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18 striking findings from 2018

Pew Research Center takes the pulse of Americans and people around the world on many issues every year. Read 18 of this year’s standout findings.

The post 18 striking findings from 2018 appeared first on Pew Research Center.

More Americans are making no weekly purchases with cash

Roughly three-in-ten U.S. adults say they make no purchases using cash during a typical week, up slightly from 24% in 2015.

The post More Americans are making no weekly purchases with cash appeared first on Pew Research Center.

How far Americans live from the closest hospital differs by community type

Rural Americans live an average of 10.5 miles from the nearest hospital, compared with 5.6 miles for people in suburban areas and 4.4 in urban areas.

The post How far Americans live from the closest hospital differs by community type appeared first on Pew Research Center.

Press Releases: Briefing on Religious Freedom Designations

Special Briefing Samuel D. Brownback
Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom  Via Teleconference
December 11, 2018

MS THOMPSON: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you very much for joining us for today’s on-the-record briefing on the rollout of the religious freedom designations. Leading our discussion today will be the State Department’s Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, Ambassador Sam Brownback. Ambassador Brownback will start us off with brief remarks, and then we’ll take a few questions from you.

Ambassador Brownback, I’ll go ahead and turn it over to you.

AMBASSADOR BROWNBACK: Thanks, Nicole. Appreciate that. And thank you all for joining us on this line. Religious freedom is a key foreign policy initiative and issue for the Trump administration. We are serious about it. We hosted the first-ever ministerial on religious freedom earlier this year. We will do another one this next year. We’re working with a series of countries around the world to push religious freedom issues in regional meetings as well.

Earlier today, the Secretary – Secretary Pompeo – publicly announced his designation of Countries of Particular Concern under the International Religious Freedom Act. Countries of Particular Concern are those nations that have allowed or conducted severe, ongoing, egregious, systematic violations of religious freedom. The list this year includes Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan. The Secretary also placed Comoros, Russia, and Uzbekistan on a special Watch List for governments that have engaged in or tolerated severe violations of religious freedom.

It’s worth nothing that for the first time since 2006, Uzbekistan is not a Country of Particular Concern.

Those countries placed on the special Watch List is a category where we are basically telling nations if they don’t change their course of action, they could well end up on the Country of Particular Concern list.

Finally, the Secretary designated al-Nusrah Front, al-Qaida, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, the Houthis, ISIS, ISIS-Khorasan, and the Taliban as Entities of Particular Concern, as provided for, again, under the International Religious Freedom Act. These designations are a tool and key part of our effort to advance religious freedom. There have been a number of people involved in this process to put these designations out and forward.

Religious freedom needs to move forward in the world. Unfortunately, 80 percent of the world’s population lives in a country where there’s some type of religious freedom restrictions, in some cases very significant. The ones – the countries we’ve listed today are the most egregious violators of religious freedom around the world.

It’s also important to note that most countries have signed on to the UN Charter Declaration of Human Rights, which turns 70 this year. And in that charter, it provides for religious freedom, and the countries that signed on to that charter signed on to guarantee religious freedom. And yet most people in the world live in countries where there’s significant religious freedom restrictions.

We cite the worst violators today. We are hopeful that people around the world, governments around the world, will work more aggressively to provide religious freedom for their people, and we are committed as the Trump administration to see this on through.

With that, be happy to open up for questions as Nicole calls on people.

OPERATOR: Our first question is from the line of Shaun Tandon with AFP. Please, go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi. Thanks for doing this call. I wanted to ask you about Pakistan and the reason for the designation. Do you see it as there being a degradation in the past year? And how do you think this affects the situation in Pakistan? We recently had the case of Asia Bibi, the supreme court order for her release.

AMBASSADOR BROWNBACK: Well, Pakistan has been a country people have watched for some period of time. Most recently, the prior Secretary of State, Secretary Tillerson, put them on the special Watch List to warn Pakistan really at the time that if they didn’t change their behavior, they were likely to be a Country of Particular Concern. And the current Secretary, Pompeo, made that determination and then made them a Country of Particular Concern.

