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Hi, all.  Today's report features:

• The President on tax cuts framework and CEO meeting: Remarks before and statement after Senate passage of the tax cuts act.

• House passes DADT repeal: Statements of approval by the President and Defense Secretary.

• The Vice President addresses UN Security Council: The Vice President takes stock of progress in Iraq.

• Environmental justice: Q&A about access to healthy environments.

• Health care news: The President signs legislation to stop a pay cut for doctors treating Medicare patients. Walter Reed doctors perform pancreas islet transplant. HHS Secretary welcomes passage of the National Alzheimer’s Project Act. Editorial boards on challenge to health care reform.

• DOI: Modernizing technology at Interior.

• DREAM Act & language training: Comments of Dr. Clifford L. Stanley.

• State Department: Town hall on the potential of civilian power for State and USAID.

• Chef Kass and Elmo: A look at healthy school lunches.

• THE PRESIDENT ON TAX CUTS FRAMEWORK AND CEO MEETING •

White House, Dec. 15, 2010:

President Obama on Tax Cuts Framework and Meeting with CEOs

The President urges Congress to pass legislation on tax cuts and unemployment insurance and says he plans to discuss ideas to continue to grow the economy in a meeting with many of the country's top business leaders. December 15, 2010.

Office of the Press Secretary, Dec. 15, 2010:

Remarks by the President on Tax Cuts and CEOs Meeting

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning, everybody.  Today, the Senate is poised to pass tax cuts and unemployment insurance, putting the House of Representatives in the position to send me this critical economic package so I can sign it into law.

I am absolutely convinced that this tax cut plan, while not perfect, will help grow our economy and create jobs in the private sector.  It will help lift up middle-class families, who will no longer need to worry about a New Year’s Day tax hike.  It will offer emergency relief to help tide folks over until they find another job.  And it includes tax cuts to make college more affordable; help parents provide for their children; and help businesses, large and small, expand and hire.

I know there are different aspects of this plan to which members of Congress on both sides of the aisle object.  That’s the nature of compromise.  But we worked hard to negotiate an agreement that’s a win for middle-class families and a win for our economy, and we can’t afford to let it fall victim to either delay or defeat.  So I urge members of Congress to pass these tax cuts as swiftly as possible.

Getting that done is an essential ingredient in spurring economic growth over the short run.  And spurring economic growth is what I’ll talk about later this morning when I meet with some of America’s top business leaders.  That includes Jim McNerney of Boeing, who also heads up my Export Council, and several members of my Economic Recovery Advisory Board.  This is one of many discussions we’ll be having in the months ahead to find new ways to spur hiring, put Americans back to work and move our economy forward.

As I said when I was running for President and as I’ve said since, I believe that the primary engine of America’s economic success is not government.  It’s the ingenuity of America’s entrepreneurs.  It’s the dynamism of our markets.  And for me, the most important question about an economic idea is not whether it’s good short-term politics or meets somebody’s litmus test.  It’s whether it will help spur businesses, jobs and growth.

That’s why I’ve set a goal of doubling U.S. exports in the next five years -- to create more jobs selling more products abroad.  That’s why I’m so pleased that earlier this month, after intensive negotiations, we finalized a trade agreement with our ally South Korea that will boost the annual exports of American goods by $11 billion -- a deal that, all told, will support at least 70,000 American jobs.  It’s an agreement that’s won support from business and labor because it’s good for the economy.

This morning, I hope to elicit ideas from these business leaders that will help us not only climb out of recession, but seize the promise of this moment -– ideas about tax reform; ideas about a balanced approach to regulation that will promote, rather than undermine, growth; ideas that will help encourage businesses to invest in America and American jobs at a time when they’re holding nearly $2 trillion on their books.  I want to discuss our shared mission of building a strong economy for the long run.

