Secretary Pompeo’s Call with Tunisian President Saied

8 Aug

Office of the Spokesperson

The following is attributable to Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus:

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo spoke today with Tunisian President Kais Saied about matters facing the United Nations Security Council.  Secretary Pompeo and President Saied also discussed ways to advance the bilateral partnership.

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U.S. Government Response to the Explosion in Beirut

8 Aug

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

We mourn the loss of life from the horrible tragedy that caused such tremendous destruction to Beirut earlier this week.  We pray for the survivors and their families and for all the Lebanese people as they struggle to put their lives and city back together.  The United States has already pledged more than $17 million in initial disaster aid for Lebanon, which includes food assistance and medical supplies.  This assistance augments the $403 million in U.S. humanitarian assistance to Lebanon since September 2019, including $41.6 million in assistance for the COVID response.  We join others in the call for a thorough and transparent investigation into the cause of this explosion.  The Lebanese people deserve accountability and a government that prioritizes the safety and prosperity of its citizens.  No nation is more generous or compassionate than the United States, and we will continue to help the Lebanese people as they recover from this tragedy.

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Secretary Pompeo’s Call with Partners on COVID-19

8 Aug

Office of the Spokesperson

The following is attributable to Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus:

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo spoke today with the Foreign Ministers of Australia, Brazil, India, Israel, and the Republic of Korea.  Secretary Pompeo and his counterparts discussed the importance of continued close coordination in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  They noted the importance of close cooperation to reopen our economies and counter disinformation, while also addressing the need for concerted efforts to prevent future pandemics.

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Côte d’Ivoire Independence Day

8 Aug

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

On behalf of the Government of the United States of America, I send my best wishes to the government and people of Côte d’Ivoire as you celebrate 60 years of independence. As our countries continue to combat COVID-19, we are encouraged by our shared commitment to defeating the pandemic, rebuilding our economies, and emerging from this crisis more resilient than before.

This year, we are also celebrating 60 years of strong bilateral relations built on a shared appreciation for democratic principles and free-market economic growth.  It also presents an opportunity for Côte d’Ivoire to hold free and fair elections in a peaceful, transparent, and inclusive manner in which the voice of the Ivoirian people will be freely expressed and heard. Doing so would serve as a positive example for the region and the world, and provide a foundation on which to safeguard the rights of all citizens and increase the remarkable economic gains your government has achieved over the past several years.

As you celebrate this important anniversary amidst challenging times, I take this opportunity to offer best wishes for a safe and healthy holiday and to reaffirm our shared values and longstanding friendship

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The United States Imposes Sanctions on Central African Republic Militia Leader

7 Aug

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

Today, the United States took action against the notorious leader of a murderous group that has committed numerous human rights abuses and displaced thousands of people in the Central African Republic (CAR) since 2015. The United States acted pursuant to Executive Order 13667 and alongside the UN in designating Bi Sidi Souleymane, also known as Sidiki Abbas, who leads the Central African Republic based militia group Return, Reclamation, Rehabilitation (3R). On September 27, 2016, 3R raided the village of De Gaulle, killing at least 17 villagers, and raping women and girls. During and immediately after 3R’s raid on De Gaulle, 3R members and Souleymane himself tortured villagers. On May 21, 2019, 3R killed at least 34 unarmed civilians in three villages in northwest CAR’s Ouham-Pendé province, summarily executing adult males.

Souleymane was designated for being responsible for the targeting of women, children, or civilians through the commission of acts of violence, abduction, forced displacement, or attacks on civilian, religious, or locations where civilians are seeking refuge, or through conduct that would constitute a serious abuse or violation of human rights or a violation of international humanitarian law. Moreover, Souleymane himself has directly perpetrated torture in CAR.

