Hi, all. Today's report features:
• Watch on Wednesday: The President will sign DADT repeal Dec. 22.
• Preventing child abuse and domestic violence: The President signs preventive legislation.
• Press briefing: START, First Responders Bill, Afghanistan.
• Côte d’Ivoire unrest: White House calls for Côte d’Ivoire's President Gbagbo to step down and allow Alassane Ouattara to take office; Ambassador Rice on UNSC's extension of peacekeeping mandate.
• Commerce news: Secretary Locke comments on outcomes of 21st session of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade.
• HHS News: Launch of Healthy People 2020, the nation's 10-year health agenda.
• EPA news: Green builders’ innovative efforts in Philadelphia.
• Capitol Tree: USDA report on the Wyoming tree's travels.
• Remembering the troops: What deployed soldiers miss when they can't be home for the holidays.
• It Gets Better: LGBT White House staffers share messages of hope and support.
• WATCH ON WEDNESDAY •
@PressSec, Dec. 20, 2010:
President to sign repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy on Wednesday at 9:15 AM...
• PREVENTING CHILD ABUSE AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE •
Council on Women and Girls, Dec. 20, 2010:
Posted by Lynn Rosenthal, White House Advisor on Violence Against Women
This afternoon, I stood in the Oval Office and watched as President Obama signed the reauthorization of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) which includes the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA.) As he signed this crucial bill into law, the President was surrounded by Senators and Representatives, both Democrats and Republicans, and national advocates who work every day to end domestic violence and child abuse.
In 2008, 772,000 children were victims of abuse and neglect. Nearly 2,000 of those children died. By providing states and local communities with new tools to identify and treat abuse and neglect, CAPTA-funded services will continue to protect children across the country. Prevention efforts will help parents by addressing high risk-factors like substance abuse, mental illness and domestic violence.
Domestic violence still affects 1 in 4 women in states and territories across the country. FVPSA funds nearly 1,700 shelters and service programs for victims of domestic violence and their children. It also supports the National Domestic Violence Hotline, whose staff and volunteers answer more than 22,000 calls for help each month and link victims with the resources they need to rebuild their lives.
I’d like to thank the members of Congress whose leadership was essential to CAPTA and FVPSA’s passage: Senator Tom Harkin, Senator Mike Enzi, Senator Lamar Alexander, Representative George Miller, Representative John Kline, Representative Carolyn McCarthy, and Representative Todd Platts. I particularly want to thank Senator Chris Dodd and Representative Gwen Moore, who were the lead sponsors of FVPSA and who worked so hard to ensure the bill passed this year.
Thanks to the bi-partisan work of members of Congress who were with us today, CAPTA and FVPSA will help end abuse, give hope to victims, and provide families with the help they need, when they need it. As we gathered in the Oval Office, I was thinking of the many abuse survivors I have met over the years. This bill creates a bright future for victims and their families.
• PRESS BRIEFING •
White House, Dec. 20, 2010:
12/20/10: White House Press Briefing
White House Press Briefings are conducted most weekdays from the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room in the West Wing.
Office of the Press Secretary, Dec. 20, 2010:
MR. GIBBS: The White House believes that before Congress leaves town, that the Senate will ratify the New START treaty.
Q: So are you confident ultimately you’ll have the votes or right now is it still in play?
MR. GIBBS: Look, obviously, the President and the Vice President continue to communicate with senators in order to ensure that they have the most up-to-date information. Obviously you heard last week I think a pretty compelling endorsement from General Cartwright, the Vice Chair of the Joint Chiefs, speak to one of the misconceptions about the impact of preamble language on our missile defense posture. And I think that’s been dealt with rather effectively.
We were asked over the weekend whether Senator Kyl or Senator McConnell’s opposition impacted passage and I don’t -- I have not talked to anybody here who had them as "yes" votes at any point in this process anyway. So their statements in my mind don’t impact passage.
Q: Are the concerns that you’re still hearing at this point from senators who have not committed are ones that you consider to be substantive in nature?
MR. GIBBS: Well, look, we have -- as I’ve said here before, there have been 18 committee hearings on this; a thousand questions asked and answered; a treaty that’s been on the Internet for eight months. If there are senators with substantive questions, we can have anybody that they want to speak with them about those questions. We feel very confident that all of their questions have good answers.
Again, General Cartwright is the expert on the chair -- on the Joint Chiefs staff on missile defense. And when he stands in this room and says that there are no concerns with preamble language on missile defense, that's a weighty endorsement for what’s in the treaty....
