Iraqi soldiers get permanent base in Al Anbar Province
CAMP HABBINYAH, Iraq -- Iraqi soldiers from the 9th Battalion, 2nd Iraqi Intervention Force Brigade, formally marked their new permanent duty station with a ceremony here today, marking a significant step for Iraqi security forces taking full responsibility for security in the area.
The battalion has been conducting operations in Fallujah since November 2004, operating from temporary facilities aboard the East Fallujah Iraqi Camp.
Camp Habbinyah is currently undergoing a $25 million renovation program to refurbish base infrastructure to support the permanent stationing and training of additional 1st IIF Division units.
The 9th Battalion is the first unit to receive military assistance teams in the Al Anbar province. The training program pairs an Iraqi security force unit with a Multi-National Force unit to train, mentor and assist the Iraqi unit as they develop the skills and experience necessary to provide security and stability in the region. The 9th Battalion will be partnered with the 1-506th Infantry Battalion, 2nd Battalion Combat Team, which serves under the 1st Marine Division.
“The combination of permanently stationed Iraqi Army forces and the introduction of the military assistance teams and training will increase security in Al Anbar province, and enable Iraqi security forces to take complete responsibility for security in the province,” said Brig. Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, assistant division commander, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force.
The training program will provide a team of approximately 30 U.S. service members as the core-training cell. However, the entire Multi-National Force unit will be partnered with their Iraqi counterparts and fully engaged in training and combined operations. -30-
Release # 0228-05-1350 United States Marine Corps Press Release Public Affairs Office I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) Feb. 28, 2005
Monday, February 28, 2005
Iraqi soldiers get permanent base in Al Anbar Province
Posted by sookietex at 6:26 PM || ||
|Lahoud Accepts Karami Resignation Beirut, Feb. 28 (SANA)|
President Emile Lahoud of Lebanon on Monday accepted resignation of Lebanese Premier Omar Karami’s government.
"President Lahoud accepted resignation of Karami and asked the government to continue dealing Lebanese issues until a new government is formed,"
a statement issued by Lebanese presidency Directorate said.
Karami earlier resigned during the second session of Lebanese parliament.
"Out of concern that the government doesn’t become an obstacle to the good of the country, I declare the resignation of the government I had the honor to Lead," Karami said.
SOURCE: Syrian Arab News Agency, SANA address : Damascus-Baramka, nearby Damascus University, P.O. Box : 2661
Telephones : 2228239/2231736/2224020/2226429/2129702, Fax : 2224572/2220365/2224292/2224557/2211254/2225774, Telex : 411004/411457/411458. E-Mail :firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted by sookietex at 4:38 PM || ||
Resignation of Interim President and Elections in Togo
The United States is pleased that Faure Gnassingbe has stepped down as interim President of Togo, preparing for the return of full constitutional order.
The Economic Community of West African States has lifted its sanctions on Togo and the African Union has issued a statement on the Togolese transition. We welcome the success of these two organizations in upholding the principles of democracy and good governance enshrined in their charters. We join with them in urging all Togolese to conduct the upcoming elections peacefully and on the basis of consensus.
A key element for credible and transparent elections is unfettered access to the entire country and to all aspects of the electoral process for all political parties, relevant civil society organizations and international organizations providing assistance or fielding observer missions. The United States will send a team of elections experts to assess how we may best support this effort.
Togolese governing and opposition parties and government security forces deserve credit for their responsible and peaceful conduct during political demonstrations held over the weekend. We call on all Togolese to avoid violence and to seek peaceful national reconciliation through democratic elections.
2005/250 Released on February 28, 2005 Press Statement Adam Ereli, Deputy Spokesman Washington, DC February 28, 2005
Posted by sookietex at 4:28 PM || ||
Press Briefing by Scott McClellan FULL STREAMING VIDEO, TRANSCRIPT
MR. McCLELLAN: Good afternoon. I want to begin with one announcement to update on the President's schedule, and then make a few comments on today's events in Lebanon.
The President will welcome Cardinal Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir, the Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, to the White House on March 16th. The Cardinal was respected throughout Lebanon and around the world for his religious leadership and for promoting intra-communal harmony among the different faiths in his country, and is an important voice of Lebanese independence, freedom and democracy. So the President looks forward to that visit on March 16th.
With regards to Lebanon and the developments there today, we are closely watching developments with great interest. The resignation of the Karami government represents an opportunity for the Lebanese people to have a new government that is truly representative of their country's diversity. The new government will have the responsibility of implementing free and fair elections that the Lebanese people have clearly demonstrated they desire. We believe the process of a new government should proceed in accordance with the Lebanese constitution and should be free of all foreign interference. It is time for Syria to fully comply with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559. That means Syrian military forces and intelligence personnel need to leave the country. That will help ensure the elections are free and fair.
And with that, I will be glad to go to your questions.
Q Scott, when you take all of this together -- the resignation of the government today, Syria's apparent capture and handover of Saddam Hussein's half-brother, Syria's declaration last week that it was going to pull troops back closer to its border -- do you see this as being some small steps on the part of Syria to try to show its goodwill toward the United States and Europe, in light of some of the pretty strong comments that you've been making in the past few weeks?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, first of all, on the capture of Saddam Hussein's half-brother, I'm going to let the coalition forces and the Iraqi authorities speak to that. They have made some public comments about it; they have not gotten into any of the specifics relating to that at this point. And I don't want to get in front of what they are saying from the ground there in Iraq. There are reasons for that oftentimes, so I want to state that first.
In terms of our concerns with Syria, I just expressed some of our continuing concerns regarding Syria, particularly when it comes to Lebanon, and they need to comply with their international obligations, the obligation of the United Nations Security Council that calls on all those in Lebanon, all those foreign entities in Lebanon, to leave Lebanon.
Q Again, regardless of who's speaking to what, a couple of these moves that Syria has made in the past few days, do you see this as being -- as sort of reaching out to the United States, or do you think they're just trying to get some of the heat off?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the President has spoken about the concerns he has when it comes to Syria. He laid those out very clearly. There are several concerns we have with regards to Syria. We have concerns about their continuing support for terrorism, namely Hezbollah. We have concern about Syria allowing terrorist organizations to operate within their territory. We have concerns about regime elements operating from Syrian territory. And we've expressed those concerns. We have concerns about Syria's interference in Lebanon's internal affairs, and we will see by their actions if they're committed to changing their behavior.
Go ahead, Terry.
Q Scott, these are remarkable scenes we're witnessing in Beirut. Is this a domino falling? Does this show the President's strategy is vindicated and confirmed and right?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the President has often spoken about how all people desire to live in freedom. I think you're seeing today in Lebanon that the Lebanese people are clearly demonstrating their desire to have a free and independent future, free from outside interference. And we continue to see the Lebanese people standing up and speaking out for their desire to live in freedom, and that's why we made the comments -- that's why I made the comments I did at the beginning of the briefing.
Q Can I follow up?
Q Is this a vindication of the Iraq strategy that the President set out? Is this a domino falling in the Middle East?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think that you're seeing across the world -- most notably in the Middle East -- that democracy and freedom are on the march. The Iraqi people demonstrated their desire to live in freedom and peace when they went to the polls in overwhelming numbers and showed their courage and determination to defy those who want to return to the past, the terrorists.
And I think you're seeing in other parts of the Middle East that there is a commitment to moving forward on democratic reforms. You're seeing that with regards to the Palestinian territories. The Palestinian people want a future that is built on a free and democratic and viable state. And you have a leadership now that is committed to helping them realize that vision that the President outlined.
Q Are you seeing that in Egypt, with President Mubarak's statement?
MR. McCLELLAN: We welcome the commitment by President Mubarak that he made to move forward on elections that would allow for more than one candidate to participate in those elections. We will see, through the implementation of the reforms that were announced, the commitment to moving forward on that.
Q Has the President ever issued an order against torture of prisoners? And do we still send prisoners to Syria to be tortured?
MR. McCLELLAN: The President has stated publicly that we do not condone torture and that he would never authorize the use of torture. He has made that --
Q But has he issued an order?
MR. McCLELLAN: -- statement very publicly, and he's made it clear to everybody in the government that we do not torture.
Q Well, why do we still hear these stories then?
MR. McCLELLAN: If there are allegations of wrongdoing, then the President expects those allegations to be fully investigated and if there is actual wrongdoing that occurs, then people need to be held to account. The President has made that very clear.
Q Well, do you deny that we still send prisoners to other countries to be tortured? Is that a denial?
MR. McCLELLAN: Judge Gonzales testified previously that we have an obligation not to render people to countries that we know would torture them.