The United States supports the February 2019 Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in the Central African Republic. This Agreement holds the best hope for a future free of violence and instability for Central Africans. This Agreement states that any violation is likely to expose the perpetrators to international sanctions. In June 2020, 3R announced the suspension of its participation in the Agreement’s implementation. Today’s action signals that the United States will not tolerate those who commit human rights abuses and will prevent such actors from benefiting from the U.S. financial system. Additionally, the corresponding UN sanctions obligate all UN Member States to impose an asset freeze and travel ban on Souleymane.

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In The Battlegrounds: Marking 55th Anniversary of The Voting Rights Act, Democrats Call Out GOP Voter Suppression

7 Aug

As the United States celebrated the 55th anniversary of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, Democrats highlighted the ongoing fight for free and fair voting access and called out Donald Trump and Republicans’ voter suppression efforts across the country. See for yourself:

In Arizona: 

Arizona Democratic Party Political Director Quiana Dickenson: “Fifty-five years ago, civil rights icons like Congressman John Lewis were beaten and bloodied in the struggle to pass the Voting Rights Act, which gave us the power to fight back and build a better, more representative democracy. Today, those protections have been gutted by Republican voter suppression efforts and decisions like Shelby v. Holder, which have rolled back so much of the progress we’ve made. Now, in the midst of a global pandemic, Donald Trump is making partisan attempts to suppress Americans’ right to vote for his own political benefit.”

In Florida:

Rep. Val Demings: “Democrats in the House have passed legislation to restore this important law, but Donald Trump and his Republican allies in Congress are once again putting their own interests ahead of the American people by refusing to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. The best way for my Republican colleagues to honor Rep. John Lewis is to support his life’s work by protecting the right to vote.”

In Georgia: 

Democratic Party of Georgia Chair Nikema Williams: “Georgia Democrats know, like Mr. Lewis taught us, that our vote is the most powerful tool we have in a democratic society – that’s why Donald Trump and Republicans up and down the ballot are spreading lies about this election and making it harder for people to vote. While Congress fights to pass a new John Lewis Voting Rights Act, Georgia Democrats are fighting hard to protect the vote at every step of the electoral process, and we will hold Republicans accountable for trying to stop the people from making their voices heard.”

Rep. Hank Johnson: “Before the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965, state legislatures, counties and cities — particularly in the South — could enact foul practices to stop our people from making our voices heard — all too similar to the dangerous voter suppression tactics Republicans embrace today. John Lewis shed blood for the Voting Rights Act, and his legacy had an immediate and lasting impact of making sure Black Americans could participate and be a part of this country’s political system. Now, it has never been more important that we pass a new Voting Rights Act to protect our democracy for the next generation, and honor John’s legacy by voting to get Donald Trump out of office.”

In Michigan: 

Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes: “Fifty-five years ago today the Voting Rights Act was signed into law. Often described as the most successful piece of civil rights legislation, it provided nationwide protection for voting rights for every American. Seven years ago, the Supreme Court gutted that law. Congress and specifically, the U.S. Senate, have an opportunity to right this wrong, and pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act … By not moving this legislation, Mitch McConnell and the Republican-led Senate are once again standing in the way of progress and engaging in one of the worst forms of government sanctioned voter suppression.”

In Nevada:

Nevada State Democratic Party Chair William McCurdy: “Voting by mail is safe, secure, and essential to protecting the right to vote in the midst of Trump’s failed pandemic response. Trump’s baseless lawsuit rings hollow when you realize that he and his inner circle have a long history of voting by mail. Once again, Trump and his wealthy, well-connected friends are playing by different rules, while trying to force working families to risk their health and safety to make their voices heard … With the passage of AB4, Nevada Democrats ensured no Nevadans must choose between their health and their constitutional right to vote. As Congressman John Lewis said, ‘the vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society.’”

In New Hampshire: 

State Senator Melanie Levesque: “The right to vote is a foundation of our democracy. That’s why, more than half a century ago, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law. This historic legislation was a triumph for the voters who were subject to generations of discrimination, and for the activists who sacrificed everything for equality at the ballot box, courageous Americans like Congressman John Lewis — may he rest in power. But today, that progress is under attack. Some politicians, driven by desperation, are deliberately trying to stop or make it harder for certain groups of people to vote. But what I believe is that when more people vote, democracy wins.”

