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Each year, Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) takes place in more than 150 universities and cities across the world. With creative education and action, IAW aims to raise awareness about Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid over the Palestinian people and build support for the nonviolent Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

In response to the impressive growth of BDS in the last few years, Israel and its right-wing allies in the west have launched repressive, anti-democratic attacks on the movement and the right to boycott, instead of fulfilling their obligations to end Israel’s violations of international law. This makes this year’s #IsraeliApartheidWeek more crucial than ever.

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Dates:
UK: February 22-28
Europe: February 29-March 7
Palestine: March 1-10
South Africa: March 7-13
Arab World: March 20-26
US: various, including March 27-April 3
Latin America: April 10-24
Canada: various throughout March, check with local organisers

TRANSCRIPT: Foreign Press Center Briefing with Professor Allan Lichtman, “State of the Race 2016: An overview of the 2016 Elections for foreign correspondents covering their first U.S. election”

FOREIGN PRESS CENTER BRIEFING WITH ALLAN LICHTMAN, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR OF HISTORY AND FREQUENT POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND ELECTORAL FORECASTER

TOPIC:  STATE OF THE RACE 2016: AN OVERVIEW OF THE 2016 ELECTIONS FOR FOREIGN CORRESPONDENTS COVERING THEIR FIRST U.S. ELECTION

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2015, 11:00 A.M. EDT

THE WASHINGTON FOREIGN PRESS CENTER, WASHINGTON, D.C.

MODERATOR:  Hello and welcome to the Washington Foreign Press Center.  Today I would like to welcome Professor Allan Lichtman, American University professor of history and frequent political commentator and electoral forecaster, back to the Washington Foreign Press Center for another in his series of elections and political briefings.  This briefing is titled “The State of the Race, 2016:  An Overview of the 2016 Elections for Foreign Correspondents Covering Their First U.S. Election.”  Professor Lichtman’s views are his own and do not represent the U.S. Department of State. 

Without further ado, here is Professor Lichtman.

MR LICHTMAN:  In fact, my views don’t represent anyone except me, so don’t attribute it to American University, the federal government, the United States, or anyone else except Allan Lichtman. 

How many of you were here for my 2014 briefing?  A few of you.  Remember I said three things mattered in midterm elections, right?  Turnout, turnout, and turnout, and I predicted if the turnout was low, the Republicans were going to win the 2014 midterms, and that’s exactly what happened. Turnout was low and it was a very good year for Republicans.  However, things change in presidential election years.  The turnout is something along the lines of 50 percent higher than it is in midterm elections and doesn’t tend to vary quite as much from election to election. 

And obviously, unlike midterm elections where turnout can be highly dependent on what’s going on in an individual state – do you have a real tight race in that state – in a presidential year, of course, turnout is determined by the top of the ticket, the presidential contest.  But the basic dynamic is still very much the same:  High turnout tends to benefit Democrats and low turnout tends to benefit Republicans, whether in a presidential year or a midterm year.  And particularly high turnout of minority voters tends to favor Democrats; higher turnout of white voters tends to favor Republicans.

We have a very racially and ethnically polarized electorate in the United States, and it is virtually uniform.  There are variations in numbers, but the pattern is almost uniform across all the states with white voters giving majorities to Republicans and African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians giving majorities to Democrats.  There’s a slight exception to that in Florida where there’s a very strong Cuban American population that has been traditionally Republican, but that has been changing.  The older anti-Castro Cold War generation is dying out and the new generation is much less Republican, and Florida is also experiencing strong immigration from other parts of Latin America.  So today, the Hispanic vote in Florida is about 50/50; everywhere else, it tends Democratic.  And of course, the African American vote is 90 percent or more Democratic.  So turnout matters and turnout of whites versus minorities matter a great deal in this election.

I’ll turn first to the presidential contest and what’s going on in each primary.  The Democrats ought to be building a monument to Vice President Joe Biden because of what he didn’t do – that is, he didn’t get into the presidential race.  Why is that important?  Because it means there is much less likely to be a contest within the Democratic Party for the nomination.  Bernie Sanders fires up about a quarter to a third of the Democratic primary electorate.  There are a lot of people who will walk through brick walls for Senator Bernie Sanders, but he has a great deal of trouble expanding beyond that 25 to 30 percent.  He does really well in Iowa and New Hampshire – small, primarily white states – but he is being swamped in the polls by Hillary Clinton in all of the big states where there’s very strong minority voting in Democratic primaries, where money organization and name recognition matters.  You’re not going to go door to door in California, New York, and Florida. 

So it looks like, unless something really bizarre happens – and that does happen in politics – that Hillary Clinton is cruising to become the consensus Democratic nominee.  And she was helped not only by Joe Biden getting out of the race, but greatly helped by her Republican opposition.  The more things change, the more they remain the same in politics.

Some of you may even remember back to the crisis facing her husband, President Bill Clinton, the only president since Andrew Johnson in 1868 to be impeached by the U.S. House while the Republicans pressed too far.  And it made it look like – even though Bill Clinton had done some pretty dastardly things – that the Republican campaign against him was political, it was political revenge and was being sought for political advantage, not for the good of the republic.

Guess what?  The Republicans have made exactly the same mistake in going after Hillary Clinton on the Benghazi tragedy and the emails.  Yes, Hillary and the State Department made some pretty serious errors, but it has been pursued so relentlessly for so long with so little new information coming up that now, the American people overwhelmingly believe – 75 percent – that this – these investigations of Hillary Clinton are being motivated by partisanship.  And a couple of Republicans have even come out and greatly helped Hillary Clinton by saying, yeah, these hearings were designed to drive her poll numbers down or hurt her electability. 

So the Republicans have done something that Hillary Clinton could never have done by herself – make this ice lady look sympathetic and appealing and beleaguered and persecuted.  And that had greatly helped her campaign along with an absolutely superb performance in the Democratic debate and just showing she was a marathon runner in coming out of 11 hours of grilling in the Benghazi hearings absolutely unscathed.

Why does it matter that Hillary Clinton is going to be the consensus Democratic nominee?  The reason is history.  History teaches that the worst thing that can happen to the party holding the White House, which of course is the Democratic Party even though Barack Obama is not eligible to run again – the worst thing that can happen to the party holding the White House is an internal, bitter party fight.

The last time the party holding the White House survived a major internal fight for the nomination was, guess what, 1880 when James Garfield won the presidency by about one-tenth of 1 percent in the popular vote.  Since then, major internal party fights have been the kiss of death for the party holding the White House.  I need only remind you of 2008; the Republicans had a big fight, or 1980 when Ted Kennedy challenged Jimmy Carter, or 1976 when you had the bitter battle between Ronald Reagan and the sitting president, Gerald Ford.

So the reason avoiding a party fight is so critical in this election is not necessarily because Hillary Clinton is the most electable candidate.  In fact, going for the most electable candidate is about the worst strategy any party could ever adopt because you don’t know who is electable.

I remind you of 2004 when the Democrats opted for John Kerry, Senator Kerry, not because they loved him but because they thought he was electable and, of course, he lost to a very weak president who was really faltering, George W. Bush, in 2004.

So very good news for the Democrats with Joe Biden’s withdrawal and the recent resurgence of Hillary Clinton.  If form holds and Hillary Clinton becomes the consensus nominee, that’s very positive for the Democrats going into the general election.

Now, what is also interesting historically is it’s entirely different for the challenging party, for the party that does not hold the White House.  They can fight all they want and historically it makes absolutely no difference.  I point you to 2008, right, when the Democrats were the out party.  The Republicans were holding the White House and there was a long, protracted – one of the longest and most tract – protracted nomination struggles in modern history between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, and that did not stop the challenging candidate, Barack Obama, from handily winning the White House.

So the pundits have it all wrong.  It doesn’t matter that there’s this big squabble among Republicans.  It doesn’t matter that there is no clear consensus nominee and this could be a long struggle.  The pundits have no sense of history.  They have no theory of how a presidential election works.  They’re operating from the seat of their pants and they are absolutely wrong.

That said, the real action and the real interest is on the Republican side, and what is astonishing about the Republican struggle – it’s still early, but not too soon to be astonished – is that the only candidates in double digits, and they’re both over 20 points in the polls; the next highest are 8 or 9 – so the two candidates who are absolutely sweeping the Republican field now – doesn’t mean they’re going to be nominated, but it’s not that early; it’s getting close to 2016 – are two candidates who not only have never been elected to anything, who have never held public office, and that is Donald Trump and Ben Carson, who together, according to the polls, hold the support of more than 50 percent of likely Republican primary voters.

Now, you may think, oh, it’s the Republican Party.  They are the party that challenges Washington.  This is not surprising for the Republican Party.  Nonsense.  When was the last time the Republican Party nominated someone who had never held any kind of public position?  The answer is never.  The answer is never.  You have Dwight Eisenhower, who was never elected, but of course he was General of the Army.  You have Herbert Hoover, who wasn’t elected, but he was Secretary of Commerce.  You have William Howard Taft, who wasn’t elected, but he was Secretary of War and Governor General of the Philippines.  Never has the Republican Party reached out to someone who not only has never stood for election but never held public office. 

In fact, if you look at the more recent history of the Republican Party, they have always nominated a mainstream figure with lots of experience and standing within the party.  Look at their nominees: Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts; John McCain, senator from Arizona; George W. Bush, governor of Texas, son of a President; George H. W. Bush, vice president; Bob Dole, leader of the Senate; Ronald Reagan, governor of California; Richard Nixon, former senator and vice president; even Barry Goldwater, the maverick far conservative who was nominated in 1964, was still a U.S. senator from Arizona.

So you are looking at two candidates who might not seem surprising, but who are actually incredibly surprising because they completely break the mold both of the long history of the Republican Party, and even more pointedly, the recent history of the Republican Party.  They have not nominated anyone with the profile, or non-profile, of a Ben Carson or a Donald Trump.  Got to editorialize a little bit here.  Remember, these are my own opinions only. 

Donald Trump doesn’t surprise me.  I predicted Donald Trump many, many months ago, when all the pundits were scoffing at him.  Why did I predict the rise of Donald Trump?  A number of reasons.  One, he is a great showman.  He really knows how, positively and negatively, to get attention and to attract people to pay attention to him and to listen to him.  And in a crowded field, you need a shtick.  You know what a shtick is?  It’s a Jewish term, it’s used in Hollywood a lot – something that makes you different, something that stands out, something really special.  You remember the impersonation of Sarah Palin that made Saturday Night Live really stick out.  Tina Fey just had her to a T.  It was a great shtick.  And Donald Trump has a shtick.  Now, whether that shtick will last through the primaries, who knows.  But all the pundits again were wrong who said he was a meteor who would just burn out in the atmosphere.  That hasn’t happened.  He’s been atop or, until recently, very close to the top of the polls now for a very long time.

The other thing about Donald Trump is he says things that a lot of other Republican candidates believe but are too afraid, too timid to say – such as his denigrating of immigrants.  It’s inflammatory stuff, probably a majority of Americans don’t agree with it, but there is a segment within the Republican Party that likes to hear that kind of thing and believes that Donald Trump is a non-scripted kind of candidate; he’s not a controlled, Washington-establishment type of candidate.  And if there is anything that marks the Republican Party today, it’s complete disgust with Washington. 

And it’s not just because Barack Obama, a Democrat, is president; it’s because Republicans are deeply and bitterly unhappy about their own Republican Congress.  They don’t believe that their own Republican Congress had done nearly enough either to challenge Barack Obama or to imprint Republican values and Republican policies.  There’s a big segment of the Republican Party that’s quite willing to blow everything up and start all over again.

So I get Donald Trump.  I’ll tell you who I don’t get, and that’s Ben Carson.  I cannot understand what the appeal of Ben Carson is.  Watch the debate – the man had nothing to say.  He couldn’t distinguish between the debt and the deficit.  He tried to explain medical policy – his own medical policy.  He’s a doctor and he couldn’t explain his own medical policy.  But what baffles me most about Ben Carson – have people listened to what the man actually has said? 

He embodies two things that I think are the most dangerous elements that any politician could have:  a lack of a moral compass, and a lack of a sense of history.  The man has compared the Obama Administration to Nazi Germany.  This cheapens the Holocaust.  It cheapens the deaths of tens of millions of people in World War II.  Whatever you may think of Barack Obama – love him or hate him – he didn’t kill 6 million Jews.  He didn’t start a war that killed 67 million people.  What kind of moralist are you?  What kind of sense of history do you have when you make those kinds of comparisons?

I’m a Jew, and I – and I’ve studied the Holocaust.  And I am profoundly offended by his cheapening of the Holocaust by saying if the Jews only had a few guns, they could’ve stopped the Nazi war machine.  How could you be so profoundly ignorant of history?  First of all, only a tiny fraction of the Jews who perished in the Holocaust were German Jews.  Most of the Jews were from territories occupied or influenced by the Nazis – Poland, Romania, Hungary, not Germany.  And guess what?  The Jews tried to fight the Nazis with a few guns. 

Mr. Carson never seems to have heard of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.  You know how many Jews were killed?  Thirteen thousand to 20 Nazis.  Nearly 60,000 were deported to the death camps.  How you can cheapen the Holocaust, perhaps the greatest human tragedy in history, by saying it could’ve prevented – it could’ve been prevented if the German Jews had a few more guns.  I don’t get Ben Carson. 

I don’t understand how he has risen to the top of the polls, unless people just aren’t listening.  And that may be true.  Maybe he hasn’t gotten the scrutiny that a Donald Trump or a Jeb Bush has gotten, and people just think he’s this profoundly moral outsider who’s going to bring a new era to Washington.  That may well be his appeal, but I don’t get it.  I get everyone else in the Republican and Democratic field.

And the other candidate I get is Jeb Bush.  That’s the other big story, is the absolute collapse of the candidate who was considered to be the establishment favorite.  Why has the Jeb Bush campaign fallen apart to the point where some of the commentators are indicating he may even drop out of the race?  He’s already cut back on staff.  He’s already reorganized his campaign.  He already looks like a loser.  How could that possibly have happened?  Well, part of it isn’t his fault, and part of it is his fault.  What isn’t his fault is, as we’ve seen so far, this isn’t a good year for the Republican establishment.  The Republican establishment doesn’t seem to be offering anything that’s appealing to the Republican electorate.  In fact, if you put together three candidates who have never held public office and never run for anything – add Carly Fiorina to Ben Carson and Donald Trump – and you’ve got about 60 percent of the potential Republican primary electorate, with eight candidates sharing the other 40 percent.  So that is not anything that has to do with Jeb Bush personally.

But Jeb Bush has run one of the worst campaigns in modern history.  He not only commits gaffes, he doesn’t seem committed to the campaign.  He’s not crisp, he’s not sharp, he’s not appealing, he has no shtick whatsoever.  And my own pure speculation – I have no inside information on this – is the – I won’t say collapse, because remember, Lazarus rose from the dead.  John McCain rose from the dead in 2008.  Things – strange things can happen, so I won’t say collapse yet.  I’ll say terrible faltering of the Bush campaign – is he doesn’t seem to have the fire in the belly.  He doesn’t seem to want this with great passion.  He seems to be pursuing it – and again, this is my speculation – because it’s his turn.  His dad was President, his brother was President; governor of Florida, hugely important swing state.  It seemed his time.  And when confronted with this extraordinary tsunami of anti-establishment sentiment within the Republican Party and the rise of these absolutely unexpected candidates, Bush has had no answer to this point.

But I wouldn’t count him out entirely yet because there is going to be an establishment candidate.  It’s not in the end, I don’t believe, going to be only Carson and Trump.  I believe one or the other will survive and thrive as we go into the primaries, but I think there is going to be an alternative.  And the smart money of course has always been on Jeb Bush, but it’s now shifted.  Smart money’s now on Marco Rubio, another Florida candidate, and that’s kind of understandable.  He’s young, he’s good-looking, he’s got – he’s articulate, he’s charismatic.  But the problem for Rubio:  Where does he break through?  Where does he make his mark and how does he make his mark?

So I think it’s entirely up in the air who is going to be the alternative to the anti-establishment candidates, and Bush – his heart is still beating, but it’s beating very, very faintly.  But there is at least some small possibility that the heart of Jeb Bush is going to be revived, but somehow the passion has got to come internally within Jeb Bush himself.

But regardless of which Republican emerges, you’re going to see real contrasts between the two parties.  Two parties agree on almost nothing today.  People talk about polarization although it was a matter of Republicans and Democrats sitting down and having a beer or having a coffee – nonsense.  You know why there’s polarization in Washington?  Because two parties don’t agree on anything.  They don’t agree on health care, they don’t agree on taxes, they don’t agree on immigration.

And the huge sleeper issue that I think may well emerge by next year – it hasn’t been much so far – is climate change, arguably the biggest challenge that humanity is facing.  California is running out of water, which not only affects tens of millions of people in California, but because of their agricultural production, they – confronts the whole country.  A study came out yesterday saying if the world doesn’t deal with climate change, there’s going to be a huge hit to the world economy and an enormous rise in poverty.  A study came out showing the states of the Persian Gulf – get this – may be facing something that has never before been seen in the history of humanity: that is, temperatures too hot for human survival.  There’s this huge meeting in Paris.  I don’t know what will come of it, but I do think climate change could become a huge sleeper issue as we get into 2016.  And once again, the parties are absolutely at odds over whether we should do anything whatsoever about this problem of climate change.

And of course, America has crumbling infrastructure – our electric grid, our roads, our bridges are badly needing repair.  Another big issue, another huge issue: the gap between not the rich and the poor anymore; it’s now the gap between the rich and everybody else – how the party is going to address that. So look forward to an election, no matter who gets nominated, where there are going to be huge ideological differences and policy differences between the parties.