It includes a number of things, unfortunately, that have happened in Pakistan – laws that criminalize blasphemy. And they’ve got – in the world’s population of people that are in prison for blasphemy, half of them are in Pakistani prisons, including Asia Bibi recently, who was recently released and is now awaiting a re-hearing of sorts by the supreme court of Pakistan. Also, the Pakistani Government criminalizes the identification of Ahmadis as Muslims, and then also – and this one has really been difficult and troubling for a lot of people – the government often fails to hold accountable perpetrators of killings and violence against members of religious minorities targeted on account of their religious beliefs or affiliations.

So for all these reasons, that’s why they were placed as a Country of Particular Concern. It’s our hope that they will – the new leadership in Pakistan will work to improve the situation. There was some encouraging signs seen recently on how they’ve handled some of the recent protesting against the blasphemy laws, and we continue to watch very carefully what’s happening to Asia Bibi.

MS THOMPSON: Okay, we’re ready for our next question.

OPERATOR: And that’s from the line of Kelsey Dallas with Deseret News. Please, go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi. As you mentioned, the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights protects religious freedom; and I was just curious: Does the United Nations join with the United States in condemning this list of countries?

AMBASSADOR BROWNBACK: To my knowledge, the United Nations doesn’t have a process like the statute, the International Religious Freedom Act, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t create a process, and I would encourage them to do that. When we hosted this first-ever ministerial on religious freedom, brought together 84 countries from around the world to talk about it, it was really the first big gathering of nations in recent decades around the topic of religious freedom. It’s my hope that the UN does pick this up.

We work with the UN special rapporteur on religious freedom in several places around the world, so we’ll work with the UN, do work with the UN. But to my knowledge, they don’t have a process where they do a listing, a fact-finding on religious freedom, but I hope that they will engage that.

OPERATOR: Next we’ll go the line of Abigail Williams with NBC News. Please, go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi, Ambassador. Thanks so much for doing the call.

AMBASSADOR BROWNBACK: Sure.

QUESTION: Could you speak a little more about what it – what the significance is of placing Russia on the Watch List, and what consequences exist for them because of it?

AMBASSADOR BROWNBACK: Russia has engaged in and tolerated really severe violations of religious freedoms. The widespread suppression of religious expression following their 2016 law criminalizing illegal missionary activity, they’ve included 156 cases reported by NGOs targeting groups as wide-ranging as the Salvation Army, Pentecostals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Baptists, Lutherans, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Ukrainian Reformed Orthodox Church. They’re prosecuting members of certain Muslim groups. They’ve got 145 current prisoners jailed for religious beliefs, and 106 of those are Muslims. They really have targeted and stepped up their oppression.

The significance of it is that we’re saying to Russia that if you don’t change this trajectory, it’s bad for you as a country, but then it may well be that it will make you a Country of Particular Concern, which can involve then sanctions involved in nations where they are deemed or determined to be Countries of Particular Concern.

I’d also, Abigail, if I could say this as a bit of a sidebar, but this report we put out there as telling people these are the worst actors, countries in the world. On the other side of it, if you will engage in religious freedom, our studies are showing you’re going to have less terrorism long-term and you’re going to have more economic growth. A freer society is one less prone and moved and pushed really towards terrorism and one more open to economic reform. That’s why Uzbekistan, for the first time since 2006, is off the list. They’ve made substantial changes, and they’re doing it because they want to grow their nation. They want to see less terrorism, and they see this as a key route to really improving the livelihood of people throughout their nation, which we agree with, and we’re working with them.

OPERATOR: Next is the line of Jennifer Hansler with CNN. Please, go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi there. Thank you for doing the call. I just wanted to check, following up on your mention of sanctions, are you encouraging sanctions on any of these nations? And if so, what does the timeline look like on that?

AMBASSADOR BROWNBACK: What we are doing – in the Countries of Particular Concern, the statute provides for a list of sanctions. Some of them can be double-hatted – you’ll notice several countries on there that we have problems with – or the sanctions can be waived by the President, based upon national interest. And we’ve got a mix in this group. We’ve got some of the countries are being sanctioned. Most of them are double-hatted sanctions; actually all of them are double-hatted sanctions. And then some of the countries are not being sanctioned and being waived – the sanctions on them are being waived because of national interest. So that’s kind of the – that’s what happens and the process under it.

