Tuesday, February 28, 2012

U.S. Announces 2nd Intl. Sports Exchange with the Democratic Republic of Congo

Washington, DC
January 9, 2012

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs announced today the second international sports exchange with the Democratic Republic of the Congo that includes 20 boys and girls basketball players and coaches. From January 9 through January 20, the Congolese delegation will engage with Washington, D.C. area high school and university teams; participate in a clinic by the National Basketball Association (NBA) at the Verizon Center as well as teambuilding and leadership exercises.

Sports diplomacy builds on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s vision of “smart power.” “Smart power” embraces the use of a full range of diplomatic tools, including sports, to bring people together to foster greater understanding.

This Sports Visitors program follows the July 2007 trip of the NBA’s Juwan Howard and the Women’s National Basketball Association’s (WNBA) Nikki McCray to Kinshasa as Sports Envoys, where they were joined by NBA Legend Dikembe Mutombo.

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs leads the U.S. Department of State’s sports diplomacy efforts. Through its SportsUnited office, athletes and coaches from a variety of sports conduct clinics, visit schools, and engage with youth overseas in a dialogue on the importance of an education, positive health practices, and respect for diversity.

Since 2003, SportsUnited has brought almost 900 athletes from 58 countries to the U.S. to participate in Sport Visitor programs; and sent over 200 U.S. athletes to more than 50 countries to participate in Sport Envoy programs since 2005.

Secretary Hillary Clinton Holds Townhall Meeting With Tunisian Youth

Palais de Baron d’Erlanger
Tunis, Tunisia
February 25, 2012

MODERATOR: We are very proud of the youth of our country for being the catalyst and leaders of change. Madam, the Secretary of State, we’re honored to have you visit our country for the second time in less than a year. And on behalf of the attendees today, I would like to welcome you and thank you for the time you are spending with us and for the exciting opportunity to have our youth exchange with you. The floor is to you.

SECRETARY CLINTNON: Thank you so much. Well, thank you very much, and it is a pleasure to be back here in a free Tunisia and to be at this beautiful center for Arab and Mediterranean music, and I want to thank the director and everyone associated with the center. But what is most exciting to me is to have this chance to talk with all of you, and I thank you for coming, and Leila, thank you for agreeing to moderate.

It is an exciting but also challenging time here in Tunisia. The riot police are gone, and the pepper spray no longer fills the air, but it is true that building a sustainable democracy and a modern economy, guaranteeing the universal rights of all Tunisians, the freedom of speech, the freedom of press, the freedom of religion, the freedom of association, all of that takes time to firmly establish. Building a modern economy that is open to the world, that takes advantage of Tunisia’s strategic location also takes time. But what I am impressed by is not only how inspiring the revolution in Tunisia has been, but how determined the people of Tunisia are about the future you are seeking. Now, the future is always somewhat uncertain, but what is certain to me is that it will be the young people of Tunisia who determine what the future will be. And many have asked: Why after so many years did change finally come to Tunisia and that change here in Tunisia spark change across the Arab world? And why did young people here in Tunisia strike the first blows for freedom and opportunity?

Well, the first and general answer is that the rights and dignity of human beings cannot be denied forever, no matter how oppressive a regime may be. The spirit of human rights and human dignity lives within each of us, and the universal aspirations have deep and lasting power. A second reason is that you belong to a remarkable generation of young people, not only here in Tunisia, but across the world. It is an optimistic, innovative, impatient young people that I see everywhere I travel. Because in addition to your own courage and determination, there are underlying dynamics that are affecting young people everywhere – changes in demographics and technology, economics and politics that are bringing together this unique moment in history. Young people are at the heart of today’s great strategic opportunities and challenges, from rebuilding the global economy to combating violent extremism to building sustainable democracies. And I have fought, as some of you know – some of the women that I was just saying hello to who are leading change here in Tunisia – I have fought for years to put women’s empowerment on the international agenda. I think it’s time to put youth empowerment there as well.