We know some of what we need to do to out-compete other countries in the 21st century.  We need to offer our children the best education in the world.  We need to spur innovation and new industries like clean energy that will create the jobs of tomorrow.  We need to upgrade America’s crumbling infrastructure, its roads and bridges, update high-speed rail and high-speed Internet to connect every community.  And we need to redouble our commitment to fiscal discipline and address our long-term deficit challenges.

We know the path that will lead to economic success.  The only question is whether we will take it, whether we have the political will to do the work.  I’m committed to taking that path.  I know America’s business leaders are as well.  And I look forward to talking to them this morning and working with them in the months and years to come to make sure that we’re adopting the best ideas for growing our economy and making the 21st century another great American Century.

Thank you very much, everybody.

Following the Senate’s vote, the President released the following statement.

Office of the Press Secretary, Dec. 15, 2010:

Statement by the President on Senate Passage of the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010

Today, the Senate passed with strong bipartisan support a bill that’s a win for American families, American businesses, and our economic recovery.  This vote brings us one step closer to ensuring that middle class families across the country won’t have to worry about a massive tax hike at the end of the year.  It would offer hope to millions of Americans who are out of work that they won’t suddenly find themselves without the unemployment insurance they need to make ends meet as they fight to find a job.  And it would offer additional tax relief to families across the country and encourage businesses to grow and hire.

I know that not every Member of Congress likes every piece of this bill, and it includes some provisions that I oppose. But as a whole, this package will grow our economy, create jobs, and help middle class families across the country.  As this bill moves to the House of Representatives, I hope that members from both parties can come together in a spirit of common purpose to protect American families and our economy as a whole by passing this essential economic package.

• HOUSE PASSES DADT REPEAL •

Office of the Press Secretary, Dec. 15, 2010:

Statement by the President on the House Passage of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010

I applaud the House for passing, with bipartisan support, the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010.  Legislative repeal is supported by the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  The process contained in this legislation allows for a smooth and responsible repeal of "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" in a way that maintains good order and discipline in our military ranks.   Indeed, all of the Service Chiefs have said that when this law is changed , they will implement an orderly transition effectively and efficiently.  As the comprehensive study by the Department of Defense clearly shows, we can move to a new policy in a responsible manner that ensures our military strength and our national security.  

I particularly want to thank Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and Congressman Patrick Murphy for their leadership on this issue.  I have consistently called for the repeal of this law.  Moving forward with the repeal is not only the right thing to do, it will also give our military the clarity and certainty it deserves.  We must ensure that Americans who are willing to risk their lives for their country are treated fairly and equally by their country.

Department of Defense, Dec. 15, 2010:

House Votes to Repeal ‘Don’t Ask,’ Gates Urges Senate Action

American Forces Press Service

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is pleased with today’s House of Representatives vote to repeal the law that bans gays from serving openly in the military, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said, and he hopes the Senate will follow suit before its current session ends.

The House voted 250-175 to repeal the so-called "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" law, and Senate action is required for the bill to go to President Barack Obama’s desk for signature.

The president has advocated the law’s repeal, and Gates and other military leaders repeatedly have expressed a preference for legislative action – which they say would permit an orderly transition for the military – over having the law struck down by a court, requiring immediate compliance with the change and possibly creating different rules in different places.

"(The secretary) encourages the Senate to pass the legislation this session, enabling the Department of Defense to carefully and responsibly manage a change in this policy instead of risking an abrupt change resulting from a decision in the courts," Morrell said....

• THE VICE PRESIDENT ADDRESSES THE UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL •

United Nations, Dec. 15, 2010:

UN Security Council ends Iraq war measures, backs path to democracy

The Security Council today ended several United Nations mandates on Iraq stemming from the 2003 war, including those on weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), in what Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called a "milestone" on the country's path to stability and normality.

"Its people have known tremendous hardship," he told the 15-member body. "They continue to struggle with insecurity and appalling violence. They lack jobs and basic services. But today we recognize how far the country has come in key aspects of its journey to normalize its status in the community of nations."