Q He did not rule out torture.
MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead, David.
Q Scott, you said this morning that for Iran, ascension to the WTO is now on the table in exchange for something, presumably ultimately abandoning their nuclear weapons designs. What's changed the President's mind? Why is he now prepared to maybe take such a step, when Europeans have been at this for some time, and wanting the U.S. to get more engaged?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you're asking me to speculate about decisions that haven't been made. And I want to correct you, I don't think that's exactly what I said this morning. What I said this morning was what we had indicated last week, as well, that the President is considering ideas that were discussed last week in Europe for moving forward on our efforts to get Iran to end its pursuit of nuclear weapons, and abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions.
Q That's one of the options. I think we all know that's one of the options.
MR. McCLELLAN: There are ideas that have been discussed publicly by the Europeans. The President had very good discussions with our European friends about how we can move forward toward our shared goal of getting Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons program. And so the --
Q Well, but the question is what's changed, because, I mean, all of this was -- has been in place for some time. It didn't just take going to meet the Europeans face-to-face for him to really be convinced of this. So I'm trying to get a sense of what has changed in the President's mind, that he is willing to potentially go down a different road.
MR. McCLELLAN: We have always supported the efforts by our European friends to get Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions. We want to see them succeed in those efforts. And we have seen that over the last several months that Iran is now providing more information to the International Atomic Energy Agency. They're providing greater access to the International Atomic Energy Agency. That is an organization which we are a member of, and we work very closely with all the other 30-some members of that organization, in addition to working with our European friends.
The President had very good discussions last week. The European-3, as they are referred to, have continued to have discussions with Iranian authorities over the course of the last year. Those discussions have been moving forward. And so we have been discussing our concerns with Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons, in addition to our concerns about Iran's behavior in general, its behavior when it comes to supporting terrorism, and its behavior when it comes to refusing to allow its own people to have the freedoms that they seek.
And I think there's a broader recognition on the part of the international community that the concerns are not only about their pursuit of nuclear weapons, but their treatment of their own people and their support for terrorism.
Q I'm sorry, I'm just trying to pin you down. It's not clear to me in that answer what has happened that's convinced the President to stand closer to the EU-3 strategy than he had previously.
MR. McCLELLAN: We've always stayed in close contact with our European friends on these issues. Like I said, we want to see their efforts succeed. We all have a shared goal that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon. That's something we all share. And we want to make sure that Iran abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions.
And we've been supportive of those efforts. We've continued to stay in close contact with them. The President had a number of meetings last week where we discussed these issues. We talked about the progress that has been made in some of those discussions. And we talked about how we can move forward to accomplish that shared goal.
And so the President was very much in a listening mode during some of those meetings. He listened to some of the ideas for how we can move forward together, and the President is now considering some of those ideas that were discussed. I'm not going to speculate about any decisions that have yet to be made at this point. I think it's something we can talk further about once decisions are made. But that's where it stands at this point.
Q Can I follow up on that?
MR. McCLELLAN: Tom, did you have something?
Q Yes. You seem to indicate a flexibility, in terms of incentives, but is anything off the table? For instance, one of the suggestions was that the United States participate directly in these negotiations, joining the three European countries. Is that something that is being considered, or is that off the table?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think the President addressed that last week. We need to keep the focus on Iran. It's their behavior that needs to change. Iran's behavior needs to change when it comes to their interest in nuclear weapons. Iran's behavior needs to change when it comes to the treatment of their own people and their aspirations to have more of a say over their own government; their aspirations for greater --
Q That doesn't involve --
MR. McCLELLAN: -- for greater freedoms. But the President addressed this issue on a couple of occasions just last week. Nothing has changed, in terms of his view on that issue. And we can sit here and try to go through hypothetical decisions that have yet to be made, but I think it's best, let's let those decisions be made and then we can discuss it at that point.
Q But in terms of the U.S. participating directly in the talks, is that something that's under review, as well, as any other things?
MR. McCLELLAN: The President addressed that last week, and there's no change in terms of what he said last week on that.
Go ahead, Wendell.
Q How much was the President -- how much did it play a part in the President's thinking about this President's apparent openness to incentives that European countries convinced him that they, too, believe that it's intolerable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon? That's one. And the second question is, the IAEA is about to give what one official of the agency calls a modestly positive report -- a report card on Iran tomorrow, in Vienna. Does the U.S., as a member of the board, agree with that?
MR. McCLELLAN: Agree with what?
Q That Iran should get a modestly positive report card?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I mean, let's let the report come out and then we can talk about that report at that time. Those discussions -- they're meeting right now and having discussions. We have representatives that are there on behalf of the United States government. I'm not going to jump ahead of what has yet to be reported at this point.
Q All right. The President's decision-making then, was it -- was it swayed by Europe convincing him that they basically share a common agreement --
MR. McCLELLAN: Let me make clear that the policy is the same. We all have a shared goal of making sure Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon. That's something we all share. We're all speaking with the same voice. Iran needs to abide by its international obligations. They need to come clean and they need to end their pursuit of nuclear weapons. We've made that very clear. What we are doing is continuing to talk with our European friends about the best way forward for addressing this issue and accomplishing our shared goal. And those are discussions that were had at length last week with representatives -- with the leaders of those countries who are involved in those discussions with Iran. We very much support their efforts. But the focus needs to be on Iran and its behavior, and that's where the focus needs to remain.
Q One more. Before the trip, Ambassador Bruton said that the idea of taking Iran to the U.N. Security Council over this is really not an option. Did the President hear that from European leaders last week?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we are still in the early diplomatic stages of this effort. We've expressed our views when it comes to Iran's continued defiance of its international obligations in the past, and our support for it being referred to the Security Council.
But the President went last week to Europe, had very good discussions about a number of areas where we can work together on a common agenda, first and foremost spreading the advance of -- spreading democracy and freedom. And when it comes to Iran, there are a number of discussions about where we stand with regards to Iran and its interest in nuclear weapons. And there was a lot of discussion about how we move forward together on our shared goal. And the President is thinking through some of the ideas that were mentioned last week, and thinking about what the next steps are for how we move forward to accomplish that shared goal. That's where we stand on this point.
Go ahead, I'm sorry.
Q I'm not hearing an answer to my question.
MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead.
Q Did the President hear from Europeans that he really doesn't have the option of taking Iran before the U.N. Security Council? The support is not there to impose tougher sanctions.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think that that's been addressed in previous International Atomic Energy Agency meetings, and they would be the ones that would make that referral. What we're doing right now is talking about how we move forward to accomplish this shared goal, and what Iran needs to do. The focus needs to remain on Iran and its behavior, and that's where our focus will remain. We're going to continue working very closely with our European friends to accomplish this shared goal.
Q On Lebanon, is the President prepared to back up his words with any actions to ensure a free and a fair election there?
MR. McCLELLAN: We will do everything we can to support the Lebanese people. I think you have seen that through our discussions with the French. We've worked very closely with the French on this issue, where we both share a common concern. We both are committed to seeing Security Council resolutions complied with. We are both committed to seeing Lebanon be sovereign, independent and free from outside interference. We are fully committed to supporting free and fair elections that would be free from outside interference. So, absolutely, we will -- and it's an issue that I expect we will continue to stay in close contact with our French counterparts on.
Q I'm just curious -- I know it just happened, but did the President watch anything that is going on? Did he see the pictures of what's happening --
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't think he saw -- when I walked in there, there wasn't TV on, but he certainly was briefed on the demonstrations that were going on in Lebanon.
Q Is there any reaction from him --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think the reaction is what I said. And that's why I also made the point that it's time for Syria to comply with Security Council resolutions.
Q And just to follow up, to sort of come at what Terry was trying to ask in a different way. Specifically on Lebanon, to what does the White House ascribe what you're seeing there, exactly?
MR. McCLELLAN: The desire for the Lebanese people to live in freedom. You're seeing the Lebanese people stand up and speak out in a very clear way that they want to determine their future free from outside, foreign interference. And that's what you're seeing. The Lebanese people are standing up and speaking out. I think that the attack that took place recently and led to the assassination of the former prime minister was horrific, and I think it demonstrated the importance of allowing Lebanon to be free from outside interference.
Q Scott, when you were discussing Iran before, the first time I heard you say that you thought that Iran was beginning to comply more fully with the IAEA. On the other hand, over the weekend we've all been hearing that they only turned over documents relating to their 1987 acquisition when confronted once again with evidence. How do you square these two positions? Do you see a change in their --
MR. McCLELLAN: Our view is that we expect full compliance. You have seen --
Q And you're seeing greater compliance?
