Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad and DFC CEO Adam Boehler Travel to Pakistan, Qatar, and Uzbekistan

28 Jun

Office of the Spokesperson

U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad departed on June 28 for travel to Doha, Islamabad, and Tashkent. At all three locations, Ambassador Khalilzad will urge support for all Afghans to meet their remaining commitments ahead of intra-Afghan negotiations, specifically reduced violence and timely prisoner releases.

Ambassador Khalilzad is joined by U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) CEO Adam Boehler and his team. Afghan peace, economic growth, and regional connectivity are closely linked and mutually supportive. The delegation will explore investment opportunities and partnerships in a range of sectors to advance the economic recovery of Afghanistan and support sustained peace and stability in the region. Due to the challenges of travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ambassador Khalilzad, CEO Boehler, and their delegation will also conduct meetings with Afghan officials throughout the trip remotely via video.

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DNC Statement on Trump Campaign Event Postponements in FL & AZ 

27 Jun

In response to the postponement of Mike Pence’s events in Florida and Arizona as coronavirus case there surge, DNC Director of Battleground State Communications David Bergstein released the following statement: 

“Coronavirus cases in Florida and Arizona are spiking thanks to Trump’s ineffective response to this crisis — and the fact they were trying to hold unsafe events in these states at all is just another demonstration of their incompetence and bad judgment. The truth is that the spike in these states is an indictment of Trump’s botched handling of this pandemic, and it’s clear Pence can’t defend their record.”

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Trump Knew Russia Paid To Have Americans Killed — And Has Done Nothing

27 Jun

A new report revealed that Trump knew Russia was paying bounties to have American soldiers killed in Afghanistan, and has done nothing to stop them.

LATE MARCH: Trump found out in late March, in a briefing by American intelligence officials, that Russia was paying bounties to Taliban fighters to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan.

New York Times: “American intelligence officials have concluded that a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan — including targeting American troops — amid the peace talks to end the long-running war there, according to officials briefed on the matter.”

Since then, he has done nothing…

New York Times: “Officials developed a menu of potential options — starting with making a diplomatic complaint to Moscow and a demand that it stop, along with an escalating series of sanctions and other possible responses, but the White House has yet to authorize any step, the officials said.”

EARLY MAY: Trump boasted about his “great friendship” with Putin and said getting along with Russia is a “great thing.”

TRUMP: “We have this great friendship. And, by the way, getting along with Russia is a great thing, getting along with Putin and Russia is a great thing.”

LATE MAY: Trump went against the international community and encouraged the G7 to reinvite Russia.

New York Times: “The president’s saying he would invite Russia — which was indefinitely suspended from the group in 2014 after the annexing of Crimea from Ukraine — could inflame other member nations.”

Politico: “President Donald Trump’s pitch to re-invite Russia to the G-7 got a swift thumbs-down from fellow world leaders on Monday.”

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On the Occasion of the Republic of Djibouti’s National Day

27 Jun

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

On behalf of the government and people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Djibouti as you celebrate the 43rd anniversary of your nation’s independence. Djibouti continues to be an important partner of the United States as we work together to foster prosperity and peace in the Horn of Africa. In these difficult times, as the Horn faces the simultaneous challenges of COVID-19, a desert locust infestation, and devastating flood damage, Djibouti has played a leading regional role in addressing these threats. The U.S.-Djiboutian partnership is vital to bringing security and development to the region. We look forward to continuing our important work together for the mutual benefit of the people of Djibouti and the United States.

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Trump Fights To Take Health Care Away From 20 Million Americans During Pandemic

27 Jun

During the worst health crisis of our lifetimes and the worst unemployment crisis since the Great Depression, Trump is fighting to strip protections from as many as 133 million Americans with preexisting conditions and take health care away from 20 million Americans.

The Trump administration filed briefs to the Supreme Court to strike down the ACA during a pandemic and recession.

NBC News: “Trump administration asks Supreme Court to strike down Obamacare amid pandemic, recession”

If successful, Trump would take health care from 20 million Americans and leave 25 million unemployed Americans without the ACA as a lifeline.

NBC News: “If the justices agree, it would cost an estimated 20 million Americans their insurance coverage and nullify protections for pre-existing conditions.”

NBC News: “For the roughly 25 million people out of work and collecting jobless benefits, the ACA’s marketplaces and Medicaid expansion provide avenues to gain subsidized health insurance with consumer protections.”

Trump would also end protections for people with preexisting conditions, despite claiming three days ago he’d always protect them.

TRUMP: “We will always protect people with preexisting conditions.”

NBC News: “The brief includes a section pointedly arguing that the Affordable Care Act’s pre-existing condition rules must be overturned as well.”

Trump’s expansion of junk insurance plans has already left many Americans with massive medical bills for live-saving care.

Wall Street Journal: “Many consumers have been forced to pay for their own lifesaving treatment under shorter-term health plans that have seen enrollment jumps since the Trump administration relaxed restrictions on them, according to a report released Thursday by House Democrats on the Energy and Commerce Committee.”

