U.S. Policy Update for Monday, 13 June 2016

Today’s topics:     Orlando shootings / Automated passport control at U.S. airports / upcoming U.S. Supreme Court rulings / DoD’s “Force of the Future”


Orlando Shootings

(Updated 14 June 2016)     Condolence message from TRH The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall
14 June 2016

Condolence message from Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall following the Orlando, Florida, shootings, 14 June 2016
Condolence message from TRH The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall following the Orlando, Florida, shootings, 14 June 2016













13 June 2016 Orlando Shooting Renews Focus on How to Identify, Stop Extremist Attacks   Attacks like Sunday’s mass shooting in Orlando, Florida bring public shock and frustration along with a return to questions about what the government can do in order to prevent something similar from happening again.
Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum, says it is difficult for authorities to keep track of potential violent extremists because they do not necessarily have a criminal record or associate with people who are committing violence.

12 June 2016 Remarks by the President on Mass Shooting in Orlando

President Obama Delivers a Statement on the Tragic Shooting in Orlando
President Obama Delivers a Statement on the Tragic Shooting in Orlando

Today, as Americans, we grieve the brutal murder — a horrific massacre — of dozens of innocent people. We pray for their families, who are grasping for answers with broken hearts. We stand with the people of Orlando, who have endured a terrible attack on their city. Although it’s still early in the investigation, we know enough to say that this was an act of terror and an act of hate. And as Americans, we are united in grief, in outrage, and in resolve to defend our people.

This is an especially heartbreaking day for all our friends — our fellow Americans — who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. The shooter targeted a nightclub where people came together to be with friends, to dance and to sing, and to live. The place where they were attacked is more than a nightclub — it is a place of solidarity and empowerment where people have come together to raise awareness, to speak their minds, and to advocate for their civil rights.

12 June 2016 Statement from Vice President Biden on Mass Shooting in Orlando

12 June 2016 Statement by the Press Secretary [following the Orlando shootings]


Welcome to the U.S. !

Suited man standing next to passport kiosks at airport (U.S. Customs and Border Protection)
Automated passport control kiosks at O’Hare International Airport in 2013 (U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

13 June 2016 Welcome to the U.S. …..now wait just a minute    Queuing up in lines is a fact of life for airline passengers. The wait to get through security to catch departing flights can be frustrating. The misery is compounded for jet-lagged travelers who can step off an eight-hour flight and discover a line snaking through immigration that will add an hour or two to their journey.

Airports and airlines say they don’t like it any more than the customers, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection says it doesn’t like the waits either.

Now, more than 40 percent of international arrivals head straight to the blue, self-service Automated Passport Control kiosks to scan their passports and answer the standard customs declaration questions. They take a “selfie” with the device, which prints out the picture and information on a receipt the person takes right to a customs officer.

U.S. and Canadian citizens and permanent legal residents can use the kiosks. So can visitors from 38 countries with reciprocal visa waiver agreements with the United States, including European countries, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Brunei and South Korea. Visitors from those places get their fingerprints taken electronically at the kiosks.


U.S. Supreme Court

12 June 2016 U.S. Supreme Court Set to Rule in Three Major Cases   The U.S. Supreme Court has just under three weeks left until it is scheduled to recess for the summer, but before that happens the court is expected to rule on high-profile cases regarding affirmative action, immigration and abortion.

Decisions will be handed down in the most important abortion case in almost 25 years, an affirmative action lawsuit accusing a Texas university of discriminating against white applicants, and a challenge to President Barack Obama’s executive order that granted legal status and work permits to four million immigrants in the country illegally.

The outcomes of the cases will directly affect the lives of millions of Americans, but with the court down to just eight justices following the death of Antonin Scalia earlier this year, two of the decisions could get slightly complicated.


Department of Defense

 Defense Secretary Ash Carter announces new "Force of the Future" initiatives at the Pentagon, June 9, 2016. DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Tim D. Godbee
Defense Secretary Ash Carter announces new “Force of the Future” initiatives at the Pentagon, June 9, 2016. DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Tim D. Godbee

09 June 2016 DoD’s Carter Unveils Next Wave of Force of the Future Initiatives Defense Secretary Ash Carter today announced the next steps in his Force of the Future initiative to modernize the rules and regulations that govern how the Defense Department recruits, develops and retains service members and civilian employees.

“Generations change, technologies change, labor markets change. That’s why one of my responsibilities now — and a job for all of us in the years ahead — is to make sure that amid all this change DoD continues to recruit, develop and retain the most talented men and women America has to offer,” Carter said during remarks today in the Pentagon courtyard.

Today’s proposed changes — which the secretary called “the capstone of how the department is building the Force of the Future” — for the uniformed military services, focusing on giving them room to make common-sense improvements to the officer promotion system, and for DoD civilians, focusing on continuing to attract and retain the best talent, Carter said.


State Department

10 June 2016 Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights Issues Ambassador Robert King Travel to London and Brussels    Ambassador Robert King, Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights Issues, will travel to London, June 13-14 and to Brussels June 15-16 for regular consultations with officials from the United Kingdom and the European Union.

10 June 2016 UN Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea The United States takes note of the recently issued report by the UN Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Eritrea, in particular its conclusion that there are reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed in Eritrea. We have repeatedly expressed grave concern about the human rights situation in Eritrea, and that concern has been reinforced by the COI’s findings.