MR. McCLELLAN: -- some steps taken, where they are starting to provide more information to the International Atomic Energy Agency, and where they're starting to provide greater access. There is much more that needs to be done. It's very clear what they need to do to live up to their international obligations.
Q And does that include, in your mind, opening up all military sites to foreign inspection?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think that they've indicated that they would provide some access to the International Atomic Energy Agency. We want to see full compliance and full transparency when it comes to their nuclear weapons program.
Q Scott, the -- Dick Armey, the former congressman, made a speech where he was talking -- commenting on the President's calls with evangelicals. How often does the President have these conference calls with evangelicals, and what's the nature of them?
MR. McCLELLAN: How often? I'll have to check. I'm not sure exactly what he was referring to. I'll be glad to check into it. But we stay in close contact with a number of people that -- across the political spectrum, and certainly, that is one community that we stay in close contact with, and we appreciate all their support for the President's agenda. But I'll be glad to look into it. I mean, a number of those, I think, were probably referring to staff level contacts.
Q This said the President, so --
MR. McCLELLAN: The President meets with people from all different religious backgrounds on a fairly regular basis. In fact, one of the things he'll be doing tomorrow is attending the leadership conference for his faith-based and community initiative. You're going to have leaders from across the United States representing faith-based and community-based organizations that are helping people in need, and the President is very much committed to building upon the great progress we have made to reach out to faith-based and community organizations to help people in need. And so he looks forward to attending that conference tomorrow.
John, go ahead.
Q Okay. This morning I mis-spoke when I said that Senate Majority Leader Frist had said that he was against raising caps on the level of payroll taxes to pay for Social Security reform. I mis-read his press release, and he takes the same position as the President, which is everything is on the table, except raising the rates for the payroll taxes. Has the President talked to the Majority Leader since this issue first came up, about what is on and off the table on February 14th, and has he spoken with leaders in the House on it, as well?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think Congress has just -- well, Congress is just coming back into session this week. I'm not aware of any additional discussions he has had with the Majority Leader, beyond some of the recent ones -- I think probably prior to our trip to Europe. Obviously, our staff -- our legislative staff, in particular -- stays in close contact with the leadership and those offices on these issues.
I think the President has made it very clear that we need to work together to find a bipartisan solution to save and strengthen Social Security for future generations. The President believes it's important that we all recognize that there are serious problems facing Social Security, that there are serious financial challenges facing Social Security. And he welcomes all ideas that are being expressed for solving the problem. We've expressed our views and our principles for moving forward to strengthen Social Security. We want to hear from others what their ideas are, as well.
I think you see in survey after survey that the American people recognize there are serious problems facing Social Security. Social Security is unsustainable over the long haul. That's why we need to act now to strengthen it. And the President is not going to get into commenting on every idea that is discussed or every idea that is mentioned for solving the problem. He's going to say, I welcome those ideas and let's talk about how we can find a bipartisan way to solve this problem.
Q Scott, can we go back to Iran for a second. Apparently, the deal that Russia made with Iran to sell Iran nuclear fuel is on, at least, a temporary hold. The press report said that a meeting with the President and Russia's Putin didn't go very well, that the President was not able to talk him out of the deal. And, yet, since it is on hold, have there been further talks --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I don't know that that's an accurate description of their meeting, first of all. I'm not sure how much that issue actually came up in the discussions.
Q Has there been any attempt, then, on the part of the President since Europe, or anybody else in the administration to convince Russia not to go through with that deal to sell uranium to Iran?
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't have any update beyond what we've said previously. Russia has previously assured us that no nuclear fuel should be delivered to Iran until Iran comes into compliance with its international obligations and that any spent nuclear fuel must be returned to Russia. They've previously provided those assurances to us. And we've also made it clear it's important that Iran ratify and adhere to the additional protocol of the International Atomic Energy Agency. We believe the fuel take-back is important to reducing any proliferation concerns, and Russia has worked to build such protections into its agreement with Iran. So that's something that they have previously assured us about.
We have continuing concerns, as we have publicly stated, about Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian nuclear program. We've expressed those concerns publicly. Russia is someone that shares the concern of the international community that Iran should not be permitted to acquire a nuclear weapon. We are all working together toward that shared goal.
And that's what you're seeing in these discussions that took place last week. That's what you're seeing in our consideration of some of the ideas that were brought forward by our European friends for how we move forward toward that shared goal. Ultimately it's going to be on Iran to change its behavior and end its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
Q And do you actually trust the Russians on this?
MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead, Goyal.
Q Scott, if President has seen the report issued by the State Department this morning, global violation of human rights. It blames or accuses China and Saudi Arabia, including many other countries, violators of human rights this year.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, in fact we've been talking about some of these very issues at the beginning of the briefing. But promoting human rights and human dignity are at the foundation of our foreign policy. Democracy and freedom and human rights are on the advance, and democracy is the best way to guarantee human rights and human dignity for all. And that's why the President has been such a strong proponent of advancing freedom and democracy.
Q Second, the former President George Bush and Bill Clinton, they were on tsunami -- they were promoting how to help the tsunami victims, and they raised millions of dollars. And now President Clinton is in Taiwan. Were they or President Clinton carrying any message or carrying any message from the President Bush?
MR. McCLELLAN: Let me check and see if there's anything to add to that. We've obviously expressed our views in terms -- when it comes to China and Taiwan, and our position remains the same. We also continue to encourage cross-strait dialogue between the countries as the best way to resolving some of the issues that remain.
Q The governors, since they've come to town, have talked a lot about Medicaid. In the question and answer with the President today, did they talk about Medicaid, and did the President give them any assurances or any --
MR. McCLELLAN: Medicaid did come up. First of all, Medicaid is an important program for providing health care for millions of low-income Americans, particularly our children. And this administration is strongly committed to making sure Medicaid is working the way it is intended to work, and getting care to those who need it. The governors, I think, expressed a view that they want to work with us to move forward on some smart ways to reform Medicaid and make sure that it's working the way that it was intended.
The President -- the governors, I think, very much appreciate our efforts to provide them more flexibility when it comes to Medicaid. And I would point out that when it comes to the Medicaid program that spending on Medicaid is going to continue to grow over the next 10 years; it's going to grow at about 7.2 percent a year for the next 10 years. And when you put that in terms of dollars, we're talking about spending nearly $5 trillion on Medicaid over the next decade. But because of some accounting gimmicks that have been used and some loopholes that have been exploited, Medicaid is putting some tight constraints on our budgeting process.
And the President believes we need to move forward to reform Medicare and strengthen it, so that those who it is intended to help are getting the care that they need, and also that we're giving governors the flexibility that they need to provide health care to more people with the dollars that are available. We want them to be able to expand that coverage and cover more people.
That's why under this administration you've seen us provide waivers to states that have extended Medicaid coverage to 2.6 million people since 2001. And I think that's an important step toward our ultimate objective.
And we're working very closely with the governors. Secretary Leavitt is having good discussions with the governors about how we can move forward together on these reforms. And that's where it stands at this point. But, yes, there were a couple of questions that came up on it, and that was kind of the spirit in which it was discussed, that we all understand some of the challenges facing Medicare, and that's why we need to work together as we move forward to implement some smart reforms.
Go ahead, Roger.
Q In connection with Medicaid, there were some reports this morning that there was an apparent effort to get some sort of compromise between the White House and governors by week's end on that. Do you know anything about that? One, is that accurate? And --
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know about any timeline. I know that Secretary Leavitt has remained in close contact with the governors. He's been our point person on this issue, as the head of the Health and Human Services Department, and he continues to be in close contact with the governors on those matters.
Q But there's no deadline or anything like that --
MR. McCLELLAN: You can check with Secretary Leavitt's office to see --
Q And the other question I had was the President, in his remarks this morning to the governors, said that he wanted to expand the number of children available getting Medicaid benefits. But he didn't say how he might pay for that.
MR. McCLELLAN: It's our Cover the Kids program. It's something that we outlined in the budget, the President strongly supports. And that's making sure that those who qualify are enrolled in the program. The Cover the
Kids would be to extend S-CHIP to children. We enrolled an additional one million children in the S-CHIP program since 2001, and now the President, in his budget, wants to commit an additional $1 billion to cover even more children, and that's how he's talking about doing it.
Q Where does that money come from?
MR. McCLELLAN: It's in our budget. You can go and look at where that money --
Q Is there any offsetting decrease elsewhere, or is it just increase?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'll go look at our budget and try to get you that information.
Bob, go ahead.
