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tv   U.S. House of Representatives Legislative Business  CSPAN  April 13, 2016 4:00pm-6:01pm EDT

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can have the type of life they deserve, they've gotten the degree, i went to uc-berkeley. that was my alma mater, go bears. i know what a phenomenal education it is. but i also know when you get out, you think that that degree, that piece of paper, is going to give you -- is a ticket to something better and here you end up having to go back home, live with your parents, and pay down your student debt. that's outrageous. it doesn't make any sense. our young people deserve more. . mrs. walorski: our generation is the least homeowner generation. and in the bay area, l.a. area, they say forget home owning, we want to rent near where we live and right now the represents are expensive. oakland rents in the top five. ms. lee: home ownership is not even a dream that young people have. and how do you acquire wealth in this country when you look at what happened with
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african-americans and latinos during the sub-prime meltdown d crisis, most of the equity is gone. young people need to acquire wealth and do what they want to do with their lives and until we get this housing piece right we aren't going to get anything right for young people and people of color. mr. swalwell: as we listen to these stories, it is heartening to offer solutions and you are forum. the emergency loan refinancing bill. and this is joe courtney's bill, our colleague, who says if the banks can refinance at the lowest rate, if a homeowner can refinance at the lowest rate and auto loan, why can't our students refinance at the lowest
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rate. why should they have to pay more money on interest. ms. lee: here you have young people starting out, making a life for themselves and should be able to do the same thing. the banking institutions should allow young people the same opportunities as they do other people who own mortgages and who own cars and this to me is discriminatory and i'm pleased to be a co-sponsor of the bill and i hope we can pass this on a bipartisan basis. give young people hope that it n be done and it can be made whole and their college education and the sacrifices they made, it was worth it because now they are going to the next step. mr. swalwell: in the bay area people are so inventive, that they have powered this innovation economy and look at washington and wonder why isn't the majority party in the house
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and look at the student loan and this is an issue that should not be owned. republican young people. and i would think they would want to help their young people also and find a path and refinancing their student loan debt is a major step. it should be partisan and nonpartisan and working together to get this passed. mr. swalwell: i don't know if you have any constituency that are in bankruptcy but three things in this country will follow you to your grave, murder, treason and student loan debt. we have constituents who had their social security garnished and people who cannot discharge as they get the second chance in fe, that uplee, they can't
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discharge that student loan debt. ms. lee: many constituents are in very similar circumstances. and on top of that, the credit score goes down and then they can't -- can't even buy a car even if they wanted to. they aren't able to do anything else because they're delayed on their payments, they are behind because they can't afford it. then they get dings on their credit score and can't buy anything on credit and end up in debt and out there and not being able to participate in the mainstream economic fabric of our society. mr. swalwell: another bill we have to support that is the private student loan bankruptcy fairness act offered by congressman cohen of tennessee who seeks to address this issue and relieve young people from having to have this follow them for a lifetime. congresswoman, i'm glad you came and joined us and talk about
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larger future forum goals and look forward to work with you in the east bay and across country and take young people out of financial quicksand. ms. lee: i know democrats and republicans want the same thing. i'm confident of that, but we're not just matching our rhetoric with reality. so hopefully they will begin to understand, the majority will, that this is good for america, not just for democrats and our young people. mr. swalwell: thank you, swam. i also see in the house with us this afternoon is another california colleague, someone who i was hoping maybe could talk a little bit about what students in her part of california are going through, one of the youngest members of he house as well, that's
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congresswoman torres. we are talking about student loan debt. and we've got in california the greatest education system in the world but because of the amount of student loan debt young people are facing, it is putting them, as i said, in financial quicksand and we have a lot of solutions. anything you are hearing in your congressional district from young people and what they want to see from their leaders? mrs. torres: absolutely and thanks for bringing this -- one year of the future forum. this issue is not limited to the students. i had a congress in your corner last november. i heard from parents of a constituent who were nearly in brums because the student loan from not one child, but two, was so much that it was actually
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more than their mortgage payment. so here they are working in the late 60's to try and make payments for their students. this is a critical issue. they are not able to purchase a vehicle. they are not able to purchase a home. i bought my home in my early 20's. i know that 20-year-olds today or 23-year-olds today could not do that because of the high student loan debt they have. mr. swalwell: i call it getting lax and parents are paying off their student loans and kids going off to college and now doubling down. and it's become a family matter. we talked on the tour to a mother who showed up to an event that had 200 millenials in boston and said, i know i'm not supposed to be here but i'm here
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because i'm worried about my daughter. she was the first in our family to go to college and we were really excited that we sent her off and missed her dearly for that first year she was gone. and we missed her in years two, three and four and we never expected she would come back home because they couldn't afford to live near her work and her own mother was going into a costly assisted living facility. the parents are taking on costly assisted living. you are right. thank you for sharing what's going on in your area and maybe my other colleague. another one of california's millenial-minded areas down in the l.a. area. tony, what are you hearing and talking to thousands of young
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people and issues that are important? mr. cardenas: thanks for bringing this issue to the floor. and it is important for millenials but as our colleague norma torres for people who are in the retirement age and want to retire but can't but generational issues are costly and can't move on and follow through with their version of the american dream in different phases of their lives. what i'm hearing, this is not just an issue of young people who are in college, but an issue of entire families wondering whether or not their children can afford to do that and the family can come together for that bright individual who wants to succeed and wants to get that education and yet doubting themselves as to whether or not that's the path for them. that's unfortunate. the united states of america for many, many generations has been the place for hope and expectation of a brighter future for generations, yet at the same
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time, because, in my opinion, congress is not doing enough to make sure we can right the situation and make sure that we can right size the environment of making sure that when a young bright person in america wants to get an education that there are ways they can afford to do that, regardless of whether their parents were farmworkers like my parents or the parents limb on the other side of town. our environments and the universities shouldn't be left to the individuals who have the ainfluence to be in that environment. one of the reasons we created these wonderful universities that have 30,000 people there so they can be in an environment where people can learn can become friends with people they might not have rubbed elbows with. too many americans are afraid. too many americans are doubting whether or not they can afford to get that degree, not that
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they are not bright enough, but the problem i'm hearing from my constituents and people around america is that it is tough to make that decision because too many young people now have examples that they are in debt $100,000, $200,000, $300,000 and on top of that can't find a right-sized job to fit their skill set and on top of that, mounting debt. that's unfortunate. shouldn't happen in our country. i'm glad you are bringing this issue up, let's try to do many, many things about righting this ship that we have about our young people being too afraid to incur the kind of debt they are forced to do to get an education. mr. swalwell: young californians in my experience they want us to be collaborative in solving this problem as they are in charting the innovation economy. you are right, out of those environments in our u.c. system and community colleges we are
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creating minds that are building enthusiasm economy and look to us and saying why aren't democrats and republicans working together. our caucus is offering solutions and we are putting our hands out there saying work with us, we are ready to talk about this but you have to come to the table because republican and democratic kids are in financial quicksand and counting on us. thank you tony and norma. that will conclude our one-year celebration of future forum. we are looking to the future. we have more visits ahead across the country, across california, of course with my colleagues, who have participated already and thank you and continue this conversation with us at #futureforum or of course follow along at twitter, snapshot and facebook. this generation is optimistic. it needs its leaders here in
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this house and the majority party to join with the democrats to put forward solutions that can move our generation forward. with that, mr. speaker, i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the speaker pro tempore: under the speaker's rae nounsed policy of january 6, 2015, the chair ecognizes the gentlewoman from the district of columbia. the chair recognizes the
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gentlewoman from california, mrs. torres for 30 minutes. mrs. torres: thank you so much. california much more warmer state. i rise today to recognize national public safety telecommunicators week. after 17.5 years as a 911 dispatcher, i know firsthand the challenges our public safety dispatchers face, the stress they are put under and the critical importance of their work. this is why i was proud to introduce a resolution commemorating national public safety telecommunicators week. i remember working the grave yard shift at the lapd taking calls from people from all walks of life, often during their most vulnerable time in their lives. in fact, it was my work as a 911
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dispatcher that got me involved in politics. when i was working for lapd, i took a call from a little girl, who ended up being murdered at the hands of her uncle. when i asked -- when i answered that 911 call, all i could hear was something. later i learned that that something noise was her head being bashed against the wall. soon after, five shots were fired and she was murdered. 11 years old, murdered at the hands of her uncle. i want to introduce my colleague, tony carden asfrom sfern valley, congressional district 29 to share with us some information about how he supports 911 dispatchers in his district. .
