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Saturday, April 26, 2014

U.S. SENDS BEST WISHES TO PEOPLE OF SIERRA LEONE ON THEIR INDEPENDENCE DAY

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 

On the Occasion of the Republic of Sierra Leone's National Day

Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
April 25, 2014


On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I send best wishes to Sierra Leoneans as you celebrate 53 years of independence on April 27.

We are all profoundly aware that Sierra Leone is becoming one of Africa’s greatest success stories. When I was Senator from Massachusetts, the suffering of Sierra Leone was not just an issue on the Foreign Relations Committee; it became personal because my state became a haven to so many Sierra Leoneans fleeing violence and grievous wounds. I came to know children who had lost parents and parents who had carried on after losing their children. They dreamed of a day when their home would be peaceful again.

Today, that is much more than a dream. Sierra Leone is a model post-conflict country. Although so many lost so much during the civil war, we have proudly witnessed how Sierra Leoneans summoned the will to pick themselves up and rebuild their country.

We are pleased to continue helping train and equip Sierra Leone’s own troops. Sierra Leoneans are not just beneficiaries of peace. They are performing admirably as contributors to peace and security not just across the region, but around the world.

There are still miles to go to build durable, democratic institutions, provide services, and improve governance. But Sierra Leoneans will not face these challenges alone. The United States remains deeply invested in peace and stability in Sierra Leone and will continue to lend its support.

On this historic occasion, we celebrate Sierra Leone’s progress and its promise for the future. I offer best wishes for a safe and joyous holiday.

PRESIDENT OBAMA'S WEEKLY ADDRESS ON APRIL 4, 2014

FROM:  THE WHITE HOUSE 

Weekly Address: Congress Needs to Act on Minimum Wage

WASHINGTON, DC – In this week’s address, the President highlighted small business owners across the country acting to raise wages for their workers, and called on Congress to give America a raise so more hard-working Americans have the opportunity to get ahead.
The audio of the address and video of the address will be available online atwww.whitehouse.gov at 6:00 a.m. ET, Saturday, April 26, 2014. 
Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
April 26, 2014
Hi, everybody.  In my State of the Union Address, I talked about pizza.  More specifically, I talked about a pizza chain in Minneapolis – Punch Pizza – whose owner, John Soranno, made the business decision to give his employees a raise to ten bucks an hour.
A couple weeks ago, I got a letter from a small business owner who watched that night.  Yasmin Ibrahim is an immigrant who owns her own restaurant – Desi Shack – and plans to open another this summer. 
Here’s what she wrote.  “I was moved by John Soranno’s story.  It got me thinking about my … full-time employees and their ability to survive on $8 an hour in New York City.”  So a few weeks ago, Yasmin put in place a plan to lift wages for her employees at both her restaurants to at least $10 an hour by the end of this year. 
But here’s the thing – Yasmin isn’t just raising her employees’ wages because it’s the right thing to do.  She’s doing it for the same reason John Soranno did. It makes good business sense. 
Yasmin wrote, “It will allow us to attract and retain better talent – improving customer experience, reducing employee churn and training costs.  We believe doing so makes good business sense while at the same time having a positive impact on the community.”
Yasmin's right.  That’s why, two months ago, I issued an Executive Order requiring workers on new federal contracts to be paid a fair wage of at least ten dollars and ten cents an hour.
But in order to make a difference for every American, Congress needs to do something.  And America knows it.  Right now, there’s a bill that would boost America’s minimum wage to ten dollars and ten cents an hour.  That would lift wages for nearly 28 million Americans across the country.  28 million.  And we’re not just talking about young people on their first job.  The average minimum wage worker is 35 years old.  They work hard, often in physically demanding jobs. 
And while not all of us always see eye to eye politically, one thing we overwhelmingly agree on is that nobody who works full-time should ever have to live in poverty.  That’s why nearly three in four Americans support raising the minimum wage.  The problem is, Republicans in Congress don’t support raising the minimum wage.  Some even want to get rid of it entirely.  In Oklahoma, for example, the Republican governor just signed a law prohibiting cities from establishing their own minimum wage. 
That’s why this fight is so important.  That’s why people like John and Yasmin are giving their workers a raise.  That’s why several states, counties, and cities are going around Congress to raise their workers’ wages.  That’s why I’ll keep up this fight.  Because we know that our economy works best when it works for all of us – not just a fortunate few.  We believe we do better when everyone who works hard has a chance to get ahead.  That’s what opportunity is all about.
And if you agree with us, we could use your help.  Republicans have voted more than 50 times to undermine or repeal health care for millions of Americans.  They should vote at least once to raise the minimum wage for millions of working families.  If a Republican in Congress represents you, tell him or her it’s time to give the politics a rest for a while and do something to help working Americans.  It’s time for “ten-ten.”  It’s time to give America a raise. 
Thanks, and have a great weekend.

HAGEL URGES U.S., CANADA, MEXICO WORK TOGETHER ON THREAT ASSESSMENT AND CYBERSECURITY

FROM:  U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT 

Right:  Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel lays a wreath with Mexican Ministers of National Defense Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda and Adm. Vidal Francisco Soberón Sanz at the Squadron 201 Memorial in Mexico City, April 24, 2014. Hagel participated in the wreath-laying ceremony after attending the second North American Defense Ministerial trilateral meeting among defense ministers of Mexico, Canada and the United States to discuss issues of mutual importance. DOD Photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo.  

Hagel Urges Trilateral Work for Threat Assessment, Cybersecurity
By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

ABOARD A MILITARY AIRCRAFT, April 25, 2014 – At the second North American Defense Ministerial, with his counterparts from Canada and Mexico, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel urged a quick start to trilateral work on continental threat assessment and cybersecurity, and closer work among the three nations on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

The secretary also offered to host the next defense ministerial in Washington in 2016 to continue the important trilateral dialogue.

Meeting in Mexico City yesterday during his first forum with Canadian Defense Minister Rob Nicholson and Mexico’s Secretary of National Defense Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda and Naval Secretary Adm. Vidal Francisco Soberón Sanz, Hagel observed in prepared remarks that a dynamic defense partnership that builds on successes and shared interests, and respects sovereignty concerns, will create a more resilient North America.

“Our presence here today and our commitment to advancing our defense partnership is a recognition that together we can more effectively address the complex security threats facing our countries,” the secretary said during the ministerial plenary session.

Beginning with common challenges, Hagel said the ministers should support a Canadian proposal to produce a digest of collective defense activities and policies.

Similar to an effort begun after the inaugural 2012 North American Defense Ministerial to develop an updated continental threat assessment, he added, such a digest could provide a starting point to coordinate efforts to avoid duplication and maximize scarce resources.

The initial effort to develop a continental threat assessment was a good start to identifying common threats and interests, the secretary said.

“There is merit to updating that assessment to reflect current and future threats and deepen our understanding of our security challenges. I propose that we establish a working group to provide principals an updated, non-binding, continental threat assessment within a year after this ministerial,” Hagel said. “It’s something we can assess when we next meet at the ministerial level.”

Cybersecurity is another common challenge that knows no borders, the secretary said.
Each U.S. defense institution works individually to address potential cyber threats, he said, adding that the Defense Department has worked to elevate the importance of cybersecurity in the National Security Strategy.

In its recently released Quadrennial Defense Review, the department said it would dedicate more resources to cybersecurity, Hagel noted.

“While our defense institutions do not have the lead in our respective countries for cybersecurity, we all share a common interest in [protecting] military communications,” the secretary said. “I propose that we establish a cyber working group to identify potential opportunities to work together to share best practices and lessons learned.”

On humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, Hagel said natural disasters also recognize no national borders and defense institutions provide critical support to lead civilian agencies under such circumstances.

“Each of our nations faces constrained defense budgets [but] the demand for military support to civilian agencies continues to increase as we experience more frequent and larger-scale natural disasters,” the secretary said.

“This was a key … subject of discussion at the [Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or] ASEAN Defense Ministers meeting I attended earlier this month in Hawaii. We are making important progress with our Southeast Asian partners in coordinating military responses to disasters,” Hagel told the ministers, “and I am pleased that we are beginning to do the same in our hemisphere.”

