Remembering Rachel Corrie on the anniversary of her death

contact@ifamericansknew.org

 

 

Dear Friend,

On this day 13 years ago, American peace activist Rachel Corrie was crushed to death by Israeli soldiers driving a military bulldozer. She was trying to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian family’s home. According to numerous witnesses and photographic documentation, she was killed intentionally.

Representative Brian Baird from Washington State introduced a resolution in Congress calling on the federal government to “undertake a full, fair, and expeditious investigation” into Rachel’s death. The bill was co-sponsored by 77 representatives, but Congress took no action. 

The Corrie family then filed a lawsuit against Caterpillar Inc in 2005, alleging that Caterpillar supplied Israelis with bulldozers even though they knew they were being used to commit war crimes. The lawsuit was dismissed.

The Corrie family’s appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit was also dismissed. The court acknowledged that the U.S. government paid for the bulldozer that killed Rachel, but said that they didn’t have the jurisdiction to rule on the “political question” of U.S. military aid to Israel. 

In 2010, the Corrie family filed a lawsuit in Israel against the Israeli Defense Forces. Israeli officials prevented the physician who had examined Rachel’s wounds from testifying in the case. The court ruled that Rachel was responsible for her own death. In 2014, the Corrie family’s appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court of Israel, and the IDF was absolved of any wrongdoing.

Keep Rachel’s message alive by sharing her story with your community. We have cards, a booklet of Rachel’s letters, and posters available for download and order.

#SupportPalestineInDC2016

U.S. taxpayers send Israel over $3 billion a year in military aid with virtually no strings attached, and now the prime minister of Israel wants $5 billion a year.

The majority of Americans oppose taking sides in the Israel-Palestine conflict, but virtually all Democratic and Republican members of Congress continue to supply Israel with more and more weapons each year (Palestinians do not receive military aid).

American taxpayer dollars have enabled Israel to continue its decades-long illegal occupation of Palestinian land and deny Palestinians basic legal and human rights. With our money, Israeli forces have killed over 9,200 Palestinians as well as numerous international journalists and peace activists since 2000.

We are driving the violence in this region, and we must stop it.

This weekend, AIPAC kicks off its annual policy conference in Washington, D.C., with Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump scheduled to give speeches. We hope you will join us this Sunday at noon at the White House to protest AIPAC’s influence on American politics and support Palestinian human rights. Your voice is urgently needed!

As always, thank for your commitment to peace, justice, and equality for all people.

The If Americans Knew team

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Protest AIPAC in DC on March 20th! Join this rally spearheaded by Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition.

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REMARKS: Secretary of State John Kerry Secretary of State John Kerry and UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change Michael Bloomberg At Our Cities, Our Climate: A Bloomberg Philanthropies-U.S. Department of State Partnership

 

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Office of the Spokesperson

For Immediate Release

 REMARKS

Secretary of State John Kerry Secretary of State John Kerry

And UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change Michael Bloomberg

At Our Cities, Our Climate: A Bloomberg Philanthropies-U.S. Department of State Partnership Working Luncheon 

Washington, D.C.

October 8, 2015

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RYAN:  Thank you.  It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to the State Department today in honor of Our Cities, Our Climate – an initiative between the State Department and Bloomberg Philanthropies.

We are here to recognize and honor global city leadership on a topic of great importance – climate change.  At the State Department, this is at the top of our agenda, and we are thrilled to partner with Michael Bloomberg and Bloomberg Philanthropies, who share these goals and have consistently been on the vanguard of this issue.

At the center of the State Department’s public diplomacy is the mission to connect the United States with the world to foster creative and powerful networks of citizens around the world to build common understanding.  As we look to climate change and the significant steps needed to address this challenge, the opportunity to bring a global cohort to the United States to discuss these issues was invaluable. 

It is an honor to have mayors from the United States and around the world with us here today.  Will all the mayors in the room please stand to be recognized?  (Applause.)  You are all champions of climate action.  Thank you for your critical work.  We are also pleased to have 19 sustainability directors from 18 countries that have just traveled on an exchange program to San Francisco, Boston, and now Washington, D.C.  The sustainability directors had the opportunity to see some of the best innovation in the United States and discuss how U.S. cities are overcoming hurdles to address significant problems that contribute to environmental damage.

Bringing mayors and city leaders together, our goal is to showcase the ways in which national governments, corporations, and cities around the world can and are working together to make an impact. 

Thank you all for joining us.  It is my honor to introduce our two keynote speakers, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Michael Bloomberg.  As UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, Michael Bloomberg has been a leading voice on the value of cities in executing cutting-edge changes that improve everyday lives and our environment.  His immense expertise, vision, and passion have put city leadership at the forefront of innovation.  We are grateful for his partnership on this initiative.

At the State Department, we are proud to have Secretary Kerry as our champion on climate change issues.  Secretary Kerry has elevated this critical issue.  He has made climate change a critical part of U.S. foreign policy and a key component of our bilateral relationships around the world.  His level of engagement on this issue is unprecedented at the State Department.  And it’s not a new issue for him.  He brings with him an almost 30-year commitment to fighting climate change.  He has been focused on this issue since it first became a public issue and was involved in convening some of the first hearings on climate change in the Senate.

He was present at the first UN Conference of Parties on Climate Change in Rio in 1992, and has been at nearly every major gathering on climate change that has taken place since.  He’s on the frontlines and his leadership in this battle is the inspiration for this program, Our Cities, Our Climate[1].  We are so honored to have him here with us today.  Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Secretary of State John Kerry.  (Applause.)

SECRETARY KERRY:  Evan, thank you very, very much.  Welcome, everybody, to the Ben Franklin Room.  Welcome to the State Department.  Distinguished colleagues and members of the diplomatic corps, partners in the U.S. Congress, mayors especially, we are really thrilled to have you here today.  International U.S. mayors, we’re really grateful for your leadership.  All the sustainability directors, thank you for being here, and other officials who are working hard to fight the effects of climate change around the world and also to address the challenge of climate change.

I particularly want to thank the fellow standing behind me to my right – your left.  He is passionate about this issue.  He has been for a long period of time.  And when he had the privilege of being the mayor of New York City, one of the great cities of the world, obviously, he took steps – creative and imaginative, important steps – to address this issue, and is continuing on now as the UN Special Envoy for Climate Change and Cities.  And I want you all to join me not only in saying thank you but welcoming Mike Bloomberg here to the State Department.  (Applause.) 

When he was mayor, he implemented policies that helped to cut New York’s emissions by 20 percent.  And he understands that climate change is a policy challenge, really in many ways unlike many or any that we have faced before as either individual cities or as a community of nations.  And he has long approached the global challenge with the sense of urgency for the responsibility that it demands from all of us.  And I am very grateful to him for his partnership in this endeavor. 

Decades ago, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously referred to our states as “laboratories of democracy.”  Today, more and more of our cities are becoming “laboratories of leadership.”  Most city governments are smaller; they’re more nimble than their federal counterparts.  So city leaders are, frankly, uniquely positioned to experiment with bold new ideas in all kinds of policy areas.

And at the State Department, we understand the very valuable role that cities can play in addressing a wide range of challenges.  And that is why we’re working directly with cities like Detroit, which is opening up its first-ever Mayor’s Office of International Affairs.  And it’s why this week we are launching a long-term Cities@State initiative to enhance our coordination with cities in the space where foreign policy and urbanization meet on issues ranging from economic opportunity to security.

But cities have a particularly critical role to play when it comes to climate change.  And I have said many times as Secretary, beginning with the day of my nomination and into my confirmation hearings, that foreign policy is economic policy and economic policy is foreign policy.  And in today’s world, climate change is economic policy – energy policy above all.  And it presents us with the most extraordinary market we have ever known on the face of this planet to be able to grow jobs, modernize our societies and our opportunities, and just embrace this challenge in a way that actually solves the problem while being – doing good at the same time. 

And the reason for that is simple:  Cities are obviously on the front line of the storm that is coming at us.  Consider that already – for the first time in history – more people are living in urban areas than are living in rural areas.  By 2050, a full two-thirds of the world’s population is going to live in cities, and that is a steadily growing population. 

Now, consider that nine in ten major cities are situated along inland or coastal waterways, making them particularly vulnerable to climate-driven sea level rise and violent storm surges.