Now I realize, being young, you may be skeptical. It was a long time ago, but I remember being young myself. But the needs and concerns of young people have been marginalized too long by political and economic leaders. And the fact is today, the world ignores youth at its peril, because just look at the demographics. From Latin America to the Middle East to Sub-Saharan Africa to Southeast Asia, we are seeing what experts call a youth bulge. There are now more than 3 billion people under the age of 30 in the world. Ninety percent of them live in the developing world. And the numbers continue to grow. And you are living in a world that your parents, and certainly your grandparents, could never have imagined – satellite television, the internet, Facebook. My late mother used to say, “What is this about faces on the internet?” (Laughter.) And new communications technologies shrink your world but expand your horizons. Now everybody can see how others are living – living in prosperity, dignity, and freedom, and they rightly want those things for themselves. And we can also see, as we have seen, terribly over the last weeks, what’s happening in Syria. And I really commend the Tunisian Government for hosting the conference which was held yesterday. So as expectations are rising, what is being done to meet them? We are making progress politically, but more needs to be done economically. Young people are three times more likely to be unemployed than older people. And more than 100 million young people are scraping by with part-time employment and insufficient wages. And right here in Tunisia, I know there are many young people who are not yet fully employed, productively employed.

So the global economy is connecting us more than ever, but young people are finding, even with graduate degrees, they may not have the skills that the global marketplace is seeking. So there is this gap. So millions of young people leave families and villages for crowded cities and don’t find what they are looking for yet. The old patronage networks that provided jobs to previous generations were reinforced by corrupt systems that are now outmoded and would not be working in today’s modern world. Young people in many countries are combining technologies and ethics to reinvigorate grassroots public service, and we’re seeing the results as they stand up against corrupt governments. Many of the ties that existed in family and community are not as strong as they used to be, and so many young people find themselves on their own. And this is all a recipe for frustration and instability that can be exploited by extremists and criminals around the world.
So what do we do? How do we link up the energy and innovation of young people with the changes that are so necessary? In fact, last January, as protests were filling the streets of this city, I traveled to Doha and warned a conference of regional Arab leaders that if they did not act quickly enough to offer young people a better vision for the future, their regimes would sink into the sand. And the young people of Tunisia proved that point.

And so political reform is proceeding. And many times in the past, much longer. In Poland, it took a decade for a trade union to dislodge a repressive communist government. In Tunisia, it took you a month to dislodge a dictator. The global story that is happening here and elsewhere requires innovative thinking and economic entrepreneurship to ensure that the democratic revolution delivers results for individuals. That is happening in lots of places, but not enough, or not quickly enough. Now, I have made the argument that in every region of the world, the needs and aspirations of young people should be more fully recognized. As an official in India recently said, the youth bulge will be a dividend if we empower our young, but it will be a disaster if we fail to put in place a policy and a framework where they can be empowered. So here’s what the United States is trying to do. We’re forming youth councils at our embassies and consulates to have direct contact with young people like yourselves, because for every problem, we want to seek a solution. We’ve also created an Office of Global Youth Issues in Washington to ensure ways to partner with you. And we have a young 24-year-old activist, Ronan Farrow, who’s here today, who is our advisor on global youth issues.

To paraphrase Steve Jobs, we not only need to think different; we need to think big, because if we don’t, we will miss this moment in history. Now what do young people want? I think they want the same thing as what all of us want – peace, prosperity, and dignity, a chance to participate, a chance for your voices and your votes to be heard and counted. And there are tried and true approaches that work. In economics, we need to encourage entrepreneurship. And we have here representatives from NAPEO. Where are our NAPEO representatives? We have Tunisians who have been successful in business who are partnering with us and others to create more economic opportunities. It is focused primarily on creating jobs for young people. And we’ve created the Global Entrepreneurship Program that connects investors with young people who have good ideas and are willing to work hard to see them realized.

For example, this past fall, we sent a delegation of American investors and business leaders to Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria to meet and mentor young entrepreneurs. One of the people they met was a 25-year-old Algerian who is pioneering new e-commerce tools for communities with limited access to financial services. He came from a poor village in Algeria, and he knew that the people in his village did not have access to credit, did not have access to markets, yet they had cell phones. So using cell phones, he is providing applications that give people access to credit, to mobile banking, to information about how to start a business and how to build a business plan. An accomplished Tunisian scientist along with other Tunisian entrepreneurs have received scholarships to study business and further develop their ideas in America.

