and he is still doing a great job.  My first campaign for the State Senate was nearly 20 years ago.  I had to print my own fliers at Kinko’s.  (Laughter.)    Hardly anybody could pronounce my name.  We had to go door to door -- Michelle and me and a handful of volunteers just to get enough petitions to get on the ballot.  And just about everybody who I talked to -- when they did bother talking to me, because there were a number of times where people didn’t answer the door or figured I was selling something or preaching something.  If they did answer the door and heard me speak for a while, they’d say, well, you seem like a nice young man -- why would you want to go into something dirty and nasty like politics?  (Laughter.)  And I’m sure some of you have heard that not just from strangers, but from your family members.

But what drove me to run for office, and what I’m sure drove many of you, is the conviction that politics can, in fact, be a noble profession; that you can, in fact, help to shape and create more opportunity in communities and districts and states and in our nation.  And the more time I spent in my community, the more convinced I was that although change happens from the bottom up -- and it is critical for communities to embrace nongovernmental organizations and community organizations and philanthropies and faith communities in trying to make sure that our schools are working and that our streets are safe and that people have jobs and opportunity -- ultimately, we also need to have a government that is an effective partner, that is not there just to try to stay in power or score cheap political points or get on the nightly news, but elected representatives that are genuinely trying to move the ball forward and try to bring our country together rather than divide it.

And that ideal -- the belief that people who love this country can change it -– is why I ran for this office eight years ago.  The financial crisis hadn’t happened yet, and it turned out that that would make our job a lot harder.  But when you look back on these last seven years, we’ve made enormous progress.  (Applause.)  

Now, let’s face it.  You’re not going to hear that progress acknowledged from the folks on the other side who are running for this office at the moment, and I understand that.  That’s the nature of politics.  But somehow they’ve invented a reality that everything was terrific back in 2007, 2008 -– when the unemployment and the uninsured rate were skyrocketing, and when our economy was shedding hundreds of thousands of jobs every month, and we were mired in two wars, and hopelessly addicted to foreign oil, and bin Laden was still plotting.  Apparently those were the good old days before I came in and messed things up.  (Laughter.) 

But there is this pesky thing called facts.  And here are the facts.  When I took office, the unemployment rate was on its way to 10 percent.  Today, it is at 5.1 percent.  (Applause.)  When I took office, we were losing up to 800,000 jobs a month.  Today, our businesses have created jobs for a record 66 months in a row –- more than *3 million [13 million] overall.  There are more job openings right now, in fact, than any time in our history.

When I took office, more than *15,000 Americans [15 percent of Americans] were uninsured.  Today, only 9.2 percent are uninsured.  And if we can get a few more states to expand Medicaid then even fewer will be uninsured.  (Applause.) 

So for the first time on record, more than 90 percent of Americans have health insurance.  And for the first time, insurance companies can’t discriminate against you because of a preexisting condition, which is helping all of us.  And by the way, despite the predictions, we’ve done all this and cut the deficit by two-thirds since I took office.  (Applause.) 

When I took office, we were hopelessly addicted to foreign oil.  Today, we’ve cut our oil imports by more than half.  We’ve tripled the power that we generate from wind.  We generate 20 times more solar energy than we did when I came into office.  And that has proven to be a steady source of good jobs that can’t be outsourced.

Our reading scores are up.  Our high school graduation rates are up.  Our college attendance is up.  There are almost no economic indicators that don't show we have made enormous progress during the course of these last seven years, and we’ve done it in partnership with so many of you and so many state governments around the country.

I’m going to hold up my record up against anybody.  Our policy prescriptions have been the right ones.  We are on the right side of these debates that are taking place right now.  And those things that are not yet done, aren’t done because we got folks on the other side that are intent on saying no -- even when they know it’s the right thing to do; even when it’s -- originally was their idea.  

On issue after issue, the American people agree.  The majority of Americans agree we should raise the minimum wage.  A majority of Americans agree we should institute paid family leave and sick days for our workers.  One recent poll, run by a Republican pollster, showed that a majority of Republican voters think that climate change is caused by human activity and that their elected officials should do something about it.  The only thing that makes climate change “political” is that not one -- not a single one of the top 10 candidates for President on the other side agree with these Republican voters -- unique among conservative parties worldwide.  

The point is, Americans are not actually as divided as our politics or sometimes our media would suggest on particular issues.  We sort ourselves out partly because we're watching different things and reading different things.  But when you actually ask people their opinions on issues, there is a convergence there.  There’s a path for us to act in a unified way.  But it requires elected officials to be serious about getting the job done, as opposed to winning the next election.  And we are ready to build on that progress.  We’re ready to build on what works.  And our policies are the ones that work.

So part of our task is to make sure that both sides of the aisle at every level of government get the message that people are looking for us to actually do what makes sense and what the evidence and facts show are going to help working families.  And the good news is that it looks like the Republicans will just barely avoid shutting down the government for the second time in two years.  That’s a somewhat low bar, but we should celebrate where we can.  (Laughter.)  The bad news is that it looks like Republicans will just barely avoid shutting down the government again for the second time in two years.  Instead of manufacturing new crises, Congress should be investing in the things that help our economy grow.  

Now, given that, at least for the next year, year and a half, there’s not going to be the kind of action on a wide range of issues that we’d like to see coming out of Capitol Hill, that puts more of a burden -- but also a great opportunity -- on state legislatures all across the country.  Because you can act when Washington won’t.  

The Republican-led Congress hasn’t raised America’s minimum wage, but 17 states did it on their own, and that boosted wages for 7 million workers.  So you are to be congratulated for that.  That’s your work.  (Applause.)  Congress hasn’t answered my call to provide our workers with paid sick days and paid family leave, but four states have now taken action on their own, including Oregon this year.  So congratulations, Oregon.  We’re proud of you.  (Applause.)   Congress has not yet taken up my plan to bring down the cost of community college to zero for responsible students, but this year, two of your states took action to make sure that every hardworking young person can afford the new skills that they need to get a good job. 

So over the last few years, states likes yours have gotten a lot done.  And I hope you’re going to head back home ready to get even more done -- whether it’s some of the issues I already mentioned, or expanding pre-K, or modernizing licensing laws to help workers and our veterans fill those jobs, or putting into place some limits on the amount of carbon pollution that power plants can generate and dump into our air -- we’ve got to keep moving forward.  And we’ve got to keep measuring success not just by winning elections -- although I do want us to do a little more work and pay a little more attention to state and legislative elections and gubernatorial elections and not just focus on national politics, because that’s where a lot of decisions get made -- but I want us most importantly, to be focusing on how we’re helping people in their own lives every single day. 
 
At its worst, politics can be a dirty business.  It can be a tool for those with wealth and power to rig the system so that they can keep that wealth and power.  It can be a place where elected officials shy away from tough issues because they’re not interested in stirring up controversy that might cost them an election.  But that makes it all the more important that we’ve got folks like you who believe in practicing politics at its best.   

So when you talk to principled, passionate people who want to run for office for the right reasons but wonder if it’s really worth it, you can tell them that the President of the United States says absolutely.  It is absolutely worth it.  We haven’t won every fight.  We’ve got a lot more work to do.  But all across America, there are people who have jobs today that didn’t have them because of the work that we did.  There are people who have health insurance today who didn’t have it before because of the work that we did.  There are students who are going to college for the first time because we’ve made that possible.  There are veterans who served tour after tour who are now home with their families and are getting help that they have not only earned but that will help make our country stronger.   

So that’s what change looks like.  And that’s why the right policies are important.  And that’s what public service is about.  So I want to thank all of you for the outstanding work that you are doing to keep your communities, your states on the right track.  When you get frustrated, don’t lose heart, because we’re counting on you and, more importantly, the families in your districts and in your states are counting on you.  And I think their faith is well-placed.

Thank you very much, everybody.  (Applause.) 

END 
4:36 P.M. EDT

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<![CDATA[Presidential Proclamation -- National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, 2015]]> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 17:02:00 CDT NATIONAL BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH, 2015

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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

Too often, precious lives are interrupted or cut short by cancer. Breast cancer, one of the most common cancers among American women, affects roughly 230,000 women as well as 2,300 men each year and is responsible for more than 40,000 deaths annually in the United States. Breast cancer does not discriminate -- it strikes people of all races, ages, and income levels -- and we must raise awareness of this disease and its symptoms so we can more easily identify it and more effectively treat it. This month, as we honor those whose lives were tragically cut short by breast cancer and as we stand with their families, let us arm ourselves with the best knowledge, tools, and resources available to fight this devastating disease.

Regular screenings and quality care are vital to improving outcomes for millions of people, and we are making strides in improving treatment options. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, most health insurers are now required to cover recommended preventive services -- including mammograms -- at no extra cost, and Americans cannot be denied health coverage due to a pre-existing condition, like breast cancer. Women and men can take precautionary action on their own by talking with their health care providers about what they can do to lower their individual risk factors and learning about what tests are right for them. For more information on breast cancer prevention, treatment of metastatic breast cancer, and the latest research, visit www.Cancer.gov/Breast.

My Administration is committed to advancing research to better prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer in all its forms. Earlier this year, I announced a new initiative to invest in research that will enable clinicians to better tailor treatments to individual patients. This Precision Medicine Initiative aims to accelerate biomedical discoveries and revolutionize how we improve health and treat disease. By continuing to make breakthroughs in technology and medicine, our Nation's brightest minds are working tirelessly to combat breast cancer.
Together, we must ensure all people can enjoy the extraordinary gift that is a long, happy, and healthy life. During National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, let us remember those cancer took from us too soon -- and in tribute to them, their families, and our medical professionals, let us recommit to the promise of finding a cure.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 2015 as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I encourage citizens, government agencies, private businesses, nonprofit organizations, and all other interested groups to join in activities that will increase awareness of what Americans can do to prevent breast cancer.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.

BARACK OBAMA

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<![CDATA[Presidential Proclamation -- National Disability Employment Awareness Month, 2015]]> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 16:25:00 CDT NATIONAL DISABILITY EMPLOYMENT AWARENESS MONTH, 2015

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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA A PROCLAMATION

 

A quarter century ago, our country took a major step toward fulfilling the fundamental American promises of equal access, equal opportunity, and equal respect for all when the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was made the law of the land.  While we have continued to make advancements that help uphold this basic belief, we must address the injustices that remain.  During National Disability Employment Awareness Month, we celebrate the ways individuals with disabilities strengthen our workforce, our communities, and our country, and we recommit to cultivating an America where all people are able to build vibrant futures for themselves and for their families.

Americans with disabilities make up almost one-fifth of our population, but are unemployed at a rate that is twice that of people without disabilities; and for women and minorities with disabilities, the rates are even higher.  Despite all they contribute to our society, people with disabilities still face discrimination by employers, limited access to skills training, and, too often, unfairly low expectations.  As a Nation, we must continue to promote inclusion in the workplace and to tear down the barriers that remain -- in hearts, in minds, and in policies -- to the security and prosperity that stable jobs provide and that all our people deserve.  And we must actively foster a culture in which individuals are supported and accepted for who they are and in which it is okay to disclose one's disability without fear of discrimination. 

My Administration is working to make sure our country does not let the incredible talents of Americans with disabilities go to waste.  We are working to strengthen protections against disability-based discrimination in the workplace and to expand employment possibilities for people with disabilities -- and the Federal Government is leading by example.  I have taken action to require agencies and Federal contractors to hire more people with disabilities -- and thanks to these efforts, more Americans with disabilities are in Federal service than at any point in the last three decades.

I will continue fighting to widen pathways to opportunity for individuals with disabilities and supporting employers in their efforts to increase disability inclusion.  The White House hosted a Summit on Disability and Employment earlier this year to provide businesses, philanthropies, and advocates with information on Federal resources for hiring disabled individuals.  Last year, I was proud to sign the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which encourages greater coordination across Federal, State, and local programs to expand access to high-quality workforce, education, and rehabilitation services.  WIOA also helps youth with disabilities to receive extensive pre-employment transition services so they can find positions alongside people without disabilities and get paid above minimum wage.  Additionally, last year I signed the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, which allows eligible people with disabilities to establish tax-free savings accounts. 

America is at its strongest when we harness the talents and celebrate the distinct gifts of all our people.  This October, as we observe the 70th anniversary of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, let us pay tribute to all who fought for better laws, demanded better treatment, and overcame ignorance and indifference to make our Nation more perfect.  In their honor, and for the betterment of generations of Americans to come, let us continue the work of removing obstacles to employment so every American has the chance to develop their skills and make their unique mark on the world we share.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 2015 as National Disability Employment Awareness Month.  I urge all Americans to embrace the talents and skills that individuals with disabilities bring to our workplaces and communities and to promote the right to equal employment opportunity for all people. 

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.

 

BARACK OBAMA




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<![CDATA[10 Things To Do for National Preparedness Month]]> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 15:05:17 CDT Each year, our nation faces diverse threats and hazards reinforcing the need to strengthen national preparedness and resilience. On August 31st, 2015, President Obama issued a proclamation declaring September as National Preparedness Month with the theme: “Don’t Wait. Communicate. Make Your Emergency Plan Today.” National Preparedness Month serves as a reminder to prepare, now and throughout the year, for a wide range of emergencies.

Over 20 million registered participants will take part in the 2015 America’s PrepareAthon! This isn’t just about making a plan for your home; encouraging your workplace to be more prepared for a disaster can have a significant impact. Studies show that when employers urge their staff to prepare for disasters, employees are 75 percent more likely to take preparedness actions. The workplace can be one of the most effective environments for educating and encouraging people to take steps to be ready for disasters. There are plenty of resources available at ready.gov/prepare.

Here are 10 simple things you can do right now to become more prepared and resilient:

  1. Sign up for local alerts and warnings, download apps, and/or check access for wireless emergency alerts;
  2. Create and test emergency communications plans;
  3. Assemble or update emergency supplies;
  4. Conduct a drill to practice emergency response actions for local hazards;
  5. Participate in a preparedness training or class;
  6. Collect and safeguard critical documents;
  7. Document property and obtain appropriate insurance for relevant hazards;
  8. Make property improvements to reduce potential injury and property damage;
  9. Conduct an exercise or test your emergency plan; and,
  10. Plan with neighbors to help each other and share resources.

If you’d like to learn more about how to take any of these actions, download the free guide from FEMA.

Also, take a look at the Public Service Announcement prepared by the Ready Campaign and Ad Council. It provides helpful tips about how preparedness actions now can keep us and those we care for safe during an emergency.

Finally, you can participate in National PrepareAthon! Day on September 30 by visiting ready.gov/prepare to register your activities.

 

Lisa Monaco is the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism.

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<![CDATA[Executive Order -- Continuance or Reestablishment of Certain Federal Advisory Committees]]> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 14:59:00 CDT EXECUTIVE ORDER

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CONTINUANCE OR REESTABLISHMENT OF

CERTAIN FEDERAL ADVISORY COMMITTEES

 

By the authority vested in me as President, by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and consistent with the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.), it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1.  Each advisory committee listed below is continued or, to the extent necessary, reestablished until September 30, 2017.

  1. Committee for the Preservation of the White House; Executive Order 11145, as amended (Department of the Interior).
  2. President's Commission on White House Fellowships; Executive Order 11183, as amended (Office of Personnel Management).
  3. President's Committee on the National Medal of Science; Executive Order 11287, as amended (National Science Foundation).
  4. Federal Advisory Council on Occupational Safety and Health; Executive Order 11612, as amended (Department of Labor).
  5. President's Export Council; Executive Order 12131, as amended (Department of Commerce).
  6. President's Committee on the International Labor Organization; Executive Order 12216, as amended (Department of Labor).
  7. President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities; Executive Order 12367, as amended (National Endowment for the Arts).
  8. President's National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee; Executive Order 12382, as amended (Department of Homeland Security).
  9. National Industrial Security Program Policy Advisory Committee; Executive Order 12829, as amended (National Archives and Records Administration).
  10. Trade and Environment Policy Advisory Committee; Executive Order 12905 (Office of the United States Trade Representative).
  11. Governmental Advisory Committee to the United States Representative to the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation; Executive Order 12915 (Environmental Protection Agency).
  12. National Advisory Committee to the United States Representative to the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation; Executive Order 12915 (Environmental Protection Agency).
  13. Good Neighbor Environmental Board; Executive Order 12916 (Environmental Protection Agency).
  14. Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS; Executive Order 12963, as amended (Department of Health and Human Services).
  15. President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities; Executive Order 12994, as amended (Department of Health and Human Services).
  16. Invasive Species Advisory Committee; Executive Order 13112, as amended (Department of the Interior).
  17. Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee; Executive Order 13158 (Department of Commerce).
  18. Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health; Executive Order 13179 (Department of Health and Human Services).
  19. National Infrastructure Advisory Council; Executive Order 13231, as amended (Department of Homeland Security). 
  20. President's Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition; Executive Order 13265, as amended (Department of Health and Human Services).
  21. President's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships; Executive Order 13498 (Department of Health and Human Services).
  22. President's Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders; Executive Order 13515, as amended (Department of Education).
  23. Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues; Executive Order 13521 (Department of Health and Human Services).
  24. National Council on Federal Labor-Management Relations; Executive Order 13522 (Office of Personnel Management).
  25. U.S. General Services Administration Labor-Management Relations Council; Executive Order 13522 (General Services Administration).
  26. President's Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities; Executive Order 13532, as amended (Department of Education). 

(aa) President's Management Advisory Board; Executive Order 13538, as amended (General Services Administration).

(bb) President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology; Executive Order 13539, as amended (Department of Energy).

(cc) Interagency Task Force on Veterans Small Business Development; Executive Order 13540 (Small Business Administration).

(dd) Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health; Executive Order 13544 (Department of Health and Human Services).

(ee) State, Local, Tribal, and Private Sector (SLTPS) Policy Advisory Committee; Executive Order 13549 (National Archives and Records Administration).

(ff) President's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics; Executive Order 13555, re-established by Executive Order 13634 (Department of Education).

(gg) President's Global Development Council; Executive Order 13600, as amended (United States Agency for International Development).

(hh) President's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans; Executive Order 13621 (Department of Education).

(ii) President's Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa; Executive Order 13675 (Department of Commerce).

(jj)Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria; Executive Order 13676 (Department of Health and Human Services).

(kk) Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking; Executive Order 13648 (Department of the Interior).

(ll) Commerce Spectrum Management Advisory Committee; initially established pursuant to Presidential Memorandum on Improving Spectrum Management for the 21st Century (November 30,

2004) (Department of Commerce).

(mm) National Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing Advisory Board; National Security Policy Directive-39, "U.S. National Space-Based Position, Navigation, and Timing

Policy" (December 8, 2004) (National Aeronautics and Space Administration).

(nn) San Juan Islands National Monument Advisory Committee; Proclamation 8947 of March 25, 2013 (Department of the Interior). 

Sec. 2.  Notwithstanding the provisions of any other Executive Order, the functions of the President under the Federal Advisory Committee Act that are applicable to the committees listed in section 1 of this order shall be performed by the head of the department or agency designated after each committee, in accordance with the regulations, guidelines, and procedures established by the Administrator of General Services.

Sec. 3.  Sections 1 and 2 of Executive Order 13652 of September 30, 2013, are superseded by sections 1 and 2 of this order.

Sec. 4.  Executive Order 12829 of January 6, 1993, is amended in section 103(c)(2) by striking "Administrator of General Services" and inserting in lieu thereof "National Archives and Records Administration" and 103(d) by striking "Administrator of General Services" and inserting in lieu thereof "the Archivist of the United States".

Sec. 5.  This order shall be effective September 30, 2015.  

 

BARACK OBAMA

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<![CDATA[Messages -- To Modify Duty-Free Treatment Under the Generalized System of Preferences and for Other Purposes]]> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 14:18:00 CDT TO THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES:

I am providing notification of my intent to terminate the designation of Seychelles as a beneficiary sub-Saharan African country under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) program.

Section 506A(a)(1) of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended (the "1974 Act") (19 U.S.C. 2466a(a)(1)) authorizes the President to designate a country listed in section 107 of the AGOA (19 U.S.C. 3706) as a beneficiary sub-Saharan African country eligible for the benefits described in section 506A(b) of the 1974 Act (19 U.S.C. 2466a(b)), if the President determines that the country meets the eligibility requirements in section 104 of the AGOA (19 U.S.C. 3703), subject to the authority granted to the President under subsections (a), (d), and (e) of section 502 of the 1974 Act.

Pursuant to section 502(e) of the 1974 Act, I have determined that Seychelles has become a "high income" country and its designation as a beneficiary sub-Saharan country is no longer within the authority granted to the President under section 502 of the 1974 Act.  Accordingly, pursuant to section 506A(a)(1) of the 1974 Act (19 U.S.C. 2466a(a)(1)), I have determined that Seychelles is no longer eligible for benefits as a beneficiary sub-Saharan African country for the purpose of section 506A of the 1974 Act, effective January 1, 2017.

 

BARACK OBAMA




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<![CDATA[Messages -- To Modify Duty-Free Treatment Under the Generalized System of Preferences and for Other Purposes]]> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 14:18:00 CDT TO THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES:

In accordance with section 502(f)(2) of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended (the "1974 Act") (19 U.S.C. 2462(f)(2)), I am providing notification of my intent to terminate the designations of Seychelles, Uruguay, and Venezuela as beneficiary developing countries under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program.  Section 502(e) of the 1974 Act (19 U.S.C. 2462(e)) provides that if the President determines that a beneficiary developing country has become a "high income" country, as defined by the official statistics of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development of the World Bank (the "World Bank"), the President shall terminate the designation of such country as a beneficiary developing country for purposes of the GSP program, effective on January 1 of the second year following the year in which such determination is made. 

Pursuant to section 502(e) of the 1974 Act, I have determined that it is appropriate to terminate the designations of Seychelles, Uruguay, and Venezuela as beneficiary developing countries under the GSP program, because they have become high income countries as defined by the World Bank.  Accordingly, their eligibility for trade benefits under the GSP program will end on January 1, 2017.

 

BARACK OBAMA

 

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<![CDATA[Presidential Proclamation -- To Modify Duty-Free Treatment Under the Generalized System of Preferences and for Other Purposes]]> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 14:18:00 CDT TO MODIFY DUTY-FREE TREATMENT UNDER THE 

GENERALIZED SYSTEM OF PREFERENCES AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES

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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

  1. Pursuant to sections 501 and 503(a)(1)(B) of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended (the "1974 Act") (19 U.S.C. 2461 and 2463(a)(1)(B)), the President may designate certain articles as eligible for preferential tariff treatment under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) when imported from a least-developed beneficiary developing country if, after receiving the advice of the United States International Trade Commission (the "Commission"), the President determines that such articles are not import-sensitive in the context of imports from least-developed beneficiary developing countries. 
  2. Pursuant to sections 501, 503(a)(1)(B), and 503(b)(5) of the 1974 Act, as amended (19 U.S.C. 2461, 2463(a)(1)(B), and 2463(b)(5)), and after receiving advice from the Commission in accordance with section 503(e) of the 1974 Act (19 U.S.C. 2463(e)), I have determined to designate certain articles as eligible articles when imported from a least-developed beneficiary developing country.
  3. Section 503(c)(2)(C) of the 1974 Act (19 U.S.C. 2463(c)(2)(C)) provides that a country that is no longer treated as a beneficiary developing country with respect to an eligible article may be redesignated as a beneficiary developing country with respect to such article, subject to the considerations set forth in sections 501 and 502 of the 1974 Act (19 U.S.C. 2461 and 2462), if imports of such article from such country did not exceed the competitive need limitations in section 503(c)(2)(A) of the 1974 Act (19 U.S.C. 2463(c)(2)(A)) during the preceding calendar year.
  4. Pursuant to section 503(c)(2)(C) of the 1974 Act, and having taken into account the considerations set forth in sections 501 and 502 of the 1974 Act, I have determined to redesignate certain countries as beneficiary developing countries with respect to certain eligible articles that previously had been imported in quantities exceeding the competitive need limitations of section 503(c)(2)(A) of the 1974 Act.
  5. Section 503(d)(4)(B)(ii) of the 1974 Act (19 U.S.C. 2463(d)(4)(B)(ii)) provides that the President should revoke any waiver of the application of the competitive need limitations that has been in effect with respect to an article for 5 years or more if the beneficiary developing country has exported to the United States during the preceding calendar year an amount that exceeds the quantity set forth in section 503(d)(4)(B)(ii)(I) or section 503(d)(4)(B)(ii)(II) of the 1974 Act (19 U.S.C. 2463(d)(4)(B)(ii)(I) and 19 U.S.C. 2463(d)(4)(B)(ii)(II)).
  6. Pursuant to section 503(d)(4)(B)(ii) of the 1974 Act, I have determined that in 2014 certain beneficiary developing countries exported eligible articles for which a waiver has been in effect for 5 years or more in quantities exceeding the applicable limitation set forth in section 503(d)(4)(B)(ii)(I) or section 503(d)(4)(B)(ii)(II) of the 1974 Act, and I therefore revoke said waivers.
  7. Section 503(c)(2)(F)(i) of the 1974 Act (19 U.S.C. 2463(c)(2)(F)(i)) provides that the President may disregard the competitive need limitation provided in section 503(c)(2)(A)(i)(II) of the 1974 Act (19 U.S.C. 2463(c)(2)(A)(i)(II)) with respect to any eligible article from any beneficiary developing country, if the aggregate appraised value of the imports of such article into the United States during the preceding calendar year does not exceed an amount set forth in section 503(c)(2)(F)(ii) of the 1974 Act (19 U.S.C. 2463(c)(2)(F)(ii)).
  8. Pursuant to section 503(c)(2)(F)(i) of the 1974 Act, I have determined that the competitive need limitation provided in section 503(c)(2)(A)(i)(II) of the 1974 Act should be disregarded with respect to certain eligible articles from certain beneficiary developing countries. 
  9. Section 503(d)(1) of the 1974 Act (19 U.S.C. 2463(d)(1)) provides that the President may waive the application of the competitive need limitations in section 503(c)(2) of the 1974 Act with respect to any eligible article from any beneficiary developing country if certain conditions are met.
  10. Pursuant to section 503(d)(1) of the 1974 Act, I have received the advice of the Commission on whether any industry in the United States is likely to be adversely affected by waivers of the competitive need limitations provided in section 503(c)(2) of the 1974 Act, and I have determined, based on that advice and on the considerations described in sections 501 and 502(c) of the 1974 Act (19 U.S.C. 2461 and 2462(c)) and after giving great weight to the considerations in section 503(d)(2) of the 1974 Act (19 U.S.C. 2463(d)(2)), that such waivers are in the national economic interest of the United States.  Accordingly, I have determined that the competitive need limitations of section 503(c)(2) of the 1974 Act should be waived with respect to certain eligible articles from certain beneficiary developing countries.
  11. Section 502(e) of the 1974 Act (19 U.S.C. 2462(e)) provides that the President shall terminate the designation of a country as a beneficiary developing country if the President determines that such country has become a "high income" country as defined by the official statistics of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.  Termination is effective on January 1 of the second year following the year in which such determination is made.
  12. Pursuant to section 502(e) of the 1974 Act, I have determined that Seychelles, Uruguay, and Venezuela have become "high income" countries.  Accordingly, I am terminating the designation of these countries as beneficiary developing countries for purposes of the GSP, effective January 1, 2017, and I will so notify the Congress under section 502(f) of the 1974 Act (19 U.S.C. 2462(f)).
  13. Section 506A(a)(1) of the 1974 Act (19 U.S.C. 2466a(a)(1)) authorizes the President to designate a country listed in section 107 of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) (19 U.S.C. 3706) as a beneficiary sub-Saharan African country eligible for the benefits described in section 506A(b) of the 1974 Act (19 U.S.C. 2466a(b)), if the President determines that the country meets the eligibility requirements set forth in section 104 of the AGOA (19 U.S.C. 3703) and the eligibility criteria set forth in section 502 of the 1974 Act, subject to the authority granted to the President under subsections (a), (d), and (e) of section 502 of the 1974 Act.
  14. Pursuant to section 502(e) of the 1974 Act, I have determined that Seychelles has become a "high income" country and its designation as a beneficiary sub-Saharan African country is no longer within the authority granted to the President under section 502 of the 1974 Act.  Accordingly, pursuant to section 506A(a)(1) of the 1974 Act (19 U.S.C. 2466a(a)(1)), I have determined that Seychelles is no longer eligible for benefits as a beneficiary sub-Saharan African country for the purpose of section 506A of the 1974 Act, effective January 1, 2017. 
  15. Section 604 of the 1974 Act (19 U.S.C. 2483) authorizes the President to embody in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS) the substance of the relevant provisions of that Act, and of other Acts affecting import treatment, and actions thereunder, including removal, modification, continuance, or imposition of any rate of duty or other import restriction.
  16. The short form name of "Macedonia, Former Yugoslav Republic of" has been changed to "Macedonia," and I have determined that general note 4(a) to the HTS should be modified to reflect this change.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including but not limited to title V and section 604 of the 1974 Act, do proclaim that:

  1. In order to designate certain articles as eligible articles only when imported from a least-developed beneficiary developing country for purposes of the GSP, the Rates of Duty 1–Special subcolumn for the corresponding HTS subheadings is modified as set forth in section A of Annex I to this proclamation.
  2. In order to redesignate certain articles as eligible articles for purposes of the GSP, the Rates of Duty 1–Special subcolumn for the corresponding HTS subheadings and general note 4(d) to the HTS are modified as set forth in section B of Annex I to this proclamation.
  3. In order to provide that one or more countries should no longer be treated as beneficiary developing countries with respect to one or more eligible articles for purposes of the GSP, the Rates of Duty 1–Special subcolumn for the corresponding HTS subheadings and general note 4(d) to the HTS are modified as set forth in section C of Annex I to this proclamation.
  4. In order to reflect the change in the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, general note 4(a) to the HTS is modified as provided in section D of Annex I to this proclamation.
  5. The modifications to the HTS set forth in Annex I to this proclamation shall be effective with respect to articles entered, or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption, on or after the dates set forth in the relevant sections of Annex I.
  6. The competitive need limitation provided in section 503(c)(2)(A)(i)(II) of the 1974 Act is disregarded with respect to the eligible articles in the HTS subheadings and to the beneficiary developing countries listed in Annex II to this proclamation, effective October 1, 2015.
  7. A waiver of the application of section 503(c)(2) of the 1974 Act shall apply to the articles in the HTS subheadings and to the beneficiary developing countries set forth in Annex III to this proclamation, effective October 1, 2015.
  8. The designation of Seychelles as a beneficiary developing country for purposes of the GSP is terminated, effective on January 1, 2017.
  9. In order to reflect this termination in the HTS, general note 4(a) to the HTS is modified by deleting "Seychelles" from the list of independent countries, effective with respect to articles entered, or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption, on or after January 1, 2017.
  10. The designation of Seychelles as a beneficiary sub-Saharan African country for purposes of the AGOA is terminated, effective on January 1, 2017.
  11. In order to reflect this termination in the HTS, general note 16(a) to the HTS is modified by deleting "Republic of Seychelles" from the list of beneficiary sub-Saharan African countries, effective with respect to articles entered, or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption, on or after January 1, 2017.
  12. The designation of Uruguay as a beneficiary developing country for purposes of the GSP is terminated, effective on January 1, 2017. 
  13. In order to reflect this termination in the HTS, general note 4(a) to the HTS is modified by deleting "Uruguay" from the list of independent countries, effective with respect to articles entered, or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption, on or after January 1, 2017.
  14. The designation of Venezuela as a beneficiary developing country for purposes of the GSP is terminated, effective on January 1, 2017.
  15. In order to reflect this termination in the HTS, general note 4(a) to the HTS is modified by deleting "Venezuela" from the list of independent countries, effective with respect to articles entered, or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption, on or after January 1, 2017.  In addition, the Rates of Duty 1–Special subcolumn for the corresponding HTS subheadings and general note 4(d) to the HTS are modified as set forth in section E of Annex I to this proclamation, effective on such date.
  16. Any provisions of previous proclamations and Executive Orders that are inconsistent with the actions taken in this proclamation are superseded to the extent of such inconsistency. 

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.

 

BARACK OBAMA

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<![CDATA[Presidential Proclamation -- National Substance Abuse Prevention Month, 2015]]> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 13:42:09 CDT NATIONAL SUBSTANCE ABUSE PREVENTION MONTH, 2015

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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

Every day, millions of American families, friends, teachers, and community organizations work to ensure children have access to the support and resources needed to help prevent substance abuse. As we mark National Substance Abuse Prevention Month, we come together to acknowledge the role every person can play in preventing substance abuse and recommit to fostering a culture where all our people can live up to their fullest potential.

Community partners in all corners of our country work to foster positive, safe environments in our towns and cities, and my Administration is committed to bolstering these efforts. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, health plans offered through the Health Insurance Marketplace must include mental health and substance use disorder services. My Administration has also taken action to ensure that coverage for these services is comparable to coverage for medical and surgical benefits. Preventing substance abuse is a fundamental element of our National Drug Control Strategy and can only be accomplished by supporting parents, mentors, schools, and community members as they work to prevent substance abuse before it begins. Together, by promoting evidence-based prevention programs, we can provide individuals with the tools and information they need to make smart choices, avoid needless tragedy, and lead healthy, fulfilling lives.

Alcohol and drug use can stand in the way of academic achievement, jeopardize school safety, and limit a young person's possibilities. Additionally, thousands of Americans die each year from prescription drug overdose -- and many can access these drugs in their own medicine cabinets at home. We must educate our children about the harms and risks associated with substance abuse. By talking with our sons and daughters early and often about the dangers of drug and alcohol use, we can help set them firmly on a path toward a brighter future.

In the United States, no child's dreams should be out of reach because the necessary encouragement and care were not accessible. As a Nation, as community members, and as American citizens, we have an obligation to help cultivate a society free from substance abuse. This month, let us resolve to model a healthy lifestyle for those around us, talk openly with our youth about the dangers of drug and alcohol use, and reach for a future where opportunity knows no bounds.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 2015 as National Substance Abuse Prevention Month. I call upon all Americans to engage in appropriate programs and activities to promote comprehensive substance abuse prevention efforts within their communities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.

BARACK OBAMA




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<![CDATA[Prepare Your Family for the Local Impacts of Climate Change ]]> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 12:26:37 CDT <![CDATA[Presidential Proclamation -- National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, 2015]]> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 10:59:21 CDT NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AWARENESS MONTH, 2015

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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

Domestic violence impacts women, men, and children of every age, background, and belief. Nearly 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men in the United States have suffered severe physical violence by an intimate partner. Victims are deprived of their autonomy, liberty, and security, and face tremendous threats to their health and safety. During National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we reaffirm our dedication to forging an America where no one suffers the hurt and hardship that domestic violence causes -- and we recommit to doing everything in our power to uphold the basic human right to be free from violence and abuse.

While physical marks may often be the most obvious signs of the harm caused by domestic violence, the true extent of the pain goes much deeper. Victims not only face abuse, but often find themselves left with significant financial insecurity. And children who witness domestic violence often experience lifelong trauma. These heinous acts go against all we know to be humane and decent, and they insult our most fundamental ideals. We all have a responsibility to try to end this grave problem.