If you’d like, Jennifer, I can go through which ones are in which categories here. Let’s – let me take the next question, and then I want to pull the list up here of which ones are having double-hatted sanctions and which ones are being deemed a country of national interest and so the sanctions are waived. But let’s go to the next question, then I’ll double back to that.

OPERATOR: And that’s Conor Finnegan with ABC News. Please, go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi, Ambassador. I know that Burma’s been listed again, but the administration has still made no legal determination on whether the violence against the Rohingya has been a genocide. Has the administration entirely ruled out that determination or is it something that’s still under consideration? And then could you just talk a little bit more about China and the oppression of the Uighurs out west, and the concerns that you have about that?

AMBASSADOR BROWNBACK: Yes, happy to. And I don’t know the further consideration on Burma, further actions. You do know, obviously, the administration’s been speaking very strongly against the situation, the Vice President, the Secretary, Ambassador Haley at the UN, myself. I’ve been there to Bangladesh to the refugee camps. We recently sanctioned five Burmese generals and two military units. Prior, Secretary Tillerson designated it ethnic cleansing, and so it continues to be a highly watched and very keen area of interest, what’s taking place to the Rohingya and to other religious communities. The Kachin and Karen are also ones that are being persecuted in that nation, and all those together are reasons we obviously put them as a Country of Particular Concern on the list.

Regarding China, this is one of the just really worst human rights situations in the world, what’s happening to the Uighurs. And latest reports I read in one of the international newspapers was seeing it spread to adjacent provinces. But it’s a very bad situation for a religious community. Just yesterday, the Early Rain Church – news was coming out in Chengdu – it was raided, a number of people arrested. Put out strong statements about that. The treatments of Muslims, of Christians, of the Buddhists, over a long period of time in Tibet – have been persecuted to the point where a number of Tibetan Buddhists have self-immolated. And Falun Gong practitioners have been persecuted systemically for a long period of time. So for all those reasons – this is one of the obvious ones – we’ve kept China on a Country of Particular Concern.

My particular concern now for China is they’ve increased these actions of persecution against faith community. Reports of 800,000, up to 2 million detentions in the western part of China of Uighurs, but also ethnic Kazakhs and other ethnic groups in the region that have generally a Muslim-based population. China isn’t backing away from the religious persecution; it seems to be expanding. This is obviously very troubling to the administration.

AMBASSADOR BROWNBACK: I was going to go back to your list here. Those countries that were listed and sanctions placed on them include Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, and Sudan. Note, all those are what we call double-hatted sanctions. They’re sanctioned in other areas, but also will be considered sanctioned under the CPC. Saudi Arabia was – is in the waived category, along with Pakistan, on a national interest area. I believe those are my only other two. Tajikistan and Turkmenistan are both waived as well under national interest, just to get that cleared up for the prior question.

OPERATOR: Next we go to the line of Laurie Mylroie with Kurdistan 24. Please, go ahead.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. Ambassador, for doing this. My question concerns designating ISIS as an entity of particular concern, ISIS and other terrorist groups. Can you explain the significance of that?

AMBASSADOR BROWNBACK: This was a new tool put forward in the Frank Wolf Act was to allow entities of particular concern. And what the Congress is providing in this tool was a way to identify non-state actors, because often those are some of the most egregious violators of religious freedom. Witness what ISIS did in northern Iraq, committing a genocide against the Yezidis and the Christian community that was there. And I thought this was a wise tool for the Congress to put in, because it is that way. Some of these non-state actors are some of the most egregious violators of religious freedom.

So the significance is to really put that forward in the world, show that there is a sanctioning provision that can have some impact. But it’s more of an identification that these are some significantly bad actors that have taken place, as why they’re designated an entity of particular concern.

OPERATOR: Next is the line of Jessica Donati with Wall Street Journal. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Hello. Thank you for doing this. I was wondering if you could go into a little bit more detail about the statement they – these countries will be considered for sanctions. What kind of sanctions and is this new sanctions?

AMBASSADOR BROWNBACK: It is not a new set of – the – any country that’s a Country of Particular Concern is subject to a series of sanctions under the International Religious Freedom Act. What has taken place, what – identified in the prior question – is some of the countries, the sanctions were dual-hatted. They were sanctioned under other statutes, sometime on arms control, export of arms control, loan or aid programs. And those dual-hatted sanctions were continued under the CPC, the Country of Particular Concern. Some of the countries – Pakistan, Saudi Arabia – the sanctions were waived under national interest. And – but there can be other sanctions put in place, but to date what we’ve done on these is just – is dual-hat a series of sanctions in some of these countries that were already in place. No new sanctions were put forward.