MR. GIBBS: Well, look, I think first and foremost, the President believed that each of these things -- and I will say this, too -- the President believes strongly and is disappointed greatly that we have yet to get the DREAM Act passed. But I think in each of the instances that you’re talking about, whether it’s the tax agreement, "don't ask, don't tell," and what I believe will be passage and ratification of START, I think you’ll see strong bipartisan majorities in support of issues that are important to the American people -- reducing the threat of nuclear weapons, reducing -- ensuring that taxes for middle-class families don’t go up.
I mean, I think there is a lesson of the importance that these issues have with not just those on Capitol Hill but with the American people, and that two parties can and should work together to get things like that done, whether it’s in December of the end of a two-year Congress or in January, the first month of a two-year Congress....
Q: You deny this notion that Republicans just want to deny the President a victory?
MR. GIBBS: Look, again, that's for them to decide what their opposition is. Again, I think there’s an incongruence with some that have said that they oppose the treaty because they haven’t had enough time to debate it, which I don't think is matched by the facts of either how long -- how many hearings have been had, how long it’s been on the Internet, how long it’s been debated on the floor.
Those are the same people that are making the arguments also that -- even in some of the same statements -- that they have concerns about missile defense. And it appears incongruent to me as to how one could determine if they haven’t had enough time, how they’ve determined that missile defense is the problem.
Q: I’m just curious, why did the President not come out on camera on Saturday after the vote to repeal "don't ask, don't tell"?
MR. GIBBS: He I think was busy probably in the Oval Office working on calls on START....
On spending and the Continuing Resolution.
Q: Robert, on the CR -- on the CR, Republicans not only don’t want any new spending, they want to go back to 2008 pre-Obama levels. Is that a dealbreaker for the President? Is that totally unacceptable?
MR. GIBBS: I don’t know what the -- you’re not suggesting that -- to make sure I understand -- not that the 2008 levels are in the current CR, right? I mean, look --
Q: They want to go back before that.
MR. GIBBS: Right. Look, I think that the -- not surprisingly, we would have grave concerns, if you look at some of the aspects of what you’re talking about. Making some huge cuts in things like education at a time in which we have real competitiveness issues in this country and throughout the world. Now is not the time to do some of those things.
Obviously we have to make some and are going to have to make some very tough decisions to get our fiscal house in order. That’s why the President outlined a three-year spending freeze on non-security items in the budget. And I think we’re going to have to make some of those tough decisions, and I think over the course of the next couple years we’re going to have a debate about -- a further debate about, for instance, tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, which comprise a level of funding greatly in excess of the difference between 2008 levels in spending and the CR....
(On the 9/11 First Responders Bill.)
Q: What is your response to critics of the 9/11 First Responders Bill who say the $7 billion contained therein has not been closely scrutinized enough and that it should wait until the next session of Congress?
MR. GIBBS: Well, look, the administration endorsed the 9/11 bill in mid-August. We put out a statement of administration policy before the House vote and we did so before the Senate vote. I think there are plenty of safeguards to ensure that that money isn’t abused. But what’s important is that we ought to take care of those who took care of us. That’s why every Democrat in the Senate voted to move that legislation forward. I can’t speak to why every Republican opposed it....
Q: Robert, Vice President Biden said that U.S. troops will be out of Afghanistan by 2014, "come hell or high water." Is that U.S. policy?
MR. GIBBS: Well, I think I would point you to what was decided in Lisbon just a few weeks ago, that we will, much like we have in Iraq, transfer primary security of Afghanistan to the Afghans, as NATO and ISAF agreed, by the end of 2014, which would end our combat commitment in that country.
Q: That’s different than being completely out, though, by 2014.
MR. GIBBS: Again, I think we’ve -- I think what the Vice President was discussing was our combat role.
Q: Last question on that. He said also that the July 2011 withdrawal would not be a token withdrawal. How does he know that, given that that -- the size of that withdrawal is supposed to be based on conditions on the ground?
MR. GIBBS: It will be determined by conditions on the ground, but I think that the Vice President knows, as many do here, that the President made -- the President, in conjunction with the military, worked through a plan a year ago that they think is achievable to meet the date of July 2011.
It is -- there are many that believed that we would not meet our dates in Iraq, and we did.
• CÔTE D'IVOIRE UNREST •
CNN, Dec. 20, 2010:
By Joe Vaccarello and Laurie Ure
The United Nations Security Council on Monday extended its peacekeepers' mission in Ivory Coast through June 30, despite an expulsion order days earlier by the West African nation's disputed incumbent president, Laurent Gbagbo.
The peacekeepers' mission had been scheduled to end December 31.
Head of U.N. peacekeeping Alain Le Roy told reporters Monday that the council's decision was unanimous.