We’re going to build a momentum by organizing a Global Youth Jobs Alliance to bring in more partners and reach more people. And one area we’re going to emphasize is expanding English language training all over the world, and especially here in Tunisia, because English has become the language of commerce, and to great extent the language of the internet, although obviously it’s available in other languages. But it serves as a port of entry into the global economy. The Peace Corps is returning to Tunisia, and they will be emphasizing speaking English. We’re using the internet to do English language instruction. We’re already helping thousands of Tunisian young people with job placement and skills training. And we want to expand university educational exchange programs between the United States and Tunisia. This spring, a team of expert educators from America will travel to the Maghreb to build new links with regional business schools and training centers.
Ultimately, we know what government needs to do. They need to crack down on corruption wherever it occurs, crack down on cronyism wherever it occurs, and diversify their economies and open their markets. I hear sometimes from leaders in this region that there is a certain fear about opening their economies, but I think that does a great disservice to the people of these countries that have so much energy, and especially to young people. Opening the economies will particularly advantage the young people of Tunisia and other places.

We also want to encourage the use of social networking tools. The social media that was used to bring down the Ben Ali regime now can be used to expose corruption, encourage transparency and good government. It’s also true that this goes hand in hand with the kind of freedom that is now available, so that it is not only to make a living but it is to enable and empower people to be participants. Because after all, dignity means being treated with respect and having a voice and having the right to participate and even lead. Your new democracy needs you. Participation is a means to an end, not an end in itself. And it really requires everyone to contribute to creating the new Tunisia.

Now, obviously, people will disagree. We’ve been disagreeing with each other for 236 years in the United States. We do not all see the world the same way. But we believe in the fundamental values that undergird our democracy. One of the most common questions I am asked as I travel around the world is how, after running against Barack Obama, would I agree to work with him as his Secretary of State? And the answer is simple. We both love our country. And yes, did we compete hard? We competed very hard. I wanted to win; he won. And therefore, I had to make a choice, because it wasn’t about me; it was about what we could do together for America.

And veterans of democratic transitions from Latin America to Eastern Europe to East Asia have learned the lessons of pluralistic democracy. All political parties, religious and secular alike, have to abide by basic ground rules: reject violence; uphold the rule of law; respect the freedoms of speech, religion, association, and assembly; protect the rights of women and minorities; give up power if you are defeated at the polls; and especially in a region with deep divisions within and between religions, avoid inciting sectarian conflicts that pull societies apart.
Now here in Tunisia, an Islamist party won a plurality of the votes in an open, competitive election which we applauded. And the party leaders promised to embrace freedom of religion and full rights for women. And in my meetings today with both the president and the prime minister, that commitment was reinforced.

Also, the job of writing a constitution and governing requires cooperation across society. No one person, no one party, has all the answers. Every country is stronger by listening with respect to those with whom we differ. So to write a constitution, the governing party now then will have to work with other parties, including secular parties, and persuade voters across the political spectrum to respect fundamental principles. And Tunisians will have to make sure to hold everybody to that promise. Now, I know that there are those here in Tunisia and elsewhere who question whether Islamist politics can really be compatible with democracy. Well, Tunisia has a chance to answer that question affirmatively, and to demonstrate there is no contradiction. And that means not just talking about tolerance and pluralism, but living it. And it is up to you to hold all political parties to the same values. Protecting democracy is the duty of every citizen. And for the young people of Tunisia, it is a special responsibility. We watched your courage on the front lines of the revolution, men and women alike, enduring the teargas and the beatings. It takes a different kind of courage to be a guardian of your new democracy. After a revolution, history shows it can go one of two ways. It can move in the direction you are now headed, to build a strong democratic country, or it can get derailed and detoured to new autocracy, to new absolutism. The victors of revolutions can become their victims. So it is up to all Tunisians, especially young Tunisians, to resist the calls of demagogues, to build coalitions, to keep faith in your system even when your candidates lose at the polls.

After I lost to President Obama, I had many supporters who did not want me to quit and wanted me to not cooperate and wanted me to say no to any request to help. And I said absolutely not. This is about our political system. This is about our agenda. It is not about any of us. And we have to therefore protect the core principles and institutions of democracy. I understand in Tunisia you have a saying: “Continuous effort can pierce through marble.” Well, that spirit helped protestors and dissidents withstand long years of repression and ultimately topple the old regime. And I think it’s that same spirit that can help you move forward.

So I think we’re at an especially important moment. And I want to speak directly to the young women who are here, and those you represent across Tunisia, the region, and around the world, because some of the obstacles that young women face are unique. In too many places in the world today, laws and customs make it harder for women to start a business, run for office, even make personal decisions. Tunisia has stood out as a place that protected the rights of women and sent a message that there was no contradiction between culture and religion and opportunity and empowerment. And so for the young women and the young men who are here, Tunisia will need all of its sons and daughters in order to have the success you are seeking.

