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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Weekly Address: Open Enrollment Starts Today

WEST WING WEEK: 11/14/14


Friday, November 14, 2014
Two Executives of Japanese Automotive Parts Manufacturers Indicted for Their Role in a Conspiracy to Fix Prices and Rig Bids

A Kentucky federal grand jury returned a one-count indictment against two executives of Japanese automotive parts manufacturers for their participation in a conspiracy to fix prices and rig bids of bearings, the Department of Justice announced today.

The indictment, filed late yesterday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky in Covington, charges Hiroya Hirose an executive at NSK Ltd., and Masakazu Iwami an executive at Jtekt Corporation, with conspiring to fix the prices of bearings sold to Toyota Motor Corporation and Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America Inc. (collectively, “Toyota”) in the United States and elsewhere, beginning at least as early as 2001 and continuing until as late as July 2011.

“The division will continue to pursue executives who violate the antitrust laws,” said Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer for the Antitrust Division.  “American consumers deserve the benefit of free competition between auto parts suppliers.”

Hirose was a group sales manager in NSK’s Mid-Japan Automotive Department Office from at least as early as January 2006 until at least 2009, and a general manager in that office from 2009 until at least 2011.  Iwami was a Section Manager, then General Manager, in Jtekt’s Toyota Branch office from at least as early as 1999 until at least October 2007, and then Vice Branch Manager in that office from October 2007 until at least June 2009.

The indictment alleges, among other things, that Hirose, Iwami, and co-conspirators participated in, and directed, authorized, or consented to the participation of subordinate employees in, meetings, conversations, and communications to discuss the bids and price quotations to be submitted to Toyota in the United States and elsewhere.  Hirose, Iwami, and their co-conspirators submitted bids and price quotations in accordance with the agreements reached at these meetings.

NSK is a corporation organized and existing under the laws of Japan with its principal place of business in Tokyo, Japan.  On Oct. 28, 2013, NSK pleaded guilty and agreed to pay a $68.2 million criminal fine for its role in the conspiracy.  Jtekt is a corporation organized and existing under the laws of Japan with its registered headquarters in Osaka, Japan.  On Dec. 3, 2013, Jtekt pleaded guilty and agreed to pay a $103.27 million criminal fine for its role in the conspiracy.  Both NSK and Jtekt were engaged in the business of manufacturing and selling bearings to Toyota in the United States and elsewhere for installation in vehicles manufactured and sold in the United States and elsewhere.

Including Hirose and Iwami, 46 individuals have been charged in the government’s ongoing investigation into market allocation, price fixing, and bid rigging in the auto parts industry.  Twenty-six of these individuals have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced to serve prison terms ranging from a year and one day to two years.  Additionally, 31 companies have pleaded guilty or agreed to plead guilty and have agreed to pay a total of now more than $2.4 billion in fines.

Hirose and Iwami are charged with price fixing and bid rigging in violation of the Sherman Act, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million criminal fine for individuals.  The maximum fine for an individual may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine.

Yesterday’s indictment is the result of an ongoing federal antitrust investigation into price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct in the automotive parts industry, which is being conducted by four of the Antitrust Division’s criminal enforcement sections and the FBI.  Today’s charge was brought by the Antitrust Division’s Chicago Office and the FBI’s Cincinnati Field Office.


Hagel: ISIL Degraded But Remains Dangerous
By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jake Richmond
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Nov. 13, 2014 – United States and coalition forces have made progress in recent months against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, but the campaign will be “a long and difficult struggle,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told Congress here today.

“We are three months into a multi-year effort,” Hagel said in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee. In some parts of Iraq, ISIL’s advance has been stalled and even reversed by Iraqi, Kurdish and tribal forces supported by U.S. and coalition air strikes. But ISIL still represents a “serious threat” to American interests, Hagel said.

The secretary stressed the importance of sustaining the regional and global coalition, which includes 16 more countries since Hagel’s last congressional testimony in September. More than 60 nations are now contributing to the fight against ISIL, Hagel said, with assistance ranging from air support to training to humanitarian aid.

“Coalition partners have carried out 130 airstrikes against ISIL in both Iraq and Syria,” Hagel said. “Coalition nations have also pledged hundreds of personnel to support our mission to train, advise, assist, and help build the capacity of Iraqi forces.”

Methods and Results

The comprehensive strategy to stop ISIL also focuses on supporting inclusive governance, undercutting ISIL’s flow of resources, countering ISIL’s messaging, and constricting the flow of foreign fighters, Hagel said.

The combined effort has yielded results in degrading and destroying elements of ISIL’s warfighting capacity and denying safe haven to its combatants. The secretary said that ISIL fighters have been forced to maneuver in smaller groups, hide their large equipment, and change their communication methods.

“Sustaining this pressure on ISIL will help provide time and space for Iraq to reconstitute its forces and continue going on the offense,” Hagel explained. “And as Iraqi forces build strength, the tempo and intensity of our coalition’s air campaign will accelerate in tandem.”

Governmental Factors

However, ISIL “will not be defeated through military force alone,” Hagel said. In Iraq, he said, “much more needs to be done to achieve political reform.” And in Syria, since there is no partner government to work with, Hagel said, military strategy will demand time, patience and perseverance to deliver results.
“The position of the United States remains that [Syrian President Bashar] Assad has lost the legitimacy to govern,” Hagel said. The U.S. and coalition goal, he explained, is to ultimately create conditions for a political settlement in Syria.
“We are still at the front end of our campaign against ISIL,” Hagel told the House panel. “Congressional support -- your support -- is vital for this campaign to succeed.”


Hagel Announces Changes to U.S. Nuclear Deterrent Enterprise
By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Nov. 14, 2014 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has announced a series of measures to increase investment in America’s nuclear deterrent after reviews found evidence of systemic problems in the enterprise.
Hagel announced the changes at a Pentagon press conference today before traveling to Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, to speak with missileers about them.  The changes are the result of internal and external reviews Hagel ordered after a series of Associated Press stories disclosed problems in the nuclear force.
Retired Air Force Gen. Larry D. Welch and retired Navy Adm. John C. Harvey Jr. co-chaired the external review.

Nuclear Arsenal Safe

Hagel prefaced his remarks by assuring Americans that the nuclear arsenal is safe and secure. It can and must be better though, he said. “As long as we have nuclear weapons, we will and we must ensure that they are safe, secure and effective,” Hagel said.

Hagel said underfunding and a focus on two wars allowed the status of the nuclear deterrent to degrade. Service members accomplished the missions in the nuclear enterprise thanks to their own “heroic efforts.”

“The internal and external reviews I ordered show that a consistent lack of investment and support for our nuclear forces over far too many years has left us with too little margin to cope with mounting stresses,” Hagel said.
The reviews found evidence of systematic problems. These include manning, infrastructure and skill deficiencies. The reviews found “a culture of micromanagement and over-inspection,” the secretary said. Finally, the reviews found inadequate communication, follow-up and accountability.
Root Cause

“The root cause has been a lack of sustained focus, attention and resources, resulting in a pervasive sense that a career in the nuclear enterprise offers too few opportunities for growth and advancement,” Hagel said.

The secretary vowed to hold senior leaders accountable to ensure words match actions. “We must change the cultural perception of a nuclear enterprise, which has particularly suffered in the Air Force,” he said. “We must restore the prestige that attracted the brightest minds of the Cold War era, so our most talented young men and women see the nuclear pathway as promising in value.”

As part of this, the commander of the Air Force Global Strike Command will now be elevated to a four-star.

More funding is also crucial. The Air Force established a force improvement program for Global Strike Command and reallocated over $160 million in fiscal 2014 and $150 million in fiscal 2015. These will address some of the most urgent shortfalls. Hagel said missileers had to Fed-Ex a special wrench used in fastening warheads to missiles from base to base.

Some of the money will go to incentive pay for critical nuclear assignments.

Long-term Changes

Long-term changes are on the way, the secretary said. DoD is updating and standardizing inspections. The department wants to eliminate micromanagement, redundancies and administrative burdens that overtax the force and ultimately harm the mission.

“The Navy is reducing administrative distractions and is planning to both hire more than 2,500 workers and overhaul aging infrastructure at public shipyards, strategic weapons facilities and reactor training systems,” the secretary said.
The Air Force is planning construction to improve weapons storage facilities, will replace its Vietnam-era helicopters for ballistic missile security forces and is revamping training, evaluations and management of the nuclear force.
“Both services are elevating and reinforcing the nuclear mission, including in the budget request they’re preparing for fiscal year 2016,” Hagel said. “We will need to make billions of dollars of additional investments in the nuclear enterprise over the next five years.”

The secretary said the services are looking at a 10 percent increase in funding over five years. Today, the U.S. spends about $15 billion to $16 billion on our nuclear enterprise.


Remarks With Jordanian Foreign Minister Judeh After Their Meeting
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Amman, Jordan
November 13, 2014

FOREIGN MINISTER JUDEH: (Via interpreter) In the name of Allah, the most gracious, the most merciful. At the outset, I would like to welcome a friend of His Majesty King Abdullah to Jordan, as well as to me personally, he – His Excellency, the Secretary of State of the United States of America. I do welcome him in this important visit and at this particular important moment. We have been honored today with a bilateral meeting as His Majesty King Abdullah received Secretary Kerry. And over the past 48 hours, they were – they covered different significant diplomatic deliberations and talks starting with the meetings with President Abbas yesterday. And today, His Majesty the King received Secretary of State, Mr. John Kerry.

