Friday, December 5, 2014

Remembering Nelson (Madiba) Mandela: 1918 – 2013

Picture Courtesy of People Magazine

Office of the Press Secretary
December 5, 2014

Statement by the President and First Lady on the First Anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s Passing

On this first anniversary of the passing of Nelson Mandela, Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to the Mandela family and all South Africans. One year ago the world lost a leader whose struggle and sacrifices inspired us to stand up for our fundamental principles, whose example reminded us of the enduring need for compassion, understanding, and reconciliation, and whose vision saw the promise of a better world. As we pause today to remember the legacy of Madiba, I hope we can all take a moment to reflect on how Mandela’s life has inspired our own, and will impact the paths of generations to come – including the next generation of world leaders, as while Mandela left behind a world more just and free, there is much more work to be done. On this day, and on every day, we honor his spirit and his memory.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Asst. Sec. Thomas-Greenfield Visits Liberia in Support of Ebola Response Effort

Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC
December 1, 2014

Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield is traveling to Monrovia, Liberia December 2-5 as part of a U.S. delegation reviewing ongoing Ebola response efforts in the country. The delegation will be led by Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict Michael Lumpkin and also includes Dr. Ariel Pablos-Mendez, USAID Assistant Administrator for Global Health, and Dr. Mitchell Wolfe, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Global Affairs at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Assistant Secretary Lumpkin and the delegation will meet with U.S. government personnel serving in the region, as well as UNMEER (UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response) and international medical staff who are serving the people of Liberia during this global health crisis. The delegation will meet with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to underscore the United States’ continued commitment to Liberia and to explore avenues to accelerate Liberia’s economic, political, and social recovery after the Ebola crisis.

The United States is Liberia’s largest bilateral partner and has long been working with the government to move Liberia from a post-conflict country to a developed country. Since the end of the conflict in 2003, the United States has invested more than $2 billion toward rebuilding Liberia and improving the lives of its people. Assistant Secretary Thomas-Greenfield was the U.S. Ambassador to Liberia from 2008 to 2012.

United States Dedicates New U.S. Embassy in Rabat, Morocco

U.S. Ambassador Bush and Morocco Chief of Government Benkirane
State Department Photo

Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC
December 2, 2014

In an important symbol of our commitment and enduring relationship with Morocco, U.S. Ambassador to Morocco Dwight L. Bush, Sr., and Principal Deputy Director of the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) Heather Townsend, alongside local officials, dedicated the new U.S. Embassy in Rabat today.

The new multi-building complex provides employees with a safe, secure, and modern workplace. The campus is situated on a site of just under 8 acres, on King Mohammed IV Road, approximately 3 miles from the Rabat city center. With a project budget of $181 million, it includes a Chancery, a U.S. Marine Security Guard residence, and a service/utility building.

The project incorporates numerous sustainable features to conserve resources and reduce operating costs, including large vegetated roofs over the underground parking structures, and a white roof and light-colored exterior to reflect solar heat. Automated air-conditioning and heating systems will reduce operating costs. All water used on-site is treated and used for site irrigation.
SmithGroupJJR of Washington, D.C. is the design architect and PAGE of Washington, D.C., is the architect of record. B.L. Harbert International of Birmingham, Alabama constructed the multi-building campus.

Since 1999, as part of the Department’s Capital Security Construction Program, OBO has completed 118 new diplomatic facilities and has an additional 41 projects in design or under construction.

OBO’s mission is to provide safe, secure, and functional facilities that represent the U.S. Government to the host nation and support our staff in the achievement of U.S. foreign policy objectives. These facilities should represent American values and the best in American architecture, engineering, technology, sustainability, art, culture, and construction execution.

Secretary Kerry Issues Statement on Central African Republic’s National Day

Department of State
Washington, DC
December 1, 2014

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of the Central African Republic as you celebrate your independence on December 1.

The United States is proud to stand with the courageous people of the Central African Republic. I commend all of you who are working to promote peace, advance the democratic transition, and promote national reconciliation. The United States shares your vision for a future rooted in security, justice, and prosperity for everyone.

The resumption of operations at our embassy in Bangui this past September is a testament to our commitment. We will continue to support your country as you seek the peace and unity that you so richly deserve.

I wish all people of the Central African Republic a joyous National Day.

U.S. Congratulates Namibia on Presidential Elections

Picture: Alliance/dpa/Gao Lei
Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
November 30, 2014

The United States congratulates the people of Namibia for exercising their democratic right to vote in presidential and parliamentary elections on November 28.

Namibia has once again demonstrated its commitment to an open electoral process and respect for presidential term limits. We applaud the active participation of Namibia’s political parties, civil society, and citizens in shaping an inclusive discussion throughout the campaign. The extraordinary participation among first-time voters and women candidates reflects the progress that Namibia has made and the commitment of the Namibian people to a democratic future.

The United States and Namibia share a strong partnership. We work together to strengthen health care systems, counter threats to Namibia’s unique ecosystems, promote peace and security in the region, and protect human rights for all of Namibia’s citizens, particularly the most vulnerable in society.

The United States looks forward to continuing our partnership with the new Namibian Government and the people of Namibia in support of Namibia’s development and the welfare of its people.

World AIDS Day, 2014

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
November 29, 2014

Presidential Proclamation — World AIDS Day, 2014


In communities across our Nation and around the world, we have made extraordinary progress in the global fight against HIV/AIDS. Just over three decades ago, when we knew only the devastation HIV inflicted, those living with it had to fight just to be treated with dignity and compassion, and since the first cases of AIDS were reported, tens of millions of vibrant men and women have lost their lives to this deadly virus. Today, we have transformed what it means to live with HIV/AIDS. More effective prevention, treatment, and care now save millions of lives while awareness has soared and research has surged. This World AIDS Day, we come together to honor all those who have been touched by HIV/AIDS and celebrate the promising public health and scientific advances that have brought us closer to our goal of an AIDS-free generation.

Since I took office, more people who are infected with HIV have learned of their status, allowing them to access the essential care that can improve their health, extend their lives, and prevent transmission of the virus to others. My Administration has made strides to limit new infections and reduce HIV-related disparities and health inequalities, and we have nearly eliminated the waiting list for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program. For many, with testing and access to the right treatment, a disease that was once a death sentence now offers a good chance for a healthy and productive life.

Despite these gains, too many with HIV/AIDS, especially young Americans, still do not know they are infected; too many communities, including gay and bisexual men, African Americans, and Hispanics remain disproportionately impacted; and too many individuals continue to bear the burden of discrimination and stigma. There is more work to do, and my Administration remains steadfast in our commitment to defeating this disease. Guided by our National HIV/AIDS Strategy, we are working to build a society where every person has access to life-extending care, regardless of who they are or whom they love. The Affordable Care Act prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage due to a pre-existing condition, such as HIV/AIDS, and requires that most health plans cover HIV screenings without copays for everyone ages 15 to 65 and others at increased risk. We have expanded opportunities for groundbreaking research, and we continue to invest in innovation to develop a vaccine and find a cure. And this summer, my Administration held a series of listening sessions across the country to better understand the successes and challenges of those fighting HIV at the local and State level.

In the face of a disease that extends far beyond our borders, the United States remains committed to leading the world in the fight against HIV/AIDS and ensuring no one is left behind. Hundreds of thousands of adolescent girls and young women are infected with HIV every year, and we are working to reach and assist them and every community in need. As part of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, over 7 million people with HIV around the globe are receiving antiretroviral treatment, a four-fold increase since the start of my Administration. In countries throughout the world, our initiatives are improving the lives of women and girls, accelerating life-saving treatment for children, and supporting healthy, robust communities.

As a Nation, we have made an unwavering commitment to bend the curve of the HIV epidemic, and the progress we have seen is the result of countless people who have shared their stories, lent their strength, and led the fight to spare others the anguish of this disease. Today, we remember all those who lost their battle with HIV/AIDS, and we recognize those who agitated and organized in their memory. On this day, let us rededicate ourselves to continuing our work until we reach the day we know is possible — when no child has to know the pain of HIV/AIDS and no life is limited by this virus.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States do hereby proclaim December 1, 2014, as World AIDS Day. I urge the Governors of the States and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, officials of the other territories subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, and the American people to join me in appropriate activities to remember those who have lost their lives to AIDS and to provide support and comfort to those living with this disease.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-eighth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.


