U.S. Policy Update for Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Solar Impulse 2 arrives in San Francisco after a three-day journey over the Pacific Ocean on April 23. (© AP Images)

Today’s topics:     Secretary Kerry arrives in London / Solar plane / South China Sea standoff / Invictus Games Help Heal Invisible Wounds / NATO / Non-Proliferation

Secretary Kerry’s London Trip, 10-12 May 2016

Secretary of State John Kerry looks at portraits of former U.S. Ambassadors to the UK in Ambassador Barzun's office at the U.S. Embassy in London. Secretary Kerry arrived in the UK yesterday evening.
Secretary of State John Kerry looks at portraits of former U.S. Ambassadors to the UK in Ambassador Barzun’s office at the U.S. Embassy in London. Secretary Kerry arrived in the UK yesterday evening.

11 May 2016  Kerry to Face Questions at Anti-Corruption Summit U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry may be gently scolded Thursday when he attends an anti-corruption summit hosted by Prime Minister David Cameron in London.

“Corruption is an enemy of progress and the root of so many of the world’s problems,” Cameron said before the summit that will call into question the practices of rich nations like Britain and the United States.

The summit’s aim will be to agree on mechanisms to expose and punish corruption.  The meeting will include leaders of Afghanistan, Colombia, and Nigeria.   But the focus will be not only on corruption in the developing world, but on the transparency of rich nations.  This is due in part to revelations in the so-called Panama Papers about how and where the world’s rich and powerful hide their money.

10 May 2106 State Dept. public schedule for today (inc. Kerry’s trip)  “Secretary Kerry is on travel to Paris, France, and London, United Kingdom. He is accompanied by, Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs and Spokesperson John Kirby, Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations Frank Lowenstein, Assistant Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Admiral Frank Pandolfe, and Chief of Staff and Director of Policy Planning Jon Finer.

05 May 2016 Department of State Press briefing  U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will visit the UK  10-12 May to attend an anti-corruption summit. He will also visit Oxford University Union and meet with his UK counterpart, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond.

Related:  Visits of Secretaries of State to the UK

 

Solar Plane overhead Pacific Garbage Patch

Solar plane glides over the ocean in front of the Pacific coast
Solar Impulse 2 arrives in San Francisco after a three-day journey over the Pacific Ocean on April 23. (© AP Images)

11 May 2016  Solar pilot: ‘I flew over plastic waste as big as a continent’  “I speak to you from the cockpit of Solar Impulse in the middle of the Pacific, flying only on solar power,” said Bertrand Piccard, a Swiss psychiatrist who is trying to fly around the world using only energy from the sun.
He and his co-pilot André Borschberg began their historic journey in March 2015 from Abu Dhabi in a campaign to build support for clean-energy technologies.

But along the way, something caught their attention. From their experimental aircraft, the Solar Impulse 2, they spotted last month what some call the world’s largest trash dump.

Piccard was flying above the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Much of the plastic we use isn’t recycled or buried in landfills, but finds its way to the ocean. There, it breaks down into a hard-to-spot “peppery soup” of tiny microplastics and larger debris.

Worldwide, as many as 5 trillion pieces of plastic now pollute our oceans. These tiny particles look like food to the ocean’s smallest creatures. That means plastics enter the food chain: Fish eat plastics, and humans eat fish, which means that we may be picking up toxic chemicals from ocean debris.

 

Invictus Games Help Heal Invisible Wounds

Former President George W. Bush fist bumps with Air Force Master Sgt. Israel Del Toro during the 2016 Invictus Games Symposium
Former President George W. Bush fist bumps with Air Force Master Sgt. Israel Del Toro during the 2016 Invictus Games Symposium on Invisible Wounds in Orlando, Forida, 8th 2016. The symposium, hosted by Bush and Britain’s Prince Harry, sought to destigmatize the victims of post-traumatic stress and o

10 May 2016 Prince Harry, Former President Bush Stress Importance of Healing Invisible Wounds   Great Britain’s Prince Harry, former President George W. Bush, and service members from each of their nations led a discussion at the 2016 Invictus Games Symposium on Invisible Wounds presented [by] the George W. Bush Institute.