Finally, I want to say a word about the other election where the action is, and that is the United States Senate.  The United States Senate is going to be of critical importance after 2016 because the next president may well have three, four, two Supreme Court nominations to make, and remember, Supreme Court justices serve for life.  President John Adams, the second President of the United States after George Washington, served one term.  He was elected in 1796.  His party, the Federalist Party, disappeared, but he appointed John Marshall as chief justice of the United States Supreme Court.  John Marshall held that position for more than 30 years.  Today he is regarded as one of the two most influential chief justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, and he put into play principles of the long-gone, long-defunct Federalist Party.  So you cannot underestimate the importance of Supreme Court appointments, and of course, the Senate ratifies all appointments including Supreme Court appointments.  So control of the Senate is absolutely critical.

One way in which the Democrats got Republicans to stop blocking not Supreme Court appointments but a lot of other court appointments that are very important was to ban the filibuster on circuit court and district court appointments, and that opened the floodgates to a lot of Obama appointees in the courts.  You cannot underestimate the courts because the courts are often where the action is because of the gridlock in the Congress and the gridlock between the Congress and the President.  As we saw in decisions like Citizens United on allowing unlimited corporate campaign contributions, some of the most important policies are set by the Supreme Court. 

So you cannot underestimate the importance of control of the Senate, which has flip-flopped quite a bit in recent years.  The Democrats took the Senate in 2006, the Republicans took the Senate back in 2014, and now the Democrats have an opportunity to take the Senate back again in 2016 for two reasons.  One, it’s a presidential year – higher turnout, much higher turnout than at midterms.  And as I’ve explained to you several times, higher turnout favors Democrats. Secondly, Democrats are only defending a couple of western vulnerable seats – in Colorado and in Nevada, where, of course, the Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid is retiring, so that’s an open seat.

And Republicans are facing at least seven vulnerable seats.  I’m not going to go over all of them, but they’re in states like New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio – mostly states won by Barack Obama in 2012.  I think the Republicans have vulnerable seats in six states won by Barack Obama in 2012.  Democrats need – they have 46 seats now, counting the Democratic-leaning independents.  They need five to take absolute control.  They need four to have a 50/50 Senate, which would mean whoever wins the presidency controls the Senate because the vice president casts the deciding vote.

So keep your eye on these vulnerable states.  They are going to decide the fate of the Senate, and right now it’s about 50/50.  The Democrats have about a 50 percent chance to win back the Senate assuming they hold one of the two vulnerable Democratic seats, which I think is reasonable, then if they can pick up five or six of the seven or so vulnerable Republican seats, they can win back the United States Senate.  And so it’s the presidency and the Senate where the action is.

There’s an old proverb I like to talk about.  I believe it’s Chinese but I’m not certain – maybe some of you can correct me – and that is, “May you live in interesting times.”  And I don’t see how politically the times could be any more interesting than they are right now.

Thank you very much.  I’ll take any of your questions.

MODERATOR:  Okay.  Please wait for the microphone and state your name and publication for the transcript.  We’ll go right there.

QUESTION:  Good morning.  As I understand —

MODERATOR:  You’re fine.

QUESTION:  Yeah.  As I understand what you tell us, you are reducing the possibilities in the Republican side.  They have two options: a populist candidate, and populist mean – I’m talking about Trump or Carson.

MR LICHTMAN:  Populist Republican.

QUESTION:  Yeah, or Jeb Bush.  I mean, could you tell us something, anything else about Rubio and the possibilities (inaudible) possibilities of Rubio?

MR LICHTMAN:  It’s very, very difficult to handicap primaries for a bunch of reasons, and those who think they know are wrong.  Reason number one is there’s so many candidates – very difficult.  The mathematics of it become asymptotically complex when dealing with multiple candidates.  Secondly, it’s not linear.  That is, one primary affects the next primary, so who – if Ben Carson, who is now well ahead in Iowa, wins Iowa, that’s going to scramble things, that’s going to change things.  If Jeb Bush comes in fifth in Iowa and fourth in New Hampshire, he may be done.  So one primary affects another, and that makes it very difficult to handicap.

And finally, the polls are not real meaningful.  If you think back to 2012, there were all kinds of Republicans who popped up in the polls – Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum – and none of them, none of them were nominated.  Republicans went back to the middle establishment figure.  So I don’t think it’s possible at this point to give any informed answer on who is going to be the nominee and whether it’s going to be an outsider or an insider.  I’m not in a position to make that prediction.

But I would say don’t count out the insider just because the outsiders are crushing in the polls now.  I still think – and I don’t know who it’s going to be, it could be Jeb – there will be a viable insider establishment candidate who can still win this nomination just based on long-term and recent history of the Republican Party.  They tend to love these mavericks but they never nominate them.

MODERATOR:  Okay, I’ll come right there.

QUESTION:  Stefan Grobe with Euronews, [France].  Good to see you.

MR LICHTMAN:  Good to see you again.

QUESTION:  You said you can’t explain Ben Carson. 

MR LICHTMAN:  I can’t.  Maybe you can.  (Laughter.)

QUESTION:  Well, my question is:  How do you explain the fact that he is the darling of a very conservative white constituency, being African American —

MR LICHTMAN:  Yeah.

QUESTION:  — and has zero support – almost zero support among African Americans?  Is that bad luck, good luck, or chance or whatever? 

MR LICHTMAN:  Well, we saw that with Herman Cain, another African American, back in 2012.  In earlier elections there was a very conservative Republican, Alan Keyes, whose support was also largely white.

I would say a couple of things.  One, nobody knows anything about Ben Carson if you look at the polls.  He seems to be this really nice guy, this really moral individual, until you really look at what he’s said and his history.  I know him really well because he’s from Maryland, my state, and I followed his actions in the Maryland struggle over abortion in the 1990s.  And he now claims to be so morally guided that he won’t even allow abortions in the case of rape or incest.  But back in the 1990s when he was actually involved in the moral struggle over abortion, he was the only player who played both sides.  He gave an anti-choice commercial and then walked back from his own commercial, said, “I really didn’t understand what I was doing,” tried to be both pro-choice and pro-life at the same time.  So it’s very hard to understand.

But in these polls, within the Republican Party, people are not voting race.  They’re voting issues and more are voting kind of these vague perceptions.  But again, don’t be deceived by the early polls.  People don’t know what Ben Carson yet stands for.  Maybe when the Republicans see what they stand for, they’ll love him.  Who knows?  But I think it’s going to be a much – if he gets the nomination, a much more difficult go for him in the general election.

MODERATOR:  We’ll come down here.

QUESTION:  Thank you very much.  Mounzer Sleiman, al-Mayadeen TV, [Lebanon].  Can you give us just your sense of how much this campaign will be financed, compared to other campaign in the past – the presidential campaign?  And I want to ask you about Florida, because this is probably tied up to your establishment prediction.  Since two prominent person, individuals —

MR LICHTMAN:  Yeah, Rubio and Jeb Bush.

QUESTION:  — do you think that Florida would be a factor, since Florida has been a factor in the election —

MR LICHTMAN:  Yes.

QUESTION:  — that could be a factor —

MR LICHTMAN:  Got it.

QUESTION:  — in the calculation of Republican to select the one in the final analysis?

MR LICHTMAN:  Very, very, very excellent questions.  First of all, on finance, the sky is the limit.  As we saw approaching a billion dollar campaign by Barack Obama last time, you can expect billion dollar campaigns on the side of both candidates.  But there’s a dirty little secret about spending in general presidential elections, not primary:  Spending doesn’t matter.  That is, there’s no particular correlation historically between who spends the most money and who wins.

And the reason is pretty simple.  In other elections, voters don’t know much, and who can get out their message by spending really matters.  But people know the presidential candidates.  You got debates, you got lots of free media.  So spending is less important.

I absolutely agree with you; Florida is critical.  And right now, both Rubio and Bush seem to be trailing in Florida.  That could knock both of them out.  One of them has got to win Florida, and then he could become the establishment candidate.  But if they both lose Florida, that could knock both of them out entirely, and that’s an early primary.  So we’re going to get some early indication. 

And by the way, when you get into the later Republican primaries after middle March, they’re winner-take-all.  So you can win those primaries with 35 percent and get every single delegate.  So things are going to change if there’s still a big contest after the middle of March.

QUESTION:  Can I have a follow-up very quickly? 

QUESTION:  That’s fine.

QUESTION:  I forgot to ask you, because I think it’s very important, to give us the difference between the caucus and the primary, please.

MR LICHTMAN:  Yeah.  Very simply put, a primary is just like any other election – you show up at the polls and you vote.  Caucus, you have to go to meetings.  And the meetings can last all day and you have a series of votes at the meetings, ultimately leading to a tally of a statewide vote.  So the big difference is you’ve got to put in a lot more time, energy, and effort to go to a caucus.  So it involves much more committed voters.  The reason, by the way, Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton in 2008 is not what anyone thinks; it’s because Obama organized the caucus states.  And it was the victory in the caucus states for Barack Obama that put him over the top.  So organization really matters in the caucus states, which is why you got to take these generalized polls with a grain of salt, because the candidates might have very different operations on the ground.

QUESTION:  Thank you, professor.  Bingru Wang with Hong Kong’s Phoenix TV.  This time we have seen China being brought up during the debates.  So how much does China matter during the election this time, and how China card will be played out?

MR LICHTMAN:  Yeah.  I always get these questions, and they’re really good questions, from people from particular countries.  And, of course, China is going to matter a lot more than most places, because it is – there are three great powers vying, competing in the world – China, Russia, and the United States.  So policy towards China is very important. 

But the details of policy won’t matter, because – I hate to say this – but the American people never follow the details of foreign policy.  They pay attention only when there is a big crisis or a big victory.  So they’ll pay attention to the Iran nuclear treaty law.  I promise you they can’t tell you the details of it.  And what they might be paying attention to is the potential tensions and conflicts.  There’s this big issue over these islands, and the United States is not recognizing those islands as legitimate Chinese territory.  If that flares up into something more, that can become a big issue in the campaign.  But beyond that, the details of policy are going to shoot over most people’s heads.

MODERATOR:  Gentleman in back, in the glasses?  No, no; back, back; glasses.

QUESTION:  Oh.  (Laughter.)

MR LICHTMAN:  Got to get the back row.

MODERATOR:  Got to be fair to the back.  Sorry, guys.

QUESTION:  Hi, hi.  This is Ryan Hermelijn from NOS News TV, [The Netherlands].  I was wondering about the general election.  Specifically you outlined a couple of themes, but I didn’t hear the culture wars.  We have had the advancement of several liberal ideas such as the advancement of gay marriage, legalization of marijuana, assisted suicide is popping up.  There’s a backlash with Hobby Lobby and Kim Davis and such.  So how do you think that will play out in the 2016 elections?

MR LICHTMAN:  Yeah.  Before I answer that, let me – it’s related to your question.  There’s a debate tonight and do you know where it is?

QUESTION:  Boulder.

MR LICHTMAN:  Colorado.  And what is one of the biggest rising industries in the state of Colorado?  The pot industry.  Last I saw, it was a $700 million industry employing lots of folks.  Are the Republicans going to talk about the pot industry in Colorado?  And Republicans have an interesting dilemma on some of these things like pot.  Because on the one hand, the Republican Party is the party of what – free enterprise, right?  Business – they should be encouraging the pot industry, right, as a classic example of entrepreneurship and the American way.  But on the other hand, as you say, they also harbor a lot of social conservatives who obviously look askance at the use of pot and other recreational drugs. 

So it’ll be interesting to see if they say anything about this at all.  If I were the moderator, I would certainly ask them about it, because it does pit two Republican values – the problems with the social issues is people’s positions are pretty well set.  You’re not going to change someone’s mind about abortion.  You’re not going to change someone’s mind about gay marriage.  And these issues, while they play to the Republican primary electorate, don’t play to the general electorate.  The most amazing social trend in America in the past decade has been the extraordinary acceptance of gay and lesbian rights.  If you had told anyone 10 years ago that a majority of Americans would favor gay marriage, they would’ve told you you’re living in never-never land.  Just huge shifts on these social issues, so I don’t suspect the Republicans are going to pound them.

Interestingly, the Democrats might.  Democrats might try to play the abortion issue against the Republicans, particularly if you have a candidate who is coming out like Ben Carson and saying not even in cases of rape or incest are we going to allow abortions.  That’s like a 20 percent position within the electorate.

MODERATOR:  Okay, come down here.  Yeah.

QUESTION:  Claudia Trevisan from the Brazilian newspaper Estado Sao Paolo.  Going to the historical perspective, one thing that is often told is that the last time the Democrats won the White House after being in the White House for two terms in a row was 19th century, with the exception of FDR.  Like, how important it is to see this historical theme play there?

And another question:  Like, who would be the best and who would be the worst candidate on the Republican Party from the Democrat perspective?

MR LICHTMAN:  Let me answer – yeah, I got you.  Let me answer the – the second question first, and that is the one word that I would throw out of the dictionary is electability.  You have no idea who is electable in advance of an election.  As I said, parties have gone to the candidates they thought were the most electable and they’ve crashed and burned and lost.  Presidential elections – and you’ve got to read my book, The Keys to the White House; the sixth edition will be coming out in early 2016 – a system for explaining and predicting presidential elections that has not been wrong ever.  I’ve been predicting since 1984, since I was nine.  I’ve hit every election – (laughter) – correctly.

I got to tell you a little story about cultural divide.  A few years ago I was in India and Korea, giving lectures on The Keys to the White House.  And India’s this really loose, kind of chaotic, exciting place, and Korea is much more controlled and stable and sober.  And the Indians would get my jokes, but somehow some of the Koreans wouldn’t get my jokes.  And I swear, one guy, after I gave my lecture made this point and raised his hand and said, “Professor Lichtman, can you please explain to me how you were able to predict elections when you were nine?”  (Laughter.)  So real cultural divides in the world.

So according to my theory, presidential elections are referenda on the performance of the party holding the White House.  That’s why things like foreign policy successes and failures, the fate of the Iran treaty, the state of the economy, policy change, social unrest matter, and the identity of the candidate doesn’t matter.  But the pundits – who are always wrong, but I’ll have to give you the pundits’ view – they think Marco Rubio is probably the most electable Republican.  But they have no basis, really, for saying that.

In terms of winning a third consecutive term, that’s hard.  It’s not an absolute bar, but it’s hard, because one of my keys to the White House is whether or not the sitting president is running for re-election.  And after two consecutive terms, under the amendment to the Constitution, you can’t run for a third term.  So it is harder to win three consecutive terms than it is to win two consecutive terms, but it’s obviously one factor and one factor only.

QUESTION:  Thank you, professor.  Rita Chen from Central News Agency, Taiwan.  You just say the (inaudible) matter.  I wondered how possibly the issue of gender could play a role once the – it’s closing to the voting day, and —

MR LICHTMAN:  Yeah, very interesting.  I’ve spent a lot of time in Taiwan, and —

QUESTION:  And – sorry, I have a second question:  And how important the Vice President for both party if they choose the – anyone —

MR LICHTMAN:  Gotcha.  All right.

QUESTION:  Yeah.  Thank you.

MR LICHTMAN:  First, gender.  Very difficult to say.  In 2008, I predicted an Obama victory.  In fact, I became notorious because I used my keys to the White House in 2005, three years before the election, to say things are going so badly for the Republicans that the Democrats could pick a name out of the phone book and elect that person.  They kind of did.  Whoever heard of Barack Obama at that point?  But a lot of people said to me, “Your keys are going to be wrong because they don’t take into account race” – obviously not, since we’ve never had an African American candidate – and it turned out the keys were spot on.  They got the election exactly right and race made no difference.

Will gender make a difference?  Probably not, but it’s very, very hard to say.  My wife, who’s a leading women’s rights advocate, tells me gender creates more prejudice than even race, but it’s hidden.  People are not going to come out and say, “I’m not going to vote for a woman president.” 

So my overall answer is I don’t think it’s going to override other factors, but you never know because these things are impossible to measure.

QUESTION:  Hi, Zhang Yue for China Daily, [China].  I was late so I didn’t know you were talking about this earlier.  And do you agree that – the saying that the dynasty, the Bush and the Clinton, and also the unlimited campaign finance, as signs of erosion of American democracy?  Thank you.

MR LICHTMAN:  No, I don’t think dynasties erode American democracy, as our people still pick the president; there’s no dictator or dictatorial cabal picking the president.  And the truth is Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, whatever you may think of their policies or their characters, by background and by history, are eminently qualified to run for president of the United States.  I do think money is a much bigger problem though.  I do think you’ve put your finger on something very important.  I do think unlimited money and the expense of campaigns has eroded American democracy, not so much the presidential level – as I said, money matters least – but at every other level, money matters a whole lot.  Even to win a puny seat on a county commission or city council, you have to spend upwards of $100,000.  That is a lot of money for an ordinary American.  To win a congressional seat, you probably have to spend millions of dollars in a contested – that’s just one of 435 congressional seats. 

Ninety-nine percent of Americans are priced out of the political market.  To run for office today, you either have to be reasonably affluent or tied into affluent special interests.  So we have vastly constricted the political choice and political opportunities open to Americans because of the overriding importance of money at every level below the presidency, and that is a huge problem, and it’s not going to be solved because the Supreme Court has interpreted money as speech.  As long as that decision stands and the Citizens United decision on unlimited corporate spending stands, it’s not going to be solved.