# # #

Secretary Kerry Issues Statement on Mauritania’s National Day

Department of State
Washington, DC
November 28, 2014

On behalf of the American people, I send best wishes to the people of Mauritania on the 54th anniversary of your independence on November 28.

Mauritania and the United States have a strong partnership founded on shared interests for regional peace and security, and countering the spread of Ebola in West Africa.

Last August, I hosted President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz in Washington at the U.S. – African Leaders Conference. I thanked President Aziz for his work in crafting a ceasefire agreement in Mali and for your country’s commitment to counterterrorism efforts throughout the Sahel.

I look forward to working with the Mauritania government and civil society to expand trade and increase prosperity for all Mauritanians in the years ahead.

On this day of celebration, I wish all Mauritanians a joyful Independence Day.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Profile America “Facts for Features” Thanksgiving Day: Nov. 27, 2014

U.S. Census Bureau
Profile America “Facts for Features”
Thanksgiving Day: Nov. 27, 2014

In the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims – early settlers of Plymouth Colony, held a three-day feast to celebrate a bountiful harvest. This event is regarded by many as the nation’s first Thanksgiving. The Wampanoag Indians in attendance played a key role. Historians have recorded ceremonies of thanks among other groups of European settlers in North America. These include the British colonists in Virginia as early as 1619.

The legacy of thanks and the feast have survived the centuries, as the event became a national holiday 151 years ago (Oct. 3, 1863) when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November as a national day of thanksgiving. Later, President Franklin Roosevelt clarified that Thanksgiving should always be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of the month to encourage earlier holiday shopping, never on the occasional fifth Thursday.

Where to Feast

115 million

Number of occupied housing units across the nation in 2014’s second quarter — all potential stops for Thanksgiving dinner. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Housing Vacancies and Homeownership, Table 8 <>

4.4 million

Number of multigenerational households in the U.S. in 2013. These households, consisting of three or more generations, no doubt will have to purchase large quantities of food to accommodate all the family members sitting around the table for the holiday feast ─ even if there are no guests!
Source: 2013 American Community Survey, Table B11017


Number of places in the United States named after the holiday’s traditional main course. Turkey Creek, La., was the most populous in 2013, with 435 residents, followed by Turkey, Texas (410), Turkey, N.C. (291) and Turkey Creek, Ariz. (294). There are also two townships in Pennsylvania with “Turkey” in the name: Upper Turkeyfoot and Lower Turkeyfoot. (Please note that the Turkey Creek, Ariz., population total pertains to the 2010 Census).
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2013 Population Estimates and American FactFinder, Table DP-1, 2010 Census Summary File 1


Number of places and townships in the United States that are named Cranberry or some spelling variation of the acidic red berry (e.g., Cranbury, N.J.), a popular side dish at Thanksgiving. Cranberry Township (Butler County), Pa., was the most populous of these places in 2013, with 29,490 residents. Cranberry township (Venango County), Pa., was next (6,583). (Please note that population totals for the two places on the list that are census designated places ─ Cranbury, N.J., with a population of 2,181, and Cranberry Lake, N.Y., with a population of 200 ─ pertain to 2010.)
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2013 Population Estimates and 2010 Census Summary File 1 <> <>


Number of counties, places and townships in the United States named Plymouth, as in Plymouth Rock, the landing site of the first Pilgrims. The two counties, both named Plymouth, are in Massachusetts (2013 population of 501,915) and Iowa (24,957 in 2013).
Plymouth, Minn., is the most populous place, with 73,987 residents in 2013; There are two places in the United States named Pilgrim: One, a township in Dade County, Mo., had a 2013 population of 128; the other, a census designated place in Michigan, had a 2010 population of 11. And then there is Mayflower, Ark., whose population was 2,299 in 2012, and Mayflower Village, Calif., whose population was 5,515 in 2010.
Note: Townships have been included in these counts from 12 states (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin) where the primary governmental or administrative divisions of a county serve as general-purpose local governments that can perform the same governmental functions as incorporated places. These county subdivisons are known as minor civil divisions, and the Census Bureau presents data for these in all data products for which place data are provided.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Census Summary File 1 2013 Population Estimates
Counties: <>
Cities and Towns: <>
2014 U.S. Gazetteer Files

Participants in the First Feast

24.5 million

Number of U.S. residents of English ancestry as of 2013. Some could very well be descendants of the Plymouth colonists who participated in the autumn feast that is widely believed to be one of the first Thanksgivings ─ especially the 664,000 living in Massachusetts.
Source: 2013 American Community Survey, Table B04006.


Number of members of the Wampanoag American Indian tribal grouping, as of 2010, roughly half of whom reside in Massachusetts. The Wampanoag, the American Indians in attendance, played a lead role in this historic encounter, and they had been essential to the survival of the colonists during the newcomers’ first year. The Wampanoag are a people with a sophisticated society who have occupied the region for thousands of years. They have their own government, their own religious and philosophical beliefs, their own knowledge system, and their own culture. They are also a people for whom giving thanks was a part of daily life.
Sources: 2010 Census American Indian and Alaska Native Summary File, Table DP-1
American Indian Perspectives on Thanksgiving, National Museum of the American Indian <>.

Preparing the Feast … Enjoying the Day … and the Aftermath


Percentage of households in 2013 with a gas or electric stove ─ essential for cooking their Thanksgiving feast. Another 96.8 percent had a microwave, also helpful in preparing the meal.
Source: Extended Measures of Well-Being: Living Conditions in the United States: 2013,
Table 3 <>


Percentage of households with a television in 2013. No doubt, many guests either before, after, or perhaps even during the feast will settle in front of their TVs to watch some football.
Source: Extended Measures of Well-Being: Living Conditions in the United States: 2013,
Table 3 <>


Percentage of households with a stand-alone food freezer in 2013, which they may want to use to preserve their Thanksgiving leftovers. Far more (99.2 percent) have a refrigerator. Once all the guests leave, it will be time to clean up. Fortunately, 69.3 percent have a dishwasher to make the task easier.
Source: Extended Measures of Well-Being: Living Conditions in the United States: 2011,
Table 3 <>

Culinary Delights


The number of supermarkets and other grocery (except convenience) stores in the United States in 2012. These establishments are expected to be extremely busy around Thanksgiving, as people prepare for their delightful meals.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, County Business Patterns, NAICS Code 44511


The number of baked goods stores in the United States in 2012 — a potential place to visit to purchase refreshing desserts.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, County Business Patterns, NAICS Code 445291


The number of fruit and vegetable markets in the United States in 2012 — a great place to find holiday side dishes.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, County Business Patterns, NAICS Code 445230

242 million

The number of turkeys that were forecasted to be raised in the United States in 2014. That is down 5 percent from the number raised during 2012. Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, <>

45 million

The forecast for the number of turkeys Minnesota will raise in 2014. The Gopher State was tops in turkey production, followed by North Carolina (35 million), Arkansas (29 million), Indiana (17 million), Missouri (17 million), and Virginia (16 million).
Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service,

$19 million

The value of U.S. imports of live turkeys for 2013, with 99.9 percent of them coming from Canada. When it comes to sweet potatoes, the Dominican Republic was the source of 47.8 percent ($5 million) of total imports ($10.4 million). The United States ran a $13.6 million trade deficit in live turkeys during the period but had a surplus of $86.1 million in sweet potatoes.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Statistics

856 million pounds

The forecast for U.S. cranberry production in 2014. Wisconsin was estimated to lead all states in the production of cranberries, with 538 million pounds, followed by Massachusetts (estimated at 210 million). New Jersey, Oregon and Washington were also estimated to have substantial production, ranging from 16 to 55 million pounds.
Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service,

2.4 billion pounds

The total weight of sweet potatoes — another popular Thanksgiving side dish — produced by major sweet potato producing states in 2014
Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, <>

U.S. Issues Statement on Tunisia’s Presidential Election

Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
November 23, 2014

I congratulate the Tunisian people on today’s presidential election. This historic moment has come about due to the strong commitment by Tunisians from across the political spectrum to democracy and the rule of law. With a continued emphasis on political and social cooperation and consensus-building, Tunisia’s democratic path will remain an inspiration to all those in the region and around the world who are working to build the foundation for an inclusive, peaceful, and prosperous future. I saw firsthand the power of Tunisia’s example when I visited earlier this year, and the United States will continue to support Tunisia’s transition and provide economic and security assistance to the Tunisian people. We look forward to the successful conclusion of Tunisia’s presidential election process by the end of this year and are committed to working with the democratically-elected government that will lead the country in the years ahead.