Former First Lady Laura Bush said she and the Bush Institute leadership were grateful the symposium was addressing an issue that affects so many veterans, as well as their family members, many of whom become their caregivers.

“George and I are committed to caring for our veterans and their families through the Bush Institute,” she said. “We celebrate the service and sacrifice of our veterans at the 100-kilometer bike ride we host at our ranch and at the Warrior Open, a competitive golf tournament held in Dallas. We listen to the warriors tell their stories — their triumphs and their struggles. Through these testimonies, we’ve recognized that the invisible wounds are not treated in the same way as the visible wounds, and that’s why we’re here today, to educate more people about those invisible wounds.”

Prince Harry said the Invictus Games in 2014 in London smashed the stigma around physical injuries, and that he hopes this year’s Invictus Games can do the same for invisible injuries.

 

NATO / Non-Proliferation

09 May 2016 Deputy Secretary General calls for efforts to strengthen non-proliferation regime    NATO Deputy Secretary General Ambassador Alexander Vershbow opened the twelfth annual NATO Conference on Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Arms Control, Disarmament, and Non-proliferation in Ljubljana, Slovenia on Monday, 9th May 2016

Ambassador Vershbow noted that the threat posed to NATO nations by the proliferation of ballistic missiles continues to increase. “Our ballistic missile defence is designed to defend our territory, our people and our forces against a range of threats from outside the Euro-Atlantic area, and is purely defensive,” he said, adding: “NATO’s missile defence is not directed against a specific country, and that includes Russia.”

 

South China Seas – Spratley Islands

10 May 2016 US, China Engage in New South China Sea Face-off   The U.S. and China engaged in a new face-off Tuesday in the South China Sea, with an American warship sailing near disputed artificial islands claimed by Beijing, and China scrambling fighter jets to warn off the U.S. vessel.

The U.S. Defense Department said it sent a guided missile destroyer, the USS William Lawrence, to within 22 kilometers (13.7 miles) of Fiery Cross Reef, a land feature in the South China Sea.
In response, China said it dispatched two fighter jets and three vessels to monitor the U.S. ship’s passage and warned it to leave the waters near the reef.

Fiery Cross Reef, in the South China Sea
Fiery Cross Reef, in the South China Sea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fiery Cross is composed of about 280 hectares (690 acres) of mostly dredged material from the ocean floor, to which China and other nations lay claim. Beijing in the last several years has built a 3,000-meter runway there, opened a port and erected other military facilities.

 

Partnerships in Fight Against Terrorism

 An Afghan air force A-29 Super Tucano aircraft flies over Afghanistan
An Afghan air force A-29 Super Tucano aircraft flies over Afghanistan during a training mission, April 2016. NATO’s Train, Advise, Assist Command Air works daily to assist the Afghan air force in improving its capabilities. (Air Force photo by Capt. Eydie Sakura)

10 May 2016  Centcom Spokesman: Successes Against Terrorists Result From Partnerships    Today’s hostage rescue by U.S. and Afghan special operations forces and recent airstrikes that have killed terrorist operatives highlight the cooperation and partnership U.S. Central Command has with its regional partners for security and stability, a Centcom spokesman said today.

Speaking by teleconference to Pentagon reporters, Air Force Col. Pat Ryder emphasized how the strong relationship and bolstered interoperability between the United States and its regional allies are the result of many years of working together on the battlefield and through robust bilateral and multilateral exercises.

We continue to work hard to strengthen those relationships and partnerships as we work together to address common challenges such as defeating terrorist groups [including] the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and al-Qaida,” he added

 

State Department Travel Announcements

10 May 2016  Assistant Secretary Frank A. Rose To Travel to Romania, Poland, Bulgaria, France, the Netherlands, and Germany

09 May 2016 Under Secretary Shannon Travel to Iraq and Kuwait