And this evening, His Majesty the King, there was a bilateral – trilateral meeting where His Majesty met President Netanyahu – Prime Minister Netanyahu as well as Secretary of State. And they discussed coaxial issues, including Jerusalem and the Holy Shrines, and they took a lot of time. And their discussion and all the developments that have taken place over the recent few weeks were at the core of the issue and they have led to more instability.

His Majesty, during his meeting with Mr. Kerry this afternoon, explained Jordan’s position and the stance regarding the necessity of maintaining the status quo of the Holy Shrines, and they should not be touched or affected by any means. And this is part of the Hashemite custody of these Christian and Muslim sanctities in Jerusalem. And you are well aware also that when Jordan took some measures, there was confirmation on the part of the Israeli nation, Israeli state, and they showed commitment that they will maintain the status quo and respect the Jordanian role, and also respect the peace treaty between the two countries. And this is what also has been stated during the trilateral meeting this evening.

And you will listen also to the outcomes of this trilateral meeting. There are mechanisms and communications underway, including practical measures to de-escalate the tension and that maintain the status quo without getting it affected by such tensions.

During the bilateral meeting with Mr. Kerry, there were extensive negotiations regarding all the developments across the region. And we will go back to the Palestinian-Israeli problem. There were also discussions regarding the Syrian crisis and the U.S. as well as Jordan’s commitment to go back to the peaceful solution. It will be the only solution that will stop destruction, violence, instability, and the disintegration across the Syrian scene. This is Jordan’s stance, and it is in harmony with the U.S. stance as well.

There has been also talks about anti-terrorism and anti-extremism. And His Majesty the King stressed – and I also stressed during my negotiations and talks with Mr. Kerry – that this is the battle of moderate Islam against extremism and against (inaudible). Therefore, talks addressed this issue as well – including other issues.

With respect to the peace process, you are well aware that Mr. Kerry and the Obama Administration are committed to find a peaceful solution that addresses all the final status issues and that the two parties should come back to peace process. Mr. Kerry is a man of peace, and he has proven this through his intensive and focused efforts over one year as the Secretary of State and also for the case as the head of a committee at the Congress. He is a man who is renowned for his efforts inside the United States and outside the United States. And we have seen the Secretary of State in more than one year meeting all the stakeholders, particularly the Palestinian and Israeli sides. In addition, other countries who have high interest in peace, like the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and Republic of Egypt – he met with them scores of times. And I think the meetings that His Excellency Kerry has been unprecedented, and this confirms U.S. commitment and Mr. Kerry’s commitment to this peace process. He is now attempting to repave the way for coming back to a negotiation – and negotiations and to stop unilateral actions and measures, and we do support him in these efforts.

Once again, it is our high interest, and our national interest requires and entails the two-state solutions according to international legitimacy, especially the Arab Peace Initiative. Therefore, I would like to say that the trilateral meeting that was held this evening with the Israeli prime minister has already addressed the issue through the monitoring and follow-up of the Jordanian efforts. It also focused basically on the efforts being put forth by Mr. Kerry in order to revive the situation, to come back to negotiations. Another important aspect under the trilateral negotiations – a telephone conference with President Sisi was also conducted. And, as you know, Egypt is a basic and a key country when we talk about the issues of this region, as well as the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.

Therefore, I would like to conclude here that part – or a significant part of our talks today included the distinguished bilateral relationships, and we have extended our thanks for their continued efforts to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, especially in helping Jordan to shoulder the tremendous burden. And through the U.S. economic assistance and help, we have been able to bear the situation. We have extended our thanks, and we have discussed so many aspects of these distinguished bilateral relationships.

I do welcome His Excellency, and I do extend my thanks for his efforts towards peace. And this is in harmony with His Majesty’s and the Kingdom’s position towards peace in order to have a stable region without terror and without turmoil. Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, thank you very much. Good evening to everybody, and I am particularly grateful to my good friend, Nasser Judeh, who tonight I learned is the longest-serving foreign minister in the history of Jordan. So – and I asked him – I said, “Are you going to look like that on those portraits that are hanging out there?” And he said – that’s when he informed me that until recently, one of them was the longest serving. Now I’m standing beside him. So I’m honored to be here with him. And I have to tell you, he is a very valued partner and a very skilled diplomat, and somebody that we rely on for great collaboration and for very significant advice and counsel. And I thank him for his friendship very, very much.

I also particularly want to thank His Majesty King Abdullah, who is a gracious host, but also a courageous leader who understands how important this moment is and how critical it is to move forward. And I thank him for his exhaustive personal efforts in trying to resolve some of the region’s most difficult challenges, whether it’s Syria and Iraq, ISIL, or the longstanding conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Through all of these challenges, one constant has been the enormously constructive role that Jordan has played under difficult circumstances in order to try to resolve those challenges. And we’re very grateful and we admire those efforts.

I had a very productive meeting this morning with President Abbas, and Foreign Minister Judeh and I, as he just mentioned to you, have come here directly from a trilateral meeting, a discussion with Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel and with His Majesty King Abdullah of Jordan.

President Abbas and I this morning discussed constructive steps, real steps – not rhetoric, but real steps that people can take in order to de-escalate the situation and create a climate where we can move forward in a positive and constructive way. President Abbas strongly restated his firm commitment to nonviolence, and he made it clear that he will do everything possible to restore calm and to prevent the incitement of violence and to try to change the climate.

We particularly talked about the urgent need to address the greatest tension between Israelis and Palestinians beginning with the imperative, the absolute need to uphold the status quo regarding the administration of the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount and to take affirmative steps to prevent provocations and incitement. In the trilateral meeting this evening, we discussed, as Nasser has explained to you, specific and practical actions that both sides can take to restore calm. The Jordanians and the Israelis have agreed – the Jordanians, obviously, in their historic role as the custodians of the Haram al-Sharif – and the Israelis joined together as they have worked since 1967 to administer the Haram al-Sharif, to make sure that they de-escalate the situation, and that the steps they take will instill confidence that the status quo will be upheld.

So I say to all people who are interested in this: There are firm commitments, particularly from the custodian of the holy mosque, as well as Israel, to guarantee that they will take these steps. Now, I know that the first question will be: “So exactly what are those steps?” And the answer is we’re not going to lay out each practical step. It is more important that they be done in a quiet and effective way, but they will be noticeable and they will be effective, and I am convinced of that. And I also believe that obviously not all of it can happen overnight. Not every message will reach every person immediately. And not everyone will automatically change in one moment.

But the leadership is committed, I am convinced, on the basis of their discussion tonight and to the seriousness of purpose that they both exhibited. And President – in Prime Minister Netanyahu traveling here to make the effort to have this discussion; King Abdullah being willing to host it; and the length of time we spent discussing it, makes it clear to me that they are serious about working in the effort to create this de-escalation, to take steps that will instill confidence that the status quo will be upheld.

Prime Minister Netanyahu strongly reaffirmed Israel’s commitment to uphold the status quo on the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount and to implement these steps. And King Abdullah also agreed to continue to take affirmative steps to restore calm and implement practical measures to prevent further escalation of tensions. And obviously, the proof is not in the words; the proof is in the actions.

In our trilateral discussion, we also discussed the shared commitment by each of us to counter the growing wave of extremism in the region. We placed a call to President al-Sisi to discuss his contribution and support for this critical effort. Why? Frankly, because all of us have been impressed. I was in Egypt a few weeks ago, and President al-Sisi and I had a long discussion about his commitment to the process of challenging extremism and terrorism, and most importantly, his emphasis to me that not only is he committed to counterterrorism, but that he is prepared, in his words, “to do whatever I can,” quote, “in order to advance the cause of peace between Israelis and Palestinians.” And that was an important conversation to have in the context of the potential for new regional security assistance and arrangements. We had a very extensive discussion of the ways in which the regional partners could work together on a security arrangement that advances our common interests, and we agreed – all of us – to continue that conversation in the next days.

Now, we are – all of us – fully aware of the challenges presented by the current tensions. Everybody understands that there are deeply held frustrations that are pent up on both sides. Everybody knows the difficult roads traveled and years and years of disappointment on both sides. And that’s why we all engaged in nine months of negotiations, and it is why all of us would like to see the day when that effort can be re-engaged and can lead to the peace that we all know is the only real, sustainable answer to the underlying causes of this conflict.

But today, we are working to smother the sparks of immediate tension so that they don’t become a fire that is absolutely out of control. And the first thing we have to do is restore calm before you can talk about other alternatives. The United States stands ready to be engaged, provided the parties themselves begin to create the climate. I was pleased that all of the leaders today, particularly Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas earlier today, made clear their desire to see this situation de-escalate and to move in the right direction.

In our meeting today Foreign Minister Judeh and I also discussed how do we best coordinate our efforts against ISIL. We are combining our strengths across our more than 60 partners and along 5 different reinforcing lines of effort to shrink the territory controlled by ISIL, dry up its financing, reduce its supply of foreign fighters, expose the hypocrisy of the absurd religious claims, and provide humanitarian assistance to so many millions of people who are injured by this struggle.

Degrading and ultimately defeating ISIL is not going to happen overnight. We have to be patient as well as strong, and we have to be strategic. But make no mistake: We will succeed. Particularly in Iraq, where our effort by design has been most concentrated, we are making steady progress. I think you all saw that at Baiji recently.