Dr. Jill Biden Speaks at GES Women’s Day in Morocco

Office of the Vice President
November 19, 2014

Remarks As Prepared for Delivery by Dr. Jill Biden at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit Women’s Day
Marrakech, Morocco
Wednesday, November 19, 2014

It is so wonderful to be with so many amazing women who are realizing their potential. A month or so ago, I attended a book event – I’m an English professor, so I find a particular joy in attending the many book events offered in Washington, DC. Katty Kay and Claire Shipman recently penned “The Confidence Code” – some of you may know it. In preparing for this conference and thinking of what I would say to all of you I reached out to Claire Shipman. Here’s what she said:

“If you only remember one thing from this book, let it be this: when in doubt, act. Every piece of research we have studied, and every interview we have conducted, leads to the same conclusion: nothing builds confidence like taking action, especially when the action involves risk and failure. Risk keeps you on life’s edge. It keeps you growing, improving and gaining confidence. By contrast, living in a zone where you’re assured of the outcome can turn flat and dreary quickly. Action separates the timid from the bold.”

I can already tell that this group of women is not afraid of risk – you are women who take action. I am so pleased to be in Morocco, the Gateway to Africa. To his Royal Highness Mohammed VI, thank you for welcoming us to your magnificent country. It’s an honor to have Minister Delegate Mbarka Bouida here with us this evening. She represents Morocco on the world stage, and has been a key partner in making the Global Entrepreneurial Summit a great success.  

This summer, I traveled to Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and to Sierra Leone. The trip, in preparation for the US Africa Leaders Summit, focused on the importance of girls’ education and women’s participation in government, the economy, and civil society. Each time I have traveled to Africa, I have had the opportunity to meet with doctors and nurses, political leaders and entrepreneurs, teachers and students – all of whom share a common purpose: to give back, to build a stronger community, and to move their countries forward. And I have seen what a difference these individuals are making. Today, I would like to share a few stories from this trip that inspired me, stories of hope and opportunity, stories of a new Africa.

Our first stop in Africa was Zambia, where we visited a small, open-air health clinic that is making a big difference. Women in the United States are regularly tested for cervical cancer through a Pap smear, but in Zambia, doctors do not have access to the same type of medical equipment. So, a group of entrepreneurial physicians at the clinic in Zambia devised an ingenious procedure to detect cervical cancer using household vinegar, cotton swabs and a digital camera. The morning I was there, they screened more than 50 patients. One young woman I met at the clinic, Imogen, was diagnosed with cervical cancer after she was screened several years ago – she was devastated when she heard the diagnosis. But, after only six months of treatment, she returned to the clinic and was tested again. And her results came back negative. Imogen was proud to tell me that her story was not that uncommon. In fact, over 5,000 women have been screened at that health clinic and 90 percent of them have been cleared after just six months of treatment. For the past five years, Imogen has been volunteering at the health clinic, encouraging women in her community to go in for screenings and other health services, using her own experience to help others. That type of commitment and leadership is not just saving lives. It is creating a healthier community.

The next country we visited was the Democratic Republic of Congo. When we traveled to the western part of the DRC, we confronted another challenge for women: a restrictive law known as the Family Code. By law, women are prevented from working outside the home without their husband’s permission. In Kinshasa, I met with women entrepreneurs who are overcoming these obstacles and building successful businesses of their own. One of these women, Therese, is a savvy, resilient innovative engineer. After she earned her degree, she converted an outdoor restaurant with dirt floors into a business, manufacturing and selling traffic-directing robots.

Why robots? Kinshasa has a population over 9 million people and virtually, literally, no traffic lights, which makes the streets incredibly dangerous – especially for children. Not only do the eight-foot tall, solar-powered metallic robots look impressive, but they actually work. People respect the robots, and the busy streets of Kinshasa are a little safer thanks to the ingenuity of this resourceful woman. Therese is not only breaking barriers for women in science and engineering, she is showing the power of technology to change the way we live and work.

Another woman who participated in the roundtable was Monique Giekes, an intellectual property rights attorney. Her husband threatened to lift employment approval shortly after the birth of her 4th child. She is now divorced. Monique is a lawyer working with Vlisco, a Dutch fabric manufacturer as their local distributor. As she established her successful business in Kinshasa she was moved by the stories of abused women in the eastern part of the DRC. I traveled to the Eastern Congo and saw firsthand what Monique saw – a world where two-thirds of the women have suffered sexual assault, women who were rebuilding their lives but needed job opportunities and training. So this business entrepreneur became a social entrepreneur – Monique opened a sewing school in Goma with her own money. Thirty woman were initially trained, and this number quickly doubled. I was so impressed by Monique, so moved by her commitment to change not only her own life but the lives of other women that I wanted to honor her in some way. So, the evening I met her, I made an unscheduled stop at her store and asked her to help me select a traditional Congolese dress to wear at the leaders’ dinner during the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. In just a few days Monique and her staff produced an elegant turquoise wax print dress … the dress was a hit with the press, and in a small way, I was able to tell Monique’s story of how she was able to lift up other women.

Entrepreneurship can sound like a complicated, or an even an intimidating concept. In reality, it is what we women have always done – solving problems that need to be solved just as women like Imogen, Therese and Monique are doing. But they can’t do it alone. In the United States, we believe women’s empowerment is critical. So two years ago, we launched the Equal Futures Partnership. What began as a challenge to heads of state by President Obama in September of 2011 has now grown into a full-fledged multilateral initiative dedicated to breaking down barriers to women’s economic and political participation. The Equal Futures Partnership has grown to 28 members, which have made specific commitments to address discrimination against women in the political and economic spheres and to create opportunities for women to become leaders, mentors, entrepreneurs, and innovators. This effort has broadened the understanding that supporting women and girls is not about treating a vulnerable group, but rather about finally tapping into the potential of half the population.

The United States is committed to making sure girls and young women have the tools they need not just to survive – but to thrive in their communities. History and experience demonstrates that women of the Middle East and North Africa are critical change agents in society. And you are playing vital roles in shaping political transitions and building more stable societies.

Here in Morocco, women were at the forefront in working with King Mohammad VI to pass the revised Family Code which expanded legal rights to women within the framework of Islam. Earlier today, I visited the King’s Education Center for Women where I was able to meet with some impressive women who are working to improve their lives by furthering their education. I have seen that Moroccan women are not waiting for someone else to grant them the possibilities they seek, they are moving forward on their own.

The World Economic Forum shows that there is an increase in a country’s economic competitiveness when we decrease gender gaps in four key areas: health, education, politics and business. Nelson Mandela is famously remembered for saying, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” I have spent the last thirty years as a professional educator so this quotation really inspires me. I continue to teach writing full-time at a community college just outside Washington, DC.

Community colleges are a lesser known, but a critical part of American’s higher education system. They are – as the name suggests –
higher education institutions uniquely able to address the needs of their communities. At the community college where I teach, I started a women’s mentoring program. The program pairs women students over the age of 30 with women faculty. The goal of the program is more than simply helping them navigate their way to graduation. It is to set them on a lifelong path, where most of all, they have the confidence they need to succeed.