Recalling relief efforts after Hurricane Mitch in 1998, the 2010 Haiti earthquake and the 2004 Indonesian 9.1-magnitude earthquake whose Indian Ocean tsunami killed as many as 230,000 people, the secretary said these natural disasters demonstrate the challenges any one country faces in trying to meet enormous demands for humanitarian assistance in the wake of such events.

The capabilities and experience militaries collectively bring in response to natural disasters can’t be overstated, he added.

“I would like to see our three countries work more closely together in the area of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief,” Hagel said.

“We should commit to focusing attention on developing our capacity to coordinate, with a goal of maximizing our resources,” the secretary added. “This is an area that would benefit from establishment of a permanent working group tasked with identifying areas of cooperation and implementing coordination protocols as we move forward.”

During their meetings, the ministers agreed with a working group determination that combating transnational crime at the strategic level is best addressed by the security group under the North American Leaders Summit process.
But, Hagel said, “We need to ensure that coordination at the tactical and operational levels continues.”

A Canadian proposal to establish and serve as the initial chair of a permanent secretariat was an important step toward institutionalizing the North American Defense Ministerial, Hagel said.

As members of a regional organization, the secretary said, the ministers should work individually to strengthen hemispheric forums such as the Organization of American States’ Inter-American Defense Board, an international committee of defense officials who develop collaborative approaches on defense and security issues facing North, Central and South American countries, and the Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas, created in 1995 to provide a forum of debate for Northern Hemisphere countries.

“The upcoming October conference of defense ministers in Peru will address hemispheric defense cooperation in key areas such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, search and rescue, and military health,” Hagel added.

After the meeting, in comments to the press, Hagel said, “These kinds of dialogues and conferences are important for many reasons but especially important it gives the ministers themselves an opportunity to personally exchange ideas and thoughts about our world, about our common interests and about our common challenges.”
The secretary said he and the other ministers have tasked their defense agencies to go forward and put together plans and programs based on initiatives agreed to during the meeting.

After the ministerial, Hagel joined Zepeda and Sanz at a somber wreath-laying ceremony for some of the 250,000 Mexican citizens who served in the U.S. armed forces during World War II.

The memorial to El Escuadron 201 in Mexico City's Chapultepec Park celebrates the 36 experienced combat pilots and the 250 or so electricians, mechanics, radiomen and armament specialists who made up the ground crew of Mexican Fighter Squadron 201, called the Aztec Eagles, who fought alongside U.S. troops in the last months of World War II in Europe.

The squadron left Mexico for the United States in July 1944 and received five months or more of training at facilities around the country. It was the first time Mexican troops had been trained for overseas combat.

The 300 volunteers of the Aztec Eagles were attached to the U.S. Army Air Forces 5th Air Force's 58th Fighter Group during the liberation of the main Philippine island of Luzon in the summer of 1945.

The pilots flew P-47D "Thunderbolt" single-seat fighter aircraft, carrying out tactical air-support missions, according to a 2003 American Forces Press Service article and interview with former Aztec Eagles pilot, retired Mexican air force Col. Carlos Garduno, who said the pilots flew close-air support missions for American and Filipino infantry troops on the ground.

The Aztec Eagles flew 59 combat missions, totaling more than 1,290 hours of flight time, participating in the allied effort to bomb Luzon and Formosa, now Taiwan, to push the Japanese out of those islands.

Immediately after the wreath-laying ceremony, Hagel told a press gathering that the memorial is “a pretty special monument to a country that participated with the allies, with the United States, in World War II.”

He added, “[It was] a brave thing that Mexico did. The service rendered, represented by this memorial, should be remembered.”

The secretary said he was honored to be part of the ceremony and shared a personal connection to the Aztec Eagles and their service to the nation.
“I know what memorials mean to countries and how they reflect their history and their sacrifices, Hagel said. “In fact, the 201st … that represented the expeditionary force of Mexico was attached to an Army Air Corps unit in the Pacific that my father served in, in World War II, with the 13th Army Air Corps.
“So I have some family and special recognition as to what this unit meant and also a personal appreciation,” he continued. “And on behalf of the United States I want to thank the country of Mexico for their contributions to all of our efforts in World War II.”

U.S.-JAPAN JOINT STATEMENT ON ASIA-PACIFIC FUTURE

FROM:  THE WHITE HOUSE 

U.S.-Japan Joint Statement: The United States and Japan: Shaping the Future of the Asia-Pacific and Beyond