Recently, one of our Supreme Court justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, visited Egypt and Tunisia, and she met with your judges and other high officials. And she said something which I thought was very apt: The daughters of the Middle East should be able to aspire and achieve based on the talent God gave them and not be held back by the laws of men. So please know that as you make this incredibly historic and important journey to a democracy that produces results, politically and economically for you, the United States will stand with you.

We know something about how hard it is to build a democracy. We have been working at it for a very long time. We are now the oldest democracy in the history of the world, but we had lots of obstacles along the way. We fought a civil war to free African Americans who had been slaves. We had to amend our Constitution to let women vote. We continue to try to perfect our democracy. So don’t be too impatient, but don’t be in any way complacent. You have to keep those two in mind at the same time.

Each of you deserve the same opportunity to live up to your own God-given potential. And I am very confident – I am very, very confident that Tunisia will be successful because of you. Thank you very much. (Applause)

On February 23, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton began a four-nation trip to London and North Africa. In London, the Secretary attended a conference hosted by Prime Minster David Cameron, dedicated to building stability and peace in Somalia. Heads of state and foreign ministers from over 50 countries as well as representatives of the United Nations and the African Union will attend. The timing of the conference is significant as it convenes six months prior to the end of Somalia’s political transition which is set to take place by August 20, 2012.

Secretary Clinton then traveled to North Africa. In Tunisia on February 24 and 25, she participated in the first meeting of the “Friends of Syria” group as part of our ongoing efforts with our friends, allies, and the Syrian opposition to crystallize next steps to halt the slaughter of the Syrian people and pursue a transition to democracy in Syria. She also met with Prime Minister Jebali and members of civil society to discuss bilateral cooperation and Tunisia’s progress in its democratic transition. In Algeria on February 25, Secretary Clinton met with President Bouteflika to discuss domestic developments, preparations for the May 10 parliamentary elections, and challenges facing the region. In Morocco on February 25 and 26, she met with Prime Minister Benkirane, as well as members of civil society, before presiding over a groundbreaking for the new U.S.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

President Obama: Remarks at National Museum of African American History & Culture

Office of the Press Secretary
February 22, 2012

The National Mall
11:21 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause) Thank you so much. Thank you so much. Please, have a seat. Thank you very much. Well, good morning, everybody.

AUDIENCE: Good morning.

THE PRESIDENT: I want to thank France for that introduction and for her leadership at the Smithsonian. I want to thank everybody who helped to make this day happen. I want to thank Laura Bush; Secretary Salazar; Sam Brownback; my hero, Congressman John Lewis; Wayne Cluff, and everybody who’s worked so hard to make this possible.
I am so proud of Lonnie Bunch, who came here from Chicago, I want to point out. (Laughter and applause.) I remember having a conversation with him about this job when he was planning to embark on this extraordinary journey. And we could not be prouder of the work that he has done to help make this day possible.
I promise to do my part by being brief.

As others have mentioned, this day has been a long time coming. The idea for a museum dedicated to African Americans was first put forward by black veterans of the Civil War. And years later, the call was picked up by members of the civil rights generation -– by men and women who knew how to fight for what was right and strive for what is just. This is their day. This is your day. It’s an honor to be here to see the fruit of your labor.

It’s also fitting that this museum has found a home on the National Mall. As has been mentioned, it was on this ground long ago that lives were once traded, where hundreds of thousands once marched for jobs and for freedom. It was here that the pillars of our democracy were built, often by black hands. And it is on this spot –- alongside the monuments to those who gave birth to this nation, and those who worked so hard to perfect it –- that generations will remember the sometimes difficult, often inspirational, but always central role that African Americans have played in the life of our country.

This museum will celebrate that history. Because just as the memories of our earliest days have been confined to dusty letters and faded pictures, the time will come when few people remember drinking from a colored water fountain, or boarding a segregated bus, or hearing in person Dr. King’s voice boom down from the Lincoln Memorial. That’s why what we build here won’t just be an achievement for our time, it will be a monument for all time. It will do more than simply keep those memories alive.

Just like the Air and Space Museum challenges us to set our sights higher, or the Natural History Museum encourages us to look closer, or the Holocaust Museum calls us to fight persecution wherever we find it, this museum should inspire us as well. It should stand as proof that the most important things in life rarely come quickly or easily. It should remind us that although we have yet to reach the mountaintop, we cannot stop climbing.

And that’s why, in moments like this, I think about Malia and Sasha. I think about my daughters and I think about your children, the millions of visitors who will stand where we stand long after we’re gone. And I think about what I want them to experience. I think about what I want them to take away.