I am a teacher by training, but the truth is, everyone in this room is a teacher. No matter what you do, or where you come from, you all have an impact on the young people in your life. You all have the opportunity to shape young minds. We all have the obligation to share our knowledge, to lift up other women. It is up to every one of us to make it possible for every little girl who dares to dream big.

Thank you.

Seven New African Ambassadors Present Letters of Credence at White House

Washington DC
November 25, 2014

On Tuesday, November 18, 2014, seven new African Ambassadors to the U.S. presented their Letters of Credence to President Obama at an Ambassador Credentialing Ceremony in the Oval Office at the White House.

They are:

• His Excellency Joseph Henry Smith, Ambassador of the Republic of Ghana
• His Excellency Ammon Mutembwa, Ambassador of the Republic of Zimbabwe
• His Excellency Tiena Coulibaly, Ambassador of the Republic of Mali
• His Excellency Robinson Githae, Ambassador of the Republic of Kenya
• His Excellency Mohamed Soilih, Ambassador of the Union of the Comoros
• His Excellency Agostinho Neto, Ambassador of the Republic of Angola
• His Excellency Babacar Diagne, Ambassador of the Republic of Senegal

The presentation of credentials is a traditional ceremony that marks the formal beginning of an Ambassador’s service in Washington.

King Mohammed VI of Morocco and Vice President Biden Meet – Readout

Photo: The White House
Office of the Vice President
November 19, 2014

Vice President Joe Biden and His Majesty King Mohammed VI met today and reaffirmed the strategic alliance between the United States and Morocco and our enduring friendship, which dates back more than 236 years. The Vice President thanked King

Mohammed VI for hosting the fifth Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Marrakech, and both agreed on the importance of promoting economic opportunity, especially for women and young people. The Vice President and King Mohammed VI discussed how best to support Morocco’s success, and reaffirmed their dedication to work together to promote human and economic development, including through vocational training and educational exchange.

The Vice President and King Mohammed VI spoke about the wide range of global, regional, and bilateral issues on which Morocco and the United States are partners, including efforts to advance the shared priority of achieving a secure, stable, and prosperous Maghreb, Africa, and Middle East. In particular, they discussed their countries’ efforts together as part of the international coalition against ISIL. The Vice President and King Mohammed VI agreed on the importance of the non-military aspects of the struggle against violent extremism, including exposing and discrediting violent extremist recruitment and providing a compelling alternative through social and political inclusion and economic opportunity. They agreed on the need for the international community to help Libyans unite behind a peaceful path forward. The Vice President and King Mohammed VI also discussed Morocco’s important role as a gateway for trade and investment in sub-Saharan Africa. Regarding the Western Sahara, the Vice President reaffirmed the text of the November 2013 Joint Statement between the United States and Morocco.


New U.S. Embassy Office Annex in Abuja, Nigeria Dedicated

(L-R) Undersec for Mgt Patrick Kennedy, Amb Usman of MFA and Amb James Entwistle   
Photo: US Embassy, Abuja, Nigeria

Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC
November 7, 2014

In an important symbol of our commitment and enduring relationship with Nigeria, U.S. Under Secretary for Management Patrick F. Kennedy, U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria James F. Entwistle, and the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations Managing Director for Program Development, Coordination and Support Joseph W. Toussaint, alongside local officials including Ambassador Usman Baraya, the Chief of Protocol for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, dedicated the New Office Annex at the U.S. Embassy in Abuja today.

The new addition to the embassy complex in Abuja provides employees with a safe, secure, and modern workplace. With a total project budget of $162 million, the new facilities include a New Office Annex, a U.S. Marine Security Guard residence, a support annex, parking, and community facilities.

The project incorporates numerous sustainable features to conserve resources and reduce operating costs, including an extensive array of photovoltaic panels on the top deck of the parking structure, the use of occupancy sensors and light shelves at windows, and LED lighting. Sunshades at strategic locations reduce heat gain. Water-saving plumbing fixtures and the use of locally appropriate plants will reduce water use.

AECOM of Arlington, VA is the design architect and PAGE of Washington, D.C., is the architect of record. B.L. Harbert International of Birmingham, Alabama constructed the multi-building addition to the Embassy complex.

Since 1999, as part of the Department’s Capital Security Construction Program, the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) has completed 118 new diplomatic facilities and has an additional 41 projects in design or under construction.

OBO’s mission is to provide safe, secure, and functional facilities that represent the U.S. government to the host nation and support our staff in the achievement of U.S. foreign policy objectives. These facilities should represent American values and the best in American architecture, engineering, technology, sustainability, art, culture, and construction execution.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Doing Business in Algeria Roadshow Held in Washington, DC

Charles H. Rivkin
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs
Washington, DC
October 29, 2014

Thank you, Mr. Ambassador.

Monsieur le Ministre, et vos collègues et ministers du Gouvernement algérien … Monsieur L’Ambassadeur …. Les capitaines d’industries et les dirigeants d’entreprise …. Mesdames and messieurs ….Bienvenue et As-Salaam-Alaikum.

I’d like to welcome Algerian Minister Abdeslam Bouchouareb, his delegation of governmental and business leaders from Algeria, and Ambassador Abdallah Baali to Washington.

I’d also like to welcome our guests from the U.S. Government and business representatives. And many thanks to the U.S.-Algeria Business Council for organizing the Roadshow.

It’s always exciting to me to speak with business people. I spent 20 years as a businessman in the entertainment industry. After that, I was honored to represent my country as an Ambassador of the United States. And I learned that being a businessman and being a diplomat were not so very different.

As a businessman, I learned the importance of not only measuring profitability in terms of dollars and cents; it was equally important to measure value in the difference my companies could make in people’s lives – or the changes in someone’s understanding about the world.

As Ambassador, a key element of success was understanding how to listen; how to find common ground between countries, to maximize the effectiveness of our policies. For me, it was important for success to flow in many directions.

So when Secretary Kerry asked me to join his economic team and help lead what he called his “shared prosperity agenda,” I knew exactly what he had in mind.

I lead a Bureau that works every day to do precisely that. So I am delighted to have this opportunity to speak to you about ways our business ties can change futures, and deliver jobs to the people of both our nations.

Some may ask: What are the opportunities in Algeria? The answer is simple. As we meet, Algeria is at a key moment in its history.

It is evolving from a country rich in oil resources – to a country that recognizes the importance of moving away from dependence on fossil fuels.

It understands that to become a prosperous nation, it must evolve towards a more diversified and sustainable economy. And that is good news for both the Algerian people and the U.S. firms prepared to become partners in that future.

The signs are promising. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and his government have committed to building the country’s infrastructure, and bringing reforms that can spur job creation for Algerians and expand Algeria’s trade and investment.

As we speak, foreign investors, the Algerian business community, and the U.S. Embassy in Algiers are engaging the Algerian government on ways to improve the investment environment and attract more investment to Algeria.

We also recognize there is a long road still ahead, if Algeria is to realize its enormous potential.

Many U.S. investors and businesses with interests in Algeria have identified challenges that they continue to face. And forums like this provide an excellent platform to discuss them forthrightly and ask the important but sometimes difficult questions.

For example, the regulatory environment – according to many businesses and investors – is often opaque, which may create the perception of commercial risk for foreign investors.

Decision-making can be slow and there are often barriers to trade.

Another challenge is Algeria’s 51/49 rule, which prohibits foreign companies from having a majority ownership stake.

But as I look around me, I see Algeria’s political and economic leadership. I see representatives of some of Algeria’s largest agricultural, health care, hydrocarbon, construction, and manufacturing companies.

And on the American side, I see many of the companies with interests in Algeria, including senior management from GE, Anadarko, Varian, and AGCO.

You are precisely the right people to address these challenges in granular and tangible ways.

One major question to address would be Algeria’s accession to the World Trade Organization. We recognize that accession is a challenging process. But we strongly encourage Algeria to work through the many issues and make economic reforms in line with WTO obligations.

We are encouraged by the progress we see.