Q Scott, in Iraq today, reportedly scores have been killed by a suicide bomber. I'm wondering, first off, if you have any reaction to that. Secondly, during the trip -- more to the point, during the trip, did the President come away with anything really concrete from the allies, in terms of helping bear the burden of securing Iraq at this point?
MR. McCLELLAN: From the trip?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, you should look at some of the comments that were made. In fact, there was an agreement with the European Union that we would support an international conference on Iraq, if it was requested by the Iraqi leadership, to talk about additional ways that we can support the Iraqi people as they move forward.
In terms of the attack today, we condemn this attack in the strongest possible terms. It was an attack on innocent Iraqi civilians. The terrorists who carry out these attacks are the enemies of the Iraqi people and the enemies of their aspirations for a free and peaceful future. We are continuing to work closely with Iraqi security forces to bring to justice the terrorists and former regime elements who seek to derail the transition to democracy. They will be brought to justice. They will be defeated. The Iraqi people have shown, through their courage and determination, that they want to live in freedom. And we stand with the Iraqi people as they seek to build a free and peaceful future.
Q Let me just follow up on my second question.
MR. McCLELLAN: Let me keep going, and then I'll come back. Go ahead, Rick.
Q Is the administration concerned or anxious that Russian -- the Russian deal with Iran on the fuel and -- nuclear fuel and Russia's sale of missiles to Syria is hampering western efforts to put pressure on both countries?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, in terms of the agreement with Iran on the nuclear fuel that would be provided to the Bushehr reactor, we're still waiting to learn about the details of that agreement. That's why I pointed out earlier today that Russia had provided assurances to us about how they would go about that agreement. And I think that's important to note when we're talking about this issue. But you can understand our skepticism when it comes to Iran's nuclear program, because Iran has vast amounts of oil. And we don't see a need for Iran to develop such a broad civilian nuclear program. That's why we are concerned that they are trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of that civilian nuclear program.
Q So there is a concern, then, that the fuel deal could, in some way, inhibit --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, but Russia talked about the protections that would be built into the agreement, that -- and that's why I said that fuel being taken back to Russia is important to providing protections against that fuel being used for purposes other than what it's intended for.
Q Okay, and what about missile sales to Syria?
MR. McCLELLAN: We've expressed our concerns on that issue. I'm not sure that anything is final at this point. We would hope that Russia would continue to use its influence to urge Syria to abide by the Security Council resolutions and get out of Lebanon.
Q Thank you.
MR. McCLELLAN: Thank you.
END 2:00 P.M. EST For Immediate Release Office of the Press Secretary February 28, 2005
Posted by sookietex at 3:52 PM || ||
President Bush will welcome Cardinal Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir, the Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, to the White House on March 16, 2005. The Cardinal is respected throughout Lebanon and around the world for his religious leadership and for promoting intra-communal harmony among the different faiths in his country, and as an important voice for Lebanese independence, freedom, and democracy.
# # # For Immediate Release Office of the Press Secretary February 28, 2005 Statement by the Press Secretary
Posted by sookietex at 2:53 PM || ||
Hizballah, a radical Shia organization, retains its weapons. Syria maintains about 16,000 troops in Lebanon, based mainly east of Beirut and in the Bekaa Valley. Syria's troop deployment was legitimized by the Arab League during Lebanon's civil war and in the Ta'if Accord.
Damascus justifies its continued military presence in Lebanon by citing Beirut's requests and the failure of the Lebanese Government to implement all of the constitutional reforms in the Ta'if Accord. Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon in May 2000, however, encouraged some Lebanese groups to demand that Syria withdraw its forces as well.
The passage of UNSCR 1559 in early October 2004 - a resolution calling for Syria to withdraw from Lebanon and end its interference in Lebanese affairs - further emboldened Lebanese groups opposed to Syria's presence in Lebanon.
SOURCE: CIA World FactBook
Posted by sookietex at 2:12 PM || ||
Security forces in Iraq arrested the terrorist Khaled Rajab in Mosul City on 02/06/05 following information from a citizen.
Khaled Rajab was a former officer in the security services of the former regime, with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He used his previous military experience to lead a terrorist cell consisting of 40 people. This cell launched many attacks against the security forces in Iraq , using various kinds of weapons. Khaled Rajab and a group of terrorists also tried to impose control over a village near Mosul from where they were trying to launch missile attacks on the city's airport.
The terrorist Khaled Rajab was responsible for filming beheadings with the help of his terrorist group.
SOURCE: Iraqi Interim Government
Posted by sookietex at 1:32 PM || ||
President's Toast at National Governors Association State Dinner
State Dining Room 8:06 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: It's always a pleasure to host the nation's governors here in Washington. Laura and I are proud to have you here for our first state dinner of my second term. (Applause.)
It's a joyous occasion, even made more so by the -- by the fact that I learned that the Blancos -- Governor Blanco and her husband are celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary tonight. (Applause.)
Ever since a former governor of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson, lived in this house, many of our Presidents have first served as governors. And there's a reason why. The experience of running a state government, of pulling together a capable team, of setting an agenda and working with an elected legislative body, is critical to the success of any administration.
My six years as governor of Texas have been invaluable to me as I carry out my duties as the presidency [sic]. And because I know firsthand how -- the valuable experience governors get, I've asked a lot to serve in my Cabinet. I had six governors in my first Cabinet. I am pleased that Mike Johanns -- Johanns -- (laughter) -- and Mike Leavitt -- (laughter) -- have agreed to serve in my second term. I'm proud you guys are here. (Applause.)
When our founders devised our federal system two centuries ago, they recognized, in Jefferson's words, that "our country is too large to have all its affairs directed by a single government." The President and the governors are partners in our great enterprise, and that means we share great responsibilities. Together, we'll work to secure our homeland, protect our environment, to strengthen our economy. Together, we will work to ensure that every child gets a good education and good health care. And together, we'll work to make sure that we care for those in our society who hurt and who need help. I'm proud of our work together during the last four years. I look forward to working with you for the next four years.
I want to ask you to join me in a toast to our partners -- the governors and the administration -- in building a more perfect union. To the governors of the United States.
(A toast is given.)
END 8:09 P.M. EST For Immediate Release Office of the Press Secretary February 27, 2005
Posted by sookietex at 12:58 PM || ||
Sunday, February 27, 2005
IRS Unveils Redesigned Employment Tax Return
WASHINGTON –– The Internal Revenue Service today unveiled the redesign of the employment tax return Form 941, Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return. The simplified form should help businesses, tax practitioners and payroll companies avoid common errors as well as reduce the burden associated with completing and filing Form 941.
The redesigned form features an improved layout, plain language instructions, simplified deposit reporting and paid preparer identification. The form is also scannable, which the IRS expects will reduce transcription errors.
“Where we can, the IRS wants to simplify its forms,” said IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson. “The new Form 941 will help achieve that.”
More than 23 million of these forms are filed annually by 6.6 million employers.
The Form 941 is used to report wages, tips and other compensation paid, as well as Social Security, Medicare and income taxes collected.
The Office of Taxpayer Burden Reduction led an IRS team in the redesign. External stakeholders from the payroll tax community provided input. The revision also reflects information gathered from the public and feedback from focus group participants.
“The new 941 is much easier on the eye and much more user-friendly,” said Scott Mezistrano, senior manager of government relations for the American Payroll Association. “With the shading, bigger boxes and improved instructions right on the form, you know exactly what you are supposed to report and where to put it. IRS did a very thorough job of reviewing every line on the 941 and considering how it could be made more clear.”
The form is available on IRS.gov. Printed copies of the form and instructions are also available by calling the IRS at 1-800-829-3676.
Related links: In PDF Format
• Form 941, Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return
• Instructions for Form 941
IR-2005-18, Feb. 23, 2005
Posted by sookietex at 10:42 PM || ||
House Speaker Hastert to Launch Neutrino Experiment at Fermilab, Friday, March 4
BATAVIA, Ill.—Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert Jr., of the Illinois 14th Congressional District, will officially launch the MINOS neutrino experiment during dedication ceremonies at the Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory on Friday, March 4, 2005.
The dedication will take place at 2:30 p.m. in Wilson Hall’s Ramsey Auditorium.
All media wishing to cover the dedication must respond to the Fermilab Office of Public Affairs by Noon on Wednesday, March 2 to arrange for event access and security passes.
The MINOS experiment sends neutrinos from Fermilab through the earth to a 6,000-ton detector located a half-mile below the surface in a former iron mine in Soudan, Minnesota. The neutrinos leave virtually no trace as they make the 450-mile trip in 2.5 milliseconds.
Again, all media wishing to cover the MINOS experiment dedication must respond to the Fermilab Office of Public Affairs by Noon on Wednesday, March 2 to arrange for event access and security passes.