In North Carolina:

North Carolina Democratic Party Chair Wayne Goodwin: “The passage of the Voting Rights Act was a landmark, hard-fought victory for activists and civil rights leaders across the country. But years of attacks against this law have stripped away many of its essential protections. Here in North Carolina, we need those protections now more than ever. The Republican assault on voting rights over the last decade has been devastating to our democracy and underlines just how fragile these rights can be. North Carolina Democrats will always fight back against voter suppression efforts, and the best way to do that is by restoring the Voting Rights Act to ensure equal access to the ballot box for all Americans.”

In Ohio:

Rep. Joyce Beatty: “55 years ago today, the Voting Rights Act became law, capping off a centuries’ long fight to ensure equal access to the ballot box for ALL Americans. In 2013, the Supreme Court gutted a key section of VRA. Now, @GOP is blocking efforts to restore it. Our work is far from over.”

Rep. Marcia Fudge: “Civil rights leaders like John Lewis shed blood to secure passage of the Voting Rights Act, signed into law 55 years ago today. With voter suppression tactics on the rise, we must ensure every person has access to the ballot box. We need the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act NOW.”

In Pennsylvania:

Pennsylvania Democratic Party Vice Chair and State Senator Sharif Street: “55 years ago today, we declared as a nation that the right to vote is the central pillar of our democracy, and it must be defended. But right now, extremists like Donald Trump and his enablers are attacking that right for Pennsylvanians … Trump and Pennsylvania Republicans have filed a voter suppression lawsuit to limit voting by mail and subject Pennsylvania voters to predatory poll watching. This would not only put the health and safety of voters and poll workers at risk — it would suppress the voices of Black and Brown communities in particular. It’s nothing more than a cheap attempt to rig the election in their favor — and Pennsylvania Democrats are fighting back in court. It’s shameful that 55 years after the passage of the VRA, we must still keep up the fight for voting rights, but we will never back down when the voices of Pennsylvanians are under attack.”

In Texas: 

Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa and Vice Chair Carla Brailey: “Since the Voting Rights Act was gutted by the U.S. Supreme Court,  Trump and Texas Republicans have taken every opportunity to make voting more difficult for Latino, Black and other voters that the VRA was created to protect … Texas Democrats know that our democracy thrives when more people participate, not less … We will continue to fight to preserve the legacy and promise of the Voting Rights Act until every eligible Texan can cast their ballot.”

In Virginia: 

Virginia Democrats Voter Protection and Expansion Director Alyssa Pooler: “The Voting Rights Act was a major step forward in our nation’s long effort to guarantee fair access to the vote — an effort that Donald Trump and his Republican allies seek to reverse every single day. In the midst of a pandemic that is out of control due to the president’s disastrous leadership, it’s important to protect the right to vote with legitimate, secure methods like absentee by mail voting that can save Virginians’ lives. Trump’s insistence of baselessly undermining public confidence in our elections is a real danger to democracy.”

In Wisconsin: 

Wisconsin Democrats Spokesperson Philip Shulman: “Wisconsinites know better than most just how malicious Republicans’ efforts around the fundamental right to vote have been. From passing archaic voter I.D. laws, drastically limiting early voting, requiring a witness signature while still in the midst of a pandemic, to targeting voter purges in majority Black and Brown communities, Wisconsin Republicans have struck at the heart of democracy every chance they have gotten. Democrats remain steadfast in our support of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, of expanding access to vote by mail, and vow to fight any effort to disenfranchise voters across the Badger state.”

The post In The Battlegrounds: Marking 55th Anniversary of The Voting Rights Act, Democrats Call Out GOP Voter Suppression appeared first on Democrats.