Alberto d’Alotto, president of the working group in charge of Algeria’s accession to the WTO, recently visited Algiers and had fruitful discussions with several ministers.

And it’s clear that your government fully recognizes the importance of Algeria’s WTO accession to jobs and economic diversification.
WTO accession will not only create greater trade between our countries, it will send a strong signal to investors that Algeria is committed to a rules-based trading system.

That certainty will encourage them to build business and support projects that will create employment opportunities for young Algerians.

This will support and build on other important successes – like Algeria’s decision to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S. Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association earlier this year. That’s a promising step to building a vital economic partnership.

I look forward to hearing many more success stories like Boeing’s recent contract with Air Algérie to provide eight 737-800 aircraft, a contract estimated to be worth $724 million … or General Electric’s three contracts – worth almost $3 billion – with SPE, which would create nine power plants to meet Algeria’s power sector needs.

With our shared interest in further improving the business climate, we can realize more contracts like GE’s with the Government of Algeria to construct five new hospitals that will strengthen its healthcare sector … or Varian Medical Systems’ $51 million contract with the Algerian Ministry of Health, which will help build the country’s cancer treatment infrastructure with three medical linear accelerators.

Algeria has a history that goes back longer than the United States. But the future stretches even longer in front of us – and the book is not yet written.

As long as the people of our two nations have aspirations and hopes for economic opportunity, it is our duty to honor them.

These and other business initiatives are some of the ways that we can write our own stories, create our own prosperity, and change the trajectories of our future.

All we need is the political will to support business-friendly environments, to continue the good faith that has endured between our two countries, and our collective imaginations. The seeds for all those things can start right here, and right now, in Washington.

Thank you.

U.S. State Department To Lead Partnership Opportunity Delegation to Tanzania

State Department Photo

Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC
October 28, 2014

The Secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships, in partnership with the Aspen Institute, the International Trade Center, and the Dar Teknohama Business Incubator (DTBi), will lead a delegation of U.S. investors, entrepreneurs, and philanthropists to Tanzania as part of the Partnership Opportunity Delegations (PODs) initiative October 27-November 1.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs David Duckenfield will lead the State Department’s participation. The delegation will travel to Dar es Salaam, Bagamoyo, and Zanzibar to focus on the investment and entrepreneurship sector and explore investment and trade opportunities with Tanzanian firms and startups. During the POD, participants will engage government representatives in discussions on investment climate and opportunities; participate in the mentorship of growing and high impact Tanzanian enterprises; discuss potential projects and partnerships with private sector leaders; and visit with local communities, manufacturers, and small business owners.

Partnership Opportunity Delegations (PODs) are an initiative of the Secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships at the U.S. Department of State, designed to find solutions to global challenges through facilitating public-private connections.

President Obama on the Passing of Zambian President Michael Chilufya Sata

Picture Source AFP
Office of the Press Secretary
October 29, 2014

On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I send our condolences to First Lady Dr. Christine Kaseba-Sata and family, as well as the people of Zambia, for the loss of President Michael Chilufya Sata. The United States remains committed to our enduring friendship and partnership with Zambia, and strongly supports a peaceful constitutional transition of power as the country moves forward during this time of sorrow. We will continue to seek opportunities to enhance our bilateral relations, support Zambia’s democratic traditions, increase its development, and bolster its commitment to a free and just society.


Monday, October 27, 2014

Sec. Kerry Issues Statement on Parliamentary Elections in Botswana

Voters queue to cast their votes at a polling station in Gaberone, Botswana, Friday, Oct. 24, 2014. Electoral officials say that voting has begun without incident where analysts believe the ruling party will win despite growing discontent in urban areas. (AP Photo)

Department of State
Washington, DC
October 27, 2014

I congratulate the people of Botswana on their successful national parliamentary elections. International observers have declared the election free, fair, and transparent. I commend all Batswana who turned out in overwhelming numbers to participate in your eleventh parliamentary election since independence in 1966.

The United States and Botswana enjoy a close friendship based on our shared commitment to democracy and the rule of law. I look forward to deepening our relationship with the Batswana people and to continue working closely with the government.

Morocco to Host 2014 Global Entrepreneurship Summit

Office of the Secretary
Department of Commerce
Washington, DC
Monday, October 27, 2014

U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and PAGE Ambassadors to Attend Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Morocco

WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker will attend the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES), which will take place November 19-21 in Marrakech, Morocco to demonstrate the U.S. government’s continued commitment to fostering entrepreneurship around the world. On November 19, her activities will focus specifically on Women’s Entrepreneurship Day. This year’s summit marks the fifth annual gathering of entrepreneurs at all stages of business development, business leaders, mentors, and high-level government officials.

“As the Administration’s point person on entrepreneurship, I am very pleased to be attending the Global Entrepreneurship Summit for the second year in a row. This year’s GES represents an opportunity to build on the energy of dynamic entrepreneurs from around the world, and to leverage their talent and spirit to deepen ties between governments, businesses, foundations, universities, and innovators,” said Secretary Pritzker. “Let’s use this Summit as a call to action—for entrepreneurs, ecosystem builders, and policy-makers to forge sustainable networks, share best practices, create pro-innovation policies and demonstrate the power of entrepreneurship to grow local, regional, and global economies.”

Entrepreneurship is key to unlocking economic growth and creating jobs, and the U.S. government leads numerous programs and initiatives to improve enabling environments and to make tools and networks available to individual entrepreneurs. At last year’s GES in Malaysia, President Obama asked Secretary Pritzker to chair the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE) initiative, and she was happy to assume her role as the Administration’s point person on entrepreneurship. In April, Secretary Pritzker chaired the first PAGE meeting, bringing together a group of America’s most inspiring innovators to serve as ambassadors for global entrepreneurship.

Six months later, Secretary Pritzker has arranged PAGE-related events on four continents since the program’s launch, and the PAGE initiative continues to gain momentum, with PAGE members actively engaged in promoting innovation here at home and abroad. The following PAGE members will join Secretary Pritzker in Morocco to serve as entrepreneurship ambassadors and to share their knowledge and experience to help develop the next generation of entrepreneurs around the world:

• Daphne Koller, Co-Founder and President, Coursera
• Hamdi Ulukaya, Founder and CEO, Chobani
• Alexa von Tobel, Founder and CEO, LearnVest

“We at Coursera see education as an incredibly powerful tool, capable of inspiring creativity and resourcefulness, building human capital and equipping people to take on today’s and tomorrow’s issues,” said Daphne Koller, co-founder and president of Coursera. “I’m delighted to join others in advancing skills and support to encourage entrepreneurship.”

“Entrepreneurship is a powerful force for creating value and doing good in our world,” said Hamdi Ulukaya, founder and CEO of Chobani. “I’m honored and excited to represent the United States as a member of PAGE at a summit dedicated to encouraging entrepreneurs worldwide to pursue their passions.”

“I am honored to represent the United States as a member of PAGE at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit,” said Alexa von Tobel, founder and CEO of LearnVest. “I firmly believe in the power of technology to drive innovation on a global scale, and I know this is an incredible opportunity to both share what we have built at LearnVest and to learn from the wealth of knowledge at the Summit.”

The theme of the Summit, “Harnessing the Power of Technology for Innovation and Entrepreneurship,” highlights the impact of technology on modern entrepreneurship. The Summit will also be a space for entrepreneurs to network one-on-one with each other and with established businesses, and will provide a chance to hear from those who have traveled the path before them.

President Obama Issues Statement on Parliamentary Elections in Tunisia

Picture: VOANews – Soumaya Rached Ghannouchi shows her ink-stained finger after voting in the country’s first post-revolution parliamentary election on October 26, 2014 in the Tunis suburb of Ben Arous.
Office of the Press Secretary
Washington, DC
October 26, 2014

President Obama Issues Statement on Parliamentary Elections in Tunisia

On behalf of all Americans, I congratulate the people of Tunisia on the democratic election of a new parliament – an important milestone in Tunisia’s historic political transition. In casting their ballots today, Tunisians continued to inspire people across their region and around the world, as they did during Tunisia’s 2011 revolution and with the adoption of a new constitution earlier this year. Tunisia’s example reminds us all that dialogue, consensus-building, political pluralism, and peaceful assembly help form the bedrock of democracy. The United States reaffirms its commitment to supporting democracy in Tunisia, to our continued friendship with the people of Tunisia, and to partnering with the next government as it works to promote economic opportunity, protect freedom, and ensure security for all Tunisians.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Secretary Kerry Issues Statement on Zambia’s National Day

Department of State
Washington, DC
October 23, 2014

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Zambia on the 50th anniversary of your independence on October 24.

