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Lee angry at Obama Administration’s boycott

For the second time in a week, Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, is chafing under the foreign policy of President Barack Obama, whom she worked hard to help elect.

Lee, in her capacity as chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, issued a statement this morning complaining about the Obama Administration’s decision to boycott the United Nations’ 2009 Durban Review Conference addressing racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia.

The State Department issued a statement Saturday saying the conference’s draft outcome document still contains language that unfairly singles out Israel for criticism as well as language which could lead to free-speech restrictions. Lee said she and the CBC are “deeply dismayed” by the boycott.

“This decision is inconsistent with the administration’s policy of engaging with those we agree with and those we disagree with, expressed by President Obama during the G20 and on other recent occasions,” her statement said.

“The United States has a unique experience and history of combating racism and intolerance. As a result, the United States is well suited to play a leadership role in overcoming racism and related intolerances, which remain one of the great challenges facing many around the globe,” she said. “By boycotting Durban, the U.S. is making it more difficult for it to play a leadership role on UN Human Rights Council as it states it plans to do. This is a missed opportunity, plain and simple.

“Had the United States sent a high-level delegation reflecting the richness and diversity of our country, it would have sent a powerful message to the world that we’re ready to lead by example. Instead, the administration opted to boycott the conference, a decision that does not advance the cause of combating racism and intolerance, but rather sets the cause back.”

Posted on Monday, April 20th, 2009
Under: Barack Obama, Barbara Lee, International politics, Israel, U.S. House | No Comments »

Tauscher delivers Bucharest NATO summit keynote

In the most prestigious international speech of her career, Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, in her role as chairwoman of the House Strategic Forces Subcommittee, delivered the morning keynote address this morning at the NATO Bucharest Conference in Bucharest, Romania.

An video of the speech will be posted online as soon as its available at www.bucharestconference.org. (Click on multimedia and it should show up under April 1 as soon as organizers have uploaded the video.)

According to Tauscher’s office, the conference is held in conjunction with the official 2008 NATO Summit.

“Continuing the success of the Istanbul Conference in 2004 and the Riga Conference in 2006, the Bucharest Conference provides a forum for leading policymakers, opinion leaders, scholars, and business people from both sides of the Atlantic to discuss the most pressing issues facing NATO and the international community,” according to the press release.

Here’s the prepared text of Tauscher’s speech:

It is an honor to be here tonight and to follow the President of Romania.

Thank you very much for your hospitality this week and for inviting us to the lovely city of Bucharest.

It is clear that as Mayor your efforts to modernize this great city have brought great returns.

To be here for this meeting is an accomplishment no one could have imagined at the end of the Cold War.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, April 1st, 2008
Under: Congress, International politics | 2 Comments »

Rep. Miller visits Dalai Lama in India

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, met with the Dalai Lama today in India in a trip with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The New York Times is running a story and photo online (see photo on right) from the event. Miller is in the back row, third from the left — he’s the tall guy with the white hair.

I’ve pasted below a press release from Miller’s office, as well.

And click here for video on the NYT web site.

Press release from Miller follows:

MILLER JOINS SPEAKER PELOSI AND OTHER LAWMAKERS

IN MEETING WITH DALAI LAMA TODAY IN INDIA

WASHINGTON – March 21, 2008 – Coinciding with one of the strongest protests in years by Tibetans against Chinese oppression, the Dalai Lama held a meeting today in India with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Congressman George Miller, and other lawmakers during a congressional visit to India led by the Speaker.

The visit with the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, had been planned well in advance of the trip but the meeting took on added significance because of the recent violent crackdown by the Chinese government against Tibetan protesters inside China.

“I am humbled and honored to meet with the Dalai Lama,” said Miller (D-Martinez). “It is my hope that our visit today will help draw additional attention and support to the effort by the Tibetan people to live in peace and freedom in their own country. The Chinese government’s brutal crackdown against peaceful protest is abhorrent and must end. The United States, as a leader of free nations, is obligated to support the peaceful efforts of the Tibetans and to condemn China’s repressive measures.”