Office of the Vice President, Dec. 15, 2010:

Remarks by the Vice President at a Meeting of the United Nations Security Council

(Prior to the Vice President’s formal remarks, he spoke about the recent passing of Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, and then asked the chamber for a moment of silence.)

THE VICE PRESIDENT:

....  Since our administration came to office, we’ve withdrawn over 100,000 American troops from Iraq and ended our combat mission there.  We have transitioned from a military-led engagement to a civilian-led engagement.  

And the 50,000 troops who remain until the end of next year, under the security agreement with the Iraqi government have been given a new primary mission:  advising and assisting their Iraqi counterparts.  Meanwhile, the frequency of violent attacks in Iraq has reached its lowest level - thank the Lord - since 2003.  

As you know, in March the Iraqi people conducted a historic election.  And last month Iraq’s political leaders agreed on a framework for government that reflects the election’s result.

This government will include blocs representing every major community, and will not exclude nor marginalize anyone.  It is made in Iraq by Iraqis, and it reflects a remarkable development that in today’s Iraq, politics - politics has emerged as the dominant means for settling differences and advancing its interest.

And Iraqi leaders must now honor, in a timely manner, the commitment made to each other and to the Iraqi people that were made in the negotiating process.

Going forward, the United States will continue to do its part to reinforce the progress being made in Iraq, consistent with our strategic framework agreement with the Iraqis - to forge an enduring partnership across a range of sectors, including education, energy, trade, health, culture, information technology, law enforcement - the judiciary and security.  And we respectfully urge other nations to share their expertise as well with this new emerging Iraq.

I don't need to remind this gathering of the important role the United Nations played and continues to play in the support of Iraq’s development and the very, very heavy price it has paid....  

Over more than a dozen visits to Iraq, as their foreign minister can tell you, I jokingly kid that I deserve Iraqi citizenship.  I’ve spent so much time there, and I’ve enjoyed every minute.  And over those dozen visits since the war began, I’ve seen firsthand - as I hope many of you have - UNAMI’s efforts to strengthen democratic institutions, conduct elections, advance inclusive dialogue and national reconciliation, aiding vulnerable communities, promoting the protection of human rights, and the reform of the justice system.  Quite frankly, I’ve watched these young men and women who are the staff of the Special Representative literally risk their lives....

To be sure, Iraq faces further challenges on the road to security and prosperity.  Attacks by extremists remain an unacceptable aspect of daily life in Iraq.  We’re particularly concerned about recent attempts to targets innocents because of their faith, including both Christians and Muslims, and to lash out at security forces working to keep the country safe.

But I firmly believe that despite these challenges, Iraq’s best days are ahead.  As a founding member of the United Nations, Iraq seeks and deserves the opportunity to resume its rightful role in the community of nations.  Toward that end, this session formally acknowledges the significant steps Iraq has taken toward fulfilling its obligations to the United Nations incurred in the lead-up to the 1991 Gulf War.

Accordingly, the Security Council has now lifted a restriction imposed by the United Nations Security Resolutions 687 and 707, relating to weapons of mass destruction and civilian nuclear activities, in recognition of Iraq’s commitment to nonproliferation; its compliance with relevant treaties and other international instruments; its adherence to the highest nonproliferation standards, and its provisional application of the additional protocols to its agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency pending its entry into force.

The Council has also terminated the residual activities of the Oil for Food program because Iraq has successfully closed out remaining contracts and the Council has ended the development fund for Iraq effective June 30, 2011, due to the steps Iraq has taken toward resolving debts and claims inherited from the previous regime and establishing accountable arrangements for transitioning the fund....

Since President Obama asked me to oversee our administration’s Iraqi policy when we took office, let me assure you that the United States will continue to work with the Iraqi leaders on the important tasks that lie ahead, conducting the census, integrating Kurdish forces into Iraqi security forces, keeping commitments to the Sons of Iraq, resolving disputed internal boundaries in the future of Kirkuk, passing critical hydrocarbon legislation and a fiscally responsible budget, and helping to stabilize its economy.

