On the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia

 

The United States stands for the protection of fundamental freedoms and universal human rights. Our nation was founded on the bedrock principle that we are all created equal – and that every person is entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Around the world, far too many governments continue to arrest and abuse their citizens simply for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI). Fear and bigotry are enshrined in laws that criminalize LGBTI status or conduct in more than 70 countries. In some, being LGBTI is punishable by death.

The United States firmly opposes criminalization, violence and serious acts of discrimination such as in housing, employment and government services, directed against LGBTI persons. We use public and private diplomacy to raise human rights concerns, provide emergency assistance to people at risk, and impose visa restrictions and economic sanctions against those who persecute them.

On the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, the United States stands with people around the world in affirming the dignity and equality of all people regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics. Human rights are universal, and LGBTI people are entitled to the same respect, freedoms, and protections as everyone else.

Mike Pompeo
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
May 17, 2018

COMBAT RAIDER EXERCISE 18-2 SCHEDULED FOR MAY 15-17

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. – Combat Raider, a large force exercise involving various military aircraft, is scheduled to begin May 15 in the Powder River Training Complex, and will conclude May 17, 2018.

These LFEs provide joint and coalition training under realistic scenarios that replicate combat operations against modern threats.

During this period, people living under the PRTC military operations areas can expect to see multiple types of aircraft utilizing the areas simultaneously.

There is also potential for loud noises associated with sonic booms. All B-1 supersonic activities will occur above 20,000 feet Mean Sea Level and all transient fighter supersonic activity will occur above 10,000 feet Above Ground Level. Residents living under the following PRTC military operations areas may be affected by these activities:

–       Powder River Two

–       Powder River Three

–       Gap B

A map of the airspace is attached for reference and can be found on the Ellsworth Air Force Base website at http://www.ellsworth.af.mil/Portals/146/documents/AFD-151103-009.pdf.

As a reminder, non-military aircraft should thoroughly review the Federal Aviation Administration’s Notices to Airmen, or NOTAMs, and review flight plans to avoid these areas and altitudes where aircraft will be participating. This can be done by calling 1-800-WXBRIEF, or online at https://sua.faa.gov/ and http://www.1800wxbrief.com.

The NOTAMs for the exercise are the final official notice and will be issued by the FAA 72 hours prior to its start

THE UNITED STATES, THE GLOBAL COALITION AND PARTNERS ARE LAUNCHING OPERATIONS TO LIBERATE ISIS STRONGHOLDS IN SYRIA

WASHINGTON, DC – The United States, the Global Coalition, and local partners, including the Syrian Democratic Forces, are launching operations to liberate the final ISIS strongholds in Syria. The fighting will be difficult, but we and our partners will prevail. We will defend United States, Coalition, and partner forces if attacked. The days of ISIS controlling territory and terrorizing the people of Syria are coming to an end.

We will work with our NATO ally Turkey and our partners Israel, Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon to secure their borders from ISIS. We will seek further fair share contributions in forces, material, and resources from regional partners and allies to stabilize liberated territories. As the President said in remarks with President Emmanuel Macron of France, we will ensure that there is a strong and lasting footprint in Syria such that ISIS cannot return and populations liberated from ISIS are not exploited by the Assad regime or its Iranian supporters.

We will reinvigorate the Geneva process under United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254, and mobilize international resources to address Syria’s urgent humanitarian and stabilization needs. The United States is committed to ensuring a future political settlement that honors the will of all Syrians, including Sunni Arabs, Kurds, Christians, Turkmen, and other minorities.

Heather Nauert 
U.S. State Department Spokesperson

Remarks With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu After Their Meeting in Tel Aviv, Israel

04/29/2018
Tel Aviv, Israel

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Good afternoon. Secretary Pompeo, Mike, it’s wonderful to welcome you. This is your first visit to Israel as Secretary of State. I think it’s significant that you chose, as did the President, to include Israel on this important itinerary. I think it’s symbolic of our friendship, which is deep, and getting even deeper and stronger. We’ve known each other for some time, I followed your activities in Congress and then as CIA, now as Secretary of State. You’re a true friend of Israel, a true friend of the Jewish people, and I look forward to working with you in your new role. We’ve just had very productive, very focused conversations on our common interests and how to defend our common value.

