President Obama Grants Pardons and Commutation
WASHINGTON, DC – Today President Barack Obama granted pardons to five individuals and commutation of sentence to one individual:
- · Lesley Claywood Berry Jr. - Loretto, Ky.
Offense: Conspiracy to manufacture, possess with intent to distribute, and distribute marijuana, 21 U.S.C. §§ 841 and 846.
Sentence: April 29, 1988; District of Minnesota; three years in prison.
- · Dennis George Bulin - Wesley Chapel, Fla.
Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute in excess of 1,000 pounds of marijuana, 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 846 and 18 U.S.C. § 2.
Sentence: March 10, 1987; Middle District of Alabama; five years of probation and $20,000 fine.
- · Ricky Dale Collett - Annville, Ky.
Offense: Aiding and abetting in the manufacture of 61 marijuana plants, 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and 18 U.S.C. § 2.
Sentence: March 7, 2002; Eastern District of Kentucky; one year of probation conditioned on 60 days of home detention.
- · Martin Kaprelian - Park Ridge, Ill.
Offense: Conspiracy to transport stolen property in interstate commerce, 18 U.S.C. § 371; transporting stolen property in interstate commerce, 18 U.S.C. § 2314; concealing stolen property that was transported in interstate commerce, 18 U.S.C. § 2315.
Sentence: Feb. 1, 1984; Northern District of Illinois; nine years in prison, five years of probation.
- · Thomas Paul Ledford - Jonesborough, Tenn.
Offense: Conducting and directing an illegal gambling business, 18 U.S.C. § 1955.
Sentence: June 12, 1995; Eastern District of Tennessee; one year of probation conditioned on performance of 100 hours of community service.
- · Eugenia Marie Jennings - Alton, Ill.
Offense: Distribution of cocaine base, 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1).
Sentence: Feb. 23, 2001; Southern District of Illinois; 262 months in prison, eight years of supervised release, $1,750 fine.
Terms of commutation: Prison sentence to expire on Dec. 21, 2011, leaving intact and in effect the eight-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.
On Wednesday, November 23, 2011, the President signed into law:
H.R. 398, which suspends, when either spouse is on active duty abroad in the U.S. Armed Forces, the required periods of time to file a petition (and appear for an interview with the Department of Homeland Security) to remove the conditional basis for permanent resident status of alien spouses of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents;
H.R. 2447, which provides for the award of a congressional gold medal in honor of the Montford Point Marines, in recognition of their personal sacrifice and service to their country; and
S. 1412, which designates the facility of the United States Postal Service located in Woburn, Massachusetts, as the Officer John Maguire Post Office.
Statement by the Press Secretary on Recent Developments in Egypt
Since the start of the Arab Spring, the United States has spoken out for a set of core principles that have guided our response to events, including opposition to the use of violence and repression, defense of universal rights including the freedom of peaceful assembly, and support for political and economic reform that meets the legitimate aspirations of ordinary people throughout the region.
In Egypt over the past several days, we have seen protesters demand the realization of these principles. We have condemned the excessive use of force against them and called for restraint on all sides. We deeply regret the loss of life, and urge the Egyptian authorities to implement an independent investigation into the circumstances of those deaths. But the situation Egypt faces requires a more fundamental solution, devised by Egyptians, which is consistent with universal principles.
The United States strongly believes that the new Egyptian government must be empowered with real authority immediately. We believe that Egypt’s transition to democracy must continue, with elections proceeding expeditiously, and all necessary measures taken to ensure security and prevent intimidation. Most importantly, we believe that the full transfer of power to a civilian government must take place in a just and inclusive manner that responds to the legitimate aspirations of the Egyptian people, as soon as possible.
Egypt has overcome challenges before and will do so again. The United States will continue to stand with the Egyptian people as they build a democracy worthy of Egypt’s great history.
First Lady to Invite Military Families to View White House Holiday Decorations
Wednesday, November 30 * White House – Mrs. Obama will welcome military families, including Gold Star and Blue Star parents, spouses and children, to the White House for the first viewing of the 2011 holiday decorations. Mrs. Obama will deliver remarks in the East Room, and then ask military children to join her in the State Dining Room as White House Chefs Cris Comerford and Bill Yosses, and White House Florist Laura Dowling demonstrate holiday crafts and treats. This year, a special Gold Star Christmas tree decorated by Gold Star families will be displayed at the visitor’s entrance on the East Wing Landing. The theme of this year’s Blue Room Christmas Tree will be honoring Blue Star families.