And just last week, I saw a study projecting that by the end of this century what we used to consider the kind of flood that would hit New York City once every 500 years could now be expected every 25 years.  And for New Yorkers like Mike, who remember well what Hurricane Sandy did to that city, that prospect is obviously devastating. 

Just a small factoid but not an unimportant one:  If you’re 29 years old in America today, you have never lived with a month that was cooler than the average of all the months of the century preceding.  That’s what’s happening.  Every year we hear that that year was hotter than the year preceding, and we see the effects.  And the bad news is that cities will be particularly hit if we don’t take meaningful action to fight climate change.  The good news is – and there is good news – that the steps that cities themselves take in the coming years can actually tip the scale toward a successful global response to this challenge.

And here is why.  The answer to climate change is not a mystery.  It’s not some pie-in-the-sky policy that we haven’t discovered yet.  It is staring us in the face, folks.  It’s called clean energy.  It is that simple.  And we’re simply not going to get where we need to be unless we move rapidly towards a global, low-carbon, clean energy economy. 

And today, the world’s cities account for more than two-thirds of all global energy use.  That’s one of the reasons why cities are important.  Cities are responsible for 70 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.  And if we change the way we power our cities, then we will change the way we power our world and, in the process, we may well save it. 

The United States and China – two of the world’s largest emitters, number one and number two – we used to be number one; now we’re number two.  China has surpassed us.  And we fully understand this, which is why, in the early days of my stewardship here at the Department, I went to China and we began the process of changing our relationship, and President Obama ultimately was able to negotiate an agreement with China geared specifically to bring the less developed world to the table.  And that’s what we’re doing, so that we hopefully head into Paris in December able to achieve a global agreement that can help to send a signal to the marketplace that the world is serious.

That’s also why we came together for the inaugural U.S.-China Climate Leaders’ Summit in Los Angeles last month.  More than two dozen cities, states, provinces, and counties from our two nations signed the U.S-China Climate Leaders Declaration.  And the signatories committed themselves to establish ambitious targets to cut emissions, and also to establish climate action plans so that we could report regularly on the progress that we’re making.

And that event showed how influential change that originates at the local level can be.  Consider that the emissions coming from the Chinese cities and provinces represented in Los Angeles are roughly equal to those coming from the entire nation of Brazil. 

But it’s not only U.S. and Chinese cities that are taking important steps to reduce their carbon footprints.  Cities in every corner of the globe – including many represented here in this room – are doing the same. 

In fact, more than 100[2] cities globally – more than 50 here in the United States – have signed the Compact of Mayors, which Mike helped launch in an effort to galvanize clear commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change.

Now folks, I’ve served in elected office for a little more than 28 years – actually more than 30 years if I include the lieutenant governor period.  And I saw a lot of choices – and I know Mike feels the same way about this – that we have to make in public life.  You’re lucky if you get a one-for-one, make a hard choice and you get a really good payback for that one hard choice. 

Climate change, the math is so simple.  On one side, you’ve got the cost of the initial investments, which is relatively small.  And on the other, you have the cost of not doing anything, not acting to reduce carbon, costs which include agricultural and environmental degradation, remediation, which would cost hundreds of billions of dollars; damage to public health, people who die and go to the hospital, kids – largest cause of children hospitalized in the summer in the United States of America, environmentally induced asthma, costs us billions, tens of billions – damage to communities from record storms and flooding; and ultimately an enormous drop in the value of coastal real estate and businesses.  That’s just one part of the ledger.  That doesn’t even start to account for the cost of the disease, the cost of jobs, all the other things.

So compare those downsides to the upsides that come with this decision – living up to your environmental responsibility; creating, literally over the period of time, with $17 trillion currently geared to go into investment in energy, millions of jobs, tens of millions of jobs.  Huge wealth can be created, even as you make people healthier, reduce the sickness that comes from particulates in the air and the cancer that comes with it.  Run the list, folks.  This is a pretty easy balance sheet to come out on.

More and more city leaders are coming to that conclusion.  And that’s why Jakarta just launched the first Bus Rapid Transit system in Southern and Southeastern Asia.  It’s already helping to reduce congestion on the roads and pollution in the air.  It’s why Berlin created a campaign to plant 10,000 new trees along the streets by 2017.  It’s why Buenos Aires launched Argentina’s first bike-sharing program.  And it’s why Vancouver set a goal of obtaining 100 percent – 100 percent – of its energy from renewable sources by 2050.

The fact is that some of the most promising, innovative, effective climate solutions are coming directly from mayors around the world and around the United States.

Now, obviously, no two cities are alike.  But many have the same goals and they face the same challenges when it comes to de-carbonizing their local economies, and that’s why the State Department and Bloomberg Philanthropies created the Our Cities, Our Climate Exchange for city officials across the globe: because we want to create a platform for urban leaders to share their individual successes and to exchange ideas about those future projects that can make a difference. 

Sustainability directors from 19 different cities have spent the past 10 days discussing ways to transport people using less fuel, keep people warm using less oil, recycle materials with less waste, and much more.  And if you ask any of the participants, I expect that they will tell you they did not come here to talk about theoretical solutions.  They came here to be practical and to find practical actions that they can take.  And all of this matters because the actions that leaders are taking at the local level will send a timely message at the global level. 

Now, I am not here to tell you that a global climate agreement is going to be the silver bullet that eliminates the threat that is currently posed by climate change.  What we accomplish in Paris is not going to get the total job done, it is going to set the stage and be a major jump-off point for which the marketplace can begin and the private sector can begin to take a cue from all of these governments setting their targets. 

The kind of agreement that we’re working toward will prove that world leaders finally understand and accept responsibility for the scope of this problem. 

It will give confidence to business leaders who are uncertain about our collective commitment and hesitant to invest in low-carbon alternatives that we need because of that perceived hesitancy by governments. 

It will help leaders at every level of government on the globe to know that they’re part of a worldwide commitment to build sustainable communities.

So please tell everyone – the business community, the public, your partners in government – tell them all how critical it is that the world come together in Paris and have an agreement.  Failure is not an option. 

This is a time of extraordinary urgency, incredible possibility, and together we have the rarest of opportunities to change – to change not only our cities and our countries, but the entire world, all of which bears responsibility.

I think the Holy Father in his visit here could not have made it more clear to us in poignant and meaningful ways that perhaps no politician has the ability to begin to touch why this is so important and how we all bear personal responsibility to help deal with it.  So I look forward to working with all of you to help get the job done, and there could not be a stronger, better, more committed partner – a more courageous person who’s willing to act on what he believes no matter what brickbats come his way – please welcome with me, if you will, the former mayor of New York and the current special envoy, Mike Bloomberg.  (Applause.)

MR BLOOMBERG:  The height doesn’t quite work for me, John.  Sorry about that.  (Laughter.)  Tall people, I’ve pointed out to John before, have a real —

SECRETARY KERRY:  Doesn’t always work for me, either.

MR BLOOMBERG:  No, no, no.  They have a distinct advantage.  They know when it rains – starts and stops raining quicker than the rest of us, but short of that – anyway, Secretary Kerry, John, I just wanted to thank you for that kind introduction and thank you for hosting us today, and seriously, thank you and the President for your strong leadership on climate change.  Everybody expects you to come up with a solution overnight that will be painless and cost-free.  You haven’t done that, but you certainly have moved the goalposts, and we appreciate everything you’ve done.  And it’s up to the rest of us to continue the battle – a battle that we absolutely have to win.

America is best when she leads from the front, and I think you and the President deserve enormous credit for bringing the full forces of American diplomacy – American diplomatic might to bear on the challenge.  And I also want to thank you for recognizing a fundamental truth that was overlooked for too long:  We cannot address climate change effectively without putting cities at the center of the agenda.  Now, the fact is cities account for more than 70 percent of global greenhouse gases.  People are always talking about getting to the root of the problems, and in this case, it’s not complicated.  Cities are the root of this problem.

But cities are also the source of the solution.  And now, thanks to Secretary Kerry and other leaders, the voices of cities are being heard. 

When the United Nations Climate Summit convenes in Paris in two months, there’s going to be a different dynamic than there was at past conferences in previous decades.  Those conferences failed to produce a truly global agreement.  But since then, cities have stepped onto the stage and, without a lot of fanfare, they’ve become – begun forming their own global alliances.  They’ve acted because the stakes are very high, higher than they are for national leaders, and the incentives are also stronger.