Together with our coalition partners, including Jordan, we have conducted nearly 900 airstrikes against ISIL. Some partners are contributing to the military effort by providing arms; some equipment, training, advice; others are offering humanitarian assistance to those affected by the conflict. And we are particularly grateful to Jordan for opening up its borders and providing safe haven to more than 620,000 Syrian refugees. That’s an extraordinary effort by the country. And I know that there are parents, families, people in the country, who feel the pressure of this. We all understand that. We are deeply, deeply grateful to Jordanians for their humanitarian gesture in receiving these people, and that is one of the reasons why we are so committed to working to try to bring an end to this conflict.

And the United States understands and is particularly appreciative of the burden that has been put on schools, on hospitals, on water and energy services, and so much more. And we will continue to stand beside Jordan; I can assure you of that. I conveyed to His Majesty tonight the deep commitment of the American people, the United States Congress, the Obama Administration to the efforts of the Hashemite Kingdom to assume these important responsibilities.

Finally, as you all know, I traveled to Muscat earlier this week to continue the Iran nuclear negotiations. Our number-one priority on Iran is making sure that they don’t get a nuclear weapon. It’s that simple, that direct. We’re engaged in a difficult but serious negotiation toward that end. The question now is whether Iran will make the choices required to close the final gaps and provide assurances that they can’t develop and won’t develop a nuclear weapon.

Iranian leaders have said repeatedly and unambiguously that they have no intention of building a nuclear weapon. But actions have to be taken to back up those words and time is running short. The international community’s concerns are legitimate, and no agreement can be reached without addressing those concerns.

So in the end, it is really a matter of will, not capacity. Again and again, Iran – importantly, and frankly, gratefully – has said they are not going to seek a nuclear weapon; they exclusively have a peaceful nuclear program. So proving that you have a peaceful program is really just a question of choices. And with the November 24th deadline rapidly approaching, choices are going to have to be made very soon.

I’ll just close by noting this: When you look down the long list of challenges that we face in the world, it’s very easy to miss the fact that there are also unprecedented opportunities. During my meetings in Beijing this week with President Obama, the United States and China came together to jointly announce ambitious new targets to reduce carbon emissions in the post-2020 period. The United States and China are the world’s two largest economies. We’re also the world’s two largest consumers of energy and the two largest emitters of greenhouse gases. We are also two countries regarded for 20 years as the leaders of opposing camps in the climate negotiations.

Now, I know that not everybody in the world wakes up in the morning and worries about this issue. I understand that. People have security challenges of immediate nature, and putting food on the table, and shelter, and being able to protect their families and just survive. But we understand from scientists that this is a collective challenge to survival for all of us in the long run. And by doing what the United States and China did together, we are encouraging other countries to put forward their own ambitious plans, their own ambitious plans to be able to deal with this issue, to have emission reduction targets soon so that we can conclude a strong global agreement in Paris next year in December of 2015.

The commitment of both President Xi and President Obama to take ambitious action in our own countries and to work closely to remove the obstacles on the road to Paris sends a critical signal. It is that we must get this agreement done, that we can get it done, and that we have the ability now to all of us come together because no one country can make this happen on their own. This is one of those issues that requires global input, and we’re proud that together with China, we hope there was a moment of global leadership.

Thank you. Nasser.

FOREIGN MINISTER JUDEH: Thank you very much, John.

Right. I just want to say that Secretary Kerry has to travel soon, and therefore I think we’ll take one question from the Jordanian side and one question from the American side. So, Hamdan.

QUESTION: My question is to secretary general. My name is Hamdan al-Hajj from Ad-Dustour newspaper. You said, Mr. Secretary, that the aim of the trilateral meeting is to restore peace and alleviate tension in Jerusalem. What makes you ambitious and optimistic that Benjamin Netanyahu is going to stick to the commitments? And what are the mechanisms that – to be followed to reach that goal? Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, first of all, when you deal in this business, you begin to get a sense of when somebody is expressing a legitimate concern about something or when they’re just brushing you off. And I thought it was quite clear from the conversation this evening and from prior conversations – which is why Prime Minister Netanyahu traveled over here – that he has deep concerns, as everybody does, about the – about what has been going on in the rise of violence. How can you be the prime minister of a country in which people are being run over by trucks, cars, vans, at a trolley station and killed – how can you be the prime minister of a country where someone is being stabbed in the street, killed, where you see what the reactions are, because of people’s interpretation of something, and not respond?

And so this is a test. I believe the prime minister came here because he is concerned, and he made very firm statements tonight about that. Now, I can’t tell you that everything will change between now and tomorrow morning or the next day, because actions are what matter, not just words. So I heard words. They were expressed sincerely. I believe they are. But it’s going to take the test of the next days.

And that is true on the other side too. If President Abbas says he will reduce the rhetoric and change the – and work hard to try to change the atmosphere, then we have to look to the test of that. And in the end, it requires leadership to be able to make this difference.

So I’m here, together with my friend Nasser, to work with him and others, King Abdullah, to try to create the framework within which people can make the right choices. And in the end, I hope they do, and we will see in the days to come.

I don’t know. Nasser, you might want to comment on that also because I think it’s an important question.

FOREIGN MINISTER JUDEH: Well, thanks, John. I mean, I’ll just add by saying that since we saw the recent escalation – and there’s always escalation in Jerusalem, and we’ve always warned that Jerusalem is a redline. His Majesty is the Custodian. Jordan has a historic road. The peace treaty between Israel and Jordan points to that very, very clearly. There was an agreement signed between His Majesty and President Abbas in 2013 reaffirming the Hashemite Custodianship of the Holy Site. And there’s escalation after escalation, particularly in the last two years, and most particularly in the last few weeks.

When Jordan took a decision to recall its ambassador for consultation, it was a sign that enough is enough. There’s a clear message that went to Israel that something needs to be done. We’ve had since some positive developments in terms of the rhetoric, and I think, like I said, hopefully a mechanism that will result in restoring calm and in alleviating the tension that we see.

We’ve had a phone call between His Majesty and Prime Minister Netanyahu a week ago or more when the prime minister reiterated that Israel is committed to the preservation of the status quo and respects the Jordanian role. Today, the discussion was – and we’ve had contacts since, of course, and we’ve had contacts with the international community. But today, the prime minister was very clear in yet again reaffirming that the status quo in Jerusalem will not be touched, and that Israel is committed to this and Israel is committed to respecting the role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the Custodianship of His Majesty. But as --

SECRETARY KERRY: And with specific steps.

FOREIGN MINISTER JUDEH: With specific steps and a mechanism. But like John said, it’s actions that will speak louder than words. And we’re monitoring and observing and we’re contacting. We’re remaining in contact. I mean, the idea is not to just withdraw and not establish any means of communication. You need to have communication in order to ensure that what you want is done and what the international community wants is done.

The tension in Jerusalem, as you have seen in the last few days, has sparked tension not just in Jerusalem and around Jerusalem, but elsewhere in the West Bank. And this is something that concerns us all. And we need to restore calm because we need to think of the larger picture and we need to think of the end objective that we all seek, which is peace, a solution to all final status issues – independence, dignity, sovereignty for the Palestinians in the form of a state on their national soil, and security not just for Israel, but for the entire region. I think this is what we are all committed to.

And I think – Warren from Reuters. And the we’ll take one there.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. Mr. Secretary, you’re going to be shocked I have a multipart question. (Laughter.) You have often said, Mr. Secretary, that there are people on both sides of the conflict who do not want peace. Understanding that you and Foreign Minister Judeh don’t want to go into all the details tonight, can you at least give us some idea of the types of things, types of commitments that you got today that would lead you to believe that both sides are willing to pull back and especially rein in their extremists? That’s question one.

Question two: Why was President --

FOREIGN MINISTER JUDEH: You mean – sorry to interrupt. You mean the Palestinians and Israelis?

QUESTION: The Palestinian – yes, thank you. Question --

SECRETARY KERRY: With respect to the Haram al-Sharif or the --

QUESTION: Yes, yes.


QUESTION: Question two: Why was President Abbas not at the meeting today, the trilateral? And finally, did you and Prime Minister Netanyahu have a chance to discuss the nuclear issue today, and did he reiterate his deep and serious concerns about a weak deal with Iran?

And finally, for Foreign Minister Judeh, will Jordan now return its ambassador to Tel Aviv? Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, let me deal with 1-2-3. With respect to the Haram al-Sharif, if you read the basics of the agreement that exists on – in defining the status quo, you will see precisely what is expected of the WAC, the Jordanian force that is responsible, as well as the Israelis. And if the status quo is being maintained, you’ll be able to see exactly what is expected. And I don’t think it’s appropriate to go into all of the ways in which that is going to be implemented. It’s up to the folks there to show it in the way that they’re implementing it. But I think people will notice in the next days, and that’ll be the measure.

So again, we’ve agreed not to go into the specifics because one person or another can misinterpret or not quite understand one choice or another. I think the status quo is clear and the status quo is going to be maintained, and that is what is absolutely vital to the Hashemite Kingdom’s responsibility as Custodian. And the prime minister has made it clear that he will uphold that.

Now with respect to President Abbas, I met with him one-on-one this morning. We had a good conversation, as I mentioned earlier. His Majesty --

FOREIGN MINISTER JUDEH: And His Majesty met --

SECRETARY KERRY: His Majesty met with him yesterday one-on-one, so there’s been a lot of communication. But it just isn’t yet the right moment for the two sides to really come together at this instant. It’s just not – it’s not the appropriate moment. I think they both need to see that things are changing, and there needs to be what we would call a ripeness, if you will, for that meeting that doesn’t exist at this moment. But there was no exclusion. It was simply an effort because we were talking about larger regional peace and security issues that directly involve existing states – state of Israel, state of Jordan, state of Egypt, and the United States – and those are important existing relationships and it was more appropriate to have that conversation in the context that we did.