Fermilab is a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science national laboratory, operated under contract by Universities Research Association, Inc. -30-
Contact:Mike Perricone, Fermilab Public Affairs, 630-840-5678 email email@example.comKurt Riesselmann, Fermilab Public Affairs, 630-840-5681 email firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted by sookietex at 6:12 PM || ||
SENATE ENERGY COMMITTEE SCHEDULE FOR THE WEEK OF FEBRUARY 28
Washington, D.C. - The Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee will hold three full committee hearings next week.
The full committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday, March 1 at 10:00 a.m. to receive testimony regarding the President’s FY 2006 Budget for the Department of the Interior.
Invited Witnesses Include:
The Honorable Gale Norton Secretary Department of the Interior
The Honorable P. Lynn Scarlett Assistant Secretary Policy, Management, and Budget Department of the Interior; Nominee, Deputy Secretary
John Tresize Chief Budget Officer Department of the Interior
The full committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday, March 2 at 10:00 a.m. to receive testimony regarding the President’s FY 2006 Budget for the U.S. Forest Service.
Invited Witnesses Include:
The Honorable Mark Rey Undersecretary Natural Resources and Environment Department of Agriculture
Mr. Dale Bosworth Chief Forest Service Department of Agriculture
The full committee will hold a hearing on Thursday, March 3 at 10:00 a.m. to receive testimony regarding the President’s FY 2006 Budget for the Department of Energy.
Invited Witnesses Include:
The Honorable Samuel W. Bodman Secretary Department of Energy ###
Posted by sookietex at 4:58 PM || ||
Security Forces in Iraq arrest the criminal Sabawi Ibrahim Al- Hassan Al- Tikriti
Security Forces in Iraq have arrested the criminal, Sabawi Ibrahim Al- Hassan Al- Tikriti, the half-brother of the ousted president Saddam Hussein and one of the leaders in the former Security Service, who has killed and tortured Iraqi citizens.
Mr. Thair Al- Nakib, the Prime Minister's Spokesman announced " Sabawi's detention comes from the insistence of the Iraqi government in chasing and detaining all criminals who have committed massacres and have their hands stained with the blood of the Iraqi nation. We will bring them to the justice so that they are punished.
Sabawi Al- Tikriti contributed effectively in planning, supervising and carrying out many terrorist acts inside Iraq .
SOURCE: Iraqi Interim Government
Posted by sookietex at 2:37 PM || ||
USPS SEEKS TO EXTEND NEGOTIATED PRICING TO FOURTH MAILER
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. Postal Service has filed for a recommended decision on a fourth negotiated service agreement (NSA) from the Postal Rate Commission that extends the innovative product to the financial services company HSBC North America Holdings Inc.
The agreement with HSBC would be similar to three previous NSAs with other mailers, and is functionally equivalent to the Postal Service's landmark first such agreement with Capital One.
"Providing price incentives for mailers to encourage more mail volume and best practices can help make it possible for us to keep rates affordable for everyone," said Anita Bizzotto, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer.
HSBC is one of the largest banking and financial services organizations in the world, and one of the ten largest originators of First-Class Mail in the United States.
The agreement has three main features: it provides incentives for HSBC to send additional First-Class Mail, ensures that the customer will maintain superior mail- quality practices, and produces cost savings for the Postal Service from the customer agreeing to receive electronic information about undeliverable mail instead of having pieces physically returned.
A negotiated service agreement is a pricing instrument that gives the Postal Service a mechanism for customizing rates and services to accommodate the unique mailing needs of specialized business customers and to encourage cost-efficient mail preparation for accurate sorting and distribution.
The Postal Service broke new ground when it negotiated the first NSA with Capital One. "Clearly with the results of the Capital One NSA, which produced $21.7 million of contribution to the cost of overhead in just one year, we have demonstrated the value of NSAs to encourage incremental First-Class Mail volume" said Stephen Kearney, Vice President of Pricing and Classification.
The Postal Service anticipates an expeditious review of this NSA under the Commission's rules governing "functionally equivalent NSAs." Once the Postal Service receives a recommended decision, the Governors must still vote to implement the NSA.
"Since 1775, the Postal Service has connected friends, families, neighbors and businesses by mail. It is an independent federal agency that visits 142 million homes and businesses every day and is the only service provider delivering to every address in the nation. The Postal Service receives no taxpayer dollars for routine operations, but derives its operating revenues solely from the sale of postage, products and services. With annual revenues of more than $69 billion, it is the world's leading provider of mailing and delivery services, offering some of the most affordable postage rates in the world. The Postal Service delivers more than 46 percent of the world's mail volume-some 206 billion letters, advertisements, periodicals and packages a year-and serves seven million customers each day at its 37,000 retail locations nationwide."
# # # FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Media Relations 202-268-2155 February 25, 2005 News Release No. 05-014 www.usps.com
Posted by sookietex at 2:29 PM || ||
The Federal Reserve Board on Friday invited public comment on proposed revisions to its regulations implementing the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) that are intended to reduce regulatory burden on community banks while making CRA evaluations more effective in encouraging banks to meet community development needs.
The Board's notice of proposed rulemaking is identical to proposals approved by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) on February 22, 2005. The proposal would:
Exempt banks with assets between $250 million and $1 billion, referred to as "intermediate small banks," from the data reporting obligations the current CRA regulations imposed on banks with assets larger than $250 million.
Subject intermediate small banks to a two-part test (retail lending and community development) instead of the current three-part test (lending, investment, and service). For intermediate small banks, a satisfactory community development rating, as well as a satisfactory retail lending rating, would be necessary for an overall rating of "Satisfactory."
Revise the definition of "community development" for all banks of any size to make it more responsive to the community development needs of rural areas.
Clarify when illegal lending practices--for example, by a bank's affiliate--might reduce the bank's CRA rating.
The proposal addresses concerns expressed by the Board in July 2004 when it withdrew a February 2004 proposal to raise the small-bank threshold to $500 million. The Board expressed concern in July that the proposal was not certain to yield significant cost savings for banks, but might reduce community development capital in some rural communities. The current proposal would deliver greater cost savings while maintaining scrutiny of banks' community development records, though on a more flexible basis. It would also refine the definition of "community development" in rural areas in an effort to make the regulations more effective in encouraging rural development.
Comments are due within 60 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register, which is expected shortly. 2005 Banking and consumer regulatory policy Release Date: February 25, 2005 For immediate release
Posted by sookietex at 1:47 PM || ||
NRC ISSUES LICENSES ALLOWING WESTINGHOUSE TO EXPORT NUCLEAR REACTOR EQUIPMENT AND FUEL TO CHINA
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued a license authorizing Westinghouse Electric Co. to export to China the reactor systems, components and associated equipment and engineering services to build and operate as many as two pressurized water nuclear reactors at the San Men site and two at the Yang Jiang site. A second license was also issued, authorizing Westinghouse to export enough low-enriched uranium fuel to be used in the initial core and in one refueling for each reactor.
Westinghouse submitted the application for the license to export the reactors on Feb. 25, 2004, and the application for the fuel export license on August 26, 2004. Should China accept Westinghouse’s bid for constructing the plants, shipments of the reactor systems and components are expected to begin around mid-2007.
After carefully reviewing the applications and associated information, the NRC concluded that approving these exports to China will not be adverse to the common defense and security. The NRC also agreed with the conclusions reached by interested Executive Branch agencies that approving these exports is fully consistent with U.S. legal requirements.
NRC NEWSU.S. NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION Office of Public Affairs Telephone: 301/415-8200 Washington, DC 20555-0001 E-mail: email@example.com, nrc.gov/ No. 05-037 February 25, 2005
Posted by sookietex at 1:26 PM || ||
|Long-Term Ecological Research in Marine Environments is Topic of Symposium. Image Courtesy: Plum Island Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Site|
Long-Term Ecological Research at Plum Island, Massachusetts
The LTER network, funded by the National Science Foundation, comprises 26 field sites located primarily in the United States, but with a geographic span from the Arctic and Antarctic to the tropics. The sites represent Earth’s major ecosystems and include deserts, grasslands, forests, tundra, urban areas, agricultural systems, freshwater lakes, coastal estuaries and salt marshes, coral reefs and coastal ocean zones.
Who: Henry Gholz, NSF LTER Program Director, Philip Taylor, NSF Biological Oceanography Program Director, Scientists from coastal and other LTER sites
What: Symposium on results of Long-Term Ecological Research at marine sites
When: Thursday, March 3, 2005, 8:30 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.