I want to thank again President Trump for his historic decision on recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. We look forward to welcoming the American delegation to celebrate the relocation of the embassy with you, Ambassador Friedman. I must tell you that the bold decision by President Trump has prompted other countries – there are quite a few now who are planning to move their embassy to Jerusalem as well. It says something about American leadership and about the forthright way in which simple truths are being put forward and the effect this has on the international scene.

Mr. Secretary, I think the greatest threat to the world and to our two countries and to all countries is the marriage of militant Islam with nuclear weapons, and specifically, the attempt of Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. We’ve had a very productive talk today on this subject as well. I appreciate the President’s leadership and your position on stopping Iran from ever acquiring nuclear weapons. I appreciate the President’s and your position on stopping Iran’s aggression in the region. That aggression has grown many-fold since the signing of the Iranian deal. If people thought that Iran’s aggression would be moderated as a result of signing the deal, the opposite has happened, and Iran is trying to gobble up one country after the other. Iran must be stopped. Its quest for nuclear bombs must be stopped. Its aggression must be stopped. And we’re committed to stopping it together.

I was very much encouraged, once again, by the steadfast support of the United States for Israel and for this common effort, which encompasses many other countries, as you know – as you well know, Mr. Secretary. But our bond is special. It’s based on shared values of democracy, freedom, the quest for security and peace, and I can say that today America and Israel are closer than ever before. And I have no doubt that our alliance will grow even closer in the years ahead.

So I want to welcome you back to Israel, Mr. Secretary. It’s a pleasure to see you and I wish you the best of luck in your important mission. Thank you.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you.

Well, good afternoon. It is a great honor to be here on my first trip as Secretary of State. I’ve been the Secretary for a handful of hours. As I was saying earlier, I haven’t been to my office yet.

As you said, this relationship’s never been stronger, and I think we should both be proud of that. We had fantastic conversations today on difficult issues facing each of us. We are incredibly proud to be opening the new embassy on May 14th, well ahead of the original timetable. This step comes as Israel celebrates its 70th anniversary of independence and 70 years of recognition as steadfast support for Israel from the American people as well. By recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the seat of its government, we’re recognizing reality. I also stress, as President Trump has said in December, the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem remain subject to negotiations between the parties, and we remain committed to achieving a lasting and comprehensive peace that offers a brighter future for both Israel and the Palestinians.

Many of our conversations today, Mr. Prime Minister, as you said, centered on Iran. Strong cooperation with close allies like you is critical to our efforts to counter Iran’s destabilizing and malign activity throughout the Middle East and indeed throughout the world. We remain deeply concerned about Iran’s dangerous escalation of threats to Israel and the region, and Iran’s ambition to dominate the Middle East remains. The United States is with Israel in this fight and we strongly support Israel’s sovereign right to defend itself.

Regarding the JCPOA, President Trump’s been pretty clear. This deal is very flawed. He’s directed the administration to try and fix it, and if we can’t fix it, he’s going to withdraw from the deal. It’s pretty straightforward. Unlike the past administration, President Trump has a comprehensive Iran strategy that is designed to counter the full array of threats emanating from Tehran.

As part of the President’s comprehensive Iran strategy, we are also working to counter the broad set of non-nuclear threats: Iran’s missile systems, its support for Hizballah, the importation of thousands of proxy fighters into Syria, and its assistance to the Houthi rebels in Yemen. We look forward to working closely with strong allies like Israel in countering these threats and rolling back the full range of Iranian malign influence.

Regarding Syria, where the barbaric Assad regime is propped up by Iran, the United States’ top priorities are to defeat ISIS, de-escalate violence, deter the use of chemical weapons, and ensure the safe delivery of humanitarian aid and support an ultimate political resolution to the conflict. Our strategy to do that remains unchanged. We strongly support the UN-led efforts in Geneva to bring an end to the Syrian conflict, which has gone on for far too long.