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Consumer Confidence Hits Lowest Level Under Trump After Kudlow Cites It As A Sign Of Recovery

27 Jun

Larry Kudlow, Trump’s top economic advisor, is on a hot streak of terrible predictions. Last month, he cited consumer confidence as an early sign of the economy recovering. Well, it just fell to its lowest level of Trump’s presidency.

LAST MONTH: Larry Kudlow cited consumer confidence as an early sign of economic recovery.

KUDLOW: “A lot of evidence of the early signs of recovery. We are seeing it almost across the board, not quite, but almost across the board. Consumer confidence today was up a little bit.”

THIS MONTH: Consumer confidence fell to the lowest level during Trump’s presidency.

MarketWatch: “Americans turned slightly more cautious about how quickly the economy will recover from the coronavirus in late June as confidence in Washington’s policies fell to the lowest level during the Trump presidency, according to a closely followed survey of consumer sentiment.”

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Final Statement on the 8th meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005)

26 Jun

Emergency Committee for Ebola virus disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (provinces of Ituri, North Kivu, and South Kivu) on 26 June 2020

The 8th meeting of the Emergency Committee, convened by the WHO Director-General under the International Health Regulations (IHR) (2005) to review the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in the Ituri, North Kivu, and South Kivu provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), took place on Friday, 26 June 2020, from 13:00 to 15:50 Geneva time (CEST). The Committee’s role is to give advice to the Director-General, who makes the final decision on the determination of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) and issues Temporary Recommendations as appropriate.

Proceedings of the meeting

Members and advisors of the Emergency Committee were convened by teleconference.

The Secretariat welcomed the Committee and thanked them for their support. The Director-General welcomed the Committee and expressed gratitude for all who have responded to this outbreak.

Representatives of WHO’s legal department and the department of compliance, risk management, and ethics briefed the Committee members on their roles and responsibilities. Committee members were reminded of their duty of confidentiality and their responsibility to disclose personal, financial, or professional connections that might be seen to constitute a conflict of interest. Each member who was present was surveyed and no conflicts of interest were judged to be relevant to the meeting.

The meeting was turned over to the Chair, Dr Preben Aavitsland. Dr Aavitsland also welcomed the Committee, outlined the objectives of the meeting, and introduced the presenters.

Presentations were made by a representative of the Ministry of Health of the DRC and the WHO Secretariat to update the Committee on the situation.

The DRC Ministry of Health provided an update of the epidemiological situation. As of 23 June 2020, a total of 3 470 EVD cases were reported from 29 health zones, including 3 317 confirmed and 153 probable cases, of which 2 287 cases died (CFR 66%). Since the last reported case on 27 April 2020, no new confirmed or probable cases of EVD have been reported. On 25 June 2020, the DRC Ministry of Health declared that human-to-human transmission of Ebola virus had ended in Ituri, North Kivu, and South Kivu provinces. The Ministry of Health of DRC notes that a separate EVD outbreak is occurring in the Equateur Province, not epidemiologically related to the outbreak in the Ituri, North Kivu, and South Kivu provinces.

The DRC Ministry of Health is implementing their national response plan to strengthen surveillance, laboratory diagnostic capacities, infection prevention and control (IPC), risk communication and community engagement (RCCE), the EVD survivor care programme, and provincial health departments’ operational capacities.

The WHO Secretariat presented the WHO risk assessment and context. Based on the evolution of the outbreak, current epidemiology, and response in Ituri, North Kivu, and South Kivu provinces, the overall national and regional risk levels remain moderate. The global risk level remains low.

WHO noted that regional preparedness capacities built for EVD response, such as coordination mechanisms; response plans; laboratory diagnostic capacity; rapid response teams; and community-based surveillance systems, are also being used to facilitate a robust COVID-19 response.

Remaining challenges include the need for continued human and financial resources to maintain prevention, preparedness, response and control activities, such as the EVD survivor care programme; the volatile security situation; the new EVD outbreak in Equateur Province; and the concurrent burden of COVID-19, cholera, and measles.

Although the outbreak in Ituri, North Kivu, and South Kivu provinces has been officially declared over, the detection of a new EVD outbreak in Equateur Province highlights the potential for re-introduction from animal reservoirs. The DRC and at-risk countries need to maintain vigilance to mitigate the risk of EVD re-emergence as well as to rapidly detect and respond to any new cluster.

Context and Discussion

The Committee congratulated the Ministry of Health on the conclusion of the EVD outbreak in Ituri, North Kivu, and South Kivu provinces. The Committee conveyed their strong appreciation to the World Health Organization for their support in ending this challenging outbreak. The Committee also thanked the health workers, donors, and all partners who have supported the successful response and recognized the international collaboration and strong solidarity among DRC, neighbouring countries, WHO, and partners.

The Committee noted that the genetic sequencing has confirmed that the EVD outbreaks in the Ituri, North Kivu, and South Kivu provinces and the Equateur province are epidemiologically distinct events.