Finally, with respect to the nuclear issue, yes, the prime minister and I talked one-on-one on that issue for a little while. And he expressed his concerns, of course, and I made it clear to him that the standard that we have applied throughout this negotiation still applies, and that is that there are four pathways to a nuclear weapon and we need to make certain that each pathway – the Fordow facility, the Arak nuclear – the Arak heavy water plutonium reactor facility, the Natanz enrichment facility, and covert capacities – are all closed off so that not – not as a matter of bias or prejudice, but because that’s the only way the world can know for certain that a program is indeed a peaceful program. And our responsibility is to make certain that there is a sufficient breakout time in the event that there was some change in policy or something happened.

So those guarantees are in place and we will keep all of our friends and allies informed of what we are doing in the days ahead. Our hopes remain still to try to achieve an agreement because it’s better for the world. But we can’t achieve just any agreement. It has to be done in a way that meets the standards I just set out. And we’re trying to be as thoughtful as we can in our approach to this, but there’s no shortcut. It’s difficult, and we hope Iran will work in the same way that we are, not as a matter of coercion but out of mutual respect and out of the interests that we all have for living in a world that is free of nuclear weapons. Obviously, the fatwa of the leader is a very important instrument, and we respect it enormously as a matter of religious edict. But that has to be translated into a lay person’s regular document, a legal one, if you will, with all of the things that are necessary for an agreement regarding potential nuclear programs. There are many standards by which that is measured, and that’s exactly how we’re proceeding.

FOREIGN MINISTER JUDEH: The presence of the Jordanian ambassador in Israel since signing the peace treaty in 1994 was not intended to be to the benefit of Israel. The presence of our ambassador there was meant to be an action that would promote Jordanian national interest and promote the bilateral relationship, which will be of mutual benefit.

As you know, there are several diplomatic options available to any country to protest something that they feel very, very strongly about. One of those actions is to recall an ambassador for consultation. And this was a very clear signal to Israel that what’s been happening in the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, particularly over the last few weeks, is not acceptable to Jordan as Custodian, not acceptable to 1.5 billion Muslims around the world, but we have a special responsibility as the Custodian, as a nonpermanent member on the Security Council. And I think recalling our ambassador for consultation was a very, very clear signal that something has to be done to check these actions that are causing much concern not just in the immediate region but around the world.

Now, as the Secretary and I have said for the last few days with intensive diplomacy, with intensive contact with the Israelis, with other international partners and particularly the United States, and in today’s discussions, we have seen a commitment on the part of Israel to respect and maintain the status quo and respect the special role of Jordan and to ease the tension and remove all the elements of instability that we are seeing. We have to wait and see if this is done. Like I said, there are concrete steps out there to be done. There is an agreement that we need to de-escalate. There is a commitment on the part of Israel that the status quo has to be maintained and to respect the Jordanian. Let’s see what happens and then we’ll review our decision, but we have to see what happens on the ground first.

SECRETARY KERRY: Folks, I apologize. I know there are a lot of questions, but I have to get back to the United States, leaving right now and my pilots are under a time restriction, so if you’ll forgive us, we need to take our leave.

FOREIGN MINISTER JUDEH: Thank you very much.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you all very, very much.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Real Estate Developer Sentenced to 121 Months in Prison for $50 Million Dollar Securities Fraud Scheme

A commercial real estate developer and mortgage broker was sentenced to serve 121 months in prison today for his role in a $50 million securities fraud scheme.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy of the Southern District of California and Special Agent in Charge Douglas G. Price of the FBI’s Phoenix Division made the announcement.  U.S. District Judge Cathy Ann Bencivengo of the Southern District of California imposed the sentence.

Bradley Holcom, 57, of Canby, Oregon, previously pleaded guilty to wire fraud in connection with the sale of approximately $50 million worth of promissory notes to more than 150 investors located throughout the United States.

Holcom admitted that he solicited investors to provide funds for the development of raw land for commercial and residential purposes through an investment program he called the Trust Deed Investment Program.  Holcom falsely told investors who purchased notes through the program that they would receive a lien on a specific piece of property, and that the lien would be in first position.  Holcom admitted, however, that he never provided investors with a lien, and instead conveyed a lesser interest that did not allow investors to directly foreclose on the property to protect their investment.  In addition, he admitted that while promising investors that their purported lien would be in first position, he knew the properties were already encumbered by first position liens.  Holcom also admitted that he sold the properties that were supposedly serving as the security for the promissory notes without informing investors.  Despite his declining financial condition in 2008 and 2009, Holcom continued to solicit investors by misrepresenting the manner in which he would use their investments.  As a result of the scheme, Holcom admitted that his conduct caused approximately $50 million in losses to investors.

In addition to the prison sentence, Holcom was ordered to pay restitution to his victims, with the final amount to be determined at a subsequent hearing.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Phoenix Division – Yuma Resident Agency.  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Henry P. Van Dyck and Deputy Chief Daniel Braun of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Pletcher of the Southern District of California.  The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission also provided substantial assistance.

Friday, November 14, 2014


International Education Week
Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
November 14, 2014

The Departments of State and Education celebrate the 15th annual International Education Week November 17-21, 2014. During this week, literally thousands of events will be held around the world to highlight the benefits of global learning and student exchanges.

To understand why this is important, we have only to consider the consequences when people lack what international education provides – namely an objective understanding of the world that exists outside the narrow boundaries of our own communities and lives.

We know that, in some places, children are educated to see the globe as divided between “us” and “them.” They are told that personal fulfillment can only come by refighting ancient battles or by crushing the dreams of another.

That is the opposite of the kind of learning we honor during International Education Week.

At the Department of State, we see international education as a core component of our diplomacy. This is because, in the work we do every day, we see how vital it is that young people absorb what true international education teaches: how to think critically, the importance of civility, and a willingness to respond to contrary opinions with hard questions -- not bitter denials or an insistence on dogma.

The development of these abilities is essential, but it does not happen automatically. It happens because of the dedication of our educators and the leadership of the academic community. It happens because so many top universities have made a commitment to helping our young people learn more about themselves by learning first-hand about the world. It happens because many businesses and foundations understand that global education is an extraordinarily wise and effective investment in the future.

The United States welcomes international students because they help bring a new and wider perspective into classrooms, because they contribute more than $27 billion each year to our economy, and because – upon returning home – they contribute to a better understanding of American ideals, policies, and culture.

Wherever I go in the world, I run into foreign ministers, prime ministers, businesspeople and activists who have studied in the United States. Here in the United States, I interact constantly with talented men and women who have spent a part of their education in study abroad. Recent surveys are clear that major employers value the skills and experience that international education provides.

It is evidence of this issue’s importance that President Obama has placed a strong emphasis on reaching out to young leaders on every continent and to do so by increasing both the size and the diversity of our student exchange programs. As Secretary of State, I echo this call and urge U.S. students from all walks of life to take advantage of the opportunity to study abroad.

It has been said that all history is a race between education and catastrophe. Obviously, that is a race we must win, and international education provides a platform for victory.


November 13, 2014
Joint Statement
November 14, 2014

The Republic of the Union of Myanmar, the United States of America, Japan, Denmark and the International Labour Organization (ILO) today are jointly launching a new Initiative to Promote Fundamental Labor Rights and Practices in Myanmar.  The Initiative is designed to: 1) improve Myanmar’s system of labor administration through a multi-year labor law reform and capacity building plan (labor reform plan); and 2) foster strong relations among businesses, workers, civil society organizations, and the Government of Myanmar through a stakeholder consultative mechanism.  The Initiative is intended to build upon Myanmar’s existing labor reform efforts, including ongoing legislative reform activities supported by the ILO.  To that end, the labor reform plan developed under this Initiative is intended to serve as a blueprint to prioritize legal changes, coordinate donor assistance, and strengthen government capacity to implement those reforms in close cooperation with civil society representatives.  The stakeholder consultative mechanism is intended to provide a forum for business, labor, and other civil society representatives to provide guidance on the development of the labor reform plan to the government and to foster constructive relationships among them.

As an initial step in the development of the Initiative, the Government of Myanmar established the Technical Committee Cluster on Labor Law Reform and Institutional Capacity Building (“Labor Law Reform Cluster”) in October 2014 under the Employment Opportunities Sector Working Group (EOSWG).  The EOSWG is one of 15 Sector Working Groups established by the Government of Myanmar under the Nay Pyi Taw Accord for Effective Development Cooperation.  This Labor Law Reform Cluster is intended to provide donor partners, stakeholders, and the ILO a forum to support the Government of Myanmar and civil society in the development of the labor reform plan.  To support this process, the United States is providing initial funding to the ILO for a labor law expert to advise the government on its reform efforts.  The Initiative participants also envision organizing a broad stakeholder forum in Myanmar in early 2015 to provide input on the development of the labor reform plan.