"We consider it's not right for us to leave. We have a mandate to fulfill and we are not going to leave," Le Roy said.
"We are resupplying," he added. "We know it's going to be very delicate and dangerous. That's why it's so important to have unanimous support of the council."
Meanwhile, Gbagbo is considering hiring an objective outside mediator to investigate allegations of election fraud, according to a prominent American attorney hired by him to advise on options for resolving the crisis.
But the U.N. Security Council joined several other world bodies in calling for Gbagbo to step down after a contested election, with many world leaders saying Alassane Ouattara won the November runoff.
On Monday, the Obama administration joined that international chorus.
"The results are clear, and it's time for him to go," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said of Gbagbo.
Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to United Nations, said Monday that she was aware of reports of Gbagbo hiring mercenaries. Le Roy confirmed later Monday that some mercenaries are working with Ivorian forces.
"If they are confirmed, they would be of grave concern not only to the United States but to the entire Security Council," Rice said....
Office of the Press Secretary, Dec. 20, 2010:
.... Q:.... What’s the White House message to President Gbagbo?....
MR. GIBBS: I would say that, as it relates to the election in Côte d’Ivoire, that the -- President Outtara was the rightly and justly elected President, and that we stand ready to impose targeted sanctions individually and in concert with our partners around the world on President Gbagbo, on his immediate family, on those that are associated with him, and who continue -- those who continue to cling to power illegitimately. That election was clear. Its result was clear. And it’s time for him to go....
Department of State, Dec. 20, 2010:
Ambassador Rice Discusses UNSC's Vote To Extend Peacekeeping Mandate in Côte d’Ivoire
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice gives a readout on the UN Security Council's unanimous vote to extend its peacekeeping mandate in Côte d’Ivoire in New York, New York, December 20, 2010.
Ambassador Rice: Good afternoon, on behalf of the Security Council, I would like to read the following statement on Cote d’Ivoire:
The members of the Security Council, after the unanimous adoption of Security Council resolution 1962 (2010), remain deeply concerned about the continued violence in Côte d’Ivoire, including armed attacks against the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) and multiple civilian fatalities, many more wounded and even more being displaced across Côte d’Ivoire.
The members of the Security Council condemn in the strongest terms acts of violence against UNOCI and recall its resolution 1502 (2003) on Protection of United Nations personnel, associated personnel and humanitarian personnel in conflict zones. The members of the Security Council warn all those responsible for attacks against peacekeepers and civilians that they will be held accountable and will be brought to justice, in accordance with international law and international humanitarian law.
The members of the Security Council urge all Ivorians to exercise maximum restraint, remain calm, resist provocative actions, refrain from violence, and work together to restore sustainable peace.
The members of the Security Council reiterate their support for the constructive role of the Secretary-General in Côte d’Ivoire and stress that UNOCI, under the leadership of his Special Representative, continues to fulfill impartially its existing mandate, and to facilitate political dialogue between the Ivorian stakeholders in order to ensure peace in Côte d’Ivoire and respect for the outcome of the Presidential election as recognized by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union....
Department of State, Dec. 20, 2010:
I am pleased that the United Nations Security Council has voted to renew and extend the peacekeeping mandate for the UN Operation in Cote d’Ivoire (UNOCI). The Council has spoken with a clear and unified voice, and has echoed Secretary General Ban’s pledge that UNOCI will fulfill its mission to promote peace and stability.
The Council’s decision today also once again sends a strong message that President Alassane Dramane Ouattara is the legitimately elected leader of Côte d’Ivoire. As President Obama stated earlier this month, the United States urges all parties to acknowledge and respect the election results and support Côte d’Ivoire in its bid to move toward a more peaceful, democratic future. The Security Council joined the international community, including the African Union and Economic Community of West African States, in urging all stakeholders to respect the will of the people and the outcome of the election.
The situation on the ground remains tense. I am particularly concerned about reports of mass human rights abuses against civilians and peacekeepers, and efforts to prevent UNOCI from investigating these abuses. The United States is prepared to impose targeted sanctions against anyone who threatens the peace process or seeks to undermine the outcome of the election, including former President Gbagbo and his supporters.
The people of Cote d’Ivoire have the strong support of the United States. We will continue to work closely with our international partners to help Côte d’Ivoire move forward down the path to peace and democratic governance.
• COMMERCE NEWS •
Department of Commerce, Dec. 20, 2010:
Secretary Locke's JCCT Press Conference Remarks
Secretary Locke delivers remarks at the press conference after the 21st session of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) in Washington, D.C on December 15, 2010.