Where: National Science Foundation 4201 Wilson Blvd. Stafford II Building, Room 555 Arlington, VA22230
For a detailed symposium agenda, or to arrange for a pass to enter the building, please contact: Cheryl Dybas, firstname.lastname@example.org, (703) 292-7734 - NSF- Media Advisory 05-003 February 24, 2005
Posted by sookietex at 12:37 PM || ||
President George W. Bush today announced the designation of a Presidential Delegation to the Oriental Republic of Uruguay to attend the Inauguration of President Tabar Vzquez, on March 1, 2005.
The Honorable Elaine L. Chao, Secretary of Labor, will lead the delegation.
Members of the Presidential Delegation are:
The Honorable Martin J. Silverstein, U.S. Ambassador to the Oriental Republic of Uruguay
Ms. Marilyn Ware of Pennsylvania, Chairman Emerita of American Water
# # # For Immediate Release Office of the Press Secretary February 25, 2005 Personnel Announcement
Posted by sookietex at 10:08 AM || ||
Saturday, February 26, 2005
Indonesia: Secretary Rice’s Decision to Certify International Military Education and Training
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has determined that Indonesia has satisfied legislative conditions for restarting its full International Military Education and Training (IMET) program.
Current restrictions on the IMET program were in put in place by the Administration, and subsequently legislated by Congress, due to insufficient cooperation by the Indonesian military in investigating the August 2002 murders of two American citizens and one Indonesian citizen in Papua province. Secretary Rice has determined that the Government and the Armed Forces of Indonesia (TNI) have cooperated with the FBI’s investigation into
these murders and continue to do so, and thus have fulfilled the requirements articulated in the legislation to allow for resumption of the full International Military Education and Training Program.
Indonesian cooperation has resulted in the indictment of Anthonius Wamang, an Indonesian citizen and member of a Papuan separatist group, on charges of murder, attempted murder, causing serious bodily injury and illegal firearms. The U.S. – Indonesia joint investigation by the FBI and Indonesian National Police continues.
Indonesia has not participated in the full International Military Education and Training program since 1992, when restrictions were first imposed in response to the massacre of civilian protestors in Dili, East Timor. Restrictions were maintained after Indonesian security forces and their militia devastated East Timor in the wake of the August 1999
UN – sponsored independence referendum, and since then were tied to cooperation in the investigation of the Timika murders.
The Department expects that Indonesia’s resumption of full International Military Education and training will strengthen its ongoing democratic progress and advance cooperation in other areas of mutual concern.
2005/247 Released on February 26, 2005 Press Statement Richard Boucher, Spokesman Washington, DC
Posted by sookietex at 5:20 PM || ||
Visit of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Mexico
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will visit Mexico on Thursday, March 10, for meetings with government officials, business leaders, and members of civil society. The Secretary welcomes this opportunity to reaffirm the close bilateral relationship we enjoy with our southern neighbor.
2005/240 Released on February 25, 2005
Press Statement Richard Boucher, Spokesman Washington, DC February 25, 2005
Posted by sookietex at 5:16 PM || ||
Acting Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs
Question: With the departure of Assistant Secretary Beth Jones, who will be the acting Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs?
Answer: Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Robert A. Bradtke will serve as the Acting Assistant Secretary effective Tuesday, March 1, 2005.
Taken QuestionOffice of the Spokesman Washington, DC February 25, 2005 Question Taken at February 25, 2005 Daily Press Briefing
Posted by sookietex at 5:09 PM || ||
Appointment of Philip Zelikow as the Counselor of the Department of State
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today announced the appointment of Philip Zelikow as Counselor of the Department of State.
Though the position has been vacant since 2001, the office of the Counselor is not new, having been part of the Department’s organization since 1909. The Counselor is a principal officer of the Department. As Counselor, Dr. Zelikow will serve as a senior policy advisor on a widerange of issues and will undertake special assignments as directed by the Secretary.
“Philip and I have worked together for years,” Secretary Rice commented, “and I value his counsel and expertise. I appreciate his willingness to take on this assignment.”
Dr. Zelikow has served previously in government, most recently as the Executive Director of the 9/11 Commission. Formerly a trial and appellate attorney in Houston, Zelikow served as a career foreign service officer overseas, in the Department, and on detail to the NSC staff. He then taught at Harvard University and at the University of Virginia, where he was, until his current appointment, the White Burkett Miller Professor of History and Director of the Miller Center of Public Affairs. A former member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (2001-2003), Dr. Zelikow also directed the privately-sponsored Carter-Ford Commission on Federal Election Reform, which led to the Help America Vote Act of 2002.
Dr. Zelikow received his BA in history from the University of Redlands, his JD from the University of Houston, and his MA and Ph.D. degrees in international law and diplomacy from Tufts University’s Fletcher School.
2005/244 Released on February 25, 2005 Press Statement Richard Boucher, Spokesman
Posted by sookietex at 5:00 PM || ||
Bombing in Tel Aviv Secretary Condoleezza Rice Washington, DC February 25, 2005
I condemn in the strongest possible terms today’s bombing in Tel Aviv. I offer our deepest sympathy to the victims of this terrorist attack, their families, and the Israeli people and hope for a speedy recovery to those injured. We have been in contact with Israeli officials to convey our condolences and our support against terrorism.
Terrorist attacks, such as today’s bombing in Tel Aviv, not only kill innocent civilians, but also undermine the aspirations and hopes of the Palestinian people.
It is essential that Palestinian leaders take immediate, credible steps to find those responsible for this terrorist attack and bring them to justice. We understand that the Palestinian leadership has condemned the attack. We now must see actions that send a clear message that terror will not be tolerated.
2005/245 Released on February 25, 2005
Posted by sookietex at 3:14 PM || ||
Secretary Rice Travel to Attend the London Meeting on Supporting the Palestinian Authority
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will travel to London, UK, on Monday, February 28, for the March 1 London Meeting on Supporting the Palestinian Authority. Secretary Rice looks forward to working with key officials there on our joint efforts to support Palestinian political institutions, to build security, and to invigorate the Palestinian economy. The meeting in London will include 30 delegations, including a number of Arab states and other members of the international donor community who will come together to express their support for the new Palestinian leadership. Secretary Rice also will participate in a Quartet meeting, bilateral discussions with the British, and other meetings while in London, before returning to Washington, D.C. on Wednesday.
2005/239 Press Statement Richard Boucher, Spokesman Washington, DC February 25, 2005
Posted by sookietex at 2:49 PM || ||
Special Press Briefing and Release of 2004 Annual Report on Human Rights-February 28, 2005
Under Secretary Paula Dobriansky will deliver remarks on the release of the State Department’s 2004 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices on Monday, February 28 at 9:00 a.m. After the Under Secretary’s opening remarks, Acting Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Michael Kozak will provide introductory remarks on the report and respond to reporters’ questions. This event is on camera and on the record, and will be held in the State Department’s press briefing room (Room 2209).
Advance Copies of the Embargoed Report
Embargoed copies of the report on CD-ROM will be available on Monday, February 28 at 8:15 a.m. in the State Department’s Press Office (Room 2109). The entire report is EMBARGOED until the end of the press briefing, approximately 10:00 a.m., February 28. The report is available on a first-come, first-served basis, one CD per media organization, and must be collected in person from Room 2109. Copies will not be reserved, mailed, faxed or delivered to a building entrance.
Press who attend this briefing should arrive at the C Street entrance (2201 C Street, NW) and must present either (1) A U.S. Government-issued identification card (Department of State, White House, Congress, Department of Defense or Foreign Press Center), (2) a media-issued photo identification card, or (3) letter from their employer on letterhead verifying their employment as a journalist, accompanied by an official photo identification card (driver’s license, passport). Press should allow adequate time to process through security and to be in the briefing room 10 minutes before the briefing.
Electronic Access to the Report via Internet
The full text of the report will be available for downloading from the State Department web site at: state.gov as soon as possible after the briefing on February 28.
As soon as it has been printed by the Government Printing Office, copies of the full report will be sold by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington DC 20402; telephone 202-512-1800; fax 202-512-2250.
Press Contacts For more information on this event, contact: Gene Bigler, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, (202) 647-3904 or the Office of Press Relations, (202) 647-2492 2005/236 Released on February 25, 2005 Notice to the Press Office of the Spokesman Washington, DC
Posted by sookietex at 2:38 PM || ||
U.S. Participation in the United Nations 49th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women
United States Representative to the Commission on the Status of Women Ambassador Ellen R. Sauerbrey will head the U.S. delegation to the 2005 meeting of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. The meeting commemorates the tenth anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing+10) and will be held February 28 – March 11 in New York. Other U.S. delegates include Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Department of State’s Bureau of International Organization Affairs Mark P. Lagon, and U.S. Representative to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations Ambassador Sichan Siv.