We must also continue our efforts to protect and support those displaced by war, and to help enable voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable returns.

Today, as we take stock of all the Iraqi people have endured and accomplished, and all that still must be done, we cannot lose sight of the fact that Iraq is on the cusp of something remarkable - something remarkable - a stable, self-reliant nation; a just, representative and accountable government; and a positive force for peace and stability in the region.  We all have an interest in redeeming that promise and preserving the gains Iraq has made....

• ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE •

White House, Dec. 15, 2010:

Open for Questions: Environmental Justice

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley take your questions about the Obama Administration's work to create a healthy and sustainable environment for all Americans. December 15, 2010.

From the Environmental Protection Agency:

Environmental Justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.

What is meant by fair treatment and meaningful involvement?

Fair treatment means that no group of people should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, governmental and commercial operations or policies

Meaningful Involvement means that:

  1. people have an opportunity to participate in decisions about activities that may affect their environment and/or health;
  1. the public’s contribution can influence the regulatory agency’s decision;
  1. their concerns will be considered in the decision making process; and
  1. the decision makers seek out and facilitate the involvement of those potentially affected

EPA and Environmental Justice

EPA's goal is to provide an environment where all people enjoy the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to the decision-making process to maintain a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.

EPA's environmental justice mandate extends to all of the Agency's work, including setting standards, permitting facilities, awarding grants, issuing licenses and regulations and reviewing proposed actions by the federal agencies. EPA works with all stakeholders to constructively and collaboratively address environmental and public health issues and concerns. The Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ) coordinates the Agency's efforts to integrate environmental justice into all policies, programs, and activities. The Office also provides information, technical and financial resources to assist and enable the Agency to meet its environmental justice goals and objectives.

Learn more on the history of Environmental Justice.

• HEALTH CARE NEWS •

White House Blog, Dec. 15, 2010:

Protecting Seniors, Military Families and Their Doctors

Posted by Nancy-Ann DeParle, Director of the White House Office of Health Reform

Today, President Obama signed legislation that will stop a significant pay cut for doctors who treat Medicare patients from taking effect. The pay cut was called for under an old formula called the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) that governs how much doctors are paid to treat seniors on Medicare and military families enrolled in the TRICARE program. President Obama and members of both parties agree this formula needs to be changed. Without the action the President took today, doctors who see Medicare patients and families enrolled in TRICARE would have seen their payments slashed by 23 percent.

The pay cut wouldn't have just hurt doctors – seniors and families across America would have suffered as well. Many doctors would have simply stopped seeing Medicare patients and military families if this pay cut took effect, effectively denying patients the chance to see the doctor they know and trust.

That wasn't acceptable to President Obama or leaders in Congress and the law the President signed today delays the pay cut from taking effect for another year.

The law wouldn’t have been possible without volunteers like Brenda Kelley of Woodbridge, Virginia and Robert Sargeant of Fairfax, Virginia. Brenda and Robert were two of the thousands of AARP members who worked hard to make this legislation a reality. They made phone calls, wrote letters, and helped ensure this important legislation was enacted.

They weren’t alone. American Medical Association President Cecil Wilson and Board Chair Ardis Hoven, along with doctors from across the country spoke out about the importance of ensuring doctors knew how much they would be paid for treating seniors on Medicare. Together with AARP CEO Barry Rand, AARP Board Chair Lee Hammond and Military Officers Association of America President Admiral Norbert Ryan, these individuals who helped protect seniors, military families and doctors celebrated with President Obama as he signed this legislation into law in the Oval Office.

They were also joined by some of the bipartisan leaders in Congress who helped pass this law including:

• Senator John Barrasso, R-WY

• Senator Max Baucus, D-MT

• Representative Henry Waxman, D-CA

Today was an important milestone, but signing this law is just the first step. For years, Congress and Presidents from both parties have acted to stop pay cuts for doctors called for by the Sustainable Growth Rate. Each solution was temporary, forcing Congress to continually deal with this matter and leaving doctors to wonder if they would be forced to take a pay cut in the future.