Fifty years ago, when your country was born, thousands of Zambians took to the streets shouting kwatcha – the dawn. Today, Zambia’s dawn and the promise of peace and democracy has become a reality.

As representatives from all over the world gather in Lusaka to celebrate your Jubilee, Assistant Secretary of State Linda Thomas-Greenfield will be there to represent America and pay tribute to your inspiring record. Time and time again, Zambians have stood up, voted, and let leadership change hands peacefully.

Our two nations are united in mutual respect and responsibility for universal values. President Obama and I were pleased to welcome Vice President Scott to the African Leaders’ Summit in August, and discuss so many important issues at this transformative moment for Africa. We will continue to work closely to strengthen democracy, support human rights, spur economic growth, and improve the health and education of the Zambian people.

As you celebrate this special day, the United States stands with you as a partner and friend.

Assistant Sec. Linda Thomas-Greenfield Travels to South Africa and Zambia

Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC
October 22, 2014

Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield is visiting South Africa and Zambia from October 22–28, 2014.

In South Africa, Assistant Secretary Thomas-Greenfield will visit Pretoria, Johannesburg, and Cape Town for a regional conference of U.S. Ambassadors and bilateral meetings. Her visit to Lusaka on October 23–24 is in honor of the 50th anniversary of Zambia’s independence. In 2014, Zambia and the United States share “Freedom Anniversaries,” as the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed the same year that Zambia gained its independence.

In both countries, the Assistant Secretary will meet with local youth, including alumni of the 2014 Mandela Washington Fellowship, and members of civil society.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

World Health Organization Declares Nigeria Ebola-free

A school official takes a pupil’s temperature using an infrared digital laser thermometer in front of the school premises, at the resumption of private schools, in Lagos in this September 22, 2014 file photo.
Credit: Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye/Files

By Camillus Eboh and Angela Ukomadu
ABUJA/LAGOS Mon Oct 20, 2014

(Reuters) – Nigeria was declared free of the deadly Ebola virus on Monday after a determined doctor and thousands of officials and volunteers helped end an outbreak still ravaging other parts of West Africa and threatening the United States and Spain.

Caught unawares when a diplomat arrived with the disease from Liberia, authorities were alerted by Doctor Ameyo Adadevoh, who diagnosed it, kept him in hospital despite protests from him and his government and later died from Ebola herself.

They then set about trying to contain it in an overcrowded city of 21 million where it could easily have turned a doomsday scenario if about 300 people who had been in direct or indirect contact with him not been traced and isolated.

“This is a spectacular success story,” Rui Gama Vaz from the World Health Organization (WHO) told a news conference in the capital Abuja, where officials broke into applause when he announced that Nigeria had shaken off the disease.

“It shows that Ebola can be contained, but we must be clear that we have only won a battle, the war will only end when West Africa is also declared free of Ebola.”

This year’s outbreak of the highly infectious hemorrhagic fever thought to have originated in forest bats is the worst on record.

The virus has killed 4,546 people across the three most-affected countries, Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone and travelers have from the region have infected two people in Texas and one in Madrid.

It was imported to Nigeria when Liberian-American diplomat Patrick Sawyer collapsed at the main international airport in Lagos on July 20.

Airport staff were unprepared and the government had not set up any hospital isolation unit, so he was able to infect several people, including health workers in the hospital where he was taken, some of whom had to restrain him to keep him there.

Lagos, the commercial hub of Africa’s most populous nation, largest economy and leading energy producer, would have been an ideal springboard for Ebola to spread across the country.

“Nigeria was not really prepared for the outbreak, but the swift response from the federal government, state governments (and) international organizations … was essential,” said Samuel Matoka, Ebola operations manager in Nigeria for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which was involved in managing the outbreak, said officials and volunteers reached more than 26,000 households of people living around the contacts of the Ebola patients.

President Goodluck Jonathan urged Nigerians to “replicate the unity of purpose and all-hands-on-deck approach adopted against Ebola in other areas of national life”.

“Nigeria’s globally-acclaimed success against Ebola is a testimony to what Nigerians can achieve if they set aside their differences and work together,” a presidential statement said.

Adadevoh, doctor on call at the First Consultants hospital in Lagos where Sawyer was brought, prevented the dying man from spreading it further, Benjamin Ohiaeri, a doctor there who survived the disease, told Reuters.

Ebola is much more contagious once symptoms become severe.

“We agreed that the thing to do was not to let him out of the hospital,” Ohiaeri said, even after he became aggressive and demanded to be set free.

“If we had let him out, within 24 hours of being here, he would have contacted and infected a lot more people.”

Sawyer was reported only to have malaria, Ohiaeri said. But Adadevoh noticed he had bloodshot eyes and was passing blood in his urine — telltale signs of hemorrhagic fever. She left instructions by his bed that under no circumstances should anyone let him leave.

At one point, Sawyer ripped off his intravenous tube and a nurse had to put it back, according to a source close to the hospital staff. She later got infected and died. Sawyer then became aggressive and had to be physically restrained.

Ohiaeri said a Liberian government official on the phone had even threatened negative consequences if they did not release Sawyer, saying that holding him was tantamount to kidnapping.

“The lesson there is: stand your ground,” he said.

Once the hospital contacted the ministries of health in the state of Lagos and the federal ministry in Abuja, authorities quickly set up and equipped an isolation unit.

Lagos state governor Babatunde Fashola rushed back from a pilgrimage to Mecca to handle the crisis, Ohiaeri said.

Nigeria used an existing health surveillance system for Polio for contact tracing, so was able to trace and isolate Sawyer’s primary and secondary contacts quickly. Mobile technology meant live updates could be made to the contact list.

“Everyone played their part. We’re so proud,” Ohiaeri said.

IFRC’s Matoka said contact tracing of suspected cases was key to preventing the disease from spreading into communities where it would have been harder to control.

“It was effective in identifying all suspected cases and keeping watch on them before they developed symptoms and infect other people. We were able to remove people from communities once they showed symptoms and (before they) infect many others,” he

Even when the virus found its way to the oil hub of Port Harcourt in the southeast, authorities were able to quickly contain it, an example WHO said others should be able to follow.

“If a country like Nigeria, hampered by serious security problems, can do this … any country in the world experiencing an imported case can hold onward transmission to just a handful of cases,” WHO Director Margaret Chan said in a statement.

For the three impoverished countries at the epicenter of the crisis it is a different matter. According to consultancy DaMina Advisors, Nigeria has one doctor per 2,879 people compared with one per 86,275 in Liberia.

Nigeria’s success in preventing the spread of the disease contrasts with its slower and more fractious response to crises such as the kidnapping in April of more than 200 girls still being held by Islamist militant group Boko Haram.

“The approach to Ebola was pragmatic, patriotic and non-partisan,” said Lagos-based political analyst and lawyer Emekanka Onyebuchi.

“They put the nation first and this is what we should have done in other areas, like the (kidnapped) girls.”

The cooperation between the central government in Nigeria and the opposition-led administration in Lagos state contrasts with the United States, where bickering between Republican and Democrat lawmakers over Ebola has eroded public trust.

Alex Okoh, Nigeria’s director of Port health services, said the lesson the United States and other countries can learn from Nigeria is to “put aside the political barriers and focus on the issues at hand”.

Senegal, where one case was imported from Guinea, was declared Ebola-free on Friday.

Officials hope such success stories will change the way the West, where many are currently in the grip of a panic about a disease brought to their shores from “Africa”, sees the crisis.