The participating governments and the ILO welcome the engagement of other interested governments, stakeholders, and institutions in support of this Initiative.  Myanmar is at a pivotal stage of its political and economic development, and the country’s future depends on its ability to grow its economy, create decent work, and re-integrate into the global economy.  Governments and stakeholders have a unique opportunity to promote lasting positive development in Myanmar by working together to improve an important component of its investment environment – its labor regime.  The Initiative is designed to support the government and stakeholders in promoting international labor standards and responsible business practices, helping to make Myanmar an attractive sourcing and investment destination, protecting Myanmar’s workers and supporting its businesses, and advancing Myanmar’s overall sustainable growth and development.



On the Occasion of the 25th Anniversary of the Velvet Revolution
Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
November 13, 2014

Twenty-five years ago, the people of Czechoslovakia rose up to peacefully demand their freedom during the Velvet Revolution. Those students, artists, and union workers led by Vaclav Havel helped usher in the historic wave of freedom that swept across Central and Eastern Europe liberating millions of people who lived behind the Iron Curtain.

The American people were inspired as the Velvet Revolution took hold, the Communist state collapsed, and the barbed wire was pulled down along the borders of West Germany and Austria. We watched with admiration as a Czech nation that had seen its dreams deferred – but had never lost its faith – overcame a system of tyranny with the force of non-violent protest and a simple demand for svobodne volby – free elections.

Today, the democracies of the Czech Republic and Slovakia are strong EU partners and NATO Allies of the United States who are committed to building a peaceful and prosperous world.

On this historic anniversary, I salute the bravery and spirit of those who poured into the streets of Bratislava and Prague a quarter century ago to demand a free and better life. And I congratulate the people of the Czech Republic and Slovakia on 25 years of freedom and democratic governance.



Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Careall Companies Agree to Pay $25 Million to Settle False Claims Act Allegations

CareAll Management LLC and its affiliated entities (collectively “CareAll”) have agreed to pay $25 million, plus interest, to the United States and the state of Tennessee to resolve allegations that CareAll violated the False Claims Act by submitting false and upcoded home healthcare billings to the Medicare and Medicaid programs, the Department of Justice announced today.  CareAll is based in Nashville, Tennessee, and is one of Tennessee’s largest home health providers.

“Home health agencies may only bill Medicare and Medicaid for care that is necessary and covered by the programs,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Joyce R. Branda for the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “This settlement is another example of the department’s commitment to ensuring that home health care dollars – which are so vital to ensure the care of homebound patients – are spent for their intended purposes.”

This settlement resolves allegations that between 2006 and 2013, CareAll overstated the severity of patients’ conditions to increase billings and billed for services that were not medically necessary and rendered to patients who were not homebound.    

“This case demonstrates that enforcement of the False Claims Act is a priority of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee,” said U.S. Attorney David Rivera for the Middle District of Tennessee.  “The U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners are committed to protecting the public and vigorously pursuing all those who knowingly submit false claims affecting the Medicare and Medicaid programs.”

This is CareAll’s second settlement of alleged False Claims Act violations within the last two years.  In 2012, CareAll paid nearly $9.38 million for allegedly submitting false cost reports to Medicare.  As part of the settlement announced today, the companies agreed to be bound by the terms of an enhanced and extended corporate integrity agreement with the Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) in an effort to avoid future fraud and compliance failures.

“Fraudulent home-based services are surging across the country,” said Special Agent in Charge Derrick L. Jackson of HHS-OIG in Atlanta.  “We will continue to protect both Medicare and taxpayers, and ensure that funds are not siphoned off by companies more concerned with the bottom line than patient care.”

Under the False Claims Act, private citizens, known as relators, can bring suit on behalf of the United States and share in any recovery.  The relator in this case, Toney Gonzales, will receive more than $3.9 million as his share of the recovery.

This settlement illustrates the government’s emphasis on combating health care fraud and marks another achievement for the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) initiative, which was announced in May 2009 by the Attorney General and the Secretary of HHS.  The partnership between the two departments has focused efforts to reduce and prevent Medicare and Medicaid financial fraud through enhanced cooperation.  One of the most powerful tools in this effort is the False Claims Act.  Since January 2009, the Justice Department has recovered a total of more than $23.1 billion through False Claims Act cases, with more than $14.8 billion of that amount recovered in cases involving fraud against federal health care programs.  

The settlement was the result of a coordinated effort by the Civil Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee, HHS-OIG and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

The case is docketed as United States ex rel. Gonzales v. J.W. Carell Enterprises, Inc., et al., No. 12-0389 (M.D. Tenn.).  The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only; there has been no determination of liability.


November 12, 2014
FACT SHEET: U.S.-China Economic Relations

President Obama and President Xi recognize the importance of economic relations at the core of the U.S.-China bilateral relationship. The two Presidents commit to deepen bilateral economic ties. To this end, the United States and China commit to pursue policies that promote more open and market-driven bilateral and international trade and investment. This includes pursuing a high-standard and comprehensive bilateral investment treaty that embodies the principles of non-discrimination, fairness, openness, and transparency. The Presidents also commit to work together to address global economic challenges, to deepen the cooperation between the two sides under the framework of the G20, and improve and strengthen the rules-based international economic system.

The United States and China welcome the bilateral agreement reached in November 2014 on the expansion of the WTO Information Technology Agreement, and call for swift resumption and conclusion of plurilateral negotiations in Geneva.

The United States and China commit to continue to pursue Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) negotiations as a top priority in their economic relations, devoting all the resources necessary toward the achievement of a high-standard and comprehensive BIT that embodies the principles of non-discrimination, fairness, openness, and transparency. U.S. and Chinese leaders commit to actively work to advance the negotiations to ensure they are achieving these objectives. The two sides commit to periodically report to their respective leaders on the status of the negotiations to ensure that maximum and continual progress is being achieved, with a first report following the exchange of proposed “negative lists” early in 2015.

The United States and China reached consensus to intensify science-based agricultural innovation for food security. The United States and China commit to strengthen dialogue to enable the increased use of innovative technologies in agriculture.

As part of the reforms set out in the Third Plenum of the 18th CPC Central Committee, China continues to implement its market-oriented exchange rate reform, reduce foreign exchange intervention as conditions permit, increase exchange flexibility, and enhance the transparency of its economic and financial data.

In 2012, the United States and China, the world’s two largest economies and exporters, demonstrated their joint leadership in the global trading system by making a historic commitment to launch multilateral negotiation of new international export credit guidelines in the International Working Group on Export Credits (IWG). Through six meetings, and based on numerous strong contributions from developed and emerging market country IWG members, the IWG has made significant progress and is now at a critical juncture as it works to develop guidelines that, taking into account varying national interests and situations, are consistent with international best practices.

The United States and China commit to take all steps necessary to advance the IWG initiative, including by starting negotiation of horizontal guidelines as soon as possible. The United States and China further reaffirm their support for IWG guideline coverage that includes official export credit support provided by or on behalf of a government.

The United States and China intend to discuss as soon as possible new areas for cooperation to build African energy capacity and to expand dramatically power generation and access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa consistent, with the vision of Africa’s leaders and people for the continent’s development.


Remarks at a U.S. Visa Event
John Kerry
Secretary of State
U.S. Embassy Beijing
Beijing, China
November 12, 2014

MR. KRITENBRINK: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome. My name is Dan Kritenbrink, and I’m the deputy chief of mission here at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. It is a great honor to have everyone here this afternoon, including members of the press, staff of the Embassy’s consular section, and of course, our group of distinguished visa applicants. Expanding economic cooperation and increasing people-to-people exchanges are key elements of America’s policy toward China. As evidence of our commitment to that goal, today we celebrate the first day in a new era for millions of people who wish to travel between the United States and China.

We are, of course, particularly honored to be joined today by the U.S. Secretary of State, and our boss, Secretary John Kerry. Secretary Kerry will tell us about this exciting new development in our bilateral relationship. So now won’t you please join me in warmly welcoming Secretary of State John Kerry. (Applause.)

SECRETARY KERRY: Ni hao. And I hope that didn’t need a translation. (Laughter.) This is very exciting for me. I’m really happy to be here. I see a lot of smiling faces. And I think most of them are on the faces of those about to receive their visas.

I’m delighted to be here with Dan Kritenbrink and I thank him for the tremendous work that he is doing as the DCM here in the Embassy. He has mastered the language and he has risen through the ranks of the Department at lightning speed, and – first as a political officer here in Beijing, and as director for the Office for Chinese and Mongolian Affairs in Washington, and now as DCM. Let me say that we’re particularly grateful to Dan and all of the folks at the Embassy, all those of you in the Embassy staff who helped to support the visits of Michelle Obama and also Vice President Biden, who came here for the Strategic and Economic Dialogue; and of course, my own visit earlier in the year with Secretary Lew for the same. So we thank you for the tremendous work you’re doing.

The ambassador as I think you know is escorting the President to the airport, and so that’s the reason that he isn’t here to celebrate this with us. But he is very excited about this program. And I’m very glad he’s going to help make sure the President gets out alright because the sooner the President’s plane gets out of here, the easier it is for my plane (inaudible). (Laughter.)

I want to thank all of the folks who work here at the Embassy first before I say a word about the visas. One of our most sacred, important responsibilities in the State Department is to work hard to show people everywhere who we are and what our values are. And that’s what all of the people who work here do every single day in a large embassy like this or in small posts somewhere in the world – they help people to try to understand who we are, what we believe, and we’re particularly appreciative to all the people locally who come and share the burden of attempting to reach out and touch so many people.