By the way, I didn’t answer the lady’s question about the vice presidential nominee.  How much does it matter?  Zero.  The worst vice presidential nomination in modern history was not Sarah Palin, it was Dan Quayle, the nominee of George H. W. Bush, who had the most embarrassing moment in the history of presidential debates when he compared himself – because he was young and inexperienced, he compared himself to John Kennedy, and Lloyd Bentsen, the experienced Democratic vice presidential nominee turned and said, “Sir, I knew John Kennedy.  John Kennedy was a friend of mine.  And with all due respect, sir, you are no John Kennedy.”  It was just a complete, utterly deflating moment.  Did it make any difference whatsoever in the presidential election?  No.  There’s no evidence that the vice president matters.

MODERATOR:  Gentleman in the white shirt in the middle.

QUESTION:  Thank you very much, professor.  My name is [Koya] Ozeki; I work for Japan’s Yomiuri.  I have two questions.  My understanding is that until a few decades ago, primaries and caucuses were much more restricted to party elites.  It was a much more restricted process.  And back in those days, I guess candidates like Donald Trump and Ben Carson had much less chance of coming up like today.  But do you hear any arguments pointing that fact out?  And do you hear any arguments calling for change of the system?

MR LICHTMAN:  Got it.

QUESTION:  Changing it back to the primary system.  And actually there’s another question.  Millennials.

MR LICHTMAN:  That was a pretty long one.  (Laughter.)

QUESTION:  I know.  Sorry about that. 

MR LICHTMAN:  Yeah, we’re running out of time, so —

QUESTION:  Millennials.  Just – and the second question is very short.  I’m interested in the Millennials.  Do they – how do they impact 2016?  Thank you very much.

MR LICHTMAN:  Let me answer your first question.  Yes, there has been a revolution in how the parties select their presidential nominees, and the revolution dates back to the Democratic nomination in 1968 when the country was so deeply divided over the Vietnam War.  You may recall the sitting President was Lyndon Johnson, who dropped out.  He was eligible to run again, but he dropped out of the election because of the divisions over the war.  And it looked Bobby Kennedy – anti-war candidate – particularly after he won the California primary would be nominated, but on the very eve of winning that primary Kennedy was assassinated.  And the result was someone who had entered no primaries, Hubert Humphrey, the Vice President, was nominated and the anti-war wing of the Democratic Party was outraged. 

And as a concession to those folks, the Democratic Party set up a commission on delegate selection headed by a very famous liberal who would be the next party nominee, Senator George McGovern of South Dakota, and they completely changed the rules for nomination.  Now the only way you could get a delegate was in open primaries and open caucuses.  It used to be there were a lot of states were the party bosses, behind closed doors, would pick the nominee, as you pointed out.  And the Democratic Party adopted this open system and the Republicans followed suit.  And since then, conventions haven’t mattered a wit.  Nominees get selected in the primaries and caucuses and by the voters.  And there has been tons of complaints about it.  Let’s go back to the old system of having these gray, wise, old men sit in a smoke-filled room and pick the nominee; it’s not going to happen.  This system is firmly in place.  No one is going to disenfranchise the voters.

As far as the millennials, I resist all that kind of breaking down the electorate in these ways.  The electorate moves in one piece generally.   Yes, there are huge differences within the electorate, but the electorate is going to make one decision and one decision only:  Have the Democrats governed well enough to get four more years in the White House, or have they governed poorly enough so that voters want a change?  That is the theory behind the keys to the White House.  And to get the scoop, as I said, my book will be out in about four months, sixth edition.

MODERATOR:  We have time for one or two more.

QUESTION:  Hello.  Oliver Grimm for the Austrian newspaper, Die Presse.  Could you briefly talk about the House and particularly in light of how the Republican Party there has – sorry, disintegrated?  Does it actually make a matter if there’s a formally Republican majority there if they can’t really decide on the things that it really wants?

MR LICHTMAN:  Yeah, I haven’t talked about the House.  Let me talk a little bit about the house.  The House, of course, is entirely different than the Senate where you’re elected in districts within the states.  And there’s one word to describe the House, and that word is gerrymander.  Do you all know what a gerrymander is?  It’s where you concoct the districts to favor one party.  And the truth is today, 85 to 90 percent of House districts aren’t competitive in the general election.  The voters don’t decide the election; the line drawers fix the districts so they’re clearly going to win for one party or the other.  And both parties do it.  Republicans have been better because they won the 2010 midterms and the last redistricting was right after that, so – strange places like Pennsylvania that’s a Democratic state that has an overwhelming Republican majority in the House.

But that also means something else.  Where’s the action, then, if it’s not in the general elections in the primary?  And this has led to the election of a lot of very conservative Republican members of the House, the so-called Tea Party Coalition.  And that’s the conflict you’re seeing within the House, between the Tea Party Coalition and the more mainstream Republicans who are more willing to possibly work with the Democrats to some extent and accommodate them.  And by the way, that same division is present within the Republican electorate itself.  There’s a small majority of Republicans, when they’re polled, who say don’t compromise; stick to principles.  But 30 to 45 to 40 percent of Republicans say we should compromise.

So you’re absolutely right, there is a real division within the Republican Party.  And while having a consensus speaker like Paul Ryan’s going to paper it over temporarily, the conflicts within the House are not going to end.

MODERATOR:  Okay.  We’ve got time for one more question.  We’ll go to (off-mike).

QUESTION:  Thank you. Jane with China’s Sina News.  My question is about social media.  How do you think the social media changed the dynamic of the presidential campaign?  And secondly – quick question – how important is the endorsement from the celebrity, congressmen, politician to the presidential candidate?  Thank you.

MR LICHTMAN:  I’ll answer your last question first.  Endorsements aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.  And that’s been true for a long time historically.  The classic example historically is Edmund Muskie, who had run for vice president on the Democratic ticket in ’68.  Had every single endorsement of everyone, had all the money, and his candidacy completely collapsed to the insurgent campaign of George McGovern.  Certainly Ben Carson and Donald Trump are not leading the field because of endorsements.  Jeb Bush would be ahead if you went solely with endorsements.  So I don’t think endorsements really matter one bit.

And what was your other question? 

Social media.  They’ve changed campaigns very little to this point.  Everyone says, “Oh, social media’s going to take over the campaign.”  Nonsense.  The overwhelming bulk of money by candidates – at every level, really – if you can afford it, is still spent on traditional media, particularly television.  And the vast bulk of campaign contributions do not come in through social media; they come in through traditional fundraising methods.

That said, however, social media is becoming increasingly important.  It hasn’t taken over yet, but I think it will be more important in this campaign than ever before because of one very simple fact:  Today, more people get their news from social media than they do from any other source.  And so people do go to social – they go to scores of different places, but social media is displacing everything else as a source of news.  So I do think it will be more important in this campaign than ever before.

Thank you all very much.

MODERATOR:  Thank you all for coming.  This event is now concluded. 

# # #

 

Washington Foreign Press Center

U.S. Department of State


WHAT:          Washington Foreign Press Center On-The-Record Briefing

 

TOPIC:          State of the Race 2016: An overview of the 2016 Elections for foreign correspondents covering their first U.S. election

 

BRIEFER:      Professor Allan Lichtman, American University Professor of History and frequent political commentator and electoral forecaster

 

WHEN:          Wednesday, October 28, 2015, at 11:00 a.m.

 

WHERE:        National Press Building, 529 14th Street, NW, Suite 800

 

RSVP:            Interested media should respond to FPCOwner@state.gov. 

 

BACKGROUND:  Allan Lichtman, American University Professor of History and frequent political commentator and electoral forecaster, will provide an overview of the ‘state of the race’ for the 2016 presidential, Congressional, and state elections on the morning of the upcoming October 28 Republican Party debate in Boulder, CO.  Professor Lichtman will discuss the state of the race for the current slate of Democratic, Republican, and third party candidates. He will also address which House and Senate races are competitive this election cycle, and whether the Democratic Party will win back the House or the Senate.  In addition, Lichtman will forecast which battleground states are competitive this election cycle and whether they are leaning red or blue.  Lastly, Lichtman will lay out a series of issues to watch, from the perspective of foreign media who are covering their first U.S. election and want to quickly get up to speed on the ways in which U.S. politics are different from other parliamentary systems around the world. 

NOTE:  All briefings are subject to change.  Please call (202) 504-6300 or visit the FPC website at http://fpc.state.gov for the latest information on this and other FPC programs.

 

BROADCASTERS:  Download a digital copy of the video at www.dvidshub.net/USDOS. 

Washington Foreign Press Center
National Press Building
529 14th Street, NW, Suite 800

Washington, DC  20045 Phone: (202) 504-6300 || Fax: (202) 504-6334

REMARKS: Secretary of State John Kerry At the 2015 Global Diaspora Week Launch Event “Partnering for Global Impact”

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Office of the Spokesperson

For Immediate Release

 REMARKS

October 9, 2015

Secretary of State John Kerry At the 2015 Global Diaspora Week Launch Event “Partnering for Global Impact”

October 9, 2015

Loy Henderson Auditorium

Washington, D.C.

SECRETARY KERRY:  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  Thank you very, very much.  I apologize for being a little bit late, and if this is indeed the moment you’ve all been waiting for, you’re leading very drab lives.  (Laughter.)  I’m really happy to be here with all of you.  Thank you very much. 

Welcome to the launch of the Global Diaspora Week here at the State Department.  We’re very proud of this effort and it’s a very important effort in many, many ways.  I think that you will all agree that when it comes to elevating the role of public-private partnerships in our diplomacy, the fellow who just introduced me is the gold standard for doing that.  And together with – (applause).  Where’d he go?  He’s over here somewhere.  There he is – Thomas.  Thank you very much.  And Drew O’Brien has just returned from Azerbaijan.  He is our leader of this effort at the Office of Global Partnerships, and he helped to launch, together with Thomas, the Fishackathon, which puts coders to work promoting sustainable fisheries around the world.  And he’s also working on creating – they are also working on creating opportunities for young women and girls in Rwanda through our Women in Science Girls STEAM Camp.  And he’s been a leader in bringing more veterans into the State Department through our VIP Fellowship.  So Thomas, thank you for working with Drew and providing this very, very important leadership.  You have raised everybody’s expectations, and all of us look forward to a lot more important work together.

I also want to recognize our partners at USAID, the International Diaspora Engagement Alliance, and Angelique Kidjo, who is one of the most eloquent and forceful advocates for human rights and the empowerment of girls.  Thank you, all of you, for being here and being part of this.  (Applause.)

It’s more than appropriate that we’re gathering here in this hall, which is named the Loy Henderson hall, one of our most capable diplomats, a man whose first tour brought him originally to Ireland as vice consul.

And I say this because as someone who represented Massachusetts for decades, I hold a very special place for the contributions that Irish Americans have made to both of our countries.  And I will never forget standing with my former Senate colleague, Ted Kennedy, as we looked out his office window at the so-called “Golden Stairs” of the Boston Harbor, where all eight of his great-grandparents first set foot in America.  And they traveled from Ireland on boats that were known as “coffin ships” because so many died in the crossing.  And Ted was raised on his grandfather’s stories, where those who survived the coffin ships had to then contend with employers who hung signs out in their stores saying the “Irish need not apply” for jobs.

So Ted put to use the lessons that he learned from his grandfather.  In fact, they became part of who he was – which was one of the great fighters for social justice and for all those who come to our shores in search of opportunity and liberty, and hope, freedom.

Frankly, it would be nice if that same lesson were fully understood by those who believe that America’s future is now somehow at risk because we reflect such a vast mixture of backgrounds and types.  There are some who suggest that no society as culturally diverse as ours can be as efficient or productive as one where most people are of the same religion or the same race.  But those who believe that miss the essential point – America is at its best not about groups working for themselves; it’s about free individuals becoming the best that they can be and, in so doing, making America together all that it is able to be.

Our diversity is a strength, not a weakness.  And in today’s interconnected world, let me tell you:  It is also a strategic imperative.  This era requires much more nimble institutions, more agile foreign policy.  And part of that agility comes from engaging diaspora communities.  And the reasons why are pretty simple.

First, we live in a world where the number of people living outside their country of origin has nearly tripled to more than 230 million.  The United States has the largest number of diaspora members of any country; more than 60 million Americans are first or second-generation immigrants.  And at the same time, we’ve gone from an era where power lived almost exclusively in old establishment hierarchies to an era where power lives in networks, and that is evidence in these objects that are pointing at me, recording all that we are doing.  (Laughter.)  That’s where power is in today’s world – in smartphones, and iPads, and in people’s ability to communicate 24/7 and be in touch. 

Second, diaspora communities are often the prime movers in responding to important events, whether we’re talking about a natural disaster or a terror attack, a financial crisis, or even emerging business opportunities.  If something big happens in Ukraine or Japan or Mexico or Israel or Nigeria, the diaspora is going to be talking and thinking about it almost before anybody else.  And the 21st century demands a more inclusive foreign policy, and diaspora communities are often the first people to know about an issue and bring it to the attention of people in positions of power.  They are often the first to debate an issue or to put out options; they are the first to have an impact on the ground – the most direct and the fastest.

Third, quite simply, in today’s world, partnerships matter.  No country – not even the United States – can go it alone.  So we depend on our international allies and our partners for a lot, and our diaspora communities can help make those partnerships work.  The big reason for that is the leaders of these communities are some of the best cultural ambassadors that we could ask for.

But you don’t need to take my word for it.  Just look at the headlines this week:  New York Times:  “Approval of the TPP is Vital for Continued U.S. Power in Asia.”  From The Telegraph: “Hurricane Joaquin brings flooding to south east USA.”  From The Washington Post: “The refugee crisis is here to stay.”

When you look down the list of challenges that we face – the headlines every single day, from natural disasters to promoting economic growth to the humanitarian crisis in the Middle East – one thing is absolutely clear:  Diaspora communities are helping to meet each and every one of those challenges.

After Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, leaders from the Asia Pacific diaspora worked together to support the relief efforts.  The U.S.-Philippines Society helped organize a concert to raise funds for relief, and the Vietnamese American community gave generously to the cause.

After the devastating earthquake in Nepal just this spring, Nepali American leaders in business and philanthropy launched campaigns on social media and raised tens of thousands of dollars for clothing, medical equipment, food, tents, and other emergency supplies. 

After the outbreak of Ebola, the Sierra Leone, Liberian, and Guinean diaspora community immediately rallied to turn the tide against the disease by sending urgently needed medical supplies, food, and money, and often by communicating to people directly to institute best practices and avoid spreading the disease.

Diaspora communities are also helping to build shared prosperity and empower women entrepreneurs.  The U.S.-Pakistan Women’s Council helps to promote small business development in Pakistan.  And the Calvert Foundation, together with USAID and the State Department, just launched an initiative that will make it easier for the Indian American diaspora to invest in small and medium-sized businesses back home.

Meanwhile, the State Department is working with our partners to support investment, small businesses, and education in Latin America through the Raices Initiative, which means roots, and it is appropriate because it is precisely from that kind of effort, from the seeds that are planted by that effort, that prosperity ultimately grows. 

We are all connected all the time now.  It’s part of what’s made the world smaller and it presses in on people to some degree.  But for most people, I think they see the opportunity and they see the benefit of being in touch and staying in touch and communicating the right messages. 

We see this entrepreneurial spirit in the response of Syrian Americans to the horrific crisis in the Middle East.  Doctors from the Syrian American Medical Society have lent their time and talent to support clinics in the Za’atari camp in Jordan, which I visited during my first year as Secretary.  And they are providing counseling and social services for women and children wherever possible in Syria.  And they are finding ways to reach people who would suffer or die without their help.  And that is the very definition of courage and citizenship under fire. 

Last month, I announced that the United States would raise its refugee admissions to 100,000 in 2017 in response to the Syrian migration crisis.  It is rightly a point of pride that the American people have a history of welcoming those who are in urgent need of a safe haven.  That’s part of who we are.  It’s the American DNA.  It’s how most of this country came to be here.  But we need the help of the diaspora communities today, and everyone in this room, we need your help to integrate refugees not only from Syria, but from all the other regions of conflict, from all those – for all those people who are fortunate enough to be able to find their way, through our policies, through our welcome, to come to the United States and share in this opportunity.

So in closing, let me be pretty direct:  Immigrants built America.  And immigrants continue to make America what it is today.  (Applause.)  And it is an irony that many people just don’t seem to understand that or be willing to pay respect to our own history.  It is precisely the right to be different – in background, race, culture, and tongue – that brings the American people together and makes us one.  I repeat:  It is the right to be different that defines the United States of America.

And this event, this celebration of diaspora communities and of our diversity is a beautiful and meaningful reflection of that truth. 

We should never forget that what makes America different from almost every other nation is not a common bloodline, or a common religion, or a common sectarian identity, or a common ideology, or a common heritage.  What makes us different is that we are united by an uncommon idea, that we are all created equal and all endowed with inalienable rights.  (Applause.)  That’s different and that is special.

To paraphrase Walt Whitman, each of us has a right to take his or her place in the American procession; each has the right to fulfill his or her potential, no matter who they are or how long they’ve been in the country or how much money they have.  This is the principle that defines and, most importantly, elevates America, and I am proud that our diaspora communities haven’t just heeded that call – they are leading the charge and living it every single day. 

Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

# # #

July 28 – August 1, 2014 DC Events

Washington PressPass: July 28 – August 1, 2014
*********************************************************************
The Foreign Press Center is pleased to share with you our weekly announcement of events in the Washington, D.C. area. The Washington Foreign Press Center provides this information as a convenience, and the inclusion of an organization or activity does not imply endorsement, approval or recommendation. Please note that this information is subject to change.