OPERATOR: Next we’ll go to the line of Michel Ghandour with MBN. Please, go ahead.

QUESTION: Yeah, thank you. The Secretary has said in his statement that the United States will not stand by as spectators in the face of such oppression. What can the U.S. do other than designating these countries and imposing sanctions?

AMBASSADOR BROWNBACK: Well, you saw the President address very strongly the situation of Andrew Brunson in Turkey. When the Turkish Government held him unlawfully for two years, the President put steel and aluminum tariffs on Turkey, and it had a substantial impact on their currency and economy, and he was eventually let free. So there are other steps that can be taken. What we’re announcing today is what was required by the statute for us to designate a legal determination of Countries of Particular Concern, but this administration will be very aggressive on pushing these causes and issues.

The Vice President made a major speech on China a month ago and human rights and religious freedom concerns taking place in China, which have only grown since that period of time. So what we’re doing today is our statutory requirement to put these out, but further actions can follow, and good chance will follow in several of these cases.

OPERATOR: Next we go to line of Yeon Lee with Voice of America. Please, go ahead.

QUESTION: Thank you, Ambassador. North Korea has been on the list for 17 years. I wonder, is there any signs of change in North Korea?

AMBASSADOR BROWNBACK: The President has engaged North Korea like nobody else has before, and I’ve been around watching this space for a couple of decades. So I don’t know that you can say that there’s been substantial changes to date taking place there, but a substantial engagement has happened. Secretary Pompeo has been over and negotiated and met with his North Korean counterparts multiple times. They did let free the three people that the Secretary flew back to the United States. These are ongoing and very pointed discussions that are taking place with North Korea, and I believe we’re getting things – that we’re seeing things start to move in some positive direction.

But much remains to be done, and as you’ll recall, there have been – administrations in the past have engaged on North Korea not at the level or the intensity of this one. It’s a difficult country to deal with.

MS THOMPSON: Okay, Leah, I think we have time for one more call, one more question.

OPERATOR: Very good. It’s the line of Soyoung Kim with RFA. Please, go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi, thanks for having me here. I have a following question regarding North Korea. Like you said, even though we probably saw some substantial engagement, but can you say that it really has to do with the freedom of religion in North Korea? Because a lot of reports said that they always see North Korea the – one of the worst countries with the religious freedom.

AMBASSADOR BROWNBACK: I’m not sure I understand quite the question that you’re – what you’re getting at with it. If you could restate that, if you would.

QUESTION: Okay. I’ll just give you different question, then. So is there any other actual actions that Department of State can take to improve the worst situation of freedom of religion in North Korea in the future?

AMBASSADOR BROWNBACK: Yes, there are additional steps that can be taken in North Korea. I mean, I’m pleased that several of the activists were brought out by the Secretary. At least one of them was a person of faith that came out. I was pleased that we had the remains of a number of U.S. servicemen were returned. That’s something that was very meaningful to us, to have those.

And I think really us pushing this issue of religious freedom and what happens to religious prisoners in North Korea can help effect change in North Korea. We had a lady that got out of North Korea, spoke at our religious freedom summit or ministerial that we had. She had powerful testimony of – she was put in prison because she had a Bible. She was given a forced abortion as well without anesthesia. And she had powerful testimony, and that testimony went global. And as those stories get out of people, then others around the world look at it and say, what is going on here that they are doing this to people, particularly people of faith. Often if you are North Korean and you have contact with somebody of a religious organization, you’re put in a prison camp and given the harshest treatment, is what our reports have been told – what we’ve been told that we put in our reports. I think as you shine light on that, it does help. It helped in the former Soviet Union era during the refuseniks time period, and I think that shining of light will help change North Korea.

Want to thank you all for joining us on this call and your interest in this topic. It is a key foreign policy issue for the administration, as I said at the outset, and we’ll continue to press this issue, and we’ll be doing another, as I stated, ministerial on religious freedom this coming year. Thank you for joining us. God bless you all.