And I say this all the time and I mean it: No matter what rank you are, no matter where you are in the Embassy, whether you’re one year in or months in or you’ve been here for years, everybody is an ambassador. Everybody carries with them the responsibility to be an ambassador for those values and for our country. And every time you go out of the Embassy and you go down An Jia Lou Road, you carry with you those values and the face of America. And by the way, An Jia Lou Road is not named after Angelia Jolie. (Laughter.)

So when you go out and you promote American business in Pudong or right here in Beijing with a company like Xiaomi, or you show people the best of American effort to bring a company to America or to bring a company here, you are really engaged in the best of entrepreneurial spirit. And I want to emphasize how important that is in this globally, totally interconnected world that we are living in and working in and competing in. In this new world and new age that we’re living in, foreign policy is economic policy, and economic policy is foreign policy. And I say this all the time. I want every officer in the State Department to be an economic officer because that’s the world we’re living in.

And that is why what we are doing here today is really so important. This is – visas are a critical part of that interconnected world and high-speed business world that we live in. That is why I’m so proud to announce today that effective immediately – and we mean immediately, when I stop talking (laughter) – we will be issuing the first ten-year visas to Chinese tourists and business men and women on a reciprocal basis. I want to say a special thank you to our consular chief, Chuck Bennett, who’s over here, who’s worked so hard – and the whole consular section – to be able to make this possible.

With this announcement, we are making an important investment in our relationship, U.S.-China. And believe me, this will pay huge dividends for American and Chinese citizens, and it will strengthen both of our economies. Because of this, if you’re one of the 2 million Chinese or American citizens who travel between our countries every year – and that will grow, but if you’re one of those two million now, you will not have to reapply and pay the application fee every year. If you’re a business that operates in both China and the United States, you will be able to travel back and forth and develop your business, interview your employees, invest, travel, do all the things you need to do to grow your business, and you’ll do it with much greater ease, with less burden.

If you’re a businesswoman in Shanghai, for instance, and you need to suddenly go to a business meeting in San Francisco, you don’t have to wait and apply for a visa. You go to the – buy your ticket, go to the airport. (Laughter.) If you’re a grandparent from Chongqing, you don’t have to apply every single year or every time you want to go visit your grandchildren in Boston, for instance.

And I’m proud to say that this is just the latest step that the Obama Administration is taking in order to facilitate travel. Over the last years, we’ve increased staffing, we’ve changed our procedures, we’ve extended our hours, we’ve done enormous efforts in order to be able to make it easier for people to get a visa, to take less time, so that now we’ve kept the wait times for interview appointments in China under one week for the last three years. And most people are in and out of those interviews in less than an hour.

Now, I want to emphasize that visa validity is a two-way street. And that’s why we’re working very hard to make sure that ten-year Chinese visas will also be available within a very short time for people who want to travel to China. But let me emphasize: What I am talking about today, this ten-year proposal from America, is not a one-time deal; it’s not just for a short time, this is here, it’s here to stay. And this is not a reciprocal – it’s a long-term reciprocal arrangement, but when we say it’s here to stay, we mean it. We will issue a ten-year visa to qualified applicants tomorrow, next month, and next year, and that’s our commitment.

So I get to stand up here today and bring you the good news. And that’s my privilege as Secretary of State, but it’s the people behind these windows, and Chuck and his team and people back in Washington who work so hard in order to make this possible. And they’re the ones who will implement it each day and I want everybody here to say thank you to them for their (inaudible). Thank you. (Applause.)

So in a couple of moments we’re going to make history here. We’re going to issue some of the first ten-year visas to Chinese businessmen and women. So those of you who get the visas and all of you folks in the consular section here, you are literally helping to write the next great chapter of the history between the United States and China.

The Chinese have a beautiful saying: (In Chinese.) (Laughter.) “Follow the past, herald the future.” So that’s what brings us here today. And everybody here and millions of people out there, actually one billion-three, have a huge stake in this, as do the 330 million people in the United States of America. This will help to grow our economies, create more jobs, and to bring us together as friends, and I’m very proud to be here today to share in that. Thank you.

So Dan and Chuck, let’s help some businesspeople and create some jobs. (Applause.)


PTSD in Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans

PTSD is a significant public health problem in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) deployed and non-deployed Veterans and should not be considered an outcome solely related to deployment.
A study finds that 15.7% of OEF/OIF deployed Veterans screened positive for PTSD compared to 10.9% of non-deployed Veterans. Overall 13.5% of study participants screened positive for PTSD.

Researchers determined if Veterans screened positive for PTSD by looking at survey answers to the PTSD Checklist Civilian Version (PCL-C). The PCL-C is a screening instrument routinely used in VA.

PTSD Among Recent Veterans – Who Screens Positive?

The National Health Study for a New Generation of U.S. Veterans is a health survey of 60,000 Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) Veterans, and non-deployed Veterans who served during the same time period. Researchers sent Veterans a survey which included questions that help VA health care providers screen Veterans for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This is the first study to report positive screens for PTSD in OEF/OIF-era Veterans who were not deployed and those who do not use VA health care.

Overall screening positive for PTSD: deployed Veterans, 15.7%; non-deployed Veterans, 10.9%. The overall percentage of study participants screening positive for PTSD was 13.5%

Screened positive by VA health care user status: deployed VA health care users, 24.7%; non-deployed VA health care users, 17.5%; deployed VA health care non-users, 9.8%; non-deployed VA health care non-users, 7.9%.
Screened positive by service branch: deployed Army Veterans, 18.6%; non-deployed Army Veterans, 13.8%; deployed Air Force Veterans, 6.6%; non-deployed Air Force Veterans, 6.2%; deployed Navy Veterans, 12.3%; non-deployed Navy Veterans, 10.1%; deployed Marine Corps Veterans, 20.6%; non-deployed Marine Corps Veterans, 10.5%.

Screened positive by unit component: deployed active duty, 18.5%; non-deployed active duty, 13.2%; deployed National Guard, 14.5%; non-deployed National Guard, 7.5%; deployed Reserves, 11.9%; non-deployed Reserves, 7.2%.
Screened positive by gender: deployed males, 16.2%; non-deployed males, 10.5%; deployed females, 12.5%; non-deployed females, 12.3%. Deployed males were 1.39 times more likely to screen positive for PTSD than deployed females. Among females, prevalence of a positive screen for PTSD was nearly equal among deployed and non-deployed Veterans.

Screened positive by race/ethnicity: deployed Hispanics, 19.7%; non-deployed Hispanics, 13.7%; deployed White non-Hispanic, 14.1%; non-deployed White non-Hispanic, 9.2%; deployed African American non-Hispanic, 21.9%; non-deployed African American non-Hispanic, 15.7%; deployed non-Hispanics other race, 16.2%; non-deployed non-Hispanics other race, 15.7%; deployed missing race/ethnicity, 23.5%; non-deployed missing race/ethnicity, 10.1%.

PTSD is a significant public health problem among OEF/OIF deployed and non-deployed Veterans and is not solely related to deployment.

These data are from the National Health Study for a New Generation of U.S. Veterans.

Findings from the New Generation Study

The findings are from the National Health Study for a New Generation of U.S. Veterans, a long-term study on the health of 30,000 OEF/OIF Veterans and 30,000 Veterans from the same era who were not deployed.

This is the first study to report positive screens for PTSD in OEF/OIF-era Veterans who were not deployed and those who do not use VA health care. Read the study abstract.

Health concerns?

Talk to your health care provider if you are concerned about PTSD. Effective treatments for PTSD exist.

Not enrolled in the VA health care system? Find out if you qualify. OEF, OIF, and Operation New Dawn combat Veterans are eligible for VA health care for five years after leaving the military. There are other ways to qualify too, including by having a service-connected disability.


Bliese PD, Wright KM, Adler AB, Cabrera O, Castro CA, Hoge CW.  Validating the primary care posttraumatic stress disorder screen and the posttraumatic stress disorder checklist with soldiers returning from combat. J Consult Clin Psychol 2008; 76: 272-281.

Thursday, November 13, 2014


Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Readout of Attorney General Holder's Phone Call with Elected Officials From Missouri
The following statement is attributable to Justice Department spokesman Brian Fallon:

“The Attorney General participated in a conference call this afternoon with federal, state and local elected officials from Missouri. The Attorney General thanked the elected officials for their work in planning the local response to the ongoing demonstrations in and around Ferguson. He said he was encouraged by reports he has received about progress being made in those planning efforts, including dialogue with coalition leaders about constructive engagement in the weeks ahead. The Attorney General stressed that going forward, it will be more important than ever that the law enforcement response to the demonstrations always seek to deescalate tensions and respect the rights of protestors. At the same time, the Attorney General said, it must be clearly communicated that any acts of violence by the demonstrators, or other attempts to provoke law enforcement, are unacceptable.

“With respect to the Department’s ongoing investigations into both the shooting of Michael Brown and the Ferguson police department generally, the Attorney General said he could not provide a specific timeline for concluding those inquiries. He did stress, however, that he had devoted significant resources to these investigations in order to ensure they are conducted in as thorough and expeditious a manner as possible.

“The Attorney General concluded by offering the Department’s continued assistance, and by urging continued and direct communication between elected officials, law enforcement, and community leaders in the days ahead to help deescalate tensions and assist with planning.”



November 13, 2014

Statement by the Press Secretary on the Agreement Between the United States and India on the Trade Facilitation Agreement at the World Trade Organization (WTO)

The important breakthrough reached today between the United States and India will unlock progress toward the full and immediate implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, which will lower the costs of trade for developed and developing countries alike.