(Dec. 15) marked the end of the 21st session of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) in Washington, D.C. The JCCT was co-chaired by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk along with Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack also participated in the discussions. Today’s outcomes will make U.S. businesses more competitive in China, help boost U.S. exports and jobs, and increase market access for U.S. businesses, creators, innovators, entrepreneurs, farmers and ranchers seeking to do business in China.
Specifically, China agreed to significant initiatives in several areas, including intellectual property rights enforcement, open and neutral technology standards, clean energy, and government procurement. Importantly, on indigenous innovation, China agreed not to discriminate in government procurement based on the origin of intellectual property or to use discriminatory criteria to select industrial equipment. China also agreed to resume talks on beef market access.
(As prepared for delivery)
Commerce Secretary Gary Locke: Closing Remarks/Press Statements at 21st Annual U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT)
The work we’ve done today will benefit both China and the United States. We have agreed to a variety of measures that will make America businesses more competitive in the global marketplace by China not discriminating against American companies selling everything from industrial machinery and telecom devices to equipment for large scale wind farms. That will mean more jobs in America and a greater variety of world class products and services in China.
On the indigenous innovation front, China will revise its major equipment catalogue in 2011 and publish a draft for public comment to ensure there is no discrimination against foreign suppliers.
China has also agreed to further open markets in key future technology sectors. In particular, they have adopted a stance of technology neutrality on 3G and future technologies -- which means the best technology wins regardless of where it comes from.
China also announced it is going to streamline the certification process for mobile devices.
On smart grid standards, we welcome the important progress made on standards development and look forward to working closely with China to enhance our cooperation in smart grid development.
We also achieved some concrete progress that will provide further opportunities for American companies to succeed in express delivery services and travel and tourism.
Finally, I look forward to partnering with China on a public campaign to reduce intellectual property rights violations and to build up the legal systems within China to more efficiently enforce IPR.
• HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES NEWS •
Department of Health and Human Services, Dec. 17, 2010:
Todd Park Announces myHealthyPeople Challenge
Todd Park, Chief Technology Officer at the U.S. Dept of Health & Human Services, challenged developers, public health professionals, and other end-users to collaborate on the design and development of a customizable Healthy People 2020 application. His announcement was part of the official Healthy People 2020 launch on December 2nd at The George Washington University.
More info here.
Healthy People 2020 is the Nation's 10-year health agenda for disease prevention and health promotion, including goals and objectives for 26 topic areas. For more information, go here.
Department of Health and Human Services, Dec. 16, 2010:
Preparing for the Next Decade: A 2020 Vision for Healthy People
HealthyPeople.gov provides science-based, 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans.
Featuring the Assistant Secretary for Health, Dr. Howard Koh, this presentation demonstrates how public health professionals and educators should use HealthyPeople.gov.
For more information, go here.
• EPA NEWS •
Environmental Protection Agency, Dec. 20, 2010:
Building Green: A Success Story in Philadelphia
In 2010, EPA's Office of Water produced this 11-minute video which highlights innovative efforts by green builders in Philadelphia who are helping protect and restore environmental quality and beautify the city. The video features the work of Philadelphia’s Onion Flats LLC, a company that is designing residential buildings with the highest ratings for energy and water efficiency. By installing cisterns, green roofs, porous pavers, solar panels, and Energy Star appliances, the builders are capturing rainwater, reducing stormwater runoff, and saving energy. The exciting news is that the units are selling even in a depressed market, thanks to many of the amenities, including the attractive green roofs, reduced utility bills and proximity to public transit. At the outset of the video, Howard Neukrug with Philadelphia’s Office of Watersheds explains the importance of green stormwater infrastructure. The city is now offering incentives to builders and developers like Onion Flats to use green techniques to help meet clean water and other environmental goals.
• THE CAPITOL TREE •
Department of Agriculture, Dec. 20, 2010:
Background on the Capitol Christmas Tree
The 2010 Capitol Christmas Tree made the long trek from Wyoming to Washington, D.C. The USDA's Bob Ellison has more.
• REMEMBERING THE TROOPS •
Department of Defense, Dec. 20, 2010:
What Deployed Soldiers Miss About Being Home For the Holidays: 1st Sgt. Herrington
4th Infantry Division Band 1st Sgt, Cornell Herrington, talks about how he copes with being deployed during the Christmas holiday. Provided by 109th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.
• IT GETS BETTER •
White House, Dec. 20, 2010:
White House Staff: It Gets Better
Inspired by President Obama's "It Gets Better" video, several LGBT White House staffers share their messages of hope and support for LGBT youth who are struggling with being bullied.