DNC on July Jobs Report

7 Aug

After the U.S. Department of Labor released the latest jobs and unemployment numbers, DNC Chair and former Labor Secretary Tom Perez issued the following statement:

“Donald Trump’s mismanagement of this crisis continues to wreak havoc on our economy and devastate millions of families. More than 30 million Americans are receiving some form of unemployment relief, and over 16 million Americans are unemployed. Today’s jobs report reflects a slowdown in hiring after Trump’s failure to contain the virus forced many states back into lockdown. America is hurting, and we’re still 12.9 million jobs under where we were in February.

“It didn’t have to be this bad. And it doesn’t have to stay this bad. Not if we take decisive action to elect Joe Biden as the next president of the United States. Americans have lost millions of jobs under Donald Trump. And on November 3, Donald Trump is going to lose his job in the White House.”

16.3 million Amerians are unemployed and the pace of job growth slowed considerably in July.

U.S. News: “Total unemployment fell by 1.4 million to 16.3 million.”

Fox Business: “The U.S. economy added 1.8 million jobs in July even as a wave of new coronavirus cases forced most states to pause or reverse their reopenings, causing a slight pullback in hiring. Still, the payroll increase reported Friday by the Labor Department was well below the 4.8 million jobs created in June, which was the highest recorded.”

The unemployment rate is higher than any period since WWII at 10.2%, and would be even higher if not for ongoing misclassification issues in the data. 

Politico: “The unemployment rate fell to 10.2 percent in July, the Labor Department reported Friday. That’s down from a peak of 14.7 percent in April, but still far above the 3.5 percent rate in February before the coronavirus pandemic led to mass economic shutdowns across the country.”

As many as 31.3 million Americans are receiving some form of unemployment relief, and more than 55 million have sought relief since mid March.

Reuters: “The number of Americans seeking jobless benefits fell last week, but a staggering 31.3 million people were receiving unemployment checks in mid-July, suggesting the labor market was stalling as the country battles a resurgence in new COVID-19 cases that is threatening a budding economic recovery.”

USA Today: “More than 55 million Americans have sought jobless benefits since state shutdowns began in mid-March.”

For an unprecedented 20th consecutive week, more than a million Americans have filed new unemployment claims.

ABC News: “For 20 straight weeks, the number of Americans who have lost their jobs and filed for unemployment insurance has topped 1 million. This unprecedented streak of weekly jobless claims has shattered all historical records.”

GDP fell by an unprecedented 32.9% annualized rate last quarter — more than three times the previous record.

Politico: “The U.S. economy crashed in historic fashion this year — shrinking at a nearly 33 percent annualized pace in the second quarter — as the coronavirus pandemic ravaged businesses and sent joblessness soaring.”

National Public Radio: “The economic shock in April, May and June was more than three times as sharp as the previous record — 10% in 1958 — and nearly four times the worst quarter during the Great Recession.”

More than 100,000 small businesses have closed for good, with Black-owned businesses  shutting down at twice the rate.

Washington Post: “More than 100,000 small businesses have closed forever as the nation’s pandemic toll escalates”

Bloomberg: “Black-owned small businesses are twice as likely to shutter as small businesses overall during the coronavirus pandemic … Data show a 41% drop in the number of active small business owners who are Black from February to April, compared to 22% of owners overall, according to the study. Latinx business owners fell by 32%, while Asian business owners dropped 26% and white business owners retreated 17%.”

Trump and Republicans let enhanced unemployment benefits expire for tens of millions, and pushed a plan to slash benefits by more than 40% on average.

Wall Street Journal: “Lapse in Extra Unemployment Benefits to Hurt U.S. Recovery, Economists Say”

CNBC: “GOP relief plan slashes unemployment benefits by 43% for average worker”

The post DNC on July Jobs Report appeared first on Democrats.