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mr. cardenas: thank you, norma tres, for bringing up -- torres, for bringing up this important awareness on the floor of the congress. it's national communicators week but it's important for us to understand in america everything starts with us, the individual, and i just want to add to this dialogue that it's up to all of us to keep our community safe and if we do that well, maybe we won't need so many 911 operators, because as we heard so many times and too often, those frantic calls in a situation where someone is calling 911 because the action has already started, the atrocity has already begun to occur. but as americans, we should be vigilant and understand we all have a collective responsibility to be the safe keepers of our community so we can make sure that we minimize the amount of 911 calls that any one individual in our
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neighborhoods across america would ever have to take. i'd like to take to mention ssistant supervisor at hor dsburg police department. she's been a 911 operator for some time now. i want to quote something. 911 has changed my life. it has shaped me. i have grown into a role that i weapt even sure i wanted in the beginning. it has become a way of life that i wouldn't change for any reason. i am 911. once again, ladies and gentlemen, i think it's important for us to take the opportunity to recognize and appreciate the eclectic responsibility of friends and neighbors that we have in every community across america, in every situation that people take on that professionalism, to be the solution, to be the go-to person when we need them most. it's important for people to understand that our dispatchers
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and 911 and our safety community around america deserves our support, they deserve our recognition and more importantly, they deserve our thanks. thank you so much for giving me the time to express my thoughts on this very important issue. mrs. torres: thank you, congressman cardenas. so few people know what it's like to be an emergency dispatcher and don't truly understand how crucial our role is. they don't get -- they don't get bad without us -- they don't get that without us, they don't get that without you. first responders wouldn't be able to do their job without someone answering that 911 call. back when i served in the california state assembly the state budget crisis meant that 911 dispatchers were if you are lode because they -- furloughed because they weren't exempt as public safety professionals. hundreds of calls went unanswered. who knows how many lives were
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put at risk. spent months badgering governor schwarzenegger until he knew how catastrophic the effect was having on our state. god forbid there was an event like san bernardino during that time and calls wouldn't get through. our first responders didn't know where to go. sadly, too many people think of dispatchers as little more than glorified receptionists. this means that they don't often get the resources, the training and support they need and deserve to do their jobs. dispatchers are the first point of contact in the event of an emergency, and they are the sole link between those in trouble and the personnel who can help them. better training and more support will go a long way toward improving service and increasing staff retention.
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during this year's state of the union, i had the honor of inviting as my guest the dispatch supervisor who directed radio and call traffic during the san bernardino attack. while the police fire and e.m.s. responders definitely deserve a lot of credit, there hadn't been -- there had been very little mention in the media about the key role the public safety telecommunicators played. ann marie teal and her team were the ones behind the scene making sure first responders were deployed efficiently and effectively. they fielded calls from the community, from law enforcement agencies and from callers from all over the country and the world. during a situation that can quickly become pure chaos, they stayed calm. they took action and helped
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save lives. when she was here, ann marie discussed training that she had received in dealing with these types of situations and how grateful that she was for that training. unfortunately, this kind of training isn't a regular occurrence. without public safety telecommunicators, our first responders can't do their jobs. the response of police, firefighters and paramedics is dependent on the quality and accuracy of information the dispatcher is able to provide. public safety telecommunicators don't just take calls and relay information, they also play a key role in core nating multiple times -- coordinating multiple people during times of
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crisis. they are a vital link for police, fire and e.m.s. by monitoring their activities by radio and providing them with information thack ensure ensure their -- that can ensure their safety and an effective response. 911 dispatchers have also helped in apprehension of criminals and helped bring them to justice, because in many cases they are witnesses to the crimes that occur. in the case that i stated earlier, i was the only witness. it was not recorded call that brought -- it was that recorded call that brought justice to that little girl. public safety telecommunicators week not only provides us with the opportunity to recognize the hard work of our dispatchers but also is a reminder to our constituents that the importance of maintaining emergency lines
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free for just that, emergencies. there is no excuse for 911 abuse. some estimates indicate that 15% to 20% of incoming calls are nonemergencies. these calls could prevent legitimate calls, emergency calls from coming through and being answered. for example, as a 911 dispatcher i remember receiving calls from callers that were asking for directions to disney land, asking if an earthquake had just occurred or asking for the time of day. hat is not an emergency. dispatchers can't send for assistance if they never receive the call. 911 is not an information line. local governments have limited
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resources and few dispatchers. many localities have info lines. for example, 311 or 511, but i encourage individuals to look up their local police departments and have their nonemergency police numbers on hand. i would also encourage them to add that information to their cell phones so that the number is readily available when they have an emergency. i can give you many examples of when people have dialed 911 from a cell phone and the dispatcher does not have the accurate location. imagine if you are in a middle of having a heart attack and you are not able to voice your location. having that local information telephone number is important
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because your call will be expedited to the local paramedic or to the local police department that has jurisdiction of where you may be. it is never too early to teach the kids about the proper uses of 911. you never know when an emergency will happen, and your child may be the only one able to get help. teach them how to dial the number and stay on the line. and when they should and shouldn't dial 911. one bad example, my children were looking for me. they know -- they knew at the time that i worked at the 911 center. they dialed 911 and asked for their mom. that is not a true good 911 call. so discourage your children from making inquiries to that emergency line. every day public safety dispatchers help save lives,
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provide comfort and reassurance in -- and are a critical part of law enforcement teams. but too often the work goes unrecognized. when you need a calming voice to guide you through a crisis, when law enforcement, fire safety and rescue personnel are in need of seamless coordination at a moment's notice, when every second counts, they are on the other line. 911 dispatchers are the unsung heroes of the first responder community. i want to share with you another story of a 911 dispatcher. i have to make sacrifices. i had to make sacrifices as a soldier to serve my country, and i have to make sacrifices as a dispatcher to serve my community. i knew this when i chose this
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profession. i have to be oncall. we have to work overtime. we have to work holidays. we have to work nights. we have to work weekends, and we have to be reachable 24/7 and it's tough. i spent most of my life in the service of others. 22 years in the military, eight years in the texas youth commission and two years in iraq assisting military forces and nearly eight years as a 911 dispatcher. i can't remember how many lives, events i have not been a part of because i was working. sacrificing in order to help others. it is only tolerable and manageable with the assistance of my fellow team, family members helping me when i just couldn't get through it without their help. we have committed ourselves to
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this calling, and we have -- and we have -- we are very good at it. we have sacrificed ourselves in the service of others because someone had to do it. dullin, s from richard coleman police department. the first thing he said as i answered the phone was i just shot myself in the heart. given that he was still speaking, i figured he probably didn't hit his heart. but the point was pretty clear. i established that he had in fact shot himself in the chest bout 30 minutes before dialing 911. he waited to call because he was not sure if he wanted to live. unfortunately, we don't tend to get a lot of closure, so i have no idea if he lived or died.