Prior to the passage of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), many did not view domestic violence as a serious offense, and victims often had nowhere to turn for support. VAWA significantly transformed our Nation -- it enhanced the criminal justice response to violence against women and expanded survivors' access to immediate assistance and long-term resources to rebuild their lives. The Family Violence Prevention and Services Act is another important piece of legislation that improved our public health response to domestic violence and increased the availability of critical services for victims.

My Administration has worked hard to build on the progress of the past several decades and improve domestic violence prevention and response efforts. We have extended protections and prevention measures to more victims, including in Native American and immigrant communities, and worked to break down barriers for more people seeking help. And the reauthorization of VAWA I signed in 2013 prohibits -- for the first time -- discrimination based on sexual orientation and identity when providing services. Additionally, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, most health plans must now cover preventive services, including screening and counseling for domestic violence, at no additional cost. My Administration has also sought to secure greater workplace protections by requiring Federal agencies to develop policies that address the effects of domestic violence and to provide assistance to employees experiencing it. And I recently signed an Executive Order to establish paid sick leave for Federal contractors, which enables them to use it for absences resulting from domestic violence.

Though we have made great progress in bringing awareness to and providing protections against domestic violence, much work remains to be done. In that spirit, Vice President Joe Biden launched our 1is2many initiative, which aims to raise awareness of dating violence and reduce sexual assault among students, teens, and young adults. And earlier this year, we reaffirmed our Nation's commitment to addressing domestic violence at all stages of life by holding the White House Conference on Aging, which addressed elder abuse as a public health problem that affects millions of older Americans. These initiatives will help advance our efforts to ensure no person is robbed of the chance to live out their greatest aspirations.

Safeguarding and opening doors of opportunity for every American will remain a driving focus for our country -- and we know that crimes like domestic violence inhibit our Nation from reaching its fullest potential. This month, let us once again pledge our unwavering support to those in need and recognize the advocates, victim service providers, and organizations who work tirelessly to extend hope and healing to survivors and victims every day. I encourage all people in need of assistance to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE or visit www.TheHotline.org.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 2015 as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I call on all Americans to speak out against domestic violence and support local efforts to assist victims of these crimes in finding the help and healing they need.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this
thirtieth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.

BARACK OBAMA

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<![CDATA[Readout of Vice President Biden’s Meeting with Iraq's Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi]]> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 10:44:00 CDT The Vice President met today on the margins of the UN General Assembly with Iraq's Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi. They discussed a range of bilateral issues defining the close and strategic partnership between the United States and Iraq, including the fight against ISIL, security cooperation, political and economic reforms. The Vice President commended Prime Minister Abadi for his leadership and commitment to Iraq's political and economic development. Both leaders reaffirmed the importance of ensuring continued coordination to defeat ISIL and to help restore lasting stability in Iraq.




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<![CDATA[Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Josh Earnest en route Washington, D.C., 9/29/2015]]> Tue, 29 Sep 2015 19:56:00 CDT Aboard Air Force One
En Route Washington, D.C.

1:54 P.M. EDT

MR. EARNEST:  Good afternoon, everybody.  Welcome to the final day of one of the more eventful seven-day stretches in the Obama administration.  As Jeff alluded to, it kicked off with the visit of the Pope to the White House and to the United States, continued with a significant and consequential state visit from the President of China, and then a three-day trip to New York for the United Nations General Assembly, where the President considered a range of issues to advance U.S. interests on everything from climate change to continuing to enlarge and mobilize our international coalition to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL.

So it’s been an eventful seven days.  Fortunately, we’re returning to Washington, and it does look like Congress is on track to take the steps that are necessary to prevent a government shutdown -- at least for now.  But I would expect that in the weeks ahead we’ll have more of a discussion about how Democrats and Republicans in Congress can work together to make sure that we adequately fund both our national security and economic priorities, while of course taking the necessary steps to prevent a government shutdown in an unnecessary injection of volatility into the national economy.

So, with that, why don’t we go to your questions.

Q    I have a question on Syria.  Can you point to any tangible progress that was made on the issue of Syria while Obama was at the U.N. General Assembly?  Is there anything you can point to?

MR. EARNEST:  There are a couple of things that come to mind.  The first, as you noted, there were a handful of new countries that committed to join our counter-ISIL campaign.  So we’re now up to 65 nations across the globe that are part of this coordinated effort to degrade and ultimately ISIL.  Their contributions take a variety of forms.  They aren’t just military contributions, but certainly contributions to stem the flow of foreign fighters and to choke off ISIL’s financing of their terror activities are two important priorities, and we certainly are pleased to see a commitment from new nations to participate in that effort.  We also saw indications from the French at the beginning of the week that they are prepared to take military action inside of Syria.  So we certainly welcome the stepped-up contributions of one of our closest allies in France to this ongoing effort.

And then the President had a constructive conversation yesterday with President Putin.  And we certainly welcomed President Putin’s acknowledgement that a political transition of one form or another is necessary in Syria.  And while there continue to be significant differences -- and this not an effort to paper over those differences; we have our stark differences over Assad -- but just the acknowledgement of what the President has been saying for quite some time, that a political transition inside of Syria will be required to address the root cause of the problems plaguing that country.

So there are some positive movements in the right direction in terms of dealing with ISIL and confronting the challenges inside of Syria.  But the obstacles remain, and this will continue to be a priority of the President and his foreign policy team moving forward.

Q    What do you think the prospects are that the situation there will be any better, or maybe even any worse when Obama goes up a year from now for his final UNGA?  Syria has been such a big issue this year, last year.  

MR. EARNEST:  I thought of one other good answer to your last question, so let me do that real quick and then I’ll answer your second one -- which is you saw in the readout that we put out yesterday that President Obama and President Putin agreed that it would be important to begin conversations on a practical, tactical level to de-conflict coalition and Russian military activities inside of Syria.  And that’s a tangible bit of progress out of that meeting, and will be important to ensuring that our military personnel who are operating primarily in the skies over Syria can do so safely, and that Russian activities on the ground will not interfere with our efforts to support the fighting forces that we’re able to work with on the ground that have made some progress in driving ISIL out of some parts of northern Syria.

As it relates to sort of the longer-term outlook, I would anticipate that a year from now we’ll continue to be having a conversation about what we can do to address the problems in Syria.  I would not expect that the problems plaguing that country are going to be solved overnight.  But I would anticipate that we will have some evidence of additional progress that we’ll make over the course of the next year.  We certainly have made a lot of progress over the last year.  

If last year is any indication, we’ve built a robust coalition.  I believe at the United Nations, last year, that we had just announced that we would have this coalition that would be taking strikes inside of Syria.  And it was notable at the time that there were some Muslim-majority countries that were going to be flying alongside U.S. military pilots at that point.  But I believe the number of nations that were participating was about 30 or so, and so now we’re up to 65.  That’s an indication that we’re making some progress in building an international consensus in this regard.  And there’s numbers that we can point to in terms of the amount of territory that has been retaken from ISIL, both in Iraq and in Syria, that indicate that those military efforts have shown some progress.

So I would anticipate that this is something that we’ll talk about at the U.N. next year, but I think we’ll do that in the context of additional progress that we will have made over the course of the next year.

Q    Josh, do you think, based on what you learned over the last few days in the talks with President Putin, that despite your calls, that the White House and the United States will have to assume Assad is going to be in the picture for at least some time to come?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, that, I think, is hard to say.  Our position certainly hasn’t changed.  

Q    We know your position.

MR. EARNEST:  Okay.  Just for those who are following along at home, I just want to make sure that there’s no daylight here.  And the reason that it’s important to restate is that it is not just the view of the United States that we believe that as a result of his odious actions, where he’s perpetrated terrible acts of violence against his own people, that he needs to leave.  That certainly is reason enough for him to leave power. 

But the other thing that is notable here is that him carrying out those terrible acts of violence against innocent civilians has also cost him the legitimacy to lead that country.  And ISIL capitalized on a chaotic, essentially ungoverned swath of that country to establish this foothold and to grow rather rapidly.  And we're going to need a stable, inclusive, functioning central government inside of Syria in order to bring an end to that chaos and, therefore, more effectively succeed in degrading and destroying ISIL.  

So it’s not just that we believe he’s lost sort of the moral authority to lead that country.  As a practical matter, it is impossible for Assad to lead that country.  And as long as there’s no functioning central government, ISIL will have an opportunity that they can capitalize on.   So that's why we’ve talked about a political transition being a genuine priority.

The President acknowledged yesterday in his remarks that this would be a transition that would require some management, that this would be a managed transition.  And it means that we're going to need to mobilize the international community to support the effort to facilitate that kind of political transition.  It’s unclear exactly what timeframe this will be under.  As many of you guys have pointed out, we’ve been calling for Assad to leave power for years now.  We continue to believe that; there are a lot of other countries who agree with us.  

And again, we're going to make more progress against ISIL if we can make some progress on managing this political transition inside of Syria.

Q    Can you give us a readout of Cuba?

MR. EARNEST:  I know that the -- we're working on a formal readout.  I know that the two leaders had an opportunity to discuss some of the regulatory changes that have been announced in the last couple of weeks on the part of the United States.  The State Department is leading civil aviation coordination talks in Cuba right now.  And these are all additional steps that are moving toward more normal relations between our two countries.  And it was an opportunity for the two leaders to continue their consultations about some of the regulatory changes that are being made by the United States.  

The President, as he always does, sort of reaffirmed our commitment to seeing the Cuban government do a better job of not just respecting, but actually proactively protecting the basic human rights of the Cuban people.

And we continue to believe that deeper engagement and deeper people-to-people ties, deeper economic engagement between the United States and Cuba will have the effect of moving the government and the nation in a positive direction.

Q    Can I jump in quick on Syria, a follow-up?  I wanted to just ask you about the role of European nations and the EU.  It seems like in the last couple of days at the U.N., there has been an effort to kind of bridge the divide between where the U.S. is at and where Russia is at.  Does the U.S. have a reaction to this EU official’s proposal to do like a P5+1 plus Iran on Syria?  And what about this idea of European safe havens -- the European idea of the safe havens or the no-fly zones?

MR. EARNEST:  I haven’t seen the full proposal from the EU in terms of this negotiating structure, so I can't comment on that directly.  I would say that we obviously would welcome the participation of the international community trying to facilitate talks that would include discussion of a political transition inside of Syria that's long overdue. 

And the President acknowledged yesterday that we would be open to working with both Russia and Iran to try to advance that effort.  But I haven’t looked -- had the opportunity to consider the entire proposal that the EU has put forward.  But we can try to get you a more formal reaction to that proposal in the next day or so.

Q    On the no-fly zone?

MR. EARNEST:  On the no-fly zone, our position on that hasn’t changed, which is at this point that's not something that we're considering.  It raises a whole set of logistical questions about how exactly what would be enforced, what sort of resources would be used to actually protect that area.  So that's why at this point we’ve indicated that that's not something that we're considering right now.

Q    There have been some suggestions that there’s some room to maneuver when Assad goes.  I know it can't be the U.S. position that that's the case.  But sort of tacitly, isn’t that even what Kerry has been saying, that as long as there’s a managed transition?  I mean, that sort of suggests that if Assad were engaged in making commitments, there could be a timeframe sometime where he could stay in, even if we wouldn’t endorse it, that you wouldn’t oppose it either.

MR. EARNEST:  Well, again, I think what we have indicated is a desire to have exactly the kinds of conversations that you're talking about with the other stakeholders in the region.  And again, we keep coming back to the fact that the political challenges inside of Syria are a significant impediment to our ability to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL.  And we're not going to be able to solve our significant ISIL problem without bringing about the kind of political transition inside of Syria that's long overdue.

Q    Josh, some people see the U.S. posture in the Mideast as a step back that creates a little bit of a leadership vacuum, and that the Russians are now stepping in to that take that place.  Is that how you see it?  And does the President think that Russian buildup in Syria is necessarily a bad thing -- or Russian leadership in this region is necessarily a bad thing?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, you've heard me make the case before, and I’ll do the short version of it, which is that it is our view that for years Syria has essentially functioned as a client state of Russia in the Middle East, and right now Syria is essentially the last toe-hold that Russia has in the Middle East.  And there are -- many analysts have observed that the renewed Russian military commitment to Syria is never to prop up the previous investments that they’ve made in that country.  

So I think it’s hard for anyone to make the case that Russia’s actions inside of Syria are rooted in confidence about their position in the Middle East.  In fact, I think that there was ample reason to think that they’re responding to changes on the ground inside of Syria from a position of weakness, because they’re concerned about the trends inside that country.

So what that prompts the United States and the President to do -- even in the context of the conversation that he had with President Putin yesterday -- is to consider what common ground we might share.  We certainly share common ground about the need for a political transition inside of Syria.  There’s common ground about the need to de-conflict our military activities in that country.  And there’s common ground around the idea that ISIL does pose a significant threat not just to the region, but to countries around the world.  And to the extent that we can cooperate in those areas, there’s a chance that we can advance the interests of citizens in both of our countries.

But it leaves open-ended the question about how precisely the Russians will deploy the military assets that have been moved there.  And they still have some decisions to make.  In all cases, we want to make sure that whatever those activities are -- whether they are solely counter-ISIL activities, or whether they are tangible efforts to try to prop up the Assad regime -- that whatever they are, that first and foremost they are properly de-conflicted with U.S. and coalition military activities inside of Syria.

And we continue to believe that if Russia does commit significant military efforts to try to prop up the Assad regime, that that’s ultimately a losing battle because there is a political transition that needs to take place inside of Syria. And doubling down on Assad is the sort of financial equivalent of throwing good money after bad.  

Q    Just to follow up on that broader point, to what extent would you say that the fact that, for example, the U.S. has declined to have a military, direct boots-on-the-ground entanglement in Syria has provided an opening for players, such as Russia?  And then, just specifically in terms of yesterday in the discussion, you said that one takeaway is that Russia wants to support the government.  Can you clarify at all what that entailed?  Did they talk about how they’d be flying planes; to what extent they’d be intelligence-sharing?  Is there any more clarity we can get on that?

MR. EARNEST:  To answer your second question first, there was not a detailed conversation of that.  There was, rather, a commitment on the part of both Presidents to, on a short timeframe, begin the kind of practical, tactical operational discussions about ensuring that our activities and theirs are effectively de-conflicted.  There was a ready acknowledgement on either side that having our operations come into conflict did not serve anybody’s interests.  

Q    On the broader question?

MR. EARNEST:  On the broader question, I mean, in some ways the President’s U.N. speech was focused on this very question -- which is, it’s the President’s view that the United States is acting from a position of strength when we mobilize the international community, even lead the international community, in responding to difficult international crises.  And that’s why we have worked hard to make sure that it’s not just the United States that’s invested in trying to address the problems that are plaguing Syria.  In fact, we want to make sure that other countries are bought in and are actively contributing to the effort to solve those problems.  

And we’ve seen, at the risk of understating it, the downsides of unilateral, U.S. military commitment to conflicts in the Middle East.  And, in fact, the United States and even the region is still paying the price from some of those ill-advised decisions.  And the President has taken a very different approach that he believes doesn't just better advance our interests, but actually is a true reflection of strength and authority in the international community.

Q    I’ll ask you about Afghanistan.  How big a deal does the White House think the takeover from the Taliban of Kunduz is?  Does it throw into question your draw-down strategy at all?  And what are the steps forward for the U.S. there?

MR. EARNEST:  So I have a little language on this I can share with you.  The United States strongly condemns the Taliban attacks in Kunduz, and we stand with the Afghan people in our commitment to Afghan peace and security.  Afghan forces have begun to retake Kunduz city and have successfully retaken several government buildings.  The United States and our coalition forces that are in Afghanistan are currently providing advisory support in that effort.  

I believe the Department of Defense does have some more specific details on which government facilities have been retaken.  It’s obviously a fluid situation.

Let me add one more thing, which is that, as we affirmed during the September 26th High-Level Event on Afghanistan, the United States, Afghanistan’s neighbors, and our international partners will continue to strongly support Afghan President Ghani and the National Unity government to improve Afghan security, continue to target terrorists, and preserve the gains we have made together. 

The kind of cooperation between the United States, our coalition partners, and the Afghan government is something that has grown over the last 13 years.  And the United States remains invested in supporting the Afghans as they take responsibility for the security situation in their own country. 

Q    It sounds like you’re not saying anything specific about troop numbers.

MR. EARNEST:  At this point, other than condemning the violence and noting that we have taken -- or we are offering some advisory support to them, at this point I don't have any sort of immediate indication that this would change the longer-term strategy that's in place in Afghanistan. 

Q    Josh, one last one.  The first couple years that the President came to the U.N., he was sort of a rock star.  How does that feel now in your seven?

MR. EARNEST:  I noticed the hall was packed when the President walked up to the podium to speak.  And I think that says something about the President, but it also says something about the United States -- that when the President of the United States, regardless of who that person is, is prepared to address the international community, the world is there to listen and is eager to hear about our country’s priorities and our values.

And that's an indication that the United States continues to be the country that the international community looks to when confronting significant international crises.  And the case that the President made is that the interests of our country and the interests of the world are more effectively advanced when the international community is working together.  And ultimately, and all too often, in order to work together the United States needs to lead the way.  And whether it’s climate change for fighting Ebola or even countering ISIL, that's exactly what the United States of America is doing under the leadership of Barack Obama. 

Q    Are there any scheduled (inaudible) to the President’s schedule that we should be aware of for the rest of the week?

MR. EARNEST:  Nothing at this point.  We’ve sort of left the schedule intentionally flexible knowing that we were sort of facing this fiscal cliffhanger.  Hopefully that will get resolved before the end of the day tomorrow.  But we’ll have some more details tomorrow.

Q    Is Merkel where you need her to be on the Syria stuff?

MR. EARNEST:  Sorry?

Q    Merkel -- Angela Merkel.  Are your European allies where you need them to be essentially on Syria and Assad and Russia?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, we have recently seen our European allies step up and make additional commitments to the effort inside of Syria.  And those kinds of relationships are critically important to our success, and we're going to continue to closely partner with our European allies as we confront this challenge.

Q    And was Kazakhstan -- was that meeting just about the membership issue, or was there a broader issue with --

MR. EARNEST:  We coordinate with them on a range of national security issues.  They are a particularly important partner when it comes to certain nuclear nonproliferation priorities.  There’s an establishment inside of Kazakhstan of something called a low-enriched uranium bank.  And that is important to our international efforts to promote nonproliferation.  And that was among the things that were discussed in the context of that meeting today. 

Q    Will there be a readout?

MR. EARNEST:  Yes, we’ll get you a written readout.

Q    Did President Castro ask President Obama whether the U.S. will abstain on that upcoming Security Council vote?  Or did the President make him any assurances? 

MR. EARNEST:  I don't have a detailed readout of their meeting beyond what I told you.  

Q    Even a vague one would be -- (laughter) --

MR. EARNEST:  Check with my National Security Council counterparts and they may be able to get you something. 

Q    Do you know how long each of those two bilaterals were?

MR. EARNEST:  No, but we can get that for you.  

Okay, thanks, guys.

END 
2:17 P.M. EDT

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<![CDATA[Readout of Vice President Biden’s Meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko]]> Tue, 29 Sep 2015 19:44:00 CDT Vice President Joe Biden met today with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.  The two leaders discussed the implementation of the Minsk agreements and the need for Russia to press the separatists it backs to cancel sham elections in the separatist-controlled parts of the Donbas, which, if held, would be in direct contravention of the Minsk Implementation Plan.  The Vice President welcomed the recently concluded agreement on further demilitarization along the line of contact, but expressed concern over the failure by the separatists to grant full access to OSCE monitors and Russia's continued deployment of troops and weapons inside Ukraine.  The two leaders also discussed the need to strengthen regional energy security, as well as domestic political developments in advance of local Ukrainian elections in October.

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<![CDATA[Readout of Vice President Biden’s Meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Abe]]> Tue, 29 Sep 2015 19:09:00 CDT Today, Vice President Biden met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly meetings.  The Vice President congratulated Prime Minister Abe on the passage of Japan’s security legislation, and the two reaffirmed the strength of the alliance and the historic level of cooperation between our two countries.  The two leaders discussed a range of regional and global issues, including maritime security, cyber issues, and regional relations.  Vice President Biden and Prime Minister Abe discussed the Trans-Pacific Partnership and agreed that their negotiating teams would work closely together – and with other partners – with the goal of resolving the limited number of outstanding issues at the upcoming Ministers meeting in Atlanta.




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<![CDATA[Panel Discussion with the First Lady, Julia Gillard, Former Prime Minister of Australia, Charlize Theron, Actress and Activist, and Nurfahada, Girl Project Ambassador on the Importance of Girls' Educa]]> Tue, 29 Sep 2015 18:33:00 CDT The Apollo Theater
New York, New York

11:43 A.M. EDT

MS. LEIVE:  Welcome, everybody.  Now, I want to start off -- I think they’re a little excited about the panel.  I want to start off by asking you -- this is an issue that affects every human on this planet.  But I’m curious about the reasons that each of you decided personally to get involved with this cause.  

Julia -- why did you decide to take this issue on?

MS. GILLARD:  For me, education has been a theme across my life.  I was very conscious growing up that my father missed out on a good-quality education simply because of poverty growing up in a village, a coal-mining village in South Wales.  I know education has made my life, so I’m passionate about ensuring that we make sure every girl around the world has the same opportunities.

MS. LEIVE:  Charlize?

MS. THERON:  Yes.  We all should have that right.  And it shouldn’t be education -- something as vital as education shouldn’t be left up to the lottery of geography or gender.  It’s just not fair.  

And I think that most of the problems that we have in the world is because over half of the population is not having access to that education.  And I think for myself personally, coming from South Africa, where we have the highest population of HIV -- people living with HIV, we have done so much research in the field of education, and we know that stopping AIDS lies within education.  And so it’s so interconnected; you can’t do one without the other.  

MS. LEIVE:  Mrs. Obama?

MRS. OBAMA:  Well, for me, this is personal.  When I think about those 62 million girls that aren’t in school I think about myself, I think about my daughters.  Because, quite frankly, all these girls, these are our girls.  And I think about where I would be in my life if I didn’t work hard in school and have the opportunity to go to college and then onto law school.  I wouldn’t be here.

So I think it’s imperative -- and it is part of my passion and my mission -- to make sure that every girl on the planet has the same opportunity that I’ve had, that my daughters have.  And I want to make sure that all of you here in the United States are taking advantage of the opportunities that you have as well.  I want you to be that hungry to get your education, because it is going to be the key to your future.  (Applause.)  

MS. LEIVE:  Nurfahada, we’re going to hear your story in a minute, but first I want to take a question from the crowd here.  We have a question from a student.  Monica (ph), from Communities in Schools.  Monica.

Q    Hi, I’m Monica.  I’m 17, from Communities in Schools.  And my question for you all is tell me a little bit about your education growing up.  What was school like?  And did you have a favorite teacher or subject?

MS. LEIVE:  Charlize, do you want to start us off here?

MS. THERON:  Well, I’m from South Africa, so I had a really interesting primary education.  It was the kind of little farm community school -- very small, very intimate.  Sometimes no shoes.  Some kids would just walk to school, it was a very safe environment, and just in the middle of nature.  It was really special.

And I only realized how fortunate I was to kind of go to this very unique little school when I came to America and I saw bigger schools, and also when I went to high school.  But there was a teacher there -- I was raised in Afrikaans.  And I went to school -- I had my schooling in Afrikaans.  And we had an English teacher, Mrs. Beal (ph), and she had flaming red hair.  And she just walked down the school halls with this attitude of ownership.  And she was a little round, and she would just shake her hips in a way that was just like -- there was complete ownership in her.  

And she was really inspiring to me because she was so -- she would say something for exactly what it was.  And she also never let -- she saw the potential in girls just as much as in boys.  And so we were allowed the same and we were treated the same.  And that meant that when I got in trouble, I went to the principal’s office -- and she made sure to do that quite a bit.  And now I’m so grateful for it.

MS. LEIVE:  Mrs. Obama, I know you’ve talked about what your educational experience was like.  Can you share that?

MRS. OBAMA:  Well, I grew up on the South Side of Chicago.  I’m the product of the public school system in Chicago.  I went to the neighborhood grammar school, elementary school around the corner from my house.  And from the time I could remember, for whatever reason -- probably because of my parents -- I knew that school was important.  And I wanted to put 120 percent into it.

I always wanted to be the top student.  I wanted to talk.  I wanted to raise my hand.  And I had parents -- even though they never went to college, they always had that expectation for us.  My brother and I, we were going to college.  Period.  

But I also remember these wonderful teachers that I had at Bryn Mawr -- that’s the name of my school; it’s a new name now, but it’s still there -- Mr. Martinez, Mr. Bennett (ph).  Those teachers were the first teachers that I could tell who loved students.  And they would let us just talk and talk and talk, and we would spend hours sometimes debating subjects, talking about popular culture.  And I just learned, as I’ve said, to speak up for myself.

And then I got the chance to go to a magnet high school on the far West Side of Chicago.  And it was a new school, it was a college prep school.  And I felt so lucky -- you had to test to get in, and I wanted so desperately to be at a school where they -- where every student valued education, where there wasn’t -- where you weren’t treated like some strange nerd because you liked to read, or that you wanted to do well.  And Whitney Young was that school for me.

So I would get on a bus and ride for an hour and a half to get to this school.  That’s how important it was for me.  It took me an hour and a half to get there and an hour and a half to get back.  So I spent three hours commuting to get to this high school because I was determined that this high school was going to be my stepping stone to the colleges that I wanted to be able to compete for.

And I always loved writing.  And that’s one thing I encourage all of you to do.  There is nothing that you can’t do if know how to write and communicate well.  So don’t get mad at your teachers when they edit your papers and they make you write and rewrite and rewrite, okay?  Because that’s just going to get you into the practice of being who you want to be. 

And when you go to college -- and all of you are going to college, whether it’s community college or four-year college, you’re going -- (applause) -- you will be grateful that you spent this time learning how to write.

MS. LEIVE:  We have another question from the audience.  This one is from Rhea (ph), and Rhea is a Girl Scout.  Hi, Rhea.

Q    Hi.  I’m Rhea, I’m 13.  And I have a question for Ms. Gillard.  If other girls halfway across the country don’t get educated, how does that affect people in this room?

PRIME MINISTER GILLARD:  That’s a great question.  And I think we should care, because every human being is special and important, but there’s a whole set of practical reasons why we should care, too.

I want you to grow up and live in a peaceful and prosperous world.  And the evidence is incredibly clear that the more time people spend at school, the more likely they are to support peaceful ways of resolving conflict, the more likely they are to support democracy, the more likely they are to show tolerance of other religions.

The more we educate girls, the more likely it is that she will marry later rather than be forced into an early marriage, have fewer children later in life.  Those children will be more likely to survive infanthood, more likely to be vaccinated, more likely to go to schools themselves.  

And so for you and your future, that means that nations that you think of now as places of poverty and places of disorder could be on a path to peace and prosperity because we’re educating the children, and particularly because we’re educating the girls. 

So individually, your life’s journey matters to you, but actually the life’s journey of these 62 million girls matters to the world that you’re going to live in.  (Applause.) 

MS LEIVE:  Nurfahada, I want you to tell the audience a little bit about your story.  We heard a bit about it before, but tell us, what is the situation for girls in your country who want to get an education, and what are you personally doing about it?  
NURFAHADA:  In the Philippines is -- city where I live, the region -- girls there are not educated because of different reasons.

One reason is violence -- violence like sexual harassment, physical, mental and verbal abuses.  And second is poverty -- okay, especially -- they’re not studying because they are working to support their family needs.  And the third and the foremost of all, the most common reason in our country in my -- where I live is teenage pregnancy, where girls are being dropped out from school.  

So we are solving this kind of problem by -- I, together with my fellow girl advocates, we have been asking government officials and policymakers to pass laws in order to -- for girls to go to school again.  (Applause.)  

MS. LEIVE:  How did you connect with other girl advocates, other girls who thought this was wrong?  And what has been the reaction?

NURFAHADA:  We are from different regions, but we’re connected by the help of Plan International.  We are connected because we are doing it as one.  We are connected because we are aware of what is the problem of -- in our country.

So what my feeling is about this is that I’m happy because those girls are really amazing.  My fellow girl advocates are really amazing.  They’re really -- aside from me here, I’m sitting in front of you -- they’re so really happy that this world is like this one.  Like this event, it is helping girls to raise up their voices.  (Applause.)  

MS. LEIVE:  I know that each of you here on this stage works to help Nurfahada and the other girls who are really pushing to get their education.  I’m curious about what the specific mission of each of your organizations is.  What is the hole that you were looking to fill?  And, Mrs. Obama, let’s start with Let Girls Learn.

MRS. OBAMA:  Thank you, Cindi.  Cindi mentioned that earlier this year, the President and I launched a new initiative that we’re calling Let Girls Learn, with the goal of making sure that these 62 million girls have the support and resources they need to get the education that’s going to just rocket them to opportunity.

And our approach is really focused on community-led, community-driven solutions.  We’re partnering with organizations like the Peace Corps, and Girls Inc., and Girl Rising, and the Girl Scouts and all the girls all over the land.  But the Peace Corps is a very important partner, because Peace Corps volunteers work in communities around the world and they’re placed there for two years.  And these Peace Corps volunteers are going to be working on projects that are developed by -- in partnership with leaders in the villages and the communities where they’re working.  They’re working with the families to hope to change the mindset that you’ve heard about, to help provide resources.

And what we hope to do is to have all of our partners here do some work to help support the projects that Peace Corps volunteers are developing on the ground.  Because our belief is that there’s no one reason why girls are not in school, it really varies from community to community.  I mean, it could be the absence of resources to pay for school fees.  It could be issues of teen pregnancy or early marriage in another part of the world.  Or it could be fundamental mindset that fathers and leaders and mothers don’t believe that their girls are as worthy as the boys are to get an education.  

So you have to attack that kind of mindset from the bottom up.  So we’re really working to engage everyone on the ground all around the world.  But we also want you all to be aware of this.

So a huge part of Let Girls Learn is public awareness here in the U.S.  We want you guys to know about these 62 million girls, and we want this to spur and inspire you to not take your education for granted.  Because let me tell you, there are 62 million girls around the world who would give anything to be in your position.  I don’t care if you go to one of the most underserved communities in your -- in the country, there is a girl that would love to be in your place.

So you all have to own this piece of education.  And if you care about those girls, then the first thing you have to do is care about your education so that you grow up empowered to be able to work on this issue when you’re our age.  (Applause.) 

MS. LEIVE:  And you mentioned the 62 Million Girls campaign, which I know I’ve seen all over social media for the last few days, and I know you’re responsible for that.  What are you asking people in this room to do?

MRS. OBAMA:  Well, I know you guys got cards and everybody listening in -- we’re trying to raise awareness about the plight of these 62 million girls.  And again, we want to use this message to inspire our kids here at home to take advantage of their education.

So what we are asking everybody to do is to take a photo -- this is where Instagram and tweeting -- I love it, right, because I want you all to be tweeting and Instagramming something other than your shoes and your food, okay?  (Laughter.)  My kids do the same.  I’m like, who cares what you’re eating?  I don’t care.  (Laughter.)  But we all should care about this.

So you take a photo of yourself, you upload it, and you answer this one question:  What I learned in school is blank.  And then you send it to everyone you know.  And we’ve got so many people this weekend -- we’ve got Leo DiCaprio who tweeted it out.  I know Charlize is going to do it.  Kerry Washington, she’s going to do it.  We’ve got everybody -- Beyoncé tweeted out.  (Applause.)  It’s very exciting.

So we want you to be a part of it.  We’re creating a photo album of all the images and the photos and the messages -- why is school important to you?  And we’re going to spread that all over the country.  And go back to your schools and your communities and get everyone you know to do the same thing.  We’re going to make this go viral.  That’s something, right?  (Applause.) 

MS. LEIVE:  That’s a thing.  Julia, talk about your organization.  You came up with -- three grueling years as Prime Minister.  You could have been putting your feet up off on a yacht somewhere.  Why did you decide to do this instead?

PRIME MINISTER GILLARD:  I’m not a very good sailor.  I get seasick easily, so I’ve made the right choice.  (Laughter.)  For everybody in the audience, for the schoolgirls in the audience, if you just think about your school and everything in it, what makes your school?  You’ve got to have the teachers, you’ve got to have the classrooms, you’ve got to have the equipment, you’ve got to have the books, you’ve got to have the curriculum, you’ve got to have the examinations -- all of these things come together to make your school.  And they don’t drop out of the sky.  They don’t get there by accident.  They get there because someone has very carefully planned to make sure your school ends up with what it needs.

In many of the poor countries where we work, the Global Partnership for Education, there has never been a plan for schooling.  And so we work in that country with the government, with teachers, with community members to get the first-ever plan for schooling to make sure that it’s for all the kids, for all the girls; it doesn’t leave someone who lives in a country area out, or speaks a different language out, or has a disability out -- that it’s an inclusive education plan.

And then in the really poorest parts of the world, we help fund that plan.  And we’re only able to do that because of the generosity of so many governments around the world -- the European Union, the United Kingdom, but also the generosity of your government, the United States, that gives us money to do that very vital work.  

MS. LEIVE:  Charlize, you were talking before about the connection between HIV/AIDS and girls’ education.  Can you talk about what the Africa Outreach program is trying to do, and why educating girls is such a key part of that?

MS. THERON:  Yes.  Everybody has said such beautiful things here today, and I just want to echo that -- just how fortunate everybody, me included, in this room is today, and in our good fortune, how we can today turn around and use social media, use our voice, going out at dinner tonight keeping this conversation going about how fortunate we are and how we can’t take for granted the great things that we have.  

And that -- I think women especially are nurturers at heart, and we care about the rest of the world.  And the reason why we should care has been so beautifully articulated by you today.  

I will say that for me, it’s very personal coming from a country where more people are living with HIV than anywhere else in the world.  And we have seen across the board over the last decade with AIDS a decrease, or a stability in infection rates.  But with young girls and young women, we have seen an increase.  I don’t know if any of you know, but today, HIV kills more women of reproductive age than anything else.  And that’s globally.  And so we should be concerned about that.

AIDS is the number-one killer in Africa of adolescents.  It’s the number-two killer of adolescents globally.  So we are very affected by our health, and we now know that there is research that education is connected to making good health choices, and so we save lives.  Education is actually saving lives.  And I’m so glad to know that this is something that’s really stuck with me.  But the Global Health Campaign has said that education is a social vaccine against HIV -- and it’s so incredibly true, because we know, like you said, when girls stay in school they’re much likely to not become infected.  

We have seen in Zimbabwe that girls are five times less likely to become infected if they stay in school.  In my country, in South Africa, girls are eight times more likely to become infected than boys.  And what that tells me is that girls are being left behind.  In certain pockets of the world, including here sometimes I find, women are still -- young girls and young women are still being seen as second or as third-class citizens.  And until we start to change that and actually stand up for ourselves and for our fellow women and young girls out in the world, and say that we are actually the answer to a lot of these problems and that we have this right, nothing is really going to change.  I think we actually have the power to change that.  