After years of temporary measures, the President believes it's time for a permanent solution. Over the next year, the President and his team will work with Congress to address this matter once and for all. We all agree that this formula needs to be changed. Now's the time to get it done.

Department of Defense, Dec. 15:

Pancreas Transplant

Doctors at Walter Reed Army Medical Center have conducted their second-ever pancreas islet transplant, a procedure that reduces the patient’s chance of developing pancreatic cancer.  The patient has a gene that caused him to develop chronic pancreatitis and potentially cancer.  Doctors removed his pancreas and placed some islet cells into the patient’s liver, which then makes insulin so he will not have diabetes. The procedure was done in conjunction with the University of Miami.

HHS.gov, Dec. 15, 2010:

Statement from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on the National Alzheimer's Project Act

I applaud Congress for passing the National Alzheimer's Project Act with bipartisan support.  We at the Department of Health and Human Services recognize the devastating impact Alzheimer's has on America's seniors, families and our health care system. The disease currently afflicts more than five million Americans, and that number is likely to double in the coming years. The passage of this Act will help to ensure we confront this challenge with an aggressive and coordinated national strategy.  I look forward to implementing the legislation's provisions swiftly and effectively.

White House Blog, Dec. 15, 2010:

What They Are Saying: The Affordable Care Act and the Courts

Posted by Stephanie Cutter, Assistant to the President for Special Projects

On Monday, a Virginia judge issued a narrow ruling on the constitutionality of the individual responsibility provision in the Affordable Care Act. In two other cases – including a separate case in Virginia -- federal judges looked at the merits of the opponents’ arguments and upheld the law. 12 other challenges to the law have been dismissed by courts across the country. You can learn more about these court cases and the Administration’s arguments here.

In the days following the ruling in Virginia, editorial boards nationwide have examined the decision and the Affordable Care Act’s individual responsibility provision. Here’s what they are saying:

Los Angeles Times: The individual mandate: It's constitutional

In that sense, what's at stake isn't Americans' cherished "right to be let alone." It's whether they'll continue to be stuck in a system in which millions of uninsured people force those with insurance to pick up at least part of the tab for their visits to the emergency room and for the untreated diseases that they spread....

USA Today: Our view on 'individual mandate': Ruling on health law offers a victory for freeloaders

.... If the requirement that most Americans buy insurance is thrown out, but the insurance reforms remain in place, premiums would skyrocket for existing policyholders.
The individual mandate once enjoyed significant support among conservatives, who saw it as promoting an ethic of personal responsibility, but the drive to oppose President Obama's signature reform led many of them to abandon that principle and denounce the insurance mandate as big government run amok. They had it right in the first place.

Las Vegas Sun: A poor decision; Judge misses point on health care law, not seeing how everyone is affected

The law certainly has a constitutional basis. Congress has a right to address health care, which accounts for one-sixth of the nation’s economy, and it has a right to regulate an industry that affects everyone.

.... yet some conservatives are more interested in protecting the insurance industry over the public, claiming the law violates their liberty. But that’s a disingenuous argument.

The reality is that by providing more equity in the system, the health care law isn’t undercutting liberty, it’s actually upholding it.

St. Louis Post Dispatch: Health care reform and the freedom to freeload

.... The final word will come from the U.S. Supreme Court, as has always been expected....

Judge Hudson is entirely and demonstrably wrong. His grasp of health care economics and the realities of the marketplace are, to put it charitably, flawed. His ruling is an exercise in sophistry...

...(H)is ruling would be a blow to the vast majority of responsible Americans who already have health insurance. They’ll have to continue footing ever-higher premiums to cover freeloaders who refuse to take responsibility for their own care.