And let me briefly explain what I mean by that.  When a hurricane fueled by warmer oceans and rising sea levels and destroys homes and businesses, people turn to their local leaders for help and answers.  When air pollution sends children to the hospital, as John pointed out, with asthma attacks, parents don’t turn to the members of Congress; they demand that the mayors do something about it. 

Around the world, national legislators tend to see climate change as an abstraction and a long-term policy issue.  Mayors see it as an immediate economic and health issue.  People’s lives and people’s livelihoods are at stake.  This is a public health and environmental issue.  If you want to worry about 2050, I think you should, but if you really want to go home and look your family in the eye and say I did something today so that you, my kids, my spouse, my companion are going to have a longer, healthier life, that’s where you really have to focus – doing things that improve the climate right now.

Keep in mind, when a city has cleaner air more people want to live there and more companies want to do business there.  And that’s why, surprisingly, Beijing is shutting its four biggest coal-burning power plants.  And they’ve also put a smoking ban in Beijing and, I might point out, the Chinese Government owns the cigarette companies and yet they’ve done this.  Why?  Because the people of Beijing and the people of China, just like the people of Washington, D.C. and all the cities in America, want to be able to live longer, healthier lives.

Now, climate – carbon pollution carries a heavy economic cost that cities bear the brunt of, so attacking climate change and promoting economic growth really do go hand-in-hand.  Mayors understand that and they have the political incentives to act.  Global challenges used to be the exclusive domain of heads of state, but this challenge is different.  In fact, I think it’s safe to say that climate change may now be the first global problem where success will depend on how local services are delivered, such as energy, transportation, and waste disposal.

Just by acting on their own, cities can singlehandedly reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by four gigatons over the next 15 years.  That’s like eliminating a quarter of all of the coal pollution that exists in the whole world today.  And the good news is mayors are eager to take this challenge on.  They’re not dragging their feet or debating the science; they’re rolling up their sleeves and they’re working together to spread the most effective solutions.  Why?  Because when the mayors talk to their constituents, the constituents, unlike what you read in the paper from members of Congress or anybody else – the constituents of all of the mayors in this city know that something is happening, they’re scared, and they want a fix.

I would suggest if you go to North or South Carolina right now, you probably won’t find very many people who say climate change isn’t real.  Now, all of a sudden, the debate has changed – well, it’s not manmade.  I don’t know if it’s manmade or not; science can only speculate.  But the bottom line is no rational person should sit there with a risk that’s so serious that it literally is life-threatening and not try to do something to ameliorate that risk and prevent problems down the road.

And that’s why we’re here today.  It’s great to have so many mayors and city officials joining us.  I know that many of you have spent the last week crisscrossing the country as guests of the International Visitor Leadership Program.  And I’ve seen firsthand what works when one city usually holds valuable lessons for many others.  Each city has its own unique culture and its own unique needs.  But the principal nuts and bolts of mass transit, parks, sanitation, and the power grid tend to be pretty similar.  So the more we help mayors and city officials innovate and collaborate, the more progress we can all make. 

And I might point out that pollution that comes from one place hurts everybody.  It doesn’t matter where you make the efficiencies, where you make the improvements – we all benefit.  And the contrary is also true – if anybody else pollutes, we all suffer. 

And that’s the purpose of the new partnership between Bloomberg Philanthropies and the State Department.  It will build on the work that our foundation has been supporting for years.  Some of that work has been through the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, which now has more than 80 members, and some of it has been through the Compact of Mayors, which commits cities to publicly detail their goals and using a common yardstick for measuring their performance, which allows the public to hold them accountable.  Mayors are always held accountable by the press and by the voters.  What mayors do you can measure, whether they do it or they didn’t do it.  And the voters, when they get to the polls, reward or punish those that don’t do the right thing.

Two hundred cities have now signed onto the compact, and we’re happy that the White House is pushing for a hundred more U.S. cities to join by the end of this year.  This new partnership with the State Department will complement the work and help spread it around the world.  Our Cities, Our Climate Initiative will connect mayors and policyholders all around the world.  It will recruit international sustainability experts and NGOs to help cities share best practices, coordinate their efforts, and implement the most effective climate actions.

Cities are anxious to lead, and more – the more they learn from one another and they borrow from one another, the more progress the world can make on climate change.  So as you have explored Boston, San Francisco, and Washington, I hope you’ve been taking good notes and keeping an eye out for ideas you can borrow and improve on.  And having the State Department enlisted in that work is going to make a very big difference, and we’re grateful to Secretary Kerry for making this partnership possible and for making this issue such an important priority.

One of the benefits of this work is that it also helps to embolden national leaders to make more ambitious commitments by providing them – by proving to them just how much progress is possible.  In Kyoto back in 1997 and Copenhagen in 2009, national governments didn’t have a good sense of that, and they certainly didn’t have any data on it.  Now they do.  Now they know just how quickly cities are moving.  And when they sit down this year in Paris this December, they will have something else that they didn’t have before:  They will have a model for action.  The cooperative networks that cities have created and the commitments that they have made and the reporting systems that they have agreed to provide a template for an international agreement.  Cities are proving that this model can work, and that’s why all of us have good reason to be more hopeful about this summit than the previous one.

Now, of course, cities can’t do it alone.  National leadership remains essential, and I applaud the Obama Administration for its clean power plan and also for its new rules on methane.  Cities will never fully displace nations in the global fight against climate change any more than they can singlehandedly reduce global poverty or expand global trade or improve global security.  But cities can be full and equal partners in all of this work, and I think Secretary Kerry will attest heads of state will be happy for the help – and they’re going to need it.

So let me once again thank Secretary Kerry.  You have been right, John, declaring that addressing climate change is only possible with a strategy that, as you said, transcends borders, sectors, and the levels of government.  Today’s gathering proves this effort is already well underway, and I want to thank each of you in this room for that important role that you’re playing. 

And as part of this work, I also want to invite you to join us in Paris in December.  We’re not going to have a unified solution to all the world’s problems, and certainly not to climate change.  But it is a report card, it is a step, and it’s an impetus to national and local governments to understand that the public wants to lead longer, healthier lives and that we are the ones responsible for doing that.  We’ll be co-hosting a cities summit with the mayor of Paris on December 4th, and the more cities that attend, the more our voices will be heard.  So I hope to see many of you again in Paris. 

We all have to keep up the good work.  This is the future of our families, this is the future of our countries, this is the future of the planet.  Nobody knows how much and how fast things are happening, but just let me point out 2014 was the warmest year in the history of the world.  The first half of 2015 was the warmest six months in the history of the world.  The month of July 2015 was the warmest month in the history of the world that we can measure.  If you take a look in the oceans, half of all the fish species have had their populations decline by 50 percent in the last – since 20 – since 1970.  Something is going on out there, and sitting around and arguing about who’s responsible and whether it’s this or whether it’s that is just an outrage.  We should do everything we can, and let’s hope that it’s just a short-term phenomenon, but none of us should run the risk that it’s not. 

Thank you very much, and John, thank you.  (Applause.)

# # #

[1] Misspoken program name corrected here.

[2] More than 200 cities have signed the Compact of Mayors.

Remarks by President Obama and His Holiness Pope Francis at Arrival Ceremony

THE WHITE HOUSE

 

Office of the Press Secretary

________________________________________________________________

For Immediate Release                         September 23, 2015

 

 

REMARKS BY PRESIDENT OBAMA

AND HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS

AT ARRIVAL CEREMONY

 

South Lawn

 

 

9:32 A.M. EDT

 

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Good morning. 

 

AUDIENCE:  Good morning!  (Applause.) 

 

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  What a beautiful day the Lord has made.  Holy Father, on behalf of Michelle and myself, welcome to the White House.  (Applause.)  I should explain that our backyard is not typically this crowded — (laughter) — but the size and spirit of today’s gathering is just a small reflection of the deep devotion of some 70 million American Catholics.  (Applause.)  It reflects, as well, the way that your message of love and hope has inspired so many people across our nation and around the world.  So on behalf of the American people, it is my great honor and privilege to welcome you to the United States of America.  (Applause.)  

 

Today, we mark many firsts.  Your Holiness, you have been celebrated as the first Pope from the Americas.  (Applause.) This is your first visit to the United States.  (Applause.)  And you are also the first pontiff to share an encyclical through a Twitter account.  (Laughter.)   