All of you in this room, today, have the power to do that with your cellphones -- and how grateful that you all have a cellphone.  And I tell my girls in Africa, too -- they all have cellphones too.  Cellphones are amazing for that.  And I agree with the First Lady -- I actually do like food photos.  (Laughter.)  So I would say keep those, but also tweet about this.  I love a good food photo, I’m sorry.  I’m such a foodie.  But we have such a strong voice with that.

And with my organization, the empowerment of women is so important.  I believe that poverty -- world poverty, world hunger, health issues -- all of this stuff lies within the empowerment of young girls and women.  (Applause.)  

MS. LEIVE:  I want to take another question from the audience.  This one comes from Tiffany (ph), who is a freshman at Democracy Prep Endurance High School.  (Applause.)  

Q    Hi, I’m Tiffany.  This is a question for the First Lady.  As First Lady, you have thousands of worthy causes to choose from.  Why are you so committed to having girls have education?

MRS. OBAMA:  Well, I think you heard it said up here.  If we want to end poverty, global poverty, if we want to improve the plight of our country -- educating girls is the key to all of that.  It just is.  It’s plain and simple.  And when I look into the faces of the girls, you guys, whenever I travel around the world, I see so much promise.  

Nurfahada, just -- this young, beautiful, intelligent young girl -- I mean -- (applause) -- she has traveled here, she’s here in the United States, she’s sitting on the panel with the First Lady of the United States and she is holding her own.  Now, just imagine what -- just imagine if she couldn’t get an education.  What a waste.  What a waste that would be.  But there are 62 million girls with that kind of potential, and all of you are among them, and you have to know that in your heart that you are worthy of this and you are able to lead, and to shine, and to learn, and to teach.  You all are our next future leaders, our entrepreneurs, our mothers.  (Applause.)  

So this is no joke.  This issue is probably one of the most important issues that we should be tackling on the planet.  So we need you to be as pumped up and focused about this issue as we all are, because we can’t do this unless you all are taking on the reins and you’re using your voices.  

And you don’t have to be the First Lady to have a huge voice and to have influence.  Right now, you are influencing somebody probably younger than you in your life.  You are already mentors, because there are girls in your communities that are looking up to you.  So what are you going to tell them?  You’re going to tell them to stay in school, take this stuff to heart, read, write, go to school.  Don’t be late, do your homework.  Get the best grade you can.  Compete with the boys, beat the boys.  All right?  (Applause.)  That’s what you’re going to tell them.  Because you all are capable, but we have to spread that word.  And, first and foremost, we have to believe it to be true for ourselves.  And I learned that when I was young.  I am worthy.  And if I’m worthy, so are you.  (Applause.)  

MS. LEIVE:  All right, we have another question from the audience.  This one is from a Girl Rising Ambassador, Laisa (ph).  Hi, Laisa.

Q    Hi.  So my name is Laisa.  I’m 16 years old, and my question is for all of you.  In terms of educating girls, what have been your biggest successes and biggest obstacles so far?  And how do you not get discouraged or disappointed when the result is not what you wanted?  (Applause.) 

PRIME MINISTER GILLARD:  Yes, my -- life in politics you learn to say some good things and also have to show some persistence.  And with this challenge of girls’ education, we’ve got to do precisely that.  There is so much more we need to do for the 62 million girls.  But I feel optimistic about it, and I feel optimistic because I’ve seen in the countries that GPE works, that there is a difference being made.

Take a country like Afghanistan.  Not an easy place to work; a place that has emerged from conflict.  There in Afghanistan, we’ve been working to get more girls into school.  And now, more than 40 percent of the children in school are girls.  And interestingly more than 30 percent of the teachers are women.  And the two actually in Afghanistan go together because families are much more likely to send their girl to school if she’s going to be taught by a female teacher.  So you think to yourself, if we can make change there, then we can make it in so many places around the world.  

Think of South Sudan.  You've probably seen some very, very sad images on your TV screens about the conflict there and how many people have faced violence.  But we are working there for change; working to make sure that there’s a primary school curriculum that teaches boys and girls that they are equal to each other, and that they can all have a stake in the future of South Sudan.

So I’m optimistic.  We’ve seen a lot of change.  Since the year 2000, 70 million more children have got to go to school.  Well, if we’ve done that, we can do these 62 million and make sure these girls are in school too.  (Applause.) 

Q    (Inaudible) it is not as important for girls to go to school as it is for boys (inaudible)?

MS. LEIVE:  So this question is really about how do you not just change the law but really change the thinking of families and communities.  Charlize, I know you've thought a lot about this.  What do you think?

MS. THERON:  Well, I think we all learn from example.  I really believe that.  And I’ve learned from it, and I’m inspired by it because every time I see a young girl not being taken for granted and giving her the equal rights that she deserves, what I see is an improvement in the family home.  I see an improvement in her environment.  I see an improvement in her village.

We know that these things enrich not only her but it enriches everybody that she touches.  And it also enriches the social-economic structure of it.  She stays in school, she’s going to get a better job.  She’s going to earn more money, and therefore the country is going to benefit from it.

It’s so sad to me, because obviously the idea that the young girl in Kenya is thought of as less important than her brother to go to school is something that is such a burden on a young girl, and it’s a burden that she doesn't deserve.  None of us deserve.  Imagine trying to put yourself in that little girl’s shoes.

So the more we talk about this stuff, and the more we actually fight -- and the more we can fight from here, the more we will live by that example, the more they will be encouraged to use that as an example.  And I think that's how we inspire each other, and that's how we encourage each other.  

And I will also say we should be enraged by it.  I believe that we should be so excited about all of this, but we shouldn’t allow this anymore.  It should enrage us that a young girl in Kenya is being treated that way and not being given -- gender equality is a huge problem everywhere in the world, but especially in these pockets.  And these girls are being completely forgotten.

MS. LEIVE:  I have a related question.  I think a lot of girls even in this country sometimes still think that doing well in school will not make them more attractive to boys, or that it will actually make them less attractive.  I would like you smart, attractive, wonderful women to respond to that.  Is there any truth to that?

MS. THERON:  That just enrages me so much.  There is nothing sexier than a smart woman.  (Applause.)  We have been told to live by a certain mold -- women, especially women -- and it’s time to break it.  And it is up to us to do that.  Stop waiting for men to do that.  Look in the mirror and see yourself and say, I am sexy.  I am attractive.  I am smart.  I am intelligent.  I am powerful.  I have a voice.  (Applause.)  I look cute in these jeans.  (Laughter.)  Yes, I don't have long hair, I have short hair, but I am still a girl.  And I’m still hot.  (Laughter.)  That's up to us.  We have to take ownership in all of that stuff.

We can't have boys designate that for us anymore.

MRS. OBAMA:  And let’s just be clear, you don't want to be with a boy that's too stupid to know -- (applause) -- and appreciate a smart, young lady.  And I want to encourage all of us as young women, as older women, we have to raise our own bars.  You will not be successful hanging around people who drag you down.  

And it’s not just the boys, right, but it’s also our peer group.  You have to fill your bucket with positive energy.  And if you have people hanging around you that are bringing you down and not lifting you up -- whether that's your boo or your best friend -- you've got to learn how to push these people to the side.  And you're going to be doing that for the rest of your lives.  So get practice now.  You have to clean your house of negative energy.  (Applause.) 

There is no boy at this age that is cute enough or interesting enough to stop you from getting your education.  (Applause.)  

Look, if I had worried about who liked me and who thought I was cute when I was as your age, I wouldn’t be married to the President of the United States today.  (Applause.)  

MS. LEIVE:  All right, girls, you got that?  You're talking about men and boys.  And, first of all, do we have any guys in the audience here?  (Applause.)  

MRS. OBAMA:  Don't be scared.  Don't be scared.  You're safe.  You're safe here.  

MS. LEIVE:  All right, good.  Well, good for you.  And we love your commitment.  How important do you all think it is to have men and boys actually speaking up about this?  So it’s not just this echo chamber of women and girls talking to each other and saying, isn’t it important for us to be educated?  

Julia, I know you must have a lot of male allies in this fight.

PRIME MINISTER GILLARD:  We do have a lot of male allies, and we need them because coming back to the question that you were discussing:  How do we change attitudes?  Often it can be men who are the best persuaders of other men that they should be valuing their girls’ education.  And we are all just blown away by the courage of Malala.  She is an amazing young woman.  But her father, too, is an amazing person.  And as a man in Pakistan, he decided that educating girls mattered and made a difference not only to his daughter’s life, but to so many other girls’ lives.  And we need people like that in communities who are prepared to stand up and say, let’s educate our girls.

So male champions for the change, we need to see you.  You're absolutely vital to us.  So to all the men in the audience, thank you for coming along.  And you too are a big part of this process of change.  (Applause.) 

MS. LEIVE:  What has male support or lack of support been like for you in your community?  What have men’s attitudes been as you've stood up for yourself as a girl?

NURFAHADA:  Well, for me, for us, for girls, it is not just like that what men look us for them.  Just be who you are.  No one can ever place what is you -- what is yourself.  It is just that as long as you're doing right, you're doing all of the things -- not just for yourself, but also for others -- you're being good.  Without regardless what is the attention of the men around you.  (Applause.) 

MS. THERON:  Can I quickly -- can I also just quick -- because they're here.  Vinz and Nico who sang for you guys.  (Applause.)   I have to just give them a shout-out.  They're a great example of just how much we need guys to stand up.  And they remind us how much guys want to stand up and help in women’s rights.  So I just want to say on my front, thank you to them.  Because they’ve been so incredibly helpful wanting to step forward and be part of the campaign to get girls to be not forgotten.

And it’s so wonderful because they're two young guys who are very influential.  And they are spreading that with their friends.  Like you said, this is -- so thank you, guys.  (Applause.) 

MS. LEIVE:  We have another question from a Democracy Prep student Tayira (ph).

Q    Hi.  My name is Tayira Bunch (ph), and I’m an 11th grade scholar at Democracy Prep Charter High School.  This question is for the First Lady and Ms. Gillard.  What can I do as an American high school student to help my counterparts get a quality education in countries that block them from going to school?  (Applause.) 

MRS. OBAMA:  Excellent, excellent question.  Well, first of all, being here, being aware, spreading the word -- that's just so incredibly important.

We have developed this wonderful toolkit through Let Girls Learn.  Go online at LetGirlsLearn.peacecorps.gov.  You’ll find the tool kit that walks you through some ideas and strategies for providing support to the Peace Corps volunteers that are working on girls’ education projects around the world.  Girls’ groups have done things like car washes to raise money.  They’ve done screenings of documentaries like “I am Malala.”  They hold education forums.  There are so many interesting things that you can do, and this site will give you some ideas.

The only thing I would just repeat is that don't underestimate the power of your voices.  If you just think about it, if everyone here goes back and educates 10 other people in their lives about this issue, and then those 10 educate 10 more and 10 more and 10 more and 10 more, just think about how many people will be aware of this issue and will start thinking of ways in their own lives, in their own communities for having an impact.  There is no task, there’s no effort that's too small on something like this.  

And one thing I’ll say about change -- just to add to the question before -- is that change happens incrementally.  Sometimes we think in this world that change is big.  The only thing that happens quickly is a disaster.  A tornado will destroy a community.  An earthquake will devastate.  But change for the positive oftentimes is incremental.  It’s person by person.  It’s step by step.  It’s the hard, boring, tedious work of every day moving an issue forward just a little bit more, and a little bit more, and all of that effort amounts to something huge.  So we can’t be discouraged.

Solving this problem will take generations, okay?  It’s going to take the work of your children and your grandchildren.  But we can never give up.  Never.  We just can't afford to.  We’ve talked about it.  

So we need you guys using your voices, using your platforms to bring awareness, and to roll up your sleeves and think about creative ways that you can start reaching out to those millions of girls all over the world that are looking to you to be their models.  (Applause.) 

PRIME MINISTER GILLARD:  I absolutely agree with all of that.  And there’s one thing I’d add:  Your voice are very, very strong.  And direct them, too, to world leaders -- the world leaders who come to this city, who go to the United Nations, who we need to fund girls’ education.  And what you should say to those leaders is a pretty simple thing -- it costs on average in developing countries $1.18 a day to educate a girl -- in primary school and secondary school -- $1.18 a day.  It’s not very much money.

And when we look at the gap, how much more money do we need to make sure every girl is educated?  Actually, developing countries themselves are already financing 88 percent of what we need.  So what’s the gap?  It’s 14 cents a day.  So if world leaders stepped forward -- 14 cents a day for each of these girls, then we would be able to make sure they went to primary school and to secondary school.  That's got to be doable -- 14 cents a day.  (Applause.) 

MS. LEIVE:  Our next question is from the audience.  I think it’s a question for you, Nurfahada.  And it comes from Fatima, who is a recent graduate of Asian University for Women.  Where are you, Fatima?

Q    Hi, I am Fatima.  I’m 25.  And here is my question to Nurfahada.

Nurfahada, I’m from Afghanistan.  And I came from a similar background where I have had to be very determined in my pursuit of my education.  Today, I am proud to be a graduate from the Asian University for Women, a university -- (applause) -- aimed at educating women who are the first in their family to attend university.  It’s really inspiring to see you on the stage as a leader and example for so many girls.  But I know it must be difficult.  Can you tell me what motivates you when you want to give up?  Thank you.  (Applause.)  

    NURFAHADA:  Oh, what motivates me when I want to give up?  I just close my eyes and see the faces of those girls who needs me -- on raising their voices, potential, and their problems, their needs.  And they want me to say it to the world leaders, to tell to the world leaders that they have the potential to make a brighter future despite of what they have done for.

And the most -- I just see -- I am being inspired not just by you.  You said that you're being inspired by me.  And also I’m being inspired by you because I am doing this for all of our girls, for all of us to raise our rights to the whole world.  And I believe in that, that we can make a better future for all of us.  (Applause.) 

MS. LEIVE:  Our next question is from Lindsey (ph) in the Philippines through Plan International.  So let’s take a look at the video.

Q    Do you have a -- advice for those who feel pressured to support their family’s (inaudible) instead of getting their education?

MS. LEIVE:  This is a great question for you -- girls who have to provide for their families, or that's what their families want for them.

PRIME MINISTER GILLARD:  And this is one of the big things that keeps girls out of school, that families are just so poor that either they need their girl to work, or they need their girl to help out with domestic labor so an adult can go to work, or they need their girl to be working on the small bit of land that they farm to try to eke enough food out of to feed the family.

So it comes back really to what we can do to support that family so that they’ve got the space, the capacity to make the choice to send the girl to school.  And it can be small things that make a big difference.  Providing school meals can change a family’s mind.  If their girl is going to go to school and get a big meal that day, that can be the difference.  Providing incentives -- a little bit of money, not much money, but a little bit of money -- to reward families for sending their girls to school.  That can make it all add up for that family. 

So as we're combating inequality and making sure our girls are in school, we’ve got to be thinking about how to defeat poverty at the same time.  Because it’s poverty that is holding so many of these girls back.

MS. LEIVE:  This is another money-related question, and it comes from Miriam (ph) in the audience from Girls Inc.  Miriam?  (Applause.) 

Q    Hi.  I’m Miriam.  And my question is for the First Lady.  What programs are available here in the United States to make college affordable?  And what help is available to get a job when I graduate from college?  (Applause.) 

MRS. OBAMA:  Excellent question.  Affordability is important.  It’s something that I went through -- worrying about whether my parents, who were working-class folks, could afford my college tuition.  But fortunately we live in a country where there are resources.

And the one thing that I will encourage all of you to do who are seniors.  And when you become seniors, there’s something called the FAFSA form -- you have got to fill that out.  And there’s a timeframe for doing that.  You talk to your high school counselors or you can go to ReachHigher.gov -- our website to find out more about FAFSA.  But you have to fill that form out because when you do, you will gain access to the billions of dollars in financial aid that this administration, that our government makes available.  Something else that makes our country so unique -- there are resources out there. 

So I don't want anybody here in the United States to let finances be that barrier.  It’s a real concern.  You want to take this very seriously.  But you've got to be involved with your college counselors.  Talk to someone.  If you don't have support in your school, find someone at your church.  Find someone who has been to college.  Talk to some of the seniors who have graduated to get the help that you need because there are resources available for you.  

And that's one of the reason why I want to encourage us here in the United States to be hungry for education, because we have a free public school system that every kid has access to.  Yes, it’s not perfect.  Yes, there needs to be more work to make sure that those schools are equal.  But everyone in the United States, every child has a school they can go to.  And that's not the case for these 62 million girls, that -- many of them have to travel miles to get to a school.  Many of them are being educated in school rooms that are little more than a dirt floor with a rickety desk.  They don't have teachers who live nearby.  They are fighting and literally dying to get their education.  

So we cannot afford to take these opportunities here in the United States for granted.  That's my message to all of you.  Reach higher.  Get your education.  Find the resources that are there, and take your education seriously.   (Applause.) 

Q    (Inaudible) I want to go to the university, and I want to study business administration.  For girls who are considering higher education, what advice do you have for us as we choose our course?

MS. LEIVE:  The question is about specific courses.  What should girls and women be studying now?  Julia, do you want to take that?

PRIME MINISTER GILLARD:  I think it’s such an individual thing what course really makes you feel inspired and passionate and lights you up, and what future you want to have for yourself.  So I don't think that I can give advice other than to say think about what you really enjoyed at school.  Think about where you want to be, what you visualize yourself doing when you're a working person, and find the course that links the two.  

And if you end up studying something and it’s not right, then don't feel trapped.  You can change.  You can always come back and do something else.  All of the girls in the audience, for you, education isn’t going to be one shot and then you're done.  You're working people.  You're going to live in a world where you come and go back and forth to education.  It’s going to be a world of possibility and opportunity.  And it’s education throughout your life that will let you grab it with both hands.  

So think about what you're really passionate about and pick that course.

MS. LEIVE:  I would only add there that although I think we all want to follow our dream, just a few numbers -- the salaries for women in health care and technology fields do tend to be higher.  STEM fields still have incredibly low numbers of women in them.  (Applause.) 

My mom was a biochemist.  And when I look at the numbers now I don't think it’s all that different from when she got into it.  And those are great careers for women -- financially and in terms of the impact that you can make on the world.

MRS. OBAMA:  Well, I just want to mention to that point, that again, we live in the United States where we have a phenomenal community college system all over the country.  Four-year colleges may not be for everyone.  But that's the beauty of the United States.  You have the option to go to a community college where many of them are training for jobs that actually exist.  

I’ve visited some of the best community colleges where they have nursing training programs, nursing-aid training programs, rad-tech programs, where kids are studying for two years and they're placed right into a job at a hospital or working in a nursing home.  They're training students for jobs that actually exist.  

And for many kids, they're just not ready for that deep dive into a four-year.  They don't want to go away from home necessarily.  They are worried about the resources.  Here in the United States we’ve got these this wonderful community college structure -- something that my husband actually is trying to make sure is free for everyone.  Hopefully he can do that.  (Applause.)  But that's a goal.  

So explore your options.  Don't think that there’s just one path to do this.  It’s not always a four-year college.  It’s a windy road to get to where you want to be.  Just stay determined.  Know that you will fail at things, okay?  Failure is an important part of your growth and developing resilience.  Everybody on this stage has failed miserably over the course of their lives, and we will continue.

MS. THERON:  I don't know what you're talking about.  (Laughter.)  

MRS. OBAMA:  Yes, I know.  Except for Charlize.  I think she’s lying.  That's okay.  (Laughter.)  Don't be afraid to fail, okay?  (Applause.) 

MS. THERON:  Can I just quickly -- I just want to add one little part on that.

MS. LEIVE:  Are you going to tell us your failure story?   (Laughter.)  

MR. THERON:  Yeah, well, we don’t have enough time for that.  Failure -- you know, it’s Nelson Mandela, I think, said -- it’s not will we all fail.  It’s we’re going to fall down -- it’s how you get up.  That’s what matters.  (Applause.)  

I just want to add just a small part on what everybody so beautifully has said on this stage, and I just want to leave you all with one small piece of advice, and that is that the heart and passion is so incredibly powerful.  And what I would encourage you all to do is to really listen to that.  

And I think sometimes, especially girls, we aim so much lower than what we’re really valued and what we’re worth.  And I would just want to leave you all with this:  You are worth it, and you’re valued.  So aim big and dream big.  Because I’m sitting on this stage today, a farm girl from a small farm community in South Africa.  And the fact that I am here today is witness that if you dream big, no matter how ridiculous it is, it can happen -- so why not?  (Applause.)  

MS. LEIVE:  Our last audience question is from Jadelyn (ph), who’s a student at the Manhattan East School for Arts and Academics.  (Applause.)  Hi, Jadelyn.

Q    Hi, I’m Jadelyn, and here’s my question for all of you.  If you could go back in time and give your high school self one piece of advice, what would it be?  

MS. LEIVE:  Charlize, do you want to start us off here?

MR. THERON:  Oh, boy.  You just don’t wear shoulder pads.  What were you thinking?  (Laughter.)  You have shoulders like a football player, don’t do that.  

No, seriously -- well, that too -- but I think I would so love to go back and say to myself, slow down, breathe, don’t feel so rushed.  I think when we’re young we feel like time is just somehow going to run out.  And we’re moving so fast that we’re not taking enough time to really think things through, to really think about long term, and to be kinder to ourselves to say, okay, we have the luxury, we have the time, let’s be grateful for that and utilize it to its best potential.

And I think sometimes when we’re younger and we’re rushing through life, and we’re rushing through education, and we’re rushing through this one part of our life that only comes once, really -- I mean, you’re only going to be this age once.  And it’s such a gift.  Slow down.  Enjoy it.  (Applause.)  

MS. LEIVE:  Julia, what would your advice to the younger Julia Gillard be?

PRIME MINISTER GILLARD:  I think I’ve got some fashion crimes to confess as well.  (Laughter.)  So I’d certainly say to a younger version of myself, don’t get the spiral perm.  That’s a bad and very long-lived era.  

But I would also say, really nurture a sense of self, of who you are.  We live in a world of instantaneous feedback, and often it’s instantaneous criticism.  And you don’t have to be in a publicly exposed profession like politics to feel the sting of that.  With today’s social media, anyone in this audience, any girl could look at social media and see something very unkind said about them.  And so it’s very important to work on who you know you are rather than be buffeted around by these quick and harsh critiques.

And that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take on board constructive advice from people who care about you.  But some of the poison that goes across social media after midnight, when people have had a drink or two, that stuff is not constructive criticism.  And just forget about it.  Don’t let it get in your head.  Don’t let it get inside you.  So build that sense of self.  (Applause.)  

MS. LEIVE:  Nurfahada, I want to hear from you.  You’re still so young.  But if you could give a little bit of advice to yourself five years ago, what would it be?

NURFAHADA:  If I could give a little advice, I would start from myself, because I believe that you’re starting from yourself in order to help others to make it better.  Maybe I’ll just say that make every moment important.  Make every moment valuable.   Because that moment that you spend is that -- it can change your future, it can change after a second that you act for it, and it can change the vision of other people the -- it can change the vision of other people and how they look at you. 

So, for me, just be yourself and take it -- every moment counts.  Take every moment like it is your last moment.  Take every moment like it is not just helping yourself, helping others around you, because it will help more the people around the world.  (Applause.)  

MS. LEIVE:  Mrs. Obama, dole out a little advice to your teenage self here.

MRS. OBAMA:  A little teenage advice.  I don’t know about fashion stuff -- it was all bad.  It was all bad. 

Here’s what I try to tell my daughters -- and I don’t know if it’s complementary to what’s been said -- but just remember that life is long.  Let’s assume that we’re blessed to have a long life, and let’s say from one to 60, look at that timeframe.  And I look at this time, high school or middle school, it’s four little years on this long road that you’re going to be on.  And what I’d say is, don’t sweat the small stuff in this time, this little time period.  

And by that, it’s like, I know being a teenager is hard, right?  School seems like, God -- and it’s homework and there’s so much of it.  (Applause.)  And then it’s what -- your friends, and it’s bullying, and your mother is getting on your nerves.  (Applause.)  And it’s just -- I know, my kids tell me their lives feel so hard right now, right?  And somebody said something.  You’re not sure what to wear.  You hate the way your hair looks every day.  You just can’t get it right.  And you got acne, and you can’t fix it.  And you don’t have any money, so you count on your parents, and they always say no.  That’s what they do, they say no.  (Laughter.)  This is what I hear from my kids.

But this is just four or five little years of your life.  And don’t base all the choices that you -- what life is going to look like on this little stuff.  Don’t sweat the small stuff.  What is important right now is who you’re going to be and how you’re developing that part of yourself.  So go to school, focus on your homework.  Don’t worry about what your friends are saying that much, because half these people you’re not going to know when you’re 60.  (Applause.)  It doesn’t matter what they say or think right now.  If you had a bad day, don’t take it to heart, because you won’t even remember this day five years from now.  As bad as it is, you won’t even remember it.  The embarrassment that you had, the mistake that you made -- it will not matter.

So you never want to base your whole existence on a bad day.  Don’t get so mad at school that you drop out.  Don’t get so mad at your mother that you stop listening to her.  Don’t hate school so much that you don’t stay with it.  Because the older you get, the more fun school is.  College is a dream.  Everybody should want to go to college.  (Applause.)  And you don’t want to look back when you’re 60 and regret that you just didn’t have the patience to push through these four years of mess.  You’re going to regret that, because how you invest in yourself now will open doors.

I am the First Lady of the United States.  I couldn’t be here doing this with you all if I hadn’t stayed in school, if I had let somebody make me depressed and not able to get up in the morning.  You got to push through this stuff.  This is just four little years.  And if you do it right now, you’ll lay the foundation to have greatness, and then you’ll have opportunity and you’ll have control of your life to make choices.  And you won’t have to listen to your parents because you’ll have a job, and you’ll pay your own bills.  You want that freedom.  Freedom comes later.  Now you invest.  Now you put up with.  Now you be patient.  Because if you don’t do it now, then you’ll be living this cramped-up life for the rest of your life -- with no choices and no options.  And trust me, you don’t want to be a 60-year-old woman with no options, right?  That’s a long, painful process.  Invest now.  (Applause.)  That’s what I would tell myself, remind myself.  

MS. LEIVE:  It’s almost time to wrap up our panel.  I want to just quickly hear from each one of you -- what is the single thing that you want everybody who is in this room or watching on the livestream to do to support girls’ education when they walk out of this room or turn off their computer?

Julia.

PRIME MINISTER GILLARD: I would want them to support the campaign for better funding for education.  So think about that 14 cents, and make sure you have your voice heard on it.  It matters so much.  (Applause.)  

MS. LEIVE:  Charlize.

MS. THERON:  I want you all to utilize the tools that you have to keep this conversation going.  And that means find the organizations that are doing the things that are valuable to you, and that you think is the thing that will be the game-changer, this thing that will actually make a great movement happen.  You have the power to do that.  

For girls who are not in school, I would just say find that support somewhere, whether it is through friends, through community -- because I think everything that the First Lady just said is -- that friendship, that thing that inspire us is so important.

And then I would say to the adults, like, we have to start supporting business who are pro-education and who invest in education.  And I think that it’s so -- I mean, without it, we can’t do it.  It’s impossible.  I work in pockets of the world where it’s impossible to do it.  No matter how great the will is, you need the financial access to it.  So we have to support that investment, because really, we’re investing in the future.  (Applause.)  

MS. LEIVE:  Nurfahada, what’s the one thing people should do?

NURFAHADA:  Support this kind of program or this kind of event, like this kind of project that will help girls go to school without being afraid, without being ashamed, without being -- the shyness, being traumatized because of what happened to her.  And also, I believe that we are a girl advocate in our own ways.  That’s how we live our life. (Applause.) 

MS. LEIVE:  Mrs. Obama.

MRS. OBAMA:  Okay, you know what I’m going to ask you to do.  I want you to participate in 62 Million Girls, the campaign.  And what I want you to do before you leave here, I want you to take that photo of yourself, talk about what you learned in school, upload it using the hashtag #62MillionsGirls, okay?  And go to the website if you want to, 62MillionGirls.com, I believe it is.  But you’ll have all that information in your package.  I want you guys to participate in that.  

Keep spreading the word.  Go back to your friends.  Get them pumped up about it, okay?  Can you all do that?  Be a part of this movement!  We can make it happen.  We’re counting on you.  We’re so proud of you all -- 62 million girls!

MS. LEIVE:  Please join me in thanking our incredible panelists -- Julia Gillard, Charlize Theron, Nurfahada, and the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama.  (Applause.)

END 
12:47 P.M. EDT

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<![CDATA[FACT SHEET: U.S. Support for Civil Society]]> Tue, 29 Sep 2015 16:42:00 CDT In September 2013, President Obama launched Stand with Civil Society, a global call to action to support, defend, and sustain the operations of civil society organizations (CSOs) amid a rising tide of restrictions globally.  Working in partnership with other governments, the philanthropic community, and multilateral initiatives, including the Community of Democracies and Lifeline: Embattled CSO Assistance Fund, the United States Government is focused on three lines of effort: (1) promoting laws, policies, and practices that foster a supportive environment for civil society in accordance with international norms; (2) coordinating multilateral, diplomatic pressure to push back against undue restrictions on civil society; and (3) identifying innovative ways of providing technical, financial, and logistical support to promote a transparent and vibrant civil society.  The United States is the largest supporter of civil society in the world, with more than $3.2 billion invested in strengthening civil society since 2010.

The Administration is committing additional resources and working – in partnership with other governments, regional and multilateral institutions and bodies, the philanthropy community, and the private sector – to protect and promote freedom of association and assembly; expand the space for civil society around the world; and advance the Stand with Civil Society Agenda, through the following areas:

  • Presidency of the Community of Democracies (CD).  In July 2015, the CD Governing Council elected the United States to hold the CD presidency for the 2015-2017 term.  The CD is a key partner in United States’ efforts to build multilateral support for democracy and open civic space.  The United States has canvassed other members of the Governing Council for their priorities for the Community’s next two years and will use the two-year term to expand the Community’s efforts to combat excessive restrictions on civil society through diplomatic outreach, expert consultations, and dialogue with civil society.  The United States will also, with assistance from other CD governments, work to increase the CD’s ability to support and coordinate the efforts of democratic governments in multilateral bodies such as the UN General Assembly and the Human Rights Council.
  • Supporting Cooperation between Governments and Civil Society through CD-UNITED (Using New Investments to Empower Democracy).  The United States is continuing to support the CD’s groundbreaking effort to support targeted, action-oriented initiatives aimed at promoting and protecting democracy, human rights, and fundamental freedoms around the world.  CD-UNITED is designed to encourage and expand the number of donors supporting democracy and human rights work by enabling governments and civil society organizations to easily pool resources and co-finance projects. 
  • Continued assistance to Lifeline: Embattled CSOs Assistance Fund.  The Administration will contribute an additional $2 million to Lifeline, a multilateral initiative in which the United States participates.  This builds on the $7 million that the United States has provided to date.  Estonia, Latvia, the Netherlands, and Norway have also renewed their financial commitments to Lifeline, and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg joined this year.  This funding will augment emergency assistance for civil society organizations under threat, as well as for advocacy initiatives focused on civic space.  Since its founding in 2011, Lifeline has assisted 672 civil society organizations in 94 countries.
  • The Civil Society Innovation Initiative (CSII), announced in September 2014, is a groundbreaking effort to support and connect civil society in open, closing, and closed environments for the operation and programs of civil society, by fostering a network of demand-driven civil society innovation hubs that encourage cooperation, innovation, research, learning, and peer-to-peer exchanges. 
    • Hubs Partnerships: U.S Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) fostered a co-creation process to ensure that civil society is an active partner in the design process of the hubs. This has featured a series of co-design workshops around the world with regional and national CSO leaders, coupled with stakeholder analysis that has mapped civil society’s needs, existing networks, and resources in each region.  Regional Hub blueprints will detail key elements of design, including stakeholders, services, and governance, as well as establishment of a robust community of practice that will provide a strong foundation for Hub development and gathering real-time evidence on threats to civil society.  USAID and Sida have been pleased to be collaborating with the Aga Khan Development Network and the Open Society Foundations on this multi-donor partnership.
    • Civil Society Research and Mapping:  As part of the CSII process, CIVICUS has produced the most comprehensive and up-to-date database of civil society opinions on civic space issues.  New CSII reports synthesize the findings of research from thousands of key activists in six regions on what they identify as being the most important challenges and opportunities facing civil society, and maps the key actors that are helping to protect civic space and strengthen civil society globally. 
  • Real-time Legal Assistance to Civil Society through the Legal Enabling Environment Program (LEEP):  Under the expanded LEEP program, the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL) enhanced legal protection of civil society’s rights to freedom of association, assembly, and expression and has become one of the most utilized tools by civil society, legislatures, and governments to improve the enabling environment for civil society globally.  Over the past year, the LEEP program provided technical assistance in 19 countries.  Over the next year, LEEP will continue to rapidly respond to cases where restrictive laws are proposed, track and report on closing space for civil society, and build capacity of local lawyers to improve their CSO legal enabling environments.  
  • Emerging Global Leaders Initiative (EGLI): Atlas Corps Fellows. Since the announcement of EGLI in September 2014, 77 of the world’s best social change leaders have come to the United States on a leadership development fellowship, each ranging from 6-18 months. As part of the program, fellows convene three times in Washington, D.C. for leadership training and placement at leading civil society organizations across the United States.
  • Presidential Memorandum directs U.S. agencies to defend and strengthen civil society abroad by:  consulting regularly with civil society organizations, seeking their perspectives, utilizing their expertise, and building strong partnerships to address joint challenges; opposing efforts by foreign governments to impose restrictions on the freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, and association; and creating greater opportunities for exchange and dialogue between governments and civil society.  Through this directive, the U.S. Government is expanding public and private consultations with civil society organizations to explore new approaches and partnerships around civil society sustainability.
  • Facilitating global philanthropy by U.S. private foundations. The U.S. Government is facilitating international grantmaking by U.S. foundations.  U.S. tax laws generally require a foundation to use certain detailed and sometimes costly procedures when making grants to foreign organizations, unless the foundation determines that the foreign grantee is equivalent to a U.S. public charity.  Under new tax rules, foundations may rely on advice from an expanded class of tax advisors, including qualified in-house counsel, in making the determination, and they generally can rely on that advice for up to two years.  Similar proposed rules issued in 2012 spurred the creation of cost saving options for U.S. foundations seeking advice in making these tax determinations.  Finalizing these rules is expected to enable foundations to engage in international philanthropy in a more cost-effective manner, while still promoting tax compliance.
  • Enhancing efforts with other governments and within intergovernmental bodies to protect non-profits while combating terrorist activity.  The United States is committed to working with relevant institutions and bodies, including the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), to implement important laws on combating terrorist financing while working to protect the legitimate activities of non-profits from being disrupted.  For example, the United States has worked closely with the FATF over the past several years to increase engagement with civil society, including publishing an assessment of the terrorist financing vulnerabilities facing the non-profit sector and updated best practices to mitigate such threats using a risk-based approach while, at the same time, respecting the legitimate activities of non-profits.  The U.S. will continue to support regular FATF engagement with the non-profit sector and the inclusion of non-profits during the FATF anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism finance country assessment process. 
  • Continue to lead by example in the Open Government Partnership (OGP).  The United States is leading by example in OGP by seeking ways to expand U.S. Government engagement with U.S.-based civil society organizations to develop and implement the U.S. Open Government National Action Plan, and we will continue to coordinate with our government partners and the OGP civil society chairs on international open government priorities.  As a founding member of OGP and member of the OGP Steering Committee, the United States remains committed to leading by example and work with participating countries to advance transparency, accountability, citizen engagement, and technological innovation for good governance. We commit to promoting transparent and accountable implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals globally, and joined other OGP Steering Committee members in signing the Open Government for the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development declaration  http://www.opengovpartnership.org/blog/open-government-partnership/2015/09/27/press-release-open-government-partnership-declaration.
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<![CDATA[Presidential Determination -- Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year 2016]]> Tue, 29 Sep 2015 16:40:00 CDT MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF STATE

SUBJECT:      Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year 2016

In accordance with section 207 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (the "Act") (8 U.S.C. 1157), and after appropriate consultations with the Congress, I hereby make the following determinations and authorize the following actions:

The admission of up to 85,000 refugees to the United States during Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 is justified by humanitarian concerns or is otherwise in the national interest; provided that this number shall be understood as including persons admitted to the United States during FY 2016 with Federal refugee resettlement assistance under the Amerasian immigrant admissions program, as provided below.