The relationship between the United States of America and Japan is founded on mutual trust, a common vision for a rules-based international order, a shared commitment to upholding democratic values and promoting open markets, and deep cultural and people-to-people ties. The U.S.-Japan Alliance is the cornerstone for regional peace and security as well as a platform for global cooperation.  The U.S. rebalance to the Asia-Pacific and Japan’s policy of “Proactive Contribution to Peace” based on the principle of international cooperation both contribute to the Alliance playing a leading role in ensuring a peaceful and prosperous Asia-Pacific.  
Close U.S.-Japan cooperation is essential in managing and responding to long-standing and emerging threats and challenges in Asia and around the world.  Recent events underscore the importance of coordinated action to uphold regional and global rules and norms.  At the March 25 Trilateral Summit in The Hague, the leaders of the United States, Japan, and the Republic of Korea urged North Korea to take concrete actions to meet its international obligations on nuclear and missile issues and to address, without delay, humanitarian concerns, including the abductions issue.  In concert with our G-7 partners, the United States and Japan have condemned Russia over its illegal attempt to annex Crimea and are consulting closely on further measures against Russia over its deplorable conduct, while strongly urging Russia to deescalate tensions in Ukraine.  Together, we are taking concrete steps to support Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and economic stability.  The United States and Japan are working collaboratively to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue, support Middle East peace efforts, contribute to Afghan reconstruction, and improve the situation in Syria, including through the disposal of its chemical stockpiles.  The United States and Japan recognize that China can play an important role in addressing all of these challenges, and both countries reaffirm their interest in building a productive and constructive relationship with China. 
The United States and Japan, as maritime nations with global trade networks that depend on open seas, underscore the importance of maintaining a maritime order based upon respect for international law, including the freedom of navigation and overflight.  The United States and Japan share strong concern over recent actions that have raised tensions in the East China Sea and South China Sea, such as the uncoordinated declaration of an Air Defense Identification Zone in the East China Sea.  Our two countries oppose any attempt to assert territorial or maritime claims through the use of intimidation, coercion or force.  The United States and Japan urge the establishment of confidence-building measures among governments and militaries in the region to address these tensions.  In the South China Sea, we call on countries concerned to clarify the basis of their maritime claims in accordance with international law.  We support efforts for the early establishment of an effective Code of Conduct as a way to reduce the risk of an unintended incident.  The United States and Japan fully support the use of diplomatic and legal means, including international arbitration, to settle maritime disputes in the South China Sea. 
Given the common security challenges our two countries face, the United States and Japan are strengthening and modernizing our security alliance as directed by the Security Consultative Committee, including through the revision of the Guidelines for U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation.  The United States has deployed its most advanced military assets to Japan and provides all necessary capabilities to meet its commitments under the U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security.  These commitments extend to all the territories under the administration of Japan, including the Senkaku Islands.  In that context, the United States opposes any unilateral action that seeks to undermine Japan’s administration of the Senkaku Islands. The United States appreciates Japan’s establishment of a National Security Council and creation of a legal framework for information security that will facilitate enhanced policy and intelligence coordination between the two countries.  The United States welcomes and supports Japan’s consideration of the matter of exercising the right of collective self-defense.  The United States and Japan reaffirmed the importance of the U.S. extended deterrence to maintain regional security.  The United States and Japan are also making sustained progress towards realizing a geographically distributed, operationally resilient and politically sustainable U.S. force posture in the Asia Pacific, including the development of Guam as a strategic hub.  The early relocation of Futenma Marine Corps Air Station to Camp Schwab and consolidation of bases in Okinawa will ensure a long-term sustainable presence for U.S. forces.  In this context, we reaffirm our commitment to reducing the impact of U.S. forces on Okinawa. 
The United States and Japan also coordinate closely in multilateral financial and economic fora to advance trade liberalization and promote economic growth.  Our joint efforts are grounded in support for an international economic system that is free, open, and transparent, and embraces innovation.  In order to further enhance economic growth, expand regional trade and investment, and strengthen the rules-based trading system, the United States and Japan are committed to taking the bold steps necessary to complete a high-standard, ambitious, comprehensive  Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.  Today, we have identified a path forward on important bilateral TPP issues. This marks a key milestone in the TPP negotiations and will inject fresh momentum into the broader talks. We now call upon all TPP partners to move as soon as possible to take the necessary steps to conclude the agreement.  Even with this step forward, there is still much work to be done to conclude TPP.
We also support Japan’s Chairmanship in the OECD Ministerial Council Meeting on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of its accession to the OECD and support China’s hosting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum and Australia’s hosting of the G20 this year.  We are working together in the APEC and the G20 on the promotion of the role of women, which is an important domestic and foreign policy priority for both countries.  Through the Equal Futures Partnership and upcoming events such as the White House Summit on Working Families and Japan’s international symposium on women’s empowerment, the two countries are committed to ensuring women’s full participation in society.  Furthermore, the United States and Japan continue to be world leaders in high-technology, where our collaboration is expanding the frontiers of robotics, space, and medical science. 
The United States and Japan view energy security as vital to prosperity and stability.  Both sides welcomed the prospect of U.S. LNG exports in the future since additional global supplies will benefit Japan and other strategic partners.  The United States welcomed Japan’s new Strategic Energy Plan, which includes global, peaceful and safe use of nuclear energy and acceleration of the introduction of renewable energy.  Both countries are working together to promote the development of clean energy, including by facilitating business cooperation and deepening civil nuclear cooperation.  These steps are part of a broader effort to address the urgent challenge of global climate change.  Both countries plan to put forward robust post-2020 nationally determined contributions, building on decisions taken at the 19th Conference of the Parties (COP-19) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in order to promote the adoption of a protocol, another legal instrument, or an agreed outcome with legal force under the UNFCCC applicable to all Parties at COP-21 in Paris in December 2015.  We will continue to work with other countries on complementary initiatives to encourage reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. 
The United States and Japan are committed to promoting peace, stability, and economic growth throughout the world, including in Africa.  Through our recently launched senior-level U.S.-Japan Development Dialogue, we are expanding our development cooperation in these areas.  Furthermore, the United States and Japan are continuing bilateral policy coordination to address other global challenges and promote our common agenda, such as women’s empowerment, human security, humanitarian assistance, disaster risk reduction, the post-2015 development agenda, global health, climate change, counter-terrorism and transnational organized crime, cyber policy, the goal of a world without nuclear weapons, nuclear security, and cooperation at the United Nations, including in peacekeeping.  The United States looks forward to a reformed UN Security Council that includes Japan as a permanent member.  Our two countries are continuing to cooperate in the field of disaster risk management based on the experience of the Great East Japan Earthquake. 
The United States and Japan renew our commitment to deepening diplomatic, economic, and security cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), recognizing the importance of ASEAN unity and centrality to regional security and prosperity.  We are coordinating closely to support ASEAN and its affiliated fora as its members seek to build a regional economic community and address trans-border challenges, including cybersecurity and cybercrime.  In this context, the two countries view the East Asia Summit as the premier political and security forum in the region.  We support the Asian Development Bank work to address the region’s infrastructure and connectivity needs.  The United States and Japan are collaborating to assist Southeast Asian littoral states in building maritime domain awareness and other capacities for maritime safety and security so that they can better enforce law, combat illicit trafficking and weapons proliferation, and protect marine resources.  The robust U.S. and Japanese civilian and military response to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines demonstrated our ability to collectively assist the region in disaster relief and risk reduction. 
To achieve our shared objectives of promoting peace and economic prosperity in the Asia-Pacific and around the globe, the United States and Japan are strengthening trilateral cooperation with like-minded partners, including the Republic of Korea, Australia, and India. 
The United States and Japan reaffirm our long-standing and indispensable partnership in shaping the future of the Asia-Pacific and beyond through close cooperation and collaboration.
ANNEX:  Leaders Statement on U.S.-Japan Bilateral Exchanges
# # #
  ANNEX:  Leaders Statement on U.S.-Japan Bilateral Exchanges
 Broad people-to-people exchange between Japan and the United States has been a key pillar of our Alliance since its inception.  Close ties and shared values between the people of the United States and the people of Japan form the foundation of the global partnership between our nations.
To ensure the future strength of the U.S.-Japan relationship, the two governments share the goal, established by the U.S.-Japan Conference on Cultural and Educational Interchange (CULCON), of doubling two-way student exchange by the year 2020.
Recognizing that people-to-people exchange is an irreplaceable investment in the future of the Alliance, President Obama and Prime Minister Abe announced their intent to create a new bilateral exchange program that would enable Japanese youth to visit the United States, enhance their English language abilities, and develop professional skills through internship opportunities.  The leaders also intend to explore internship opportunities for U.S. youth in Japan.  
Furthermore, Japan is going to send 6,000 Japanese students to the United States in fiscal year 2014 through student exchange support programs, including public-private partnerships such as the TOBITATE! Young Ambassador Program, further contributing to reaching our shared goal established by CULCON.  Japan and the United States also plan to explore new avenues for exchange, including support for Japanese researchers and programs linking the next generation of Japanese and U.S. leaders and friends. 
The Japanese government’s program inviting Japanese-American leaders to Japan has promoted broad understanding and support for the U.S.-Japan Alliance.  Building on this successful effort, Japan intends to broaden the scope of this initiative in fiscal year 2014 to further deepen mutual understanding. 
The Japanese government’s ongoing KAKEHASHI Project, under which a total of 4,600 young Japanese and U.S. citizens are expected to visit each other’s countries in exchange programs, has made a significant contribution to fostering mutual understanding.  In addition, following the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, the U.S. government and the U.S.-Japan Council launched the TOMODACHI Initiative, a path-breaking public-private partnership that engages the private sector in promoting U.S.-Japan youth exchange.  To date, with the support of over eighty U.S. and Japanese companies, organizations, and individuals, more than 2,300 Japanese and U.S. youth have participated in TOMODACHI exchange programs. 
These initiatives build on established programs, such as the binational Fulbright Program, which has benefited nearly 10,000 Japanese and U.S. students and scholars over more than 60 years; the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program; the Student Exchange Support Program and the Japanese Government Scholarship provided by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology; the National Science Foundation’s Summer Institutes in Japan, funded in cooperation with the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science; the Japan-U.S. Training Exchange Program for English Language Teachers (JUSTE); and the Mansfield Fellowship Program.  These programs have for years expanded and strengthened people-to-people connections between our countries. 
These government programs are complemented by the many non-governmental programs linking the people of our two countries, such as the Japan-America Societies, the U.S.-Japan Council, and the more than 400 sister-city and sister-state and prefecture relationships between Japan and the United States.  Such programs are indispensable, as are the dozens of academic associations, university linkages, and privately-funded exchanges, for example the Crown Prince Akihito Scholarship; the United States-Japan Bridging Foundation Scholarships, the Grew Bancroft Scholarship; and the Japan-America Student Conference, which celebrates its 80th anniversary this year.  Japan and the United States aim to further encourage new and expanded non-governmental dialogues to bring together opinion leaders from both nations. 
Symbolizing the grassroots friendship uniting our nations, the U.S. government and a range of private sector partners have created the Friendship Blossoms Initiative, which is currently planting 3,000 American dogwood trees throughout Japan on behalf of the people of the United States, to reciprocate the City of Tokyo’s gift of 3,000 flowering cherry trees to Washington, DC in 1912.  The 1912 gift from Japan is celebrated each year during the National Cherry Blossom Festival, an iconic spring event in Washington, D.C. 
The President and Prime Minister welcomed the invigoration of exchanges between the U.S. Congress and the Diet of Japan, praising the work of the U.S.-Japan Caucus and the Congressional Study Group on Japan in the United States Congress, the Japan-U.S. Parliamentary Friendship League in the Diet of Japan, as well as the U.S.-Japan Legislative Exchange Program and the Japan-U.S. Senate Inter-parliamentary Conference.  Nearly 200 Diet Members visited the United States in fiscal year 2013, and the number of Members of Congress visiting Japan in 2013 more than doubled over the previous year and continues to increase in 2014. 
Finally, the United States and Japan note that millions of Japanese and U.S. citizens visit each other’s country every year to visit family and friends, enjoy tourist sites and cultural experiences, and conduct the business transactions that underpin the tight economic relationship between two of the world’s largest economies.  To facilitate this travel, the United States and Japan plan to expedite work to establish a reciprocal arrangement, including through Japan’s participation in the U.S. Global Entry program, to streamline border formalities for trusted travelers from both our countries, and to make travel between the United States and Japan easier, faster and more secure. 