The Committee highlighted the importance of the 90-day national response plan which includes maintaining intensive surveillance, response capacity, and follow-up with EVD survivors. DRC and partners are engaging in all measures to reduce the potential for a resurgence in Ituri, North Kivu, and South Kivu provinces. The Committee noted the importance of the EVD survivor care programme and continued RCCE activities, which will continue to be conducted by locally trained staff in each province with support from national staff as needed.

The Committee expressed concern over the lack of prioritized resources to operationalize the 90-day national response plan and maintain long-term local capacity for prevention and response. Financial and human resources of DRC, WHO, and partners are challenged by the concurrent COVID-19, cholera, and measles outbreaks. The Committee encouraged DRC, WHO, and partners to harmonize EVD, cholera, measles, and COVID-19 prevention and control activities.

Conclusions and Advice

The Committee agreed that the current situation in the Ituri, North Kivu, and South Kivu provinces no longer constitutes a public health emergency of international concern.

The Committee emphasized the importance of continued donors’ funding and human resources to operationalize the 90-day day national response plan.

The Committee provided the following advice to the Director-General for his issuance as revised Temporary Recommendations, in accordance with Article 15(1) of the IHR (2005) “…Temporary Recommendations may be modified or extended as appropriate, including after it has been determined that a public health emergency of international concern has ended, at which time other temporary recommendations may be issued as necessary for the purpose of preventing or promptly detecting its recurrence […] These Temporary Recommendations shall automatically expire three months after their issuance.”

The Committee provided the following advice to the Director-General for his issuance as revised Temporary Recommendations under the IHR (2005).

For DRC:

  • Operationalize their 90-day national response plan and ensure the appropriate human and financial resources are available for implementation throughout the full duration.
  • Continue their EVD survivor care programme which provides clinical, biological, and social support to survivors.
  • Continue the use of the Community Action Cells, or comparable community-level resources, for locally based RCCE to address potential EVD flare-ups and spillover events. Leverage resources, as needed by integrating EVD RCCE activities with concurrent response efforts related to outbreaks of measles, cholera, and COVID-19.
  • Take note of the upcoming Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) recommendations on the use of EVD vaccines.
  • Develop an EVD prevention and control plan to sustain preparedness and response capacity beyond the initial 90-day national response plan.

Neighbouring countries:

  • Continue to strengthen their surveillance for EVD to prevent the risk of potential spread.

For WHO:

  • Continue to encourage research on animal reservoirs and the potential for spillover events.
  • Continue engagement with countries and partners, including industry, to establish and maintain a strategic global stockpile for EVD vaccines.
  • Collect and publish lessons learned with DRC and partners on this EVD outbreak, including on the effectiveness of vaccination and other interventions, and challenges related to emergency response in the context of civil unrest and insecurity.

Based on this advice, the report made by the affected State Party and the currently available information, the Director-General accepted the Committee’s assessment and on 26 June 2020 declared the end of the Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) for this event.

The Director-General accepted the Committee’s advice and issued them as Temporary Recommendations under IHR (2005), effective 26 June 2020. The Director-General thanked the Committee Members and Advisors for their advice throughout the outbreak.  

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DNC on Anniversaries of Landmark LGBTQ Victories at the Supreme Court

26 Jun

DNC Chair Tom Perez and LGBTQ Caucus Chair Earl Fowlkes released the following statement on the anniversaries of the Supreme Court’s decisions in Obergefell v. Hodges, United States v. Windsor, and Lawrence v. Texas:

“Five years ago, the Supreme Court recognized the inherent dignity in every person and expanded marriage equality to all Americans. This decision joined a host of landmark victories for LGBTQ+ equality handed down during Pride Month, most recently recognizing the right to work free of harassment and discrimination. We live in a more just, equal, and fair society today thanks to the activism of LGBTQ+ people across the United States who spoke their truth, challenged the status quo, and refused to back down.

“We still have a long way to go on the path toward full equality, especially in the fight to protect and defend the most vulnerable, including trans women of color, LGBTQ+ homeless youth, and others who face discrimination and life-threatening bigotry. You don’t have to look far to see that intolerance personified at the highest levels of our government: Trump’s administration has stripped away rights for and effectively legalized discrimination against LGBTQ+ Americans in education, health care, housing, and the military. Just two weeks ago, the Republican National Committee endorsed a platform that calls for overturning gay marriage and legalizing anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination. It is impossible to imagine the same White House Donald Trump now resides in once lit up in rainbow colors to celebrate the advancement of equality for all.

“We must elect Joe Biden to restore the federal government’s moral leadership and champion LGBTQ+ rights. Vice President Biden is an unshakeable ally of the LGBTQ+ community and his call for marriage equality was historic. As president, he will expand protections from discrimination by signing the Equality Act, enforce civil rights laws, support LGBTQ+ youth, and combat violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people. He had the LGBTQ+ community’s back on marriage, and he will have their back as president.”

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