NOTE: For the latest information on events, please check our online PressPass at: http://www.fpc.state.gov/events/index.htm

*********************************************************************
Monday, July 28, 2014

WHEN: 3:00 – 5:15 pm
WHAT: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP) Discussion on “Nuclear Politics on the Korean Peninsula.” Complete agenda and list of speakers.
WHERE: 1779 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-483-7600; web site: http://www.carnegieendowment.org
SOURCE: CEIP – event announcement

WHEN: 4:00 – 5:30 pm
WHAT: National Endowment for Democracy (NED) Discussion on “Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova: How Corruption Threatens the Eastern Partnership.” Speakers: Oliver Bullough, Journalist and Author; Peter Pomerantsev, Journalist, Author and Documentary Producer; Vladimir Soloviev, Editor-in-chief, Kommersant, Moldova; Olga Khvostunova, Editor-in-chief, Institute of Modern Russia; moderated by Anne Applebaum, Director of the Transitions Forum, Legatum Institute; with introductory remarks by Christopher Walker, International Forum for Democratic Studies.
WHERE: 1025 F Street, N.W., Suite 800
CONTACT: 202-378-9675; web site: http://www.ned.org
SOURCE: NED – event announcement

************************************************************
Tuesday, July 29, 2014

WHEN: 9:00 – 11:00 am
WHAT: Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) Discussion on “Crafting Economic Policy at State.” Featured speaker: Catherine A. Novelli, Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment, U.S. Department of State. Complete agenda and other speakers.
WHERE: CSIS, 1616 Rhode Island Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-887-0200; web site: http://www.csis.org
SOURCE: CSIS – event announcement

WHEN: 10:00 am
WHAT: Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing on “Iran: Status of the P-5+1.” Witnesses: Panel One: The Honorable Wendy Sherman, Under Secretary For Political Affairs, U.S. Department of State; The Honorable David S. Cohen, Under Secretary For Terrorism And Financial Intelligence, U.S. Department of Treasury; Panel Two: Dr. Gary Samore, Executive Director For Research At The Belfer Center For Science And International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Dr. Olli Heinonen, Senior Fellow For Research At The Belfer Center For Science And International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Cambridge, Massachusetts; and Mr. Michael Singh, Lane-Swig Senior Fellow And Managing Director,
The Washington Institute.
WHERE: Senate Dirksen Building, Room 419
CONTACT: 202-224-4651; web site: http://www.foreign.senate.gov
SOURCE: Senate Foreign Relations Committee – hearing announcement

WHEN: 10:00 – 11:00 am
WHAT: Brookings Institution – Growing the Development Dividend: A Conversation with U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman. Speakers: Event Agenda: Kemal Dervis, Vice President and Director, Global Economy and Development, The Edward M. Bernstein Scholar; Keynote Address by Ambassador Michael Froman, U.S. Trade Representative; Moderated by Amadou Sy, Senior Fellow, Global Economy and Development, Africa Growth Initiative.
WHERE: National Press Club, 529 14th Street, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-797-6105 or events@brookings.edu ; web site: http://www.brookings.edu
SOURCE: Brookings – event announcement

WHEN: 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
WHAT: U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) – Colombia Peace Forum: Peace Proposals from Victims of Colombia’s Armed Conflict. Speakers: Clara Rojas González (To Be Confirmed, Colombian National Congress Representative; Luis Fernando Arias, Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca (CRIC); Deyis Margarita Carmona Tejada, Spokeswoman, Peasants’ Assembly of Cesar for Land Restitution and Good Living; and José Antequera Guzmán, Co-Founder, Sons and Daughters of Memory and Against Impunity.
WHERE: 2301 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-457-1700; web site: http://www.usip.org
SOURCE: USIP – event announcement

WHEN: 10:15 am – 1:15 pm
WHAT: House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing on “The Shootdown of Malaysian Flight 17 and the Escalating Crisis in Ukraine.” Witnesses: Mr. Ian Brzezinski, Resident Senior Fellow, Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, Atlantic Council; Mr. Anthony Salvia, Executive Director, American Institute in Ukraine; and The Honorable William B. Taylor, Vice President for Middle East and Africa, United States Institute of Peace (Former United States Ambassador to Ukraine).
WHERE: House Rayburn Building, Room 2172
CONTACT: 202-225-5021; web site: http://foreignaffairs.house.gov
SOURCE: House Foreign Affairs Committee – hearing announcement

WHEN: 12:00 pm
WHAT: Cato Institute Book Discussion on “The Republican Party’s Civil War: Will Freedom Win?” Speakers: Author Edward Hudgins, Director of Advocacy, and Senior Scholar, The Atlas Society; with comments by Henry Olsen, Senior Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center; moderated by John Samples, Vice President and Publisher, Cato Institute.
WHERE: Cato, 1000 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-842-0200; web site: http://www.cato.org
SOURCE: Cato – event announcement

WHEN: 1:30 – 3:00 pm
WHAT: Stimson Center Discussion on “US-Japan-India Relations: Prospects And Challenges.” Speakers: Takaaki Asano, research fellow with the Tokyo Foundation whose general area of expertise is Japanese foreign/national security policy and international trade policy; Dr. Satu Limaye, Director of the East-West Center in Washington; and Yuki Tatsumi (moderator), senior associate of the East Asia program at the Stimson Center.
WHERE: 1111 19th Street, N.W., 12th Floor
CONTACT: 202-223-5956; web site: http://www.stimson.org
SOURCE: Stimson – even announcement

WHEN: 2:00 – 4:00 pm
WHAT: Woodrow Wilson Center (WWC) Discussion on “National Security and Climate Change: What Do We Need to Know?” Speakers: Alice Hill, White House Senior Advisor for Preparedness and Resilience; Ian Kraucunas, Deputy Director of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s Atmospheric Sciences and Global Change Division; Commander John Marburger, Climate Change Affairs Officer of the U.S. Navy’s Task Force Climate Change; Larry Phillips, Chair of the King County Council; Henry M. Jackson Foundation Vice President Craig Gannett, a partner at Davis Wright Tremaine and co-chair of the firm’s Energy and Environmental practice group, will moderate the discussion; Roger-Mark De Souza, Director of the Wilson Center’s Program will open the briefing and provide concluding remarks.
WHERE: 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-691-4000; web site: http://www.wilsoncenter.org
SOURCE: WWC – event announcement

WHEN: 10:00 am
WHAT: Senate Finance Committee Hearing on “The U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement: Lessons Learned Two Years Later.” Witnesses: TBA
WHERE: Senate Dirksen Building, Room # – TBA
CONTACT: 202-224-4515; web site: http://www.finance.senate.gov
SOURCE: Senate Finance Committee – hearing announcement

WHEN: 5:30 – 7:00 pm
WHAT: Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) – The Value of Higher Education in Development: A Conversation with 2014 YALI Washington Fellows on Education & Youth Entrepreneurs. Complete agenda and list of speakers.
WHERE: CSIS, 1616 Rhode Island Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-887-0200; web site: http://www.csis.org
SOURCE: CSIS – event announcement

***********************************************************
Wednesday, July 30, 2014

WHEN: 10:00 am
WHAT: Senate Finance Committee Hearing on “The African Growth and Opportunity Act at 14: The Road Ahead.” Witnesses: TBA
WHERE: Senate Dirksen Building, Room 215
CONTACT: 202-224-4515; web site: http://www.finance.senate.gov
SOURCE: Senate Finance Committee – hearing announcement

WHEN: 10:00 am
WHAT: Bipartisan Policy Center Discussion on “Children and the Crisis at the Border.” Complete agenda and list of speakers.
WHERE: National Press Club, 529 14th Street, N.W., 13th Floor, the Holeman Lounge
CONTACT: 202-204-2400; web site: http://bipartisanpolicy.org
SOURCE: Bipartisan Policy Center – event announcement

WHEN: 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
WHAT: Woodrow Wilson Center (WWC) Discussion on “Data Journalism and Policymaking: A Changing Landscape.” Speakers: Kalev H. Leetaru, Yahoo! Fellow at Georgetown University; Alexander B Howard, Writer and Editor; and Louise Lief, / Public Policy Scholar, Independent Journalist.
WHERE: 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-691-4000; web site: http://www.wilsoncenter.org
SOURCE: WWC – event announcement

WHEN: 10:30 – 11:30 am
WHAT: Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) Discussion on “Credible Maritime Partners in the 21st Century.” Speakers: Admiral Sir George Zambellas, KCB DSC ADC DL, First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff, Royal Navy; Moderated by Franklin Miller, Senior Adviser (non-resident), International Security Program, CSIS; Introductory remarks by Dr. John Hamre, President, CEO, and Pritzker Chair, CSIS.
WHERE: CSIS, 1616 Rhode Island Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-887-0200; web site: http://www.csis.org
SOURCE: CSIS – event announcement

WHEN: 10:30 am – 12:00 pm
WHAT: Atlantic Council Discussion on “Tunisia’s Political Prospects.” Speakers: Duncan Pickard, Nonresident Fellow, Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, Atlantic Council;
Fatima Hadji, Program Officer for the Maghreb, National Endowment for Democracy;
Moderated by Karim Mezran, Senior Fellow, Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, Atlantic Council.
WHERE: 1030 15th Street, N.W., 12th Floor
CONTACT: 202-463-7226; web site: http://www.atlanticcouncil.org
SOURCE: Atlantic Council – event announcement

WHEN: 12:00 – 1:00 pm
WHAT: Heritage Foundation Discussion on “The Iraq Meltdown: What Next?” Speakers: Keynote remarks by The Honorable Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), Member, United States House of Representatives; Followed by a Discussion with Jessica Lewis, Research Director, Institute for the Study of War; Steven P. Bucci, Ph.D., Director, Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign and National Security Policy, The Heritage Foundation; and James Phillips, Senior Research Fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs, The Heritage Foundation.
WHERE: Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Avenue, N.E.
CONTACT: 202-546-4400; web site: http://www.heritage.org
SOURCE: Heritage – event announcement

WHEN: 12:00 – 1:30 pm
WHAT: Middle East Institute (MEI) Discussion of the recently released World Bank report, “More Jobs, Better Jobs: A Priority for Egypt.” Speakers: Inger Andersen (MENA Vice President, The World Bank), lead author Tara Vishwanath (Poverty Global Practice, The World Bank) will present the main findings of the report, focusing on its implications for policy; Discussants: Hisham Fahmy, American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt; Hafez Ghanem, Global Economy and Development Program, The Brookings Institution; and Ana Revenga, Poverty Global Practice, The World Bank; journalist Paul Danahar (BBC) will moderate the event.
WHERE: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1779 Massachusetts Avenue NW
CONTACT: 202-785-1141; web site: http://www.mei.edu
SOURCE: MEI – event announcement

WHEN: 12:30 – 2:00 pm
WHAT: Atlantic Council Discussion on “Shifting Political Alliances: Are Gains from Yemen’s National Dialogue Slipping.” Speakers: Mohammed Almaitami, Chairman, Khobara Center for Development and Consulting Services; Moderated by Danya Greenfield, Acting Director, Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, Atlantic Council.
WHERE: 1030 15th Street, N.W., 12th Floor
CONTACT: 202-463-7226; web site: http://www.atlanticcouncil.org
SOURCE: Atlantic Council – event announcement

WHEN: 2:00 – 5:00 pm
WHAT: House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing on “Twenty-Years of U.S. Policy on North Korea: From Agreed Framework to Strategic Patience.” Witnesses: The Honorable Glyn Davies, Special Representative for North Korea Policy, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, U.S. Department of State; and The Honorable Robert King, Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights, Office of the Special Envoy for Human Rights in North Korea, U.S. Department of State.
WHERE: House Rayburn Building, Room 2172
CONTACT: 202-225-5021; web site: http://foreignaffairs.house.gov
SOURCE: House Foreign Affairs Committee – hearing announcement

WHEN: 2:00 – 5:00 pm
WHAT: House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing on “Building Prosperity in Latin America: Investor Confidence in the Rule of Law.” Witness: The Honorable James K. Glassman, Visiting Fellow, American Enterprise Institute (Former Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, U.S. Department of State).
WHERE: House Rayburn Building, Room 2200
CONTACT: 202-225-5021; web site: http://foreignaffairs.house.gov
SOURCE: House Foreign Affairs Committee – hearing announcement

WHEN: 6:00 – 8:00 pm
WHAT: Middle East Institute (MEI) – A Conversation with Taysir Batniji, Acclaimed Gaza-born Artist. Speakers: Gaza-born multi-media artist Taysir Batniji in a conversation with Jerusalem Fund curator Dagmar Painter.
WHERE: MEI, 1761 N Street, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-785-1141; web site: http://www.mei.edu
SOURCE: MEI – event announcement

******************************************************
Thursday, July 31, 2014

WHEN: 11:00 am – 12:15 pm
WHAT: Atlantic Council Discussion on “The U.S. – Africa Leaders Summit: A Preview.” Speakers: The Hon. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Assistant Secretary for African Affairs,
U.S. Department of State; Moderated by J. Peter Pham, Director, Africa Center, Atlantic Council.
WHERE: 1030 15th Street, N.W., 12th Floor
CONTACT: 202-463-7226; web site: http://www.atlanticcouncil.org
SOURCE: Atlantic Council – event announcement

WHEN: 12:00 pm
WHAT: Cato Institute Discussion on the “Federal Budget Outlook: It’s Worse Than You Think.” Speakers: Sen. Ron Johnson, (R-WI) and Member, Senate Budget Committee; and Chris Edwards, Editor, DownsizingGovernment.Org, Cato Institute; Moderated by Daniel J. Mitchell, Senior Fellow, Cato Institute.
WHERE: 121 Cannon House Office Building
CONTACT: 202-842-0200; web site: http://www.cato.org
SOURCE: Cato – event announcement

WHEN: 3:30 – 5:00 pm
WHAT: Atlantic Council – Gaza: Breaking the Vicious Cycle, A Conversation with Dr. Salam Fayyad. Speakers: Dr. Salam Fayyad, Distinguished Statesman, Atlantic Council;
Welcome remarks by Gen. James L. Jones Jr., USMC (Ret.), President, Jones Group International, Chairman, Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, Atlantic Council; Moderated by Frederick Kempe, President and CEO, Atlantic Council.
WHERE: 1030 15th Street, N.W., 12th Floor
CONTACT: 202-463-7226; web site: http://www.atlanticcouncil.org
SOURCE: Atlantic Council – event announcement

******************************************************
Friday, August 1, 2014

WHEN: 1:00 pm
WHAT: National Press Club (NPC) Luncheon with Denis Sassou-Nguesso, President of the Republic of the Congo.
WHERE: NPC, National Press Building, 529 14th Street, NW, 13th Floor
CONTACT: 202-662-7501; web site: http://press.org
SOURCE: NPC – event announcement

******************************************************

Useful Calendars:

http://fpc.state.gov/events/c42190.htm – New York Foreign Press Center PressPass

http://fpc.state.gov/events/c42191.htm – West Coast PressPass

http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/appt/ — US State Department daily appointments schedule

http://www.defenselink.mil/today/index.aspx?showdate=03/30/2007 — Today in Department of Defense (DoD)

http://www.capitolhearings.org/ — C-SPAN’s schedule of Congressional Hearings

http://npc.press.org/ — National Press Club

http://www.si.edu/events/ — Smithsonian Events

http://www.loc.gov/loc/events/ — Library of Congress

Official Transcript of Foreign Press Center Briefing with Marie Harf

FOREIGN PRESS CENTER BRIEFING WITH MARIE HARF, DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON

TOPIC: FOREIGN POLICY UPDATE

THURSDAY, JULY 24, 2014, 3:00 P.M. EDT

THE WASHINGTON FOREIGN PRESS CENTER, WASHINGTON, D.C.

MS. HARF: Thank you. Hello, everyone. It’s so good to be back here, I think for my fifth briefing they were saying, so looking forward to this one and, of course, to many more.

As you know, there’s a lot going on in the world. Secretary Kerry is currently in Cairo, working to see if we can make progress on getting a ceasefire with Gaza. I was in Vienna for the last few weeks working on the Iran negotiations on the nuclear program, lots going on there as well. Obviously, you’ve seen all of the news about Ukraine lately. I’ve spoken to it a number of times in the briefing over in the State Department, but I’m sure there are questions on that as well.

So with that, I think I’m going to go ahead and open it up to questions. I’m going to try and get to everyone, so go ahead. We’ll start here and I’ll work down the front and then move towards the back. And please say – I know most of you now, but please say your name and where you’re from as well.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you. Sonia Schott. I am today with RCA in Colombia. My question is on Latin America. There are some news that the Venezuelan general Hugo Carvajal has been arrested yesterday in Aruba under the request of the U.S. I was wondering if you have any comments on that.

MS. HARF: I hadn’t seen that. I’m happy to look into it. I’m sorry, the first question I don’t have an answer to, but I hadn’t seen that. It sounds a little dubious to me, but we can check afterwards and get you an answer.

QUESTION: I have a second one, just —

MS. HARF: Okay. Then ask a second. Hopefully I can answer this one.

QUESTION: Okay. The opposition leader in Venezuela is facing a trial and presently his wife was here denouncing a lack of transparency. I was wondering if you have any comments on that too. Thank you.

MS. HARF: Well, look, we’ve said throughout the crisis in Venezuela that this is a decision for the Venezuelan people to make. There needs to be room for dissent. There needs to be room for opposition. We cannot see arrest of – for political reasons. We have to see a process go forward that’s inclusive. We haven’t seen a lot of progress there, but this is certainly a key priority for us. It’s not about the United States, as much as sometimes the regime would like to point at us. It’s about what the Venezuelan people want and indeed deserve. So I don’t have any more updates for you than that, but obviously, we want to see an inclusive process going forward.