The admissions numbers shall be allocated among refugees of special humanitarian concern to the United States in accordance with the following regional allocations; provided that the number of admissions allocated to the East Asia region shall include persons admitted to the United States during FY 2016 with Federal refugee resettlement assistance under section 584 of the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act of 1988, as contained in section 101(e) of Public Law 100-202 (Amerasian immigrants and their family members):

Africa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25,000

East Asia. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13,000

Europe and Central Asia . . . . . . . . . . . 4,000

Latin America/Caribbean. . . . . . . . . . .  3,000

Near East/South Asia. . . . . . . . . . . .  34,000

Unallocated Reserve . . . . . . . . . . . .  6,000

The 6,000 unallocated refugee numbers shall be allocated to regional ceilings, as needed.  Upon providing notification to the Judiciary Committees of the Congress, you are hereby authorized to use unallocated admissions in regions where the need for additional admissions arises. 

Additionally, upon notification to the Judiciary Committees of the Congress, you are further authorized to transfer unused admissions allocated to a particular region to one or more other regions, if there is a need for greater admissions for the region or regions to which the admissions are being transferred. 

Consistent with section 2(b)(2) of the Migration and Refugee Assistance Act of 1962, I hereby determine that assistance to or on behalf of persons applying for admission to the United States as part of the overseas refugee admissions program will contribute to the foreign policy interests of the United States and designate such persons for this purpose. Consistent with section 101(a)(42) of the Act (8 U.S.C. 1101 (a)(42)), and after appropriate consultation with the Congress, I also specify that, for FY 2016, the following persons may, if otherwise qualified, be considered refugees for the purpose of admission to the United States within their countries of nationality or habitual residence:

  1. Persons in Cuba
  2. Persons in Eurasia and the Baltics
  3. Persons in Iraq
  4. Persons in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador
  5. In exceptional circumstances, persons identified by a United States Embassy in any location

You are authorized and directed to publish this determination in the Federal Register.

 

BARACK OBAMA




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<![CDATA[Presidential Proclamation -- National Energy Action Month, 2015]]> Tue, 29 Sep 2015 16:28:00 CDT NATIONAL ENERGY ACTION MONTH, 2015

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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA A PROCLAMATION

As Americans, we have a profound obligation to our children and our grandchildren -- to help them live better lives than we did, and to ensure the choices we make do not limit the range of their dreams.  The key to realizing a future in which our young people are not held back by choices of the past lies in the promise of a clean, sustainable America.  During National Energy Action Month, we rededicate ourselves to bolstering energy efficiency, investing in innovative clean power, and working together to preserve our planet for generations to come.

My Administration remains committed to securing a stable, energy-independent future for our Nation -- and while there is much work to be done, we have made significant advances in recent years.  The United States is now the world's top producer of oil and natural gas, and we have set strict fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks, which are helping to wean us off our decades-old addiction to foreign oil.  We are transitioning away from energy sources that contribute to climate change and threaten our health and safety -- instead moving toward clean energy sources and ambitiously investing in alternatives like wind and solar.  Taking our place as a major player in clean energy, we are harnessing over 3 times as much electricity from wind and 20 times as much from the sun as we did in 2008.  We also remain dedicated to ensuring the safe and secure use of nuclear power, which generates over 60 percent of our carbon-free electricity.  And we will continue working to improve our energy efficiency, double our energy productivity, and explore any and all ways of saving consumers money while reducing our total energy consumption.  These efforts are vital to preserving our way of life and will help protect our environment and boost our Nation's economy.

As the world's second-largest emitter, America must recognize the role we play in contributing to our planet's changing climate and do all we can to make our air cleaner and safer for our children to breathe.  Through our historic announcement with China last November, the United States agreed to double the pace at which we cut our emissions, while China committed for the first time to limiting theirs.  In addition, this past summer, as part of our Clean Power Plan, I announced the first set of nationwide standards aimed at reducing the carbon emitted from our country's existing power plants.  This plan will aid in our fight against climate change while strengthening our economy and helping fulfill our moral obligation to leave our kids and grandkids with a stable planet. 

And we are leading by example in Washington:  I signed an Executive Order earlier this year that aims to cut the Federal Government's greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent and increase its share of electricity consumption from renewable sources to 30 percent over the next 10 years.

Last year, the global economy grew while global emissions remained flat for the first time ever, and we have seen that our goals of addressing energy challenges and driving economic progress are mutually compatible.  In that spirit, I will keep fighting to build a more sustainable society for all people by investing in clean sources of energy -- including wind, which could provide as much as 35 percent of our electricity and supply renewable power in all 50 States by 2050 -- as well as solar, which has added jobs 10 times faster than any other sector of our economy.  Additionally, I recently committed to getting 20 percent of our country's energy from renewables -- beyond hydroelectric power -- by 2030.  My Administration will continue supporting technology, including new and advanced nuclear technology, that moves us closer to a brighter energy future, advances energy efficiency, and develops cleaner fuels.

Though we may never see the full realization of our ambition in our time, we can still have the satisfaction of knowing we did everything within our power to leave this world better than it was.  During National Energy Action Month, let us recommit to forging the future that is within our capacity to reach by supporting clean, renewable, and independent means of energy production and by taking control of our own energy consumption.  Everything we have is at stake -- and we must fight for it.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 2015 as National Energy Action Month.  I call upon the citizens of the United States to recognize this month by working together to achieve greater energy security, a more robust economy, and a healthier environment for our children.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-ninth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.

 

BARACK OBAMA

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<![CDATA[Presidential Memorandum -- Delegation of Authority Under Sections 506(a)(1) and 552(c)(2) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961]]> Tue, 29 Sep 2015 16:10:00 CDT MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF STATE

SUBJECT:      Delegation of Authority Under Sections 506(a)(1) and 552(c)(2) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including section 301 of title 3, United States Code, I hereby delegate to the Secretary of State:

  1. The authority under section 506(a)(1) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (FAA) to direct the drawdown of up to $20 million in defense articles and services of the Department of Defense and military education and training to provide assistance for the Government of Ukraine, and to make the determinations required under such section to direct such a drawdown; and

(2) The authority under section 552(c)(2) of the FAA to direct the drawdown of up to $1.5 million in nonlethal commodities and services from any agency of the United States Government to provide assistance for the Government of Ukraine, and to make the determinations required under such section to direct such a drawdown.

You are authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.

 

BARACK OBAMA

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<![CDATA[Readout of the President’s Meeting with Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev]]> Tue, 29 Sep 2015 15:55:00 CDT President Obama met today with President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan.  The two leaders discussed bilateral relations, nuclear nonproliferation, and regional stability and economic development.  The leaders further discussed the importance of finding a peaceful solution to the conflict in Ukraine that includes full implementation of the Minsk agreements.  The President also congratulated President Nazarbayev on the launch of the IAEA’s low enriched uranium fuel bank in Kazakhstan and on Kazakhstan’s accession to the World Trade Organization.




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<![CDATA[Leaders’ Summit on Countering ISIL and Violent Extremism]]> Tue, 29 Sep 2015 15:28:00 CDT Leaders from more than 100 countries, 20 multilateral bodies, and 120 civil society and private sector organizations met today in New York City to review progress in countering ISIL, addressing the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs), and countering and preventing violent extremism.  Participants took note of the efforts of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL since its founding one year ago, expressing support for the work of ministers guiding the Coalition and reaffirming the Coalition’s support for the Government of Iraq in its fight against ISIL.  They also expressed support for efforts to further implement UN Security Council Resolution 2178 (2014) on preventing the travel of, and support to, foreign terrorist fighters.  Participants welcomed progress on the comprehensive, multi-stakeholder action agenda against violent extremism developed at the February 2015 White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism (CVE), which catalyzed a global movement to address the drivers of existing terrorist threats and prevent future ones from emerging.  Participants underscored the central role that the United Nations should continue to play in addressing these challenges, while ensuring respect for international law.  Most importantly, participants announced new initiatives on ISIL, FTFs and CVE, demonstrating the international community’s resolve to address these issues. 

Countering ISIL

Leaders emphasized their enduring commitment and common mission to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group ISIL.  Over the past year this broad and multifaceted campaign has harnessed a range of tools, including superior military strength, to roll back some of the group’s gains in Iraq and Syria and build increasingly capable local partner forces.  Also critical has been the Coalition’s work to organize efforts to disrupt ISIL’s finances, counter the group’s messaging, and help those who have borne the brunt of ISIL’s brutality to return safely home.  This is a long-term campaign that will continue to see periods of both progress and challenge as we advance toward our shared objective of degrading and ultimately destroying ISIL in the interests of regional and global security.

Countries leading the Coalition Working Groups on Stabilization Support, Foreign Terrorist Fighters, Counter-ISIL Messaging and Counter-ISIL Finance thanked members for their intensive efforts over the past year, and welcomed new Coalition members Malaysia, Nigeria, and Tunisia.  Others contrasted the military situation a year ago – when ISIL was rapidly advancing and threatening Baghdad and Erbil – to the still challenging but improved situation today.  While much remains to be done in this multi-year campaign, the Coalition has begun to make progress against ISIL.

Many speakers noted the dedication and sacrifices of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), including Kurdish Peshmerga and tribal forces, and the Syrian moderate opposition and Kurdish forces.  In coordination with international partners, these forces defeated ISIL in Kobane in January, in Tikrit in March, in Tal Abyad in June, and in Hasakah in August.  All told, ISIL has lost the freedom of movement in approximately 20-25 percent of the populated territory in Iraq and Syria that it held one year ago.

Participants commended the more than 5,000 personnel from 18 countries now in Iraq supporting the Iraqi government’s efforts to strengthen and develop local security forces. Coalition members have trained more than 13,000 ISF and Kurdish Peshmerga forces in Iraq; in addition, the U.S.-led advise and assist mission at Taqaddum Airbase (al-Habbaniyah) has facilitated training for thousands of Sunni tribal recruits in Anbar under the auspices of the Iraqi government. The Iraqi government has also taken important steps to equip these fighters. Separately, Coalition personnel are supporting the Syrian train and equip mission.  More than two dozen Coalition partners, led by the United States, have contributed in some way to the military campaign, with more than 7,200 strikes in Iraq and Syria to date.  Turkey’s opening of its bases to the Coalition and committing its own aircraft have improved Coalition operations. 

Steps are also being taken ‎to stabilize liberated areas of Iraq so displaced residents can return to their homes.  Participants welcomed the Iraqi government’s partnership with local leaders and the United Nations to help stabilize areas liberated from ISIL, and the Coalition is committed to working within this framework to help Iraq ensure that returnees have services to meet basic needs in a safe environment.  Quick, targeted infusion of stabilization support in Tikrit has contributed to the return of more than 100,000 civilians, supported by the United Nations Development Program’s Funding Facility for Immediate Stabilization.  More than half subscribed already and the Fund is on track to meet its target of $60-70m by the first quarter of 2016. 

Italy is leading the police training aspect of stabilization efforts: more than 100 Carabinieri are working to train Iraqi police, and Coalition members are working to provide trainers, equipment and funding to expand this effort. And Canada is leading Coalition efforts to improve the integration of women and gender perspectives into decision-making, including on stabilization and protection.

Members of the Coalition’s Counter-ISIL Finance Group (CIFG) highlighted efforts to disrupt ISIL’s financial activities, including its ability to raise, move, and use funds.  Earlier this year, the CIFG agreed to implement an action plan to disrupt ISIL’s financial activities and as a result, are developing enhanced mechanisms to share information and develop tailored countermeasures to address the problem.  Today, the UN added key ISIL facilitators to the al-Qaida Sanctions List – an action that underscores the international community's unity and commitment to disrupting ISIL’s financial activities.  The further development of an informal Public-Private Partnership to help protect antiquities in Syria and Iraq was also announced.

Participants highlighted efforts to coordinate strategic communications to de-legitimize ISIL and diminish its influence.  The new Sawab Center in the UAE is a first step toward creating a series of networks to facilitate rapid communications and empower web-savvy practitioners in effectively conveying their individual messages.  Participants also noted how the private sector is working with Coalition governments and took note of a new testimonial campaign focused on individuals who have defected from ISIL.

Many speakers drew attention to the plight of refugees and displaced persons who are victims of the conflict in Syria and Iraq, and to the pressing unmet humanitarian situation.  A number of speakers announced new contributions to the UN humanitarian appeals for Syria and Iraq as well as other mechanisms to help relieve the situation.

Countering the Foreign Terrorist Fighter Threat

Coalition members outlined efforts to help counter the FTF threat, to include strengthening counterterrorism legislation in their own countries and expanding information sharing on terrorist identities.  The FTF Working Group has established strong coordination with other international fora, including the Global Counterterrorism Forum.

Participants underscored the importance of implementing UN Security Council Resolution 2178, which created a policy and legal framework to address the FTF threat.  Participants welcomed progress made since the adoption of the resolution last September, including legislative and judicial efforts.  They noted that since the passage of UNSCR 2178, 22 countries have passed or updated existing laws to deal with FTFs; 34 countries have arrested FTFs or aspirants; at least 22 countries have brought cases against FTFs; and 12 countries have prosecuted at least one FTF case, resulting in a conviction or sentencing.

Participants reaffirmed their commitment to increase and enhance border security to identify, restrict and report travel of suspected FTFs by sharing passenger name records and advanced passenger information and taking greater advantage of INTERPOL’s resources, such as screening passengers against its Foreign Terrorist Fighters database and its Stolen and Lost Travel Documents system.  In this regard, participants welcomed INTERPOL’s announcement of an action agenda that will seek to improve data sharing agreements and international cooperation. 

Participants reaffirmed the importance of bilateral agreements to share information on known and suspected FTFs for use by law enforcement, border authorities and security services. 

Participants welcomed the efforts of UN bodies, including the Counter-Terrorism Committee, the 1267/1989 Al-Qa’ida Sanctions Committee, and the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force to strengthen global actions against FTFs.

Participants reaffirmed the importance of international cooperation and welcomed recent efforts at the international, regional and subregional levels on FTFs, including the Government of Spain’s Ministerial Meeting on Stemming the Flow of FTFs in Madrid on July 28.  They reaffirmed the importance of initiatives to develop good practices such as the Global Counterterrorism Forum’s Good Practices for a More Effective Response to the Foreign Terrorist Fighter Phenomenon.  Participants also noted the announcement of the GCTF Cross-Working Group Initiative to Address the Full Life-Cycle of Radicalization to Violence, which will reinforce many of the key elements of Coalition efforts and the CVE Summit Action Agenda that emerged from February’s White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism and was adopted in Rome.

Participants reaffirmed their resolve to continue to take further concrete steps to address and mitigate the FTF threat, to include strengthening counterterrorism legislation, enhancing border security, improving information sharing and adopting new programs to prevent radicalization to violence.  They also urged States, if they are able, to assist in the delivery of urgent capacity building and other technical assistance needed by the most affected States, and to adopt holistic approaches to responding to emerging trends and challenges, including the rehabilitation and reintegration of former foreign terrorist fighters.

Countering and Preventing the Spread of Violent Extremism

Participants underscored that the February 2015 White House Summit to Counter Violent Extremism catalyzed a global movement to embrace a proactive, positive approach to the urgent challenge of violent extremism in all of its forms and manifestations, that involves contributions from national and local governments, civil society, local communities, the private sector, and multilateral bodies.

They highlighted how this approach must complement rule of law-based, rights-respecting, military, intelligence, and law enforcement efforts.  They stressed the importance of continuing to expand the set of CVE stakeholders, initiatives, and interventions that are necessary both for confronting ISIL and other existing terrorist threats, as well as preventing future threats from emerging.

Participants expressed gratitude to the governments and organizations that hosted regional CVE summits and other related events following February’s CVE Summit, which were essential for expanding participation in and sustaining the global movement against violent extremism.

Participants welcomed the progress made on the implementation of the CVE Summit’s Action Agenda, including new CVE strategies, policies, programs, and partnerships being developed across the Agenda’s several pillars, and pledged to redouble implementation efforts.  Progress has included:

  • new, inclusive national CVE strategies and programs that place increasing emphasis on the role of local communities;
  • new initiatives involving women, youth, scholars, and clerics discrediting – both on-line and off-line – hateful ideologies and build community resilience against violent extremism;
  • business leaders investing in community-based solutions; 
  • mayors and municipal leaders developing engagement programs that lift up and support ethnic and religious minority communities;
  • additional funding and other support for practical multilateral CVE efforts, including those of the UN, the Global Counterterrorism Forum, Hedayah, and the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund; and
  • the United Nations and other multilateral bodies intensifying their own CVE efforts, including by developing action plans, programs, and initiatives that will help sustain the global CVE movement.

Participants welcomed the update from the UN Secretary-General on the development of his plan of action to prevent violent extremism, which he will present to the UNGA in November.  They encouraged the UN to play a central role in sustaining the CVE Summit Action Agenda in 2016 and beyond.

Participants reaffirmed their commitment to championing the global CVE movement following the Leaders’ Summit, underscoring the need for government and non-government actors to collaborate to make progress on several priority issues, including:

  • better understanding the drivers of violent extremism at the local and regional level; 
  • countering the narratives of violent extremists who glorify violence and attempt to recruit and radicalize young men and women;
  • strengthening  protections for members of all communities, in particular ethnic and religious minorities; 
  • preventing radicalization in prisons and facilitating the rehabilitation and reintegration of former violent extremism, including by expanding diversion programs;
  • addressing political, social and economic grievances that terrorists exploit, including by working together to advance human rights, improving the rule of law, expanding social services and strengthening security in communities that are at risk;  and
  • ensuring the inclusion of  local communities, civil society, religious leaders, and the private sector in addressing the underlying drivers of violent extremism, recognizing that they are often more capable and credible than national governments.

Participants pledged to make progress on these priority issues, including by supporting the new sub-national networks announced during the Summit, such as those involving cities (i.e., the Strong Cities Network), civil society, and researchers (RESOLVE), new regional CVE hubs and  hubs, initiatives aimed at strengthening CVE capacities and cooperation across East Africa and the Western Balkans, as well as supporting the youth-driven Action Agenda that emerged from the first-ever Global Youth Summit Against Violent Extremism.

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<![CDATA[Readout of the Vice President’s Meeting with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades]]> Tue, 29 Sep 2015 14:25:00 CDT Vice President Joe Biden met today with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades to discuss bilateral relations, the Cyprus settlement negotiations, and energy security.  The Vice President welcomed progress in the settlement negotiations and agreed with President Anastasiades that a settlement to reunify the island as a bizonal, bicommunal federation would unlock enormous opportunities for all Cypriots.   The leaders discussed ways to further strengthen bilateral relations and promote energy security for Cyprus and the broader eastern Mediterranean region.

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<![CDATA[Memorandum -- Determination with Respect to the Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008 and Delegation of Authority Under Section 404(c) of the Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008]]> Tue, 29 Sep 2015 14:21:00 CDT MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF STATE

SUBJECT:      Delegation of Authority Under Section 404(c) of the Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including section 301 of title 3, United States Code, I hereby delegate to the Secretary of State the authority under section 404(c)(1) of the Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008 (22 U.S.C. 2370c-1) (CSPA), to waive the application of the prohibition in section 404(a) of the CSPA to Yemen, and to make the determinations necessary for such waiver.  I hereby also delegate to the Secretary of State the authority under section 404(c)(2) of the CSPA to notify the appropriate congressional committees of such waiver and the justification for granting such waiver. 

You are hereby authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.  

 

BARACK OBAMA




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<![CDATA[Presidential Determination and Memorandum -- Determination with Respect to the Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008 and Delegation of Authority Under Section 404(c) of the Child Soldiers Prevention A]]> Tue, 29 Sep 2015 14:21:00 CDT MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF STATE

SUBJECT:      Determination with Respect to the Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008

Pursuant to section 404 of the Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008 (22 U.S.C. 2370c-1) (CSPA), I hereby determine that it is in the national interest of the United States to waive the application of the prohibition in section 404(a) of the CSPA with respect to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, and Somalia; and to waive in part the application of the prohibition in section 404(a) of the CSPA with respect to South Sudan to allow for the provision of International Military Education and Training, and Peacekeeping Operations assistance, and support provided pursuant to section 1208 of the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2014, to the extent such assistance or support would be restricted by the CSPA. 

I hereby waive such provisions accordingly.  

You are hereby authorized and directed to submit this determination to the Congress, along with the accompanying Memorandum of Justification, and to publish the determination in the Federal Register. 

 

BARACK OBAMA 

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<![CDATA[Readout of the President's Meeting with Cuban President Raul Castro]]> Tue, 29 Sep 2015 13:42:00 CDT President Obama met today with President Raul Castro of Cuba to discuss recent advances in relations between the United States and Cuba, as well as additional steps each government can take to deepen bilateral cooperation. The two Presidents discussed the recent successful visit of Pope Francis to both countries.  President Obama highlighted U.S. regulatory changes that will allow more Americans to travel to and do business with Cuba, while helping to improve the lives of the Cuban people.  The President welcomed the progress made in establishing diplomatic relations, and underscored that continued reforms in Cuba would increase the impact of U.S. regulatory changes.  The President also highlighted steps the United States intends to take to improve ties between the American and Cuban peoples, and reiterated our support for human rights in Cuba. 

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<![CDATA[Remarks by President Obama at the Leaders' Summit on Countering ISIL and Violent Extremism]]> Tue, 29 Sep 2015 11:57:00 CDT United Nations Headquarters
New York, New York

10:53 A.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, heads of state and government.  Last year, here at the United Nations, I called on the world to unite against the evil that is ISIL, or Daesh, and to eradicate the scourge of violent extremism.  And I challenged countries to return to the General Assembly this year with concrete steps that we can take together.  

I want to thank everyone who is here today, including my fellow leaders, for answering this call.  We are joined by representatives from more than 100 nations, more than 20 multilateral institutions, some 120 civil society groups from around the world, and partners from the private sector.  I believe what we have here today is the emergence of a global movement that is united by the mission of degrading and ultimately destroying ISIL.  

Together, we’re pursuing a comprehensive strategy that is informed by our success over many years in crippling the al Qaeda core in the tribal regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan.  And we are harnessing all of our tools -- military, intelligence, economic, development and the strength of our communities.  

Now, I have repeatedly said that our approach will take time.  This is not an easy task.  We have ISIL taking root in areas that already are suffering from failed governance, in some cases; in some cases, civil war or sectarian strife.  And as a consequence of the vacuum that exists in many of these areas, ISIL has been able to dig in.  They have shown themselves to be resilient, and they are very effective through social media and have been able to attract adherents not just from the areas in which they operate, but in many of our own countries.

There are going to be successes and there are going to be setbacks.  This is not a conventional battle.  This is a long-term campaign -- not only against this particular network, but against its ideology.  And so with the few minutes I have, I want to provide a brief overview of where we stand currently.

Our coalition has grown to some 60 nations, including our Arab partners.  Together, we welcome three new countries to our coalition -- Nigeria, Tunisia and Malaysia.  Nearly two dozen nations are in some way contributing to the military campaign, and we salute and are grateful for all the servicemembers from our respective nations who are performing with skill and determination.

In Iraq, ISIL continues to hold Mosul, Fallujah and Ramadi.  But Iraqi forces, backed by coalition air power, have liberated towns across Kirkuk province and Tikrit.  ISIL has now lost nearly a third of the populated areas in Iraq that it had controlled.  Eighteen countries are now helping to train and support Iraqi forces, including Sunni volunteers who want to push ISIL out of their communities.  And, Prime Minister Abadi, I want to note the enormous sacrifices being made by Iraqi forces and the Iraqi people in this fight every day.  

In Syria, which has obviously been a topic of significant discussion during the course of this General Assembly, we have seen support from Turkey that has allowed us to intensify our air campaign there.  ISIL has been pushed back from large sections of northeastern Syria, including the key city of Tal Abyad, putting new pressure on its stronghold of Raqqa.  And ISIL has been cut off from almost the entire region bordering Turkey, which is a critical step toward stemming the flow of foreign terrorist fighters. 

Following the special Security Council meeting I chaired last year, more than 20 additional countries have passed or strengthened laws to disrupt the flow of foreign terrorist fighters.  We share more information and we are strengthening border controls.  We’ve prevented would-be fighters from reaching the battlefield and returning to threaten our countries.  But this remains a very difficult challenge, and today we’re going to focus on how we can do more together.  In conjunction with this summit, the United States and our partners are also taking new steps to crack down on the illicit finance that ISIL uses to pay its fighters, fund its operations and launch attacks.

Our military and intelligence efforts are not going to succeed alone; they have to be matched by political and economic progress to address the conditions that ISIL has exploited in order to take root.  Prime Minister Abadi is taking important steps to build a more inclusive and accountable government, while working to stabilize areas taken back from ISIL.  And our nations need to help Prime Minister Abadi in these efforts.

In Syria, as I said yesterday, defeating ISIL requires -- I believe -- a new leader and an inclusive government that unites the Syrian people in the fight against terrorist groups.  This is going to be a complex process.  And as I’ve said before, we are prepared to work with all countries, including Russia and Iran, to find a political mechanism in which it is possible to begin a transition process.

As ISIL’s tentacles reach into other regions, the United States is increasing our counterterrorism cooperation with partners, like Tunisia.  We’re boosting our support to Nigeria and its neighbors as they push back against Boko Haram, which has pledged allegiance to ISIL.  And we’re creating a new clearinghouse to better coordinate the world’s support for countries’ counterterrorism programs so that our efforts are as effective as possible. 

Ultimately, however, it is not going to be enough to defeat ISIL in the battlefield.  We have to prevent it from radicalizing, recruiting and inspiring others to violence in the first place.  And this means defeating their ideology.  Ideologies are not defeated with guns, they’re defeated by better ideas -- a more attractive and compelling vision.  Building on our White House summit earlier this year, and summits around the world since then, we’re moving ahead, together, in several areas.  

We’re stepping up our efforts to discredit ISIL’s propaganda, especially online.  The UAE’s new messaging hub -- the Sawab Center -- is exposing ISIL for what it is, which is a band of terrorists that kills innocent Muslim men, women and children.  We’re working to lift up the voices of Muslim scholars, clerics and others -- including ISIL defectors -- who courageously stand up to ISIL and its warped interpretations of Islam.

We recognize that we have to confront the economic grievances that exist in some of the areas that ISIL seeks to exploit.  Poverty does not cause terrorism.  But as we’ve seen across the Middle East and North Africa, when people, especially young people, are impoverished and hopeless and feel humiliated by injustice and corruption, that can fuel resentments that terrorists exploit.  Which is why sustainable development -- creating opportunity and dignity, particularly for youth -- is part of countering violent extremism.

We recognize we also have to address the political grievances that ISIL exploits.  I’ve said this before -- when human rights are denied and citizens have no opportunity to redress their grievances peacefully, it feeds terrorist propaganda that justifies violence.  Likewise, when political opponents are treated like terrorists and thrown in jail, it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.  So the real path to lasting stability and progress is not less democracy; I believe it is more democracy in terms of free speech, and freedom of religion, rule of law, strong civil societies.  All that has to play a part in countering violent extremism.  

And finally, we recognize that our best partners in protecting vulnerable people from succumbing to violent extremist ideologies are the communities themselves -- families, friends, neighbors, clerics, faith leaders who love and care for these young people.

Remember that violent extremism is not unique to any one faith, so no one should be profiled or targeted simply because of their faith.  Yet we have to recognize that ISIL is targeting Muslim communities around the world, especially individuals who may be disillusioned or confused or wrestling with their identities.  

And in all our countries, we have to continue to build true partnerships with Muslim communities, based on trust and cooperation, so that they can help protect their loved ones from becoming radicalized.  This cannot just be the work of government.  It is up to all of us.  We have to commit ourselves to build diverse, tolerant, inclusive societies that reject anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant bigotry that creates the divisions, the fear and the resentments upon which extremists can prey.  

I’m pleased that here at this summit, businesses -- including high-tech companies -- are investing funds, training and technological expertise to support innovative programs that push back on violent extremism.  Cities around the world are joining together to build more resilient communities.  Researchers are partnering to share best practices, knowing what works and what we can do better.  

And as we saw yesterday, young people from around the world are participating in their own summit.  These young people, many of them Muslim, are coming together and using their talents and technology to push back on ISIL’s propaganda, especially online, and to protect their brothers and sisters from recruitment.  These young people are an inspiration and give us hope, and I’d ask everyone to join me in thanking all the young people who are here today.  (Applause.)    

So, to conclude, we face a grave challenge.  We have to be clear-eyed about the fact that this is very hard work.  We have individuals here, like Prime Minister Abadi and President Buhari, who are on the front lines.  And this is not going to be turned around overnight, because it is not just a military campaign that we are involved in.  There are profound changes taking place in the Middle East and North Africa.  There are problems that have built over decades that are expressing themselves and manifesting themselves in organizations like ISIL.  Even if we were to wipe out the entire cadre of ISIL leadership, we would still have some of these forces at work.

But, ultimately, I am optimistic.  In Iraq and in Syria, ISIL is surrounded by communities, countries and a broad international coalition committed to its destruction.  We’ve seen that ISIL can be defeated on the battlefield, where there is sound organization and a government and military that is coordinating with this coalition and with our diplomatic efforts.  And here at this summit, we’re seeing a new global movement to counter the violent extremism that ISIL needs to survive.  

Like terrorists and tyrants throughout history, ISIL will eventually lose because it has nothing to offer but suffering and death.  And when you look at the reports of those who are laboring under their control, it is a stark and brutal life that does not appeal to people over the long term.  So we will ultimately prevail because we are guided by a stronger, better vision:  a commitment to the security, opportunity and dignity of every human being.  But it will require diligence, focus and sustained effort by all of us.  And I am grateful that all of you who are already participating are committed to this work.

With that, I want to give the floor to our Secretary-General, His Excellency Mr. Ban Ki-moon.  (Applause.)

END 
11:07 A.M. EDT




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<![CDATA[FACT SHEET: Leaders’ Summit to Counter ISIL and Violent Extremism]]> Tue, 29 Sep 2015 11:39:00 CDT President Obama today is hosting a Summit highlighting the international community’s efforts to counter ISIL, address Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFs), and Counter Violent Extremism (CVE).  The President has made clear that ISIL poses a threat to the United States and the international community, and that we will use all instruments of power to defeat it.  He has also made clear that this fight will not be won quickly, solely through military means, or by the United States alone.  This is a long-term struggle that will be won with a comprehensive approach in concert with state and nongovernmental actors across the globe—which is exactly what we are doing.  This Summit, also hosted by Vice President Biden, built on progress achieved the last year and provided the participants the opportunity to announce new initiatives.  Today the international community demonstrated its resolve to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL and break the lifecycle of terrorism – from radicalization to conflict zones and everywhere in between. 

Countering ISIL

The United States established and is leading a Coalition of more than 60 partners committed to degrading and ultimately destroying ISIL, and today welcomed new Coalition members Malaysia, Nigeria, and Tunisia to join those efforts.  While military power rolled back some of the group’s territorial gains and improved local partner forces’ capabilities, Coalition efforts to begin countering ISIL’s messaging, disrupting its finances and countering the FTF threat continue to be equally important.  And through humanitarian assistance and stabilization programs, the Coalition is helping those who have survived ISIL’s barbarity.  Yesterday the Coalition released a statement outlining the breadth and depth of counter-ISIL efforts in the past year.

As part of our counter-ISIL efforts, the Coalition is supporting the Iraqi government’s progress toward effective governance.  Under Prime Minister Abadi, Baghdad has approved a comprehensive program to foster inclusive governance and reconciliation, and taken initial steps to rein in corruption, streamline the bureaucracy and decentralize responsibilities to provincial and local leaders. The U.S. and our Coalition partners will work with the Iraqi Government to help ensure these and many other steps are fully implemented.

The challenge of establishing effective governance is even greater in Syria, where the regime is conducting a brutal campaign that has fractured the country and allowed ISIL to flourish.  With our allies, we are pursuing a negotiated political transition that removes Asad from power and establishes a transitional government uniting the Syrian people.  

More than two dozen Coalition partners, led by the United States, have contributed to the military campaign in Iraq and Syria, conducting over 7,200 air strikes to date and training and providing equipment and ammunition to local partners.  As a result, ISIL has lost the ability to operate freely in 20-25 percent of the populated territory it held one year ago in Iraq and Syria.  In Syria, Kurdish and Arab partners—with Coalition support—have cut off ISIL’s access to all but 68 miles of the 600-mile long Syria-Turkey border, which is an important step toward preventing FTF travel and squeezing ISIL supply lines.   

  •    In Iraq, 18 Coalition members have trained more than 13,000 Iraqi and Peshmerga soldiers.  The Coalition has also facilitated training for thousands of Sunni tribal fighters, supporting Baghdad’s efforts to recapture Ramadi and liberate Anbar Province.
  •    In Syria, the Department of Defense is training and equipping appropriately vetted elements of the Syrian armed opposition to counter ISIL and create the conditions for a political settlement.  Training sites were established in Turkey and Jordan, and sites in Qatar and Saudi Arabia will open shortly.  Coalition strikes and nonlethal assistance have also helped a variety of other forces in Syria, many of whom played critical roles clearing ISIL from all but approximately 68 miles of the Turkey-Syria border.

The Coalition is working to squeeze ISIL financially.  Early this year, the Coalition’s Counter ISIL Financial Group (CIFG), co-chaired by the United States, Italy and Saudi Arabia, developed an action plan to disrupt ISIL’s financial activity and ability to raise, move and use funds.  This week, the United States designated over 30 ISIL officials, facilitators and supporters and announced a State Department Rewards for Justice offer of up to $5 million for information leading to the significant disruption of the sale of oil or antiquities benefiting ISIL.  Additionally, the UN added key ISIL facilitators to the UN al-Qa’ida Sanctions List, effectively freezing their assets and preventing them from using the international financial system as well as prohibiting their travel in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1267. 