MS THOMPSON: Thank you, Ambassador Brownback, and thank you, everyone, for joining us. Have a great afternoon.


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Press Releases: Deputy Secretary Sullivan Travels to Bratislava, Vienna, Sofia, Sarajevo, Skopje, and Warsaw

Media Note Office of the Spokesperson Washington, DC
December 11, 2018

Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan will travel to Bratislava, Vienna, Sofia, Sarajevo, Skopje, and Warsaw from December 12-20. On December 12 in Bratislava, Slovakia, Deputy Secretary Sullivan will underscore the importance of U.S.-Slovak bilateral relations and urge senior Slovak officials to use their upcoming chairpersonship of the OSCE to strengthen the organization’s response to Russia’s aggression in Europe. While in Bratislava, he will also discuss defense modernization and cooperation.

In Vienna, Austria, on December 13, the Deputy Secretary will express the United States’ gratitude for Austria’s contributions to security cooperation in Afghanistan and the Western Balkans, and will emphasize to senior officials the need to counter Iranian and Russian malign activities. Notwithstanding continued concerns with Russia’s destabilizing activity, while in Vienna, he will also lead an interagency counterterrorism dialogue with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Syromolotov to explore areas in which cooperation could benefit the security of the American people and prevent future terrorist attacks.

Deputy Secretary Sullivan will arrive in Sofia, Bulgaria, on December 14. There, he will advocate for NATO-interoperable U.S. systems and emphasize the importance of energy diversification to Bulgaria’s national security and regional stability.

On December 16, in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, he will urge senior officials to maintain stability and continue reforms and path to the West. He will also encourage leaders of the country’s religious communities to continue dialogue and foster reconciliation in the post-war environment.

Deputy Secretary Sullivan’s stop in Skopje, Macedonia, on December 18 will be the highest-level State Department visit since 2001. There, he will discuss regional issues and encourage senior officials to continue reforms as the country works to implement the 2018 Prespa Agreement.

Finally, on December 19 the Deputy Secretary will arrive in Warsaw, Poland, where he will reaffirm the United States’ ironclad commitment to the NATO Alliance. He will commend Poland’s leaders for the country’s commitment to defense burden sharing and applaud efforts to advance energy security, noting shared concerns over projects such as Nord Stream 2.

During the course of his trip, the Deputy Secretary will also engage with U.S. Embassy staff in each of the countries, as well as representatives from the business community, alumni of U.S. exchange programs, and civil society.


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External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.

Young adult households are earning more than most older Americans did at the same age

The median adjusted income in a household headed by a Millennial was $69,000 in 2017. The previous peak for households headed by people ages 22 to 37 was in 2000.

The post Young adult households are earning more than most older Americans did at the same age appeared first on Pew Research Center.

Press Releases: Remarks at the Western Hemisphere Counterterrorism Ministerial

Remarks John J. Sullivan
Deputy Secretary of State Loy Henderson Auditorium
Washington, DC
December 11, 2018

DEPUTY SECRETARY SULLIVAN: Thank you very much. Good morning, everyone. Thank you, Nathan, for that kind introduction. It’s my pleasure to welcome you all – esteemed ministers, colleagues, and guests – to this important discussion on counterterrorism in the Western Hemisphere. I’d like to begin, as Nathan said, to thank all of you for making what in many cases was a long trip here to Washington, D.C. for this gathering.

When we think about transnational terrorism, many immediately picture families grieving after a large-scale attack on civilians who are halfway around the world, or black ISIS flags flying in the group’s last pocket of resistance in Syria. But transnational terrorism poses an immediate threat to us here in the Western Hemisphere. Although the perceived center of gravity seems far away, groups like ISIS, al-Qaida, Lebanese Hizballah operate wherever they can find recruits, raise support, operate unchecked, and pursue their terrorist agendas.

Keeping our citizens safe and secure requires constant vigilance and adequate resources. Although our countries are many thousands of miles away from Syria and Iraq, we know that there have been many attempted terrorist attacks, a number that have been narrowly prevented, and unfortunately some that have been carried out.

Our militaries work together to fight terrorism on the battlefield, but as deputy secretary of state, I see every day how all parts of our government and yours contribute to fighting terrorism abroad and here at home. Since September 11th, 2001, if we’ve learned nothing else, we’ve learned that – the hard and valuable lesson that the only way to defeat these malign terrorist plots is for our border security, law enforcement, intelligence, and financial agencies to coordinate and collaborate on all levels.