We know there are many challenges ahead and we look forward to being your partner in resolving each of them. The United States and Israel I know together can achieve that. It’s great to be back.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Thank you.

President Orders Flags At Half-Staff For Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Victims

PIERRE, S.D. – The President has called for flags at half-staff as a mark of solemn respect for the victims  of the terrible act of violence perpetrated at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Wednesday, February 14.

In accordance with the President’s order, Gov. Dennis Daugaard asks that flags across the state be lowered immediately and remain at half-mast until sunset on Monday, February 19.

Third Anniversary of the Signing of the Minsk Package of Measures

WASHINGTON – U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE – Yesterday marked the somber third anniversary of the signing of the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements‎. Sadly, Russia continues to disregard its commitments under the Minsk agreements, stoking a hot conflict in Ukraine that has cost over 10,000 lives, including more than 2,500 civilians, and has displaced 1.6 million Ukrainians.

Russia continues ‎to deny its direct involvement, while Russian-led forces intimidate and deny secure access to unarmed OSCE monitors and suppress the work of independent media and civil society.‎ Ukraine has passed legislation—including amnesty for anti-government forces and special status for the Donbas—indicating Ukraine’s desire to implement the Minsk agreements.‎

Working closely with France and Germany, the United States continues to urge the Russian government to cease its aggression in Ukraine. The United States takes this opportunity to reiterate that our sanctions will remain in place until Russia fully implements its commitments under the Minsk agreements. Our separate Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns the peninsula to Ukraine.

Kim Jong-un Is A Gangster – Here’s How To Sort Him Out

In this recent photo, South Koreans watch a TV news program showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s New Year’s speech. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Robert Huish, Dalhousie University

U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un should never talk to each other on the phone, or through Twitter. Two unpredictable, nuclear-armed egotists are a threat to themselves and to the world, regardless of the size of their buttons. Fortunately, cooler heads are now communicating between North and South Korea. Still, this is no time for South Korean President Moon Jae-in, nor the international community, to get comfortable with Kim Jong-un.

North Korea flouts international agreements, bolsters its economy through sordid means and is responsible for ghastly human rights abuses.

As a researcher on social justice and human security in North Korea, I have a reminder for Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as they prepare to meet in Vancouver next week to discuss North Korea: Kim Jong-un runs a feudal gangland, not a nation state. The rules of diplomacy do not apply to the Hermit Kingdom.

North Korea is isolated, hungry, without power and without allies. Yet Kim gathers resources for nuclear proliferation, missiles and prison camps. This is thanks to his business partners. The international community has mistakenly ignored them.

How to deal with Kim’s belligerence? View him as a thug. And like any gangster, understand how he makes money and what really scares him.

First, target those who profit with Kim. Second, empower defectors who can speak to North Korea’s grim reality. Their voices matter both within and outside of North Korea.

Kim acquires weapons by sea, he pays for them with narcotics, cyber-attacks and cryptocurrency. Masterful smugglers, North Korean vessels run under flags of convenience, shell companies process the funds, and other vessels entering North Korean waters deceptively turn off their broadcast identifiers.

‘Protector’ of North Koreans

I interviewed numerous North Korean defectors for three years. I also tracked vessels doing business with Mr. Kim. From this work, I make two conclusions about how the international community should approach North Korea.

First, Kim holds power through a projected image of ordained invincibility. He is the protector of the North Korean people. He may not provide enough food, and he may send them to prison camps, but only he can protect against pending violence from the United States.

Missile launches and nuclear tests pose little threat to the West. They are symbolic demonstrations of power for his compatriots.

Second, in order to prop up his image as the Great Marshal, Kim collects his military resources below the radar. Illegal smuggling, counterfeiting, insurance scams, weapons sales, cyber attacks, narcotics production and forced labour abroad bring in cash. And there are global markets for all, accessed through shady diplomats and shadowy shell companies. They skirt sanctions with impunity.