 

Holy Father, your visit not only allows us, in some small way, to reciprocate the extraordinary hospitality that you extended to me at the Vatican last year.  It also reveals how much all Americans, from every background and every faith, value the role that the Catholic Church plays in strengthening America.  (Applause.)  From my time working in impoverished neighborhoods with the Catholic Church in Chicago, to my travels as President, I’ve seen firsthand how, every single day, Catholic communities, priests, nuns, laity are feeding the hungry, healing the sick, sheltering the homeless, educating our children, and fortifying the faith that sustains so many. 

 

And what is true in America is true around the world.  From the busy streets of Buenos Aires to the remote villages in Kenya, Catholic organizations serve the poor, minister to prisoners, build schools, build homes, operate orphanages and hospitals.  And just as the Church has stood with those struggling to break the chains of poverty, the Church so often has given voice and hope to those seeking to break the chains of violence and oppression. 

 

And yet, I believe the excitement around your visit, Holy Father, must be attributed not only to your role as Pope, but to your unique qualities as a person.  (Applause.)  In your humility, your embrace of simplicity, in the gentleness of your words and the generosity of your spirit, we see a living example of Jesus’ teachings, a leader whose moral authority comes not just through words but also through deeds.  (Applause.)  

 

You call on all of us, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, to put the “least of these” at the center of our concerns.  You remind us that in the eyes of God our measure as individuals, and our measure as a society, is not determined by wealth or power or station or celebrity, but by how well we hew to Scripture’s call to lift up the poor and the marginalized — (applause) — to stand up for justice and against inequality, and to ensure that every human being is able to live in dignity –- because we are all made in the image of God.  (Applause.) 

 

You remind us that “the Lord’s most powerful message” is mercy.  And that means welcoming the stranger with empathy and a truly open heart –- (applause) — from the refugee who flees war-torn lands to the immigrant who leaves home in search of a better life.  (Applause.)  It means showing compassion and love for the marginalized and the outcast, to those who have suffered, and those who have caused suffering and seek redemption.  You remind us of the costs of war, particularly on the powerless and defenseless, and urge us toward the imperative of peace.  (Applause.) 

 

Holy Father, we are grateful for your invaluable support of our new beginning with the Cuban people — (applause) — which holds out the promise of better relations between our countries, greater cooperation across our hemisphere, and a better life for the Cuban people.  We thank you for your passionate voice against the deadly conflicts that ravage the lives of so many men, women and children, and your call for nations to resist the sirens of war and resolve disputes through diplomacy.

 

You remind us that people are only truly free when they can practice their faith freely.  (Applause.)  Here in the United States, we cherish religious liberty.  It was the basis for so much of what brought us together.  And here in the United States, we cherish our religious liberty, but around the world, at this very moment, children of God, including Christians, are targeted and even killed because of their faith.  Believers are prevented from gathering at their places of worship.  The faithful are imprisoned, and churches are destroyed.  So we stand with you in defense of religious freedom and interfaith dialogue, knowing that people everywhere must be able to live out their faith free from fear and free from intimidation.  (Applause.) 

 

And, Holy Father, you remind us that we have a sacred obligation to protect our planet, God’s magnificent gift to us.  (Applause.)  We support your call to all world leaders to support the communities most vulnerable to changing climate, and to come together to preserve our precious world for future generations.  (Applause.)

 

Your Holiness, in your words and deeds, you set a profound moral example.  And in these gentle but firm reminders of our obligations to God and to one another, you are shaking us out of complacency.  All of us may, at times, experience discomfort when we contemplate the distance between how we lead our daily lives and what we know to be true, what we know to be right.  But I believe such discomfort is a blessing, for it points to something better.  You shake our conscience from slumber; you call on us to rejoice in Good News, and give us confidence that we can come together in humility and service, and pursue a world that is more loving, more just, and more free.  Here at home and around the world, may our generation heed your call to “never remain on the sidelines of this march of living hope.”

 

For that great gift of hope, Holy Father, we thank you, and welcome you, with joy and gratitude, to the United States of America.  (Applause.)

 

HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS:  Good morning.

 

AUDIENCE:  Good morning!

 

HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS:  Mr. President, I am deeply grateful for your welcome in the name of the all Americans.  As a son of an immigrant family, I am happy to be a guest in this country, which was largely built by such families.  (Applause.)

 

I look forward to these days of encounter and dialogue in which I hope to listen to and share many of the hopes and dreams of the American people.  During my visit, I will have the honor of addressing Congress, where I hope, as a brother of this country, to offer words of encouragement to those called to guide the nation’s political future in fidelity to its founding principles.  I will also travel to Philadelphia for the eighth World Meeting of Families to celebrate and support the institutions of marriage and the family at this critical moment in the history of our civilization.  (Applause.)

 

Mr. President, together with their fellow citizens, American Catholics are committed to building a society which is truly tolerant and inclusive, to safeguarding the rights of individuals and communities, and to rejecting every form of unjust discrimination.  (Applause.)  With countless other people of good will, they are likewise concerned that efforts to build a just and wisely ordered society respect their deepest concerns and the right to religious liberty.  (Applause.)  That freedom reminds one of America’s most precious possessions.  And, as my brothers, the United States Bishops, have reminded us, all are called to be vigilant, precisely as good citizens, to preserve and defend that freedom from everything that would threaten or compromise it.  (Applause.) 

 

Mr. President, I find it encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution.  (Applause.)  Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to our future generation.  (Applause.)  When it comes to the care of our common home, we are living at a critical moment of history.  We still have time to make the change needed to bring about a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change.  (Applause.) 

 

Such change demands on our part a serious and responsible recognition not only of the kind of world we may be leaving to our children, but also to the millions of people living under a system which has overlooked them.  Our common home has been part of this group of the excluded, which cries out to heaven and which today powerfully strikes our homes, our cities, our societies.  To use a telling phrase of the Reverend Martin Luther King, we can say that we have defaulted on a promissory note, and now is the time to honor it.  (Applause.)

 

 

We know by faith that the Creator does not abandon us; He never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us. Humanity has the ability to work together in building our common home.  As Christians inspired by this certainty, we wish to commit ourselves to the conscious and responsible care of our common home.

 

Mr. President, the efforts which were recently made to mend broken relationships and to open new doors to cooperation within our human family represent positive steps along the path of reconciliation, justice and freedom.

 

I would like all men and women of good will in this great nation to support the efforts of the international community to protect the vulnerable in our world and to stimulate integral and inclusive models of development — (applause) — so that our brothers and sisters everywhere may know the blessings of peace and prosperity which God wills for all his children.

 

Mr. President, once again I thank you for your welcome, and I look forward to these days in your country.  God bless America.  (Applause.) 

 

                                       END                9:53 A.M. EDT

—–

FACT SHEET: President Obama Announces New Investments to Combat Climate Change and Assist Remote Alaskan Communities

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 2, 2015

 

FACT SHEET: President Obama Announces New Investments to Combat Climate Change and Assist Remote Alaskan Communities

 

President will announce a Federal coordinator for building climate resilience in Alaska, launch a remote Alaskan Communities Energy Efficiency Competition, and announce a city-led public-private partnership to achieve 99.7 percent clean energy on Kodiak Island.

 

Climate change is real, it is being driven by human activity, and it is happening right now—and nowhere is that more apparent than in Alaska, which is warming twice as fast as the continental United States. In Arctic Alaska, villages are being damaged by powerful storm surges, which once held at bay by sea ice, are battering the barrier islands where those villages sit. Alaska Native traditions that have set the rhythm of life in Alaska for thousands of years are being upended by decreasing sea-ice cover and changing seasonal patterns. Permafrost is melting, opening up sinkholes and causing damage to homes and infrastructure.

 

President Obama is committed to leading the fight against climate change by curbing the carbon pollution that is driving global warming, building resilience in American communities to the climate impacts we can no longer avoid, and driving progress on the international stage.