When our children look at Harriet Tubman Shaw or Nat Turner’s bible or the plane flown by Tuskegee Airmen, I don’t want them to be seen as figures somehow larger than life. I want them to see how ordinary Americans could do extraordinary things; how men and women just like them had the courage and determination to right a wrong, to make it right.

I want my daughters to see the shackles that bound slaves on their voyage across the ocean and the shards of glass that flew from the 16th Street Baptist church, and understand that injustice and evil exist in the world. But I also want them to hear Louis Armstrong’s horn and learn about the Negro League and read the poems of Phyllis Wheatley. And I want them to appreciate this museum not just as a record of tragedy, but as a celebration of life.

When future generations hear these songs of pain and progress and struggle and sacrifice, I hope they will not think of them as somehow separate from the larger American story. I want them to see it as central — an important part of our shared story. A call to see ourselves in one another. A call to remember that each of us is made in God’s image. That’s the history we will preserve within these walls. The history of a people who, in the words of Dr. King, “injected new meaning and dignity into the veins of civilization.”

May we remember their stories. May we live up to their example. Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

END 11:28 A.M. EST

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

U.S. Department of State Announces Official Trips to Africa

Dr. Gebisa Ejeta; Kerri-Ann Jones

Office of the Spokesperson
February 13, 2012

U.S. Science Envoy Gebisa Ejeta Travels to Ethiopia and Tanzania
On his second Envoy trip, U.S. Science Envoy Dr. Gebisa Ejeta will travel to Ethiopia and Tanzania February 13-24, 2012, where he will meet with senior government officials and representatives from the scientific, education, non-profit, and business communities. Dr. Ejeta will discuss cooperation on sustainable development, innovation, and university partnerships. President Obama announced the Science Envoy Program in Cairo on June 4, 2009. Since the program’s inception, six of America’s finest scientists have traveled to 17 countries on behalf of the United States Government to promote international partnerships through scientific collaboration. Dr. Ejeta was named a Science Envoy in September 2010 along with Dr. Rita Colwell and Dr. Alice Gast. In 2011, Dr. Ejeta traveled to South Africa.

Dr. Ejeta was chosen for his technical expertise and renown as an acclaimed plant breeder and geneticist. He is the Distinguished Professor of Plant Breeding and Genetics and International Agriculture at Purdue University. Among his many awards, he was the recipient of the 2009 World Food Prize and a national medal of honor from the President of Ethiopia. Dr. Ejeta was recently designated a Special Advisor to USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah and is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Assistant Secretary of State Kerri-Ann Jones to Travel to Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Kenya
Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Dr. Kerri-Ann Jones will travel to Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Kenya February 13 – 22. In Ethiopia, Dr. Jones will meet with Ethiopian government officials, members of the Ethiopian Academy of Sciences, and others in the Ethiopian science community, including from the Natural Sciences Faculty of Addis Ababa University. As part of her visit, she will meet with members of the US-Ethiopian Business Forum. In addition, Dr. Jones will visit a clean cook-stove project site associated with the Global Alliance for Clean Cook Stoves (of which the U.S. Government is a founding member) and a new electronic waste recycling facility that receives USG support. In Tanzania, Dr. Jones will discuss education, health and the economic development aspects of conservation and sustainable tourism. She will visit community projects, meet with NGOs, and hold a roundtable with university students studying the natural sciences.

In Kenya, Dr. Jones will act as the United States’ Ministerial representative to the 12th Special Session of the Governing Council and Global Ministerial Environment Forum of the UN Environment Program. The Forum, taking place in Nairobi from Feb 20 – 22, will engage in interactive discussions under the overall theme of “the environmental agenda in the changing world.” It will focus on three topics: implications of the 5th Global Environment Outlook Report, the Green Economy, and the institutional framework for sustainable development.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Former South African President Nelson Mandela Pays Tribute to Whitney Houston

Photo: Reuters

By Aislinn Laing, Johannesburg
South Africa, February 13, 2012

Nelson Mandela has paid tribute to Whitney Houston, the American singer and actress who died in her Los Angeles hotel room at the weekend. The former South African president, speaking through his eponymous foundation, extended his “deepest condolences” to the family and friends of Miss Houston, 48.