Each of your delegations has traveled here today because you recognize, as we do, that global terrorist threats are evolving every day, that our governments have vital experiences and information to share with one another, and that the only way to counter the serious challenges that remain is by working together. Terrorist groups and the individuals they radicalize are constantly learning and adapting to plan more complex, fluid, and decentralized operations, making them even harder to detect and disrupt. Terrorists aim to exploit policy and resource gaps within and across our borders. Any lack of interagency coordination within and between governments contributes directly to terrorists’ ability to exploit any fissures.

ISIS and al-Qaida broadcast their global vision loudly. Even as ISIS clings to its last territory in Syria, it is through its videos and carefully calibrated public messaging that they can continue to assert a longer worldwide fight. Through these messages, ISIS continues to seek women and men across the globe whom they can radicalize and inspire to take up the cause and carry it out wherever they can. In contrast to ISIS’s brash public campaigns, other terrorist groups are often more discreet about their worldwide operations. But we’re not fooled. These organizations remain just as dangerous and just as close.

One such organization is Lebanese Hizballah, which, despite its name, operates within many of our own borders and far from the Middle East. In 1994, Hizballah killed 95 people and injured hundreds more in Buenos Aires when it attacked the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association, just two years after it had attacked the Israeli embassy there.

We’re thankful that attacks on that scale have since been prevented, but several of your governments are still confronted with Hizballah plots on a regular basis. Just this September, Brazil arrested a Hizballah financier in the tri-border area near Paraguay and Argentina. In 2016, Paraguay arrested another Hizballah operative smuggling out 39 kilos of cocaine, whom we in the United States are prosecuting in Miami.

Hizballah has targeted the United States as well. In June 2017, the FBI arrested two Hizballah operatives in the United States, one in New York and one in Michigan. The New York-based operative was surveilling military and law enforcement facilities there, while the Detroit-based operative surveilled U.S. and Israeli targets in Panama as well as the Panama Canal.

Each of our governments has made progress to ensure that our counterterrorism policies are more nimble and more effective to keep pace with the ever-growing terrorist threat, even shrinking the number of gaps the terrorists might seek to exploit. Argentina has worked on reforming criminal laws to better prosecute terrorists. Trinidad and Tobago has established an interagency taskforce to gather terrorism-related intelligence that can be used as courtroom evidence.

U.S. policy, too, continues to improve and adapt. In October, President Trump released our new Counterterrorism Strategy, the first new national counterterrorism strategy for this country since 2011. It prescribes a comprehensive and coordinated approach to bring to bear all facets of American power against terrorist threats. It modernizes and integrates our counterterrorism tools and places a new emphasis on nonmilitary capabilities.

By design, the strategy does not have a geographical focus. That’s because the most serious threats are transnational, spanning borders around the world. It is also not focused on just one of two groups, but on the full range of terrorist threats, including Iran-backed groups.

As the President has said, our “America First” policy to defend our country does not mean America alone. We seek to continue leading the fight against groups like ISIS and al-Qaida and Lebanese Hizballah, but we’re also asking our allies and partners to join us in that fight and do more as well.

Our safety depends on working with all of you on security as we continue to improve our own. We must learn from one another to develop our tools and policies, and to be both faster and smarter than those who wish to harm us. Protecting our own individual countries means protecting the entire region. We must each do our part and work together to defend our citizens, our countries, and the values we hold dear.

I’m encouraged that we are already exploring opportunities to cooperate in, be it through membership in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS or the Financial Action Task Force regional style body in Latin America, working within the Organization for American States Inter-American Committee against Terrorism, implementing the Caribbean Community counterterrorism strategy, or fulfilling UN Security Council obligations targeting foreign terrorist fighters and financiers of terrorism.

And some of you have done even more. Last year we worked with Argentina to host their Brazilian and Paraguayan neighbors for a practitioner’s workshop to discuss terrorist issues facing the tri-border region. Brazil, likewise, hosted the Inter-American Committee against Terrorism training last year to advance dialogues on illegal and terrorist use of the internet.