Yes. I’m just going to go across the front here.

QUESTION: Shi Larasteve (ph), Voice of America, Persian TV. Yesterday, a group of Republican lawmakers unveiled a legislation which forces – if passed, forces the Administration, President Obama, to seek approval from the Congress for any final deal with Iran. What is the Administration’s strategy against these maneuvers?

MS. HARF: Well, a few points. We are aware there’s new proposed legislation regarding the Joint Plan of Action, any final comprehensive Joint Plan of Action we would get to. But I’d make a few key points here. The first is that Congress has played a key role throughout the years in our policy towards Iran, most importantly by imposing very serious and significant sanctions on Iran to put the economic pressure in place that indeed has, in part, led us to the diplomatic place we are today.

But there are not 535 commanders-in-chief; there’s just one. And our diplomatic negotiating team led by the President and the Secretary and our team on the ground – I was just there for three weeks – really needs the space to be able to negotiate with the Iranians and with our partners to get to a comprehensive agreement. We have been clear with Congress that our goal is to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, to ensure their program is exclusively for peaceful purposes. But indeed, we need space to be able to get the right combination of pieces to eventually get there.

So we don’t support attempts by Congress to try to insert themselves into outlining what a final deal might look like; indeed, there are a number of different combinations that could get to our goals here, and we need the space to be able to get there. So we will continue to talk to Congress, to hear from them. We’d like to hear their ideas, but we don’t support this type of legislation.

Yes. I like your tie. It’s very festive.

QUESTION: Thank you, thank you. (Laughter.)

MS. HARF: I do. I like it.

QUESTION: I like it too. (Laughter.) This is my special tie to get questions at briefings, (Laughter.)

MS. HARF: There you go. It worked, clearly.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MS. HARF: It worked.

QUESTION: My name’s Andrei Sitov. I’m with TASS, the Russian news agency. Thank you for doing the briefing. We do look forward to many more. Thanks for our friends at the FPC for hosting it.

MS. HARF: Absolutely.

QUESTION: A couple of things. On Ukraine, first off – and I quote – you said about 20 seconds ago, “There needs to be room for dissent. There needs to be room for opposition.” The Ukrainian parliament has just taken steps, so the Ukrainian Government supports those steps to dissolve their Communist Party. Isn’t it stifling the opposition, the criticism, political voices?

MS. HARF: Well, a few points. I think I do believe what you’re referring to is draft legislation that hasn’t been approved that would ban the Communist Party. The Communist Party is not banned in Ukraine today. We do believe that all peaceful voices should be heard anywhere. So obviously, that’s something we feel is important in Ukraine and elsewhere. We will continue looking at the draft legislation as it goes through the process, but again, as of today, the Communist Party is not banned in Ukraine.

QUESTION: But do you support a ban? Do you support a ban?

MS. HARF: As I said, we’re not taking a position on the legislation other than to say that all peaceful voices should be heard in Ukraine.

QUESTION: And secondly, and more importantly, obviously, with the tragic loss of the Malaysian airplane, the Russian defense ministry have released their own tracking data and have called on others, specifically on the United States, to release yours.

MS. HARF: To release what?

QUESTION: So – the tracking data from – I understand it’s from the satellites, from what they saw from the satellites on that particular day. And they claim that there was a U.S. satellite directly above that spot on that particular day – maybe a coincidence, maybe not. They – again, have you seen their data? What do you think about their information?

And secondly, can we expect you to release yours?

MS. HARF: Well, we have released up to this point our assessment about what happened and we’ve released as much information as we can at this point, that we’ve been able to declassify that underlies that assessment. So we are continuing to work through releasing more. But I’d just make a few points, and then if you have follow-ups, we can – you wore the tie today; we can keep talking. So that’s okay.

So first, we, based on a variety of information, assess, believe that this was an SA-11 fired from an area controlled by Russian separatists inside Ukraine. We have released a photo which has the trajectory of that missile based on classified information. We can’t get into how we know that. We have released that. We have also released additional information about why the two alternative theories put forward by the Russians are not plausible – the first being that it was a Ukrainian Su-25 fighter that shot down the aircraft.

Very briefly, the reasons we do not believe that this is plausible is because the only missiles it carries are short-range infrared guided missiles. Ground photography from the crash site is consistent with expected damage from a surface-to-air missile of the kind the separatists have indeed used and bragged about having, does not correspond to the kind of – what we would expect to see from an air-to-air missile such as the Su-25 has.

So we have put forward our assessment, based on a variety of information about why we believe that it indeed was an SA-11 fired from Russian-controlled separatist area. We believe an investigation needs to go forward to determine exactly who had their finger on the trigger. We still don’t know that, don’t know the intentions behind why they did this. So we think an investigation should continue, but we will continue to put out more information as we are able to do so.

QUESTION: And —

MS. HARF: Do you want the microphone? Should we wait?

QUESTION: — about their own data, have you seen the data released by the Russians?

MS. HARF: I’ve seen some of the information put out by the Russians. Again, we feel very strongly in our assessment of what happened.

Yes, I am just going to go across the front here. So – and then I will get to the rest of the room. I promise.

QUESTION: Sungchul Rhee with SBS Seoul Broadcasting System from Seoul, Korea. I have two questions on Russia.

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: First is that this morning, Russian Government expressed concern over United States plan to introduce missile defense system in Korea – U.S. camps. It was the – it was called THAAD – the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system. What is your reaction to the – Russia’s statement here?

MS. HARF: Well, I didn’t see that specific statement, but in terms of missile defense, we have very clearly said we are committed to missile defense but also to missile defense cooperation with Russia, which would enhance the security of both NATO and of Russia. I understand there are strong opinions here in Russia about missile defense, but we have been very clear that it is not aimed at them, that we are looking at a variety of other threats, and that we will continue talking to them and being transparent with them about why we’re doing what we’re doing.

I haven’t seen this —

QUESTION: You mean the North Korean threat?

MS. HARF: Well, we are looking at a variety of threats when we talk about NATO and now we’re often looking at Iran when we talk about other places, we do look at a threat from North Korea, but – a variety of threats we’re looking at, but they are not designed to deter anything from Russia. Indeed, we’ve said we will cooperate with Russia on missile defense.

QUESTION: My second question is: You are dealing with really a lot of global issues at the same time which really you’re juggling. And – but not a few critics are criticizing the Obama Administration’s foreign policy, questioning on – if President Obama is adequately dealing with all the issues at the same time effectively. Even General Jim Jones, a former national security advisor to President Obama, appeared on TV this morning and he was citing a seismic shift in the relations between the United States and Russia. What is your reaction to those issues?

MS. HARF: Well, there’s a couple questions there and let me try to address all of them. I think in terms of our relationship with Russia over the time we’ve been in office in this Administration, we have always said we will work together when we can. If you look at – I mean, again, going back to Vienna where I was for the Iran talks, we and the Russians are in lockstep on the exact same side about how we deal with the Iranian nuclear threat. We work very closely together on that issue. That doesn’t take away from the fact that much of what I have talked about this week at the briefings and that we deal with right now in the Administration is very serious concerns about Russian activity in Ukraine. And I’ve been very – I think we’ve all been very outspoken about that in our serious concerns there.

So it’s complicated. We work together when we can and we very strongly disagree when we do. And all of those things happen at the same time because the world is a big place, and we have places where we do have overlapping interests like when it comes to Iran’s nuclear program. But very many places where we have very divergent interests as well, as you’ve seen with Ukraine.

But on the broader question of foreign policy, you’re right; the world is a complicated, dangerous place at times. We are dealing with very serious crises, whether you look at Gaza, whether you look at Ukraine, whether you look at the host of other issues we’re dealing with right now.

And what we’ve always said is that we will do a few things, right. We have, since the beginning of this Administration, rebuilt partnerships and alliances if you look all over the world. Because in these crises, you need friends and you need partners and you need allies. And so while you can never make the world a perfect place, you can help address these when you have people on your side helping you. So that’s one thing we’ve done in terms of these challenges.

And I think you’ve seen Secretary Kerry not hesitate to get on a plane and try and make progress here. We have been very actively engaged in diplomacy and diplomatic efforts on all of these crises. We believe that diplomacy in many of these instances is the best way to handle it. That’s why you see him flying all over the world, to try and make progress here, because we are deeply and personally present and engaged in trying to deal with these crises. But they’re difficult and the world is complicated, and there are no easy answers, and people who tell you there are either just not paying attention or aren’t telling you the truth – one of the two.

So I think we will keep working on all of them. We take each one individually. There’s a different way we deal with all of them, but we have a really great team who is working very hard to do so.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. HARF: Yeah, we can go back. Yes, yes.

MS. HARF: But you need a microphone, Andrei.

QUESTION: And just what is your biggest success story in terms of winning new friends? Thank you.

MS. HARF: Well, look, when we took office – I think you can look at when we took office in 2009, which feels like an eternity ago probably to all of us, a lot of our relationships had waned in Asia, in Europe, all around the world. There had been eight years of neglect, and in some cases outright disagreement. So we have worked very, very hard over the past, I think, now six years – is that how long it’s been? – to rebuild these alliances. If you look, again, at the P5+1 in Europe and how we’re working on Iran together, we built an international coalition on Iran – not just at the negotiating table through the P5+1, but with all of the countries that buy oil from Iran, with all of the countries who have put sanctions in place, whether it’s Japan, South Korea, the UAE, India, China, all of the countries we’ve brought together to put pressure on Iran. That was done with really painstaking diplomatic work, with people going all over the world and saying, “This is why you should join us,” even though it’s really tough for many of these countries economically.

So I think that’s just one way we’ve done it. But again, look, these are tough challenges that we face.

I’m actually going to go to New York for a question, if they can hear me.

QUESTION: Thank you, Marie. With regard to the recent development in the Gaza Strip and the bombardment of the UNRWA school in Beit Hanoun and the increasing number of innocent civilian casualties, what does the Secretary Kerry have to say about the recent development, and would that be categorized as a war crime from the U.S. Department of State perspective and precedents? And with regard to Iraq, and excuse me, I’m going to bundle my questions together —

MS. HARF: Let me do Gaza first. You stay there and I’ll come back to you for Iraq, okay? So I don’t forget. So just stay there. On the UNRWA school, we are deeply saddened, very concerned about the tragic incident at the UN facility today. We’re still trying to determine the facts. But I think the reason the Secretary is on the ground in Cairo, has been shuttling back and forth trying to get a ceasefire here is because this – everything that we see happening needs to stop. We are increasingly concerned about civilian casualties on the Palestinian side. We’ve seen many, many rockets being fired from Hamas into Israel.

So the Secretary is very committed to seeing if he can get a ceasefire here. Obviously, it’s very complicated and it takes a lot of work on all sides to get that done. So we will continue working on it and we are very concerned by the rising civilian casualties. We think the Israelis need to do more to prevent them, and we’ll keep talking to them about it.

Now your second question on Iraq.

QUESTION: Can I have a follow-up on Gaza before we move to Iraq?

MS. HARF: Sure, you can. Yes.

QUESTION: For Gaza, there is an apparent war crime committed today. How does the United States justify this to its people, to the international community, within the principles and manners that the United States try to be a mediator in this conflict?

MS. HARF: Well, we’re still trying to get all the facts about what happened today, so I don’t want to jump to conclusions or put labels before we know all of the facts. What we do know is that Hamas has repeatedly kept rockets in civilian areas – in schools, in hospitals. But at the same time, we have told the Israelis and we have said publicly that they need to take more steps to protect civilian casualties, that they’re not doing enough. So we’ll get all the facts about this before we make a determination there.

But again, this just underscores why we believe a ceasefire is so critical to try to get in place. There are gaps between the two sides that remain. I don’t know if we’ll be able to, but we’re certainly working towards it for exactly this reason.

QUESTION: Moving along to Iraq, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant is persecuting Christians, Shiites, Yazidis, people from the Shabak, just for their religious faith and affiliation. To add to the crisis, there is some reports speaking about that the ISIL government, or whatever we can call it, is now requiring all females to go through female genital mutilation surgeries. Would there be within the UN Charter – would the United States consider pushing into the Security Council, applying Chapter 7 for military action against the ISIL militias at this point?

MS. HARF: Well, just a few points in what you asked. We are aware there are conflicting reports about ISIL issuing a decree ordering female genital mutilation. We’re aware there are some conflicting reports here. We are gathering more information. We can’t confirm the details at this point. But that goes without saying that we clearly condemn strongly this abhorrent practice no matter where it is. We know it can lead to very serious health consequences. We know it’s affected approximately 130 million women and girls worldwide, which is an extraordinary number and which is really unacceptable.

So we’ll get more details on this. But more broadly speaking, we have seen ISIL or ISIS, whatever name we want to use, go to extraordinary lengths to kill civilians, to attack them, oftentimes just for their religion, which is – has absolutely no place at all in Syria or Iraq. That’s why we’ve tried to help the Iraqis fight ISIL certainly by providing support, by providing assistance. We are providing advice to them and also, of course, weapons. When it comes on the Syrian side, we have increased our support to the moderate opposition, including through asking Congress for some funding so we can equip and train them. So those efforts are all ongoing, and we’re trying to help both of those folks fight ISIL now. I don’t have anything to preview in terms of UN Security Council action, but clearly we believe we, acting in partnership with our friends in the region, can try and help them fight this threat because they have really – I mean, you see some of the Christian communities, some of the things they’re doing there. It’s just disgusting, and we need to help put it to an end.

Yes, let’s go to the back here in the white jacket. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Thanks for doing this briefing, Ms. Harf. My name is Maria Garcia. I’m with Notimex, the Mexican news agency. The U.S. Bishop Conference sent a letter today to Secretary Kerry, and they ask to change the trade and economic policies in Central America and also address issues of drugs here and the trafficking of armaments. I wonder if the Secretary has any knowledge of the document or – and if you have any thoughts about that.

MS. HARF: Well, I haven’t seen the letter yet. You said it was sent today? Yeah. I’m sorry. I haven’t seen it, and I’m not sure if the Secretary has yet. As you know, he’s traveling, and I’m sure it will get to him soon. Obviously – and I was actually with the Secretary during his last trip there to Mexico City – there are a whole range of issues we’re working on in the region, including the security issues and when it comes to drugs and trafficking and those issues. We’ve talked a lot about the unaccompanied minors and children issue that we’ve seen coming across the border in such huge numbers lately. So there’s a whole range of issues. Trade, you mentioned, is one of them as well. So we’ll take a look at the letter when we get it, and I’m sure we’ll have some thoughts on it then. But suffice it to say, I don’t have any specific thoughts, because I haven’t seen it yet. I’m sorry.

Yes, let’s go right here in the middle, and then I’ll go to you. Let’s do you first, and then you’re next.

QUESTION: Hi. I’m Lauri Tankler with the Estonian Public Broadcasting. I got a couple questions on Ukraine —

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: — and Russia. So in your last briefing today, you already came out with the statement that you have evidence that Russia is shelling Ukraine from the —

MS. HARF: Firing artillery.

QUESTION: Yeah, firing from the Russian side of the border. What is that going to be – what does that mean in terms of that’s clearly an escalation? And what does that mean in the face of the threat of sectoral sanctions by the U.S.? Or what’s going to happen now?

MS. HARF: Well, it’s a good question. You’ve seen us continue to impose increasingly tough sanctions throughout this conflict, including very recently. And we have more ready to go if we think it’s appropriate to do so. So we’ll talk with – we’re particularly talking with our EU and European partners about how we can all impose more costs on Russia here. We know they’ve already had an impact. I don’t have anything new to announce today in terms of what might come next, but we have more steps ready to go, and we are willing to use them if we see more escalation of this kind.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So the European Union is under more and more criticism about not getting the decision done and pushing it forward to Tuesday and so on. Does the Administration still believe that it’s addressing the Russian question in lockstep with its European allies?

MS. HARF: Well, we do. We coordinate very closely on this, and we do think that the downing of MH17 should be a wakeup call for Europe. This happened in their backyard. There were many Europeans on this plane. This can’t go unpunished, so I think that’s a conversation we’re having. We do, at the same time, know that it is – Europe is much more economically intertwined with Russia than we are, for example, and we don’t want them to have to take steps that would adversely impact their economy while trying to impose costs on the Russians. So it is a balance, but we think there’s a way to strike it where they can impose more costs, and we’re encouraging them to do so.

QUESTION: But no criticism?

MS. HARF: I think I just encouraged them to do more, and I’ve said this should be a wakeup call, and we haven’t seen them do more yet, we saw them do a little bit coming out of the Foreign Affairs Council meeting this week. No criticism, but we will keep working with them. We know it’s hard, but we do think more costs need to be imposed.

Yes, I’m going to go to you, and then I’m going to go to New York next. So one more here, and then to New York.

QUESTION: Thank you. Inga Czerny for Polish Press Agency, PAP. Could you please tell us if it’s a good or bad thing that European Court of Justice in Strasbourg today found Poland guilty of helping the U.S. setting up the secret prison of CIA where people were tortured? And generally, how do you find the fact that Poland is being held accountable for this and in U.S. nobody was actually charged?

MS. HARF: Well, I saw those reports, and I think I, unfortunately, won’t be able to comment on them in any way. We obviously have a very close relationship with Poland today on a host of issues, but I just don’t have much more for you than that.

QUESTION: (Off-mike) when can we expect the report – the Senate report of the interrogation program?

MS. HARF: I would refer you to the Senate Select Committee on that. I think they probably have the best information on timing. I don’t know the timing, quite frankly.

Let’s go to New York for a question.