Secretary Pompeo’s Call with Pakistani Foreign Minister Qureshi

7 Aug

Office of the Spokesperson

The following is attributable to Principal Deputy Spokesperson Cale Brown:‎

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo spoke today with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. Secretary Pompeo and Minister Qureshi discussed a range of issues, including the importance of U.S.-Pakistan cooperation on the Afghan peace process and the importance of efforts to support regional stability.

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The United States Designates Individuals in Hong Kong for Curtailing Promised Freedoms

7 Aug

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

The Chinese Communist Party has made clear that Hong Kong will never again enjoy the high degree of autonomy that Beijing itself promised to the Hong Kong people and the United Kingdom for 50 years. President Trump has made clear that the United States will therefore treat Hong Kong as “one country, one system,” and take action against individuals who have crushed the Hong Kong people’s freedoms.

Today, the United States designates 11 individuals pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13936. These individuals include Carrie Lam, Teresa Cheng, Erick Tsang, Zheng Yanxiong, Eric Chan, John Lee Ka-chiu, and Chris Tang, for their roles in coercing, arresting, detaining, or imprisoning individuals under the authority of, or having been responsible for or involved in developing, adopting, or implementing, the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in Hong Kong. This law, purportedly enacted to “safeguard” the security of Hong Kong, is in fact a tool of CCP repression.

This action includes designations of Xia Baolong, Zhang Xiaoming, and Luo Huining for being leaders or officials of an entity engaged in actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, stability, or autonomy of Hong Kong. Stephen Lo was also designated for being a foreign person who is or has been a leader or official of an entity, including any government entity, that has engaged in, or whose members have engaged in censorship or other activities with respect to Hong Kong that prohibit, limit, or penalize the exercise of freedom of expression or assembly by citizens of Hong Kong, or that limit access to free and independent print, online or broadcast media.

Today’s actions send a clear message that the Hong Kong authorities’ actions are unacceptable and in contravention of the PRC’s commitments under “one country, two systems” and the Sino-British Joint Declaration, a UN-registered treaty.

The United States stands with the Hong Kong people. For more information, please see the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s press release.

 

 

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Plane carrying WHO trauma and surgical supplies arrives in Beirut, Lebanon

7 Aug

A plane carrying 20 tonnes of WHO health supplies has landed in Beirut, Lebanon, to support the treatment of patients injured by the massive blast that occurred in the city on 4 August. The supplies will cover 1000 trauma interventions and 1000 surgical interventions for people suffering from injuries and burns resulting from the blast.

The shipment was airlifted from WHO’s logistics hub in Dubai earlier this afternoon using a plane donated by the Government of the United Arab Emirates, a key WHO partner in health emergency response.

“Our hearts and prayers are with all those affected by this tragic event as we continue our mission to serve all people in Lebanon with life-saving and essential health care services. We are working closely with national health authorities, health partners and hospitals treating the wounded to identify additional needs and ensure immediate support,” said WHO Representative in Lebanon Dr Iman Shankiti.

As a result of the blast, 3 hospitals in Beirut are now non-functional and 2 hospitals are partially damaged, leaving a critical gap in hospital bed capacity. Injured patients are being transferred to hospitals across the country, as far as south Saida and north Tripoli, and many facilities are overwhelmed. WHO will distribute the supplies to priority hospitals across Lebanon receiving and treating injured patients.

This latest emergency comes in the context of recent civil unrest, a major economic crisis, COVID-19 outbreak and heavy refugee burden. The legendary resilience of the Lebanese people has rarely been so severely tested. Ensuring that there is continuity of the response to COVID-19 – including targeting the most vulnerable for assistance – is a priority for both the Ministry of Public Health and WHO.

“With the emergence of new challenges due to the latest devastating event, the United Nations in Lebanon and partners have been mobilized to provide immediate humanitarian assistance to the Lebanese people in support of the Government’s response to this tragedy. We are in this together, and we are committed to supporting Lebanon in this very difficult time,” said Dr Najat Rochdi, UN Resident Coordinator in Lebanon.

 

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