SECRETARY KERRY'S REMARKS FOR USA SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING FESTIVAL

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 

Remarks for USA Science and Engineering Festival

Remarks
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
April 25, 2014




SECRETARY KERRY: Hi, everybody. I wish I could be there with you for the USA Science and Engineering Festival. This is the first year that the State Department is participating, and let me tell you from our point of view: We’re just getting started. 

Science and technology are obviously central to America’s diplomacy. And our diplomacy is central to advancing American science and technology. That’s why President Obama and I are absolutely committed to making sure that our risk-takers and innovators can dream big and reach higher than ever before. 

This cause is actually deeply personal for me. I’ll never forget in the summer of 2006, speaking on the Senate floor with an intern from my office. She was a college student from Massachusetts named Beth Kolbe. bad car accident had left Beth paralyzed from the chest down when she was just 14 years old. Beth came to Washington in order to fight for the scientific research that held untold promise for her, and for tens of millions of Americans. And you know what she told me? She said that wanted to be "a face that Senators can see so that they can see what they’re voting for."  

I really think of Beth every time I think about how we advance science and innovation. Because more and more, the most important progress in our world is driven by all of you: young people with the courage to think big and change things for the better; the willingness to actually go out and try something new even if it meant failure along the way. 

Each and every day, I see how we use science and technology to advance our diplomacy. I see it on the environment, where we use ocean mapping technology to chart our extended continental shelf. And I see it on international security, where we use the latest advances in nuclear physics, chemistry, biology, and emerging technologies to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction. And I see it on diplomatic security, where we use cutting-edge explosive detectors and armored vehicles to protect our facilities overseas. 

In fact, the way I’m even talking to you today wouldn’t be possible without our scientists, engineers, and technicians pushing the boundaries of what is possible. 

More than ever, we need to use our diplomacy to unleash innovation and ingenuity. And we’re doing exactly that. Just last month, we hosted a "CoderDojo at State" event to teach 21st century coding skills to kids, and we’ve helped to bring this volunteer-led movement to kids in Africa. We’re empowering women and girls to become scientists and engineers through "TechGirls," which prepares 15 to 17 year olds from the Middle East and North Africa for careers in STEM. And we’ve launched the State Department’s first "STEM at State" web page to showcase how science, technology, and innovation are central to our global mission. 
President Obama and I are committed to empowering the next generation of risk-takers and innovators in our diplomacy. By using your imagination in the classroom, all of you are making a difference in boardrooms and treaty rooms across the nation and around the world. That is our goal, and that’s what diplomacy is all about. 

So I tell you, I’ll never forget standing next to Beth that day on the Senate floor, fighting for greater investments in science and technology. Everywhere there is an opportunity to make a difference, there are students like you ready to be the Beth Kolbes of your moment – not by having to endure a terrible accident, but simply because you are able to inspire and able to push the limits. This is your moment. So let’s get to work and make these great things happen.

Thank you.

FORMER CONTRACTING OFFICIALS SENTENCED FOR FALSE TAX RETURNS, ETHICS DISCLOSURE FORM FILINGS

FROM:  U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT 

FORMER ARMY CONTRACTING OFFICIALS SENTENCED FOR FILING FALSE TAX RETURNS AND FILING FALSE FINANCIAL ETHICS DISCLOSURE FORMS

WASHINGTON — Velma I. Salinas-Nix and Kenneth H. Nix, of Boerne, Texas, were sentenced today to serve 20 months in prison and 30 months in prison, respectively, for filing false tax returns and making false statements to the U.S. Army by filing false financial ethics disclosure forms, the Justice Department announced. On Jan. 22, 2014, Kenneth Nix pleaded guilty to one count of filing a false federal income tax return. The next day, Velma Salinas-Nix pleaded guilty to one count of filing a false tax return and one count of making false statements. The Nixes were each ordered to pay $153,248 in restitution.

According to court documents, Velma Salinas-Nix was a senior civilian official of the U.S. Department of the Army. During the relevant period, she was the Deputy Director and Alternate Principal Assistant Responsible for Contracting (Deputy PARC) for ACA - Americas (also known as the 410th Contracting Support Brigade) in San Antonio with influence over and responsibility for the disbursement of millions of dollars in Army funds for the procurement of goods and services. Previously, she was the Chief of Contracting for the Chicago District for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. During parts of 2004 and 2005, Kenneth Nix also worked for the Army as the Chief of Contracting for the U.S. Military Group in Bogota, Colombia, and during parts of 2008 and 2009, as Chief of Staff of the Mission and Installation Contracting Command in San Antonio.

According to court documents, from 2000 through at least 2009, Kenneth Nix had a working relationship with Person A, the president and CEO of Company A, a federal contractor. During this period, Kenneth Nix received at least $500,000 in gross income for federal contracting related work he performed. Kenneth Nix directed that he be kept off Company A’s books and he received payment in multiple forms, including cash, blank money orders, checks, home improvements of the couple’s residences, paid housing and parking, plumbing supplies and use of a debit card. Most of the income was deposited into joint bank accounts the Nixes controlled. In at least two instances, Velma Salinas-Nix deposited blank money orders that her husband received from Company A for $25,000 each into her bank account. In order to conceal the true source of the money orders, she falsely wrote the name and initials of her mother in the remitter field.

According to court documents, the Nixes also received gifts of substantial value from Person A between 2000 and 2009, knowing that Person A and Company A had received and were seeking Army contracts and that Kenneth Nix worked for Company A. These gifts included, among other things, a Rolex watch, a pearl bracelet, a trip for the Nixes to Panama with Person A, custom architectural drawings and a $5,000 Home Depot gift card. In October 2009, Velma Salinas-Nix participated in a voluntary interview with federal agents, during which she knowingly provided false information by denying her husband’s receipt of income from Company A, the existence of large money orders provided by Company A and her receipt of gifts from Person A during the relevant period.

According to court documents, from 2004 through 2009, Velma Salinas-Nix also willfully signed and submitted materially false financial ethics disclosure forms, known as Office of Government Ethics Forms 450 (OGE-450 Form), to the Army. She knowingly omitted all of the income and gifts from Company A and Person A on these forms.  In 2004 and 2009, Kenneth Nix willfully signed and submitted materially false OGE-450 Forms to the Army on which he knowingly omitted all income from Company A. Both Nixes provided non-public Army contracting information to Company A and awarded Company A with contracts from their Army positions. For tax years 2000 through 2004, and 2006 through 2008, the Nixes willfully filed false joint federal income tax returns omitting all income Kenneth Nix received from Company A.

The case was investigated by the Department of the Army-Criminal Investigation Division, IRS-Criminal Investigation, the FBI and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service. Trial Attorney Rebecca Perlmutter for the Tax Division and Trial Attorneys Mary Strimel and Richard A. Hellings for the Antitrust Division are prosecuting the case.

SECRETARY KERRY'S REMARKS AT EXPORT-IMPORT BANK ANNUAL CONFERENCE

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 

Remarks at the U.S. Export-Import Bank Annual Conference

Remarks
Omni Shoreham Hotel
Washington, DC
April 24, 2014


Thank you very, very much.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thanks a lot.  Thank you very much.  Thank you, Fred.  Thank you all very much.  Thank you very, very much.  Thank you.  Thank you for a standing ovation.  Winston Churchill said the only reason that people stand and give a standing ovation is they desperately need an excuse to shift their underwear.  (Laughter.)  So I know you all had a much more noble thought in mind.  (Laughter.)

 Anyway, I’m happy to be here.  I’m very happy I didn’t nose out Susan Axelrod at any point in time, because if I had, I never would have become Secretary of State.  (Laughter.)  So congratulations to her for winning the small business entrepreneur.

I’m a little embarrassed, Fred.  Thank you very much for a generous introduction.  I appreciate it very much.  I more appreciate our friendship, and I thank you for your support through my political life and now through my non-political life as Secretary.  I’m greatly appreciative and I’m delighted to have an opportunity to share some thoughts with all of you here today. 