Today in Kotzebue, Alaska, the President will announce a robust package of new commitments to respond to the unique challenges facing remote Alaskan communities by:

·         Building resilience to climate impacts

·         Addressing high energy costs by incentivizing clean energy and energy-efficiency solutions

·         Releasing new climate data, maps, and tools to help communities understand and prepare for future climate change

 

Building Climate Resilience In Remote Alaskan Communities:

Announcing a Federal coordinator for building climate resilience in Alaska. The White House will announce that the Denali Commission will play a lead coordination role for Federal, State and Tribal resources to assist communities in developing and implementing both short- and long-term solutions to address the impacts of climate change, including coastal erosion, flooding, and permafrost degradation. The Denali Commission will serve as a one-stop-shop for matters relating to coastal resilience in Alaska as appropriate. The Commission, an independent federal agency, was established in 1998 to provide critical utilities, infrastructure, and economic support throughout Alaska with a focus on Alaska’s remote communities. The Commission will collaborate with the State of Alaska local and Tribal agencies to facilitate coordination of federal engagement in efforts to protect communities, and conduct voluntary relocation or other managed retreat efforts. The Arctic Executive Steering Committee (AESC), established by President Obama in January 2015, will provide guidance and support these efforts as appropriate, as part of its mission to enhance coordination of U.S. government activities in the Arctic, help set priorities across diverse missions and programs, and provide the basis for a whole-of-government approach to the future of the Arctic.

 

Beyond the broader mitigation and resilience work of the Denali Commission, the Commission will announce today that it is committing $2 million to support voluntary relocation efforts, where appropriate, and other resilience strategies for vulnerable rural Alaskan communities.

 

These steps build on the Administration’s support to date for the Denali Commission. The President’s FY 2016 Budget requested $14 million for the Denali Commission, and the President calls on Congress to provide sufficient funding for the Commission’s critical activities and looks forward to working with Congress, the Commission, Alaska elected officials and stakeholders to further enhance the Commission’s effectiveness and impact for rural Alaskan communities.

 

Announcing Department of Agriculture (USDA) grants to improve rural Alaska water systems. Responding to a key recommendation of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, USDA will finalize a rule that revises definitions and eligibility of the Rural Alaska Villages Grant Program so that water system conditions do not have to be “dire” before assistance can be provided. As a result, vulnerable Alaskan villages will not have to wait until disaster strikes to improve critical water infrastructure. This unlocks significant resources for resilience planning. To that end, today, USDA will announce that it will provide $17.6 million in new grants for 33 projects as part of the Rural Alaska Villages Grant Program, which helps remote Alaskan villages provide safe, reliable drinking water and waste-disposal systems for households and businesses. Separately, EPA’s programs will provide resources for the construction of new or improved drinking water and wastewater systems in Native and rural communities, and for training and technical assistance on Operations & Maintenance (O&M) for these systems. USDA planning and construction grants will be awarded to the following communities:                    

·         Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium: $425,000

·         Adak: $300,000

·         Angoon: $52,500

·         Diomede: $183,750

·         False Pass: $45,000

·         Grayling: $52,500

·         Kaltag: $37,500

·         Kasaan: $37,500

·         Kiana: $273,750

·         Kotzebue: $56,250

·         Nunam Iqua: $112,800

·         Old Harbor: $18,750

·         South Naknek: $60,000

·         Eek: $4,384,350

·         State of Alaska: $425,000

·         Kwethluk: $2,218,500

·         Akiachak: $6,378,750

 

Releasing a compendium of Federal resilience programs for Alaskan communities. Today, the AESC will release a catalog of programs and funding resources that may assist Arctic coastal communities in addressing resilience needs. While a variety of programs and authorities are available for villages and communities to prepare for and respond to coastal erosion issues, no compendium of available sources of assistance existed that is tailored to the needs of Arctic communities.  To fill that gap, Federal agencies, through the AESC, have collaborated to develop this catalog, which is available through the Denali Commission and on the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit.

 

Investing in capacity in remote tribal communities. USDA intends to sign cooperative agreements totaling $240,000 with four Native nonprofit organizations in western Alaska, charged with extending the reach of USDA staff and improving access of hard-to-reach populations to USDA Rural Development programs—including housing, community facilities, wastewater systems, and broadband. Cooperative agreements will be made with each of the following regions:

 

·         Northwest Arctic Region: Maniilaq Association, headquartered in Kotzebue – $37,000

·         Bering Straits Region: Kawerak Inc, headquartered in Nome – $46,000

·         Yukon Kuskokwim Delta Region: Association of Village council Presidents, headquartered in Bethel- $120,000

·         Bristol Bay Region:   Bristol Bay Native Association, headquartered in Dillingham – $37,000

 

Launching Resilience AmeriCorps in Alaska.  The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the Department of Energy (DOE), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have partnered with The Rockefeller Foundation and Cities of Service to launch Resilience AmeriCorps, a pilot program that will recruit, train, and embed AmeriCorps VISTA members in 10 communities throughout the United States. Among the communities selected for the 2-year pilot program is Anchorage, AK. Resilience AmeriCorps responds to a recommendation made by the President’s State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience to assist vulnerable communities that lack the capacity to address climate-resilience planning and implementation.

 

Developing equitable and responsible principles for relocation.   In response to the recommendations of the State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Change Preparedness and Resilience, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is developing a set of cross-agency principles for climate-related relocation and managed retreat from high-risk areas in the United States.  These principles will strengthen the consideration of equity and other issues when using HUD funds for voluntary relocation of communities. Additionally, as part of outreach for this effort, HUD, in compliance with its Tribal Government-to-Government Consultation Policy, will engage with Arctic coastal villages as a model for fostering future collaboration with other regions, and will engage in an ongoing dialogue with the Environmental Justice Interagency Working Group on the process.

 

Enhancing community-based monitoring.  NOAA contributed nearly $300,000 for a project to foster adaptation in Alaska Native coastal communities to maintain or improve their health and vitality over time by anticipating and adapting to change. The project, Resilient Alaska Native Coastal Communities: Integrated Social-ecological Monitoring and Assessment Supporting Adaptation Decisions, will continue for two years in partnership with the Alaska Institute for Justice, Alaska Native Science Commission, University of Alaska, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, and the University of Victoria. In August, the Alaska Institute for Justice began designing a community-based social-ecological monitoring and assessment methodology that will be used and implemented by Alaska Native communities.

 

Providing guidance for tribal disaster declarations. The Federal Energy Management Agency (FEMA) will soon commence consultation on pilot guidance for tribes to request Stafford Act declarations. The pilot guidance is intended to reflect the unique circumstances that impact tribal communities. In order to reflect tribal sovereignty, the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013 amended the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to provide Federally-recognized Tribal governments the option to request a Presidential emergency or major disaster declaration.  FEMA will utilize lessons learned and feedback received during the consultation period to inform the final pilot guidance.

 

Recommending how to reduce vulnerabilities in Tribal energy systems. DOE’s Office of Indian Energy is releasing a report on Tribal Energy System Vulnerabilities to Climate Change, which focuses on impacts to energy systems that support Tribal communities. This report furthers the President’s and the Secretary’s goals of preparing the United States and Tribal Nations for the impacts of climate change by building stronger and safer communities through awareness and education. The report includes a focus on Alaskan communities.

 

Engaging Tribal youth in climate solutions. The EPA’s Indian Environmental General Assistance Program (IGAP) and the Arctic Council, through a grant provided to the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, is releasing a Local Environmental Observer (LEO) App, which will allow observers to share photos and text from the field, complete with GPS locations. The LEO Network provides a model for engaging communities and connecting with technical experts and resources to allow communities to monitor, respond to, and adapt to new impacts and health effects. LEO experts apply local and traditional knowledge, western science and modern technology to record and share observations and to raise awareness about the conditions in the circumpolar north. 

 

Additionally, today the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ (BIA) Tribal Climate Resilience Program will award $1.38 million to support internships for tribal youth working on projects or performing research directly related to climate change impacts. The Program will support internships and research related to climate change mitigation, adaptation, and ocean and coastal management.

 

Additional Nonfederal Actions:

Partnering at the forefront of community resilience in Southeast Alaska. The Sustainable Southeast Partnership (SSP) is announcing over $5 million in private sector commitments. SSP is a new partnership that approaches community and economic development by supporting projects and businesses that improve the economy, social structures of the communities, and well-being of the environment. Southeast Alaska communities face issues around environmental changes, high unemployment rates, sustainable resource management, energy independence, and food security. The partners will use the private funds in conjunction with public funding to support large-scale community forest and fisheries projects, new workforce development initiatives, a business development competition and a revolving loan fund–all rooted in environmental sustainability. SSP is comprised of Alaska Native tribes and corporations, regional economic development entities, conservation organizations, and local municipalities. Lead partners include Haa Aani, LLC., the Alaska Conservation Foundation, Southeast Conference, Sealaska, and The Nature Conservancy.