QUESTION: Paolo Mastrolilli of the Italian newspaper La Stampa. Thank you very much for doing this. You say that there are still gaps to fill in the negotiation for a truce in Gaza. Could you please elaborate on that and what are the hopes to (inaudible)?

MS. HARF: Well, I wish I could, but we’re having these conversations privately and diplomatically to see if we can bridge those and aren’t going to detail the specifics in public. But this is complicated, and there’s a lot of issues that we need to deal with to get to a ceasefire, a lot of different partners we’re working with. The Secretary today has spoken with the Turkish foreign minister, the Egyptian foreign minister, the Qatari foreign minister, the Israeli prime minister, the French, the Brits, the Jordanians, a whole host of people, not all just on this topic, but to try and get everybody who has some influence with Hamas or with Israel to try and get us to a place where we can all agree on a ceasefire. Obviously we don’t talk to Hamas because we consider them a terrorist organization, but there are some of our partners who do. So we are trying to bridge the gaps through any means we can, but it’s hard and I don’t want to downplay how difficult it is.

Thanks. Let’s go to you in the back.

QUESTION: Thank you. Daniel Pacheco with Caracol Television from Colombia. Two questions. General Carvajal from Venezuela who was appointed in the consulate in Aruba was captured today. There are some reports that he sought for extradition. I don’t know if you maybe have something on that.

MS. HARF: I got – that was the first question I got asked.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. HARF: No, no, no, no. It’s okay. And I will say the same thing – that I hadn’t seen those reports and I don’t know the facts here. It sounds a little dubious to me, but I don’t know. So I will check and I will get you an answer, I promise.

QUESTION: This one is broader, so I’m sure you can say something.

MS. HARF: Let’s hope so.

QUESTION: President Putin was touring Latin America just before the Malaysian Airlines accident, the tragedy. He was welcomed in Argentina, in Brazil. He even met with President Santos, a big ally of the United States. Was this a very successful tour? Does this – what is your comment on this in times when you are constantly talking about isolating Russia economically and politically?

MS. HARF: Well, we do talk about isolating Russia, but as I also said a few minutes ago, we work with Russia. The Iran talks where I just was recently, we are on the same side of this issue, we are working together on the same side of the negotiating table. So we don’t believe these things are mutually exclusive, and we think other countries can and should have strong relationships with Russia, and we work with them on many issues.

So I’ve seen some of the reports from his trip there. I know a number of folks were in the region for the BRICS summit. And look, we believe countries should have relationships with other countries; doesn’t mean they shouldn’t make very clear when they disagree with them, which, of course, we do in this case.

Yes. Coming up to you.

QUESTION: Michael Ignatiou from Mega TV, Greece. Marie, you and other officials of the American Government, you are asking the Russians to withdraw from Ukraine, and you are doing this every day. But at the same time, you never ask your friend and ally, Turkey, for example, to withdraw from Cyprus. As you know, Turkey has occupied Cyprus for 40 years. What is the difference or differences between the two cases? Thank you.

MS. HARF: Well, I think there are many differences that I’m happy to talk about. In terms of Cyprus, we fully support the ongoing process under the auspices of the UN Good Offices mission; have urged both parties to seize the opportunity to make real and substantial progress toward a settlement that reunifies the island as a bi-zonal and bi-communal federation. We, as the United States, are willing to assist in any way we find useful.

I know that there are a lot of strong feelings on both sides of this issue, but there’s a process in place here to get a resolution here, and we fully support that process and can help in any way we can, but completely different situation.

Yes. I’m going to go to the gentleman in the middle back here with the blue shirt on. Yes, you.

QUESTION: Hi, thank you. My name is Oliver Grimm for the Austrian newspaper Die Presse. I have a short follow-up, and then a question on public diplomacy.

MS. HARF: I just spent a lot of time in Austria. (Laughter.) It was lovely.

QUESTION: It was pretty nice, and I think I saw the pictures from the Secretary.

MS. HARF: It is.

QUESTION: The short follow-up on the European Court of Human Rights question on (inaudible): Can you just explain why the Administration wouldn’t comment on this court’s finding? I do recollect that you quite regularly comment on European legal findings by the European Court of Justice or the – so —

MS. HARF: Sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t.

QUESTION: So if you could explain that. And then the second question would be about the reform of Voice of America. What do you make of criticism that the – I think it’s called the United States International Communications Reform Act that is in Congress now would sort of impinge on the editorial independence and the journalistic freedom of reporters working for Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, and so forth by turning it into a public diplomacy tool as it is envisioned and planned in this legislation?

MS. HARF: Right, no. We support Voice of America remaining as it is, believe it’s a very important journalistic outlet. There may be some of you in the room from Voice of America or from other related outlets. And we, I don’t think, would support efforts to take away some of the independence like we’ve seen some people on the Hill want to do. So I don’t think that’s something we would support. We’ll keep talking to Congress about it, obviously.

On the first, we don’t always comment on those kinds of cases, particularly when they involve allegations about U.S. intelligence activities, so unfortunately I just don’t have more of a comment for you on that.

Yes, I’m going to go behind you to this woman whose hand is still up. Yes, in the black shirt.

QUESTION: Hi, Lisa Rizzolo from ARD German TV. And I know you were asked at your earlier briefing about the European Union putting out a statement about the execution in Arizona, and I just wanted to see if you’ve seen anything on that and if you have anything.

MS. HARF: I’m sorry. I literally ran over here right after the briefing and hadn’t seen it. I’ve seen some of the press reports about it. And if we can take a look and if there’s an additional comment to make, I’m happy to get it around to folks. Just running around a little bit today, sorry.

Let’s go right here on the left.

QUESTION: Hi, thank you. I’m Chuanjun Wang from China’s Guangming Daily. As we know, last year in Sunnylands summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the new model of major-countries relationship with the U.S. During that time, President Obama and later high officials from the U.S. all give a positive reaction on that proposal, but recently, especially in the past three months, I noticed that during the meetings with the Chinese officials, the U.S. officials said and used the major – a new model of a major-power relationship with China, even in the SED, in the (inaudible). President Obama only used the new model of (inaudible), so I just wonder if the U.S. has changed the position on this new model and how U.S. and China should move forward regarding that.

MS. HARF: Right. Well, no, we haven’t. And you’re right, President Obama and President Xi made clear at Sunnylands last year that they are committed to building a historic bilateral relationship based on really two critical elements, and both are important. One, practical cooperation on areas where we do cooperate; and then two, constructive management of differences when they arise. And I think that is – both of those have been the hallmarks of our relationship going forward. At the S&ED, there were a number of very productive conversations that came out of those meetings. Again, cooperation where we can and constructive management of differences when we have them – those both underpin our relationship, and nothing on that has changed.

Yes. Let’s go in the middle here, and then I’ll come up front to you.

QUESTION: Michael Hernandez, Anadolu Agency. Today at the State Department, I believe you said that something like three times the Secretary has been in contact with Foreign Minister Davutoglu.

MS. HARF: He has. Today he’s spoken to him three times.

QUESTION: Okay. That’s among the most or the most that you outlined during the earlier briefing. I was wondering, what is behind this close consultation between the Secretary and foreign minister? What’s motivating it?

MS. HARF: Yeah. Well, it’s not – so just to be clear, he’s made – the count as I have on here, 15 or so phone calls today, many of them related to Gaza. So it’s part of his broader engagement on Gaza. He’s spoken to the Qatari foreign minister twice today as well. So it’s, at least with the Turks and others, related to how we can push the parties to a ceasefire in Gaza.

The other consultation, much of it has been on Ukraine and MH17.

Yes. I will go back here. Yes.

QUESTION: I’m Anwar Iqbal. I work for Pakistan Dawn newspaper. There is a Pakistani delegation here, and they met Deputy Secretary Burns and Dan Feldman and others – officials at State and White House. And there was an AP report suggesting that they are asking the United States to reconsider their withdrawal plan from Afghanistan, and they also had a discussion on the ongoing military operation in North Waziristan. So would you please like to comment on those?

MS. HARF: I haven’t gotten a full readout from those meetings yet. I know they discussed a wide range of issues. I can check and see, but I haven’t gotten a readout from those meetings yet.

Would you have one up here? Yes.

QUESTION: This week, Iraqis’ ambassador to Washington criticized the Administration for lack of support – military support for his country, and claimed that this creates vacuum which they are going to – willing to give to anybody to fill it. And they said Iran has offered literally to replace the United States. So what is the position?

MS. HARF: Well, there’s a few points. No other country, I think, can do what the United States does in terms of support. We have been very supportive of the Iraqi Government. We have done that with assistance, with weapons, with advice, with training. There are some systems we’re still trying to get delivered, which the main holdup has been slowness on the Iraqi Government’s side throughout the years. But I think now they understand the severity of the situation, and we’re trying to get things delivered as quickly as possible. And we stand ready to assist in a number of ways.

But at the end of the day, this is not a problem we can fix for the Iraqis. It is a problem that needs to be fixed by them. We saw today a president being named. Next step is the prime minister, so we can hopefully soon have a new government in place that can put forward a strategy to deal with this terrorist threat as we go forward. And we’ll help them as they do it, but we can’t do it for them. So I think we are looking forward to working with the new government and seeing what else we could possibly do to help.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. HARF: Well, we don’t work with Iran on Iraq. We have spoken on one occasion to Iran about it on the sidelines of another meeting, many weeks ago now. But look, we’re not going to coordinate with Iran on Iraq. What we’ve said is any country in the region, including Iran, should use its influence over different parties in Iraq to pull them together, to promote an inclusive government that – and that it’s the Iraqi army and security forces that need to fight this threat. It’s not militias; it’s not anything outside of the government. And so we’re encouraging all parties, including Iran, to do so.

Yes, and then I’ll go – actually, I’ll go to you. And then I’ll come back up to you, Andrei. Yes.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: You’re welcome.

QUESTION: My name is Jae Sun Chang, Yonhap News Agency from South Korea. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui has said today that the United States should lower the bar for resuming the Six-Party Talks, and he also accused the United States of trying to achieve its target before the talks even resume. What’s your response?

MS. HARF: Well, I didn’t see those specific comments, but we’ve worked very closely with the South Koreans and other partners on the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. We are very committed to it. We’ve said that the North Koreans need to take certain steps before we can get back to the table, and we’ll continue to have those conversations.

QUESTION: Many critics say the United States is basically ignoring this problem of North Korean nuclear program and – while this communist nation is strengthening its nuclear capabilities day by day and – do you see any urgency in the problem?

MS. HARF: We do, and we’re certainly not ignoring it. We see quite a bit of urgency. And I think that’s why, speaking to your previous question, we do think there should be a high bar here, that it is a very dangerous threat. We’ve seen increasingly provocative rhetoric coming out of North Korea, including with recent missile launches that are in violation of UN Security Council resolutions. So it’s an issue we have a whole team very focused on, are working with our partners and the rest of the Six-Party as well, to see if we can get back to the table here.

QUESTION: My last question is, South Korea and China earlier this week signed an agreement to establish a hotline between the defense ministry of the two countries. I think China is the second country to have – after the United States – to have a hotline with South Korea’s defense ministry. This is yet another sign of deepening relations between the two countries, and what is your response?

MS. HARF: Right. Well – and we think the concept of hotlines in general, particularly if you’re talking about territorial disputes in either the South China Sea or the East China Sea, tend to be a good idea. The Japanese have talked about doing this as well. So anything that can reduce tensions and try to get these disputes resolved peacefully we do think is a good thing. So those – that’s just one of those steps that we tend to, sort of across the board, like.

Yes, Andrei.

QUESTION: Marie, when we were talking about this incident with MH17, you said that you are for a full investigation —

MS. HARF: Correct.

QUESTION: — full and fair investigation and getting to know whose finger was on that button or whatever it was that launched the missile. So basically, it’s an open question yet for you?

MS. HARF: No, that’s not what I said. We know a couple – here’s what we know based on a very wide-ranging assessment, that it was – let me just – and then you can ask follow-up. We know where the missile was fired from; we know that it was an SA-11; we know the area is controlled by Russian separatists. We know that there were no Ukrainian SA-11s within the vicinity that could’ve been fired. We know the trajectory, we know where it hit, and we know where it came down. We know that Russia has been supplying the separatists with weapons and training them on these weapons.

Now who – which one of them actually had their finger on the button, you’re right, we don’t know that. We don’t. But we know where the missile was fired from. We know who fired it, who controls that – generally speaking – and who controls that territory, who’s been funding and arming and training these folks.

QUESTION: My original question was about prejudging, because on one of the other questions you said that – on the question about the Europeans and the sanctions against Russia, you said, yeah, it cannot go unpunished. So you already know whom to punish?

MS. HARF: We know who —

QUESTION: Which is prejudging.

MS. HARF: Well, no. We know who’s been supporting these separatists for months. We know that these separatists would not be in eastern Ukraine, able to do this, without the direct backing of President Putin and the Russian Government. They wouldn’t even be there without the Russian Government’s support. They wouldn’t have weaponry without the Russian Government’s support. Forgetting about this specific incident, they wouldn’t – they today, again, have been bragging about more Ukrainian fighter jets they’ve brought down.

So we will do a full investigation into MH17, but these separatists would not be there —

QUESTION: Marie —

MS. HARF: — without the support of the Russian Government.

QUESTION: — I don’t think you are right about that. I could tell you in response that without the government – Ukrainian Government planes flying over Ukrainian cities and bombing Ukrainian peaceful civilians —

MS. HARF: That’s not —

QUESTION: — there would be no need for the civilians to defend themselves.

MS. HARF: That’s not what’s happening here.

QUESTION: And it is what’s happening.

MS. HARF: It’s not.

QUESTION: And everybody knows that’s what’s happening.

MS. HARF: Well, we can agree to disagree —

QUESTION: But basically – yeah, I know.

MS. HARF: — on this.

QUESTION: I know.

MS. HARF: But we have a preponderance of evidence on our side here.

QUESTION: But the question that I wanted to ask about this was: Why is it that you are so adamant about not admitting even the possibility that the missile was launched mistakenly or deliberately by the Ukrainians? They had their own motives for that.

MS. HARF: They don’t, though. Let me just address that specific point. Russia did release a map with alleged locations of Ukrainian SA-11 units within range of the crash. We are confident that this information is incorrect. We have information that the nearest Ukrainian operational SA-11 unit is located well out of range from both the launch and the crash sites. So there were no Ukrainian SA-11s within the range. So again, we can’t make up our own facts here. We can’t go on hunches. We have pictures of where this was launched from. We can see the trajectory. And so what we need now, as President Putin himself has said, is a full investigation. We need to see that backed up with actions, and we need to see some accountability.

QUESTION: This is your information, not information coming from Twitter or from the Ukrainians or whatever?

MS. HARF: No, this is our information. We have eyes on this area and we’ve seen some of this. Yeah.

Yes, mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Hello, Marie.

MS. HARF: Hi.

QUESTION: Thank you. Thank you so much for doing this. Atsushi Okudera from Asahi Shimbun, in Japan. The President Putin originally has a plan to visit Japan. And as you know, Japan is preparing for a peace treaty with Russia, and we have a territory issue – and a northern territory issues. So I’m just wondering that – are you supporting these – the Japanese efforts for resolving the – these – the country, territory —

MS. HARF: Well, we want Japan to have good relations with its neighbors and with other countries in the region. I don’t have more of a comment than that on what you asked about specifically. I think probably up to the Japanese to speak about that.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. HARF: Again, we believe that Japan should have good relationships with its neighbors. Japan is one of our closest alliances in the world. We work together on a whole host of issues, one of our most important friends that we have, and so we’ll continue working together.

QUESTION: And the same time, on the – DPRK abduction issues, you know?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Probably it’s on July 6th that Secretary Kerry spoke to Foreign Minister Kishida of Japan, and there is some report indicate United States is concerned about the lifting sanction or visiting. Prime Minister Abe is also – has also now – there is a possibility to visit North Korea. Do you – what is the position on that? Are you concerned about the visit to North Korea?

MS. HARF: Well, in terms of the abductions issue or whether the prime minister will go to North Korea, we support Japanese efforts to resolve the abductions issue in a transparent manner. I am aware of press reports indicating that Prime Minister Abe is actually not currently considering a visit to Pyongyang. I know there’s been some conflicting reporting out there, but I don’t think he is right now. I think the Japanese Government probably has the most up-to-date information on that.

Let’s do a few more. Yes, right here, and then I’ll go up to the lady in front of you.

QUESTION: Thank you, Marie. I’m from China, with China News Service. Just now, you mentioned if it’s necessary, United States will have more steps to sanctions U.S. – the Russia if the tension escalated. So how do you define that? And yesterday, reports say the United States officials told CNN that the more troops moving to the border of the Ukraine. Is that one of them?

MS. HARF: Well, that’s certainly – we would consider that escalation, yes. Look, there’s not one blanket definition here. We take a look at the steps across the board that we’ve seen. We make assessments on a day-by-day basis. People are very focused on this. We have more steps ready to go if we are – if we decide to take them. But it’s an ongoing process here. And there is a diplomatic path forward. We have consistently said that even as we increase pressure, there’s a different path that Russia can choose to take. And I think hopefully they will do so.

Let’s do a couple more. Yes, you.

QUESTION: (Off-mike) mentioned the difficulties of the Europeans and you understand the difficulties of the Europeans in proceeding with sanctions against Russians given – Russia given the energy dependence. Can – and the IMF just warned today, actually, of the rising tensions, geopolitical tensions actually having an effect on oil prices. And I can tell you from experience the oil prices in Europe are much higher than what they are in the United States, especially in some countries like my own, which are also coming out of a very difficult crisis. Now, what can the U.S. do to assist Europe in its effort towards more energy security and diversification? Are you working with them on specific projects?