The Coalition is also working to erode ISIL’s appeal by strengthening capabilities to counter the group’s messages of hate.  The State Department’s Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications operationalized an Interagency Counterterrorism Communications cell to improve cross-government collaboration on countering ISIL’s online messaging.  And the UAE-based Sawab (“the right path”) Center is increasing online debate to undermine ISIL’s claims to legitimacy and strategic success. 

The United States and its partners are responding to the humanitarian impact of the conflict and ISIL’s depravity.  In Syria, ISIL has contributed to the crisis that has forced nearly 12 million people from their homes, including more than 4 million refugees, 7.6 million internally displaced persons and 5.5 million children.  The United States is the single largest humanitarian aid donor for those impacted by the Syria crisis, contributing $4.5 billion since the crisis began.  Since 2014, 3.2 million Iraqis have also become internally displaced, and the United States has contributed more than $477 million in humanitarian assistance to address this and the needs of other vulnerable populations.  Additionally, on September 15, the Department of Defense approved up to $75 million for relief supplies to help address immediate lifesaving needs for displaced Iraqis.  Our joint efforts with Coalition partners, including financial contributions to the United Nations Development Program’s Funding Facility for Immediate Stabilization, have begun yielding positive results near Tikrit, where approximately 100,000 civilians displaced by ISIL’s violence have returned.

Countering the Foreign Terrorist Fighter Threat

ISIL is a unique threat in large part due to its ability to attract FTFs, and the United States is leading global efforts to address this challenge.  Last year, President Obama chaired a UN Security Council summit at which UNSCR 2178 was adopted.  The binding resolution, which has improved the international community’s ability to counter the FTF threat, requires countries to prevent suspected individuals from entering or transiting their countries; disrupt financial support to FTFs; implement UNSCR 1267 sanctions obligations and propose sanctions against those supporting ISIL and affiliates or derivatives of al-Qaida; and implement legislation to enable prosecution.  UNSCR 2178 also underscores the centrality of efforts to counter violent extremism to suppress the FTF threat, a theme amplified at today’s summit.

Since the adoption of UNSCR 2178, 22 countries have passed legal frameworks to better address the threat posed by FTFs, 34 countries have arrested FTFs, and 12 have successfully prosecuted at least one foreign terrorist fighter.  The United States has supported several of our partners’ development and implementation of laws addressing the FTF threat while respecting fundamental human rights and civil liberties.

The United States continues to help partners improve border security to better identify, restrict and report suspected FTF travel, including encouraging partners to participate in multilateral information sharing mechanisms. Today, through INTERPOL’s Counterterrorism Fusion Center (CTFC), 52 countries now share foreign terrorist fighter profiles.  Bilaterally, the United States has concluded arrangements with over 40 international partners to provide a mechanism for sharing terrorist travel information.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is encouraging additional countries to join the U.S. and more than 60 other countries that use travel information, like Advanced Passenger Information (API), to more effectivity identify known and previously unknown FTFs.  In May, DHS and the State Department drove an unprecedented meeting of Interior Ministers of UN Security Council nations to advocate for strong implementation of UNSCR 2178 principles.  The ministerial focused on border controls particularly.  DHS also announced the creation of an open-source tool for strengthening border security.  At a July meeting in Spain, DHS, State and partner nations made key financial commitments to strengthening border security. 

At home, we are employing a whole-of-government approach, leveraging homeland security, law enforcement, justice sector, intelligence, diplomatic, capacity building, and information sharing tools to counter FTFs.  DHS and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) disseminate Joint Intelligence Bulletins to share threat information with state, local and tribal law enforcement.  Additionally, in recent months DHS announced changes to security partnerships required under the Visa Waiver Program to align with UNSCR 2178 and enhanced the Electronic system for Travel Authorization (ESTA). These efforts enhance security while continuing to encourage legitimate trade and travel.

Building Global Movements to Counter Violent Extremism

As President Obama has said, “ideologies are not defeated with guns; they’re defeated by better ideas – a more attractive and more compelling vision.”  That is why President Obama convened the February 2015 White House Summit to Counter Violent Extremism, where the international community came together to expand efforts against violent extremism.  Since then, driven by U.S. leadership, the global CVE movement has grown rapidly.

Global Progress

Today, the United States announced the launch of the International CT and CVE Clearinghouse Mechanism (ICCM) to improve capacity-building coordination among key partners in several pilot countries.  The ICCM will identify programming gaps, and mobilize and coordinate donor resources to address identified needs.

We also highlighted new initiatives and progress on a number of key initiatives announced at the February 2015 White House Summit to Counter Violent Extremism:

Strong Cities Network: Today, Attorney General Loretta Lynch will keynote the launch the first global network of municipal and other sub-national leaders to support the development of effective rights-based community focused programs and training to build resilience against violent extremism.

The Global Youth Summit to Counter Violent Extremism: Yesterday, Lisa Monaco, the President’s Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Advisor, kicked off a summit that brought together more than 80 global youth leaders and organizations from more than 45 countries to build support for innovative youth-led initiatives.  The development of global virtual platforms will allow participating youth leaders and youth-oriented organizations to remain connected and share best practices. 

Peer-to-Peer Global University Challenge: Spanning both domestic and international CVE efforts, the United States Government recently launched this initiative to empower university students in the United States, Canada, North Africa, Middle East, Europe, Australia, and Asia.  Their objectives were to design and implement a social or digital initiative, product, or tool to motivate and empower their peers to join the movement in countering violent extremism.  The spring 2015 winner of the of Peer-to-Peer Challenge, One 95.org from Missouri State University, was showcased yesterday at the Global Youth Summit.  

RESOLVE (Research and Solutions for Violent Extremism):  This international CVE research network, which was launched last week, will provide grants to local researchers and serve as a platform to facilitate information sharing and mentoring. It will be managed by a consortium of organizations that will include the Geneva Centre on Security Policy, Hedayah, the Institute for Security Studies, the Africa Policy Institute, and the U.S. Institute of Peace.

Balkans Regional CVE Initiative: The Government of Albania will lead a Western Balkans regional CVE initiative to build regional capacity and cooperation on CVE issues, in particular through supporting front-line CVE practitioners, civil society, and local communities, developing national CVE strategies, and promoting research, education, and counter-messaging. 

East Africa CVE Center of Excellence and Counter-Messaging Hub: The Government of Djibouti will host an Intergovernmental Authority on Development center to provide dedicated support, training, and research related to CVE, and serve as a resource for governments and civil society from across the region.

Guidelines and Good Practices for Developing Inclusive National CVE Strategies: Hedayah, in collaboration with the Global Center on Cooperative Security and the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe, produced a set of guidelines, good practices and principles for the development of national CVE strategies/action plans that promote a “whole of society” approach to CVE.

Domestic Progress

The federal government has partnered with local governments, public safety officials, educators and social service providers in greater Boston, Los Angeles and the Twin Cities to implement strategic prevention frameworks that address the unique issues facing their local communities. Since February, federal officials and local partners have advanced and expanded their prevention frameworks to include the addition of new community stakeholders, developed private sector partnerships, and developed a new series of youth-focused programs.   

In September, the Department of Justice (DOJ) Community Oriented Policing Service (COPS), in partnership with the Police Executive Research Forum, convened law enforcement executives and community partners from over a dozen cities to explore how to adapt best practices and lessons learned from Boston, Los Angeles, Montgomery County, Md. and the Twin Cities to regions around the country.  Participants discussed how to identify and build relationships with key stakeholders and methods to develop, implement and assess community engagement, prevention and intervention programs.  The COPS Office and Police Executive Research Forum will develop a series of case studies for local law enforcement seeking to replicate these programs.

DHS, in partnership with the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), continues to lead, improve and expand its community engagement work including Community Engagement Roundtables, Town Hall Meetings, Community Awareness Briefings and Community Resilience Exercises in cities all across the country. Enhanced efforts will expand opportunities to reach more diverse communities; help develop the necessary understanding of terrorism and terrorist recruitment tactics; and to collectively and holistically explore ways to address these threats before they become a challenge at the local level.

In order to enhance training for federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement, DHS and DOJ work cooperatively with its federal partners to update CVE-relevant training programs based on current threat assessments through programs such as the Uniformed Police Training Program, Criminal Investigator Training Program, Land Management Police Training Program, and the Rural Police Officer Training.

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<![CDATA[Alcohol, tobacco, and prescription drug use by teens declines; Level of youth with major depressive episodes remains high]]> Tue, 29 Sep 2015 10:06:25 CDT The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) report shows progress in reducing some forms of substance use – especially among adolescents.  Substance use levels in many areas, however, have remained relatively constant.  Mental illness levels have also remained constant over time, but adolescents are experiencing higher levels of depression than in past years. 

SAMHSA issued its 2014 NSDUH report on mental and substance use disorders as part of the kick off for the 26th annual observance of National Recovery Month.  Recovery Month broadens public awareness to the fact that behavioral health is essential to health, prevention works, treatment for substance use and mental disorders is effective, and people can and do recover from these disorders.

With regard to substance use, the report found some areas of progress, particularly among adolescents.  For example, the percentage of adolescents aged 12 to 17 who were current (past month) tobacco users declined by roughly half from 15.2 percent in 2002 to 7.0 percent in 2014.  Similarly, the level of adolescents engaged in past month illegal alcohol use dropped from 17.6 percent to 11.5 percent over the same period.  The level of current nonmedical users of prescription pain relievers decreased from 3.2 percent in 2002 to 1.9 percent in 2014 among adolescents aged 12 to 17.

Marijuana continues to be the most commonly used illicit drug.  In 2014, roughly 8.4 percent of Americans age 12 and older were current users of marijuana – up from 7.5 percent in 2013.  Marijuana use is especially growing among those aged 26 and older – from 5.6 percent in 2013 to 6.6 percent in 2014.  The percentage of adolescents who were current marijuana users in 2014 (7.4 percent) was similar to recent years.

Although the survey shows nonmedical pain reliever use continues to be the second most common type of illicit drug use, the percentage of people aged 12 or older in 2014 who were current nonmedical users of pain relievers (1.6 percent) was lower than in most years since 2002, and about the same as in 2013.  However, current heroin use increased from 0.1 percent of the population age 12 and older in 2013 to 0.2 in 2014.

Overall, the use of illicit drugs – including marijuana – among Americans aged 12 and older increased from 9.4 percent in 2013 to 10.2 percent in 2014.  This was driven particularly by the increase in adult marijuana use.

The report also shows that about 43.6 million adults aged 18 or older experienced some form of mental illness in the past year.  It also shows that 6.6 percent of the adult population and 11.4 percent of adolescents aged 12 to 17 (2.8 million adolescents) experienced major depressive episodes in the past year.  Among adults, these levels are roughly consistent with levels seen in recent years.  There was a higher percentage of youth with a major depressive episode in 2014 than in each year from 2004 and 2012 – similar to the 2013 estimate.  Youth who experienced a major depressive episode in the past year were more likely than other youth to have used any illicit drugs in the past year. 

“Although progress has been made in some areas, especially among young people, there are many challenges we need to meet in addressing the behavioral health issues facing our nation,” said Acting SAMHSA Administrator Kana Enomoto.  “Fortunately there is effective action being taken by the Administration and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services with initiatives to reduce prescription opioid and heroin-related overdose, death, and dependence as well as many evidence-based early intervention programs to increase access to treatment and recovery for people with serious mental illness.  These kinds of evidence-based approaches for treating mental and substance use disorders provide hope and recovery for people with behavioral health needs.”

“The data released today show some signs of progress, including  lower levels of nonmedical prescription drug use and teen alcohol and tobacco use; however, we still have significant challenges to address,” said Michael Botticelli, Director of National Drug Control Policy.  “We know that evidence-based prevention efforts are the most effective way to reduce drug use and to support the roughly 90 percent of American youth who do not use illicit drugs.  This Administration will continue to expand community-based efforts to prevent drug use, pursue ‘smart on crime’ approaches to drug enforcement, increase access to treatment, work to reduce overdose deaths, and support the millions of Americans in recovery.”

​NSDUH is a scientific annual survey of approximately 67,500 people throughout the country, aged 12 and older.  Because of its statistical power, NSDUH is a primary source of information on the scope and nature of many substance abuse and mental health issues affecting the nation.

The complete survey findings are available on the SAMHSA web site at: http://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-FRR1-2014/NSDUH-FRR1-2014.pdf.

For more information about SAMHSA visit: http://www.samhsa.gov/.

 

# # #

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation.  SAMHSA’s mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.

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<![CDATA[Why Diplomacy Matters: Follow Along as the President Heads to the 70th UN General Assembly]]> Tue, 29 Sep 2015 09:19:54 CDT Watch Live: President Obama Chairs the Leaders' Summit on Countering ISIL and Violent Extremism

“The people of our United Nations are not as different as they are told. They can be made to fear, they can be taught to hate, but they also respond to hope. History is littered with the failure of false prophets and fallen empires who insisted that might makes right, and that will continue to be the case. You can count on that. But we are called upon to offer a different leadership - leadership strong enough to recognize that nations share common interests and people share a common humanity.”
President Barack Obama


Why Diplomacy Matters – 70 Years of the United Nations

President Obama at UNGA President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the Closing Session: Post-2015 Development Agenda, in General Assembly Hall at the United Nations in New York, N.Y. Sept. 27, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

In 1945, after two world wars had laid waste to lands and people across the globe, forty-five nations gathered together in San Francisco to find a new way forward – one that made resolution between countries possible without resorting to violence. They committed to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, to “promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.”

From that pledge was born the Charter of the United Nations – an international institution dedicated to international security and an enduring symbol of a simple idea:  We, as people, can always find a way to ensure the dignity and worth of human life. 

Seventy years later, that mission remains an ever-important guide in our path to a more peaceful world. Todays’ conflicts are numerous and they are chronic – and every nation with the power and capacity to address these issues have an equal obligation to work together to do so effectively. 

That is what diplomacy is: Using the influence we have to resolve conflicts, protect the most vulnerable among us, and strengthen international cooperation in the pursuit of peace.

 

This week, President Obama is headed to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to convene with other world leaders on how we can do just that. 

From renewing sustainable development goals to combating violent extremism, here’s what the President is doing at this year’s UNGA: 

Sunday, September 27:

  • Speak at the closing session of the  Summit to adopt the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Watch the video 
  • Hold a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India

Monday, September 28:

  • Speak at the Opening Session of the 70th United Nations General Assembly. Watch the video 
  • Deliver remarks at the UN Peacekeeping Summit. Watch live 
  • Hold a bilateral meeting with President Vladimir Putin 

Tuesday, September 29:

  • Speak at the Leaders’ Summit on Countering ISIL and Violent Extremism. Watch live 
  • Hold a bilateral meeting with President Raul Castro of Cuba
  • Hold a bilateral meeting with President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan

AidRefugees.gov

Read this message from U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power

 

AidRefugees.gov

Visit AidRefugees.gov


What’s Up At #UNGA 

Check out the latest from UN headquarters in New York City:


ICYMI: The First Lady Launches #62MillionGirls

Today, more than 62 million girls worldwide are out of school.  Many of them simply can’t afford the school fees, or the nearest school is miles away, or they just can’t break through the cultural norms and traditions that deem girls unworthy of an education.

That is why the First Lady teamed up with Girl Rising to launch a new education campaign: 62 Million Girls

 

All you have to do is share a photo of yourself on Twitter or Instagram telling the world what you learned in school – something you want 62 million girls to have the opportunity to learn. Make sure you use the hashtag #62MillionGirls and then go to 62MillionGirls.com to see what other people like Stephen Colbert, Misty Copeland, Freida Pinto, and more are sharing and learn why this is a moral crisis that we can help address.

If you don't think young girls around the world understand just how important their own education is, read this letter that Chawanzi – a "girl guide" from Zambia – who wrote to the President about the importance of empowering girls and women with opportunity: 

Letter from Chawanzi to President Obama

Read the First Lady's message about this campaign and then check out 62MillionGirls.com to learn more. 


The UN Peacekeeping Summit: #UNGA

In September 2014, more than 30 countries gathered on the margins of UNGA 69 to reaffirm their support for UN peacekeeping operations and offer concrete pledges of assistance. They did so in recognition that UN peacekeeping operations are more critical than ever to international peace and security and to help fill key gaps.  But we are at a time where we are asking the UN and these peacekeeping missions to do more in more complex conflicts and these missions are under enormous strain. So this September 28th President Obama, the UN Secretary-General, and several heads of state and government will co-host a summit to convene the leaders of countries that are prepared to make significant, new, and concrete commitments to peacekeeping operations. The summit will also encourage reforms to make UN peacekeeping more effective to complement the parallel effort of the Secretary-General’s High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations. 


The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: #GlobalGoals

In September of 2000, the largest gathering of world leaders came together to declare something entirely new: Together, we would form a new global partnership to reduce extreme poverty through clear cut, time-bound goals known as the Millennium Development Goals. These goals would be last for 15 years, world leaders would assess how far we’ve come and adopt new, sustainable goals for to build on that progress for the next 15 years.

It’s 2015, and we’ve seen tangible progress on what we set out to do: 

  • The global share of people living on less than $1.25 per day has been slashed by more than two-thirds since 1990;
  • We have reached gender parity in primary-school enrollment, and the worldwide number of out-of-school children has been cut nearly in half;
  • The rate of child mortality has been more than halved, and the proportion of malnourished children has fallen by nearly as much;
  • 2.6 billion people gained access to clean drinking water;
  • Every continent has seen extraordinary gains – individual incomes have grown by more than one-third, at least, in every region of the developing world.

This week, President Obama is joining other world leaders to adopt new global goals which set out a global development vision and priorities for the next 15 years. This is a pivotal year for global development, in which the United States is joining countries around the world in pledging to leave no one behind based on the fundamental premise that societies are far more likely to secure lasting growth if all individuals have greater access to economic and political opportunities.

Check out the 17 new goals for sustainable development and how they will help end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all:

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals




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<![CDATA[FACT SHEET: U.S. Support to Peace Operations 2015 Leaders’ Summit on UN Peacekeeping]]> Mon, 28 Sep 2015 19:23:00 CDT Today, President Barack Obama hosted a Leaders’ Summit on Peacekeeping culminating a year-long effort to address critical gaps in peacekeeping missions, initiated by a leader level summit co-hosted last year by Vice President Biden. The United States recognizes the critical importance of UN peacekeeping in promoting peace and security all around the world, and our contributions reflect this—from our assessed dues, which at more than $2 billion make us by far the largest financial contributor to UN peacekeeping, to additional support that we provide often through both UN and bilateral channels. Over the past 15 years, the United States has seconded over 5,000 police officers to UN missions and contributed nearly $1 billion to train and equip partner nations to deploy to peacekeeping operations through the Global Peace Operations Initiative, which has facilitated the deployment of nearly 200,000 personnel from 38 countries to 29 peace operations around the world.

Last year, President Obama announced the new African Peacekeeping Rapid Response Partnership, which commits $110 million per year for 3 to 5 years to build the capability of six leading African militaries to deploy peacekeepers rapidly in response to emerging conflict.  Currently, more than 40 U.S. military personnel and nearly 50 American police and corrections officers serve in peacekeeping operations in Haiti, South Sudan and Liberia. To ensure the United States’ continued leadership in helping UN peacekeeping to quell the crises of today, and face the challenges of tomorrow, President Obama today is announcing a new Presidential Memorandum on Support to UN Peace Operations, in addition to several new and concrete contributions to UN peacekeeping.

Much as the United States and its international partners see the importance of UN peacekeeping for sharing the costs and burdens of conflict prevention and mitigation, we also know that it must be strengthened and modernized to meet the challenges posed by crises of increasing number and complexity.  At today’s summit, more than fifty countries announced a total of nearly 150 military and police contributions to UN peacekeeping, amounting to around 40,000 new troops and police, a surplus of nearly 40 percent of all uniformed personnel in UN operations today.

These contributions covered the range of UN peacekeeping needs for the foreseeable future. Countries pledged almost 30 infantry battalions; more than 15 police units; and significant commitments of high-end “enabling” assets, including approximately 40 helicopters, ten field hospitals and fifteen engineering companies.  Countries also announced almost 30 specific commitments to build the capacity of the United Nations and partner countries, in areas from counter-IED to intelligence to policing.

New Presidential Policy on U.S. Support to UN Peace Operations.  President Obama has issued a new Presidential Memorandum to U.S. Government Departments and Agencies reaffirming the strong support of the United States for UN peace operations and directing a wide range of actions to strengthen and modernize UN operations for a new era. The Memorandum—which is the first Presidential guidance on multilateral peace operations in more than 20 years—provides among other things that:

  • Building partner capacity. The United States is committed to enhancing the capabilities of our partners to enable more effective field operations, including by: increasing our support for the UN’s conflict prevention and resolution efforts and capacity-building activities; ensuring that UN peace operations have strong, capable and diverse leadership teams; supporting UN force generation efforts and enhancing U.S. training and equipping of Troop Contributing Countries (TCCs) and Police Contributing Countries (PCCs) so that UN peace operations can draw from more skilled, deployment-ready, high-quality military and police contingents; enhancing UN, TCC and PCC preparation and readiness for the field through military exercises, deeper mil-to-mil relations with TCC partners, and the provision of U.S. expertise in training, planning, doctrine, and situational analysis; prioritizing U.S. assistance to capable TCCs and PCCs who demonstrate the will to implement fully peacekeeping mandates and uphold the highest standards of performance and conduct; and supporting deeper cooperation between the UN and regional organizations to strengthen UN peace operations and the transitions to and from them.
  • Expanding U.S. contributions. The United States will seek to provide direct contributions and enabling support to UN peace operations and to augment our own institutional capacity to do so.  We will strengthen our capacity for conflict prevention and resolution so the United States can better drive and support peace processes.  The United States will increase the provision of material support to the UN and become a leading “technology contributing country” to UN peace operations by assisting the UN, regional organizations, TCCs, and PCCs to integrate technologies into missions in critical areas such as basing and logistics, force protection, and information-led operations.  Recognizing that participating U.S. uniformed and civilian personnel regularly have a significant impact on the effectiveness of UN peace operations, the United States will more actively consider and facilitate the provision of U.S. military, police, and civilian personnel to UN peace operations.  The President will always retain command of U.S. military personnel in UN peace operations and the United States will continue to seek the strongest possible protections for them.
  • Driving reform. Given the implications for U.S. national security interests and resource commitments, the United States will continue to advance critical and systemic reform of UN peace operations, notably: rigorous oversight of UN mission performance; merit-based selection of mission leadership; enhanced pre-deployment and contingency  planning, including conditions-based paths toward mission closure; better rapid response capabilities for missions in high-risk environments, including for medical evacuation and force protection; a strategic UN force generation system; stronger mechanisms to ensure accountability for performance in the field and for sexual exploitation and abuse; a sustained effort to implement protection of civilian mandates; and improved human resources and procurement practices that enable missions to deploy more quickly, effectively, and flexibly.

New U.S. Commitments to UN Peacekeeping.  Consistent with the new Policy, at today’s Summit, President Obama is announcing a package of concrete U.S. contributions to and support for peace operations in areas where the United States has a comparative advantage in the critical capabilities needed by the UN:

  • Staff Officers:  The United States offers to work with the UN to double its contribution of military staff officers serving in UN missions.  Through this offer, the U.S. would support mission planning, logistics, and counter-IED capabilities, and contribute other expertise that the UN and the High-Level Panel on Peace Operations and the UN have recently highlighted as needed. 
  • New Logistics Support Framework:  The United States recently concluded an international agreement with the UN that will enable the provision of airlift, sealift, and other logistic support, supplies, and services around the world. This is the first such agreement that the United States has concluded with the United Nations, and it will facilitate the rapid provision of support to UN missions, particularly in the early phases of deployment when it is critical to saving lives.   To ensure that we make the most of this new framework, we will designate a U.S. liaison from the U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) to assist in coordinating transportation support for UN peacekeeping operations. 
  • Technology Support: Consistent with the 2014 Experts’ Panel on Technology and Innovation, U.S. personnel will work directly with UN experts to identify cost-effective technology solutions to critical operational challenges, such as shortfalls in countering IEDs, force protection, protection of civilians, collaborative planning, information-led operations, rapid deployment of the vanguard force, and expeditionary logistics.
  • Engineering Support: The United States has unique engineering capabilities that could be used to provide support to UN missions. This includes technical expertise that would be critical in the start-up phase of new peacekeeping missions. In most cases, local contractors, with U.S. engineering oversight, quality control, and remote support, are the most efficient option to build infrastructure in support of UN peace operations. In addition, U.S. engineering experts could work with partner countries which have deployed engineering units dedicated to the UN. In situations where there is an urgent need that the United States is uniquely‎ positioned to address, the U.S. may also make available military engineers to undertake specific engineering projects under existing U.S. command and control.
  • In-Mission Training and Mentoring:  Responding to the UN’s request for in-mission training, partnerships, and mentoring, the United States intends to make available mobile training teams on a case-by-case basis for deployment on peacekeeping operations alongside partners who are contributing forces.
  • Prepositioned Non-Lethal Support/Defense Equipment: The United States plans to take steps that would allow it to pre-position defense equipment to accelerate the equipping and deployment of personnel to UN and regional peacekeeping operations.  In those circumstances where U.S. surplus defense equipment is available, the United States will also include UN and regional peacekeeping needs as a priority consideration when determining which countries may receive such property.
  • Civil-Military Command Exercises:  The United States offers to work with the UN to develop table-top, scenario-based exercises designed to help a peacekeeping operation’s senior-level leadership plan for and mitigate crises. 
  • Pre-Deployment Training for Police in Peacekeeping:  The United States intends to increase its already significant contributions to UN police in peacekeeping by allocating an additional $2 million to develop and expand the capability of African partners deploying police personnel (up to 450 police would be trained) to peace and stabilization operations in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa where violent extremism threatens local, regional, and international peace and security. 
  • Counter Improvised Explosive Device (C-IED) Training and Assessment: The United States plans to contribute $2 million for C-IED training for partner countries deploying forces to the UN mission in Mali and the African Union mission in Somalia. The U.S. military intends to offer specialists to conduct strategic and operational-level assessments in select UN peacekeeping operations where there is an urgent need for such expertise.
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<![CDATA[Declaration of Leaders' Summit on Peacekeeping]]> Mon, 28 Sep 2015 19:04:00 CDT The Governments of Armenia, Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Chile, China, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ethiopia, Finland, Fiji, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Republic of Korea, Romania, Rwanda, Turkey, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Thailand, Ukraine, United States, United Kingdom, Uruguay, and Vietnam jointly declare their support for the following:

As the United Nations marks its seventieth anniversary, we recognize that, for sixty-seven years, its Member States have called and depended upon United Nations peacekeeping operations to help maintain international peace and security around the world. Since 1948, UN peacekeeping has evolved through tragedy and triumph to meet new security threats and challenges as the world itself, and environments in which peacekeepers are deployed, has changed dramatically. We salute the sacrifices of the brave peacekeepers, who deploy to volatile and dangerous locations throughout the world to serve humanity and the cause of peace. Today, we celebrate the essential role that UN peacekeeping plays in bringing security, hope and peace to millions of people, redouble our efforts to ensure that peacekeeping operations succeed in meeting this challenge and underscore our commitment to the highest standards of professionalism and conduct.

We believe that the effectiveness of UN peacekeeping operations is the responsibility of all Member States and relies particularly on partnerships among the Security Council, Troop and Police Contributing Countries, financial contributors, host countries, the UN Secretariat and regional organizations. We, therefore, welcome the convening of the regional meetings on peacekeeping held in Ethiopia, Indonesia, Rwanda, the Netherlands and Uruguay, with the aim of strengthening cooperation among relevant actors, as well as contributing to improving the UN peacekeeping architecture overall. We underscore the need to enhance consultations between the members of the Security Council and relevant Member States contributing personnel to UN peacekeeping operations to seek a shared understanding of the mandates and a common commitment to their implementation.

Today, we recommit ourselves to modernizing UN peacekeeping operations to ensure their success. We are committed to doing our part to further strengthen peacekeeping, underscored by the additional significant commitments to UN peacekeeping announced today, which will help meet persistent capacity gaps, improve the performance and capabilities of uniformed personnel, support rapid deployment and reinforce and enhance the foundation for future peacekeeping efforts. To achieve this goal, we also call on Member States to join us in making additional commitments to UN peacekeeping.

These contributions must be accompanied by reforms in how UN peacekeeping is organized and supported. We welcome the efforts to advance the cause of reform through the report of the Secretary-General, entitled “The Future of Peace Operations: Implementation of the Recommendations of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations,” and the report of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (hereinafter, “the Panel”) and look forward to discussing the Secretary-General’s recommendations, where applicable, in an appropriate intergovernmental forum. We underscore the need for a truly integrated mission planning and assessment process that fuses operations and logistics with political goals; strengthened evaluation of operational readiness and performance; improved human resources management and procurement practices that enable missions to deploy more quickly, effectively and flexibly; intelligence capabilities, which identify threats to UN personnel and facilitate the effective implementation of mandates; capable and accountable leadership in peacekeeping operations and merit-based leadership selection, with due consideration for geographical representation; and a more effective peace and security bureaucracy at the UN Headquarters. We stress the need to increase the participation of women and incorporate gender perspectives in UN peacekeeping.

We affirm that proper conduct by, and discipline over, all personnel deployed in UN peacekeeping operations are vital to their effectiveness. In particular, sexual exploitation and abuse by UN peacekeepers, including all civilian staff deployed to UN peacekeeping operations, against anyone is unacceptable. We reaffirm our support for the UN “zero tolerance” policy on all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse. We call on the Secretary-General to continue to strengthen the Organization’s prevention, enforcement and remediation efforts. We are committed to taking serious and concerted action to combat sexual exploitation and abuse, including rigorous vetting and training of uniformed personnel to be deployed to UN peacekeeping operations, as well as swift and thorough investigations, appropriate accountability measures and timely reporting to the United Nations on all incidents.

We underline that the protection of civilians is a solemn responsibility we all share. Failure to protect civilians not only risks lives, but also undermines the credibility and legitimacy of UN peacekeeping. We are committed to ensuring that our uniformed personnel deployed in peacekeeping operations are properly trained on UN policies and guidance on the protection of civilians, including on the use of force consistent with the operation’s mandate and rules of engagement. We underline our commitment to investigate and, as appropriate, discipline uniformed personnel if they fail to fulfill their mandate to protect civilians. In this regard, we take note of the initiative by Member States to develop, as relevant, the best practices set out in the Kigali Principles.

We express our firm commitment to the safety and security of UN peacekeepers. We note with concern the evolving threats they face working in dangerous environments. We underscore the critical importance of strengthening casualty response. We call on all Member States and the UN to prioritize the generation of capabilities in these areas, to work to ensure the availability and appropriate control over aviation assets to improve medical evacuation and to strengthen UN standards of emergency care. We underscore the importance of respect for the freedom of movement of UN peacekeepers. We call on host countries to cooperate fully with, and provide unhindered access to, UN peacekeepers to enable them to carry out their duties, in accordance with their mandates.

We acknowledge the critical role played by subregional and regional organizations in confronting some of the world’s most difficult stabilization challenges, and underscore our commitment to supporting deeper partnerships and cooperation between the UN and such regional organizations to address threats to international peace and security. We underscore that UN peacekeeping operations are a means to support sustainable political solutions to armed conflicts and to contribute to the conditions for durable peace. We highlight that UN peacekeeping operations are most effective when they support an end to violent conflicts, shore up the confidence of all parties to pursue the peaceful resolution of disputes and aid in advancing the cause of peace. We affirm the primary importance of efforts to mitigate and prevent conflict, including through the use of UN mediation, good offices and special political missions. 

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<![CDATA[Presidential Proclamation -- National Arts and Humanities Month, 2015]]> Mon, 28 Sep 2015 17:37:00 CDT NATIONAL ARTS AND HUMANITIES MONTH, 2015

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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

 

Over centuries of change -- through trial and triumph -- the arts and humanities have chronicled history in ways that have brought the past to life and provided a vivid vision for our journey forward.  Today, we continue to live in an ever-changing world, and the arts and humanities help us experience it in truer colors and tones.  When we harness our artistic creativity -- from canvases to concertos -- we can give shape to our emotions and channel our innermost hopes.  During National Arts and Humanities Month, we celebrate artistic expression in all its forms and honor the ways they help define the great American story.

America's future is bright -- and our Nation's spirit of reinvention has long allowed us to pursue progress that knows no bounds.  The arts and humanities generate opportunities for us to individually and collectively reflect on our beliefs and disrupt our assumptions.  As artists open our hearts and minds, they embolden our dreams, connect us in common purpose, and inspire us to reach for the tomorrow we seek.

As our society progresses, we must never underestimate the power of young minds, and as a Nation we must give our daughters and sons every opportunity to grow, thrive, and explore the heights of their imagination.  If we continue to instill in them the optimism of America's promise -- that all things are possible for all people -- they will grow up believing, as they should, that nothing is out of their reach.  More than anyone, our young people have the ability to renew the world we share, and my Administration is dedicated to empowering them through the arts and humanities so they can chart bold paths and write America's next great chapters.

Every stroke of the brush, stitch of the needle, or moment of the memoir uniquely marks our society and contributes to our national character.  This month, we recognize the ways the arts and humanities have forever changed our country, and we recommit to ensuring every American has the opportunity and the freedom to question, discover, and create.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 2015 as National Arts and Humanities Month.  I call upon the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and programs to celebrate the arts and the humanities in America.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-eighth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.

 

BARACK OBAMA




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<![CDATA[Readout of the Vice President’s Meeting with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis]]> Mon, 28 Sep 2015 17:23:00 CDT Vice President Biden met today with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis.  The two leaders discussed bilateral relations, European security, anti-corruption, energy security, and the European migration crisis.  The leaders discussed ways to strengthen bilateral relations in the security, political, and economic spheres, as well as Romania’s important contributions to NATO security efforts, including its support for the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan and the hosting of a missile defense site at Deveselu, which will become operational later this year.  The Vice President welcomed President Iohannis’ focus on anti-corruption efforts and rule of law as a means to strengthen national security and promote greater investment and economic growth.  Finally, the two leaders discussed the importance of having a unified European approach to both energy security and the current migration crisis.

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<![CDATA[Readout of the Vice President’s Meeting with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis]]> Mon, 28 Sep 2015 17:23:00 CDT Vice President Biden met today with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis.  The two leaders discussed bilateral relations, European security, anti-corruption, energy security, and the European migration crisis.  The leaders discussed ways to strengthen bilateral relations in the security, political, and economic spheres, as well as Romania’s important contributions to NATO security efforts, including its support for the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan and the hosting of a missile defense site at Deveselu, which will become operational later this year.  The Vice President welcomed President Iohannis’ focus on anti-corruption efforts and rule of law as a means to strengthen national security and promote greater investment and economic growth.  Finally, the two leaders discussed the importance of having a unified European approach to both energy security and the current migration crisis.

