Thirteenth Anniversary of the Mine Ban Treaty: What Is President Obama Waiting For?

(Washington, D.C.) MARCH 1, 2012 — As the Mine Ban Treaty celebrates its thirteenth anniversary March 1, the United States Campaign to Ban Landmines (USCBL) once again calls on President Obama to finally announce the conclusion of the landmine policy review and join the treaty without delay.

The Obama administration initiated a comprehensive interagency review of its landmine policy in late 2009. Over the past two years, Obama and his administration have received letters of support for the Mine Ban Treaty from 68 Senators, nearly 100 leaders of prominent U.S. nongovernmental organizations, key NATO allies, retired senior military officers, 16 Nobel Peace Prize recipients, landmine survivors and countless citizens from around the world.

“The U.S. has still not announced its decision to join the Mine Ban Treaty,” said Zach Hudson, USCBL Coordinator. “U.S. citizens, landmine survivors and campaigners from every corner of the globe have been calling on the U.S. to join the treaty for the last fifteen years. The world has waited long enough.”

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Budget request is a mixed bag for world’s poor

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) February 13, 2012 — The Obama administration’s FY2013 budget request is a mixed bag for the world’s poor, with continued investment in international assistance overall but targeted cuts in areas such as global health and humanitarian assistance, said leading NGO alliance InterAction.

“Foreign assistance already amounts to less than 1 percent of the federal budget. We understand that this is a difficult fiscal climate, but any further trimming of these core accounts is counter-productive and impedes our efforts to build more self-sufficient populations,” said Samuel A. Worthington, president and CEO of InterAction.

“We hope Congress will continue to support direct investments in innovative programs like new life-saving vaccines or teaching agriculture practices, which help people in less-developed countries feed themselves. These are key components of a strategy to make the delivery of aid more effective, transparent and accountable,” said Worthington.
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Statement by the President on the House Voting to Approve the DREAM Act

President Obama

President Barack Obama. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

I congratulate the House of Representatives, Speaker Pelosi, Congressman Berman, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and other congressional leaders for taking the historic step of passing the DREAM Act today with a bipartisan vote. This vote is not only the right thing to do for a group of talented young people who seek to serve a country they know as their own by continuing their education or serving in the military, but it is the right thing for the United States of America. We are enriched by their talents and the success of their efforts will contribute to our nation’s success and security. And as the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office found, the DREAM Act would cut the deficit by $2.2 billion over the next 10 years. I strongly urge the U.S. Senate to also pass the DREAM Act so that I can sign it into law as soon as possible.

This vote is a vitally important step to doing what the American people expect their policymakers to do: work together to address the nation’s most pressing problems.  The DREAM Act corrects one of the most egregious flaws of a badly broken immigration system. A flaw that forces children who have grown up in America, who speak English, who have excelled in our communities as academics, athletes, or volunteers to put their lives and talent on hold at a great cost to themselves and our nation.

I also congratulate the House for moving past the tired sound bites and false debates that have pushed immigration rhetoric into the extremes for far too long. The DREAM Act is not amnesty; it’s about accountability, and about tapping into a pool of talent we’ve already invested in. The DREAM Act is a piece of a larger debate that is needed to restore responsibility and accountability to our broken immigration system broadly.  My administration will continue to do everything we can to move forward on immigration reform; today’s House vote is an important step in this vital effort.


Obama urges GOP work across party lines for immigration reform

May 25, 2010 White House Statement after President Obama’s meeting with the Senate Republican Conference:

The President had a good exchange with the Senate Republican Conference today about priorities for the balance of the year.
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First Lady Michelle Obama visits Haiti

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden arrived in a quake-battered Port-au-Prince, Haiti  this morning. The two landed at 10:40 a.m., taking a helicopter tour of the Haitian capital where more than one million people remain homeless, many living underneath tents and tarps.

Their visit comes a day after Haitians acknowledged the three-month anniversary of the Jan. 12th, 7.0-magnitude earthquake that ripped through the capital and four smaller southern cities.

The Obama administration released this statement about the visit, which was kept hush until the landing:

“First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden are visiting Haiti to underscore to the Haitian people and the Haitian government the enduring U.S. commitment to help Haiti recover and rebuild, especially as we enter the rainy and hurricane seasons, and to thank the women and men across the whole of the U.S. government for their extraordinary efforts in Haiti during the past three months.  They will also reach out to the UN and international relief communities in recognition of the truly global effort underway to help Haiti.”

Cluster munitions bring harvest of death

Jesuit Refugee Service/USA supports the effort to ban cluster munitions.

Titus Peachey, director of peace education for the Mennonite Central Committee in Akron, Pa., and a former coordinator of the committee’s Cluster Bomb Removal Project in Laos, has written an op-ed in The Philadelphia Inquirer urging the United States to join any dozens of other countries around the world which have banned cluster munitions.

Cluster munitions are small bombs, or “bomblets,” that are dropped from a large shell or bomb casing. Since many of these bomblets did not blow up as designed, they turned large areas of Laos into a vast, unmapped mine field. Even today, some 35 years after the bombing ended, an average of 300 Lao villagers are injured or killed by these weapons each year.

Over the past 45 years, the use of these indiscriminate weapons has extended to more than 25 countries. While millions of dollars are spent each year to find and safely destroy them, their repeated use has created an economic and humanitarian disaster.

In response, many government leaders have decided to pick up pens. In December 2008, 94 countries gathered in Norway to sign a treaty – the Convention on Cluster Munitions – banning the production, transfer, stockpiling, and use of cluster munitions. The treaty’s signatories include many U.S. allies that have cluster munitions. Regrettably, though, the United States has joined Russia, China, Israel, Pakistan, and India in refusing to sign it.

The effort to ban cluster munitions parallels a similar effort to ban land mines, which led to a treaty in 1997. While 156 nations have now signed on to the Mine Ban Treaty, the United States continues to resist, joining other major military powers in refusing to agree to ban land mines.

Read the full piece here.

Senators to Obama: TPS for Haiti now

Five United States Senators – Durbin, Kerry, Kennedy, Gillibrand, and Bingaman – yesterday wrote President Obama urging him to grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haitian immigrants. Click here for a PDF of their letter.

In urging the President to grant this relief, they join Senator Bill Nelson of Florida; Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont; Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Refugees Chairman Charles Schumer of New York; Senator Russell Feingold of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Refugees; House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, and many others.
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