New York Times: The Latest Health Care Decision

Yet it seems clear that decisions not to buy insurance will, in the aggregate, affect costs in the broader health care markets. We hope higher courts will find that a decision to forgo insurance simply shifts much of the cost for subsequent illness to hospitals, doctors and insured individuals. Taxpayers’ costs would rise to pay for billions of dollars in uncompensated care given to individuals who can’t pay for it....

Washington Post: Judge Hudson's flawed but restrained ruling on the health law

Importantly - and correctly - Judge Hudson, in invalidating the individual mandate, declined to bring down the rest of the law with it, as Virginia had asked....  On the constitutionality of the individual mandate, he made what we consider the wrong call in a difficult case. But he did it in a thoughtful way that will be minimally disruptive to implementing the law and obtaining a final determination on its constitutionality.

• IT MODERNIZATION AT INTERIOR •

Department of the Interior, Dec. 14, 2010:

Interior Streamlines Information Technology Organization and Infrastructure

The U.S. Department of the Interior Department has launched a five-year program of information technology modernization and consolidation that will save taxpayers an estimated $500 million. The Department plans to self-fund the consolidation by redirecting the captured savings from initial consolidation actions to later stages of the process, eliminating the need for new funding for the multi-year effort.

Transcript

Tim Fullerton, Director of New Media:

I’m here in Interior’s Operations Center where I’m standing next to several of the literally thousands of servers that the department has all across the country.

And the reason I’m here is that this week we announced a new five year project to modernize and consolidate our information technology systems.

That will literally save the U.S. taxpayers an estimated 500 million dollars over the next five years.

Andrew Jackson, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Information, Technology, Business Services:

How we plan to achieve savings is that we’re going to be consolidating our infrastructure and reducing the number of data centers and servers that we have in the department.

A really great opportunity for us to improve the way in which we deliver services, the way we provide tools to our employees in the field, and also deliver a huge savings to the department and the American taxpayers.

So not only are we consolidating data centers and servers, but I understand we’re also moving to a new email system.

What’s really exciting about the email system is not only is it the first time we’ve had one system for the whole department, replacing what is now 13 separate email systems, but we’ll be going to a new cloud based email system that allows us to drive significant savings, while improving safety, reliability and performance for employees and providing a lot of new great features to allow for cross-department communication.

• DR. CLIFFORD STANLEY ON THE DREAM ACT AND LANGUAGE TRAINING •

White House Blog, Dec. 15, 2010:

The DREAM Act and America's Armed Services

Posted by Dr. Clifford L. Stanley, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness

In three decades of service in the Marine Corps, I served with many people who immigrated to our nation looking for a better life.  Regardless of their backgrounds, they had – and still have –  one core mission in life: to serve others.

There is a rich tradition of non-citizens serving in the United States military since the Revolutionary War.  Their life experiences, languages and cultures enhance diversity, ensuring that our military continues to represent the nation it serves.  The DREAM Act would build on this tradition.

Thousands of young people graduate from American high schools every year who are DREAM eligible; who have the determination and the qualifications to join the military and serve our nation.  The DREAM Act would provide the military the opportunity to reach out to this pool of qualified youth eligible to join, and strengthen the All Volunteer Force.

We have an opportunity to provide citizenship for people who are talented, who would like to bring the benefits they have received to others.  But for circumstances beyond their control, we don't allow them to serve.  To ignore that opportunity – to ignore them – simply is unconscionable.

Military Community and Family Policy, August 15, 2010:

Dr. Stanley talks about the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center

Video Transcript

Dr. Clifford Stanley, the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, responsible for overseeing the overall state of military readiness, said he believed the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center should become a Center of Excellence, the first place that should be tapped for language and culture training.

Dr. Stanley: "...But I would really like to see DLI actually be like the Center of Excellence. This should be the place that you come to ... this should not be only symbolic, but also this should be the place where the excellence is... And than you, kind of, farm out from there... So, I see that as this place here. Than you kind of move out from here, but you have the excellence here ... So this is where you come - for the nucleus, and than you go to other places that you are supposed to go to for training."