Fred’s ability to find out about my foray into the cookie business gives you some sense of Ex-Im’s deep expertise in matters of business and personal affairs.  (Laughter.)  I’ll have to make sure that’s as far as it goes.  (Laughter.)  Fred was actually very diplomatic in not telling you more about that escapade because he didn’t really mention that it was a triumph of hope and late-night wine that gave me this notion that I was going to open this business in Faneuil Hall Marketplace. 

I actually was having a wonderful dinner at one of the establishments in Faneuil Hall.  I hope many of you have been there.  And the friends I were with, and we did enjoy one bottle too many and we came out, and don’t know if you’ve ever had that late-night chocolate chip cookie craving – (laughter) – for the right reasons – (laughter) – but at any rate, I came out of there and I was somewhat bored as a private sector attorney for a few years, and I really did have this notion I wanted to do something in retail business.  And there was this vacant space in Faneuil Hall, and I looked at it and I said, "God, it’d be really interesting to open this gourmet food store there." 

So literally, the next morning as a young lawyer, I found myself in Jim Rouse’s Baltimore’s office, the Rouse Company, who were the developers.  And I negotiated this lease, and I wanted to have this sort of really great emporium of cookies that was then going to become a national effort and a flag store or whatever.  And I was roundly brought to ground by the Rouse Company, who said, "Well, we don’t want any more fast food things here.  We really just want a real gourmet food place."  And I said, "Well, that’s exactly what I want to do."  (Laughter.)  And I gave him this explanation of what I was going to do, and then lo and behold, we have the lease and we started laying it out, and had these wonderful ovens that you can see the cookies progressing through them and dropping out on the other side. 
And everything was moving swimmingly – I had my Hobart mixer and my things.  I’d never done anything like this before, and as you will all know in a moment when I tell you that we were one week from opening and I suddenly realized, "God, I need a cookie recipe."  (Laughter.)  So I went home and I took my – I had been a Toll House cookie baker since I was a kid.  I love-love them; anybody who’s traveled with me will tell you.  And so I started baking and baking and baking, and I learned the chemistry of food is the hardest thing in the world because as you get bigger, of course, it changes; it’s not an automatic progression.  I learned that the hard way – many batches and hours later, days later. 

But we did it.  We put together these incredible cookies with pure Lindt chocolate and honey and amazing, all natural ingredients.  Everything was all natural.  And within one year, I am proud to tell you, we won the Best of Boston for our cookies, for our macaroons, for our brownies, for our everything.  And I only sold it when I had the idiotic notion of going into public life and running for lieutenant governor, and I didn’t want anybody accusing me of having sweetheart relationships, which I didn’t, or anything – but that doesn’t stop anybody in American politics from telling you you do.  And so I sold it to my manager and I am proud to tell you that 20-whatever number of years later, it is still there and thriving in Faneuil Hall. 

And my dream had been to take it – I actually visited Harrods in London, and I had a place picked out, and I was going to put it there, and I was going to take it.  And you know the old notion, you get 40 stores, 50 stores, and sell it for 10 times earnings, and that was the story.  And of course, I didn’t, and here I am now a public servant and I’m not making anything, so – (laughter) – what can I tell you? 

But it’s a long way of telling you all – and this really helped me, I have to tell you – it really helped me in the United States Senate, where I did become chairman of the Small Business Committee.  And I was on the Small Business Committee for 20-plus years.  It taught me an enormous amount about the difficulties of being a small business, about having 35 or 40 part-time employees, getting your tax forms filled out, working on your withholding, dealing with the health department, getting your license, dealing with inspectors, getting – I mean it’s – you know it better than I do, but it really taught me about entrepreneurship and risk-taking.  And if any of us need a reminder of how critical leadership and vision are to the success of any leadership effort, you can ask anybody at any one of these tables here. 

Every single one of you are living examples of that and you know how to do it, as does Fred Hochberg.  And I’m delighted that Fred is leading the Ex-Im effort.  He himself is a very skilled, capable businessperson.  Not so long ago, Fred’s father gave him a tie bar – not a tie bar here, but a tie bar that – in your – where you hang all your ties.  And he listed on it the following letters:  Y-C-D-B-S-O-Y-A.  And it was supposed to be an acronym.  I don’t know how you say that – Ycdbsoya or something like that?  But he lives by it, and here’s what it means:  You can’t do business sitting on your ass.  (Laughter.)  It is a maxim that has driven him to take his family catalogue company global.  It’s what made him an exceptional leader of the Small Business Administration, where I knew him and we were friendly, and at his own company.  And today it is driving him to work to try to tie the world together with American exports. 

Now, I think every single one of you here would agree that this man has been anything but an idle executive.  In five years on the job, he has helped to finance over $188 billion in U.S. exports and supported 1.2 million American jobs in the process.  The Ex-Im Bank has been a driver of economic growth for much of the past century, especially during difficult times.  And that’s been true, frankly, since Ex-Im’s beginning, when it was founded during the height of the Great Depression.  It’s been true again in our recovery recently from our own great recession.  The Ex-Im Bank has played an absolutely vital role in driving President Obama’s National Export Initiative forward. 

And I want you just to think about it:  Only a few years ago, a few years removed from the greatest financial crisis in our lifetime – and believe me, I will never forget the Treasury Secretary, Hank Paulson, coming up and literally quaking in front of us in a Senate room, in the LBJ Room in the Capitol, pale and clearly vexed as he explained to us what was going to happen to Lehman Brothers and what was going to happen to the financial world if the United States Congress didn’t pass what was then called a bailout – not a bailout in the end, but a bailout – paid – paid the American taxpayer, I might add.  And there was an irony in a member of one party coming to the members of another party to ask them to save them from themselves, and it happened. 

The reality is that since then, since that great recession which really put the financial system of this country and the world on the precipice, since then we have come back.  People have forgotten what President Obama had to begin to do even before he was sworn in as we tried to navigate through that late fall of 2008.  Since then, U.S. exports have hit an all-time high, a record $2.2 trillion.  Today those exports support 11.3 million jobs and they account for 14 percent of the entire economy of the United States of America.  Now, I’m happy to tell you that America is selling more goods and services abroad than at any time in our history.  That’s a remarkable accomplishment.  (Applause.) 

But let me make clear, that kind of recovery was by no means inevitable.  It was the result of specific economic choices that we made at the federal level of our government.  It was the result of strong partnerships between everyone at Ex-Im and with so many of you out there and others who aren’t here today.  I want to thank the many business leaders in this room who have done so much to gain a bigger foothold for American companies overseas and to create opportunities for our workers here at home. 

And every American needs to understand none of this money is a giveaway.  It’s not a gift program.  It’s not a charity.  It’s in our interest.  We are not just promoting American businesses here at home; we’re promoting American values where they reach abroad.  And we’re helping to strengthen countries that are on the brink, in some cases, of maybe being a failed or failing state. 

Now, I didn’t come here to talk about the road that we have traveled.  It’s important, because you’ve got to know where you’ve been to know where you’re going.  But I want to talk to you about something that’s more powerful than the past five years or even the past 80 years of Ex-Im’s existence.  Everywhere I travel, everywhere I am privileged to travel as the Secretary of State of this great nation of ours, everywhere that I travel I see how the aspirations that make America great are moving global.  I see how people around the world want the same kind of opportunities that have defined our country’s success, and the success, I might add, of many of our partners. 

When I was in Kyiv, walking the street down towards the Maidan recently, where the snipers had killed all of those protestors, I was struck by one man who came up to me, a Ukrainian, who said to me in pretty good English, said, "I just came back from Australia, and I was motivated by what I saw there.  I want people here in Ukraine to be able to live the way they’re living in Australia."  It was a personal witness to the possibilities of how life can be because of jobs and business and the ability to create a larger and larger middle class.

Wherever I go, whether it’s the Middle East or Asia or Africa, where I will be next week, I am engaged in efforts to ensure that the rise of the global middle class helps advance opportunity here at home.  That’s what it’s about.

As I said at my confirmation hearing last year and as I tell our team at the State Department every single day:  Economic policy is foreign policy, and foreign policy is economic policy.  What we do to invest abroad, to build businesses, to help people be able to export and import – all of that is the way that you tap into the potential of people in the world.  And that has never mattered more to our strength than it does right now.

When more than half of the world’s population is under the age of 30, when hundreds of millions of young people all over the world will enter the job market in the next decade, we honestly don’t have a moment to waste.