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county, kitsapp washington. the stories go on and on, and i could go on and on for the rest of the time sharing with you about the wonderful work that these committed people do each and every single day for our communities. i want to end, mr. speaker, by thanking the 911 dispatchers and by recognizing the hard work that they provide in our communities each and every single day. i yield back, mr. speaker. i move that the house now adjourn. the speaker pro tempore: the question is on the motion to adjourn. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. the ayes have it. the motion is adopted. accordingly, the house stands adjourned until 10:00 a.m.
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mr. meadows: why would you have the highest operating cost out there? what would justify that. >> second largest transit system in america. mr. meadows: if you have the opportunity to travel the world as i have and go to beijing, shanghai, paris moscow and see a
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world class system, this system -- n embarrassment in the mr. meadows: those are communist countries. you said beijing. >> the top capital city and if we want a system like they have, the federal government in those countries pays for all of the system, all i'm asking is $300 million given the fact that we transport 50% of your work force every day. you want them to be safe. you want us to be aliable. and do nothing. and if we do that, i'm blaming it on you guys, because we need your help. mr. meadows: you have been the one on the board. you are the one making the decisions.
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>> i have been on the board a year. it is not operating well now and we need the resources in addition to the wherewithal. mr. meadows: when can you give this committee a full breakdown of how this money will be spent? >> within a week. let me just say, you are never go to go have a better chance. the chairman and myself have done this for years. you have a general manager who is as capable as anybody has been. if we leave here and do nothing and when you are saying you aren't going to give us a dime. really? we need resources. this is your system. this is my system. you are going to put your parents and kids on this system that is a system that it is like it is today. give me a break. we have to step up. i have reports from 2010, 2011, 2005, 2005, where we have done
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nothing. we cannot leave here and do nothing again. >> see all of that hearing during prime time tonight here on c-span or watch it any time at >> righters is reporting that the u.s. military is dropping ber bombs on isis aboard a plane, this is part of a coordinated effort to increase pressure and the pentagon, colonel steve warren said it is beginning a new phase. degrading the terror group is complete and moving on to phase two. his briefing is about 40 minutes. >> thank you jeff and good morning pentagon press corps. i hear the russians are up into
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their old tricks so i will try to get through this rapidly. i have some prepared remarks i want to get through. so here we go. operations against isil began on 8 august, 2014 and 20 months since then we have achieved much. year and a half ago we saw convoys moving freely into most you will and iraq. our enemy has been weakened and now working to fracture him. phase one of the military campaign is complete. and we are now in phase two, which is to dismantle this enemy. phase one was to degrade the enemy focusing on staffing isil and degrading their military capabilities both in iraq and syria. this is an effort to eliminate them to operate as a
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conventional force. we are in the second phase of this operation now and our task is to dismantle the enemy, fragment them in iraq and syria. isil has lost more than 40% of the territory once controlled in iraq and in syria. opposition forces have routed the enemy from most of the turkish border. while it can put together some complex attacks, they have not been able to take hold of any key terrain for almost a year. we struck leaders, supply lines and funding sources in iraq and syria. during this phase, we will enable our partners to dismantle the enemy, fragment these forces, isolate his centers of gravity and liberate the training holds. the tigris are in where we are isolating to seize
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most you will. in the river valley, operations are stabilizing andbar. provinces inare in order to pressure. and see all three of those illustrated on your map. our strategy requires well equipped and trained partners on the ground. we have seen with effective training, proper equipment and devastating coalition air power, iraqi forces can win. we have seen this in tikrit and other places. let's talk about the operations more specifically. in the river valley on april 11, the i.s.f. raised the iraqi flag over a city in a government building. we estimate that 75% of the city
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is now clear and that i.s.f. will push isil completely out of the city in the coming days. evacuated an estimated 7,000 civilians over the last several days and the coalition has conducted 21 air strikes against 108 separate enemy targets resulting in more than 500 enemy killed in action. in fallujah, the 14th division is in defensive positions preparing for future operations. you can put the map back up. n the tigris river valley, operations are heavily contested. the territory is essential for isil' defense in death of most you will. enemy knows once they lose this territory, the iraqi security forces will posture for the eventual liberation. we have seen them put up their
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toughest fighting and also seeing the i.s.f. dig in and repel attacks. coalition forces have supported operations with 25 strikes in that sector since april 8. on the red circle on your map which is pressuring and isolating, since about the first of april, local forces have liberated more than a dozen small villages to the northwest. while these operations don't encompass a lot of territory, this is critically important, because it is their last best route to move people, money and supplies into syria and iraqi. there's now less than 100 kilometers. since the first of april, the coalition has enabled operations in this sectors with 16 air
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strikes which have resulted in several dead terrorists and much equipment destroyed. in the east, the syrian democratic forces have secured approximately 6,200 square kilometers, roughly the size of delaware. most recent gains are the result of successful syrian-arab coalition and syrian democratic force operations to stabilize the forward line of troopings and further fragment the enemy's position between most you will. and that completes my update and with that, i saw bob in the audience. reporter: when you talked about stabilizing andbar, a question for you about ramadi, what are
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the efforts to repopulate the city and reconstruct the city and any idea of how many civilian casualties occurred uring the fighting for ramadi? well, the ramadi piece is continuing. there were land mines, booby traps and i.e.d.'s throughout the city and iraqi security forces along with some civilian humanitarian agencies are working to reduce those obstacles, booby traps and et cetera. it's a process and it's a slow process. parts of that city remain very, very dangerous to this day. there have been some notable numbers returning to ramadi.