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<![CDATA[Readout of Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco's Meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Sinirlioglu]]> Mon, 28 Sep 2015 17:22:00 CDT Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco met today with Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly to discuss U.S.-Turkish counterterrorism cooperation.  During the meeting, Ms. Monaco and Foreign Minister Sinirlioglu reviewed the counter-ISIL Coalition’s progress and our ongoing efforts to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL.  Ms. Monaco thanked the Foreign Minister for Turkey’s increased participation in the Coalition, including its decision to allow U.S. aircraft to fly missions from Incirlik and other Turkish airbases.  They also addressed the need to continue to push for a negotiated political settlement in Syria and discussed expanding U.S.-Turkish cooperation on border security and countering the flow of foreign fighters.




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<![CDATA[Readout of Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco's Meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Sinirlioglu]]> Mon, 28 Sep 2015 17:22:00 CDT Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco met today with Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly to discuss U.S.-Turkish counterterrorism cooperation.  During the meeting, Ms. Monaco and Foreign Minister Sinirlioglu reviewed the counter-ISIL Coalition’s progress and our ongoing efforts to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL.  Ms. Monaco thanked the Foreign Minister for Turkey’s increased participation in the Coalition, including its decision to allow U.S. aircraft to fly missions from Incirlik and other Turkish airbases.  They also addressed the need to continue to push for a negotiated political settlement in Syria and discussed expanding U.S.-Turkish cooperation on border security and countering the flow of foreign fighters.

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<![CDATA[Remarks by President Obama at U.N. Peacekeeping Summit]]> Mon, 28 Sep 2015 16:55:00 CDT Trusteeship Council Chamber
United Nations Headquarters
New York, New York 

3:09 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Good afternoon.  Mr. Secretary General, heads of state and government, distinguished representatives.  The word “peacekeeping” does not appear in the Charter of the United Nations.  But for the past seven decades, our collective ability to “maintain international peace and security” has often depended on the willingness of courageous U.N. peacekeepers to put their lives on the line in war-torn corners of the world.
     
Over the years -- from El Salvador to Namibia, from Liberia to Timor-Leste -- more than one million men and women in blue helmets have prevented violence and preserved peace.  They have saved lives.  They’ve given societies a chance to rebuild.  Through bitter experience, in places like Bosnia and Rwanda, we’ve learned painful lessons, and we’ve worked to do better.  Right now, as we speak, more than 100,000 troops and police are deployed around the world -- training police in Haiti, promoting stability in Lebanon, protecting civilians in South Sudan.  And down the decades, more than 3,300 peacekeepers, as well as many police and civilian staff, have made the ultimate sacrifice.  The United Nations and the United States salutes them all.

We know that peace operations are not the solution to every problem, but they do remain one of the world’s most important tools to address armed conflict.  And I called for this summit because U.N. peacekeeping operations are experiencing unprecedented strains.  Old challenges persist -- too few nations bear a disproportionate burden of providing troops, which is unsustainable.  Atop this, we’ve seen new challenges -- more armed conflicts, more instability driven by terrorism and violent extremism, and more refugees.

As a consequence, peacekeepers head into more difficult and deadlier conflicts.  They’re given ambitious mandates and charged with increasingly dangerous and complex missions.  Just yesterday, a U.N. peacekeeper was killed in Darfur, and we've seen reports today of a tragic incident in the Central African Republic.  Put simply, the supply of well-trained, well-equipped peacekeepers can’t keep up with the growing demand.   

So we are here today, together, to strengthen and reform U.N. peacekeeping because our common security demands it.  This is not something that we do for others; this is something that we do collectively because our collective security depends on it.  

As the largest financial contributor to the U.N. peacekeeping operations, the United States intends to continue to do its part.  And today, I’m issuing new presidential guidance -- the first in more than 20 years -- to expand our support for U.N. peace operations.  Like the nations participating today, we’ll pledge additional resources.  We’ll work to double the number of U.S. military officers serving in peacekeeping operations.  We will offer logistical support, including our unrivaled network of air- and sea-lift.  When there's an urgent need and we’re uniquely positioned to help, we’ll undertake engineering projects like building airfields and base camps for new missions.  And we’ll step up our efforts to help build the U.N.’s capacity, from identifying state-of-the-art technology to offering training to protection against IEDs.  

And, together, there’s much more we need to do together.  So let me briefly suggest several key areas where we can focus.

First, more nations need to contribute more forces.  We are joined today by countries from every region of the world.  And I want to thank those who already do so much, and commend those who have come here prepared to do more.  At this summit, more than 50 countries -- from Bangladesh to Colombia, from Finland to China  -- are making commitments totaling more than 30,000 new troops and police.  (Applause.)  And they’re stepping up with critical contributions like medical units, helicopters, and capabilities to counter IEDs, which will help peacekeepers be able to stay safe and succeed in their missions.  This all represents significant progress, and over the coming years I believe more nations can make even more contributions.   

Second, we need to improve the protection of civilians.  Unlike 20 years ago, today’s U.N. peacekeepers have the clear authority to safeguard the innocent -- but it is still applied unevenly.  That’s why the principles and best practices for civilian protection laid out in Kigali are so important.  (Applause.)  Because for innocent people caught in the crossfire in places like South Sudan, the actions of U.N. peacekeepers can mean the difference between life and death.  

At the same time, we have to candidly acknowledge that abuse by peacekeepers has to end.  I want to be very clear -- the overwhelming number of peacekeepers serve with honor and decency in extraordinarily difficult situations.  But we have seen some appalling cases of peacekeepers abusing civilians -- including rape and sexual assault -- and that is totally unacceptable.  It’s an affront to human decency.  It undermines the core mission because it erodes trust with communities.  It has a corrosive effect on global confidence in peacekeeping itself.  

Mr. Secretary General, we commend you for leading on this issue and insisting on accountability -- and we know you cannot solve this problem alone.  As leaders and as an international community, we have to insist on zero tolerance for abuse -- zero.
  
Third, we need to reform and modernize peace operations because today’s complex conflicts demand it.  And that means putting in place the highest-caliber, merit-based leadership teams for every single mission.  It means making sure we get more women leaders into critical roles.  It means planning the rules for operations in the field, and not in conference rooms.  

Our goal should be to make every new peace operation more efficient and more effective than the last.  Beyond strengthening U.N. peacekeeping, the United States also supports developing new and deeper partnerships between the U.N. and the African Union to provide reliable support for AU peace operations.  And we look forward to hearing concrete proposals from our African partners to advance this work.   

Finally, we need to increase our support of the full range of U.N. diplomatic tools -- including mediation, envoys, and special political missions -- which help us to prevent conflicts in the first place.  We cannot expect peacekeeping operations to succeed unless the parties involved are willing and committed to making peace.  

If we do all these things, if we provide the support and embrace the reforms that I’ve described today, I believe we can strengthen peace operations for decades to come.  Because we know -- we can be certain -- that in the years ahead, as conflicts arise, the call will go out to those men and women in blue helmets to restore calm, and to keep the peace, and to save lives.  And when they go, their success and their lives will depend on whether they have the training and the forces and the capabilities and the global support they need to succeed in their mission.  The decisions and the commitments we make today can help ensure that they do.  

I want to thank all of you for your partnership and the commitments that your nations are making here.  We will hear some extraordinary commitments from a number of nations.  And we are very proud that the international community has responded to this call in such a significant way.  Rest assured that, in this critical work, the United States will be a strong partner to all of you.

Thank you very much.  (Applause.)  

END           
3:18 P.M. EDT

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<![CDATA[Email from Ambassador Power: "A Chance to Help:"]]> Mon, 28 Sep 2015 16:38:26 CDT This morning, Samantha Power, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, sent the following message on the refugee crisis the world is facing and what Americans can do to help relieve the suffering of so many.

AidRefugees.gov

Missed her message? Stay in touch with the White House by signing up for email updates here.


Earlier this year, a Syrian father of eight received a text message.

It informed him that the stipend he had been receiving each month to buy food for his family was being cut from $19 to $13.50 per person. This was half of what he had been receiving the year before—when his family first reached Lebanon from the war-torn Syrian city of Raqqa—and would not be enough to feed his kids.

With that amount, he told a reporter, "You can't even get bread."

Across the region, refugees fleeing the brutality of the Assad regime and ISIL have received similar news of declining support. Just this month, 229,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan learned they would no longer receive any food assistance.

There are ways you can help. Find out how at AidRefugees.gov.

Nearly 12 million Syrians have been forced from their homes by Syria's devastating conflict, four million of whom have fled their country. Syrians given refuge in neighboring countries are safe from the barrel bombings, chemical attacks, and deadly sieges they faced at home. But with few opportunities to work, most must rely on the international community to meet their most basic needs: a roof over their heads, food on their table, a classroom for their children.

This morning, President Obama spoke to the United Nations about American leadership. As the President said, America is the strongest nation in the world, and one of the ways we have always demonstrated that strength is through our compassion for people who are less fortunate.

Syria is no exception. Our government leads the world in contributions to the Syrian crisis, having given $4.5 billion to assist those in need. We have also significantly increased the number of refugees we will admit to the United States, including Syrians. And we continue to work tirelessly towards the political solution that will bring the bloodshed to an end and allow displaced Syrians to return home, as so many wish to do.

But the profound challenges faced by these families cannot be tackled by governments alone. Americans understand this, and many are asking what they can do.

We encourage you to visit AidRefugees.gov and see how you can use your skills, resources, and energy to help Syrians and other refugees in need.

Thank you,

Ambassador Samantha Power




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<![CDATA[Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Modi of India After Bilateral Meeting]]> Mon, 28 Sep 2015 15:01:00 CDT United Nations Headquarters
New York, New York

**Please see below for a correction, marked with an asterisk.

12:19 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, it is a great pleasure to meet once again with my good friend, Prime Minister Modi.  Our meeting builds on the progress that was made during the wonderful visit that I was able to make to India, to the Prime Minister’s invitation, and the historic participation that I had with Republic Day.  We’ve elevated our ties.  We’ve committed ourselves to a new partnership between our two countries.  And there’s been excellent follow-through on a whole range of issues.

Much of our discussion today focused on the upcoming climate conference in Paris.  We agreed that this is a critical issue for the world; that all of us have responsibilities.  We are encouraged by the aggressive nature of *President Prime Minister Modi’s commitment to clean energy.  And what I indicated to the Prime Minister is that I really think that India’s leadership in this upcoming conference will set the tone not just for today but for decades to come.  And I have great confidence in our ability to partner with other large countries, like China, and the European Union’s efforts in order for us to really solve this problem in a significant way that will help not just our people, but I think can actually be an engine of growth over the long term.

We also had a chance to talk about trade and investment, where our governments and business leaders met again last week to forge new partnerships to create jobs and opportunities for Indians and Americans.  Prime Minister Modi has called on the Indian diaspora in the United States, which is very large and very successful, to contribute their talents to India’s progress.  And that’s something that we welcome.

And we discussed how we can further refine our strategic vision -- our common joint vision moving forward for security and partnerships.  And that encompasses everything from scientific exchanges and educational exchanges, to security cooperation and defense procurement.  On all these issues, the Prime Minister has been an outstanding partner, and it reflects the fact that as the two largest democracies in the world -- or two of the largest democracies in the world, we have an opportunity to help to define a common set of principles that are consistent with what the United Nations believes and are consistent with what both India’s and the United States’ founders believed -- that governments are there to serve their people and to provide uplift and prosperity to everyone.  And in my interactions with Prime Minister Modi, I have to say that those ideals are ones that he not only gives lip service to but he also acts on.  And so we very much appreciate his friendship and his partnership.

PRIME MINISTER MODI:  President Obama, members of the media, it is a great pleasure to meet President Obama in New York.  Thank you for your hosting this meeting.  I deeply value our friendship and your vision and commitment for the relationship between our two countries.  

We have achieved significant progress in our bilateral cooperation and international partnership.  I was in Silicon Valley over the weekend; I experienced the strength of American innovation and enterprise that provide the foundation of American success.  I also the driving force of our relationship -- youth, technology and innovation -- and the natural partnership of Indian and Americans in advancing human progress.

California also reminds us that India and the United States are part of the dynamic Asia Pacific region.  Many of the problems that world faces today and the global challenges that we see ahead, our partnership is a great significance for us and our world.  We can apply innovation and technology by achieving sustainable development goals, including combatting climate change and conserving nature.  

The President and I share an uncompromising commitment on climate change without affecting our ability to meet the development aspirations of humanity.  We have both set ambitious national agendas.  In India, our agenda includes not just a plan to have 175 gigawatt of renewable energy by 2022, but a development strategy that will enable us to transition to a more sustainable energy mix.  This is an exercise we are undertaking in the spirit of our culture and tradition, but also because of our commitment to the future of this planet.  Our extraordinary bilateral partnership in the energy sector focus on clean and renewable energy and energy efficiency.  

I also thank President Obama for his positive response to my call for a global public partnership for developing affordable clean-energy source.  And that will enable faster eruption of clean energy across the world.  We should work together to advance the goal.  And it is equally important to develop mechanisms to ensure that the affordable also become accessible to those who need it the most.  

We look forward to comprehensive and concrete outcome in Paris with a positive agenda on combatting climate change which also focuses on access to finance and technology for the developing world, especially the poor countries and small island states.

I thank President Obama for the U.S. support for India’s permanent membership of a reformed U.N. Security Council.  I also sought the U.S. support to complete the reform process within a fixed timeframe.  I expressed our appreciation for continued U.S. support for India’s membership of the International Export Control Regimes within our targeted timeframe.  

Our partnership addresses a broad range of strategic and security concerns.  Our defense cooperation, including defense training, is expanding.  As extremist terrorism threats grow and new ones emerge, we have resolved to further deepen cooperation on counterterrorism and radicalism.  

We have just had a successful cybersecurity dialogue.  We have agreed to further strengthen our consultation and cooperation on helping the Afghan people combat terrorism and build a peaceful, stable and prosperous future of their nation.  

I welcome the progress in giving shape to our joint strategic vision on our Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean region, and also our joint engagement with regional partners like Japan.  This will also strengthen our maritime security cooperation.  To further increase our strategic engagement in the region, I look forward to work with the U.S. for India’s membership of Asian Pacific Economic Community.  

Our economic partnership is a key driver of our relationship.  I had an excellent meeting with business leaders in New York and San Jose.  I’m very pleased with the confidence in India, and value their constructive feedback and suggestions.  We will also continue to work towards a stronger bilateral framework of economic cooperation, including the Bilateral Investment Treaty and Globalization Agreement.

This meeting and my engagement in the U.S. demonstrate the extraordinary depth and diversity of our relationship.  Our meeting today was very productive in advancing some of our immediate priorities and also our broader strategic partnership.

Thank you. 

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you. 

END 
12:29 P.M. EDT

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<![CDATA[Remarks by President Obama at Luncheon Hosted by Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon]]> Mon, 28 Sep 2015 14:55:00 CDT United Nations Headquarters
New York, New York 

1:52 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Good afternoon.  As always, this lunch comes right after I have spoken.  And I think the Secretary General designs it that way to keep me brief.  

You've heard enough from me already today.  I do want to take this opportunity to welcome all of you once again to the United States and New York City, as we mark the 70th anniversary of this institution.  And I want to thank all of you for the work that we have done together.

In particular, I want to thank our Secretary General for his outstanding work.  Mr. Secretary General, you have helped to mobilize the world around a host of urgent challenges -- humanitarian disasters, our new Sustainable Development Goals, and climate change.  I value your friendship.  I value your counsel.  I’m glad you think that we're all lucky to have this many challenges.  (Laughter.)  I don't know if you personally always feel that way.  But because of your tireless work, the world is a better place.  We very much appreciate you.  (Applause.) 

One of the Secretary General’s predecessors, Dag Hammarskjold once said, “The pursuit of peace and progress, with its trials and its errors, its successes and its setbacks, can never be relaxed and can never be abandoned.”  Over the past seven decades, we’ve witnessed this institution’s enormous power to resolve conflicts and protect the world’s vulnerable people, to strengthen international cooperation, including between former adversaries.  But we are facing extraordinary challenges today, ones that test our capacity to work together -- humanitarian crises, challenges to the international order, threats to human rights.  And so our ability to come together as the United Nations is being tested once again.

When I think about the true measure of our success going forward, the opportunities that we create for our people, the security that we provide them, our ability to address terrorism, or the ravages of climate change, I feel optimistic that we can tackle these problems if we all work together.  And this institution will be critical in order for us to achieve those goals.  

There is no problem that man has caused that man cannot solve if we are bold enough, deploy our imagination, have the political will, and recognize our common humanity.  That's what the United Nations is about.  That's what our Secretary General has been about.

And I want to propose a toast:  To all of our nations; to the United Nations; to the people that we represent and to whom we have responsibilities towards -- amid the inevitable trials and setbacks may we never relax in our pursuit of progress and may we never abandon the pursuit of peace.

Cheers.  

(A toast is offered.)  (Applause.) 

END 
1:55 P.M. EDT

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<![CDATA[FACT SHEET: White House Summit on Offshore Wind]]> Mon, 28 Sep 2015 12:35:43 CDT Convening State and Industry Leaders; Supporting Strategies for the Long-Term Development of a Clean and Abundant Energy Resource Along All U.S. Coasts

Two years ago, President Obama released his vision to cut carbon pollution and transition our country to a clean-energy economy. One of the key pillars of the plan was the commitment to double our renewable energy use by 2020. We are on track to achieving that goal. However, there is a need to do more. That is why this summer, in a joint statement with Brazil, the United States committed to increasing non-hydro renewable energy generation to 20% by 2030.

To achieve this goal, the White House is committed to promoting the development of all forms of renewable energy, including offshore wind. Today, the White House is hosting the Summit on Offshore Wind, a gathering of leading federal, state and industry stakeholders committed to the long-term and sustainable development of offshore wind in the United States. By 2030, offshore wind is projected to supply 22,000 megawatts of clean and abundant energy to cities and communities in America enough to power 4.5 million homes.

In addition, the White House is announcing the following actions in support of the development of offshore wind:

  • Establishing a White House Interagency Working Group on Offshore Wind. Offshore wind will play an integral role in our future energy portfolio. It is therefore critical that the federal government work with states and other key stakeholders to ensure the responsible development of this technology. The Interagency Working Group will ensure effective coordination among federal agencies working on offshore wind. The White House Council on Environmental Quality and Domestic Policy Council will co-chair the Working Group with participation from the Department of Interior (including the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the National Park Service, and the Fish and Wildlife Service), the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense, the Department of Transportation (including the Federal Aviation Administration), the Department of Commerce (including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the International Trade Administration), the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Homeland Security (including the US Coast Guard), the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.
  • Facilitating State Collaboration in the Northeast. The Department of Energy (DOE) is funding a multi-state project with New York, Maine, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, which will produce a regional roadmap for offshore wind. The roadmap will lay out a cooperative path to develop offshore wind at the large-scale level of deployment needed to achieve economies of scale and establish a regional supply chain with high-quality local jobs.
  • Establishing an International Offshore Wind Regulators Forum. DOI’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has begun discussions with offshore wind regulators in the United Kingdom, Denmark and Germany regarding the establishment of an International Offshore Wind Regulators Forum. BOEM aims to establish a multilateral group to discuss ways to responsibly expand offshore wind in the U.S. and around the globe. The group will focus on sharing lessons learned, discussing regulatory approaches and best practices, and exchanging scientific and environmental information.
  • BOEM Lease Auctions in North Carolina and New Jersey. BOEM recently announced the following two significant actions with respect to its renewable energy leasing program.
    • North Carolina. On September 17, 2015, BOEM announced it had completed an important environmental review of three Wind Energy Areas, which total approximately 307,590 acres, offshore North Carolina. Through its Environmental Assessment, BOEM determined that there would be no significant socioeconomic or environmental impacts associated with issuing wind energy leases within those Wind Energy Areas. This finding allows BOEM to move forward with its process for considering a renewable energy lease sale.

    • New Jersey. On September 25, 2015, BOEM published a Final Sale Notice announcing that it will offer approximately 344,000 acres offshore New Jersey for commercial wind energy leasing. That lease sale will take place on November 9th and will offer two lease areas. If fully developed, the New Jersey wind energy areas could support about 3.4 gigawatts of commercial wind generation - enough to power about 1.2 million homes.

These actions build upon BOEM’s recent activities to oversee responsible development of offshore renewable energy resources. BOEM has awarded nine commercial wind leases, including seven through its competitive lease sale process (two offshore Rhode Island-Massachusetts, two offshore Massachusetts, two offshore Maryland and one offshore Virginia). To date, competitive lease sales have generated more than $14.5 million in winning bids for over 700,000 acres in federal waters.

  • Updating the National Offshore Wind Strategy: In 2011, DOE and DOI jointly released a National Offshore Wind Strategy for the purpose of identifying opportunities to reduce the cost and deployment timelines of offshore wind projects. Given the market and technological changes since then, DOE and DOI are working together to deliver an updated offshore wind strategy in 2016. Informed by extensive stakeholder input and building on DOE’s Wind Vision Report, the updated strategy will address changes in technology, resource potential and electricity demand. The updated strategy will also outline potential initiatives to be implemented over the next five years that will help support the expansion of the offshore wind industry in the United States.



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<![CDATA[Remarks by President Obama to the United Nations General Assembly]]> Mon, 28 Sep 2015 11:57:00 CDT United Nations Headquarters
New York, New York

**Please see below for a correction, marked with an asterisk.

10:18 A.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Mr. President, Mr. Secretary General, fellow delegates, ladies and gentlemen:  Seventy years after the founding of the United Nations, it is worth reflecting on what, together, the members of this body have helped to achieve.  

Out of the ashes of the Second World War, having witnessed the unthinkable power of the atomic age, the United States has worked with many nations in this Assembly to prevent a third world war -- by forging alliances with old adversaries; by supporting the steady emergence of strong democracies accountable to their people instead of any foreign power; and by building an international system that imposes a cost on those who choose conflict over cooperation, an order that recognizes the dignity and equal worth of all people.  

That is the work of seven decades.  That is the ideal that this body, at its best, has pursued.  Of course, there have been too many times when, collectively, we have fallen short of these ideals.  Over seven decades, terrible conflicts have claimed untold victims.  But we have pressed forward, slowly, steadily, to make a system of international rules and norms that are better and stronger and more consistent. 

It is this international order that has underwritten unparalleled advances in human liberty and prosperity.  It is this collective endeavor that’s brought about diplomatic cooperation between the world’s major powers, and buttressed a global economy that has lifted more than a billion people from poverty.  It is these international principles that helped constrain bigger countries from imposing our will on smaller ones, and advanced the emergence of democracy and development and individual liberty on every continent. 

This progress is real.  It can be documented in lives saved, and agreements forged, and diseases conquered, and in mouths fed. And yet, we come together today knowing that the march of human progress never travels in a straight line, that our work is far from complete; that dangerous currents risk pulling us back into a darker, more disordered world.  

Today, we see the collapse of strongmen and fragile states breeding conflict, and driving innocent men, women and children across borders on an *epoch epic scale.  Brutal networks of terror have stepped into the vacuum.  Technologies that empower individuals are now also exploited by those who spread disinformation, or suppress dissent, or radicalize our youth.  Global capital flows have powered growth and investment, but also increased risk of contagion, weakened the bargaining power of workers, and accelerated inequality.  

How should we respond to these trends?  There are those who argue that the ideals enshrined in the U.N. charter are unachievable or out of date -- a legacy of a postwar era not suited to our own.  Effectively, they argue for a return to the rules that applied for most of human history and that pre-date this institution: the belief that power is a zero-sum game; that might makes right; that strong states must impose their will on weaker ones; that the rights of individuals don’t matter; and that in a time of rapid change, order must be imposed by force. 

On this basis, we see some major powers assert themselves in ways that contravene international law.  We see an erosion of the democratic principles and human rights that are fundamental to this institution’s mission; information is strictly controlled, the space for civil society restricted.  We’re told that such retrenchment is required to beat back disorder; that it’s the only way to stamp out terrorism, or prevent foreign meddling.  In accordance with this logic, we should support tyrants like Bashar al-Assad, who drops barrel bombs to massacre innocent children, because the alternative is surely worse. 

The increasing skepticism of our international order can also be found in the most advanced democracies.  We see greater polarization, more frequent gridlock; movements on the far right, and sometimes the left, that insist on stopping the trade that binds our fates to other nations, calling for the building of walls to keep out immigrants.  Most ominously, we see the fears of ordinary people being exploited through appeals to sectarianism, or tribalism, or racism, or anti-Semitism; appeals to a glorious past before the body politic was infected by those who look different, or worship God differently; a politics of us versus them. 

The United States is not immune from this.  Even as our economy is growing and our troops have largely returned from Iraq and Afghanistan, we see in our debates about America’s role in the world a notion of strength that is defined by opposition to old enemies, perceived adversaries, a rising China, or a resurgent Russia; a revolutionary Iran, or an Islam that is incompatible with peace.  We see an argument made that the only strength that matters for the United States is bellicose words and shows of military force; that cooperation and diplomacy will not work.  

As President of the United States, I am mindful of the dangers that we face; they cross my desk every morning.  I lead the strongest military that the world has ever known, and I will never hesitate to protect my country or our allies, unilaterally and by force where necessary. 

But I stand before you today believing in my core that we, the nations of the world, cannot return to the old ways of conflict and coercion.  We cannot look backwards.  We live in an integrated world -- one in which we all have a stake in each other’s success.  We cannot turn those forces of integration.  No nation in this Assembly can insulate itself from the threat of terrorism, or the risk of financial contagion; the flow of migrants, or the danger of a warming planet.  The disorder we see is not driven solely by competition between nations or any single ideology.  And if we cannot work together more effectively, we will all suffer the consequences.  That is true for the United States, as well.   

No matter how powerful our military, how strong our economy, we understand the United States cannot solve the world’s problems alone.  In Iraq, the United States learned the hard lesson that even hundreds of thousands of brave, effective troops, trillions of dollars from our Treasury, cannot by itself impose stability on a foreign land.  Unless we work with other nations under the mantle of international norms and principles and law that offer legitimacy to our efforts, we will not succeed.  And unless we work together to defeat the ideas that drive different communities in a country like Iraq into conflict, any order that our militaries can impose will be temporary.  

Just as force alone cannot impose order internationally, I believe in my core that repression cannot forge the social cohesion for nations to succeed.  The history of the last two decades proves that in today’s world, dictatorships are unstable. The strongmen of today become the spark of revolution tomorrow.  You can jail your opponents, but you can’t imprison ideas.  You can try to control access to information, but you cannot turn a lie into truth.  It is not a conspiracy of U.S.-backed NGOs that expose corruption and raise the expectations of people around the globe; it’s technology, social media, and the irreducible desire of people everywhere to make their own choices about how they are governed.  

Indeed, I believe that in today’s world, the measure of strength is no longer defined by the control of territory.   Lasting prosperity does not come solely from the ability to access and extract raw materials.  The strength of nations depends on the success of their people -- their knowledge, their innovation, their imagination, their creativity, their drive, their opportunity -- and that, in turn, depends upon individual rights and good governance and personal security.  Internal repression and foreign aggression are both symptoms of the failure to provide this foundation.  

A politics and solidarity that depend on demonizing others, that draws on religious sectarianism or narrow tribalism or jingoism may at times look like strength in the moment, but over time its weakness will be exposed.  And history tells us that the dark forces unleashed by this type of politics surely makes all of us less secure.  Our world has been there before.  We gain nothing from going back. 

Instead, I believe that we must go forward in pursuit of our ideals, not abandon them at this critical time.  We must give expression to our best hopes, not our deepest fears.  This institution was founded because men and women who came before us had the foresight to know that our nations are more secure when we uphold basic laws and basic norms, and pursue a path of cooperation over conflict.  And strong nations, above all, have a responsibility to uphold this international order. 

Let me give you a concrete example.  After I took office, I made clear that one of the principal achievements of this body -- the nuclear non-proliferation regime -- was endangered by Iran’s violation of the NPT.  On that basis, the Security Council tightened sanctions on the Iranian government, and many nations joined us to enforce them.  Together, we showed that laws and agreements mean something. 

But we also understood that the goal of sanctions was not simply to punish Iran.  Our objective was to test whether Iran could change course, accept constraints, and allow the world to verify that its nuclear program will be peaceful.  For two years, the United States and our partners -- including Russia, including China -- stuck together in complex negotiations.  The result is a lasting, comprehensive deal that prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, while allowing it to access peaceful energy.  And if this deal is fully implemented, the prohibition on nuclear weapons is strengthened, a potential war is averted, our world is safer.  That is the strength of the international system when it works the way it should. 

That same fidelity to international order guides our responses to other challenges around the world.  Consider Russia’s annexation of Crimea and further aggression in eastern Ukraine.  America has few economic interests in Ukraine.  We recognize the deep and complex history between Russia and Ukraine.  But we cannot stand by when the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a nation is flagrantly violated.  If that happens without consequence in Ukraine, it could happen to any nation gathered here today.  That’s the basis of the sanctions that the United States and our partners impose on Russia.  It's not a desire to return to a Cold War. 

Now, within Russia, state-controlled media may describe these events as an example of a resurgent Russia -- a view shared, by the way, by a number of U.S. politicians and commentators who have always been deeply skeptical of Russia, and seem to be convinced a new Cold War is, in fact, upon us.  And yet, look at the results.  The Ukrainian people are more interested than ever in aligning with Europe instead of Russia. Sanctions have led to capital flight, a contracting economy, a fallen ruble, and the emigration of more educated Russians.  

Imagine if, instead, Russia had engaged in true diplomacy, and worked with Ukraine and the international community to ensure its interests were protected.  That would be better for Ukraine, but also better for Russia, and better for the world -- which is why we continue to press for this crisis to be resolved in a way that allows a sovereign and democratic Ukraine to determine its future and control its territory.  Not because we want to isolate Russia -- we don't -- but because we want a strong Russia that’s invested in working with us to strengthen the international system as a whole.  

Similarly, in the South China Sea, the United States makes no claim on territory there.  We don't adjudicate claims.  But like every nation gathered here, we have an interest in upholding the basic principles of freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce, and in resolving disputes through international law, not the law of force.  So we will defend these principles, while encouraging China and other claimants to resolve their differences peacefully. 

I say this, recognizing that diplomacy is hard; that the outcomes are sometimes unsatisfying; that it's rarely politically popular.  But I believe that leaders of large nations, in particular, have an obligation to take these risks -- precisely because we are strong enough to protect our interests if, and when, diplomacy fails.  

I also believe that to move forward in this new era, we have to be strong enough to acknowledge when what you’re doing is not working.  For 50 years, the United States pursued a Cuba policy that failed to improve the lives of the Cuban people.  We changed that.  We continue to have differences with the Cuban government. We will continue to stand up for human rights.  But we address these issues through diplomatic relations, and increased commerce, and people-to-people ties.  As these contacts yield progress, I’m confident that our Congress will inevitably lift an embargo that should not be in place anymore.  (Applause.)  Change won’t come overnight to Cuba, but I’m confident that openness, not coercion, will support the reforms and better the life the Cuban people deserve, just as I believe that Cuba will find its success if it pursues cooperation with other nations. 

Now, if it’s in the interest of major powers to uphold international standards, it is even more true for the rest of the community of nations.  Look around the world.  From Singapore to Colombia to Senegal, the facts shows that nations succeed when they pursue an inclusive peace and prosperity within their borders, and work cooperatively with countries beyond their borders.  

That path is now available to a nation like Iran, which, as of this moment, continues to deploy violent proxies to advance its interests.  These efforts may appear to give Iran leverage in disputes with neighbors, but they fuel sectarian conflict that endangers the entire region, and isolates Iran from the promise of trade and commerce.  The Iranian people have a proud history, and are filled with extraordinary potential.  But chanting “Death to America” does not create jobs, or make Iran more secure.  If Iran chose a different path, that would be good for the security of the region, good for the Iranian people, and good for the world. 

Of course, around the globe, we will continue to be confronted with nations who reject these lessons of history, places where civil strife, border disputes, and sectarian wars bring about terrorist enclaves and humanitarian disasters.  Where order has completely broken down, we must act, but we will be stronger when we act together. 

In such efforts, the United States will always do our part. We will do so mindful of the lessons of the past -- not just the lessons of Iraq, but also the example of Libya, where we joined an international coalition under a U.N. mandate to prevent a slaughter.  Even as we helped the Libyan people bring an end to the reign of a tyrant, our coalition could have and should have done more to fill a vacuum left behind.  We’re grateful to the United Nations for its efforts to forge a unity government.  We will help any legitimate Libyan government as it works to bring the country together.  But we also have to recognize that we must work more effectively in the future, as an international community, to build capacity for states that are in distress, before they collapse.  

And that’s why we should celebrate the fact that later today the United States will join with more than 50 countries to enlist new capabilities -- infantry, intelligence, helicopters, hospitals, and tens of thousands of troops -- to strengthen United Nations peacekeeping.  (Applause.)  These new capabilities can prevent mass killing, and ensure that peace agreements are more than words on paper.  But we have to do it together.  Together, we must strengthen our collective capacity to establish security where order has broken down, and to support those who seek a just and lasting peace. 

Nowhere is our commitment to international order more tested than in Syria.  When a dictator slaughters tens of thousands of his own people, that is not just a matter of one nation’s internal affairs -- it breeds human suffering on an order of magnitude that affects us all.  Likewise, when a terrorist group beheads captives, slaughters the innocent and enslaves women, that’s not a single nation’s national security problem -- that is an assault on all humanity. 

I’ve said before and I will repeat:  There is no room for accommodating an apocalyptic cult like ISIL, and the United States makes no apologies for using our military, as part of a broad coalition, to go after them.  We do so with a determination to ensure that there will never be a safe haven for terrorists who carry out these crimes.  And we have demonstrated over more than a decade of relentless pursuit of al Qaeda, we will not be outlasted by extremists.  

But while military power is necessary, it is not sufficient to resolve the situation in Syria.  Lasting stability can only take hold when the people of Syria forge an agreement to live together peacefully.  The United States is prepared to work with any nation, including Russia and Iran, to resolve the conflict. But we must recognize that there cannot be, after so much bloodshed, so much carnage, a return to the pre-war status quo.  

Let’s remember how this started.  Assad reacted to peaceful protests by escalating repression and killing that, in turn, created the environment for the current strife.  And so Assad and his allies cannot simply pacify the broad majority of a population who have been brutalized by chemical weapons and indiscriminate bombing.  Yes, realism dictates that compromise will be required to end the fighting and ultimately stamp out ISIL.  But realism also requires a managed transition away from Assad and to a new leader, and an inclusive government that recognizes there must be an end to this chaos so that the Syrian people can begin to rebuild.  

We know that ISIL -- which emerged out of the chaos of Iraq and Syria -- depends on perpetual war to survive.  But we also know that they gain adherents because of a poisonous ideology.  So part of our job, together, is to work to reject such extremism that infects too many of our young people.  Part of that effort must be a continued rejection by Muslims of those who distort Islam to preach intolerance and promote violence, and it must also a rejection by non-Muslims of the ignorance that equates Islam with terror.  (Applause.)    