However, this fight against terrorism today is not just about governments. To effectively counter terrorist threats, we need to consider collaboration across a broader range of actors, including civil society and community leaders, the private sector, and religious figures. We all have unique resources, experiences, relationships, and capabilities that, if we listen to each other, can help us develop a stronger, more innovative, and more sustainable counterterrorism policy.

Your participation here today reinforces that your governments not only recognize the great threats today that face our countries and our region, but also that you have valuable experience countering terrorists and holding plotters and supporters accountable. I hope we hear from each of you about where you have been successful and where you think we can make more progress together.

We have the opportunity today to prioritize cooperation and look across ministry lines and across national borders for new ideas and new ways by which to improve our existing efforts to be as effective as possible. We’re eager to learn from you today and continue to learn from you going forward so that your countries and our country, and the Western Hemisphere we call home, becomes safer and more secure.

Thank you again for joining us for today’s discussion, and I’m looking forward to speaking with all of you. Thanks.


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External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.

Press Releases: Religious Freedom Designations

Press Statement Michael R. Pompeo
Secretary of State Washington, DC
December 11, 2018

On November 28, 2018, I designated Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan, as Countries of Particular Concern under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 for having engaged in or tolerated ”systematic, ongoing, [and] egregious violations of religious freedom.” I also placed Comoros, Russia, and Uzbekistan on a Special Watch List for governments that have engaged in or tolerated “severe violations of religious freedom.” Finally, I designated al-Nusra Front, al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula, al-Qa'ida, al-Shabab, Boko Haram, the Houthis, ISIS, ISIS-Khorasan, and the Taliban as Entities of Particular Concern.

In far too many places across the globe, individuals continue to face harassment, arrests, or even death for simply living their lives in accordance with their beliefs. The United States will not stand by as spectators in the face of such oppression. Protecting and promoting international religious freedom is a top foreign policy priority of the Trump Administration. In July, I hosted the first-ever Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, which brought together some 85 likeminded governments and more than 400 civil society organizations to harness global attention and motivate forceful action to advance respect for the human right of religious freedom.

Safeguarding religious freedom is vital to ensuring peace, stability, and prosperity. These designations are aimed at improving the lives of individuals and the broader success of their societies. I recognize that several designated countries are working to improve their respect for religious freedom; I welcome such initiatives and look forward to continuing the dialogue.

The United States remains committed to working with governments, civil society organizations, and religious leaders to advance religious freedom around the world.


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External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.

Press Releases: Secretary Pompeo's Call With Georgia President-Elect Salome Zourabichvili

Media Note Office of the Spokesperson Washington, DC
December 11, 2018

The below is attributable to Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino:‎

Secretary Michael R. Pompeo called Georgian President-elect Salome Zourabichvili yesterday to congratulate her on her November 28, 2018 election victory. They discussed U.S.-Georgian cooperation on common global security priorities, the United States’ unwavering support for Georgia’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity, and the importance of electoral and judicial reforms for Georgia’s democratic development and Western integration.


The Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department.
External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.

Press Releases: The United States Joins the Pacific Region Infrastructure Facility To Support Infrastructure Development in the Pacific Islands

Media Note Office of the Spokesperson Washington, DC
December 11, 2018

On December 11, the United States joined the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the governments of Australia, New Zealand and Japan, the European Union, the European Investment Bank, and the World Bank Group in supporting the Pacific Region Infrastructure Facility (PRIF), which aims to improve infrastructure and services in the Pacific Islands region. Representatives from the U.S. Departments of State and Interior as well as USAID attended the December 11 meeting of the PRIF held in Sydney, which welcomed the United States as a full member. U.S. membership at PRIF will enable us to better coordinate the over $350 million in assistance the United States provides to the Pacific Islands annually.

Since 2008, PRIF partners have worked closely with Pacific governments to coordinate development partner assistance to improve the quality, reliability, and availability of critical infrastructure in both rural and urban areas to boost economic growth, create jobs, and provide access to public services. The PRIF Coordination Office provides Pacific governments with comprehensive and coordinated support and technical advice on infrastructure development and investment, and supports national development goals of Pacific nations by helping to ensure infrastructure investments are well-designed and managed.


The Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department.
External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.

Press Releases: Burkina Faso's National Day

Press Statement Michael R. Pompeo
Secretary of State Washington, DC
December 11, 2018

On behalf of the Government of the United States of America, I congratulate the Government and people of Burkina Faso as you celebrate your national day on December 11.