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we estimate approximately 9,000 families have returned and adds up to 60,000 individual people have now returned to ramadi over the course of the last several weeks and months. so we are seeing some progress. the iraqiies are working hard to get the fracture back up and running whether electricity or water and have systems to provide water via truck and to provide electricity by external generator, so there are processes in place. just over the weekend the american secretary of state announced an additional $155 million that the united states is committing to the reconstruction, stabilization and humanitarian processes in place. we are seeing it very slow, but
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notable progress in ramadi. we don't have a good count of how many civilians were killed during the entire course of isil's occupation of that city. we know it is a brutal and adly enemy and ice ill takes in execution and beheadings and can only imagine what life must ave been like. >> on that question of civilian casualties, i was thinking more in terms of where you have an idea of whether civilians were killed during the bombing or other fighting that involved iraqi forces in the city over the past -- in the final period hen fighting was very heavy.
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>> well, we have announced, as you know any time there is an allege of a civilian casualty we take that very seriously. we conduct an assessment of that allege. if the allege is credible, then we initiate a full investigation. when the investigation is complete we very transparently and publicly announce the results of that investigation. we can go back and look through the investigation results that have been made public so far. we have no additional investigation results to announce today so i refer you back to our already published casualty announcements -- i don't recall if any of those are in ramadi. as sfar as any civilians that became casualties as a result of iraqi ground operations, we don't have those numbers.
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>> i mean to ask you a broad question. you mentioned in your opening statement you are working to dismantle isil. the same techniques and have been used against al qaeda in iraq. every time the united states lives the battlefield, the terrorists make a comeback. what makes you confident this time that this strategy against isil is going to work? first off, phase one is degrade and we are in phase two, which is dismantle. we are in the dismantle phase, which is phase two. we are confident for one simple
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reason. rather than use large numbers of american forces or coalition and russian forces here on the ground, we made a very conscious decision and this is through our consultations with the government of iraq who have asked us not to send in any ground forces. there are no ground combat maneuver forces here. they are trainers, advisers and we believe that the way to defeat this enemy in such a way that the defeat will stick so in other words, beat them so that they stay beat, we believe the key to that is for it to happen through the use of indigenous forces. are using -- the iraqis fighting this enemy and we
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believe the iraqis are the only ones who can defeat this enemy on the ground in such a way that they stay beat. so they don't come back as you indicated. o that's our strategy. >> if i could follow up on joe's question, you mentioned fragmenting and fracturing the enemy. does it not a scattered isis lead to a more complicated battle. you are using the iraqi forces on the ground but if you have the same situation in syria where you don't have a large force, isn't this just complicating this situation if you have a few hundred fighters ll over the place? >> it's not. certainly we would rather have our enemy just grouped together
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but i don't think they will do that. so our intent here is to deliver them a lasting defeat and we believe that by degrading them in phase one and then dismantling them in phase two, we believe that will set us up for phase three, which is the ultimate defeat of this enemy. a fractured enemy, an enemy that is fractured and scattered has significantly reduced ability to amass combat power. they aren't able to create mass and not able to create decisive effects on the battlefield. one guy with an r.p.g. can shoot a vehicle. one can dig a hole and plant an i.e.d. this is what we will face.
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one guy with a shovel cannot seize a town. one guy with an r.p.g. cannot take control of a piece of terrain. we believe by shattering them and fragmenting them and dismantling them we will move one step closer to the ultimate defeat. >> toward africa, toward europe? >> the question got flipped. >> the pressure they are taking in iraq and syria does that the force more cells of fighters into north africa and europe? >> it does. this enemy has made it clear that they want to expand into these places, but as we --
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remember, dismantle, you have to look at it as a bigger picture. command and control capabilities, that means taking apart their ability to earn money to finance their own operations. you're thinking just individual people running around like cokreaches when the light turns on. whether it is the ability to generate weapons or money, build truck bombs, command and control themselves, communicate amongst each other and hold and control territory. remember, isil it exists to be a caliphate and as we gobble up more and more territory, they are less and less a caliphate until they won't be one anymore and just be a group of terrorists. but it is significantly reduced
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problem set that an organization that has safe havens and area that they can plan their operations around the world. so this idea that somehow by beating them, that they are becoming more dangerous is in my view ludicrous. no one is thinking about it. as we continue to dismantle and defeat this enemy, they become automatically less capable and less effective and don't have a place to sit around and plan and don't have funds coming in that allows them to fund their external desires and don't have the command and control, the ability to talk with each other and they are by definition less effective. o that's what's going on here. >> on that point, you had some really couple very high value
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targets taken off the battlefield in recent weeks. has there been any concrete idence that is effective and operating detail on any impact on that? d i have a question later on as well. >> concrete evidence is stog -- i don't know what your definition of concrete evidence. any organization that three of its most senior leaders in a span of 30 days is going to suffer for it. who were three leaders were significant players inside that organization. equivalent of their minister of war. their equivalent of deputy and
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chief finance officer and chief weapons officer. c.o.o. and c.f.o. and chief research guy all wiped out in a short window thfment is a significant blow to the organization. and so what we see is, as we have seen every time we conduct leadership strikes is the organization and turning on itself. increased number of executions, isil executing its own people, accused of being spice. and it will create -- creates confusion and paranoia and creates disorganization. as far as a piece of concrete to show you, no, i don't have that. >> mobilize fighters the same as before or signs that the communications have been affected in what you were able to pick up or changed strategy
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and not changed tactics in the ay that you noted? >> they are continuously evolving. e see it all the time, how their communications move around. but this is a continuous thing. every time -- old idea of action, reaction, counteraction. every time we act, they will react and we will counteract their reaction. this is the nature of the warfare. and we see it if it is an adjustment in the way they try to transmit information. whether it's an adjustment whether they flow equipment and whether it's adjustment to the way they are physically defending or fighting. we see this continuously. and we'll continue to observe it
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and continue to act on what we see. >> have you seen any evidence of fighting between kurdish forces and arab forces? >> we have not seen anything significant. there is friction on the battlefield. some very old animosities and they have to be accounted for and they will show themselves from time to time as different groups brush up against each other in the course of pursuing and fighting isil. so we do see some of this but don't see it as a problem. battlefield friction that we are able to account for. >> colonel, i would like to ask you about some of the concerns