The three public U.S. delegates are: Patricia P. Brister, who served on the Louisiana Republican State Central Committee for twelve years and served as Chairman of the Republican Party of Louisiana for four years; Susan B. Hirschmann, a partner with Williams and Jensen PLLC and former Chief of Staff to Congressman Tom DeLay (R-TX); and, Janet Parshall, host of the radio and television program "Janet Parshall’s America" and the author of several books, most recently "Traveling a Pilgrim's Path: Preparing Your Child to Navigate the Journey of Faith".
The United States is firmly committed to promoting the rights and advancement of women domestically and internationally. We hope this meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women will contribute to tangible efforts by all nations to expand the political participation, economic empowerment, freedom from violence, and education of women worldwide.
2005/241 Released on February 25, 2005 Media Note Office of the Spokesman Washington, DC
Posted by sookietex at 1:38 PM || ||
February 26, 2004, Hispanic Republican U.S. Rep. Henry Bonilla (R-TX) condemns racist comments by U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL); she had called Asst. Secretary of State Roger Noriega and several Hispanic Congressmen “a bunch of white men...you all look alike to me”
February 27, 1860, Abraham Lincoln launches campaign for Republican presidential nomination with speech at the Cooper Institute in New York.
February 28, 1871, Republican Congress passes Enforcement Act providing federal protection for African-American voters.
March 1, 1875, Civil Rights Act of 1875, guaranteeing access to public accommodations without regard to race, signed by Republican President U.S. Grant; passed with 92% Republican support over 100% Democrat opposition.
March 2, 1953, Republican Clare Booth Luce, U.S. Ambassador to Italy, becomes first woman to serve as ambassador to a major power.
March 3, 1865, Republican Congress establishes Freedmen’s Bureau to provide health care, education, and technical assistance to emancipated slaves.
March 4, 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower appoints J. Ernest Wilkins to serve as first African-American U.S. Asst. Secretary of Labor.
March 5, 1875, Blanche Bruce (R-MS) becomes first African-American to serve full term in U.S. Senate; in 1879 he was first African-American to preside over Senate.
“Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.”
SOURCE: 2005 Republican Freedom Calendar
Posted by sookietex at 1:20 PM || ||
bush radio address 02/26/05 full audio, text transcript
President's Radio Address
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. This past week I was in Europe, where I had good discussions with our friends and allies about how to meet the mutual challenges we face: spreading freedom and democracy, defeating terrorism, expanding prosperity and promoting peace. In our meetings, we reaffirmed the vital importance of the transatlantic alliance for advancing these common interests and values.
Now that I'm back home, I'm eager to move ahead with one of my top domestic priorities: strengthening and saving Social Security. I have already met with tens of thousands of you in nine states to discuss this important issue. During the recent congressional recess, many senators and congressmen have held their own town hall meetings to discuss Social Security reform with their constituents. For example, Senator Rick Santorum hosted forums all across Pennsylvania this week. And Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan held nearly three dozen listening sessions in his district. I am pleased with the progress of the national discussion on this issue, and I look forward to hearing everyone's ideas when the Congress returns.
Meanwhile, I'll be visiting New Jersey and Indiana next week, and I plan to keep traveling across the country to talk about Social Security. I will continue to reassure those of you born before 1950 that your Social Security benefits will not change in any way: You will receive your checks, and that is a fact.
I will also make clear to younger workers that Social Security is heading toward bankruptcy. Massive numbers of baby boomers, like me, will soon begin to retire. People are living longer and benefits are scheduled to increase dramatically, and fewer workers will be paying into the system to support each retiree. For you younger workers, the current system has made promises that it cannot keep -- and that is also a fact. Every year we wait to address this problem will make any eventual solution more painful and drastic, and we will saddle our children and grandchildren with an ever-greater burden. We need to act now to fix Social Security permanently.
As we fix Social Security, we must also make it a better deal for younger workers. I have proposed allowing you to set aside part of your payroll taxes in personal retirement accounts. These accounts would be voluntary; the money would go into a conservative mix of bond and stock funds that would have the opportunity to earn a higher rate of return than anything the current system could provide. And that money would provide a nest egg to supplement your traditional Social Security check or to pass on to your children. Best of all, it would replace the empty promises of the current system with real assets of ownership.
I have said repeatedly that all options are on the table for strengthening Social Security, with the exception of raising the payroll tax rate. I'm willing to listen to any good idea. And I will work in good faith with members of Congress from both parties on this issue. Some in Washington want to deny that Social Security has a problem, but the American people know better and you have the power to determine the outcome of this debate.
I encourage all Americans, particularly our younger workers, who have so much at stake, to ask your elected leaders what they intend to do to keep the promise of Social Security alive in the 21st century. Saving Social Security will not be easy, but if you make clear that you expect your leaders to confront problems head on, not pass them on to future generations, I am confident that we will put aside partisan politics in Washington and meet our duty to you, the American people.
Thank you for listening.
END For Immediate Release February 26, 2005
Posted by sookietex at 11:26 AM || ||
Friday, February 25, 2005
Statement of Treasury Secretary John W. Snow on Fourth Quarter GDP Growth
Today's announcement that fourth quarter real gross domestic product grew at a 3.8 percent rate rather than the 3.1 percent rate originally reported illustrates that America's economy has been moving in the right direction and Americans are seeing results. I was particularly pleased to see that business investment was revised up to a growth rate of 14 percent. Recent economic data for the first quarter, including the steep drop in new claims for unemployment insurance and robust growth in business spending on capital goods, show that this momentum is continuing into 2005.
President Bush is committed to keeping the economy on the path of healthy growth by making the tax cuts permanent, reducing the burden of frivolous lawsuits, and strengthening social security. The President's leadership on economic policy is clearly moving the economy in the right direction.
February 25, 2005 JS-2275
Posted by sookietex at 9:56 PM || ||
ATTORNEY GENERAL ALBERTO R. GONZALES TO DELIVER REMARKS AT HOOVER INSTITUTION BOARD OF OVERSEERS MEETING
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales will deliver remarks highlighting the key priorities of the Department of Justice at the Hoover Institution Board of Overseers meeting on MONDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2005 at 12:00 P.M. EST.
WHO: Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales
WHAT: Hoover Institution Board of Overseers Meeting
WHEN: MONDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2005 12:00 P.M. EST Cameras must pre-set BY 11:30 A.M. EST
WHERE: Willard Ballroom Willard Intercontinental Hotel 1401 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W. Washington, D.C. 20004
NOTE: ALL media MUST PRESENT GOVERNMENT-ISSUED PHOTO ID (such as driver’s license) as well as VALID MEDIA CREDENTIALS. Media interested in attending the event should have their cameras pre-set by 11:30 A.M. EST. All press inquiries regarding logistics should be directed to Angela Williamson at 202-305-5126. ### FOR PLANNING PURPOSES ONLY FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2005 WWW.USDOJ.GOV AG (202) 514-2008 TDD (202) 514-1888 *******MEDIA ADVISORY*******
Posted by sookietex at 9:41 PM || ||
Assistant Secretary Watson Says Federal Energy Program Reflects Strict Environmental Protection
Efforts Underscore Federal Commitment to Protect Wildlife and Habitat
WASHINGTON-In a letter to Trout Unlimited today, Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Land and Minerals Management Rebecca Watson highlighted the Bush administration's strong commitment and strict adherence to environmental regulations designed to protect wildlife and wildlife habitat. Watson addressed concerns TU expressed in a Feb. 15, 2005, letter to Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton about oil and gas development on public lands.
"The Department of the Interior's energy program reflects the administration's belief that environmentally sound energy development is important to our national security and economic well-being," Watson wrote. "It also directly supports the Bureau of Land Management's mandate to manage resources to best meet the present and future needs of the American people."
Watson noted that the federal government has taken several measures to help ensure that conservation of wildlife, wildlife habitat and recreation are part of the land-use planning process on public lands.
"Our strong commitment to multiple use management is reflected in the Bureau of Land Management's land-use plans," Watson said. "These plans are developed in an open public process and are the blueprint for how all activities and resources are managed on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management."
Watson said President Bush made his mandate very clear in the National Energy Policy where he said 'We must work to build a new harmony between energy needs and our environmental concerns. The truth is energy production and environmental protections are not competing priorities. They are dual aspects of a single purpose, to live well and wisely upon the earth.'