The President had extensive discussions with Prime Minister Modi on this issue and appreciates his personal leadership in finding a path forward.

This breakthrough will also strengthen the multilateral trading system and give a boost to its ongoing work, including in the area of food security. Combined with the recent announcement of a breakthrough on the WTO Information Technology Agreement (ITA) and the agreement among Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Leaders that the end of those landmark negotiations is coming into focus, this has been a good week for expanding opportunities for American businesses and workers and for promoting growth around the globe.


CFTC Orders Five Banks to Pay over $1.4 Billion in Penalties for Attempted Manipulation of Foreign Exchange Benchmark Rates

Citibank, HSBC, JPMorgan, RBS, and UBS Coordinated Trading with Other Banks in Private Chat Rooms in Their Attempts to Manipulate

Washington, DC – The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) issued five Orders filing and settling charges against Citibank N.A. (Citibank), HSBC Bank plc (HSBC), JPMorgan Chase Bank N.A. (JPMorgan), The Royal Bank of Scotland plc (RBS) and UBS AG (UBS) (collectively, the Banks) for attempted manipulation of, and for aiding and abetting other banks’ attempts to manipulate, global foreign exchange (FX) benchmark rates to benefit the positions of certain traders.

The Orders collectively impose over $1.4 billion in civil monetary penalties, specifically: $310 million each for Citibank and JPMorgan, $290 million each for RBS and UBS, and $275 million for HSBC.

The Orders also require the Banks to cease and desist from further violations, and take specified steps to implement and strengthen their internal controls and procedures, including the supervision of their FX traders, to ensure the integrity of their participation in the fixing of foreign exchange benchmark rates and internal and external communications by traders. The relevant period of conduct varies across the Banks, with conduct commencing for certain banks in 2009, and for each bank, continuing into 2012.

Aitan Goelman, the CFTC’s Director of Enforcement, stated: “The setting of a benchmark rate is not simply another opportunity for banks to earn a profit. Countless individuals and companies around the world rely on these rates to settle financial contracts, and this reliance is premised on faith in the fundamental integrity of these benchmarks. The market only works if people have confidence that the process of setting these benchmarks is fair, not corrupted by manipulation by some of the biggest banks in the world.”

According to the Orders, one of the primary benchmarks that the FX traders attempted to manipulate was the World Markets/Reuters Closing Spot Rates (WM/R Rates). The WM/R Rates, the most widely referenced FX benchmark rates in the United States and globally, are used to establish the relative values of different currencies, which reflect the rates at which one currency is exchanged for another currency. FX benchmark rates, such as the WM/R Rates, are used for pricing of cross-currency swaps, foreign exchange swaps, spot transactions, forwards, options, futures and other financial derivative instruments. The most actively traded currency pairs are the Euro/U.S. Dollar, U.S. Dollar/Japanese Yen, and British Pound Sterling/U.S. Dollar. Accordingly, the integrity of the WM/R Rates and other FX benchmarks is critical to the integrity of the markets in the United States and around the world.

The Orders find that certain FX traders at the Banks coordinated their trading with traders at other banks in their attempts to manipulate the FX benchmark rates, including the 4 p.m. WM/R fix. FX traders at the Banks used private chat rooms to communicate and plan their attempts to manipulate the FX benchmark rates. In these chat rooms, FX traders at the Banks disclosed confidential customer order information and trading positions, altered trading positions to accommodate the interests of the collective group, and agreed on trading strategies as part of an effort by the group to attempt to manipulate certain FX benchmark rates. These chat rooms were sometimes exclusive and invitation only. (Examples of the coordinating chats are attached under Related Links.)

The Orders also find that the Banks failed to adequately assess the risks associated with their FX traders participating in the fixing of certain FX benchmark rates and lacked adequate internal controls in order to prevent improper communications by traders. In addition, the Banks lacked sufficient policies, procedures and training specifically governing participation in trading around the FX benchmarks rates; and had inadequate policies pertaining to, or sufficient oversight of, their FX traders’ use of chat rooms or other electronic messaging.

According to the Orders, some of this conduct occurred during the same period that the Banks were on notice that the CFTC and other regulators were investigating attempts by certain banks to manipulate the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) and other interest rate benchmarks. The Commission has taken enforcement action against UBS and RBS (among other banks and inter-dealer brokers) in connection with LIBOR and other interest rate benchmarks. (See information below.)

The Orders recognize the significant cooperation of Citibank, HSBC, JPMorgan, RBS, and UBS with the CFTC during the investigation of this matter. In the UBS Order, the CFTC also recognizes that UBS was the first bank to report this misconduct to the CFTC.

In related matters, the United Kingdom Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) issued Final Notices regarding enforcement actions against the Banks and imposing collectively penalties of £1,114,918,000 (approximately $1.7 billion), and the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) has issued an order resolving proceedings against and requiring disgorgement from UBS AG.

The CFTC thanks and acknowledges the invaluable assistance of the U.S. Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the FCA, and FINMA.

CFTC Division of Enforcement staff members responsible for these cases are Robert Howell, Jonathan Huth, Traci Rodriguez, Jennifer Smiley, David Terrell, Melissa Glasbrenner, Heather Johnson, Jordon Grimm, Elizabeth Streit, and Gretchen L. Lowe.

* * * * *

With these Orders, since June 2012, the CFTC has imposed penalties of over $3.34 billion on entities relating to acts of attempted manipulation, completed manipulation, and/or false reporting with respect to global benchmarks. See In re Lloyds’ Banking Group, PLC , CFTC Docket No. 14-18 (July 28, 2014)($105 million)(CFTC Press Release 6966-14); (In re RP Martin Holdings Limited and Martin Brokers (UK) Ltd., CFTC Docket No. 14-16 (May 15, 2014) ($1.2 Million penalty) (CFTC Press Release 6930-14); In re Coöperatieve Centrale Raiffeisen-Boerenleenbank B.A. (Rabobank), CFTC Docket No. 14-02, (October 29, 2013) ($475 Million penalty) (CFTC Press Release 6752-13); In re ICAP Europe Limited, CFTC Docket No. 13-38 (September 25, 2013) ($65 Million penalty) (CFTC Press Release 6708-13); In re The Royal Bank of Scotland plc and RBS Securities Japan Limited, CFTC Docket No. 13-14 (February 6, 2013) ($325 Million penalty) (CFTC Press Release 6510-13); In re UBS AG and UBS Securities Japan Co., Ltd., CFTC Docket No. 13-09) (December 19, 2012) ($700 Million penalty) (CFTC Press Release 6472-12); In re Barclays PLC, Barclays Bank PLC, and Barclays Capital Inc., CFTC Docket No. 12-25 (June 27, 2012) ($200 million penalty) (CFTC Press Release 6289-12). In these actions, the CFTC ordered each institution to undertake specific steps to ensure the integrity and reliability of the benchmark interest rates.


Ambassador David Pressman
Alternate Representative to the UN for Special Political Affairs 
New York, NY
November 11, 2014

Thank you, Madame President, and thank you High Representative Inzko for your briefing today. The United States continues to support your mandate under the General Framework Agreement for Peace. We commend your work, and offer you our strong support for your role as a member of the Peace Implementation Council.

Madame President, before commenting on High Representative Inzko’s briefing, I would like to say a few words about the resolution that was just adopted by the Council.

This Chapter VII mandate renewal reaffirms the Council’s willingness to support the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina in their efforts to sustain a safe and secure environment with the assistance of the EUFOR mission and NATO Headquarters Sarajevo, and to implement the civilian aspects of the General Framework Agreement for Peace with the help of the Office of the High Representative.

Bosnia and Herzegovina has expressed, without reservation, its strong support for this mandate renewal and for all of the language therein. The United States joins Bosnia and Herzegovina and the members of this Council and the EU Foreign Affairs Council in our continued support for the EUFOR mandate. And we are disappointed that one delegation did not join consensus in responding to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s own request for continued Security Council support.

Madame President, this has been a highly eventful and important year for Bosnia and Herzegovina. In February, thousands of protesters in cities across the country joined together to express dissatisfaction with economic and political stagnation. Although the protests briefly – and regrettably – turned violent, and although some political actors attempted to use the protests to discourage public discourse and stoke ethnic tensions, the plenums that resulted from these protests provided a positive and peaceful venue for active political engagement.

Shortly after our May debate in this Council, Bosnia and Herzegovina experienced severe flooding that resulted in dozens of deaths and displaced thousands from their homes. The flooding also contributed to economic concerns, causing billions of dollars in damage. As the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina work toward recovery, they are undoubtedly more aware than ever of the need for properly functioning democratic institutions and for political leaders that will work together at all levels to make social and economic progress.

In this regard, the United States commends Bosnia and Herzegovina on holding general elections this October. The elections were orderly and conducted in a competitive environment, although we also cannot ignore that there were several irregularities, as noted by the OSCE observation mission.

As finalized results are expected today, it is our hope that governments will form as quickly as possible and that the elected representatives of the people will look for ways to move the country forward positively and to compromise, where needed.

Further, we call on the political parties and institutions to meet their obligations to implement the ruling of the BiH Constitutional Court on the electoral system for Mostar.

Madame President, we support Bosnia and Herzegovina’s long-expressed goal of Euro-Atlantic integration and continue to believe that the integration process is the surest and most expeditious path to the country’s long-term stability and prosperity. We note Bosnia and Herzegovina recently reiterated this goal during the recent General Debate, in which Serb Member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Radmanovic stated unequivocally that his country’s ultimate goal was, “full, legal integration into the European Union.”