(The New York Times is running a photo of the visit on its website now: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/21/world/asia/21cnd-pelosi.html?hp)

Miller has met the Dalai Lama on two other occasions, once at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro to discuss global warming, and again several years ago When the Dalai Lama came to visit with members of Congress in Washington.

The main focus of the Speaker’s visit to India is to discuss energy and environmental issues with the government of India. The delegation is exploring areas of cooperation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and avoid the catastrophic impacts of global warming in both countries and around the world. Innovation is a key driver of both countries’ economies. Miller and Pelosi have spent a great deal of time in Congress promoting U.S. innovation efforts. India has become a fierce economic competitor in scientific and industrial manufacturing research.

The delegation is also examining the effectiveness of U.S. assistance programs in India. Last year, the Congress appropriated approximately $117 million for India to help improve India’s ability to achieve sustainable growth and reduce poverty by decreasing child and maternal mortality, addressing the rise of infectious diseases including HIV/AIDS, and promoting clean technology and climate change improvements. This year, the President requested $78 million, and Congress will consider that request in the State-Foreign Operations Appropriations bill to be voted on in the coming months.

The delegation went to Dharamsala, India, the recognized home of Tibetan exiles, to met with the Dalai Lama and other Tibetans. The U.S. provides an annual appropriation of $2.5 million for Tibetan refugees in India and Nepal who have escaped repression in Tibet. Two of the sites the delegation is visiting are the Tibetan refugee reception center, which handles newly arrived refugees and former political prisoners, and the Tibetan Children’s Village, which educates and looks after thousands of Tibetan orphans, students and new refugees.

Posted on Friday, March 21st, 2008
Under: Congress, International politics | No Comments »

Tauscher speaks out on Pakistan assassination

Ellen TauscherThe United States must take a “tough love” approach in Pakistan in the wake of today’s assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the country’s candidate for prime minister who espoused secular democracy, said Rep. Ellen Tauscher, chairwoman of a House Armed Services Committee panel with oversight of strategic nuclear security.

Pakistan has been a key player in U.S. efforts to stabilize and reconstruct neighboring Afghanistan and its status as a nuclear power significantly heightens international concern that internal political upheaval could jeopardize security over its weapons arsenal.

“This is very, very bad,” Tauscher said from her Alamo home by telephone this morning. “This is a time for tough love. We must be significantly engaged with our allies to ensure that the vulnerability of the Pakistani people isn’t leveraged by others, whether they are outside terrorists or other people inside the country who don’t share the same goals of democracy and freedom.”

Tauscher she contacted Pentagon officials shortly after hearing of the assassination and sought repeated reassurance that the Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has retained the “full care, custody and control of its nuclear weapons and that the people in charge of the program are apolitical and above reproach.”

But the congresswoman expressed deep concern about continued U.S. reliance on Musharraf in the fight against terrorism and the security of Pakistan’s nuclear complex.

She called Musharraf a U.S. ally born out of geographic convenience after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks but who took power in a military coup and seeks to remain in power indefinitely.

It was Musharraf, she said, who pardoned Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of the Pakistani bomb who turned around and sold nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea and others. Pakistan’s failure to prosecute Khan precluded a full investigation and disclosure of the details of the massive security breach, Tauscher said.

“We cannot continually find ourselves associated by convenience with people like Musharraf,” Tauscher said. “He was someone we had chosen to embrace because of the geography (neighbor to Afghanistan) and he chose to embrace us, but to a certain extent, it was a relationship of convenience to expedite the recovery of Afghanistan.

“We have to make clear that Musharraf’s quest of limitless power is not in the best interests of the Pakistani people and that his means of doing it is degrading the stability of the country and the region.”

On a related item, those of you on-line with an interest in what’s happening in Pakistan may be interested in a story on the Poynter Institute website about how to find bloggers inside the country. (Poynter is an organization that provides professional training and assistance to journalists.) Most of the news accounts about the assassination and the reaction in the Pakistan is coming from outside the country because of restrictions on journalists, writes Poynter blogger Amy Gahran.

NOTE: Photo is of Rep. Ellen Tauscher as it appears on her web site at http://www.house.gov/tauscher/about.shtml

Posted on Thursday, December 27th, 2007
Under: Congress, International politics | No Comments »