Statement by the Press Secretary on President Obama Commemorating World AIDS Day
On Thursday, December 1, World AIDS Day, President Obama will speak at an event hosted by the ONE Campaign and (RED), joining former President George W. Bush and others who have been so critical in the worldwide fight against AIDS. The event, called “The Beginning of the End of AIDS,” will take place at George Washington University on Thursday morning. More details, including media credentialing information, will be released as they become available.
FACT SHEET: High-Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth
The Leaders of the United States and the European Union (EU) recognize that transatlantic trade and investment constitutes the largest economic relationship in the world, creating jobs, increasing economic growth, and driving competitiveness on both sides of the Atlantic. Given the successes of our existing economic partnership, the United States and the EU are committed to identifying new ways of strengthening our economic relationship and developing its full potential. A number of studies and proposals have advocated new bilateral trade, investment, and other economic agreements to access the untapped economic opportunities of our relationship.
At the November 28, 2011 EU-U.S. Summit meeting, Leaders directed the Transatlantic Economic Council to establish a High-Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth, led by U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht. The Working Group is tasked to identify policies and measures to increase U.S.-EU trade and investment to support mutually beneficial job creation, economic growth, and international competitiveness. Leaders asked the Working Group to work closely with all public and private sector stakeholder groups, and to draw on existing dialogues and mechanisms, as appropriate.
The Working Group will examine options in areas including, but not limited to, the following:
· Conventional barriers to trade in goods, such as tariffs and tariff-rate quotas;
· Reduction, elimination, or prevention of barriers to trade in goods, services, and investment;
· Opportunities for enhancing the compatibility of regulations and standards;
· Reduction, elimination, or prevention of unnecessary “behind the border” non-tariff barriers to trade in all categories;
· Enhanced cooperation for the development of rules and principles on global issues of common concern and also for the achievement of shared economic goals relating to third countries.
For each option it assesses, the Working Group will take into consideration:
· the short- and medium-term impact on economic growth, job creation, and competitiveness;
· the feasibility of each option;
· the implications for, and consistency with, bilateral and multilateral trade obligations.
Upon completing its analysis, the Working Group will also consider and recommend the practical means necessary to implement any policy measures identified. These could include a range of possible initiatives, from enhanced regulatory cooperation to negotiation of one or more bilateral trade agreements addressing the issues above.
The Working Group will provide an interim update to Leaders on the status of its work in June 2012. It will issue a report with findings, conclusions, and recommendations to the Leaders by the end of 2012.
Joint Statement: US-EU Summit
1. We, the leaders of the United States and the European Union, met today at the White House to affirm our close partnership. Drawing upon our shared values and experience, and recognizing our deep interdependence, we are committed to ensuring that our partnership brings greater prosperity and security to our 800 million citizens, and to working together to address global challenges.
2. Since our meeting in Lisbon last November, the global economy has entered a new and difficult phase. We are committed to working together to reinvigorate economic growth, create jobs, and ensure financial stability. We will do so by taking actions that address near-term growth concerns, as well as fiscal and financial vulnerabilities, and that strengthen the foundations of long-lasting and balanced growth. In that regard, the United States welcomes the EU’s actions and determination to take all necessary steps to ensure the euro area’s financial stability and resolve the crisis. The EU looks forward to U.S. action on medium term fiscal consolidation. We agree on the importance of working together with emerging economies to foster policies supporting sustained and balanced global growth. We recall our commitment to implement fully the outcome of the G20 Cannes Summit.
3. We recall our G20 commitment to support the multilateral trading system and resist protectionism. We stand by the Doha Development Agenda mandate and recognize the progress achieved so far, but note that in order to contribute to confidence we must pursue fresh, credible approaches in 2012 to advance the negotiations and pursue new opportunities and challenges. We look forward to the upcoming Ministerial meeting in Geneva, which provides an important opportunity to work on such approaches.
4. We applaud the success of the Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC) on a wide range of issuesand welcome the progress achieved in secure trade and supply chain security, electric vehicles and related infrastructure, regulatory practices, small and medium-sized enterprises, and in the Information Communications Technology (ICT) sector. We encourage the TEC’s continued leadership in helping us avoid unnecessary divergence in regulations and standards that adversely affects trade. We urge the TEC, together with our regulators and standard-setters to step up cooperation in key sectors such as nanotechnology and raw materials to develop compatible approaches to emerging technologies. We also instruct the TEC to pursue its work on strategic economic questions, not least in the field of investment, innovation policy, and the protection of intellectual property rights to level the playing field for our companies in third countries, in particular emerging economies.