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and criticisms we have heard about the iraqi forces being kind of slow in the operations and not fighting as aggressively as some people might like or as the secretary said lacking the will to tight. to what extent is some of the forward-leaning support the u.s. has provided and maybe we will see in the near future. what is that designed to instill confidence in the iraqis and encourage them to fight more aggressively and pick up the ace of their operations? >> very good question, fair question, reminds me of a story. there is an iraqi army m-one abe brams tank, a single tank that is operating within a city and
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has been handing it to the enemy regularly now for several days. they pushed continuously on the front line. this is a great example of the iraqi army interacting with and working together in a combined arms fashion with the counterterrorist services. this m-1 tank has been driving around and blasting i.e.d.'s and maneuvering between multiple engagements and allowing iraqi army ground forces to clear and help evacuate civilians. there is one tank crew that the american advisers who actually watched this tank in action have given it the hero of the day award for several days and our guys will track this tank and at one point they thought there
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were multiple tanks but they reached in and it was one tank tearing up all by itself. this tank has become a folk hero here in iraq. hey have nicknamed it, the tweets, they have nicknamed this tank the beast. all of a sudden, the beast has become a thing here in this part of iraq. i have a video of the beast that 'm going to tweet out. . and i'm going to tweet out the video and watch it and see what it looks like. so we are seeing the iraqi army step up. been the at they have examples for several years of
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effective force. the iraqi army over the course of the past 20 months and trained 20,000 of them, has begun to elevate their performance levels every day and we have seen them now conduct ramadi ns in tikrit and and what this has done, the effect this has had is they have tasted victory. and in battle, as in life, victory tastes sweet and they like the way victory tastes and would like to taste more of it. we have seen the small units whose confidence, whose morale is growing, strengthening and expanding and that tends to have an effect, a ripple effect across the unit. so we believe that the training, the advising has had a
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significant and notable impact on the iraqi army. that said, i have to be clear, not every iraqi unit is alike, just not like every unit in any army is alike. hey still have problems. we have seen problems with units that have not fought the way we'd like them to. we have had problems with leaders who have not been as aggressive as we would like them to. but what's encouraging is iraqi officials have noticed this as well and fired commanders, there was a division with northern access into ramadi, the commander was fired over the winter. they replaced another commander with a more aggressive commander. we're starting to see this army act like an army. there's been moments where they
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could have done better. but broadly speaking across the board, we believe that overall it's coming up. it's a good time for that to happen. i'm here to tell you, as this army begins to drive north toward mosul, the fighting is only going to get harder. this enemy does not want to give up mosul. they want to preserve their defense in depth along the tigris river and they'll continue to fight hard. and oh, by the way, as they move north, from baghdad, they then become increasingly distant from their support zone which is baghdad. e support zone for the iraqi searm baghdad. as they move north they find themselves with additional logistics hurdles they have to surmount. the timing is right for the iraqi army to raise its capability level and its level.
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i hope that answered your uestion. >> hey, colonel, i've got a couple of questions. on that tank, the beast, how ny tank crews are you -- are in there and why is this particular one so good? did it get different training? is it just the people running the tanks? colonel warren: it's the crew. a1 abrams tank with a motivated crew demonstrating the enormous cape able -- capabilities available in an abrams m1 tank. they're out there plain old
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getting after it. >> you mentioned 500 enemies killed, is that just in coalition air pace? -- air space? does that include the iraqi army nd c.c.s. as well? colonel warren: that number is the result of coalition air strikes, i don't have the numbers the iraqis are keeping. >> on a different topic, are the americans, are we directly arming the peshmerga at this point? colonel warren: 100% of the arms and equipment we provide goes through the central government of iraq. of course there's coordination and you you know, it's the coordination it goes through,
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the delivery will be to the care but it all goes through the central government of iraq. the central government decides where every piece of equipment oes. >> colonel, hi. i want to follow up on joe's question about your comments on strategy against isis. you said you have made your strategy to degrade and dismantle isis on the indigenous forces but these indigenous forces are only fragmented among themselves as well and they have more than ever. tribes,ee shia militia, the iraqi government, you see opposition groups, islamist groups and also the regime, his , so lo, they are divided
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how are you going to bring all of these fragments together to or isis' defeat in iraq and syria? >> they're coming -- colonel warren: they're coming around -- coming together around a common purpose, defeating this enemy. we see that in iraq and in syria as well. we see a small contingent of forces helping the syrian democratic force together. and we see it working. you can't argue with 6,000 square kilometers liberated in the last month, an area larger than the size of delaware. you can't argue with that progress. nor can you argue with the amount of clearance we've seen through both the tie tigris and
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euphrates river in the past few months. these forces coalesced in both countries around a common enemy and it is the ground forces along with the devastating air power we provide that are dismantling this enemy. >> the coalition partners are also not, they do not have a consensus about excluding indigenous groups as well. how are you going to -- for xample, turkey is not happy in northeastern syria, and there are groups who are supporting some other groups other than the ones that the united states tried to support. replicate going to hat as well for a longer term?
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colonel warren: this coalition has gotten stronger every day ove the last 20 months. we see that in the result. as our coalition comes closer together, we see more effectiveness in our air power, we see more effectiveness, we see coalition members contributing greater and greater number of enablers, very recently we've seen european partners over the course of the last several months commit additional trainers, commit additional air power, commit ategsal enablers. so these are all very concrete signs that this coalition is coming together, is becoming stronger, is becoming more potent with every single passing day and so we will continue, the united states of america will continue its leadership of this coigs land continue to bring them together against this very common enemy which makes itself known through its attacks. you know that we've seen.
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whether it's a russian airliner being shot town this egypt, whether it's several series of bombs in turkey. whether it's paris, whether it's brussels, it's clear, the world understands that this is an enemy that must be defeat . and we are watching this 666 member coalition come together tronger every day. >> hi, there, two quick questions regarding one on peshmerga, first, on the peshmerga forces they are not paid over the last three months. how does it impact the situation on the ground, the financial risis? colonel warren: the financial
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crisis in iraq certainly is having an impact. there's no way around it. but it is something that iraqi government is working very hard to get through. while the peshmerga have missed some payments, as have other portions of the iraqi security force, they continue to fight. and we are working with our partners to determine if there's anything we can do to help and the iraqi goth is working very hard both with its partners and the international community at large to find a way out of this financial crisis, this economic risis. so far we've seen these forces not only continue to fight but continue to win. > what is the impact then?