From Sao Paolo to Sana’a, all across the world young people are more connected than ever before.  All they need to do is flip on their mobile device and they’re in touch instantaneously with everybody everywhere all the time.  They can see the kind of opportunities that are emerging across the world.  They know the challenge of one country, and they share those challenges in another country.  They understand, particularly, the disparities in wealth and the disparities in opportunity.  And they see that they’re just as real, and they experience them, believe me, every single day.  What’s worse, they fear that it’s those disparities and not the opportunities that are going to define their future.

Remember, folks, Tunisia’s revolution was not born out of religious extremism or ideology.  It was a fruit vendor who was frustrated with corruption and the inability to be able to sell his wares and being slapped around by a policeman, out of total frustration, out of not being able to touch that sense of independence and possibility, went and self-immolated in front of a police station.  And that is what ignited a revolution that saw a 30-year dictator disappear and the country begin to kick off what we came to know as the Arab Awakening.

In Tahrir Square in Egypt, it was not the Muslim Brotherhood.  It was no religion.  It wasn’t Salifis, it wasn’t Sunni or Shia.  It was young people in touch with each other, texting each other, googling, working their phones, that brought millions of people out there to throw off the yoke of corruption and open up a sense of possibility for the future.  And then it happened again.  It took another one because the government wasn’t responsive to their aspirations and their needs.  (Applause.)

In Syria, where people are so upset and desperate about what is happening, that didn’t begin – that wasn’t, again, not a revolution in terms of religious backing or sectarianism.  It was young people.  The same thing that happened elsewhere, they went out in the street and said, "We want jobs.  We want an education.  We want a future."  And when their parents went out with them after they were arrested the first time around, they were met with bullets and explosions, and the rest is history.

I’m telling you, as sure as I’m standing here, that this connectedness is not capable of being put back in the bottle by any politician anywhere.  And in the end, everybody is going to be affected by these hopes and aspirations.  It’s both a challenge, but it’s a huge, huge opportunity for business. 

When you look at the different markets that are out there, half of the world’s population living on $2 a day or less, almost – a huge proportion living on $1 a day or less, these are people who need schools, they need jobs, they need opportunity.  We want these people to be able to reach for the brass ring and to be able to have their opportunity to be able to tap into that possibility. 

Just consider the opportunities on one continent, just look at Africa – home to eight of the ten fastest growing economies in the world and home to 1.1 billion people.  I think they have to educate something like 150 million kids in the next ten years just to keep up – unbelievable challenge.  But think about the size of the opportunity.  It’s more than twice as large as the European market, and that’s the largest market in the world.  And you look at what Ex-Im and your companies have helped to do for Europe and in other developed places, but we now see these possibilities exponentially in various parts of the world.  And whether it’s in agriculture or infrastructure or energy – particularly, I might say, in energy.

The marketplace that created the great wealth of the United States of America in the 1990s when – which, incidentally, was the greatest wealth creating period of American history.  A lot of people aren’t aware of that.  We created more wealth in America in the 1990s, and every single quintile of American income earner saw their income go up.  Why?  Because it was a period of extraordinary growth as a result of the technology boom.
The technology boom represented a marketplace of $1 trillion, and there were one billion users.  The energy market that I just mentioned is a $6 trillion market with four to five billion users today, and it will reach perhaps nine billion users within the next few years.  Just think about that.  That’s the mother of all markets.  And the opportunity to be able to move on alternative, renewable, and different kinds of transportation, energy-saving, efficiency, building materials – run the list.  It’s gigantic.  And I want to see American businesses being the leading innovators and the leading providers in order to be able to be able to capture that market.

So I’ll tell you something.  Whether it is in Africa or the Americas or in Asia, I see this enormous hunger out there not just for American products but for ideas and ideals that are uniquely American.  Young people I met – I was in Kuala Lumpur last year in Malaysia at this incredible Global Entrepreneurship Summit – 15,000 young people, and I heard them screaming and yelling and chanting, and I said, "What is it?  I’m at a rock concert or something."  Not a rock concert; this was their energy and enthusiasm for entrepreneurism.  They were excited, and every single one of them – they weren’t interested in becoming pop stars; they were interested in becoming the next Bill Gates or the next Steve Jobs.  Believe me, they were thirsty for opportunity.  And they’re all – they know what everybody else is doing everywhere else in the world.  They’re talking to them.

So we could help create the climate for these young people to take an idea and make it into a business by harnessing their energy and ingenuity, and this, frankly, matters to us deeply.  Because I firmly believe that the places where citizens have the freedom to be able to develop an idea and take it out there and even to try and make it reality and perhaps even fail – but to be their own boss and have that option, these are the societies that are most successful, they are the most cohesive, the least conflicted, the most peaceful.

That’s why not one of the political problems that we are working so hard to resolve today is – and not one of the solutions that we’re working hard to achieve is going to endure without greater economic exchange and development.  I think it’s something we’ve seen over and over again, world over.  Prosperity is a vital foundation for any kind of lasting, durable peace to take root.  That happens to be one of the principal lessons that we have learned from Asia’s incredible rise.  It’s a story that America proudly helped to write with our enduring commitment to security and economic exchange across the Pacific.

Even as I speak right now, it’s a story that we’re building on.  The President of the United States, President Obama, is hard at work in Asia right now – leaving Japan, heading to the next stop, strengthening these ties for the future.  And he’s driving forward negotiations on a high-standard trade agreement that can be the foundation for greater economic opportunity for decades to come.  The Trans-Pacific Partnership, TPP – it’s a trade pact between the United States and 12 of our Pacific partners, and it would be the largest free trade agreement of its kind in the world.  And what would it do?  It would set high standards for trade and competition for 40 percent of the global economy.  That matters to us, my friends.  It matters to us that there are rules of the road and that everybody is playing by them, particularly for a nation that lives by and is proud of something like the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. 
We’re competing in a voracious world marketwise, competitive, and you know that.  So the chance for an agreement like this, where we raise the standards for everybody, where we create transparency and accountability and rules by which everybody lives, evens out the competitive marketplace and provides opportunity, because I don’t need to remind you this kind of opportunity doesn’t come often. 

And I’ve been part of these debates, and it doesn’t come easily.  Remember the battle for free trade in the Senate?  I fought that for 29 years.  I’m proud to say that almost every single trade agreement I voted for, and it’s clear that these voices are going to be determining where we go as we go forward.  The voices of opposition are going to grow louder, obviously, but the clamor for those rules of the road is precisely what President Obama is determined to try to achieve.  He wants to break down the barriers to trade, open up the possibilities of opportunity, and that’s what he has been setting out to do since the day he came into office. 

From the free trade agreements that the President sealed with the Republic of Korea, Colombia, and Panama during the first term, the President, I think, has been very clear about the need to tame the worst forces of globalization and harness the best possibilities of globalization.  He is continuing to lead the charge on the Trans-Pacific Partnership as well as our negotiations with Europeans, where we are negotiating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, a free trade agreement that would comprise another 40 percent of the global economy.

So as you gather here to think about Ex-Im and its future and the global marketplace, you don’t have to be a big company to do any of this.  There are huge opportunities staring all of us in the face.  And there is a lot at stake for us, both in these negotiations and in this moment of history. 

It really boils down to this:  Will the global economy be defined by a race to the bottom – by the search for cheaper and cheaper labor, the lowest quality products, and the most lax, if any, regulations?  Or will globalization be defined by a race to the top?  Will the high standards that we set become the standard of the world?  Today, as the largest market on earth, we have the power to determine what course the global economy is going to take. 
Because these agreements are so important for our economic future, I have made certain that we elevate the capacity of our economic team within the State Department.  That’s why I have brought leaders with a proven track record of private sector experience, private sector accomplishment to the table.  Leaders like Ambassador David Thorne, who’s here; like Ambassador Charlie Rivkin, who was our ambassador in France until a few months ago; our new Under Secretary for Economic Affairs, Cathy Novelli, who I stole from Apple; former fund manager Scott Nathan from Boston – they’ve all come to the table because they believe in helping to tame the worst forces in the marketplace and try to open up the best opportunities.  It’s why I’ve challenged every Foreign Service officer – every one – to be an economic officer and make our prosperity agenda what I call an all-hands-on-deck job at the State Department.
That’s why we’ve partnered now with the Department of Commerce to bring foreign investment and private sector experience to our shores through SelectUSA, to encourage people to come and invest in the United States.  And that’s why we are using the Direct Line program to connect American companies with opportunities to expand overseas by connecting them to economic insights of more than 15,000 ambassadors and diplomats around the world.  That’s what we’re doing.  We need you to tap into that.