“There is focus on the worst-case scenarios, which again perpetuate the wrong, negative image of Africa as opposed to looking at some of the areas where there has been success,” said Abdul Tejan-Cole, a Sierra Leonean who is executive director of the Open Society Initiative for West Africa.

(Additional reporting by Pascal Fletcher in Johannesburg, Tim Cocks and Bate Felix in Lags; writing by Tim Cocks; editing by Bate Felix and Philippa Fletcher)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

U.S. Efforts to Assist the Nigerian Government in its Fight against Boko Haram

Office of the Press Secretary
October 14, 2014

In April 2014, the world was horrified to learn that the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram had abducted approximately 270 girls from their school in Chibok, Nigeria. In the six months since, some girls have been reunited with their families, but most remain in captivity, and Boko Haram has continued to terrorize the region. This year alone, the group has abducted hundreds of men, women, girls and boys and killed 3,000 people in Nigeria. President Obama has directed that the U.S. government do everything it can to help the Nigerian government find and free the abducted girls and, more broadly, to combat Boko Haram in partnership with Nigeria, its neighbors, and other allies. This support takes many forms but the goal is singular: to dismantle this murderous group.

Advisory Support to the Nigerian Government
The United States is assisting the Nigerian government to undertake more concerted, effective, and responsible actions to ensure the safe return of those kidnapped by Boko Haram, including through on-the-ground technical assistance and expanded intelligence sharing.

Multi-Disciplinary Team
 • In May, the United States dispatched a multi-disciplinary team to Abuja to advise the Nigerians on how to secure the safe return of those kidnapped, encourage a comprehensive approach to address insecurity, and establish a capacity to respond more effectively in the future. These officials provide guidance to the Nigerian government on conducting a comprehensive response to Boko Haram that protects civilian populations and respects human rights.

• The team includes civilian and humanitarian experts, U.S. military personnel, law enforcement advisors and investigators as well experts in hostage negotiations, strategic communications, civilian security, and intelligence. The team continues to facilitate and coordinate information sharing and the provision of assistance for survivors and their families.

Expanded Intelligence Sharing

 • The U.S. government also has provided the Nigerian government with Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) to aid Nigeria’s efforts to locate the missing girls.

Sanctions Against Boko Haram In recent years, we have helped isolate Boko Haram’s leaders by leveraging our own authority to designate them as terrorists and by encouraging the United Nations to do so as well.

• In June 2012, the State Department designated Boko Haram’s top commanders as Specially Designated Global Terrorists under section 1(b) of Executive Order 13224. In June 2013, the State Department added Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram’s official leader, to our Rewards for Justice Program and offered up to $7 million for information leading to his capture.

• In November 2013, the State Department designated Boko Haram and Ansaru, a splinter faction, as Foreign Terrorist Organizations under Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended, and as Specially Designated Global Terrorists under section 1(b) of Executive Order 13224. This designation empowers U.S. law enforcement and the Treasury Department to pursue these violent extremist organizations.

• The United States worked closely with Nigeria to pursue terrorist designations at the UN Security Council for Boko Haram, which were approved and took effect on May 22, 2014. These designations prohibit arms sales, freeze assets, restrict movement, and encourage regional cooperation.

Continued Engagement to Counter Boko Haram
The United States is committed to supporting efforts by Nigeria and its neighbors to combat the threat of Boko Haram more effectively and in a manner that respects human rights through a variety of assistance programs designed to advance regional cooperation, bolster rule of law, and strengthen security institutions.

• President Obama announced Nigeria’s participation in the Security Governance Initiative (SGI) during the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in August. SGI is a new Presidential initiative in which the United States and Nigeria will work to improve security sector institution capacity to protect civilians and confront challenges and threats, with integrity and accountability. To support a longer term focus, SGI involves multi-year funding commitments of increased U.S. support and requires sustained, high-level leadership and commitment by partner countries to pursue policies in support of the agreed upon goals.

• Nigeria is a partner in the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership, a U.S. government effort to enhance regional security sector capacity to counter violent extremism, improve country and regional border and customs systems, strengthen financial controls, and build law enforcement and security sector capacity.

• The State and Defense Departments are launching a $40 million Global Security Contingency Fund for Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria to counter Boko Haram. The program will provide technical expertise, training, and equipment to the four countries to develop institutional and tactical capabilities to enhance their respective efforts to counter Boko Haram, and to lay the groundwork for increased cross-border cooperation to counter Boko Haram.

• We work closely with other international partners, including the United Kingdom, France, and Canada, to enable information-sharing, alignment, and coordination on international strategies and programs to counter such threats in the region.

Support to Populations Affected by Boko Haram
Boko Haram is inflicting untold hardship on the people of Nigeria, with repercussions for men, women, girls, and boys throughout northeast Nigeria. The United States provides assistance to affected populations, including support to health, water, and sanitation services; the delivery of emergency relief supplies; and protection services, including psycho-social support for survivors of Boko Haram violence. The United States further invests in helping Nigeria to build security and increase opportunity in northeast Nigeria, including through education programs for girls and boys; maternal and child health services; and programs to strengthen democracy and governance and counter violent extremism by engaging leaders across society, including women.

• The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) provides trauma counselling to survivors and their families, including those directly affected by the Chibok abduction, through a $4.5 million, five-year (2010-15) program. USAID also recently completed its third training for psycho-social support teams based in Borno–the locus of Boko Haram’s violence. The role of these social workers, health care providers, and other community members is to sensitize communities to prevent stigma against abductees when they return, and to provide psycho-social first aid to girls and their families.

• USAID is starting two new programs that will address critical educational needs for both girls and boys in northern Nigeria. A $20-30 million crisis response program will provide basic education to internally displaced persons and others affected by the violence in the northeast. In addition, a flagship five-year, $120 million program will strengthen education systems so that they can provide greater access and improve reading among primary school children.

• In support of the contributions women make to peace and prosperity, USAID is promoting women in leadership and peacemaking through a series of conferences and workshops. Training exercises in Kano and Sokoto states promoted tolerance across ethnic and religious lines through engagement with influential religious, traditional, and women leaders. Women participants came out with a plan to use “naming ceremonies” (common across most Nigerian cultures) to carry out campaigns against hate speech and electoral violence. Interfaith media dialogues discussed how women and other stakeholders can prevent electoral violence in the run up to the February 2015 elections and how women can contribute to Nigeria’s political and economic progress.

• USAID is launching the Nigeria Regional Transition Initiative to improve stability and strengthen democratic institutions in northeast Nigeria. The initiative will focus on building the resistance of communities vulnerable to the effects of violent extremist organizations, weak governance, and insecurity through increased positive engagement between government and communities; increased access to credible information; and support to reduce youth vulnerability to violent extremist influences.

• The State Department supports efforts to facilitate dialogue between local women activists and security-sector personnel and to highlight the role of female law-enforcement officers. State also supports a Hausa-language multi-media platform which includes a free-to-air satellite TV channel designed to serve northern Nigeria. The channel highlights the rich cultural diversity of northern Nigeria while offering programming with themes that reject political violence and violent extremism. It also includes programming intended to meet the needs of mothers with young children. One show highlights as role models women who have overcome obstacles and now own their own businesses or have obtained higher education. The objective is to show that any girl can grow up to be a strong contributor to her society.

Zuckerberg, wife donate $25M to CDC for Ebola

Picture Huffington Post
Associated Press

NEW YORK — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, are donating $25 million to the CDC Foundation to help address the Ebola epidemic.

The money will be used by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Ebola response effort in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and elsewhere in the world where Ebola is a threat, the foundation said Tuesday.

The grant follows a $9 million donation made by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen last month. Zuckerberg and Chan are making the grant from their fund at the nonprofit Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

Kenyan Ali Mazrui Remembered as Great Pan-Africanist

James Butty, VOA

October 14, 2014 1:40 AM

Kenyan-born Professor Ali Mazrui, who passed away Monday in Binghamton, New York at age 81, is being remembered as a Pan-Africanist and innovative thinker who put Africa on the world map by popularizing African ideas.