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did you realize any moral problem with the peshmerga? -- morale problem with the peshmerga? colonel warren: no, no problem with the peshmerga. they are committed fighters. the impact is that they haven't been paid. that's the impact. but they're still fighting. >> and the situation in northern ,yria, according to the reports fighting is intensifying over the last one week or two weeks. when you are talking about pressuring them is it safe to assume that before liberating the area, the priority for the coalition is to secure the last part they have syrian-turkish
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border in terms of closing the way of isis to escape from the operation? colonel warren: we certainly don't want to transmit our plans ahead of our execution of those plans. what i'll say is, you've seen the noose beginning to tighten around the area, you see pressure continuing to mount whether pressure from the ground or air, and that will keep up until raca is eventually liberated. i'm certainly not going to announce what tactical actions we're going to do on the road to raca, i'm not going to do that. um -- ihave a question, dn't hear --
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>> colonel, a quick followup on the beast, why is there only one tank in heat? is that an indicator of low resourcing for that operation? colonel warren: no, it's not an indicator of low resourcing. there are three up there, two broke. so there's one remaining. we're working with them on maintenance but the one that's up is up and it's tearing it up. >> and that's part of the larger euphrates river operation you have. a couple weeks ago you talked about the from the of residents moving out because of the violence. is that still continuing? have the numbers increased? or are people returning to their homes? colonel warren: i'm sorry, where
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where alking didn't -- are we -- >> in euphrates river that whole operation as a whole. you talked about how there was a flow of people. have those numbers gone up or are people returning? colonel warren: so they're slowly returning. we saw the enemy in this case did not salt the earth with explosives to the extent they did in ramadi. why, we're not sure, but it's always the goal of the humanitarian community to return folks back to their homes as rapidly as possible. so this operation has only been going not even a month yet. we are seeing, the head of households will return and stay for a while and try to get things going and draw the roves the family. i don't have numbers for you
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right now. we know the iraqi army did a very admirable job of working with the u.n. ahead of this push through the euphrates river valley to establish several i.d.p. camps just south of the line of advance or line of attack. and those i.d.p. camps were used, they were stocked, very well run, so we've actually been very satisfied with the conduct of both the t.p.s. and the iraqi army through the course of this operation. it's been heartening and good to see. but unfortunately, i don't have a good set of numbers for you. largely speak, the i.d.p.'s are still out of their homes but we are beginning to see a trickle back. >> is there any plan to army syrian rebels with shoulder-fired surface to air missiles? colonel warren: right now, we
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are only providing only in addition and small arms. i certainly wouldn't get into future plans an operations, ill leave that to more senior people to announce. as of now, what we provide through the coalition, is primarily ammunition and in some cases small arms, .50 caliber machine guns, mortars, mortar ounds, certainly no manpads. >> do you know how many manpads pproximately are in syria? >> no idea, i'm sor i. >> can i ask one -- i'm sorry. >> can i ask one other question? can you give us a status update on hostilities in syria. colonel warren: the cessation of
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hostility still largely holds. there have been violations, of course, primarily in the aleppo area. there's several working groups, americans and russians one of them that process appears to be going. from a purely military perspective, there have been violations, none significant enough to declare it's collapsed or anything. they do seem to be increase bug largely at this point so difficult to tell whether it's a trend or if it's just happening right now for some reason. our focus, of course, remains fighting isil. >> colonel warren a quick followup on heat, what's the american and coalition role in that operation been, anything other than air strikes and advising from inside the wire at division headquarters? anything beyond that?
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our role has been to provide combat power to ive advice and assistance from headquarters and of course to cheer them on. >> myuestion is tied to andrews' -- andrew's. whether or not there have been new u.s. bases or positions along the lines of fire or anything else remotely like that where u.s. soldiers are put into a different, or marines or anybody, put into a different location? colonel warren: i don't have anything to announce along those lines. >> anybody else? >> colonel warren, can you help us understand how the u.s. and russia are co-chairing the cessation of hostilities talks in geneva but at the same time
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russian attack aircraft are buzzing a u.s. destroyer in the baltic sea? colonel warren: it is a complex world, lucas. these are all -- these co-chairs and things like that, these are all national matters. baltic sea, not part of our -- my area of operation. our focus here is to destroy this group that's a brute -- this ruthless and brutal enemy and that's what we're doing. >> i know that state department is watching the implementation, but my question is on the situation in aleppo. state department confirmed a violation of the agreement by c.i.a. forces and russian forces but i'm wondering if the groups who were attacked by this -- these forces in syria were
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cooperating at the same time in terms of departing against isis? colonel warren: i didn't understand a single word of that. >> i know there was a violation of cessation of hostilities according to state department officials. syrian and russian forces attacked some groups, nonisis groups, let's say, the groups -- part of t of the the agreement, who are not supposed to be attacked by any forces according to the agreement. but state department confirmed that there's a violation of agreement with northern aleppo. i'm wondering if these groups attacked by russian and syrian forces in northern aleppo are at the same time cooperating with
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u.s. forces on the ground gainst isis? olonel warren: we don't have a piece of the enforcement of the cessation of hostilities. what we are doing, we the coalition, what we're doing in yria is fighting isil. so that whatever it was you described there had nothing to do with fighting isil. what we're doing is fighting isil. so that's where our focus remains. >> thank you very much for your time and we'll look forward to seing you next week. colonel warren: all right, hanks, guy, see you next week. >> at that pentagon briefing today, colonel steve warren announcing the military is beginning a new phase in
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combating isis. coming up shortly at 5:30 p.m. eastern time, president obama will have remarks about isis. he's speaking at c.i.a. headquarters just outside of washington, d.c. we'll have that for you live when it gets under way. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] >> this month we showcase our student cam winners. c-span's annual video documentary competition for middle and high school students this year's theme was road to the white house and student were asked what issues do you want presidential candidates to discuss. one of our second highest winners are -- second prize winners are from scranton, ennsylvania. >> i'm abby and this is fione. we're standing in times square,
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known as the crossroads of the world. many immigrants who passed through here. >> we need to come up with a plan to solve the current imdwration issue. we believe all immigrants should have the opportunity to reach for the american dream. >> what is the greatest benefit that immigrants contribute to scranton? >> as i said earlier, the best benefit i think is learning about their culture. the ways -- their religions, the way they dress, the foods they eat. it makes us better people. >> on a national level what are your views about current immigration policies for immigrants coming to the united states of america? >> again, you know, we should never, never roll up the welcome mat here to america. this is how this country was founded. it's founded on hope that people can come here and have a better life, a better opportunity. >> as we began our research
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about immigration issues, it became clear to us that the problems surrounding immigration were complicated. it also became clear that most politicians in washington agree n the following. there are immigration matters that need to be addressed. >> that means we have to finally, once and for all, fix our immigration system. this is a family issue. it's an economic issue too. but it is at heart a family issue and if we claim that we are for families, we have to pull together and resolve the outstanding issues around our broken imgrags system. >> my chicogoans have been waiting for congress to act and take action for over a decade. polish, ukrainian, irish, ukrainian are waiting. ware thating -- they're waiting for family members to get visas
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in backlogs of 20 years. >> we have to fix these broken things in washington, d.c. fix the broken immigration system, both the illegal and legal side. >> as all of you know we have 11 million people in this country who are undocumented. 99% of whom came to this country to improve their lives. to escape oppression. to flee desperate poverty. and violence. >> this project has shown us that if -- that immigration is complicated, emotional and raises many questions. what should we do about children of illegal immigrants? how do you know if someone is here legally or illegally?