 

Understanding impacts to health in Alaska due to climate change. The University of Alaska Anchorage’s Institute for Circumpolar Health Studies (ICHS) today will release a report describing significant associations between unusual climatic conditions and increased incidence of injuries and respiratory problems in Alaska, and received $149,990 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to work with community partners to promote adaptations that reduce adverse health outcomes associated with climate change in rural and remote communities in the state. The ICHS, with funding from the CDC, has conducted two rounds of community-based sentinel surveillance of the health effects of climate change in Alaska.

 

Building Resilient Communities in the Tongass National Forest. Sealaska Native Corporation, the State of Alaska, Sustainable Southeast Partnership, U.S. Forest Service, Haa Aani’ Community Development Fund LLC, and several Native Village Corporations are announcing a new $9 million collaboration to focus on shared goals of community resilience. Communities, businesses, Native interests and conservation NGOs are leaving behind past conflicts over old growth logging on the Tongass National Forest and are working together to develop workforce and entrepreneurial capacity while accomplishing sustainable forest management into the future. These efforts will be supported by significant private and public sector support with more than $5 million in private funding and another $4 million in federal and state funding flowing into the region.

 

Expanding Access To Clean Energy Solutions:

Launching a remote Alaskan Communities Energy Efficiency Competition. Today, the Department of Energy is announcing that it will launch a new $4 million initiative to significantly accelerate efforts by remote Alaskan communities to adopt sustainable energy strategies, through a competitive effort to elicit the best approaches.  The $4 million competition will empower Alaskan communities to develop solutions that can effectively advance the use of reliable, affordable, clean-energy and energy-efficient solutions that can be replicated throughout Alaska and potentially in other Arctic regions as well.

 

The initiative will support community efforts to adopt culturally and climate-appropriate energy-efficiency measures by evaluating community energy use; developing long-term, sustainable, and replicable energy-efficiency plans; and supporting the implementation of proposed plans.

 

Launching Clean Energy Solutions for Remote Communities (CESRC). On Tuesday, Dr. Holdren and Governor Walker hosted a roundtable including the Denali Commission, the Alaska Energy Authority, and The Renewable Energy Alaska Project as part of the launch of Climate Solutions for Remote Communities.  Building on the Clean Energy Investment Initiative announced earlier this year, CESRC will focus on expanding investment in climate solutions for remote communities, including:  (1) identifying the technological, financial, and logistical challenges and opportunities particular to clean energy innovation addressing the needs and unique circumstances of remote communities and (2) catalyzing the private-sector through a call to action to substantially increase investment to develop climate solutions addressing the unique issues facing remote communities.  The Department of Energy will provide technical expertise to achieve these goals.

Energy costs are among the most significant expenses in remote communities, many of which rely on costly diesel generators to provide power and heat. Over the past decade, Alaska has focused on bringing cleaner, cheaper energy to our many isolated rural communities, where residents pay up to 50 percent of their household income on energy. Sustainably reducing energy costs, reducing carbon pollution, and improving the energy efficiency of homes and other buildings will require designing and deploying clean energy technologies and microgrids that are suited for remote communities. In June, the White House announced $4 billion of independent commitments by major foundations, institutional investors, and other long-term investors to fund climate change solutions, including innovative technologies with breakthrough potential to reduce carbon pollution, as part of the Clean Energy Investment Initiative.

 

Deploying clean energy and energy efficiency projects on Indian Lands. In support of the Obama Administration’s commitment to strengthening partnerships with Tribal Nations and to support tribal energy development, the Department of Energy today will announce up to $6 million to deploy clean energy projects and energy efficiency projects on Indian lands, reducing reliance on fossil fuel and promoting economic development. Through this Funding Opportunity Announcement, the Department’s Office of Indian Energy is soliciting applications from Indian tribes (including Alaska Native regional corporations and village corporations) and Tribal Energy Resource Development Organizations to install (1) facility-scale clean energy and energy efficiency projects and (2) community-scale clean energy projects on Indian lands. Tribal lands comprise nearly two percent of U.S. land, but contain about five percent of all the country’s renewable energy resources. With more than 9 million megawatts of potential installed renewable energy capacity on tribal lands, these tribal communities are well positioned to capitalize on their energy resources for local economic growth.

 

Lowering energy costs through High Energy Cost Grants in rural Alaska. USDA will award approximately $8 million in High Energy Cost grants, which assist power providers in lowering energy costs for families and individuals in areas with extremely high per-household energy costs. The Rural Utilities Service (RUS) High Energy Cost Grant program has provided over $48 million in grants for villages in rural Alaska since 2009. Among this year’s awards, RUS will provide $1.5 million to the Denali Commission to assist its partners in improving electric infrastructure in rural and remote villages in Alaska.   Additionally, USDA RUS will release the 2015 Notice of Solicitation of Applications (NOSA), making available an additional $10 million in new grant funds.

 

Announcing Denali Commission grants in rural Alaska. The Denali Commission will announce approximately $15.5 million in grants to support bulk fuel facilities and rural power system upgrades/power generation across rural Alaska. Funds will be provided from the Denali Commission’s programmatic funds as well as the Trans-Alaska Pipeline Liability Fund (TAPL). Projects include:

·         Pilot Station community bulk fuel tank farm, a $4.7M total project cost ($3.8M in Denali Commission FY2015 TAPL funds and $900K in State of Alaska cost share match)

·         Togiak Power plant project, $7.8M total project cost ($4.2M in Denali Commission FY2015 Base funds, $1.4M in awardee cost share match, $2.2M RUS FY14 funds)

·         Koliganek Power plant project, $3.3M total project cost ($2.4M in Denali Commission FY2015 Base funds, $600K in State of Alaska cost share match, plus $300K from a prior year Commission grant for design)

 

Additional Nonfederal Actions:

Investing in biomimic clean energy. A partnership between The Village of Igiugig, Caltech, Stanford, and the University of Alaska will undertake tests of new wind turbines and has attracted $2 million in funding from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. The partners are exploring a new approach to vertical axis wind power, using large sets of small and simple turbines, arrayed to mimic schooling fish. The biology-inspired engineering may provide wind solutions for the many areas globally where large turbines are not feasible. The project is just another example of how this small village in Bristol Bay is leading on issues of sustainability, climate change, and emerging clean energy technology. Igiugig has also partnered with Ocean Renewable Power Company to test fish-friendly, hydrokinetic power on the Kvichak River—the river is home to vast runs of wild sockeye salmon that have sustained the people of the region for thousands of years.  Emerging technologies like these have the potential to meet community electricity demands in remote villages like Igiugig, where the cost of electricity ranges from 50 to 90 cents per kilowatt-hour.

 

Investing in LED technology in Anchorage. The Anchorage Mayor’s office is announcing a $4-6 million dollar plan to install LED roadway lighting across parking lots, roadways, garages, trails, and other outdoor lighting installations. In 2008, the city was the first in the world to replace over one quarter of its roadway lighting with LED technologies, saving the city $260,000 dollars a year and reducing energy consumption by nearly 60%. This effort made the city of Anchorage a model for other cities across the globe on how to finance and implement this breakthrough in outdoor lighting efficiency.  Saving both energy and taxpayer dollars, the new lighting will also require less ongoing maintenance and reduce Sky-Glow.”

 

Announcing a public-private partnership to achieve 99.7 percent clean energy. In the coming days, Kodiak Island will begin testing a renewable-energy-powered shipping crane in a $3 million public-private partnership that will enable the island to become the first in the world to put flywheel and battery energy storage together to stabilize its variable electric power from wind turbines. The nation’s second largest island recently achieved 99.7 percent renewable-powered electricity from wind, hydro and now augmented by flywheels. The City of Kodiak, Matson, Inc. and Kodiak Electric Association (KEA), a nonprofit member-owned rural electric cooperative, combined efforts to finance this renewable power source for a newly-arrived shipping crane that is replacing the current diesel-powered crane. KEA completed a conversion to 99.7 percent renewable electricity by adding the energy storage to 9 MW of wind that complements the utility’s hydropower plant. Wind is now supplying approximately 20 percent of KEA’s load, displacing more than 2 million gallons of diesel every year. This conversion from fossil fuels has been supported by the State of Alaska’s Renewable Energy Fund, managed by the Alaska Energy Authority, in conjunction with strong local leadership from the Kodiak Electric Association.