Ugandan-born Amii Omara Otunu, professor of history and international human rights at the University of Connecticut, said Mazrui lived his life as the great Pan-Africanist Kwame Nkrumah would have wanted us all to live.

Mazrui authored numerous books, including the television documentary The Africans: A Triple Heritage, which addressed Western, Islamic and indigenous influences on Africa.

At the time of his death, Mazrui was an Albert Schweitzer professor in the Humanities and the director of the Institute of Global Cultural Studies at Binghamton University.

Otunu said Mazrui used biography and juxtaposition of ideas to explain Africa in a way no one else could have done.

“He put Africa on the world map in terms popularizing African ideas, especially after the 1986 Africa: A Triple Heritage documentary. He was very good at analyzing the ills within African societies,” he said.

Mazrui was exiled in the 1970s after he criticized previous Kenyan and Ugandan regimes led by Daniel Arap Moi and Idi Amin respectively.

“That is the greatest tragedy because our best minds arguably are always outside the continent. Yet, if we are a continent where people could earn their living honestly, if there was freedom for everyone, if in fact there was democracy within Africa, I think most of our brilliant minds would be within the continent because they love the continent,” Otunu said.

Otunu said Mazrui gave all Africans who aspire to intellectual greatness the example that intellectuals must be independent-minded, innovative, and unpredictable.

In one of his books, Islam between Globalization and Counter Terrorism, Mazrui explained how religion was entrapped in rising extremism.

Otunu said Mazrui would have seen the rise of Al-Shabab in Somalia and Boko Haram in Nigeria as a perversion of Islam.

“I’m sure Professor Mazrui would have seen this as a perversion of Islam because Islam is really about peace, about love, about light. And he demonstrated in his teachings and writings that you could be Muslim and be an intellectual, and be as liberal as possible,” he said.

He said Africa has lost a great thinker who should belong to Africa’s intellectual Hall of Fame.

Although he was exiled from his native Kenya, reports indicate his body will be flown back to his native land for burial.

Otunu said this demonstrates how deeply Mazrui loved Africa.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Secretary Kerry Issues Statement on Equatorial Guinea’s National Day

Department of State
Washington, DC
October 11, 2014

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Equatorial Guinea as you celebrate your Independence Day on October 12.

The United States and Equatorial Guinea’s cooperation on maritime security has contributed to freedom of navigation in the Gulf of Guinea.

We also remain committed to continuing our partnership on health and education for all Equatoguinean people.

As you gather with family and friends, I wish all the people of Equatorial Guinea peace and stability in the year to come.

Secretary Kerry Issues Statement on Uganda’s National Day

Department of State
Washington, DC
October 9, 2014

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Uganda as you celebrate 52 years of independence.

Your government is an important partner in the fight against terrorism. We greatly appreciate Uganda’s efforts to address the threat posed by the Lord’s Resistance Army and your vital contribution to the African Union Mission in Somalia.

East Africa looks to Uganda for leadership. We continue to encourage your role in promoting democracy, human rights, and peace and prosperity throughout the region. The United States stands ready to support your efforts to achieve these objectives.
As you gather with family and friends, I wish you a happy Independence Day and a prosperous future.

New U.S. Ambassador to Zambia Sworn In

On Tuesday October 9, 2014 Eric Shultz was sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to Zambia at the State Department in Washington, DC.

Eric T. Schultz, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, most recently served as the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, from 2010 to 2013. Previously, Mr. Schultz was the Minister Counselor for Economic Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia from 2007 to 2009. From 2004 to 2007, he was the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Harare, Zimbabwe. Prior to this, from 2002 to 2004, Mr. Schultz was the Deputy Director in the Office of European Security Policy at the Department of State. From 2000 to 2002, Mr. Schultz served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. He was the Deputy Director for Ukrainian, Moldovan, and Belarusian Affairs from 1998 to 2000 and the Political Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia from 1996 to 1998. Mr. Schultz received a B.A. from Macalester College and an M.A. from the University of Denver.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

President Obama Provides an Update on the Ebola Outbreak

President Obama Hosts Conference Call on Ebola

President Barack Obama meets with members of his national security team and senior staff to receive an update on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and the Administration’s response efforts, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Oct. 6, 2014. Vice President Joe Biden participates via secure video conference. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Office of the Press Secretary
October 8, 2014


2:24 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Hey, everybody. Thanks for joining the call. Obviously, in your states and communities, you guys are on the front lines of public health every single day, working to keep the American people healthy and safe. And I thank you for that.

Right now, a lot of people’s attention is focused on our efforts to prevent an Ebola outbreak in the United States. And I want everybody to know that from day one, this administration has made fighting Ebola a national security priority. We don’t think this is just a humanitarian issue or a public health issue, this is a national security priority. And we are working aggressively to stop the epidemic in West Africa, to stop any cases in their tracks here at home.

On Monday, I met with my team to review our efforts. They’re here today to update you on what we’re doing, to answer your questions, make sure all of you have the information that you need to keep the people in your communities healthy and safe.

And the American people are reasonably concerned — Ebola is a terrible disease, and the fact that in an interconnected world infectious disease can be transported across borders is one of the reasons we have to take it seriously. At the same time, as I think all of us have tried to emphasize, it’s important that, as public officials, we know and reinforce the facts. Because we’ve got a world-class medical system, because we’ve put in place tough safety measures, because of the work that many of you have done in conjunction with organizations like the CDC and dealing with infectious disease generally, and because of the nature of Ebola and the fact that it’s not something involving airborne transmission, the chance of an Ebola outbreak in the United States remains extremely low.

Procedures are in place to evaluate anybody who might be showing symptoms. In recent months, thousands of travelers arrived here from West Africa, and so far, only one case of Ebola has been diagnosed in the United States, and that’s the patient in Dallas who we know, sadly, passed away, and our thoughts today are with his family.

But as we saw in Dallas, we don’t have a lot of margin for error. If we don’t follow protocols and procedures that are put in place, then we’re putting folks in our communities at risk. So we have to follow the procedures and protocols that have been established based on the science.

I want to thank Mayor Rawlings and County Judge Clay Jenkins in Dallas for their cooperation with our team and their leadership on the ground. We’re going to make sure that lessons learned in Dallas and clear procedures and protocols for health and safety officials are conveyed to all of you. Secretary Burwell and Dr. Frieden will talk to you about how we’re working with hospitals across the country so that local partners are truly prepared should someone who has a history of travel to the affected countries in West Africa start showing symptoms.

At the federal level, we are always reviewing and evaluating measures that we currently have in place. Today, we announced additional screening measures that will be phased in over the coming days and weeks at select airports around the country. And these measures are really just belt-and-suspenders — it’s an added layer of protection on top of the procedures already in place at several airports.

The new measures will include additional entry screening and questions for travelers arriving from the countries affected by Ebola. It will give us the ability to isolate, evaluate and monitor travelers as needed. And we’ll be able to collect any contact information that’s necessary. So you’ll hear all of this from my team shortly.

But let me close by reminding everybody that America has got the best doctors in the world. We know how to deal with infectious disease. I’m confident that so long as we work together, and we’re operating with an appropriate sense of urgency that we will prevent an outbreak from happening here. And in fact, some of the work that we’re doing together and the lessons learned from this experience will further strengthen our public health systems going into the future. Because there are going to be, unfortunately, other occasions where we know that there are infectious diseases out there, and in some cases the transmission may be swifter, and we’re going to have to be that much more ready.

So for the governors and the mayors and the county officials on the line, I’ve instructed my teams to do whatever federal assistance they can to make sure you’re ready to respond should someone be diagnosed with Ebola in your state. We’re going to have to be partners in this fight. Anybody who has any questions, information or suggestions, that’s why my team organized this call. They want to make sure that they’re getting feedback from you in terms of what you think will be most helpful.

I want to thank you guys, not just for joining us on the call today, but, more importantly, for the critical work you do every day to keep us healthy and safe.

END 2:32 P.M. EDT