The United States supports Burkina Faso’s efforts to build stronger democratic institutions, promote economic reform, confront terrorist threats, and improve health to ensure prosperity for all Burkinabe. We applaud your cooperation with international and multilateral partners in regional peacekeeping efforts, including your role in the G5 Sahel.

Best wishes on your 58th anniversary. The United States looks forward to strengthening our partnership with Burkina Faso.


The Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department.
External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.

Press Releases: The Passing of Human Rights Defender Ludmilla Mikhailovna Alexeeva

Press Statement Robert Palladino
Deputy Spokesperson Washington, DC
December 10, 2018

Today, on International Human Rights Day, we mark with deep sorrow the passing in Russia of one of the world’s great defenders of human rights, Ludmilla Mikhailovna Alexeeva, who died on December 8 at the age of 91. Until the last, she was a force for human dignity, inspiring and mentoring multiple generations of citizen activists in her native country. Her death is a profound loss to all who work for the cause of freedom in Russia and across the globe, and it comes at a time when human rights, and the men and women who courageously champion them, are under severe pressure in Russia and in many other countries. Ludmilla Alexeeva’s lifelong efforts on behalf of human rights are lasting contributions to a freer, more peaceful world.

We extend our deepest condolences to Ludmilla Alexeeva’s son Michael, her grandchildren and great grandchildren, and to her colleagues in Russia’s human rights community, who, cherishing her memory, will carry on.


The Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department.
External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.

Press Releases: Armenia's 2018 Parliamentary Elections

Press Statement Robert Palladino
Deputy Spokesperson Washington, DC
December 10, 2018

The United States congratulates the people of Armenia on the conduct of their December 9 parliamentary elections. We welcome the assessment by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights that Armenia’s parliamentary elections were competitive and that candidates were able to campaign freely. The United States concurs with the OSCE’s preliminary conclusions that the elections process enjoyed broad public trust and respected fundamental freedoms. We encourage the authorities to address OSCE and Venice Commission recommendations for future elections.

This year has been a time of remarkable change in Armenia. For 27 years, the United States has sought to support the development of democratic processes and institutions in Armenia, and we will continue to do so. We look forward to working with the new Armenian Parliament and Government to deepen our bilateral partnership and cooperation to strengthen the rule of law and democratic institutions, combat corruption, promote trade and investment, and safeguard regional and global security.


The Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department.
External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.

A Europe that Protects: Commission calls for more efforts to ensure adoption of security proposals

Good progress is being achieved on a number of security initiatives, including the proposals to remove terrorist content online and to reinforce the European Border and Coast Guard, but more efforts are needed.

Food safety: more transparency, better risk prevention

MEPs want the European Food Safety Agency to publish safety studies before a product is authorised to go on to the market. The revised rules aim to make risk assessment more transparent and ensure that the studies used by EFSA to authorise a product to be put on the market are reliable, objective and independent. 

Press Releases: Secretary Pompeo's Meeting With Senegalese Prime Minister Mohammed Dionne

Readout Office of the Spokesperson Washington, DC
December 10, 2018

The below is attributable to Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino:‎

Secretary Michael R. Pompeo met with Senegalese Prime Minister Mohammed Dionne today in Washington, D.C. The Secretary reiterated the United States’ commitment to Senegal with the signing of Senegal’s second Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact. The $600 million compact will strengthen electrical transmission links in Senegal’s capital, expand electricity coverage in rural areas, and improve overall governance of the power sector. The Secretary and the Prime Minister also discussed ways to cooperate on matters of regional security. Senegal is the eighth largest contributor to UN peacekeeping and has more than 1,400 troops as part of the peacekeeping mission in Mali. The Secretary and the Prime Minister agreed on the importance of maintaining Senegal’s democratic traditions in the upcoming February 2019 election. The Prime Minister reaffirmed Senegal’s commitment to ensure a peaceful transition of power during next year’s elections.


The Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department.
External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.

Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Humans

Experts say the rise of artificial intelligence will make most people better off over the next decade, but many have concerns about how advances in AI will affect what it means to be human, to be productive and to exercise free will.

The post Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Humans appeared first on Pew Research Center.

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