Euro-Atlantic integration will not happen without continued efforts by a variety of stakeholders. We welcome the reform initiative proposed by the British and German Foreign Ministers last week to get the country back on track for EU membership, and we will work with our European partners to support the adoption and implementation of this reform agenda. We also will work with Bosnia and Herzegovina’s newly elected leaders to press for the resolution of the listing of defense properties in order to activate its NATO Membership Action Plan. We hope the new government seriously engages on the reform agenda to build a more effective, democratic and prosperous state, and to progress towards the country’s goals of EU and NATO integration.

As the High Representative noted in his report, authorities have again failed to make any concrete progress on the outstanding 5+2 objectives and the conditions for the closure of the Office of the High Representative. We also share his concern over the Republika Srpska’s lack of compliance with its obligation to provide the High Representative with timely access to officials, institutions and documents, and we urge the relevant authorities to comply.

The United States strongly supports the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina as guaranteed by the Dayton Peace Accords. We note that some political leaders persist in their attempts to use divisive rhetoric to distract the public from economic and political stagnation.

The recent elections proved that an increasing majority of citizens are tired of these distractions and seek true leadership from their officials. We condemn divisive rhetoric, and during the coalition formation period, we urge parties to seek partners that are prepared to work toward a future for all of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Finally, I want to again reiterate the support of the United States for the renewal of the EUFOR mandate under the Chapter VII of the UN Charter. The United States commends the work of NATO Headquarters Sarajevo and EUFOR mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina and we believe EUFOR and NATO Headquarters Sarajevo – successors to SFOR – are essential in sustaining a safe and secure environment in Bosnia and Herzegovina, providing vital capacity-building to the government, and offering reassurance across ethnic lines that the international community is committed to the country’s stability.

We remain hopeful for the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina and we will continue to work with the international community and with the country’s institutions to encourage progress in each of these areas and to improve the lives of its citizens.

Thank you, Madame President.


A. Elizabeth Jones, Special Advisor
New York, NY
November 11, 2014

Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Prosecutor Bensouda for – thanks to her for her informative briefing and for the ongoing work of her office to help end impunity for atrocity crimes committed in Libya.

When this Council decided in 2011 to refer the situation in Libya to the ICC, it stressed the importance of accountability. Even with Libya’s increasingly complex and unstable security situation, the call for accountability remains necessary.

Like Prosecutor Bensouda, we are alarmed by the growing number of atrocity crimes in Libya. These abuses and violations are laid out not only in the Prosecutor’s report, but also in the Secretary General’s September report to this Council and in a range of reports from civil society organizations and other observers on the ground. The United States condemns the recent surge in politically motivated killings, kidnappings, and other abuses, many of which appear calculated to silence and intimidate a wide range of actors, from politicians and journalists to human rights defenders and civil society organizations. Assassinations, violence, and the intimidation of judges, lawyers, and the judicial police resulted in the closure of courts in Benghazi, Sirte, and Derna, and the spread of coercion throughout the justice system.

Nevertheless, cooperation with the ICC remains critical. We welcome Libya’s continued coordination with the ICC’s Prosecutor and Registry, including with their memorandum of understanding and their approach to burden-sharing. We encourage Libya to continue to prioritize prosecutions that focus on those who bear the greatest responsibility for their crimes and to explore other accountability measures, such as those envisioned in Libya’s transitional justice law.

Libya and this Council have an interest in ensuring that the alleged perpetrators of atrocity crimes in Libya – including the ex-regime officials who are already the subject of ICC proceedings – are held to account, and that this is done in a way consistent with the rights of the defendants and Libya’s international obligations.

The United States continues to call on all parties to accept an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire that would allow for the political process to proceed, and to engage constructively in the UN-led political dialogue to resolve the ongoing crisis.

We are deeply concerned about the explosions near the meeting between Prime Minister Al Thinni and SRSG Leon this past Sunday, November 9th. While the circumstances of that event are unclear, we emphasize that the political process must continue despite the challenging circumstances in Libya, since only a political solution can pave the way for the country’s democratic transition. We support SRSG Leon’s continued commitment to achieving this goal through political consensus.

We urge neighboring countries to support the Libyan government through sustained and constructive engagement. We also support the implementation of this Council’s Resolution 2174, particularly its measures to address threats to Libya’s peace and stability or security. But Libya’s ability to navigate its many challenges – and to secure justice for the worst crimes against Libyan civilians – ultimately depends on the willingness of all parties to the conflict to put Libya’s future above their own narrow political and economic interests.

In conclusion, let me reiterate our thanks to Prosecutor Bensouda and her office for the work they have done to advance the cause of justice for the people of Libya.

Thank you, Mr. President.


Remarks at the High-level Meeting: Equal Access, Inclusive Development
Judith E. Heumann
Special Advisor for International Disability Rights 
As Prepared for Delivery During APEC Leaders' Week
Beijing, China
November 10, 2014

Thank you, and I would like to thank in particular the Chinese Disabled Persons’ Federation for hosting today’s event. It is a great honor to be with you today, at what I hope will be the start of a robust, substantive, and on-going dialogue on promoting truly equal access and inclusive development for persons with disabilities throughout APEC member economies. Achieving progress will require sustained engagement, and I would also like to congratulate China for its leadership in developing a Group of Friends to continue this important conversation in the months and years ahead.

I’d like to focus my remarks this morning on securing equal opportunities in education and employment for persons with disabilities. There is no denying that for our economies to achieve their full potential, we must draw upon the contributions of all our peoples, and this must include the fifteen or more percent of our populations that live with various forms of disabilities.

But before contemplating the path ahead, I want to take a moment to reflect upon the road the United States has traveled these last few decades. As a child, I, like more than 1 million other American children with disabilities, did not have the benefit of attending inclusive schools. Although access to quality education is critical to an individual’s future employment prospects, we were not allowed to attend school. I was nine years old before I went to school and even then I was placed in classes only for disabled children. Although I later attended university and earned my Bachelor’s degree, levels of inaccessibility prevalent at that time are no longer permitted in our universities. It was clear at that time in the 1950s that employment was not something our government anticipated we would have. When I applied for my first job as a teacher, I was initially denied my certification simply because I could not walk. I went to court and sued the Board of Education to obtain my certificate to teach, and finally did get a job teaching elementary school children.

Today, I am proud to say that such blatant forms of discrimination are no longer legal in the United States. With strong federal legislation and effective enforcement by the federal and state government agencies, a knowledgeable and active disability rights community playing a key role, and more than four decades of experience, Americans with all kinds of disabilities are attending educational institutions, including universities, and getting jobs in the public and private sector to a degree unprecedented in our history. However, that does not mean our work is done. Far from it. We now collect data on the unemployment rate of disabled people and know that the rate of unemployment for disabled people is higher than that of non-disabled people. We still have a long way to go to ensure that all persons with disabilities can enjoy meaningful careers, economic self-sufficiency for ourselves and our families, and the sense of purpose and self-worth that can come from work freely chosen, undertaken in workplaces that are respectful and support us in maximizing our contributions.

As recently noted by President Obama in his proclamation for our National Disability Employment Awareness Month, “When employees with disabilities are passed over in the workplace or denied fair accommodations, it limits their potential and threatens our democracy; when disproportionate numbers of Americans with disabilities remain unemployed, more work must be done to achieve the spirit of what is one of the most comprehensive civil rights bills in the history of our country;” the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

This work begins with strong leadership by government, private sector, and civil society. The U.S. federal government has sought to be a leader in the employment arena by increasing the number of persons with disabilities within its own ranks. In 2010, President Obama issued Executive Order 13548, which calls upon federal government departments and agencies to improve recruitment, hiring, retention, and advancement of persons with disabilities. Government agencies developed plans and published statistics on progress toward achieving the goals of the Executive Order. In 2012, total permanent employment in the federal government for persons with disabilities had increased to 11.89%, with more people with disabilities in federal service both in real terms and by percentage than at any time in the past 32 years.

The key U.S. enforcement of disability rights protections in the workplace is carried out by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Labor. Together, these three agencies enforce federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against qualified job applicants or employees because of those individuals’ disabilities, history of disability, appearance of disability, or association with someone with a disability. The law requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee or job applicant with a disability, unless doing so would cause undue hardship for the employer. Reasonable accommodation means a modification to the work environment so a disabled person can perform his or her job. For example, provision of a sign language interpreter for someone who is deaf, an accessible bathroom for a wheelchair user, or screen reading software for someone who is blind. Our laws also prohibit employers from creating a hostile work environment for workers with disabilities and from retaliating against individuals who assert their legal rights.

In all of these areas, non-governmental disabled people’s organizations have been ever present in holding government accountable and pushing it to do better. The private business sector has also taken up the challenge of increasing employment opportunities for persons with disabilities. For example, the U.S. Business Leadership Network is a national disability organization that has over 60 affiliates across North America, representing over 5,000 employers. Such private sector initiatives help create workplaces, marketplaces, and supply chains where persons with disabilities are included and respected for their talents, abilities, and contributions.

I look forward to exploring how we can work together as APEC economies to improve development outcomes for persons with disabilities, including through enhanced legislative, enforcement, and programmatic initiatives to support equal access to education and employment opportunities for persons with disabilities. We have much to learn from each other, and everything to gain in building more inclusive societies, with workforces that benefit from the unique contributions of persons with disabilities.