The Bodyguard star was a staunch supporter of the fight against apartheid and refused to work with any agencies that did business with pre-democratic South Africa during her modeling days. She was one of the headline acts at the 1988 London concert to celebrate Mr. Mandela’s 70th birthday while he was still in prison, and in October 1994, met the iconic statesman once he had become president at a dinner hosted by Bill Clinton at the White House.

Before singing for guests in the Rose Garden, she told them: “This performance is very special to me because in 1988 I sang in honor of Nelson Mandela the inmate and tonight I sing for elected president, Nelson Mandela.

The following month, she travelled to South Africa where she performed in Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg in the Concert for a New South Africa. Proceeds from the concert were donated to South African children’s charities.

On meeting Houston again in Johannesburg, Mr. Mandela famously said he was there “merely to polish her shoes … we love her so much.” The singer and actress put her head on Mr. Mandela’s shoulder and started to cry. He then produced a handkerchief and used it to tenderly wipe away her tears.

The Grammy-award winning star who battled with drug addictions, was found dead in the bath of her room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Saturday shortly before she had been due to attend a party there ahead of the Grammy awards ceremony. According to reports, prescription drugs were found nearby.

Sello Hatang, a spokesman for the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, said in a statement: “Ms Houston sang for Mr. Nelson Mandela at a White House dinner in his honor in October 1994. She dedicated to him her rendition of the song Greatest Love of all. May she rest in peace.”

Other South African musicians took to Twitter to express their sadness at her death.

Zonke Dikana, who is enjoying the success of her 2011 release Ina Ethe, wrote: “Growing up, I wanted to sing just like Whitney Houston till I found my own voice. She’s the reason I’m a singer today … I’m not sure what musical direction I would have taken had I not obsessed over her voice as a kid.

Man Made Moon singer Lindiwe Suttle, who is due to perform at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, said: “Devastated with the news that the 1st woman 2 touch my soul w/ her voice is gone. Every lil Blk girl wanted 2 b her. I did.

Simphiwe Dana, a jazz singer hailed by some as “the new Miriam Makeba”, wrote: “God has called a beloved to her bosom. RIP Whitney Houston. You never belonged here but amongst the stars.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

New Wax Figure of Harriet Tubman Unveiled In Washington, DC

Washington, DC – February 7, 2012
Black History Month – A wax figure of notable African-American abolitionist, Harriet Tubman has been unveiled at the President’s Gallery by Madame Tussauds. Ten direct descendants and family members of the historic icon were present at the unveiling ceremony. They include Charles E.T. Ross (great-great-great nephew) and Valery Ross Manokey (great-great niece/oldest living descendant on eastern shore). Children from Washington D.C.’s Harriet Tubman Elementary School also attended the unveiling ceremony. The exhibit is available for viewing at the Presidents Gallery of Madame Tussauds in Washington, DC – 1001 F Street, NW.

Harriet Tubman (born Araminta Ross, calling herself Harriet later in life) was an African-American abolitionist, humanitarian and spy for the Union during the U.S. Civil War. After escaping from slavery, into which she was born, she reportedly freed more than 300 slaves via the elaborate network of safe houses known as the Underground Railroad and became known as the conductor of the Underground Railroad.

The Atlantic slave trade took place between the 16th and 19th centuries. The vast majority of slaves involved were Africans from the central and western parts of the continent. They were sold by Africans to European slave traders, who transported them across the ocean to the colonies in North and South America. There, the slaves were forced to labor on coffee, tobacco, cocoa, cotton and sugar plantations, toil in gold and silver mines, in rice fields, the construction industry, timber for ships, or in houses to work as servants.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

U.S. Asst. Secretary Johnnie Carson to Lead Energy Trade Mission to Africa

Office of the Spokesperson
February 2, 2012

Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson will lead an Energy Trade Mission to Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, Nigeria, and Ghana February 6-17. The delegation of U.S. government and private-sector executives will meet host country senior government officials to discuss challenges for U.S. private-sector investment in energy infrastructure projects. Delegates from the American business community will represent firms in a position to advance large-scale, on-grid generation and fuel supply projects. Discussions are to include specific constraints to attract private-sector investment in the power generation and fuel supply sectors.

The mission will underscore economic development as a path towards sustained prosperity and peace and highlight the U.S. initiatives in the region, such as the Partnership for Growth Initiative and the Millennium Challenge Corporation programs. Additionally, the mission provides an opportunity for U.S. power developers and fuel suppliers to promote new energy infrastructure projects. The U.S. government is committed to assist and facilitate trade and investment through its existing programs and advocacy both in the United States and through its embassies abroad.