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scary to think that there are no rules to keep us in place. >> jeb bush said when people come in, it's an act of love. it's not an act of love. we need a wall. we need a wall. you see what's happening with illegal immigration. if it weren't for me they wouldn't be talking about illegal immigration. >> it's very important that we enforce our immigration law that we encourage people to come here legally, to come through the vetting process, the inspection process. we want immigrants to come to america for that life. that's what america is. a beacon of hope. however, when we allow people to nowingly break our laws, evade inspection, to bypass any type of medical screening, to live
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here in america and depress the wages of american workers, which we know for a fact illegal immigration depresses wages for american workers. we also know, unfortunately, that there are people around the world that want to do us harm. that hate our way of life. that want to come here and steal that way of life from us through terrorism. >> i can't imagine our lives without the value they ontribute. we have to find a way to address immigration and keep the country afe.
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>> we need to support comprehensive immigration reform, not just because it's the right thing to do, and it is, but because they know it strengthens families, strengthens our economy, and strengths our country. >> this is what makes america exceptional. we welcome strivers. we welcome dreamers. from all around the world. it keeps us young, keeps us invigorated, keeps us striving and pushing the boundaries of what's possible. then we all bind ourselves together around similar ideals. a similar creed. and one generation in, suddenly those kids are already americans. like everybody else. >> how is immigration important to the building of america? >> i think the best way i can answer that question was that in
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1954, days after ellis island, they made the announcement it was closing down, that an editorial appeared in the "new york times," i'll share part of it with you. in that editorial it said, immigrants have given to the united states artists, actors, doctors, writers, farmers, philosophers. immigrants have given this nation its teachers. immigrants and their descendants today elect our nation's laws. programs someday a monument that celebrates immigrants will rise upon an island called ellis. >> we're standing in front of the statue of liberty which was and still is a symbol of hope and freedom for immigrants coming to america. >> we feel 2016 presidential candidates should discuss immigration issues. >> we believe immigration issues should be one of their top priorities. >> to watch all the prize winning entries in this year's kmp decision, visit
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>> live look here from the c.i.a. in langley, virginia, just outside of washington, d.c. the associated press reporting on president obama, barack obama will pay a rare visit to c.i.a. headquarters today as the u.s. weighs send manager forces to iraq to fight the islamic state group. in a meeting with top national security advisors, obama planned to get an update on the u.s. led campaign in syria and iraq as well as rocky diplomatic efforts to resolve syria's civil war. the meeting comes the week before the president travels to saudi arabia for a summit with persian gulf leaders focused largely on the threat from the islamic state. again the president expected here at c.i.a. with a statement on isis shortly, live on c-span.
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>> again, we're live at c.i.a. headquarters outside washington, d.c. waiting for the president with a statement on isis today. earlier today at the pentagon, colonel steve warren actually reporting back to reporters at the pentagon, colonel steve warren announcing that the military is beginning a new phase in combating isis. meanwhile the associated press says that president obama, who will be visiting saudi arabia next week for a gulf cooperation
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council summit, they say that trip comes at the start of a trip that will also take the president to germany and to the united kingdom, two countries playing key roles in the u.s.-led coalition fighting isis. ash carter, the defense secretary, said this week, said he expects the president while in saudi arabia to ask other cull gulf countries to help rebuild iraq economically once isis has been defeated. again that from the associated press today. again the president on isis at c.i.a. headquarters coming up shortly when it gets under way, we'll have it for you lye here on c-span. in the meantime while we wait, here's secretary of state john kerry, he presented the 2015 human rights report today. secretary kerry: i'm going to make a statement and then i have to run from here to a meeting on
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a number of issues. forgive me if i dash out of here, i'm not trying to avoid you. i think john will come to the podium and make some statements. i know there are some events you're curious about and we will be commenting on them. but let me wait on that until we do a little more homework on them. i'm particularly pleased that you're here for the release of the human rights practices report for 2015. i want to thank todd melonowski and his entire team for producing these materials which takes an enormous amount of work and effort. it's really an all-year effort. next year's report, the work will begin today. and it's a continuous effort. whatis the 40th edition of
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is amok, without any doubt, the department's most widely read and significant publications. we think it's a model of careful and comprehensive research. i want to stress about the standard applied in the compiling of this report. the norms referred to in this report, in these reports, are universal norms. they are not something that we make up. they're not some arbitrary standard of the united states which we seek to impose on people. these are universal standards of human rights that have been adopted and accepted and are agreed to by most nations in the world and even some nations that have agreed to them but violate them. these are the international standards. and in the arena of human rights, every government, every government has the ability to improve, including the united states.
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the point that we make over and over again is that respecting human rights isn't just a moral obligation, it's an opportunity to harness the full energy of the country's population in building a cohesive and prosperous society. and it doesn't jeopardize stability, it enhances it. you can measure that in country after country where human rights are respected, people are happier, people are freer to pursue their own designs, happier and freer to be artistic and creative, to be entrepreneurial, to make a difference in the building of a community. and that is not a theory. that is a fact that is proven every day in countries all around the world. countries that suppress freedom of expression are less likely to have economies that innovate, diversify, and grow.
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and societies that discriminate against women and minorities, particularly, have trouble competing against those that benefit from the contributions of all of their citizens. governments that deny political liberty forfeit public trust. thereby opening the door to civic unrest of all types, including, i might add, violent extremism. it is also a fact that countries where governance is really bad or nonexistent, or corrupt, are countries that also wind up seeing remarkable abuses within a criminal justice system if there is one, or just in the day-to-day treatment of people. here is the truth, we believe. a government that fails to respect human rights, no matter how lofty its pretensions, has very little to boast about, to
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teach, and very little indeed in the way of reaching its full potential. it is important to underscore that the reports that we release as they voluminous are, represent a tiny fraction of what this department does to advance freedom and dignity across the globe. human rights are part of our agenda with every single nation and also in the multilateral organizations to which we belong. not a day goes by without one or more of our officials in this department advocating on behalf of basic liberties, speaking out against corruption, pressing for the release of political prisoners, or underscoring our support for constitutional procedures and the rule of law. and i might add for myself to
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every official who travels on behalf of our country, we raise specific names, specific cases, individuals with leaders in countries around the world. in the past year, i've traveled to a host of countries where our backing for human rights and democratic principles is a focus of our diplomacy. this includes the states of central asia, where civil society is heavily embattledled. it includes egypt where i emphasize the importance of distinguishing between violent and nonviolent dissent. it encludes cuba where president obama and i urked the authorities to allow more political openness and online access. there's no question in my mind that most cubans are far more interested in plugging into the world economy than in recycling arguments left over from the cold war. the only question is how long it
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will take for the officials in havana to catch up to the population. of course not every conversation that we have on human rights bears fruit. certainly not immediately. and not in all areas. but steady effort we have seen again and again can foster progress and make a difference. and i particularly want to emma size that one life saved is a different -- is a difference worth fighting for. for example, we have seen important democratic gains in such countries as due knee zha, nigeria, and -- and tunisia, nigeria and burma. though in each there are still channels that need to be overcome. but we are working with each of those countries in efforts to help meet those challenges. vietnam is another example. the country remains a single party state, but hanoi has
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pledged as a member of the transpacific partnership to allow for the formation of independent trade unions for the first time. a potential significant advance for freedom of association. for workers. in azerbaijan we have welcomed the release in the past month of a number of political prisoners and we hoped for more and believe that expanding freedom of expression and political participation will do much to strengthen that country and our relationship. the human rights report spell out our concerns on every continent, but the most widespread and dramatic violations in 2015 were those in the middle east. where the confluence of terrorism and the syrian conflict caused enormous suffering. i have discussed this crisis in this region repeatedly in recent
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weeks, and so i'm just going to highlight a few points right now. first, the united states wants those responsible for committing human rights abuses in syria, iraq and elsewhere to be held accountable for their actions. to that end, we are supporting international efforts to investigate, collect, analyze and preserve evidence of atrocities. second, we're doing all we can to aid the victims of human rights abuses, including counseling and other assistance for women and girls who have endured slavery. third with our partners, we continue to go after daesh, shrinking its territory, degrading its leadership, hammering its revenue sources, cutting its sflysplie lines and rallying the world against its genocide al actions and idea -- genocidal actions and ideology.