That’s why, together, we’re not only committed to leveling the playing field through the TTIP and the TPP; we’re fighting corruption by advancing the Anti-Bribery Convention.
That’s why we’re working with the Ex-Im Bank to expand the President’s NEI agenda into the NEI-NEXT phase, promoting American exports based on their quality and potential for innovation rather than basing it on just how much they cost.

That’s why we we’re using public-private partnerships like the Palestinian Economic Initiative and the Partnership for New Beginnings to try to open up new possibilities for changing life on the ground for people who have seen little improvement in those lives over decades. 
And that’s why the President started the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship program, to bring the most – the insights of our most successful businesspeople to entrepreneurs across the world.

We’re doing all of this because in the world we live in today, there are far fewer borders to trade and talent and that means – and you know this better than anybody – our companies have much more competition.

In the Cold War, when I grew up, the United States could actually make a bad business decision or a bad policy decision.  We were the sole economic power after World War II; everybody else was just crushed or undeveloped.  And now today, it’s totally different.  We’re not alone.  There are other powerful economic entities on the planet, many of whom we helped make powerful through the Marshall Plan and other efforts of our values and ideals. 

But the result is there’s more competition.  We welcome that.  I know you welcome that, because American companies are the most innovative in the world, our workers are the most productive, and we can compete against anyone.  We understand that.  And particularly if we have a fair playing field, where there’s an absence of corruption and a plethora of opportunity.  When American companies are the most innovative in the world and when our workers are the most productive, we can welcome competition.

But when other governments are out there aggressively backing their own business – aggressively under the table in some cases and above the table in others – we need to be out there too, pushing back.  And we need to be partners with you and your businesses every step of the way in order to make sure that we are able to win in a battle that is fair and square.  We need to be fighting for a rules-based system that levels the playing field.  And when 95 percent of the world’s consumers – 95 percent of the world’s consumers – live outside of our market, that’s exactly what our companies and our people need us to do.

I have directed all ambassadors to promote American values but also be powerful advocates for our economic interests.  We are going to make certain that each of our posts and missions around the world have both a political and an economic mission and they are joined at the hip.  We need all the gears that drive economic growth driving in the same direction.
The first part of that effort is going to be to tell our economic story, our incredible economic story.  And that’s a story that every one of you ought to be proud to go out and tell wherever we go.  I know that wherever I touch down, whether it’s in Tunis or Tokyo or anywhere in the world, the words "Made in America" still mean something.  They mean a lot.  And that’s because our economy is envied as the most innovative economy in the world.  It is also the most resilient economy in the world, as we have seen in the aftermath of the Great Recession.  And that is because it continues to adapt and change to meet new challenges and because we have a greater free allocation of capital and movement of capital to ideas and more people willing to take a risk and possibly fail in order to find an idea that works.

So let’s make certain that we, going forward, improve on that formula.  Let’s make certain that we build the partnerships that we need to create a shared prosperity in our country and around the world.  The world, as you all know, keeps on turning, but if we refuse to stand still, which is in the American DNA, I am confident together with Ex-Im, with USAID, with World Bank, with IMF, with U.S. State Department, with all of the tools at our disposal, we are going to have an extraordinary impact and have extraordinary results here at home as a consequence of our economic engagement in this world, and most importantly as a consequence of American leadership with respect to the rules of the road.

Thank you, and keep on working.  Thank you.   (Applause.)

Friday, April 25, 2014

U.S. EXTENDS WARMEST WISHES TO PEOPLE OF REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA ON THEIR FREEDOM DAY

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 
South Africa's Freedom Day
Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
April 25, 2014
South Africa’s Freedom Day

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I extend warmest wishes to the people of the Republic of South Africa on your Freedom Day on April 27.

This year’s celebration is especially poignant: it marks the 20th anniversary of your nation’s first democratic elections and follows the recent passing of the Rainbow Nation’s beloved son, Nelson Mandela.

Madiba was a stranger to hate. He rejected recrimination in favor of reconciliation. On this 20th anniversary, we reflect on South Africa’s transformation in these two decades as a testament to the power of reconciliation, forgiveness, and hope.

This year also marks an important milestone for the United States as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, which expanded voting rights to racial minorities. Our own commemoration is yet another reminder of the work ahead in our shared struggle for democracy and human rights.

As you prepare to hold general elections next month – your fifth in the post-apartheid era – we remember the spirit of that historic election in 1994, one filled with tremendous hope, goodwill, and promise for a better future.

U.S. CONGRATULATES PEOPLE OF THE REPUBLIC OF TANZANIA ON THEIR UNION DAY

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 

On the Occasion of the United Republic of Tanzania's Union Day

Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
April 25, 2014


On behalf of President Obama and the American people, I congratulate the citizens of Tanzania as you commemorate 50 years since the unification of Tanganyika and Zanzibar into the United Republic of Tanzania.

The United States remains committed to working with the people of Tanzania and building on the strong history of friendship between our nations.

We continue to work together in the fight against malaria and HIV/AIDS, and we celebrate our shared achievements in agriculture, education, and the environment. These accomplishments lay the foundation for a more secure and prosperous future.

As you celebrate in Dar es Salaam, Dodoma, and Zanzibar, the American people wish you a joyous and peaceful Union Day.

Hongera na Kila la kheri!

CITY OF NEW ORLEANS SETTLES HOUSING DISCRIMINATION LAWSUIT INVOLVING DISABLED PERSONS

FROM:  U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT 
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
City of New Orleans Agrees to Settlement to Resolve Housing Discrimination Lawsuit

The Justice Department announced today that the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana approved its settlement with the city of New Orleans regarding a housing discrimination lawsuit late yesterday.

Under the settlement, the city agrees to permit the conversion of the former Bethany Nursing Home, located at 2535 Esplanade Avenue, into 40 units of affordable housing.  Half of the units in the new Esplanade complex will be designated as permanent supportive housing and will be reserved for formerly homeless persons with disabilities.  In addition, the settlement commits New Orleans to developing additional supportive housing for 350 persons with disabilities over the next three years.

“We are very pleased to have worked constructively with New Orleans to reach an agreement that will not only enable the Esplanade to be built, but that will also provide additional permanent supportive housing for 350 persons with disabilities in New Orleans,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels for the Civil Rights Division.

“Nondiscriminatory housing is a fundamental right of the citizens of New Orleans, and this settlement agreement continues the efforts to rebuild and improve a housing inventory ravaged by Hurricane Katrina,” said U.S. Attorney Kenneth Allen Polite Jr. for the Eastern District of Louisiana.  “I applaud the cooperative efforts of the city and the department to reach a resolution that is in the best interests of persons with disabilities, who are amongst the most vulnerable members of our community.”

In addition to the development of 350 additional permanent supportive housing units, the settlement requires that the city agree to provide all appropriate permits for the Esplanade, amend its Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance to allow permanent supportive housing, continue its work to prepare and implement a reasonable accommodation policy approved by the United States, conduct fair housing training for key city officials and be subject to reporting requirements.  

The State Bond Commission, which was also named as a defendant, is not a party to the settlement.  On March 20, 2014, the Bond Commission voted not to approve a settlement.  As a result, the Justice Department has moved to reopen the litigation against the Bond Commission and the court has scheduled a status conference for June 26, 2014.

READOUT: PRESIDENT OBAMA'S CALL WITH GERMAN, ITALIAN, FRENCH AND BRITISH LEADERS

FROM:  THE WHITE HOUSE 
Readout of the President’s Call with President Hollande, Chancellor Merkel, Prime Minister Renzi, and Prime Minister Cameron

Today the President spoke with President Hollande of France, Chancellor Merkel of Germany, Prime Minister Renzi of Italy, and Prime Minister Cameron of the UK to consult about the alarming situation in eastern Ukraine.  The leaders noted the positive steps that Ukraine had taken to move forward on the actions to which it committed in the April 17 joint statement by Ukraine, Russia, the European Union, and the United States – including proposing an amnesty law for those who will peacefully leave the buildings they have seized in eastern Ukraine, supporting the work of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and committing themselves once again to a process of constitutional reform and decentralization.  The leaders also agreed that Russia had not reciprocated – including by not publicly supporting the Geneva accord, nor calling on armed militant groups to lay down their arms and leave the government buildings they’ve occupied – and had in fact continued to escalate the situation through its increasingly concerning rhetoric and threatening military exercises on Ukraine’s border.