MS. HARF: We’re working together very closely. It’s a conversation we have all the time, because we know it’s difficult and we know that as more costs are imposed on Russia it will get harder for the Europeans across the board on this issue. So we work together to talk about energy flows, how we can help, energy independence, all of these issues, alternative energy, clean energy, basically how we can help relieve the pressure, if we can, by working together.

But it’s really a long-term issue. There are things we can do now, but it really is more of a discussion about what we do over the long term, so if there are crises like this we don’t have the same pressure and we can help Europe with its energy situation so we don’t have the same kind of considerations. But it is much more of a long-term issue, but we are working together at a number of levels now on that.

Yes. Let’s go – go ahead, here. Let’s do just a couple more. And we’ll go back here to folks who haven’t had a question yet next.

QUESTION: Hi. China has been proposing the Asian infrastructure development bank, and earlier this month I read news from China media who quoting – which quoting the South Korean media saying that U.S. high officials request South Korea not to support China on this issue. I just want get your comment on that. And also, what’s the U.S. position on the China’s Asian infrastructure development bank?

MS. HARF: I’m not actually familiar with that issue. So I’m happy to check with our folks and see if we have a position and what that is, and we can make sure we get it to you.

Let’s go to the back here for two of you who haven’t had questions yet.

QUESTION: Thank you so much. My name is Xavier Vila, Catalunya Radio in Barcelona. Are you aware of these – administration planning to send anyone, any observers to Scotland for the referendum in September and the Catalan one in November, or this is something that’s going to be controlled by the consulates and embassies in those areas? Thank you.

MS. HARF: I’m not aware of us sending anyone. I can check, but I’m not aware of that.

QUESTION: You’re not sending anyone?

MS. HARF: Yeah, not that I’m aware of.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: Yep. Let’s go right behind you, and then I’ll come up to you.

QUESTION: Yeah. This is Jahanzaib Ali from ARY News, Pakistan. A couple of days ago the former president Mr. Zardari was in town and had meeting with Vice President Joe Biden. So could you tell us something about that meeting, because there are too many speculations in Pakistan about that meeting. And secondly, U.S. expressing its concerns over the Haqqani Network, about their safe havens in North Waziristan (inaudible). Despite knowing that, the Pakistani military is – right now is in military operations going on there. So what type of concerns you have now about the Haqqani Network? Thank you.

MS. HARF: Well, on the first question, I think that the Vice President’s office is probably better able to speak about their meeting. I don’t have more details to share on that.

But look, we’ve long been very focused on the Haqqani Network, on their intent to cause instability in Afghanistan, to attack and kill U.S. citizens, which we’ve seen, and military service members particularly. And it’s been one of our top priorities to bring to bear sort of all of the elements of our power to help fight this threat, to degrade its capability to carry out attacks, to prevent it from raising money, and to prevent it from moving people around. So this remains one of our top priorities. We know it’s a challenge. We’re working to help particularly in Afghanistan fight this threat.

Anyone else? Let’s do just two more here. We’ll do right here, and then you can wrap us up.

QUESTION: My name is Inoue from Kyodo News Japan. Thank you for doing this.

MS. HARF: Good to see you.

QUESTION: I have a question about the SA-11. The SA-11 was apparently used by the separatists in Ukraine, that it – they are not state – they are non-state actor.

MS. HARF: Correct.

QUESTION: So do you think this incident would have any implication when you’re considering – when you’re trying to ratchet up the assistance to Syrian opposite? Because they have asked you to provide like surface-to-air missiles, like MANPADS. So do you think this incident may have any impact to your – on your decision.

MS. HARF: Well, we’ve – sorry. Finish your question. Sorry. I jumped in there a little early. Look, when it comes to that issue, we have said for a very long time that we have concerns about providing those types of systems in Syria because of the risks. You just need to see the past few days to see that. And so our position on that hasn’t changed. Any assistance we’re providing to the opposition in Syria, it’s a judgment that you make. We want to make sure people are vetted properly, that you feel comfortable providing them with assistance, and that you calibrate that assistance so you don’t give them the types of assistance that could end up in the hands of some pretty bad people and that could do pretty bad things with them. So that’s why our position on that has remained consistent. We are – concerns about the risk of the system.

Last – we’ll do two more. Two more. In the back, and then you can wrap us up, up front.

QUESTION: Thank you. Short question on Ukraine. Do you still exclude delivering any military relief or assistance to Ukrainians to have them restore the sovereignty themselves?

MS. HARF: Right. So we’ve provided a great deal of assistance monetarily and with other kinds of support as well, material support to the Ukrainians. But they – look, there’s not a military solution here, right. We need to see de-escalation. Quite frankly, nothing we gave the Ukrainian military could put it on par with the Russian military, which is why there’s not a military solution here. The Ukrainians have a right to defend their people and their territory. We’ve seen them do that. We’ll continue supporting them, again with material and assistance and money. And we review all the requests that come in from them, because we do want to keep making decisions that will help them in the best way that we think is appropriate.

Last one. Yes. You have the honor of the last question.

QUESTION: Thank you. Voice of America, Persian TV. Last time when the truth was reached in Middle East conflict was during Morsy, friend of Hamas. How important is the role of Egypt now and how do you define the relationship between the United States and al-Sisi government?

MS. HARF: Well, Egypt is playing a crucial role. Obviously, the Secretary’s in Cairo. They have long played a role in these discussions. They have a peace treaty with Israel, for example. They also have a relationship with a Hamas. It’s different than it was under President Morsy, but they do have a relationship. But that’s why we’re also talking to countries like Qatar and Turkey and others who have other relationships they can use with Hamas to see if we can get to a ceasefire.

But our relationship with Egypt is much bigger than one administration there. It’s strategic. We have strategic interests, whether it’s security, particularly in the Sinai and on the Israeli border, whether it is economically helping Egypt undertake needed economic reforms to help their people, whether it’s pushing them on human rights and freedom of expression. When you have journalists in jail that have been subjected to these horrible sentences, we believe it’s important to have a relationship so we can raise concerns. It’s the best way to engage. So it’s a very broad, longstanding relationship, and the Secretary is there right now working very closely with them. They are committed to seeing if they can help with the ceasefire here, and we think there’s a critical role they have played and can play going forward.

MODERATOR: All right.

MS. HARF: With that?

MODERATOR: With that, thank you all for coming. Thank you, Marie.

MS. HARF: Thank you.

MODERATOR: This briefing is now concluded.

MS. HARF: Thank you all so much. We will see you soon.

# # #

Weekly announcement of events in the Washington, D.C. area

Washington PressPass: June 16-20, 2014
*********************************************************************
The Foreign Press Center is pleased to share with you our weekly announcement of events in the Washington, D.C. area. The Washington Foreign Press Center provides this information as a convenience, and the inclusion of an organization or activity does not imply endorsement, approval or recommendation. Please note that this information is subject to change.

NOTE: For the latest information on events, please check our online PressPass at: http://www.fpc.state.gov/events/index.htm

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Monday, June 16, 2014

WHAT: U.S. Department of State “Our Ocean” 2014 Conference, June 16-17, 2014
Conference Agenda
WHERE: U.S. Department of State
CONTACT: OES Public Affairs Officer Christopher Rich at RichCE@state.gov or the Office of Press Relations at (202) 647-2492.; web site: http://www.state.gov
SOURCE: U.S. Department of State – event announcement

WHEN: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
WHAT: Middle East Institute (MEI) Fifth Annual Conference on Turkey. Complete agenda and list of speakers.
WHERE: National Press Club, 529 14th Street, NW 13th Floor
CONTACT: 202-785-1141; web site: http://www.mei.edu
SOURCE: MEI – event announcement

WHEN: 10:00 – 11:30 am
WHAT: Woodrow Wilson Center (WWC) Discussion on “Mutual Security on Hold? Russia, the West, and European Security Architecture.” Speakers: Wolfgang Ischinger, Distinguished Scholar, Chairman of the Munich Security Conference and Former Deputy Foreign Minister of Germany, former German Ambassador to the United Kingdom from 2006 to May 2008 and to the United States from 2001 to 2006; Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security adviser, Professor of American Foreign Policy, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and Counselor and Trustee, Center for Strategic and International Studies; Jane Harman, Director, President and CEO, Wilson Center; Steven Pifer, Director, Arms Control Initiative, Brookings Institution; and Christian F. Ostermann, Director, History and Public Policy Program; Global Europe, Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation.
WHERE: 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-691-4000; web site: http://www.wilsoncenter.org
SOURCE: WWC – event announcement

WHEN: 10:30 – 11:30 am
WHAT: Center for American Progress (CAP) Discussion – True South:
Advancing Democracy in the Black Belt 50 Years After Freedom Summer. Speakers: Opening remarks and panel moderator: Ben Jealous, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress; Panelists: Stacey Abrams, House Minority Leader, Georgia General Assembly;
Derrick Johnson, President, Mississippi NAACP State Conference, National Co-Chair, Mississippi Freedom Summer 50th Anniversary; and Steve Benjamin, Mayor, Columbia, South Carolina.
WHERE: 1333 H Street, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-682-1611; web site: http://www.americanprogress.org
SOURCE: CAP – event announcement

WHEN: 12:00 – 1:00 pm
WHAT: Woodrow Wilson Center (WWC) Discussion on “What to Expect from the Al-Sisi Presidency.” Speakers: Moushira Khattab, former Public Policy Scholar, former Ambassador of Egypt to South Africa and to the Federal Republic of Czechoslovakia, and former Egyptian Minister of Family and Population; Marina Ottaway, Senior Scholar, former Senior Research Associate and Head of the Middle East Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; and Emad El-Din Shahin, Public Policy Scholar, Professor of Public Policy and Administration, School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, The American University in Cairo.
WHERE: 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-691-4000; web site: http://www.wilsoncenter.org
SOURCE: WWC – event announcement

WHEN: 12:00 – 1:30 pm
WHAT: Heritage Foundation Discussion on “Transparency, Oversight and Accountability in the UN System: Problems and How to Fix Them.” Speakers: Robert Appleton, formerly Director of Investigations & Senior Legal Counsel at The Global Fund, Chairman of the United Nations Procurement Task Force, and Special Counsel to the UN Iraqi Oil for Food investigation; Edward Patrick Flaherty, Senior Partner, Schwab Flaherty & Associates; and James Wasserstrom, Senior Advisor on Anticorruption, U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, and formerly Head of the Office for Oversight of the Publicly Owned Enterprises for the UN Mission in Kosovo.
WHERE: Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Avenue, N.E.
CONTACT: 202-546-4400; web site: http://www.heritage.org
SOURCE: Heritage – event announcement

WHEN: 12:30 – 2:00 pm
WHAT: Center for American Progress (CAP) Discussion on “The New Middle East Cold War: U.S. Middle East Policy and the Region’s Ongoing Battle over the Muslim Brotherhood.” Speakers: Peter Mandaville, Professor, George Mason University; Haroon Ullah, State Department Policy Planning Staff; Brian Katulis, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress; Moderator: Hardin Lang, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress.
WHERE: 1333 H Street, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-682-1611; web site: http://www.americanprogress.org
SOURCE: CAP – event announcement

WHEN: 12:30 – 3:00 pm
WHAT: Stimson Center Discussion on “India’s Nuclear Policy and Regional Stability.” Complete agenda and list of speakers.
WHERE: 1111 19th Street, N.W., 12th Floor
CONTACT: 202-223-5956; web site: http://www.stimson.org
SOURCE: Stimson – even announcement

WHEN: 2:00 – 3:00 pm
WHAT: Atlantic Council Discussion on “How to Unwind Iran Nuclear Sanctions?” Speakers: Kenneth Katzman, Specialist, Middle East Affairs, Congressional Research Service; Cornelius Adebahr (via Skype from Berlin), Associate, Europe Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Moderated by Barbara Slavin, Senior Fellow, South Asia Center, Atlantic Council.
WHERE: 1030 15th Street, N.W., 12th Floor
CONTACT: 202-463-7226; web site: http://www.atlanticcouncil.org
SOURCE: Atlantic Council – event announcement

WHEN: 3:30 – 5:00 pm
WHAT: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP) Discussion on “Managing Conflicts in India: Policies of Coercion and Accommodation.” Speakers: Bidisha Biswas, associate professor of political science at Western Washington University. In 2012 and 2013, she served as a policy adviser on South Asia to the U.S. State Department; Milan Vaishnav, associate in the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where he coordinates Carnegie’s India Decides 2014 initiative; and Joshua T. White, deputy director of the South Asia program at the Stimson Center.
WHERE: 1779 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-483-7600; web site: http://www.carnegieendowment.org
SOURCE: CEIP – event announcement

WHEN: 3:00 – 5:00 pm
WHAT: Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) Discussion on “The U.S.-Japan Alliance: Next Steps and Future Vision.” Complete agenda and list of speakers.
WHERE: CSIS, 1616 Rhode Island Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-887-0200; web site: http://www.csis.org
SOURCE: CSIS – event announcement

WHEN: 4:00 – 5:30 pm
WHAT: Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) Discussion on “A Warming Arctic: Regional Drama with Global Consequences.” Speakers: Dr. Jan-Gunnar Winther,
Director of the Norwegian Polar Institute; Moderated by Ms. Heather A. Conley, Director and Senior Fellow, CSIS Europe Program.
WHERE: CSIS, 1616 Rhode Island Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-887-0200; web site: http://www.csis.org
SOURCE: CSIS – event announcement

WHEN: 5:00 – 6:00 pm
WHAT: Brookings Institution Discussion on “Norway’s Guiding Principles for Peace and Reconciliation in Post-Conflict Settings.” Speakers: Introduction by Strobe Talbott,
President, The Brookings Institution; Featured Speaker: Børge Brende, Foreign Minister of Norway; Moderator: Michael E. O’Hanlon, Director of Research, Foreign Policy,
Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy, Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence.
WHERE: Brookings, 1775 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-797-6105 or events@brookings.edu ; web site: http://www.brookings.edu
SOURCE: Brookings – event announcement

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

WHAT: U.S. Department of State “Our Ocean” 2014 Conference, June 16-17, 2014
Conference Agenda
WHERE: U.S. Department of State
CONTACT: OES Public Affairs Officer Christopher Rich at RichCE@state.gov or the Office of Press Relations at (202) 647-2492.; web site: http://www.state.gov
SOURCE: U.S. Department of State – event announcement

WHEN: 8:00 am – 1:30 pm
WHAT: Elliott School of International Affairs, Institute for Security and Conflict Studies, George Washington University Conference – The New Internationalism: Foreign Policy After Afghanistan and Iraq. Complete agenda and list of speakers.
WHERE: George Washington University, Jack Morton Auditorium, 805 21st Street, N.W.
CONTACT: RSVP at http://go.gwu.edu/newsconsensus; web site: http://elliott.gwu.edu
SOURCE: Elliott School of International Affairs, GWU – event announcement

WHEN: 9:00 am – 2:00 pm
WHAT: Brookings Institution Discussion on “Celebrating Progress, Remaining Steadfast and Asking What’s Next for Girls’ Education.” Keynote Address: The Next Global Agenda for Girls’ Education by Catherine M. Russell, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, U.S. Department of State. Complete agenda and list of speakers.
WHERE: Brookings, 1775 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-797-6105 or events@brookings.edu ; web site: http://www.brookings.edu
SOURCE: Brookings – event announcement

WHEN: 10:00 – 11:30 am
WHAT: Woodrow Wilson Center (WWC) Discussion on “Religious Violence in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Future of the Secular State.” Speakers: Ludovic Lado, Southern Voices African Research Scholar, Director of Institute of Human Rights and Dignity, Center of Research and Action for Peace; Tiffany Lynch, Senior Policy Analyst, The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom; and Monde Muyangwa, Director, Africa Program.
WHERE: 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-691-4000; web site: http://www.wilsoncenter.org
SOURCE: WWC – event announcement

WHEN: 10:30 – 11:30 am
WHAT: Heritage Foundation Discussion on “America’s Partnership with Bangladesh: Broader, Deeper, Stronger than Ever.” Speaker: Ambassador Dan W. Mozena, U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh.
WHERE: Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Avenue, N.E.
CONTACT: 202-546-4400; web site: http://www.heritage.org
SOURCE: Heritage – event announcement

WHEN: 12:00 – 1:30 pm
WHAT: American Enterprise Institute (AEI) Discussion on “Is the US AWOL in the ‘War on Drugs’ in Latin America?” Speakers: Keynote: Matt Salmon, US House of Representatives (R-AZ); Panelists: Jerry Brewer Sr., Criminal Justice International Associates LLC; Richard J. Douglas, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Counternarcotics, Counterproliferation, and Global Threats; and Iñigo Guevara, former Director of Analysis to the Office of the National Security Council, Mexico; Moderator: Roger F. Noriega, AEI.
WHERE: AEI, 1150 17th Street, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-862-5800; web site: http://www.aei.org
SOURCE: AEI – event announcement

WHEN: 12:30 – 1:30 pm
WHAT: Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) Discussion on “The Role of Congress in U.S. Human Rights Policy and Beyond.” Speakers: Christopher H. Smith, Chairman, Subcommitte on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations, Committee on Foreign Affairs, U.S. House of Representatives; Presider: Michael D. Mosettig, writer, PBS Online NewsHour.
WHERE: CFR, 1777 F Street, N.W.
CONTACT: Tricia Miller Klapheke at 202-509-8525, tklapheke@cfr.org; web site: http://www.cfr.org
SOURCE: CFR – event announcement