5. We must intensify our efforts to realize the untapped potential of transatlantic economic cooperation to generate new opportunities for jobs and growth, particularly in emerging sectors. We are committed to making the U.S.-EU trade and investment relationship – already the largest and most integrated in the world – stronger. To that end, we have directed the TEC to establish a joint High Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth, co-chaired by the U.S. Trade Representative and the European Commissioner for Trade. We ask the Working Group to identify and assess options for strengthening the U.S.-EU economic relationship, especially those that have the highest potential to support jobs and growth. The Working Group is to report its recommendations and conclusions to Leaders by the end of 2012, with an interim report in June 2012 on the status of this work.
6. We recognize the vital role of the U.S.-EU Energy Council in fostering cooperation on energy security, renewables and other clean energy technologies, energy efficiency, and effective policies for facilitating trade and bringing clean energy technologies to market. We affirm the value of common approaches toward safe and sustainable development of energy resources and the diversification of supplies. We also call for reinforced bilateral and multilateral cooperation with a special focus on critical materials, smart grid technologies, hydrogen and fuel cell technologies, and nuclear fusion.
7. On climate change, we affirm our intent to work closely together to ensure a positive, balanced outcome in Durban, including mitigation, transparency and financing. We stand fully behind the commitments we made last year in Cancun. We affirm that Durban should deliver on operationalizing the Cancun agreements and helping the international community move a step further towards a comprehensive, global framework with the participation of all, including robust and transparent greenhouse gas emissions reduction commitments by all major economies, recalling the 2°C objective agreed upon in Cancun. With this in mind, we will cooperate closely in other relevant fora, notably the Major Economies Forum. We also intend to work together to address other global sources of emissions, including from the aviation and maritime sectors, in the appropriate multilateral forums and consistent with applicable agreements.
8. As the leading donors of development assistance, we reaffirm our commitment to aid effectiveness, recognizing that our joint efforts to advance division of labor, transparency, country ownership, and accountability will enhance the impact of our assistance. We are coordinating our preparations for the 4th High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, and will continue to work closely to strengthen partnerships among all development stakeholders, accelerate progress toward the Millennium Development Goals, and address the challenges encountered in fragile states. In 2012, we have committed to make information on foreign assistance programs more accessible and compatible with international standards, and will encourage the OECD DAC to become an international hub for aid transparency. We request the U.S.-EU Development Dialogue to pursue with vigor our joint efforts in areas such as food security, climate change, health and the MDGs. We agreed on the importance of close cooperation on security and development in the Sahel, the Horn of Africa and Afghanistan.
9. The events in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya over the past year offer an historic opportunity for successful democratic reform in the Arab world, inclusive economic and social development, and regional integration. The unfolding democratic process in Tunisia is an encouraging example of the potential for democratic transition. Egypt today has just begun a complex election process as the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces begins to transfer authority over civilian functions to a new government. Still, considerable challenges lie ahead. As the two largest providers of foreign assistance to the region who share core principles and values that have helped our own societies and economies to integrate, we pledge to support the democratic transitions underway, as well as broader political and economic reform in the region, including the constitutional reforms in Jordan and Morocco. In Libya we are working together on short term assistance and needs assessments, and will continue to seek new opportunities for greater cooperation, in coordination with the Transitional National Council and the UN, to meet the needs of the Libyan people.
10. Jointly, and through the Deauville Partnership effort, we intend to promote democracy, peace, and prosperity, and to increase economic growth and integration in the Middle East and North Africa. We are committed to collaborate closely in areas such as support for democratic transitions, strengthening the positive role of civil society, and health and education programming. We also extend our support to making women’s rights a legal and practical reality in the region. We share a strong interest in economic reform and will also jointly promote best practices that support trade, investment, and job creation and deepen intra-regional trade and integration. We are both eager to increase our trade and investment links with the region. We plan to work in partnership with international financial institutions to ensure robust donor coordination and in particular to ratify quickly necessary changes to the agreement establishing the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to allow lending in the region.
11. We call on the Syrian government to end violence immediately, permit the immediate entry of human rights observers and international journalists, and allow for a peaceful and democratic transition. We also welcome the agreement for political transition in Yemen and call on all political actors to help implement it in good faith, and in accordance with UNSCR 2014.
12. We reaffirm the Quartet Statement adopted in New York on 23 September 2011 that provides a framework for direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, and we call on the two parties to engage actively in this effort.