 

Announcing a Clean Power Forum. In October 2015, the Alaska Center for the Environment will host a Clean Power forum, designed to kick off a series of conversations about how Alaska can reduce emissions, increase renewable energy production and energy efficiency measures, and become a true leader addressing climate change.

 

Releasing New Climate Data And Tools:

Mapping Alaska and the Arctic. Much of Alaska and the Arctic lack modern, reliable maps needed to support capabilities and activities including ground and air transportation, safe recreation, land management, sustainable development, and scientific studies. The Federal Government is taking action to meet this need:

·         The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), and NSF are collaborating with the University of Minnesota’s Polar Geospatial Center and, the private sector to create the first-ever publicly available, high-resolution, satellite-based elevation map of Alaska by mid-2016, and of the entire Arctic by the end of the U.S. Chairmanship of the Arctic Council (mid-2017). These Digital Elevation Models (DEMs), derived from NGA-sponsored Digital Globe commercial imagery, will support informed land management, sustainable development, safe recreation, and scientific studies, as well as domain-specific challenges inherent to the aviation, transportation, and defense industries. In addition, the DEM will serve as a benchmark against which future landscape changes (due to, for instance, erosion, extreme events, or climate change) can be measured.

·         DOI/USGS, in partnership with the State of Alaska, is leading efforts to fly the Alaskan Arctic with new sensors, generating Interferometric Synthetic Aperature Radar (IfSAR) data that will complement Alaska and Arctic DEMs, improving maps and elevation models of these regions to unprecedented levels of accuracy.

·         NGA has developed and is making available in both hard-copy and explorable-digital formats the most comprehensive pan-Arctic map ever published by the U.S. Government. The map will include layers such as Arctic Routes, Arctic Currents, Oil Production Sites, Gas Production Sites, Oil Drilling Areas, Oil and Gas Reserves, Airfields and Ports, Bathymetric Data, Digital Terrain Elevation Data, and Natural Earth (including rivers, railroads, and populated places). The map will be easily accessible on the NGA’s website, along with links to Alaska DEMs, the NGA’s 28 nautical charts for the Arctic region, a collection of Arctic sailing directions, and links to other Arctic websites and resources.

 

Nonfederal entities are also stepping up to meet this challenge:

·         Esri is committing to deploy and provide easy access to DEMs as they are released, along with supporting maps and climate data, tools, and applications to improve climate resilience for citizens, communities, and companies in Alaska and the Arctic. Esri will also release newly developed tools for exploring and visualizing the new elevation data, including tools for generating on-the-fly renderings of various terrain properties and tools that help communicate the scale of glacial retreat.

·         As the DEMs are publicly released, Google will load these datasets into the Google Earth Engine platform and make them available to scientific partners who are monitoring the Earth’s changing environment. This will help researchers and other users analyze landcover change, predict coastal erosion, monitor changes in glaciers, and more accurately characterize water supplies, among other applications.

 

Expanding access to Arctic data and tools. The Administration is expanding its Climate Data Initiative (CDI) and Climate Resilience Toolkit (CRT) to include a new “Arctic” theme. The Arctic theme will encompass more than 250 Arctic-related datasets (32 of which are being made available for the first time), and more than 40 maps, tools, and other resources designed to support climate-resilience efforts in Alaska and the Arctic, including 10 “Taking Action” case studies in key areas of climate-change risks and vulnerability for Alaska and the Arctic. The Administration also recently expanded the CRT to include a new “Tribal Nations” theme, comprised of more than 40 resources—with more to be added in the future—to assist Tribal nations in climate-change planning, adaptation, and mitigation. Resources include a comprehensive Tribal Climate Change Adaptation Planning Toolkit, and a set of guidelines for considering traditional knowledge in climate change initiatives. These datasets and resources are now cataloged on, respectively, climate.data.gov and toolkit.climate.gov, making them easier for innovators, decision makers, and interested members of the public to find and use. In addition, the Administration is engaging the private sector around the CDI and CRT to help accelerate the development and deployment of products, tools, and applications powered by open Arctic data to help Alaskan and other northern communities better understand their vulnerability to, and prepare for, the impacts of climate change.

 

 

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International Film Studies and Cinematic Arts Conference on Cinema and Identity

CINE CRI ’15: II. International Film Studies and Cinematic Arts Conference on Cinema and Identity

http://www.cinecriconference.org/

CINE CRI ’15: II. International Film Studies and Cinematic Arts Conference will be held in Istanbul on JUNE 10 – 11, 2015 and organized by DAKAM (Eastern Mediterranean Academic Research Center) and hosted by Nazim Hikmet Cultural Center as a part of the Istanbul Art Studies Days Spring 2015.

CINE CRI ’15 on CINEMA and IDENTITY

The CINE CRI ’15 Conference aims to explore the representation of identities in cinema. Artistic and documentary works that make problematic the concept of identity within its political, ideological and historical correlations are in the scope of this year’s conference. Besides, the lived experiences related to cinema and the industry, not necessarily represented in films, may be addressed.

Identity has been one of the most scrutinized concepts in academic circles in recent years. It has been the topic of debates in a variety of fields and disciplines of social sciences, humanities and arts. Cinema has not been opted out of identity matters as film-makers have produced considerable number of works that are relevant to different dimensions of identity. Regarding the concept is constructed within discourse, difference and representation processes, film is a convenient space to be explored as a medium that both reflects and contributes to the construction and reconstruction of multiple identities that constitute an individual, i.e. the spectator.

IASD ’15: Istanbul Art Studies Days:

Istanbul Art Studies Days (IASD ’15) will also include CONTEMPART ’15 / IV. Contemporary Arts Conference (June 8-9) and CONTEMPHOTO ’15 / II. Contemporary Photography Conference (June 9-10) at the same place. Several keynote lectures, artist’s talks and additional events will be organized during Istanbul Art Studies Days and a registration ticket for only one of the conferences will offer free entry to all of the sessions of the three conferences. Each conference focusing on different topics, identity issues has been decided as the common theme of the IASD ’15.

The full papers are going to be available online in DAKAM’s digital library and to be published in the proceedings book with an ISBN number before the conference. The book will be sent to be reviewed for inclusion in the “Thomson and Reuters Web of Science’s Conference”

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS

Professor David Martin-Jones from University of Glasgow and internationally recognised film director Yesim Ustaoglu (Identity and sense of belonging: Reflections on the cinema of Yesim Ustaoglu (from Journey to the Sun to Araf)) are going to be keynote speakers of the event.

AGENDA:

Deadline for submission of abstracts: March 27, 2015

Deadline for registration: May 1, 2015

Deadline for full papers submission: May 8, 2015

MAIN TRACK:

CINEMA and IDENTITY

– Nation, nation-state and diverse ethnicities

– Migration, transnational and/or accented cinema

– Religion and religious groups

– Gender, women, LGBT identities

– Family, familial bonds

– Class and struggle

– Isolated or neglected identities

– Identity, culture and politics

– Local and global Identity

– Multiculturalism

CINEMA and IDEOLOGY

– Ideology of a Film

– Public Life, society and cinema

– Film, Public Memory and Daily Life

– Art Movements

– Technology and Materials

– Communication Tools, Urban Space and Cinema

– Cinema from Psychological, Sociological and Psychiatrical Perspective

– Literature, screenplay and cinema

– Film Musics

ARTS and SOCIETY

– Director, Actor, screenwriter, art director, costume designer, sound designer: Artist as a Subject

– Characters, People and Identity

– Politics of Body in Space

– Social Stratification in Cinema as Gender, Sexuality, Class, Race, Ethnicity and Age

– Race and Affects of Racism

– Women, Art and Society

OTHER TRACKS:

CINEMA and CITY

CINEMA and POLITICS

NATIONAL CINEMAS, HOLLYWOOD and ART-HOUSE CINEMA

REPETITION, PROGRESS and REFERENCE IN THE HISTORY OF FILM

TECHNIQUE and PRODUCTION

DOCUMENTARIES

VENUE

The conference will be held at Nazim Hikmet Cultural Center (NHKM – www.nazimhikmetkulturmerkezi.org) one of the most popular cultural centers in Istanbul.

Nazim Hikmet Cultural Center hosts several art and academic events in different disciplines every month. NHKM, named after one of the legendary modern Turkish poets – Nazim Hikmet, has been established in 1996 and located in Kadikoy. Kadikoy is a large and cosmopolitan district of Istanbul, facing the historic city centre on the other side of the Bosporus. With its numerous bars, cinemas and bookshops, Kadikoy can be regarded as the cultural centre of the Anatolian side of Istanbul.