The President noted that the United States is prepared to impose targeted sanctions to respond to Russia's latest actions. The leaders agreed to work closely together, and through the G7 and European Union, to coordinate additional steps to impose costs on Russia. The leaders underscored that Russia could still choose a peaceful resolution to the crisis, including by implementing the Geneva accord.

SECRETARY HAGEL WAITS TO HEAR FROM RUSSIAN COUNTERPARTS ON DE-ESCALATING TENSIONS

FROM:  DEFENSE DEPARTMENT 
Hagel Waits to Hear From Russian Counterparts
By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 25, 2014 – Defense Department officials are still waiting to hear back from their Russian counterparts after reaching out to them via phone yesterday to discuss tensions in Ukraine, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren said today.

The department has made it clear to the Russians that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is available for a phone call at any time, Warren said.

"He wants to continue calling on the Russians to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine," the colonel said. "Their continued destabilizing activities along the Ukrainian border are unhelpful, and they need to withdraw their troops from the Ukrainian border and place them back into their garrisons and go about working to a peaceful resolution to this crisis."

Tens of thousands of Russian troops were mobilized to the region in late February and early March. While some of those troops seized control of the Crimean Peninsula, others established cantonment areas along Russia’s border with Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin told the international community that the troops in the border region were staging exercises. Until recently, defense officials have said there was no evidence the Russian military was conducting the type of exercises they had described.

Warren said reports from multiple sources indicate that the movements by thousands of troops in the region are now consistent with the exercises recently announced by Russia.

“Troops are moving out of their cantonment areas into exercise areas,” he said.
Russia has a broad array of forces aligned along the Ukrainian border, Warren said, including mechanized infantry, light infantry, armor and airborne troops and fixed- and rotary-wing aerial assets.

“We're seeing all flavors of the Russian combined arms force,” he said.
The U.S. message to Russia has been very clear since the start of tensions with Ukraine, Warren said.

“Our message remains, 'Deescalate. Live up to commitments both in Geneva and international norms. Help bring this crisis to an end,'" he said.

U.S. CONGRATULATES PEOPLE OF TOGO ON THEIR INDEPENDENCE DAY

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 
On the Occasion of the Republic of Togo's National Day
Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
April 25, 2014

On behalf of President Obama and the American people, I congratulate the people of Togo as you celebrate your independence on April 27.

Our two countries enjoy a strong partnership. The United States appreciates Togo’s efforts to promote regional peace, expand economic opportunity, and fight transnational crime.

We look forward to continuing to work together in the years to come.

U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT CONTRACTS FOR APRIL 25, 2014

FROM:  U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT 
CONTRACTS

NAVY

Charles Stark Draper Laboratory Inc., Cambridge, Mass, is being awarded a maximum $283,126,264 firm-fixed-price, fixed-price-incentive, and cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for the ongoing acquisition of Trident (D5) MK 6 Guidance System Repair Program with failure verification, test, repair and recertification of inertial measurement units, electronic assemblies, and electronic modules. Work will be performed in Pittsfield, Mass. (42 percent); Minneapolis, Minn. (29 percent); Clearwater, Fla. (22 percent); Cambridge, Mass. (6 percent); and Terrytown, N.Y. (1 percent), with an expected completion date of April 30, 2017. Fiscal 2014 weapons procurement, Navy contract funds in the amount of $243,150,264 and fiscal 2014 United Kingdom contract funds in the amount of $39,976,000 are being obligated at time of award. The contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract is a sole source acquisition pursuant to 10 U.S.C. 2304(c)(1). Strategic Systems Program, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00030-14-C-0001).

AIR FORCE

SOS International LLC, Reston, Va., (FA5641-14-D-0001); Mission Essential Personnel LLC, Columbus, Ohio, (FA5641-14-D-0002); Digital Management Inc., Bethesda, Md., (FA5641-14-D-0003); L-3 National Security Solutions, Reston, Va., (FA5641-14-D-0004); General Dynamics Information Technology, Herndon, Va., (FA5641-14-D-0005); and Decypher Technologies, San Antonio, Texas, (FA5641-14-D-0006), have been awarded a $33,000,000 multiple-award, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for advisory and assistance services. The contract shall serve as a vehicle to provide broad technical and analytical services to support and improve policy development, decision making, and management and administration, as well as improve the operation of systems within the primary using activities' areas of responsibility. Outputs may take the form of information, advice, alternatives, analyses, evaluations, recommendations, training and the day-to-day aid of support personnel needed to complement the government's technical expertise. In addition, the contract serves as a vehicle for non-advisory and assistance service support that is incidental to the advisory and assistance services. Work will be performed in Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, United States and other in-scope locations, and is expected to be complete by April 30, 2015. This award is the result of a competitive acquisition, and nine offers were received. Fiscal 2014 and fiscal 2015 operations and maintenance funds will be obligated on individual task orders as they are issued. This is not a multiyear contract. Air Force Installation Contracting Agency's 764th Specialized Contracting Squadron, Kaiserslautern, Germany, is the contracting activity.
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Marietta, Ga., has been awarded a $27,370,337 firm-fixed-price contract for C-130-J center wing box. The contractor will provide an extended service life center wing box on five C-130J aircraft initially. Work will be performed at Marietta, Ga., and is expected to be completed Dec. 30, 2016. This award is the result of a sole-source acquisition. Fiscal 2013 procurement funds in the amount of $27,370,337 are being obligated at time of award. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center/WLKCA, Robins Air Force Base., Ga., is the contracting activity (FA8504-14-C-0003).

ARMY

Cherokee General Corporation*, Federal Way, Wash. (W912DW-14-D-1002); Pease Construction, Inc.*, Lakewood, Wash. (W912DW-14-D-1003); Performance Systems, Inc.*, Fruitland, Idaho (W912DW-14-D-1004); Alutiiq-Mele, LLC*, Anchorage, Alaska (W912DW-D-14-1005); and Pease & Sons, Inc*, Tacoma, Wash. (W912DW-14-D-1006) will share in an award of a $100,000,000 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, multiple-award contract. The contract requirement is for multi-disciplinary maintenance, repair, construction, and incidental design work for Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., and its sub-installations and other customers supported by the Seattle District Corps of Engineers. Funding and performance locations will be determined with each order. The estimated completion date is April 24, 2019. Bids were solicited via the Web with 27 received. This is a small business set-aside contract. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Seattle District, Seattle, Wash., is the contracting activity.

Midland Surveying, Inc.*, Maryville, Mo. (W9128F-14-D-0002), was awarded a $9,000,000 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for architect-engineer surveying and mapping of shallow water habitat, floodplain changes and vegetation cover at various nationwide locations. Funding and performance locations will be determined with each order. Estimated completion date is April 24, 2019. Bids were solicited via the Web with 27 received. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Omaha District, Omaha, Neb., is the contracting activity.

L-3 Communications Corp., Muskegon, Mich., was awarded an $8,746,150 modification (P00110) to cost-plus-fixed-fee contract W56HZV-09-C-0098 to exercise an option for 37,948 hours for systems technical support on a cost-plus-fixed-fee level of effort basis for the Bradley transmission. Work will be performed in Muskegon, Mich., with an estimated completion date of June 30, 2015. Fiscal 2014 other procurement funds in the amount of $8,746,150 will be obligated at award. The U.S. Army Contracting Command, Tank and Automotive (Warren), Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity.

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY

Raytheon Co., El Segundo, Calif., has been awarded a maximum $14,393,119 firm-fixed-price contract for aircraft radar receivers, circuit card assemblies, electric synthesizers, and electronic components. This is a sole-source acquisition. This contract is a stand-alone delivery order on a basic delivery order agreement. This is a three-year base contract with no options. Location of performance is California, Mississippi, and Malaysia with an April 2018 performance completion date. Using service is Navy. Type of appropriation is fiscal 2014 through fiscal 2017 Navy working capital funds. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Aviation, Philadelphia, Pa., (SPRPA1-11-G-003X-5008).
* Small Business