13. On Iran, we share deep concern about activities relating to the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program, as highlighted in the latest International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General’s report and the November 18 Board of Governors’ resolution. We stress our determination to ensure that Iran complies with its obligations, including abiding by United Nations Security Council resolutions, and to cooperate fully with the IAEA to address the international community’s serious concerns over the nature of its nuclear program. We reaffirm our commitment to work toward a diplomatic solution, implement UN Security Council Resolution 1929 (2010) and other relevant Security Council Resolutions, and consider additional measures given Iran’s continued failure to abide by its international obligations. We also note the recent plot to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to the United States, the sanctions we have imposed thereafter on five individuals including the head of the Qods Force, and our determination to ensure the perpetrators and their accomplices are held to account.
14. With regard to the EU’s Eastern neighbors, we are working together to support democracy, resolve protracted conflicts, foster economic modernisation, and advance their political association and economic integration with the EU, recognizing in this regard the importance of the EU’s Eastern Partnership. We insist that the Government of Belarus immediately release and rehabilitate its political prisoners, and make progress towards respect for the principles of democracy, the rule of law, and human rights; and call on the Government of Ukraine to make good on commitments to uphold democratic values and the rule of law, notably to ensure a fair, transparent and impartial process in trials related to members of the former Government including any appeal in the case of Ms Tymoshenko. The right of appeal should not be compromised by imposing limitations on the defendants’ ability to stand in future elections in Ukraine, including the parliamentary elections scheduled for next year.
15. We pledge to continue our close cooperation in the western Balkans and reaffirm our commitment to preserve stability and to support the reforms needed to move the region forward on its path to Euro-Atlantic integration.
16. The United States and the EU have a strategic interest in enhancing co-operation on political, economic, security, and human rights issues in the Asia-Pacific region to advance peace, stability and prosperity. We intend to increase our dialogue on Asia-Pacific issues and coordinate activities to demonstrate an enduring, high-level commitment to the region and encourage regional integration, including through the region’s multilateral organizations.
17. We note our continued efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan, with particular attention to plans for the December 5 Bonn Conference on Afghanistan and the international community’s long-term commitment to support sustainable security and economic development in Afghanistan, based on effective and accountable institutions of governance and sustainable assistance levels, after the planned drawdown of international military forces. We support economic development and wider reforms in Pakistan and note Pakistan’s important role and ongoing commitment to combating terrorism and achieving peace and stability in Afghanistan and South Asia.
18. We note the considerable progress made since our last meeting in Lisbon on our commitments on a wide range of transnational security issues that affect our citizens. We welcome the successful completion of negotiations on a new Passenger Name Record agreement, and look forward to its early adoption and ratification. We are determined to finalize negotiations on a comprehensive U.S.-EU data privacy and protection agreement that provides a high level of privacy protection for all individuals and thereby facilitates the exchange of data needed to fight crime and terrorism. We reaffirm our desire to complete secure visa-free travel arrangements between the US and all Member States of the EU as soon as possible and consistent with applicable, domestic legislation. We look forward to a positive outcome for Administration-supported legislation that would refine the criteria for the Visa Waiver Program.
19. We encourage continued efforts to extend our partnership on counter-terrorism cooperation, both bilaterally and multilaterally, including through the UN. We applaud the establishment of the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum, and our cooperation to combat terrorist financing. We strongly support continuation of our joint efforts to empower diaspora communities to counter violent extremism.
20. To strengthen our collaboration on conflict prevention and crisis response, already ongoing in many theaters, the U.S. and EU signed a framework agreement in May 2011 that facilitates U.S. civilian participation in EU crisis management missions. As the trans-Atlantic community faces the challenges of crisis management in an era of fiscal austerity, we encourage further work to strengthenthe EU-NATO strategic partnership in crisis management, including on capabilities development, ahead of the 2012 NATO Summit, in the spirit of mutual reinforcement, inclusiveness, and decision-making autonomy.
21. We reaffirm the commitments enshrined in the joint declaration on non-proliferation and disarmament we adopted in 2009 and the joint statement on UNSCR 1540 in 2011. We support the conclusions and recommendations of the May 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, including the Action Plan and proposed 2012 Middle East conference. We are determined to promote the IAEA’s safeguards, Additional Protocol, and the highest standards of safety and security for peaceful uses of nuclear energy, the Nuclear Security Summit objectives, a successful Biological Weapons Convention Review Conference, and the convening of a Diplomatic Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty in 2012.