With that message in mind, on June 22, 2004, Watson announced a new Bureau of Land Management policy initiative designed to enhance protection for wildlife by reducing long-term impacts from oil and gas activity through the use of Best Management Practices. She also directed the BLM to issue a policy (August 13, 2004) confirming that land managers have discretion to temporarily defer leasing when it might conflict with wildlife protection proposals in resource management plans under development.
"We routinely set aside special areas that hold unique values," Watson said. "We have withdrawn leases from energy development to protect wildlife. "Out of 261 million acres managed by BLM, fewer than 325,000 acres are directly affected by oil and gas production activities. That is about one-tenth of 1 percent."
For example, in October 2004, the BLM deferred work on an oil and gas proposal in the Blackleaf area along the Rocky Mountain Front in Montana until at least 2008, in order to allow time for a landscape-scale study of the area. In Utah, since January 2004, the BLM has deferred action on 568 parcels out of 1,146 nominated for oil and gas leases, nearly half, to allow for additional analysis of wildlife, cultural or other resource values.
Watson indicated that the critical leasing decisions are made during the planning stage. It is in that process where other uses such as hunting, fishing, camping and livestock grazing are thoroughly analyzed and competing priorities are balanced.
"The environmental review that is part of the land-use planning process analyzes potential impacts of all activities using the best and most recent information available," Watson said. "It is a complicated process, but it is fully open to the public and people need to be involved. The BLM should have the benefit of diverse and thoughtful views as it develops its resource management plans."
Letter from Assistant Secretary Watson in PDF format
Rebecca W. Watson is the Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management at the U.S. Department of the Interior. She provides policy, priorities and oversight to the Bureau of Land Management, Minerals Management Service, and Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. These three bureaus have responsibility for the production of about 35 percent of the nation's domestic oil, natural gas and coal that heat and cool our homes, fuel our cars and trucks, and power our high-tech economy. The Bureau of Land Management also manages about one-eighth of the land in the United States for a wide variety of uses benefiting the public including recreation, grazing, timber production, mining, wilderness, energy development and wildlife habitat.
Office of the Secretary Contact: John Wright For Immediate Release: Feb. 24, 2005 202-208-6416
Posted by sookietex at 4:49 PM || ||
National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center General Overview
The Department of Homeland Security’s National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (NBACC) will provide the nation with essential biocontainment laboratory space for biological threat characterization and bioforensic research.
The NBACC facility, managed by Homeland Security’s Science & Technology directorate in accordance with the Homeland Security Act of 2002 and the Homeland Security Presidential Directive entitled “Biodefense for the 21st Century,” will be located within the National Interagency Biodefense Campus at Fort Detrick, Maryland.
The programs conducted at NBACC will provide knowledge of infectious properties of biological agents, effectiveness of countermeasures, decontamination procedures, and forensics analyses to support policy makers and responders’ development of policies, programs, and technologies.
NBACC is part of a nationwide group of institutions that collectively are referred to as the Homeland Security Biodefense Complex. The Complex includes the Plum Island Animal Disease Control Center, the Biodefense Knowledge Center, the national laboratories, and the university-based Homeland Security Centers of Excellence.
Composition of NBACC NBACC will be comprised of:
The National Bioforensic Analysis Center (NBFAC), is designated in Presidential Directive “Biodefense for the 21st Century, to be the lead federal facility to conduct and facilitate the technical forensic analysis and interpretation of materials recovered following a biological attack in support of the appropriate lead federal agency. NBFAC conducts bioforensic analysis of evidence from a bio-crime or terrorist attack to attain a “biological fingerprint” to identify perpetrators and determine the origin and method of attack.
The Biological Threat Characterization Center (BTCC) will conduct studies and laboratory experiments to fill in information gaps to better understand current and future biological threats, assess vulnerabilities, conduct risk assessments, and determine potential impacts in order to guide the development of countermeasures such as detectors, drugs, vaccines, and decontamination technologies to protect the U.S. against these threats.
DHS completed the environmental planning and public review process for the construction of the NBACC facility with a Record of Decision on January 26, 2005. It is anticipated that an architectural and engineering (A&E) contract will be awarded late March 2005 to allow groundbreaking to take place in the summer of 2006 and completion of the project in 2008.
A contract is scheduled to be awarded in March to begin design of the NBACC facility.
The gross space, or entire footprint, is expected to be about 160,000 square feet. This includes administration areas, BSL- 2, 3 and 4 laboratory space, air handling equipment space, security controls, and other supporting features.
The anticipated number of researchers and support staff is approximately 120.
An interim capability for the NBFAC has been established in partnership with the FBI and the U.S. Army at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick. Also, some threat characterization research and studies are being conducted in other established private and government laboratories, including USAMRIID.
The National Interagency Biodefense Campus
NBACC will be located on the new National Interagency Biodefense Campus at Fort Detrick. The other agencies sharing the Ft. Detrick National Interagency Biodefense Campus are:
• Health and Human Services’ National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), NIH
• Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service and Foreign Disease-Weed Science Research Unit (FDWSRU), and the
• Department of Defense’s U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), USMRMC
Collectively, these laboratories have complementary scientific goals and will collaborate on developing a comprehensive understanding of biological agent characteristics (NBACC), elucidating the disease process (NIAID Integrated Research Facility) and developing products to reduce risks to human health and agricultural productivity (USAMRIID, USDA- ARS).
The unique missions of forensics analyses and threat characterization will complement the mission responsibilities of the other agencies. Coordination of these proposed activities takes place through an established Fort Detrick interagency committee.
### updated February 24, 2005 SOURCE: U.S. Department of Homeland Security
The Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology directorate has issued a Request for Information (PDF, 6 pages, 102 KB) concerning the management and operations (M&O) of the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (NBACC). Responses to the Request for Information will be considered as part of a broader ongoing management planning process for the NBACC facility.
Posted by sookietex at 4:07 PM || ||
United States, Canada and Mexico Release the "North American Natural Gas Vision"
WASHINGTON, DC -- The North American Energy Working Group (NAEWG), a group of senior energy officials from Canada, Mexico and the United States, today released the "North American Natural Gas Vision," a trilateral report by the three governments that includes information on the natural gas market in the North American region, including forecasts through the year 2012. U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman joined Minister of Natural Resources Canada R. John Efford and Mexico's Energy Secretary Fernando Elizondo in announcing the report's release.
“This document is a key cooperative effort among the three countries to address one of the most important energy issues facing us all,” Secretary Bodman said. “It demonstrates the commitment of the three governments to encourage a secure, competitive, efficient and growing North American gas market that will help fuel the economies and environmental objectives of the three countries.”
The "North American Natural Gas Vision" contains three sections: a summary of key findings; a review of the sector from 1990 to 2003; and a forecast on market supply, demand, prices, and trade out to the year 2012. The report also includes comments on issues beyond 2012. The report is the culmination of two years' work by the NAEWG’s Natural Gas Experts Group, which reviewed various measures North America can take to achieve its goals for natural gas. It examines the increasingly important role of natural gas in the energy sectors of the three countries and will serve as an important reference document for governments, businesses and the general public.
The "North America Natural Gas Vision" represents another step in fulfilling the goals of the NAEWG: to foster communication and cooperation among the governments and energy sectors of the three North American countries on energy-related matters of common interest, and to enhance North American energy trade and interconnections, consistent with the goal of sustainable development, for the benefit of all; respecting the domestic policies, divisions of jurisdictional authority and existing trade obligations of each country.
In addition to releasing the "North America Natural Gas Vision" today, NAEWG also announced the availability of a second document that examines federal regulation of cross-border electricity trade, the "Guide to Federal Regulation of Sales of Imported Electricity in Canada, Mexico, and the United States." The report is an overview of the domestic treatment of imported electricity in North America and a follow-up to "North America - Regulation of International Electricity Trade," released in 2002
At the Summit of the Americas held in Quebec, Canada, in April 2001, U.S. President Bush, then-Canadian Prime Minister Chretien and Mexico's President Fox committed to expanding energy trade among the three nations and strengthening the energy market in North America. Building on this commitment, the U.S. Secretary of Energy, the Minister of Natural Resources Canada and Mexico's Secretary of Energy agreed to establish the NAEWG. In addition to releasing five reports and continuing work in those areas, the NAEWG is examining other issues including energy science and technology and critical infrastructure protection.
This report is available on:
pi.energy.gov/pdf/, nrcan.gc.ca/, energia.gob.mx/work/ng.pdf
Media contacts:Anne Womack Kolton, 202/586-4940Drew Malcomb, 202/586-5806 Number: R-05-022 February 25, 2005
Posted by sookietex at 3:51 PM || ||