This work will take time.  There are no easy answers to Syria.  And there are no simple answers to the changes that are taking place in much of the Middle East and North Africa.  But so many families need help right now; they don’t have time.  And that’s why the United States is increasing the number of refugees who we welcome within our borders.  That’s why we will continue to be the largest donor of assistance to support those refugees. And today we are launching new efforts to ensure that our people and our businesses, our universities and our NGOs can help as well -- because in the faces of suffering families, our nation of immigrants sees ourselves. 

Of course, in the old ways of thinking, the plight of the powerless, the plight of refugees, the plight of the marginalized did not matter.  They were on the periphery of the world’s concerns.  Today, our concern for them is driven not just by conscience, but should also be drive by self-interest.  For helping people who have been pushed to the margins of our world is not mere charity, it is a matter of collective security.  And the purpose of this institution is not merely to avoid conflict, it is to galvanize the collective action that makes life better on this planet. 

The commitments we’ve made to the Sustainable Development Goals speak to this truth.  I believe that capitalism has been the greatest creator of wealth and opportunity that the world has ever known.  But from big cities to rural villages around the world, we also know that prosperity is still cruelly out of reach for too many.  As His Holiness Pope Francis reminds us, we are stronger when we value the least among these, and see them as equal in dignity to ourselves and our sons and our daughters. 

We can roll back preventable disease and end the scourge of HIV/AIDS.  We can stamp out pandemics that recognize no borders. That work may not be on television right now, but as we demonstrated in reversing the spread of Ebola, it can save more lives than anything else we can do. 

Together, we can eradicate extreme poverty and erase barriers to opportunity.  But this requires a sustained commitment to our people -- so farmers can feed more people; so entrepreneurs can start a business without paying a bribe; so young people have the skills they need to succeed in this modern, knowledge-based economy. 

We can promote growth through trade that meets a higher standard.  And that’s what we’re doing through the Trans-Pacific Partnership -- a trade agreement that encompasses nearly 40 percent of the global economy; an agreement that will open markets, while protecting the rights of workers and protecting the environment that enables development to be sustained. 

We can roll back the pollution that we put in our skies, and help economies lift people out of poverty without condemning our children to the ravages of an ever-warming climate.  The same ingenuity that produced the Industrial Age and the Computer Age allows us to harness the potential of clean energy.  No country can escape the ravages of climate change.  And there is no stronger sign of leadership than putting future generations first.  The United States will work with every nation that is willing to do its part so that we can come together in Paris to decisively confront this challenge.  

And finally, our vision for the future of this Assembly, my belief in moving forward rather than backwards, requires us to defend the democratic principles that allow societies to succeed. Let me start from a simple premise:  Catastrophes, like what we are seeing in Syria, do not take place in countries where there is genuine democracy and respect for the universal values this institution is supposed to defend.  (Applause.)   

I recognize that democracy is going to take different forms in different parts of the world.  The very idea of a people governing themselves depends upon government giving expression to their unique culture, their unique history, their unique experiences.  But some universal truths are self-evident.  No person wants to be imprisoned for peaceful worship.  No woman should ever be abused with impunity, or a girl barred from going to school.  The freedom to peacefully petition those in power without fear of arbitrary laws -- these are not ideas of one country or one culture.  They are fundamental to human progress. They are a cornerstone of this institution.  

I realize that in many parts of the world there is a different view -- a belief that strong leadership must tolerate no dissent.  I hear it not only from America’s adversaries, but privately at least I also hear it from some of our friends.  I disagree.  I believe a government that suppresses peaceful dissent is not showing strength; it is showing weakness and it is showing fear.  (Applause.)  History shows that regimes who fear their own people will eventually crumble, but strong institutions built on the consent of the governed endure long after any one individual is gone.  

That's why our strongest leaders -- from George Washington to Nelson Mandela -- have elevated the importance of building strong, democratic institutions over a thirst for perpetual power.  Leaders who amend constitutions to stay in office only acknowledge that they failed to build a successful country for their people -- because none of us last forever.  It tells us that power is something they cling to for its own sake, rather than for the betterment of those they purport to serve. 

I understand democracy is frustrating.  Democracy in the United States is certainly imperfect.  At times, it can even be dysfunctional.  But democracy -- the constant struggle to extend rights to more of our people, to give more people a voice -- is what allowed us to become the most powerful nation in the world. (Applause.)  

It's not simply a matter of principle; it's not an abstraction.  Democracy -- inclusive democracy -- makes countries stronger.  When opposition parties can seek power peacefully through the ballot, a country draws upon new ideas.  When a free media can inform the public, corruption and abuse are exposed and can be rooted out.  When civil society thrives, communities can solve problems that governments cannot necessarily solve alone.  When immigrants are welcomed, countries are more productive and more vibrant.  When girls can go to school, and get a job, and pursue unlimited opportunity, that’s when a country realizes its full potential.  (Applause.)   

That is what I believe is America’s greatest strength.  Not everybody in America agrees with me.  That's part of democracy.  I believe that the fact that you can walk the streets of this city right now and pass churches and synagogues and temples and mosques, where people worship freely; the fact that our nation of immigrants mirrors the diversity of the world -- you can find everybody from everywhere here in New York City -- (applause) -- the fact that, in this country, everybody can contribute, everybody can participate no matter who they are, or what they look like, or who they love -- that's what makes us strong.  

And I believe that what is true for America is true for virtually all mature democracies.  And that is no accident.  We can be proud of our nations without defining ourselves in opposition to some other group.  We can be patriotic without demonizing someone else.  We can cherish our own identities -- our religion, our ethnicity, our traditions -- without putting others down.  Our systems are premised on the notion that absolute power will corrupt, but that people -- ordinary people  -- are fundamentally good; that they value family and friendship, faith and the dignity of hard work; and that with appropriate checks and balances, governments can reflect this goodness.  

I believe that’s the future we must seek together.  To believe in the dignity of every individual, to believe we can bridge our differences, and choose cooperation over conflict -- that is not weakness, that is strength.  (Applause.)  It is a practical necessity in this interconnected world. 

And our people understand this.  Think of the Liberian doctor who went door-to-door to search for Ebola cases, and to tell families what to do if they show symptoms.  Think of the Iranian shopkeeper who said, after the nuclear deal, “God willing, now we’ll be able to offer many more goods at better prices.”  Think of the Americans who lowered the flag over our embassy in Havana in 1961 -- the year I was born -- and returned this summer to raise that flag back up.  (Applause.)  One of these men said of the Cuban people, “We could do things for them, and they could do things for us.  We loved them.”  For 50 years, we ignored that fact.  

Think of the families leaving everything they’ve known behind, risking barren deserts and stormy waters just to find shelter; just to save their children.  One Syrian refugee who was greeted in Hamburg with warm greetings and shelter, said, “We feel there are still some people who love other people.” 

The people of our United Nations are not as different as they are told.  They can be made to fear; they can be taught to hate -- but they can also respond to hope.  History is littered with the failure of false prophets and fallen empires who believed that might always makes right, and that will continue to be the case.  You can count on that.  But we are called upon to offer a different type of leadership -- leadership strong enough to recognize that nations share common interests and people share a common humanity, and, yes, there are certain ideas and principles that are universal.

That's what those who shaped the United Nations 70 years ago understood.  Let us carry forward that faith into the future -- for it is the only way we can assure that future will be brighter for my children, and for yours.

Thank you very much.  (Applause.)  

END
11:00 A.M. EDT

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<![CDATA[Remarks by the President on Sustainable Development Goals]]> Mon, 28 Sep 2015 10:25:36 CDT General Assembly Hall
United Nations 
New York, New York 

3:04 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Good afternoon.  Mr. Secretary General, fellow delegates, ladies and gentlemen.  It is a great honor to be here to address the topic of sustainable development.

In many of our nations, especially developed countries, there is among our general population a genuine compassion towards those in need.  There is a recognition of the grinding poverty that so many experience every day around the world.  And yet sometimes it's said that our efforts to combat poverty and disease do not and cannot work, that there are some places beyond hope, that certain people and regions are condemned to an endless cycle of suffering.  Here, today, we put those myths to rest.  Today, we set aside the skepticism, and we lift up the hope that is available to us through collective action.  

Because the world came together in an unprecedented effort, the global hunger rate has already been slashed.  Tens of millions of more boys and girls are today in school.  Prevention and treatment of measles and malaria and tuberculosis have saved nearly 60 million lives.  HIV/AIDS infections and deaths have plummeted.  And more than one billion people have lifted themselves up from extreme poverty -- one billion.  

The entire world can take enormous pride in these historic achievements.  And so let the skeptics and cynics know development works.  Investing in public health works.  We can break the cycle of poverty.  People and nations can rise into prosperity.  Despite the cruelties of our world and the ravages of disease, millions of lives can be saved if we are focused, and if we work together.  Cynicism is our enemy.  A belief, a capacity in the dignity of every individual, and a recognition that we, each of us, can play a small part to play in lifting up people all around the world -- that is the message that we are sending here today.  And because of the work of so many who are assembled here today, we can point to past success.  And yet, we are also here today because we understand that our work is nowhere near done.  We can take pride in what we've accomplished, but we cannot be complacent.  

When eleven boys and girls die every single minute from preventable causes, we know we have more work to do.  When hundreds of women die every single day just from having a baby, we know we have more work to do.  When tens of millions of children are still not in school, when hundreds of millions of people have no clean water, no toilets, we have so much more to do.  

Right now, some 800 million men, women and children are scraping by on less than $1.25 a day.  Imagine that.  Gripped by the ache of an empty stomach.  Billions of our fellow human beings are at risk of dying from diseases that we know how to prevent.  Many children are just one mosquito bite away from death.  And that is a moral outrage.  It is a profound injustice. It is literally a matter of life and death, and now the world must act.  We cannot leave people behind.

And so, today, we commit ourselves to new Sustainable Development Goals, including our goal of ending extreme poverty in our world.  We do so understanding how difficult the task may be.  We suffer no illusions of the challenges ahead.  But we understand this is something that we must commit ourselves to.  Because in doing so, we recognize that our most basic bond -- our common humanity -- compels us to act.  An impoverished child in a distant slum or a neighborhood not that far from here is just as equal, just as worthy, as any of our children, as any of us, as any head of government or leader in this great hall. 

We reaffirm that supporting development is not charity, but is instead one of the smartest investments we can make in our own future.  After all, it is a lack of development -- when people have no education, and no jobs, and no hope, a feeling that their basic human dignity is being violated -- that helps fuel so much of the tensions and conflict and instability in our world.  

And I profoundly believe that many of the conflicts, the refugee crises, the military interventions over the years might have been avoided if nations had truly invested in the lives of their people, and if the wealthiest nations on Earth were better partners in working with those that are trying to lift themselves up.  (Applause.)    

As one of the founders of the United Nations, Ralph Bunche once said, “Peace is no mere matter of men fighting or not fighting.  Peace, to have meaning…must be translated into bread or rice, shelter, health, and education.”  

I’m here to say that in this work, the United States will continue to be your partner.  Five years ago, I pledged here that America would remain the global leader in development, and the United States government, in fact, remains the single largest donor of development assistance, including in global health.  In times of crisis -- from Ebola to Syria -- we are the largest provider of humanitarian aid.  In times of disaster and crisis, the world can count on the friendship and generosity of the American people.  

The question before us, though, as an international community, is how do we meet these new goals that we’ve set today?  How can we do our work better?  How can we stretch our resources and our funding more effectively?  How can donor countries be smarter, and how can recipient countries do more with what they receive?  We have to learn from the past -- to see where we succeeded so that we can duplicate that success, and to understand where we’ve fallen short and correct those shortcomings.  

And we start by understanding that this next chapter of development cannot fall victim to the old divides between developed nations and developing ones.  Poverty, growing inequality exists in all of our nations, and all of our nations have work to do.  And that includes here in the United States.  

That’s why, after a terrible recession, my administration has worked to keep millions of families from falling into poverty.  That's why we’ve brought quality, affordable health care to more than 17 million Americans.  Here in this country, the wealthiest nation on Earth, we’re still working every day to perfect our union, and to be more equal and more just, and to treat the most vulnerable members of our society with value and concern.  

That’s why, today, I am committing the United States to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  (Applause.)  And as long as I am President, and well after I'm done being President, I will keep fighting for the education and housing and health care and jobs that reduce inequality and create opportunity here in the United States and around the world.  (Applause.)  Because this is not just the job of politicians; this is work for all of us.     

This next chapter of development cannot just be about what governments spend, it has to harness the unprecedented resources of our interconnected world.  In just a few short years -- in the areas of health, and food security, and energy -- my administration has committed and helped mobilize more than $100 billion to promote development and save lives.  More than $100 billion.  And guided by the new consensus we reached in Addis, I'm calling on others to join us.  More governments, more institutions, more businesses, more philanthropies, more NGOs, more faith communities, more citizens -- we all need to step up with the will and the resources and the coordination to achieve our goals.  This must be the work of the world.

At the same time, this next chapter of development must focus not simply on the dollars we spend, but on the results that we achieve.  And this demands new technologies and approaches, accountability, data, behavioral science -- understanding that there’s lessons that we have learned, best practices on how people actually live so that we can dramatically improve outcomes.  It means breaking cycles of dependence by helping people become more self-sufficient -- not just giving people fish, but teaching them how to fish.  That's the purpose of development.  

Rather than just sending food during famine -- although we have to do that to avert starvation -- we also have to bring new techniques and new seeds and new technologies to more farmers so they can boost their yields and increase their incomes, feed more people and lift countless millions out of poverty.  Rather than just respond to outbreaks like Ebola -- although we have to do that, and we have -- let’s also strengthen public health systems and advance global health security to prevent epidemics in the first place.  

As more countries take ownership of their HIV/AIDS programs, the United States is setting two new bold goals.  Over the next two years, we’ll increase the number of people that our funding reaches -- so that nearly 13 million people with HIV/AIDS get lifesaving treatment -- and we’ll invest $300 million to help achieve a 40 percent reduction in new HIV infections among young women and girls in the hardest-hit areas of sub-Saharan Africa.  (Applause.)  And I believe we can do that -- the first AIDS-free generation.  (Applause.)       

This next chapter of development must also unleash economic growth -- not just for a few at the top, but inclusive, sustainable growth that lifts up the fortunes of the many.  We know the ingredients for creating jobs and opportunity -- they are not a secret.  So let’s embrace reforms that attract trade and investment to areas that are in need of investment and in need of trade.  Let’s trade and build more together, make it easier for developing countries to sell more of their goods around the world.  And let’s invest in our greatest resource -- our people -- their education, their skills.  Let’s invest in innovative entrepreneurs, the striving young people who embrace new technology and are starting businesses and can ignite new industries that change the world.  I have met young people on every continent, and they can lead the way if we give them the tools they need.

Our new development goals are ambitious.  But thanks to the good work of many of you, they are achievable -- if we work together; if we meet our responsibilities to each other.  I believe that.  The progress of recent years gives us hope.  We know what works.  We know how to do this.  But perhaps because this is now my seventh year of addressing the General Assembly, I tend to be more blunt.  Along with the gray hair, I'm becoming more likely to speak my mind.  (Laughter.)  So indulge me when I say that we will never achieve our goals if we do not squarely confront several insidious threats to the dignity and well-being of people around the world.  No matter how much hard work is done by development agencies, no matter how large the donations and commitments that are made by donor countries, if we don't take care of some other elements of development, we will not meet the goals that we've set.  

Number one, development is threatened by bad governance.  Today, we affirm what we know to be true from decades of experience -- development and economic growth that is truly sustainable and inclusive depends on governments and institutions that care about their people, that are accountable, that respect human rights and deliver justice for everybody and not just some. 

So, in the face of corruption that siphons billions away from schools and hospitals and infrastructure into foreign bank accounts, governments have to embrace transparency and open government and rule of law.  And combating illicit finance must be a global effort because it is part of our development effort. And citizens and civil society groups must be free to organize and speak their mind and work for progress, because that's how countries develop; that's how countries succeed.  

Development is also threatened by inequality.  And this is a political debate that we have in this country, so I just want to be clear, this is not something from which the United States is immune to.  Every country has to grapple with this issue.  The wealthiest and most powerful in our societies oftentimes like to keep things as they are, and they often have disproportionate political influences.  When poor children are more likely to get sick and die than children in wealthier neighborhoods just across town; when rural families are more likely to go without clean water; when ethnic and religious minorities, or people with disabilities, or people of different sexual orientations are discriminated against or can’t access education and opportunity  -- that holds all of us back.  And so, in all of our countries, we have to invest in the interventions that allow us to reach more people -- because no one should be left behind just because of where they live or what they look like.   

Development is threatened by old attitudes, especially those that deny rights and opportunity to women.  In too many places, girls are less likely to be in school than boys.  Globally, women are less likely to have a job than men and are more likely to live in poverty.  I've said this before and I will keep repeating it -- one of the best indicators of whether a country will succeed is how it treats its women.  (Applause.)  When women have an education, when women have a job, their children are more likely to get an education, their families are healthier and more prosperous.  Their communities and countries do better, as well. So every nation -- all of our nations -- must invest in the education and health and skills of our women and girls.

And I have to say I do not have patience for the excuse of, well, we have our own ways of doing things.  (Applause.)  We understand that there is a long tradition in every society of discriminating against women.  But that's not an excuse for taking a new path in order to make sure that everyone in a society has opportunity.  

Development is threatened if we do not recognize the incredible dynamism and opportunity of today’s Africa.  Hundreds of millions of Africans still struggle in the face of grinding poverty and deadly diseases, daily assaults on their lives and dignity.  But I visited Africa recently, and what I saw gave me hope and I know should give you hope, because that continent has made impressive gains in health and education.  It is one of the fastest-growing regions of the world, with a rising middle class. 

And during my travels, Africans -- especially young Africans -- tell me they don’t just want aid, they want trade.  They want businesses.  They want investment.  So I call on the world to join us as we mobilize billions of dollars in new trade and investment and development in Africa -- and that includes Power Africa, our initiative to bring electricity and greater opportunity to more than 60 million African homes and businesses. If we get Africa fulfilling its full potential, that will help the entire global economy.  Everyone here will be helped.  It's not a zero-sum game.  We are invested in their success.  (Applause.)  

Development is threatened by war.  This should be a simple proposition, but it bears repeating.  It is no coincidence that half of the people living in extreme poverty around the world live in places afflicted by chronic violence and conflict.  Today, some 60 million men, women and children have been forced from their homes, many by conflicts in the Middle East and in Africa.  These are humanitarian crises and refugees that we cannot ignore, and we have to deliver the urgent aid that is needed right now.  And those countries that can must do more to accommodate refugees, recognizing that those children are just like ours.  But our efforts must be matched by the hard work of diplomacy and reconciliation to end conflicts that so often tear societies apart.

And as I said earlier, war and conflict is more likely to arise where we have bad governance, and we have high inequality, and we have discrimination against minority groups and ethnic groups, and we have low educational levels.  So these things are all related.         

And finally, development is threatened by climate change.  And I want to thank the Secretary General for the extraordinary leadership and work that he’s done on this issue.  (Applause.)  

All of our countries will be affected by a changing climate. But the world’s poorest people will bear the heaviest burden -- from rising seas and more intense droughts, shortages of water and food.  We will be seeing climate change refugees.  As His Holiness Pope Francis has rightly implored the world, this is a moral calling.  

In just two months, the world has an opportunity to unite around a strong global agreement.  I saw President Hollande walk in a few moments ago -- we are going to be converging in Paris.  With his leadership, and the leadership of every world leader, we need to establish the tools and financing to help developing nations embrace clean energy, adapt to climate change, and ensure that there’s not a false choice between economic development and the best practices that can save our planet.  We can do the same at the same time.  And the communities and lives of billions of people depend on the work that we do.  (Applause.)     

Future generations of young people watching today and tomorrow will judge us by the choices we make in the months and years ahead.  And one of those young people is Eva Tolage.  Eva lives in a village in Tanzania.  She’s 15 years old, and she wrote me a letter.  Some of you know I get 10 letters a day, mostly from inside the United States, but sometimes international letters.  I get 40,000 a day, but I read 10.  (Laughter.)  

And so Eva told me about her parents -- farmers who struggle to provide for their seven children.  And this young 15-year-old girl -- a girl the age of my daughters -- she dreams of going to college, but with little food to eat, she explained how it's hard for her sometimes to concentrate in school.  She explained that her house doesn’t have electricity, so it's hard for her to study at night.  

It's not because her parents don't love her and don't have ambitions for her.  Her father works incredibly hard in the fields to pay for her education.  But they just need a little help.  “I won’t let him down,” Eva said.  “I’ll do whatever it takes,” she said in her letter.  And then, knowing that we would be gathered at this summit to help lift up families like hers, she asked me a question that could be asked of all of our nations -- “What will you commit to doing…?”  What will you do?    

And there are billions of boys and girls just like Eva.  They’re just like our children.  They have as much talent and as much hope for the future.  And they’re willing to work hard, and their parents love them just as much as we love ours.  And just by the accident of birth, it's so much more difficult for them to achieve their dreams as it is for our children.  But in the eyes of God, they are the same children.  They’re just as important.

And for Eva, and all those just trying to survive another day in conditions that many of us can barely imagine, it can sometimes seem as if the world is blind to their struggles and their dreams.  And so today, I say to Eva and hundreds of millions -- billions -- like her:  We see you.  We hear you.  I've read your letter.  And we commit ourselves -- as nations, as one world -- to the urgent work that must be done.  To standing with families like Eva’s as they work and strive for a better life.  To ending the injustice of extreme poverty.  To upholding the inherent dignity of every human being.  Whatever it takes.  We can’t let them down.  And with your help, we won't.  

Thank you very much.  (Applause.)  

END
3:31 P.M. EDT    

]]>
<![CDATA[Why Diplomacy Matters: Follow Along as the President Heads to the 70th UN General Assembly]]> Mon, 28 Sep 2015 00:00:00 CDT
“The people of our United Nations are not as different as they are told. They can be made to fear, they can be taught to hate, but they also respond to hope. History is littered with the failure of false prophets and fallen empires who insisted that might makes right, and that will continue to be the case. You can count on that. But we are called upon to offer a different leadership - leadership strong enough to recognize that nations share common interests and people share a common humanity.”
President Barack Obama

Why Diplomacy Matters – 70 Years of the United Nations

President Obama at UNGA President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the Closing Session: Post-2015 Development Agenda, in General Assembly Hall at the United Nations in New York, N.Y. Sept. 27, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

In 1945, after two world wars had laid waste to lands and people across the globe, forty-five nations gathered together in San Francisco to find a new way forward – one that made resolution between countries possible without resorting to violence. They committed to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, to “promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.”

From that pledge was born the Charter of the United Nations – an international institution dedicated to international security and an enduring symbol of a simple idea:  We, as people, can always find a way to ensure the dignity and worth of human life. 

Seventy years later, that mission remains an ever-important guide in our path to a more peaceful world. Todays’ conflicts are numerous and they are chronic – and every nation with the power and capacity to address these issues have an equal obligation to work together to do so effectively. 

That is what diplomacy is: Using the influence we have to resolve conflicts, protect the most vulnerable among us, and strengthen international cooperation in the pursuit of peace.

 

This week, President Obama is headed to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to convene with other world leaders on how we can do just that. 

From renewing sustainable development goals to combating violent extremism, here’s what the President is doing at this year’s UNGA: 

Sunday, September 27:

  • Speak at the closing session of the  Summit to adopt the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Watch the video 
  • Hold a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India

Monday, September 28:

  • Speak at the Opening Session of the 70th United Nations General Assembly. Watch live 
  • Deliver remarks at the UN Peacekeeping Summit. Watch live 
  • Hold a bilateral meeting with President Vladimir Putin 

Tuesday, September 29:

  • Speak at the Leaders’ Summit on Countering ISIL and Violent Extremism. Watch live 
  • Hold a bilateral meeting with President Raul Castro of Cuba
  • Hold a bilateral meeting with President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan

AidRefugees.gov

AidRefugees.gov

Visit AidRefugees.gov


What’s Up At #UNGA 

Check out the latest from UN headquarters in New York City:


ICYMI: The First Lady Launches #62MillionGirls

Today, more than 62 million girls worldwide are out of school.  Many of them simply can’t afford the school fees, or the nearest school is miles away, or they just can’t break through the cultural norms and traditions that deem girls unworthy of an education.

That is why the First Lady teamed up with Girl Rising to launch a new education campaign: 62 Million Girls

 

All you have to do is share a photo of yourself on Twitter or Instagram telling the world what you learned in school – something you want 62 million girls to have the opportunity to learn. Make sure you use the hashtag #62MillionGirls and then go to 62MillionGirls.com to see what other people like Stephen Colbert, Misty Copeland, Freida Pinto, and more are sharing and learn why this is a moral crisis that we can help address.

If you don't think young girls around the world understand just how important their own education is, read this letter that Chawanzi – a "girl guide" from Zambia – who wrote to the President about the importance of empowering girls and women with opportunity: 

Letter from Chawanzi to President Obama

Read the First Lady's message about this campaign and then check out 62MillionGirls.com to learn more. 


The UN Peacekeeping Summit: #UNGA

In September 2014, more than 30 countries gathered on the margins of UNGA 69 to reaffirm their support for UN peacekeeping operations and offer concrete pledges of assistance. They did so in recognition that UN peacekeeping operations are more critical than ever to international peace and security and to help fill key gaps.  But we are at a time where we are asking the UN and these peacekeeping missions to do more in more complex conflicts and these missions are under enormous strain. So this September 28th President Obama, the UN Secretary-General, and several heads of state and government will co-host a summit to convene the leaders of countries that are prepared to make significant, new, and concrete commitments to peacekeeping operations. The summit will also encourage reforms to make UN peacekeeping more effective to complement the parallel effort of the Secretary-General’s High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations. 


The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: #GlobalGoals

In September of 2000, the largest gathering of world leaders came together to declare something entirely new: Together, we would form a new global partnership to reduce extreme poverty through clear cut, time-bound goals known as the Millennium Development Goals. These goals would be last for 15 years, world leaders would assess how far we’ve come and adopt new, sustainable goals for to build on that progress for the next 15 years.

It’s 2015, and we’ve seen tangible progress on what we set out to do: 

  • The global share of people living on less than $1.25 per day has been slashed by more than two-thirds since 1990;
  • We have reached gender parity in primary-school enrollment, and the worldwide number of out-of-school children has been cut nearly in half;
  • The rate of child mortality has been more than halved, and the proportion of malnourished children has fallen by nearly as much;
  • 2.6 billion people gained access to clean drinking water;
  • Every continent has seen extraordinary gains – individual incomes have grown by more than one-third, at least, in every region of the developing world.

This week, President Obama is joining other world leaders to adopt new global goals which set out a global development vision and priorities for the next 15 years. This is a pivotal year for global development, in which the United States is joining countries around the world in pledging to leave no one behind based on the fundamental premise that societies are far more likely to secure lasting growth if all individuals have greater access to economic and political opportunities.

Check out the 17 new goals for sustainable development and how they will help end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all:

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals




]]>
<![CDATA[Why Diplomacy Matters: Follow Along as the President Heads to the 70th UN General Assembly]]> Mon, 28 Sep 2015 00:00:00 CDT Watch Live: President Obama Chairs the United Nations Peacekeeping Summit

“The people of our United Nations are not as different as they are told. They can be made to fear, they can be taught to hate, but they also respond to hope. History is littered with the failure of false prophets and fallen empires who insisted that might makes right, and that will continue to be the case. You can count on that. But we are called upon to offer a different leadership - leadership strong enough to recognize that nations share common interests and people share a common humanity.”
President Barack Obama

Why Diplomacy Matters – 70 Years of the United Nations

President Obama at UNGA President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the Closing Session: Post-2015 Development Agenda, in General Assembly Hall at the United Nations in New York, N.Y. Sept. 27, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

In 1945, after two world wars had laid waste to lands and people across the globe, forty-five nations gathered together in San Francisco to find a new way forward – one that made resolution between countries possible without resorting to violence. They committed to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, to “promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.”

From that pledge was born the Charter of the United Nations – an international institution dedicated to international security and an enduring symbol of a simple idea:  We, as people, can always find a way to ensure the dignity and worth of human life. 

Seventy years later, that mission remains an ever-important guide in our path to a more peaceful world. Todays’ conflicts are numerous and they are chronic – and every nation with the power and capacity to address these issues have an equal obligation to work together to do so effectively. 

That is what diplomacy is: Using the influence we have to resolve conflicts, protect the most vulnerable among us, and strengthen international cooperation in the pursuit of peace.

 

This week, President Obama is headed to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to convene with other world leaders on how we can do just that. 

From renewing sustainable development goals to combating violent extremism, here’s what the President is doing at this year’s UNGA: 

Sunday, September 27:

  • Speak at the closing session of the  Summit to adopt the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Watch the video 
  • Hold a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India

Monday, September 28:

  • Speak at the Opening Session of the 70th United Nations General Assembly. Watch live 
  • Deliver remarks at the UN Peacekeeping Summit. Watch live 
  • Hold a bilateral meeting with President Vladimir Putin 

Tuesday, September 29:

  • Speak at the Leaders’ Summit on Countering ISIL and Violent Extremism. Watch live 
  • Hold a bilateral meeting with President Raul Castro of Cuba
  • Hold a bilateral meeting with President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan

AidRefugees.gov

AidRefugees.gov

Visit AidRefugees.gov


What’s Up At #UNGA 

Check out the latest from UN headquarters in New York City:


ICYMI: The First Lady Launches #62MillionGirls

Today, more than 62 million girls worldwide are out of school.  Many of them simply can’t afford the school fees, or the nearest school is miles away, or they just can’t break through the cultural norms and traditions that deem girls unworthy of an education.

That is why the First Lady teamed up with Girl Rising to launch a new education campaign: 62 Million Girls

 

All you have to do is share a photo of yourself on Twitter or Instagram telling the world what you learned in school – something you want 62 million girls to have the opportunity to learn. Make sure you use the hashtag #62MillionGirls and then go to 62MillionGirls.com to see what other people like Stephen Colbert, Misty Copeland, Freida Pinto, and more are sharing and learn why this is a moral crisis that we can help address.

If you don't think young girls around the world understand just how important their own education is, read this letter that Chawanzi – a "girl guide" from Zambia – who wrote to the President about the importance of empowering girls and women with opportunity: 

Letter from Chawanzi to President Obama

Read the First Lady's message about this campaign and then check out 62MillionGirls.com to learn more. 


The UN Peacekeeping Summit: #UNGA

In September 2014, more than 30 countries gathered on the margins of UNGA 69 to reaffirm their support for UN peacekeeping operations and offer concrete pledges of assistance. They did so in recognition that UN peacekeeping operations are more critical than ever to international peace and security and to help fill key gaps.  But we are at a time where we are asking the UN and these peacekeeping missions to do more in more complex conflicts and these missions are under enormous strain. So this September 28th President Obama, the UN Secretary-General, and several heads of state and government will co-host a summit to convene the leaders of countries that are prepared to make significant, new, and concrete commitments to peacekeeping operations. The summit will also encourage reforms to make UN peacekeeping more effective to complement the parallel effort of the Secretary-General’s High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations. 


The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: #GlobalGoals

In September of 2000, the largest gathering of world leaders came together to declare something entirely new: Together, we would form a new global partnership to reduce extreme poverty through clear cut, time-bound goals known as the Millennium Development Goals. These goals would be last for 15 years, world leaders would assess how far we’ve come and adopt new, sustainable goals for to build on that progress for the next 15 years.

It’s 2015, and we’ve seen tangible progress on what we set out to do: 

  • The global share of people living on less than $1.25 per day has been slashed by more than two-thirds since 1990;
  • We have reached gender parity in primary-school enrollment, and the worldwide number of out-of-school children has been cut nearly in half;
  • The rate of child mortality has been more than halved, and the proportion of malnourished children has fallen by nearly as much;
  • 2.6 billion people gained access to clean drinking water;
  • Every continent has seen extraordinary gains – individual incomes have grown by more than one-third, at least, in every region of the developing world.

This week, President Obama is joining other world leaders to adopt new global goals which set out a global development vision and priorities for the next 15 years. This is a pivotal year for global development, in which the United States is joining countries around the world in pledging to leave no one behind based on the fundamental premise that societies are far more likely to secure lasting growth if all individuals have greater access to economic and political opportunities.

Check out the 17 new goals for sustainable development and how they will help end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all:

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals

]]>
<![CDATA[Why Diplomacy Matters: Follow Along as the President Heads to the 70th UN General Assembly]]> Mon, 28 Sep 2015 00:00:00 CDT “The people of our United Nations are not as different as they are told. They can be made to fear, they can be taught to hate, but they also respond to hope. History is littered with the failure of false prophets and fallen empires who insisted that might makes right, and that will continue to be the case. You can count on that. But we are called upon to offer a different leadership - leadership strong enough to recognize that nations share common interests and people share a common humanity.”
President Barack Obama

Watch Live: President Obama Chairs the United Nations Peacekeeping Summit


Why Diplomacy Matters – 70 Years of the United Nations

President Obama at UNGA President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the Closing Session: Post-2015 Development Agenda, in General Assembly Hall at the United Nations in New York, N.Y. Sept. 27, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

In 1945, after two world wars had laid waste to lands and people across the globe, forty-five nations gathered together in San Francisco to find a new way forward – one that made resolution between countries possible without resorting to violence. They committed to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, to “promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.”

From that pledge was born the Charter of the United Nations – an international institution dedicated to international security and an enduring symbol of a simple idea:  We, as people, can always find a way to ensure the dignity and worth of human life. 

Seventy years later, that mission remains an ever-important guide in our path to a more peaceful world. Todays’ conflicts are numerous and they are chronic – and every nation with the power and capacity to address these issues have an equal obligation to work together to do so effectively. 

That is what diplomacy is: Using the influence we have to resolve conflicts, protect the most vulnerable among us, and strengthen international cooperation in the pursuit of peace.

 

This week, President Obama is headed to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to convene with other world leaders on how we can do just that. 

From renewing sustainable development goals to combating violent extremism, here’s what the President is doing at this year’s UNGA: 

Sunday, September 27:

  • Speak at the closing session of the  Summit to adopt the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Watch the video 
  • Hold a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India

Monday, September 28:

  • Speak at the Opening Session of the 70th United Nations General Assembly. Watch live 
  • Deliver remarks at the UN Peacekeeping Summit. Watch live 
  • Hold a bilateral meeting with President Vladimir Putin 

Tuesday, September 29:

  • Speak at the Leaders’ Summit on Countering ISIL and Violent Extremism. Watch live 
  • Hold a bilateral meeting with President Raul Castro of Cuba
  • Hold a bilateral meeting with President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan

AidRefugees.gov

AidRefugees.gov

Visit AidRefugees.gov


What’s Up At #UNGA 

Check out the latest from UN headquarters in New York City:

 

"The people of our United Nations are not as different as they are told. They can be made to fear, they can be taught to...

Posted by The White House on Monday, September 28, 2015

ICYMI: The First Lady Launches #62MillionGirls

Today, more than 62 million girls worldwide are out of school.  Many of them simply can’t afford the school fees, or the nearest school is miles away, or they just can’t break through the cultural norms and traditions that deem girls unworthy of an education.