SCIENTIFIC COMMITTEE

The scientific committee consists of significant scholars, Asst. Prof. Dr. Levent Yilmazok – Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, Prof. Julian Reid – University of Lapland, Asst. Prof. Ahmet Gurata – Bilkent University, Asst.Prof. Gal Kirn – Berlin Humboldt University, Asst. Prof. Tumay Arslan – Ankara University, Senior Lect. Andreas Treske – Izmir University of Economics, Asst. Prof. Andrea Meuzelaar – University of Utrecht

http://www.contemphotoconference.org/p/committees.html

ABSTRACT SUBMISSION

You can submit your abstract by entering the online registration system EASYCHAIR at

https://www.easychair.org/conferences/?conf=cinecri15

You will receive a reply to your proposal within three weeks following a double-blind review process.

Readout of President Obama’s Video Conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, and European Council President Donald Tusk

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THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 3, 2015

 

Readout of President Obama’s Video Conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, and European Council President Donald Tusk

 

President Obama today spoke about Ukraine with his counterparts from France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom as well as European Council President Tusk.  They reaffirmed their support for a peaceful resolution of the conflict in eastern Ukraine as expressed in the Implementation Plan agreed to on February 12 and the Minsk agreements signed in September 2014.  They condemned the attack on Debaltseve by Russia and the separatists it backs that immediately followed and violated the February 12 Minsk Implementation Plan.  The leaders called on all parties to cease all military action, cooperate with the OSCE so that its monitors can verify a full pull back of heavy weapons, and complete the exchange of all prisoners.  They emphasized their support for the OSCE and the need for its monitors to have full and unfettered access to the entire area of conflict, and they discussed ways to strengthen OSCE monitoring activities.  The leaders expressed their hope for the successful and complete implementation of the Minsk agreements and agreed that the easing of current sanctions would be linked to the full implementation of these agreements.  They also affirmed their determination to act quickly and in unison to impose significant additional costs, if serious violations of the Minsk agreements occur or if Russian-backed separatists seek to gain new territory.  The leaders welcomed the Ukrainian parliament’s passage of an ambitious package of reforms and reiterated their commitment to work alongside international partners to provide Ukraine with the financial assistance it needs to stabilize its economy.  They also discussed the continuing violence in Libya and the terrorist threat from ISIL and agreed on the need to consult further on ways to address this threat and support a political resolution of the conflict in Libya.

A photograph of President Obama speaking with the leaders can be found HERE.

Joint P5 Statement for 2015 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference on Minimizing the Impact of Medical Isotope Production on the Release of Xenon Gas Into the Environment

Joint P5 Statement for 2015 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference on Minimizing the Impact of Medical Isotope Production on the Release of Xenon Gas Into the Environment

Media Note

Office of the Spokesperson

Washington, DC

March 2, 2015

Following is the text of a joint statement issued by the People’s Republic of China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States after the conclusion of the P5 London Conference. The Conference took place February 4–5, 2015 in London, England and is the sixth such Conference since 2009.

Begin text:

The P5 recognise that while medical isotope production is a critically important activity and while the objective of ensuring the security of supply of medical radioisotopes is of utmost importance, they share a common interest in minimizing the interference of xenon radioisotope releases with global radioactive monitoring activity. The P5 believe that all States should engage with producers in their regions to assess the amount of emissions and to reduce where it is possible their negative impact on the environment through minimization of emissions from fission-based medical isotope production.

Further, the P5 advocate that the CTBTO Executive Secretary continue working actively with interested States, other relevant international organizations, and with radioisotope production facilities to minimize where it is possible the impact from the release of xenon radioisotopes.

Activities that the P5 support include the series of Workshops on the Signatures of Medical and Industrial Isotope Production (WOSMIP), and an IAEA Coordinated Research Project (CRP) “Sharing and Developing Protocols to Further Minimize Radioactive Gaseous Releases to the Environment in the Manufacture of Medical Radioisotopes, as Good Manufacture Practices.”

CALL FOR PAPERS – Stability: International Journal of Security and Development Job posted by: Stability: International Journal of Security and Development

CALL FOR PAPERS – Stability: International Journal of Security and Development
Job posted by: Stability: International Journal of Security and Development
Posted on: July 23, 2014
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Job description
Scope of The Journal

Stability welcomes articles from a range of disciplines, including political science, development studies, international relations, sociology, criminology, anthropology, psychology and the law, among others. The journal will focus upon stabilisation through international missions as well as by governments within their own territories. This may include crime prevention efforts or counter-narcotics strategies insofar as they include a range of means and tactics (e.g., coercive force, diplomacy, communications, humanitarian or development assistance, etc.). However, for demonstration purposes, the following topics would likely appear relatively regularly:

Civil-military interaction
Conflict prevention/risk reduction
Constitutional and legislative affairs
Correlates of conflict
Corruption and illicit networks
Counterinsurgency tactics
Crime reduction
Demographics and human geography
Disarmament, demobilisation & reintegration
Economic growth and livelihoods
Governance and political legitimacy
International cooperation/organization
Judicial/justice sector reform
Law and legal regimes
Organised crime and gang violence
Peacekeeping or peace support operations
Security sector reform
Stability operations
State- and nation-building
Urban studies and challenges
Whole of government or whole of system approaches
Many other topics will be considered for publication. If you are uncertain as to whether your research would match this journal’s criteria, please contact the editors.

Article Types

Stability will primarily publish research articles but will also feature shorter “practice notes” and “commentaries” insofar as they are well informed, critical and contribute to knowledge and thinking in a useful manner.

Research articles must be between 5,000 and 8,000 words, including all notes but not including the reference list/bibliography. Under special circumstances, articles up to 10,000 words may be accepted for publication. Research articles should present original findings based upon rigorous empirical or theoretical research.
Practice notes must be between 2,000 and 4,000 words, including all notes but not including the reference list/bibliography. These should provide an account of a programme related to stabilisation which appears to be particularly effective, ineffective, innovative or otherwise notable. These should NOT comprise glowing case studies of projects implemented by the author or his/her organisation and must contribute useful analysis.
Commentaries should be between 1,000 and 2,000 words and should reflect upon or critique a “happening” such as a policy shift, release of a major study or other notable occurrence related to stabilisation. Commentaries are particularly welcome from distinguished specialists. Authors interested in submitting a commentary piece should discuss the content with the editors before submitting a manuscript.
How to apply
For full details, please see http://www.stabilityjournal.org/announcement/view/1

Location
London, United Kingdom
Details
Education requirements
No requirement
Employment type
Temporary
Professional level
None specified
Job function
Public policy, Social science
Owner’s areas of focus
Development, Communications access, Conflict resolution, Stability, Research and science, Crime and safety, Security, Network of nonprofits, Conflict

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VOA Premieres AIDS Documentary at World AIDS Conference

VOA Premieres AIDS Documentary at World AIDS Conference

A stirring new VOA documentary, AIDS: Living in the Shadows, is making its world premiere today at the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia, with some help from the star power of Sir Elton John.

The 30-minute long documentary – introduced by the British music legend and longtime AIDS activist – takes a global look at one of the most daunting side effects of AIDS: the stigma that makes its victims outcasts even within their own families.

This stigma, which Elton John has described as the disease’s “most deadly symptom” is the focus of Living in the Shadows, as it takes audiences on a journey to Nigeria, Cambodia, Haiti, Uganda, Canada, and the United States to meet those living with HIV and AIDS.

VOA Director David Ensor says the documentary is another forum for VOA to serve its audience.

“AIDS has cut short thousands of lives in many parts of the world,” said Ensor, “but nowhere more than in sub-Saharan Africa, where VOA has millions of listeners. It is for them, and millions of others like them elsewhere, that VOA has produced Living in the Shadows.”

In each of the places the documentary stops, one message comes through: Though the scientific community has made great medical advances, the wisest scientists are incapable of curing the way AIDS stigmatizes its victims. Curing that will require a change beyond the scope of medicine, a change that permits people to see AIDS victims as fellow human beings.

Following its world premiere in Melbourne, AIDS: Living in the Shadows will be available online. A panel discussion, moderated by the documentary’s senior executive producer Beth Mendelson​, will immediately follow the showing. VOA is live-streaming the entire 90-minute session.