Formal diplomacy fails as North Korea relies more on the illicit, rather than the legitimate, international community. Until now.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson take part in a joint media availability on Parliament Hill in Ottawa in December. The two will soon be meeting in Vancouver to discuss how to handle North Korea. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Recent sanctions by the United States, the United Nations and the European Union are smarter. They target Kim’s financial environment. Instead of sanctioning the target, new sanctions attack the banks and maritime operators that help him.

Already, maritime traffic into North Korea has dropped significantly and the regime is taking to sea-to-sea transfers to acquire goods — a high-risk, low-return operation. Kim’s options are getting fewer.

It’s a start, but not enough.

Targeting Kim’s markets for missile tests and nuclear proliferation is good policy. It is easier, and safer, to prevent missiles getting in to North Korea than it is to shoot them down once they’re flying out.

However, North Korea’s trading partners are widespread and include businesses around the world, notably in Europe, India, Africa and even New Zealand.

Recognize that Kim’s greatest fear is having his compatriots and the world know how weak he is. The missiles are more show than threat. It’s why Kim is not fazed by Donald Trump’s half-baked tweets.

Kim nervous about defectors’s stories

He is, however, deeply frightened of defectors telling their stories. Their testimony will shatter his reputation and possibly land him in the International Court of Justice.

North Koreans are unlikely to oust Kim themselves and rebel against Juche, the regime’s rigid social control system. China also fears the thought of any civil conflict in North Korea that could lead to a massive refugee crisis at its borders.

Strategic sanctions against North Korea are starting to put Kim in a bind. Winter is a hungry time in North Korea, and Kim will blame sanctions for upcoming food shortages.

Freeland, Tillerson and Moon must remain vigilant with smart sanctions and not trust Kim to make good on any agreement.

The ConversationInstead, they must identify those who finance Kim, block their revenues and deal with him like an international criminal, not as a head of state.

Robert Huish, Associate Professor in International Development Studies, Dalhousie University

This article was originally published on The Conversation.

Trump Bans ‘Transgender,’ ‘Fetus,’ ‘Science-Based’, ‘Diversity’ From CDC Documents

 

“We cannot replace truth with bias — the nation cannot survive a steady diet of bullshit.”

“Banning valid terminology from government reports is both ignorant and dangerous,” Arthur Caplan, professor of bioethics at New York University’s School of Medicine, told HuffPost in an email. “Not since Lysenko and Stalin has government made hate, malice and duplicity official policy. The Trump administration with its seven-dirty-words policy has now elevated lying to a national standard.

 

NGA Center Selects South Dakota For Workshop On Electrical Grid Protection

 

November 9, 2017

PIERRE, S.D. – South Dakota is one of five states selected  to participate in a nationwide effort designed to protect electrical grids and other critical infrastructure from cyber and physical attacks.

Other states participating are Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts and Wisconsin. The states were selected by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center).

Representatives of the five states meet in January to review the lessons learned from the GridEx IV exercise, being held later this month. It is a biennial exercise, hosted by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC). The exercise is designed to simulate a cyber/physical attack on electric and other critical infrastructures across North America. 

The project’s goal is to help states improve their ability to respond and recover from such attacks. At the meeting in January, the states and others will look at what happened during the grid exercise, identify possible solutions and recommend action steps. NGA will share that information with other states.

South Dakota public and private entities have met multiple times this year in an effort to strengthen the state’s cybersecurity systems. Officials of governmental entities, telecommunications industry and electrical utilities have discussed how to share resources and information in a cooperative way to increase cybersecurity for some of the critical infrastructure in South Dakota.

“We know the threat of cyberattacks is real. This upcoming NGA Center workshop is another way for our state to prepare for this possibility,” says Gov. Dennis Daugaard. “I know the South Dakota team will come back with some good ideas that we can implement into our own protection strategy.”

The South Dakota Department of Public Safety will be the lead state government agency for the South Dakota team.