That is why the First Lady teamed up with Girl Rising to launch a new education campaign: 62 Million Girls

 

All you have to do is share a photo of yourself on Twitter or Instagram telling the world what you learned in school – something you want 62 million girls to have the opportunity to learn. Make sure you use the hashtag #62MillionGirls and then go to 62MillionGirls.com to see what other people like Stephen Colbert, Misty Copeland, Freida Pinto, and more are sharing and learn why this is a moral crisis that we can help address.

If you don't think young girls around the world understand just how important their own education is, read this letter that Chawanzi – a "girl guide" from Zambia – who wrote to the President about the importance of empowering girls and women with opportunity: 

Letter from Chawanzi to President Obama

Read the First Lady's message about this campaign and then check out 62MillionGirls.com to learn more. 


The UN Peacekeeping Summit: #UNGA

In September 2014, more than 30 countries gathered on the margins of UNGA 69 to reaffirm their support for UN peacekeeping operations and offer concrete pledges of assistance. They did so in recognition that UN peacekeeping operations are more critical than ever to international peace and security and to help fill key gaps.  But we are at a time where we are asking the UN and these peacekeeping missions to do more in more complex conflicts and these missions are under enormous strain. So this September 28th President Obama, the UN Secretary-General, and several heads of state and government will co-host a summit to convene the leaders of countries that are prepared to make significant, new, and concrete commitments to peacekeeping operations. The summit will also encourage reforms to make UN peacekeeping more effective to complement the parallel effort of the Secretary-General’s High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations. 


The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: #GlobalGoals

In September of 2000, the largest gathering of world leaders came together to declare something entirely new: Together, we would form a new global partnership to reduce extreme poverty through clear cut, time-bound goals known as the Millennium Development Goals. These goals would be last for 15 years, world leaders would assess how far we’ve come and adopt new, sustainable goals for to build on that progress for the next 15 years.

It’s 2015, and we’ve seen tangible progress on what we set out to do: 

  • The global share of people living on less than $1.25 per day has been slashed by more than two-thirds since 1990;
  • We have reached gender parity in primary-school enrollment, and the worldwide number of out-of-school children has been cut nearly in half;
  • The rate of child mortality has been more than halved, and the proportion of malnourished children has fallen by nearly as much;
  • 2.6 billion people gained access to clean drinking water;
  • Every continent has seen extraordinary gains – individual incomes have grown by more than one-third, at least, in every region of the developing world.

This week, President Obama is joining other world leaders to adopt new global goals which set out a global development vision and priorities for the next 15 years. This is a pivotal year for global development, in which the United States is joining countries around the world in pledging to leave no one behind based on the fundamental premise that societies are far more likely to secure lasting growth if all individuals have greater access to economic and political opportunities.

Check out the 17 new goals for sustainable development and how they will help end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all:

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals

]]>
<![CDATA[Why Diplomacy Matters: Follow Along as the President Heads to the 70th UN General Assembly]]> Mon, 28 Sep 2015 00:00:00 CDT Watch Live: President Obama Addresses the 70th United Nations General Assembly


Why Diplomacy Matters – 70 Years of the United Nations

President Obama at UNGA President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the Closing Session: Post-2015 Development Agenda, in General Assembly Hall at the United Nations in New York, N.Y. Sept. 27, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

In 1945, after two world wars had laid waste to lands and people across the globe, forty-five nations gathered together in San Francisco to find a new way forward – one that made resolution between countries possible without resorting to violence. They committed to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, to “promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.”

From that pledge was born the Charter of the United Nations – an international institution dedicated to international security and an enduring symbol of a simple idea:  We, as people, can always find a way to ensure the dignity and worth of human life. 

Seventy years later, that mission remains an ever-important guide in our path to a more peaceful world. Todays’ conflicts are numerous and they are chronic – and every nation with the power and capacity to address these issues have an equal obligation to work together to do so effectively. 

That is what diplomacy is: Using the influence we have to resolve conflicts, protect the most vulnerable among us, and strengthen international cooperation in the pursuit of peace.

 

This week, President Obama is headed to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to convene with other world leaders on how we can do just that. 

From renewing sustainable development goals to combating violent extremism, here’s what the President is doing at this year’s UNGA: 

Sunday, September 27:

  • Speak at the closing session of the  Summit to adopt the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. WATCH LIVE
  • Hold a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India

Monday, September 28:

  • Speak at the Opening Session of the 70th United Nations General Assembly. WATCH LIVE
  • Deliver remarks at the UN Peacekeeping Summit. WATCH LIVE
  • Hold a bilateral meeting with President Vladimir Putin 

Tuesday, September 29:

  • Speak at the Leaders’ Summit on Countering ISIL and Violent Extremism. WATCH LIVE
  • Hold a bilateral meeting with President Raul Castro of Cuba
  • Hold a bilateral meeting with President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan

What’s Up At #UNGA 

Check out the latest from UN headquarters in New York City:

Pete Souza's Instragram of the UN


ICYMI: The First Lady Launches #62MillionGirls

Today, more than 62 million girls worldwide are out of school.  Many of them simply can’t afford the school fees, or the nearest school is miles away, or they just can’t break through the cultural norms and traditions that deem girls unworthy of an education.

That is why the First Lady teamed up with Girl Rising to launch a new education campaign: 62 Million Girls

 

All you have to do is share a photo of yourself on Twitter or Instagram telling the world what you learned in school – something you want 62 million girls to have the opportunity to learn. Make sure you use the hashtag #62MillionGirls and then go to 62MillionGirls.com to see what other people like Stephen Colbert, Misty Copeland, Freida Pinto, and more are sharing and learn why this is a moral crisis that we can help address.

If you don't think young girls around the world understand just how important their own education is, read this letter that Chawanzi – a "girl guide" from Zambia – who wrote to the President about the importance of empowering girls and women with opportunity: 

Letter from Chawanzi to President Obama

Read the First Lady's message about this campaign and then check out 62MillionGirls.com to learn more. 


The UN Peacekeeping Summit: #UNGA

In September 2014, more than 30 countries gathered on the margins of UNGA 69 to reaffirm their support for UN peacekeeping operations and offer concrete pledges of assistance. They did so in recognition that UN peacekeeping operations are more critical than ever to international peace and security and to help fill key gaps.  But we are at a time where we are asking the UN and these peacekeeping missions to do more in more complex conflicts and these missions are under enormous strain. So this September 28th President Obama, the UN Secretary-General, and several heads of state and government will co-host a summit to convene the leaders of countries that are prepared to make significant, new, and concrete commitments to peacekeeping operations. The summit will also encourage reforms to make UN peacekeeping more effective to complement the parallel effort of the Secretary-General’s High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations. 


The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: #GlobalGoals

In September of 2000, the largest gathering of world leaders came together to declare something entirely new: Together, we would form a new global partnership to reduce extreme poverty through clear cut, time-bound goals known as the Millennium Development Goals. These goals would be last for 15 years, world leaders would assess how far we’ve come and adopt new, sustainable goals for to build on that progress for the next 15 years.

It’s 2015, and we’ve seen tangible progress on what we set out to do: 

  • The global share of people living on less than $1.25 per day has been slashed by more than two-thirds since 1990;
  • We have reached gender parity in primary-school enrollment, and the worldwide number of out-of-school children has been cut nearly in half;
  • The rate of child mortality has been more than halved, and the proportion of malnourished children has fallen by nearly as much;
  • 2.6 billion people gained access to clean drinking water;
  • Every continent has seen extraordinary gains – individual incomes have grown by more than one-third, at least, in every region of the developing world.

This week, President Obama is joining other world leaders to adopt new global goals which set out a global development vision and priorities for the next 15 years. This is a pivotal year for global development, in which the United States is joining countries around the world in pledging to leave no one behind based on the fundamental premise that societies are far more likely to secure lasting growth if all individuals have greater access to economic and political opportunities.

Check out the 17 new goals for sustainable development and how they will help end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all:

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals




]]>
<![CDATA[Remarks by the President at DNC LGBT Gala]]> Sun, 27 Sep 2015 19:34:00 CDT Gotham Hall
New York, New York 

5:57 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, New York!  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you, Democrats!  Thank you, New York!  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Everybody, sit down.  Obergefell.  (Applause.)  Just to be clear.  It is good to be in New York.  (Applause.)  Although, I do apologize -- this week is rough for you guys.  (Laughter.)  I mean, traffic is bad enough during UNGA, but you add the Pope to it -- (laughter) -- and that's serious traffic.

Give it up for Betty Who!  (Applause.)  And give it up for Jim for not just the terrific introduction, but Jim represents all the trailblazers and pioneers and activists whose courage and persistence have made America a better place.  Please give him a big round of applause.  (Applause.)  We're very proud of him.  

We've got some outstanding members of Congress and elected officials who are here tonight, including the chair of the DNC, Debbie Wasserman Schultz.  (Applause.)  It is Debbie’s birthday today.  (Applause.)  You threw her quite a party.  We've also got DNC treasurer, Andy Tobias.  (Applause.)  Senator Tammy Baldwin. (Applause.)  New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is here. (Applause.)  Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is here. (Applause.)  And of course, all of you are here.  (Applause.)     
Seven years ago we came together not just to elect a president, but to reaffirm our faith in that most American of ideals -- the notion that people, no matter where they come from, what they look like, what their last name is, or who they love can change this country.  (Applause.)  And from the beginning, that faith was tested -- by a Great Recession, by political obstruction, by established barriers and everyday indignities, all of which reminded us that our march toward equality was unfinished.  

And time after time, the cynics told us that we were foolish to keep believing, that we were naïve to hope, that change was too messy or not possible at all.  And if you admit it, there were some in this room here who were skeptical that everything that needed to happen would happen.  The cynics were wrong.  Tonight, we live in an America where “don’t ask, don’t tell” is something that “don’t exist.”  (Applause.)    

We live in an America where all of us -- LGBT or not -- are protected by a hate crimes law that bears Matthew Shepard’s name. (Applause.)  We live in an America where a growing share of older generations recognize that love is love, and younger generations don't even know what all the fuss was about.  (Applause.)  And tonight, thanks to the unbending sense of justice passed down through generations of citizens who never gave up hope that we could bring this country closer to our founding ideals -- that all of us are created equal -- we now live in America where our marriages are equal as well.  (Applause.)   

It’s getting better for all of us.  Our businesses have created 13 million new jobs in the past five and half years.  (Applause.)  In 2012, the Republican nominee for this office promised to get the unemployment rate down to 6 percent by the end of next year.  (Laughter.)  We moved that up a little bit and got it down to 5 percent right now.  (Applause.)  We were told that Obamacare would kill jobs, explode the deficits, destroy freedom.  Today, we’ve seen 66 consecutive months of private sector job growth -- (applause) -- a streak that just happened to begin the month I signed Obamacare into law.  (Applause.)    Meanwhile, we've cut our deficit by two-thirds, and over 17 million Americans have health insurance because of Obamacare.  (Applause.)  And along with the 17 million who’ve got health insurance through Obamacare, there are tens of millions more -- all of you if you’ve got health insurance -- who now know that in this country, you can't be discriminated against just because you get sick.  (Applause.)  Those days are in the past.

Reading scores are up.  College attendance is up.  High school graduations are up.  We've doubled the production of clean energy.  We are making incredible progress when it comes to climate change.  (Applause.)  On every metric, by every standard, we've made progress.

Now, you would not know this -- (laughter) -- if you were listening to the busload of Republicans fighting each other for this job.  (Laughter.)  It somehow doesn’t come up in debate.  (Laughter.)  In their world, everything was terrific back in 2008 -- (laughter) -- when we were in the midst of a spiral into the worst financial crisis and economic crisis since the Great Depression, when unemployment and uninsured rates were rising and when our economy was shedding jobs each month, and we were mired in two wars, hopelessly addicted to foreign oil, and bin Laden was still at large.  Those were the Golden Years, apparently.  (Laughter.)  And then, I came in and messed it all up.  (Applause.)  

I have to say, I don't pay attention to much of this stuff. (Laughter.)  But you got to give these folks credit for chutzpah. (Laughter.)  I mean, they maintain a straight face when they’re saying this.  And then, in interviews, the reporters are, like, just kind of letting them talk as if what they were saying was true.  (Laughter.)  

And so since everything was doing so well back in 2007-2008, now if we can just repeal Obamacare, and gut Wall Street reform, and shut down our government over women’s access to health care, and deny that the planet is getting warmer, they’ve got a plan to get us back on track.  (Laughter.)    

Now, the good news is they probably won’t use marriage equality as a wedge issue like they did in 2004 because the country has come too far.  (Applause.)  In fact, America has left the leaders of the Republican Party behind.  One of their leading candidates argued that going to prison turns you gay.  (Laughter.)  Well, you think I'm -- I shouldn’t go into this?  (Laughter.)  No, I mean, I'm just stating the facts.  Another candidate boasts that he introduced an amendment to end nationwide marriage equality -- which isn’t even an accomplishment at all.  (Laughter and applause.)  A third says Americans should just disobey the Supreme Court’s ruling entirely.  I'm sure he loves the Constitution -- except for Article III.  (Laughter and applause.)  And maybe the Equal Protection Amendment.  And 14th Amendment, generally.  (Laughter.)  

Now, look, for some Americans, there’s no doubt that this change has been a world-wind.  And we believe that these changes have been for the better.  But we have to recognize -- and in fact, I know the people in this room do because they felt it in their own family sometimes, or in the workplace -- that with change, with any progress, comes some unease.  And as Americans, I think we have to acknowledge that.  I think that it's important for us to recognize that there are still parts of the country that are getting there, but it's going to take some time.  

We affirm that we cherish our religious freedom and are profoundly respectful of religious traditions.  But we also have to say clearly that our religious freedom doesn’t grant us the freedom to deny our fellow Americans their constitutional rights. (Applause.)  And that even as we are respectful and accommodating genuine concerns and interests of religious institutions, we need to reject politicians who are supporting new forms of discrimination as a way to scare up votes.  (Applause.)  That's not how we move America forward.  

So to secure the gains this country has made requires continued vigilance, not complacency.  This country has come too far, and people of goodwill in both political parties are too plentiful to turn back now.  We’ve made sure that federal contractors can’t fire a worker just for being gay.  (Applause.) We should make sure that no American lives in fear of being fired just because of who they love.  (Applause.)  We’ve come a long way in changing hearts and minds so that trans men and women can be who they are -- not just on magazine covers, but in workplaces and schools and communities.  (Applause.)  And to build on that progress, we should support efforts to ban so-called “conversion therapy” for minors.  (Applause.)  

So we've got to keep striving every day to treat each other the way I believe God sees us, as equal in His eyes.

Harvey Milk once said, “If a gay person makes it, the doors are open to everyone.”  But to those of us who’ve made it through those doors, we've got a unique obligation to reach back and make sure other people can make it through those doors, too.  (Applause.)  We have a responsibility to stand up to bigotry -- not just against us, but against anybody, anywhere.  (Applause.) We have a responsibility to stand up for freedom -- not just our own freedom, but for everybody’s freedom.  (Applause.)  We speak up to condemn hatred against anybody -- gay or straight, black or white, Christian, Muslim, Jew, non-believer, immigrant -- (applause) -- because we remember what silence felt like when hatred was directed at us, and we've got to be champions on behalf of justice for everybody, not just our own.  (Applause.)  

That's what makes us human.  And that's America at its best -- our ability to connect, our ability to see ourselves in somebody else.  To be an ally to the marginalized, to the dispossessed, to the discriminated against.  To recognize our joy and our struggles and our fears and our hope and our love in somebody else.  

Maybe it’s the trans activist demanding dignity.  Maybe it’s the immigrant hoping to contribute, or the middle-class kid struggling to pay for college.  Maybe it’s the woman denied equal pay, the African-American denied the right to vote, the worker denied a living wage.  Their stories may not be ours, but surely we can see our stories in theirs.  We can make their fight our own. 

And in the end, that’s what makes me proudest to be a Democrat.  (Applause.)  I think we're right on most policy issues.  I think that we have the better argument in economics and foreign affairs.  But at the core of this party today as it's currently constituted -- and we have to remind ourselves that it hasn’t always been that way.  There have been times where the Democratic Party stood in the way of progress.  And there have been times where Republicans, like Abraham Lincoln and Everett Dirksen, stood on the right side of change.

Right now, what makes me proudest about being a Democrat is, is that at our core, we really do believe in everybody having a shot.  At our core, we really do believe that that's not just a theoretical assertion, but it's an obligation.  It compels us.  It's part of one American family -- to fight on behalf of those who haven't had the same kind of chances that we do.  To make sure that everybody has dignity and respect, and that every kid out there is able to live out their dreams.  

We mean it when we say that all are created equal.  And we understand that that has to be operative in our own individual lives, but we also have to express it through the common enterprise called government.  We mean it when we say that in this country, of all countries, everyone deserves an equal shot.  
And so, Democrats, over the next 14 months, we have to work even harder than we did when I was first on the ballot.  We're going to have to work harder to protect the gains that we’ve made.  We're going to have to work harder to widen the circle of opportunity for all who strive for it.  It will not be easy.  There’s always a contest in this country since its founding between hope and fear.  What makes America special is, is that though sometimes we zig and zag, eventually hope wins out.  But it only wins out because folks like you put your shoulder behind the wheel and push it in that direction.

That was true in the past.  That will be true in the future. I look forward to working with you to make sure it happens in this election cycle.  

Thank you, everybody.  God bless you.  God bless America.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  (Applause.)  

END
6:19 P.M. EDT

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<![CDATA[FACT SHEET: U.S. Global Development Policy and Agenda 2030]]> Sun, 27 Sep 2015 15:05:28 CDT President Obama's Commitment to Global Development 

Building on Over a Half Century of U.S. Leadership

2015 is a pivotal year for global development. World leaders gathered in New York today to adopt the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (“2030 Agenda”). The adoption of the 2030 Agenda, which sets out a global development vision and priorities for the next 15 years, captures the hopes and ambitions of people around the globe for meaningful change and progress, including here in the United States. Through the adoption of this historic framework, the United States joins with countries around the world in pledging to leave no one behind by ending extreme poverty and prioritizing policies and investments that have long-term, transformative impact and are sustainable. Under the Obama Administration, the United States has committed and helped mobilize more than $100 billion in new funding from other donors and the private sector to fight poverty in the areas of health, food security, and energy. In the United States, the adoption of the 2030 Agenda coincides with a growing bipartisan consensus on the importance of global development, and direct philanthropic contributions from the American people, who annually provide substantial support for emergency relief and development around the world.

This is a time for optimism and celebration of the remarkable gains to which the MDGs have contributed worldwide, including: decreasing the global share of people living on less than $1.25 per day by more than two-thirds since 1990; more than halving the rate of child mortality; and reaching gender parity in primary-school enrollment. At the same time, the 2030 Agenda builds on the MDGs, reflecting the lessons the world has learned since 2000 about what works, including the need for more transparent, accountable and inclusive approaches to development, to focus on transformative priorities that have sustainable impact, and to leverage the full array of resources for development. The 2030 Agenda, as the successor framework to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), follows the adoption in July of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (Addis Agenda), a roadmap to help countries identify, attract and access diverse sources of development finance to realize the 2030 Agenda. It also paves the way for a global agreement on climate change due to be concluded at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris in December.

This pivotal juncture provides an important opportunity to take stock of how far U.S. development policy has come and the many U.S. initiatives that will be key to achieving these goals. Building on more than a half century of global leadership, including the creation of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) under President George W. Bush, President Obama released the first U.S. Global Development Policy in 2010. For the first time, global development was elevated as a core pillar of American power, and recognized as a strategic, economic, and moral imperative for the United States. The President laid out a vision that places a premium on many of the principles and objectives reflected in the 2030 Agenda, including: broad-based economic growth; democratic governance; game-changing innovations; leveraging international partnerships and the vast array of development financing; and building sustainable systems to meet basic human needs.

Today, U.S. global development investments are now better targeted to achieve sustainable development outcomes and impact; to leverage critical partnerships with other donors, the private sector and nongovernmental partners; and to more effectively use the power of technology and innovation to lift the most vulnerable out of poverty. The United States is exercising global leadership that will be pivotal to achieving the 2030 Agenda in the following areas:

  • Global health and Global Health Security Agenda: Under the Obama Administration, U.S. contributions to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) have totaled $7.2 billion, and we have leveraged more than $13.2 billion in contributions to the Global Fund from other sources. Through these investments the United States continues to lead the world in our investments in global health to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic and contribute to an AIDS free generation, fight malaria and TB, reduce maternal and child deaths, and strengthen health systems. Today, the President announced ambitious new targets for PEPFAR, including a U.S. goal to reach a total of 11.4 million people with HIV/AIDS treatment by the end of 2016, and 12.9 million people by the end of 2017; achieve a 25% decrease in HIV incidence among adolescent girls and young women (aged 15-24) within the highest burden geographic areas of 10 sub-Saharan African countries jointly with partners by the end of 2016; and achieve a 40% decrease in HIV incidence among adolescent girls and young women (aged 15-24) within these areas by the end of 2017. Although our work is far from done—the United States, along with partners from around the world, has made significant progress in the fight against Ebola in West Africa.  We need to stay vigilant in our efforts to counter biological threats and to prevent future outbreaks from becoming epidemics.  That is why we have made a commitment to assist at least 30 countries to achieve the targets of the Global Health Security Agenda to build national, regional, and international capability to prevent, detect and respond to infectious disease threats, whether naturally occurring, accidental or intentional. The G-7 Leaders have taken a decision to match this commitment by collectively offering to assist at least 60 countries.
  • Food security and nutrition: Following the 2009 G8 L’Aquila Summit and President Obama’s call for global leaders to do more to address food insecurity, the United States led a campaign that mobilized $22 billion in assistance for agriculture, and today food security and nutrition are at the top of the global agenda after decades of decline in investment.  Through the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, the United States and its partners have mobilized $10 billion in private sector commitments from more than 200 international and African companies, of which $1.8 billion has already been invested in Africa’s agricultural sector. The number of hungry people in the world – 795 million – has dropped by 100 million over the past decade, thanks in no small part to these and other coordinated international efforts. Recognizing that investing in agricultural development and improved nutrition can have transformative impact in reducing hunger and extreme poverty, President Obama announced the Feed the Future initiative in 2010, building on previous U.S. commitments, including the Initiative to End Hunger in Africa. Through Feed the Future, the Administration is working closely with our country partners to support inclusive economic growth through development of the agriculture sector. U.S. efforts have resulted in increased yields, higher incomes, improved nutrition and more dynamic economies. Complementing our bilateral efforts, the United States launched together with other donors the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP), an innovative multi-donor trust fund that has allocated $1.4 billion to date to 25 low-income countries to help boost agricultural productivity. Building on the momentum created by Feed the Future, the United States is also promoting inclusive, collective global action to increase food security. With other G-7 countries and African leaders, President Obama launched the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in 2012 to promote sustainability through increased and more responsible private-sector investment in African agriculture.
  • Power Africa: Since its launch, when the United States committed $7 billion, Power Africa has leveraged nearly $43 billion in external commitments, including more than $31 billion in private-sector commitments alone.  Through Power Africa, the United States is working together with a range of partners to accelerate private-sector energy transactions, by leveraging the assistance, financing, commercial and diplomatic tools of the U.S. Government, as well as by leveraging the tools and expertise of our bilateral and multilateral partners, including the African Development Bank, the World Bank Group, the Swedish Government, the European Union, and more than 100 private-sector partners.  The dramatic investments the United States and these partners are generating will change people’s lives for the better.
  • Ending extreme poverty: The development policy of and major development initiatives led by the United States are built on the premise that fighting extreme poverty and fostering sustained and inclusive growth, equal access to opportunity and open and fair governance serve one and the same mission.  To further sharpen that mission, USAID released earlier this week its new Vision for Ending Extreme Poverty, which sets forth USAID’s definition of extreme poverty, its understanding of what has driven progress, analysis of pertinent trends and challenges, and a strategic framework for USAID’s ongoing commitment to this mission.
  • Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls: Twenty years after the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and the affirmation that “women’s rights are human rights,” women and girls around the world continue to face profound inequalities in every area of life, in every country, and in both public and private spheres.  The United States is deeply committed to promoting gender equality and advancing the rights of women and girls around the world.
  • Climate Change and Resilience: The United States is committed to facilitating climate resilient, low emissions economic growth in developing countries, including through the President’s Global Climate Change Initiative. Recognizing that climate change poses a systemic risk, President Obama signed an Executive Order that requires federal agencies to take climate resilience into account across U.S. international development programs, helping to ensure that our foreign assistance fosters a low-carbon future and promotes sustainable and resilient societies over the coming decades. This Administration has worked to make our climate financing efficient, effective, innovative, and focused on achieving measurable results based on country-owned plans, while mobilizing private investment. These efforts complement U.S. investments in other areas; last year, for example, the United States and other global leaders launched the Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture (GACSA), a multi-stakeholder coalition dedicated to addressing the challenges of promoting food security and supporting agricultural growth in the context of climate change.
  • Education: The United States has contributed $127 million to the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), which, along with other donor contributions, has helped put 22.5 million more children in school.  In March 2015, First Lady Michelle Obama announced Let Girls Learn, a new initiative that will build on investments the United States has made and successes achieved in global primary-school education, and expand them to help adolescent girls complete their education and pursue their broader aspirations.
  • Promoting open government: In 2011, President Obama joined with seven other heads of state to launch the Open Government Partnership (OGP), a global initiative to increase transparency, bolster citizen engagement, and harness new technologies to improve governance. Today, this partnership has grown from 8 to 66 nations that have made more than 2,000 commitments to improving governance for some 2 billion people worldwide. Today, the United States joined OGP Steering Committee members in signing a declaration on Open Government for the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
  • Catalyzing private investment and other sources of financing: Across these initiatives and more broadly, this Administration is advancing a new model of development focused on using our development finance tools to mobilize private and other forms of capital for sustainable development and as a lever to spur transformation. In July, the United States joined with other development partners to launch the Addis Tax Initiative, a partnership to help developing countries better mobilize and effectively use their own domestic resources to achieve sustainable development. Under this Administration, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. Government’s development finance institution, has supported more than $35 billion in private investment in developing and emerging markets.  The new projects that OPIC has supported since 2002, when the Monterrey Consensus was agreed, are expected to yield close to $82 billion in private investment. Since its establishment in 2004, the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s (MCC) $10 billion grant portfolio has leveraged nearly $5 billion in private-sector investment and more than $450 million in partner country contributions.
  • Spurring innovation: The Obama Administration has promoted new public- and private-sector efforts to harness cutting-edge technologies, including to accelerate research and scale innovations to support sustainable development. USAID’s Global Development Lab is bringing together diverse partners to identify, test and scale innovations to solve development challenges, and accelerate efforts to end extreme poverty. Through a partnership with other development agencies, USAID launched the Global Innovation Fund in 2014 to boost investments in novel solutions to development challenges. The United States is joining other countries and civil society partners in launching the Global Partnership on Sustainable Development Data, to accelerate the data revolution that will be essential for achieving and measuring progress on the sustainable development goals.
  • Mitigating and responding to conflict and disaster: As the human toll of the world’s humanitarian crises reached staggering heights, the United States remains the world’s largest humanitarian donor, having provided $6.5 billion in life-saving food, healthcare, water and shelter this year. Around the world the United States partners with non-governmental and faith-based groups in the response to these crises, and continues to exercise global leadership by issuing calls for the international community to do more to contribute to UN humanitarian appeals. The international community has a collective responsibility not only to help those in need, but to work together to address the root causes of poverty and conflict, to ensure that all people have access to economic opportunity. In addition to leading the world in terms of the generosity of our global humanitarian assistance and emergency response in times of disaster, we’re investing in vulnerable communities across the Sahel, the Horn of Africa, and South and Southeast Asia to help them build resilience to crises and conflicts and, eventually, reduce the need for costly emergency interventions.

The 2030 Agenda is ambitious, and there is much work to be done. The adoption of this new framework is just the beginning, and we must recognize that no government or country can deliver on the promise of this ambitious agenda single-handedly. It is incumbent upon all stakeholders – governments, the development community, faith-based organizations, research institutions, the private sector and ordinary citizens – to work together in partnership to contribute to a sustained global effort over the next 15 years, in order to deliver on the promise of this Agenda for our citizens.

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<![CDATA[Readout of the President's Call with President Bachelet of Chile]]> Sun, 27 Sep 2015 13:32:00 CDT The President spoke by phone today with President Bachelet of Chile regarding bilateral and broader economic issues. The President reiterated his condolences for the loss of life and destruction caused by the September 16 earthquake and inquired about the status of rebuilding and recovery efforts. The leaders also discussed the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, highlighting the importance of the initiative for our bilateral and regional economic cooperation and agreeing on the need for further progress in resolving remaining issues. The leaders looked forward to the upcoming United Nations General Assembly meetings and cooperation on other issues, including the upcoming Oceans Conference in October that Chile will host.




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<![CDATA[FACT SHEET: Promoting Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment]]> Sun, 27 Sep 2015 12:03:10 CDT “[C]ommunities that give their daughters the same opportunities as their sons, they are more peaceful, they are more prosperous, they develop faster, they are more likely to succeed.”
President Barack Obama, July 25, 2015

Promoting gender equality and empowering women and girls is a priority for the United States Government.  Under the leadership of President Obama, the United States is working to combat discrimination, eliminate violence against women and girls at home and abroad, expand access to women’s health care, including sexual and reproductive health and rights, support women-owned businesses and entrepreneurs, and encourage women’s economic and political leadership.  From creating the White House Council on Women and Girls, the White House Advisor on Violence Against Women, and an Ambassador at Large for Global Women’s Issues, to appointing two women to the Supreme Court and a strong team of women leaders to his Cabinet and White House staff, President Obama has taken concrete steps to ensure that women of diverse backgrounds are involved in shaping policy at every level of our government and that their voices are heard throughout American society and all around the world.

As we celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women, a landmark event that brought together thousands of representatives from governments and civil society to advance gender equality, the United States government is committed to continuing to advance women’s empowerment, gender equality, and human rights.  At home, the United States is dedicating additional resources to address violence against women and girls, including nearly $80 million to reduce the backlog of untested sexual assaults kits, and pushing for women to be able to fully participate in our economy and fuel job growth and prosperity.  Globally, the Administration is protecting and empowering tomorrow’s leaders by helping to keep girls in school and safe from HIV/AIDS.  Empowered women and educated girls are critical to achieving lasting peace, security, and prosperity across America and around the world.

Key Administration Accomplishments to Date

Improving Women’s Health:

  • In March 2010, the President signed the Affordable Care Act, which prevents insurance companies from charging higher premiums solely on the basis of sex. Because of the law, most health plans must now cover preventive services, including well-woman check-ups, contraceptive services and screening and counseling for domestic or intimate partner violence, at no cost to the consumer.
  • The United States response to global HIV/AIDS is saving lives and changing the very course of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.  PEPFAR and private sector partners are making significant investments in African countries through the Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored, and Safe (DREAMS) partnership, which aims to reduce HIV infections in adolescent girls and young women in Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.   

Combatting Violence Against Women and Girls:

  • In March 2013, President Obama signed the third reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which enacted new provisions to improve protections for Native American women and LGBT victims, and strengthens protections for immigrant survivors and college and university students. VAWA 2013 integrated homicide reduction training into VAWA programs, and included reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA).
  • In January 2014, President Obama and Vice President Biden created the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, co-chaired by the Vice President’s office and the White House Council on Women and Girls. After 27 listening sessions with stakeholders across the country, the Task Force released its first report – Not Alone – with new recommendations for schools to prevent and respond to sexual assault and new steps by federal agencies to improve enforcement of federal laws.
  • The Administration has sought to ensure workplace protections for victims by requiring Federal Agencies to develop policies to address the effects of domestic violence and provide assistance to employees experiencing it, including through President Obama’s Executive Order to establish paid sick leave for Federal contractors, which enables them to use paid sick leave for an absence resulting from domestic violence.
  • In August 2012, the President issued the first-ever U.S. Strategy on Preventing and Responding to Gender-based Violence Globally and an accompanying Executive Order to enhance the Administration’s longstanding efforts to address gender-based violence (GBV) through its foreign policy, diplomatic, and programming efforts.  USAID has reached more than five million survivors of GBV with vital, sometimes life-saving services in more than 40 countries worldwide, and has awarded more than $17 million in dedicated incentive funds to support innovative pilot programs, research, and scaled best projects to address GBV in 15 countries.  And in 2013, the United States launched the Safe from the Start initiative, to better address the needs of women and girls and other groups at risk of GBV in emergencies, to which the U.S. government has committed more than $22 million.

Promoting Women’s Political and Economic Leadership:

  • In December 2011, the Obama Administration released Executive Order 13595 and the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security to support women’s voices and perspectives in decision-making in countries threatened and affected by war, violence, and insecurity. Policies and programs work to strengthen prospects for peace and security in countries affected by conflict, crisis, insecurity, and political transition by empowering women in decision making and protecting women and girls from violence.
  • In September 2012, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett launched the Equal Futures Partnership on behalf of the United States. The Equal Futures Partnership is an innovative multilateral initiative, currently chaired by the United States, that is designed to encourage member countries to empower women economically and politically. Equal Futures partners commit to taking actions – including legal, regulatory, and policy reforms – to ensure women fully participate in public life at the local, regional, and national levels, and that they lead and benefit from inclusive economic growth. Since 2012, the partnership has grown from 12 to 27 countries, and also includes the EU.

Combatting Trafficking in Persons:

  • On September 29, 2014, President Obama signed the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act into law, which includes provisions to strengthen the child welfare system’s response to sex trafficking by requiring states to develop policies and procedures to identify, document, and determine appropriate services for sex trafficking victims and those at-risk for becoming sex trafficking victims.
  • The Departments of Justice, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security co-chaired the development of the Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States 2013-2017.  The Plan outlines more than 250 action items for victim service improvements, including trauma-informed and gender-responsive actions to strengthen coordination, collaboration, and capacity-building across 17 Federal agencies.

Attracting and Retaining Women and Girls in STEM:

  • The Administration has focused on building a pathway to high-paying high-skilled jobs, including for women and girls, through the President’s $4.35 billion Race to the Top program; the 2013 Youth Career Connect grants, aimed at redesigning high schools so that students graduate prepared for college and career; and additional education reform programs. Federal agencies have deployed their STEM workforce and have partnered with the private sector to increase mentorship of girls and women in STEM: for example, to inspire the next generation of energy scientists and engineers, the Department of Energy has formed new partnerships with 100kin10 and US2020 to reach classrooms and mentors, respectively, with their Women @ Energy series, which profiles women in STEM careers.
  • Supporting and retaining America’s female scientists and engineers was a focus of the June 2014 White House Summit on Working Families, where the National Science Foundation announced implementation – nearly a year ahead of schedule – of cost allowance policies for childcare at professional conferences that will lessen the challenges for working families.

Looking Ahead:  Next Steps in Promoting Gender Equality and Empowering Women and Girls

Moving forward, the Administration will work to consolidate the gains of the last six years and will dedicate new resources to promote girls’ education around the world, redouble our efforts to address gender based violence both at home and abroad, and continue to work with our partners to advance women’s political and economic empowerment

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