Stanley had the opportunity to visit a Dari basic course class, speak with students and ask questions about the course. Service-members at the Multi Language School demonstrated some of the latest language learning programs and technology such as tablet PCs, iPods and interactive whiteboards.

Servicewoman: "...All the different learning styles. We can listen to audio through it. We can read things...we can watch videos."

Dr. Stanley: "I don't want to say I am a soft touch -- but I am impressed. I really am taken aback by the quality not only of the students in particular, but with technology, the staff, everything about here."

Stanley stressed that language training is not just important for the professional linguist, but for all Americans.

Dr. Stanley: "I strongly believe that we should have a nation that we can draw from of people who are language-capable, and not only that but who have been exposed to languages very early. But again, it is bigger than the services. I also think that we should be using our other government agencies to help us with this. I think that our department of education, not DoD education, should be helping with this. I think it should be at every level, where we are as a Nation."

Stanley, who is the senior policy advisor to the Secretary of Defense on the 1.3 million Guard and Reserve personnel in the United States, pointed out that most allies are ahead of the U.S. in language training.

Dr. Stanley: "I think that language is important. Particularly if we are now talking about working with our allies and other nations: Why do they all have to learn English? ...So when we talk about the Department of Defense, I am really thinking about the entire Nation, because the Department of Defense depends on the Nation to draw its assets and its quality. And that's what I am focusing on right now."

• STATE DEPARTMENT TOWN HALL •

Department of State, Dec. 15, 2010:

Secretary Clinton Releases the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton hosts a town hall to release the first Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, "Leading Through Civilian Power," at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., December 15, 2010.

Department of State, Dec. 15, 2010:

Remarks at Town Hall Meeting on the Release of the First Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review

The Secretary of State:

.... The QDDR is a blueprint for how we can make the State Department and USAID more nimble, more effective, and more accountable, a blueprint for how our country can lead in a changing world through the use of what I call "civilian power" – the combined force of all of the civilians across the United States Government who practice diplomacy, carry out development projects, and act to prevent and respond to crisis and conflict....

Now, as you dig into this report, you’ll see that it is driven by two overarching factors.

First is President Obama’s emphasis on fiscal responsibility and efficiency throughout the federal government.... Across our programs, we are redefining success based on results achieved rather than dollars spent. And this will help us make the case that bolstering U.S. civilian power is a wise investment for American taxpayers that will pay off by averting conflicts, opening markets, and reducing threats.

The second factor is a rapidly shifting global landscape. Once, only a handful of great powers had the clout to shape international affairs. Now, power is shared by a wide array of states, institutions, and non-state actors. The information revolution has brought millions of people all over the world into an ongoing global debate – and they, too, can influence events, unleash new threats, or devise new solutions to global problems.

As you see at State and USAID and across our government every day, today’s challenges and opportunities spill over borders and they blur traditional bureaucratic divides. They are complex and interconnected. For example, advancing democracy, promoting sustainable economic growth, and strengthening the rule of law in fragile states are all overlapping and mutually reinforcing endeavors. They cut across bureaus and offices and agencies. They demand not just the skills of our State Department diplomats and USAID development experts, but also the expertise of civilian specialists across the U.S. Government.

For example, professionals at the Department of Agriculture know how to boost crop yields and irrigate fields in Kansas and in Kandahar. Justice Department experts are adept at strengthening rule of law in countries whose democracies are young and vulnerable. To achieve our goals, such as tipping a fragile state away from conflict and towards stability, all elements of American civilian power must be prepared and empowered to work together....

• CHEF KASS AND ELMO •

White House, Dec. 15, 2010:

Elmo Visits the White House Kitchen

Elmo joins White House Chef Sam Kass in White House kitchen to talk about the importance of healthy and delicious school meals following President Obama's signing of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. This legislation is an important step forward toward ensuring that no child goes to school hungry and that all children have access to healthy, nutritious foods at school.

Originally posted to Kat 4 Obama on Thu Dec 16, 2010 at 07:19 AM PST.

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