WHEN: 2:00 – 3:30 pm
WHAT: Brookings Institution Discussion on “The Future of U.N. Peacekeeping.” Speakers: Introduction by Ted Piccone, Acting Vice President and Director, Foreign Policy; Featured Speaker: Hervé Ladsous, Head of Department of Peacekeeping Operations, United Nations; Moderator: Michael E. O’Hanlon, Director of Research, Foreign Policy, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy, Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence.
WHERE: Brookings, 1775 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-797-6105 or events@brookings.edu ; web site: http://www.brookings.edu
SOURCE: Brookings – event announcement

WHEN: 3:00 pm
WHAT: Organization of American States (OAS) Policy Roundtable – Policy Dialogues on Climate Change: Challenges and Opportunities for the Americas. Complete agenda and list of speakers.
WHERE: OAS, Hall of the Americas, 17th Street & Constitution Ave. N.W.
CONTACT: RSVP: SER-DIA@oas.org; web site: http://www.oas.org
SOURCE: OAS – event announcement

WHEN: 4:30 – 6:00 pm
WHAT: Woodrow Wilson Center (WWC) Discussion on “Chile’s New Foreign Policy.” Speaker: Heraldo Muñoz, Board Member, Latin American Program, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Chile.
WHERE: 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-691-4000; web site: http://www.wilsoncenter.org
SOURCE: WWC – event announcement

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

WHEN: 9:30 – 10:45 am
WHAT: Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) – An Armchair Conversation with Mario Pezzini, Director of the OECD Development Centre.
WHERE: CSIS, 1616 Rhode Island Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-887-0200; web site: http://www.csis.org
SOURCE: CSIS – event announcement

WHEN: 9:30 – 11:00 am
WHAT: Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) Discussion on “The State of Peace: Measuring Country Risk and Opportunity.” Speakers: Robert D. Lamb, Director and Senior Fellow, Program on Crisis, Conflict, and Cooperation, Center for Strategic and International Studies; Gary J. Milante, Program Director, Macroeconomics Security Program, Stockhold International Peace Research Institute; Paul B. Stares, General John W. Vessey Senior Fellow for Conflict Prevention and Director of the Center for Preventative Action, Council on Foreign Relations; Alexandra I. Toma, Executive Director, Peace and Security Funders Group; and Aubrey Fox, Executive Director, Institute for Economics and Peace USA.
WHERE: CSIS, 1616 Rhode Island Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-887-0200; web site: http://www.csis.org
SOURCE: CSIS – event announcement

WHEN: 9:30 – 11:00 am
WHAT: Stimson Center Discussion on “Small-Islands, High Seas: Sustainable Development in a Changing Climate.” Speakers: Dr. Milan J.N. Meetarbhan,
Ambassador of Mauritius to the United States, Permanent Representative to the UN;
Alice Thomas, Climate Displacement Program Manager, Refugees International;
Moderator: David Michel, Director of the Environmental Security Program, Stimson Center.
WHERE: 1111 19th Street, N.W., 12th Floor
CONTACT: 202-223-5956; web site: http://www.stimson.org
SOURCE: Stimson – even announcement

WHEN: 10:00 – 11:30 am
WHAT: New America Foundation (NAF) Discussion on “Presidents at War: Presidential War Powers and the Challenges of Managing Wars.” Speakers: Major General John D. Altenburg Jr. (retired), Of Counsel, Greenberg Traurig, former Deputy Judge Advocate General, U.S. Army; Sidney Blumenthal, former Assistant and Senior Advisor to President Bill Clinton, Author, “The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln: A Self-Made Man (Spring 2015)”; Louis Fisher, Scholar in Residence, The Constitution Project; Colonel Jeffrey McCausland (retired), Distinguished Visiting Professor of Research and Minerva Chair, Strategic Studies Institute (SSI), U.S. Army War College; Moderator: Matthew Pinsker, Pohanka Chair in American Civil War History, Dickinson College, Author, “Lincoln’s Sanctuary,” (2003), Fellow, New America Foundation.
WHERE: 1899 L Street, N.W., Suite 400
CONTACT: 202-986-0722; web site: http://www.newamerica.net
SOURCE: NAF – event announcement

WHEN: 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
WHAT: House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing on “Protecting Christian Heritage in Turkey.” Witnesses: Elizabeth H. Prodromou, Ph.D., Visiting Associate Professor of Conflict Resolution, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University; and
Mr. Khatchig Mouradian, Coordinator of Armenian Genocide Program, Center for Genocide and Human Rights, Rutgers University.
WHERE: House Rayburn Building, Room 2172
CONTACT: 202-225-5021; web site: http://foreignaffairs.house.gov
SOURCE: House Foreign Affairs Committee – hearing announcement

WHEN: 10: 30 am
WHAT: Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) Discussion on “Advancing Policy and Programs on Global Women’s Issues.” Speakers: The U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, Catherine Russell, who will provide a keynote address about her vision for the State Department’s Office of Global Women’s Issues and U.S. government commitments and actions on preventing gender-based violence and promoting economic empowerment for women. This will be followed by a roundtable conversation, moderated by Janet Fleischman, senior associate with the CSIS Global Health Policy Center, featuring Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA, and Keith Hansen, Global Practices Vice President at the World Bank Group.
WHERE: CSIS, 1616 Rhode Island Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-887-0200; web site: http://www.csis.org
SOURCE: CSIS – event announcement

WHEN: 10:30 am – 12:00 pm
WHAT: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP) Discussion on “The Challenge of Political Legitimacy in Southeast Asia.” Speakers: Muthiah Alagappa, nonresident senior associate in Carnegie’s Asia Program; and Vikram Nehru, senior associate in Carnegie’s Asia Program and an expert on development economics, growth, poverty reduction, debt sustainability, governance, and the performance and prospects of East Asia.
WHERE: 1779 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-483-7600; web site: http://www.carnegieendowment.org
SOURCE: CEIP – event announcement

WHEN: 11:00 am
WHAT: National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) – First Lady Michelle Obama will deliver remarks at a Naturalization Ceremony of 50 new U.S. Citizens. This event is OPEN PRESS.
WHERE: NARA, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: Interested media must RSVP to public.affairs@nara.gov by Tuesday, June 17, 2014 at 12:00 pm. Press who do not have a White House hard pass must include their social security number, date of birth, country of citizenship, current city/state of residence, and gender; web site: http://www.archives.gov
SOURCE: WWC – event announcement

WHEN: 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
WHAT: Woodrow Wilson Center (WWC) Discussion on “How Think Tanks Shape Social Development Policies.” Speakers: James McGann, Assistant Director of the International Relations Program and Director, Tank and Civil Societies Program, University of Pennsylvania; and Andrew Selee, Executive Vice President and Senior Advisor to the Mexico Institute.
WHERE: 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-691-4000; web site: http://www.wilsoncenter.org
SOURCE: WWC – event announcement

WHEN: 12:00 – 1:15 pm
WHAT: Hudson Institute – A Conversation with the Honorable Naftali Bennett. Naftali Bennett is Israeli Minister of Economy, Minister of Religious Services, Minister for Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs.
WHERE: 1015 15th Street, NW, 6th floor
CONTACT: 202-974-2400; web site: http://www.hudson.org
SOURCE: Hudson – event announcement

WHEN: 12:00 – 6:00 pm
WHAT: Woodrow Wilson Center (WWC) Discussion on “Assessing Threats Facing the U.S.-Korea Alliance.” Complete agenda and list of speakers.
WHERE: 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-691-4000; web site: http://www.wilsoncenter.org
SOURCE: WWC – event announcement

WHEN: 1:00 – 2:30 pm
WHAT: Center for American Progress (CAP) Discussion on “Protecting Women from Gun Violence.” Speakers: Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ), former United States Congresswoman; Mark Kelly, retired Astronaut and U.S. Navy Captain; Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN); Rob Valente, National Domestic Violence Hotline, Policy Consultant; Saundra Rhodes, Chief of Police, Horry County South Carolina; and Sarah Engle, domestic violence survivor; Moderator: Neera Tanden, President of the Center for American Progress.
WHERE: 1333 H Street, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-682-1611; web site: http://www.americanprogress.org
SOURCE: CAP – event announcement

WHEN: 2:00 – 3:00 pm
WHAT: Atlantic Council Discussion on “The Ukraine Crisis and NATO.” Speakers: David Lidington, UK Minister of State for Europe and MP for Aylesbury; Moderated by
Damon Wilson, Executive Vice President, Atlantic Council.
WHERE: 1030 15th Street, N.W., 12th Floor
CONTACT: 202-463-7226; web site: http://www.atlanticcouncil.org
SOURCE: Atlantic Council – event announcement

WHEN: 2:00 – 3:30 pm
WHAT: Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) Discussion on “India’s Policy Priorities Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” Speakers: Amb. Hemant Krishan Singh, Wadhwani Chair in India-U.S. Policy Studies, Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations; Moderator: Richard Rossow, Senior Fellow and Wadhwani Chair in U.S.-India Policy Studies, Center for Strategic and International Studies.
WHERE: CSIS, 1616 Rhode Island Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-887-0200; web site: http://www.csis.org
SOURCE: CSIS – event announcement

WHEN: 2:00 pm
WHAT: House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing on “Human Rights Abuses and Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea.” Witnesses: Andrew Natsios, Co-Chair,
The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea; Shin Chang-Hoon, Ph.D, Director,
Center for Global Governance, Asan Institute for Policy Studies; Mr. Shin Dong-hyuk, Survivor of North Korean prison camp; Briefer: Lee Jong-hoon, Ambassador-at-Large for Human Rights, Republic of Korea.
WHERE: House Rayburn Building, Room 2200
CONTACT: 202-225-5021; web site: http://foreignaffairs.house.gov
SOURCE: House Foreign Affairs Committee – hearing announcement

WHEN: 2:00 – 5:00 pm
WHAT: House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing on “The Bergdahl Exchange: Implications for U.S. National Security and the Fight Against Terrorism.” Witnesses: Mr. Mike Waltz, Senior National Security Fellow, New America Foundation (Commanded a Special Forces’ Company in Eastern Afghanistan in 2009); Spc. Cody Full, USA, Retired (Served with Sgt. Bergdahl in Blackfoot Company, Second Platoon); and Mr. Andy Andrews, Father of deceased Second Lieutenant, USA, Darryn Andrews.
WHERE: House Rayburn Building, Room 2172
CONTACT: 202-225-5021; web site: http://foreignaffairs.house.gov
SOURCE: House Foreign Affairs Committee – hearing announcement

WHEN: 2:15 pm
WHAT: Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing on “U.S. Policy In Afghanistan and the Regional Implications of the 2014 Transition.” Witnesses: James Dobbins, Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, U.S. Department of State; Nisha Biswal,
Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia, U.S. Department of State; Mr. Michael Dumont, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia, U.S. Department of Defense; and Brigadier General Robert White, Director of the Afghanistan/Pakistan Coordination Cell, Joint Staff, U.S. Department of Defense.
WHERE: Senate Dirksen Building, Room 419
CONTACT: 202-224-4651; web site: http://www.foreign.senate.gov
SOURCE: Senate Foreign Relations Committee – hearing announcement

WHEN: 4:00 – 5:00 pm
WHAT: American Enterprise Institute (AEI) Discussion on “Chaos in Iraq: A Conversation with Senator John McCain and General Jack Keane.” Speakers: General Jack Keane, U.S. Army (ret.); John McCain, U.S. Senate (R-AZ); moderator: Danielle Pletka, AEI.
WHERE: AEI, 1150 17th Street, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-862-5800; web site: http://www.aei.org
SOURCE: AEI – event announcement

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

WHEN: 9:00 – 11:00 am
WHAT: U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) Discussion on “Global Innovators: Women Leading Change Around the World.” Speakers: Claudia Paz y Paz, 2014 Leadership in Public Life Honoree, Guatemala; Suaad Allami, 2014 Fern Holland Honoree, Iraq; Priti Patkar, 2014 Human Rights Honoree, India; Victoria Kisyombe, 2014 Economic Empowerment Honoree, Tanzania; Susan Davis, Opening Remarks, Chair of the Board, Vital Voices Global Partnership; and Kathleen Kuehnast, Moderator, Director, Gender & Peacebuilding Center, U.S. Institute of Peace.
WHERE: USIP, 2301 Constitution Avenue, NW
CONTACT: 202-457-1700; web site: http://www.usip.gov
SOURCE: USIP – event announcement

WHEN: 9:15 am – 4:00 pm
WHAT: The Hamilton Project Conference – Addressing America’s Poverty Crisis (Day 1). Keynote Address by former President Bill Clinton. Complete agenda and list of speakers.
WHERE: Washington Court Hotel, 525 New Jersey Avenue, N.W., Grand Ballroom
CONTACT: Karen Anderson at 202-797-6023, KAnderson@brookings.edu; web site: http://www.brookings.edu
SOURCE: The Hamilton Project – event announcement

WHEN: 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
WHAT: House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing on “One Year Under Rouhani: Iran’s Abysmal Human Rights Record.” Witnesses: Robert P. George, Ph.D., Chairman, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom; Ms. Cler Baheri, Member of the Baha’i Community; and Mr. Hossein Alizadeh, Regional Program Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa, International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission.
WHERE: House Rayburn Building, Room 2172
CONTACT: 202-225-5021; web site: http://foreignaffairs.house.gov
SOURCE: House Foreign Affairs Committee – hearing announcement

WHEN: 12:00 – 1:30 pm
WHAT: American Enterprise Institute (AEI) Discussion on “Mideast Shi’ites Defy Iranian Domination?” Complete agenda and list of speakers
WHERE: AEI, 1150 17th Street, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-862-5800; web site: http://www.aei.org
SOURCE: AEI – event announcement

WHEN: 12:00 – 1:30 pm
WHAT: Center for American Progress (CAP) Discussion on “#BlackWomenLead: Harnessing the Political Power of Black Women.” Complete agenda and list of speakers.
WHERE: 1333 H Street, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-682-1611; web site: http://www.americanprogress.org
SOURCE: CAP – event announcement

WHEN: 1:00 – 2:15 pm
WHAT: Atlantic Council Discussion on “Security in and Around Europe.” Speakers: H.E. Ursula von der Leyen, Minister of Defense, Federal Ministry of Defense of Germany; Introduction by Gen. James L. Jones, Jr., USMC (Ret.), Chairman Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, Atlantic Council; Moderated by Barry Pavel, Vice President and Director, Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, Atlantic Council.
WHERE: 1030 15th Street, N.W., 12th Floor
CONTACT: 202-463-7226; web site: http://www.atlanticcouncil.org
SOURCE: Atlantic Council – event announcement

WHEN: 2:00 pm
WHAT: House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing on “Thailand: A Democracy in Peril.” Witnesses: Scot Marciel, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, U.S. Department of State; and Amy Searight, Ph.D., Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, U.S. Department of Defense.
WHERE: House Rayburn Building, Room 2172
CONTACT: 202-225-5021; web site: http://foreignaffairs.house.gov
SOURCE: House Foreign Affairs Committee – hearing announcement

WHEN: 2:00 – 3:00 pm
WHAT: Heritage Foundation Discussion on “Confronting the Human Rights Challenge in North Korea.” Speaker: His Excellency Lee Jung-hoon, Ambassador for Human Rights, Republic of Korea.
WHERE: Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Avenue, N.E.
CONTACT: 202-546-4400; web site: http://www.heritage.org
SOURCE: Heritage – event announcement

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Friday, June 20, 2014

WHEN: 9:30 am – 12:30 pm
WHAT: The Hamilton Project Conference – Addressing America’s Poverty Crisis (Day 2). Keynote Address by former President Bill Clinton. Complete agenda and list of speakers.
WHERE: Washington Court Hotel, 525 New Jersey Avenue, N.W., Grand Ballroom
CONTACT: Karen Anderson at 202-797-6023, KAnderson@brookings.edu; web site: http://www.brookings.edu
SOURCE: The Hamilton Project – event announcement

WHEN: 12:15 – 1:45 pm
WHAT: New America Foundation (NAF) Discussion on “Crisis in Iraq: What Role Should the U.S. Play?” Speakers: Douglas A. Ollivant, Senior National Security Fellow, International Security Program, New America; Col. Joel Rayburn, U.S. Army Military Fellow, International Security Program, New America; Dr. Nadia Oweidat, Senior Fellow, International Security Program, New America; and Fuzz Hogan, Managing Editor, New America.
WHERE: 1899 L Street, N.W., Suite 400
CONTACT: 202-986-0722; web site: http://www.newamerica.net
SOURCE: NAF – event announcement

WHEN: 12:30 – 1:45 pm
WHAT: Hudson Institute Discussion on “The Solution to the Cyprus Problem: Famagusta, Energy, and Public Relations.” Speakers: Moderated by Seth Cropsey, Director, Center for American Seapower, Hudson Institute; and Alexis Galanos, speaker, Mayor of Famagusta and former Speaker of the Cyprus House of Representatives.
WHERE: 1015 15th Street, NW, 6th floor
CONTACT: 202-974-2400; web site: http://www.hudson.org
SOURCE: Hudson – event announcement

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Useful Calendars:

http://fpc.state.gov/events/c42190.htm – New York Foreign Press Center PressPass

http://fpc.state.gov/events/c42191.htm – West Coast PressPass

http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/appt/ — US State Department daily appointments schedule

http://www.defenselink.mil/today/index.aspx?showdate=03/30/2007 — Today in Department of Defense (DoD)

http://www.capitolhearings.org/ — C-SPAN’s schedule of Congressional Hearings

http://npc.press.org/ — National Press Club

http://www.si.edu/events/ — Smithsonian Events

http://www.loc.gov/loc/events/ — Library of Congress