22. We share a commitment to a single, global Internet, and will resist unilateral efforts to weaken the security, reliability, or independence of its operations— recognizing that respect for fundamental freedoms online, and joint efforts to strengthen security, are mutually reinforcing. We welcome the progress made by the U.S.-EU Working Group on Cybersecurity and Cybercrime, notably the successful Cyber Atlantic 2011 exercise. We endorse its ambitious goals for 2012, including combating online sexual abuse of children; enhancing the security of domain names and Internet Protocol addresses; promotion of international ratification, including by all EU Member States, of the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime ideally by year’s end; establishing appropriate information exchange mechanisms to jointly engage with the private sector; and confronting the unfair market access barriers that U.S. and European technology companies face abroad.
23. Our meeting today is proof that a strong U.S.-EU partnership is crucial to building a more secure, democratic, and prosperous world. We know that our ability to respond to and overcome the global challenges we face is increased by the degree to which we can act in close coordination and cooperation. We will continue to seek every opportunity to increase our cooperation.
Statement by President Obama on Congressman Barney Frank’s Retirement
This country has never had a Congressman like Barney Frank, and the House of Representatives will not be the same without him. For over 30 years, Barney has been a fierce advocate for the people of Massachusetts and Americans everywhere who needed a voice. He has worked tirelessly on behalf of families and businesses and helped make housing more affordable. He has stood up for the rights of LGBT Americans and fought to end discrimination against them. And it is only thanks to his leadership that we were able to pass the most sweeping financial reform in history designed to protect consumers and prevent the kind of excessive risk-taking that led to the financial crisis from ever happening again. Barney’s passion and his quick wit will be missed in the halls of Congress, and Michelle and I join the people of the Bay State in thanking him for his years of service.
We Can’t Wait: President Signs Memorandum to Modernize Management of Government Records
Today, President Obama took the most significant steps since the Truman Administration to improve the management of federal records. Today’s Presidential Memorandum directs agencies to move into a digital-based records keeping system, a move that will save taxpayer dollars, promote accountability, and increase government transparency. Today’s action delivers on a commitment the President made in September 2011 when the White House put forward the Open Government Partnership: National Action Plan for the United States.
“The current federal records management system is based on an outdated approach involving paper and filing cabinets. Today’s action will move the process into the digital age so the American public can have access to clear and accurate information about the decisions and actions of the Federal Government,” said President Obama.
Over the last 10 years, the National Archives and Records Administration has taken in an average of 475 million pages of records per year. Recently there has been significant growth in the volume of electronic records being accessioned, and total archival electronic holdings currently total 142 terabytes. According to a recent report by the National Archivist and Records Administration, agencies have done a poor job of managing the increased volume and diversity of information that come with advances in information technology. Many are unlikely to fully comply with legal requirements under the Federal Records Act. The Records Management Presidential Memorandum responds to this underlying problem.
Today’s Presidential Memorandum initiates a comprehensive assessment of agency systems for collecting, maintaining, and preserving the records that document the operation of our democracy. Specifically, it calls for reports within the next 120 days, by each agency head, describing current plans for improving records management programs; outlining current obstacles to sound, cost-effective records management policies; and cataloguing potential reforms and improvements. The agency reports will inform, and be followed, by a Records Management Directive, to be issued by the Director of OMB and the National Archivist of the United States that will identify specific steps agencies must take to reform records management policies and practices.
The Management Directive will focus on making records management more cost-effective and accessible to the public and on transitioning from paper-based records to electronic records where appropriate. In a key provision, the President has required the Director of OMB and the National Archivist to consult with those inside and outside the government – including public stakeholders interested in improving records management and open government.
Obama Administration Officials to Announce Progress Cracking Down on Counterfeit Goods; Launch of Public Awareness Campaign on How Counterfeiting Causes Job Loss, Crime, Health Risks
Obama Administration Officials to Announce Progress Cracking Down on Counterfeit Goods
Launch of Public Awareness Campaign on How Counterfeiting Causes Job Loss, Crime, Health Risks
WASHINGTON – On Tuesday, November 29th, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will hold an event at the White House to announce the Administration’s progress in cracking down on intellectual property theft crimes and its launch of a public education campaign intended to increase Americans’ knowledge of the threat these crimes pose to economic prosperity and public safety. Holder will be joined by Acting Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank and Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel, who will discuss the ways in which counterfeit goods impact the everyday lives of American families: posing health risks, harming the economy, and costing American jobs. Holder will also be joined by Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement John Morton, who will discuss ongoing administration enforcement efforts concerning counterfeit goods and intellectual property crimes. Ann Harkins, National Crime Prevention Council President and CEO, will describe and unveil the products of the campaign to build awareness about the harm caused by counterfeit goods and engage the public in stopping intellectual property theft.