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finally, we are deeply committed to the search for a political solution on the conflict in syria including full access to humanitarian supplies, sustainment of the cessation of hostilities, the release of the most vulnerable prisoners, and a syrian-led political transition in accordance with the geneva communique of 2012 and u.n. u.n. security council resolution 2254. given the horrors of these past five years, i cannot imagine a more powerful blow for human rights than putting a decisive end to this war. to the terror, to the repression, and especially to the torture and the indiscriminate bombing and thereby make possible a new beginning for the syrian people. there are some who believe that after decades of dictatorship an years of bloodshed, syria can
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never recover. well, i disagree with that. and i think the example of the human species, the human spirit in so many different places, in so many different times in history, shows exactly how resilient people can be. it's the in my way -- in many ways the untold story of recent years is how disparate groups of brave syrians have managed to keep their communities alive amidst the most incredible hardship and carnage, and this violence has declined over the course of the last weeks we have seen evidence of this resilience already in the operation of local councils, the organization of relief networks and the resumption of nonviolent political activity. there's no guarantee that syrians will be able to put their country together again but i'll tell you after all they have been through, they deserve
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the fairest opportunity to be able to try. ow, i talked to stefan today from geneva and we talked about the reconvening of the peace talks at this particular moment. and i want to emphasize on his behalf and on behalf of the international syrian support group and all the nations involved in this, we urge all of the participants on one side or the other, all the combatant, the regime, others, to adhere to the setsation of hostilities -- cessation of hostilities. there's an opportunity in the days ahead to negotiate transition according to geneva communique of 2012, which is precisely what they say they want. the the iranians have signed up to it, the russians have signed up to it, the turk the saudis,
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most european countries, all the countries that are part of the international syrian support group and we strongly urge all of the combatants to give stefan and his team the opportunity to do their work in the next hours and days in geneva. before i close, i want to say a word about the issue of torture. i want to remove even a scintilla of doubt or confusion that has been caused by statements that others have made in recent weeks and months. the united states is opposed to the use of torture in any form, at any time, by any government or nonstate actor. america's commitment to the humane treatment of persons in captivity began as far back as with general george washington.
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in the revolutionary war. it has been reafirled countless times throughout our history and in a host of international commitments. we declared this optician to torture yet again just last year, in bipartisan legislation approved by the united states congress. this is a standard that we insist that others meet and therefore we must meet this standard ourselves. i know personally that the fierce anger that arises in war when fellow countrymen are attacked, whether they are soldiers or civilians, can sometimes prompt fury, rage, revenge. but there is a sharp dividing line between societies that abandon all standards when times are tough and those that do their absolute best to maintain those standards, because ultimately upholding core values
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is what makes a nation strong. i'm pleased now to turn the floor over to tom for his remarks and for your questions. thank you all. tom: thank you, everybody. my thanks to the secretary. so want to begin by thanking all of the hundreds and hundreds of people who work so hard over a period of months to compile hese reports from steven eisenbrown and his team at my bureau to the hundreds of wonderful human rights officers who we have at embassies around the world who do the leg work. we are very proud of what the human rights reports have come
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to represent after 40 years doing them. the reports help to keep us honest with ourselves and with the world about allies and adversaries alike. we still have our debates and disagreements around here. about how to address the challenges that are outlined in the report, but when it comes time to settle on policy, this document ensures we all argue from the same set of facts. the secretary focused on syria in his remarks and that's where i'll start too because i think the crisis there shows just how vital the defense of human rights is to everything that we do around here. in syria, we see how human rights abuses in one small country can have consequences far beyond that small country's borders, from a refugee exodus that's altering the politics of europe, to the spawning of a terrorist group that threatens us all.
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i think syria also shows us something that is perhaps a little bit more encouraging. when you think about how the crisis there began, five years ago, it began with ordinary citizens going out onto their streets, holding peaceful marches and rallies to ask for basic freedoms. in response, they were met with sniper fire, with scud missiles, with chemical attacks, with mass torture, with starvation, with cruelties that one would think would leave any ordinary human being completely numb and hopeless and yet what did syrians do the moment that this cessation of hostilities that secretary kerry helped to negotiate gave them a fragile respite from all those horrors? they went out onto their streets holding peaceful rallies and marches, asking for the same basic freedoms they were asking
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for five years ago. that's something that we have taken note of here. everything we are doing in syria is done with the aim of helping those people win back a country that is worthy of the sacrifices they have had to make a country that's free of both the nihilism of daesh and the brew tl -- brutality of the assad regime, both for their sake and for us. these reports contain a lot of unhappy stories from many countries. and they come at a time when it seems that authoritarian governments, beginning with influential powers like russia and china, are striking out with particular ferocity against the freedoms of expression, association, and the press. if you look at the introduction to the reports, you'll find a section where we tried to itemize and respond point by
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point to the arguments that secretary kerry and i and others get when we travel around the world from governments going after civil society. which i hope you'll find interesting. the trend obviously disturbs us. it ought to disturb us. but i don't think it ought to surprise us. civil society has become a growing force and they are world. if you're trying to steal an election or to stay in office for life or to prophet from corruption, then of course you're going to be threatened by n.g.o.'s and journalists who try to expose those abuse of power. all of these countries, there are people who face that kind of persecution and who just carry on with faith and determination and even good humor. secretary kerry and i meet people like that in all of our bahrain from cuba to where with just were a few days ago to burundi to vietnam.
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they remuned us every time we meet them that there's aays something the united states can do to help. the secretary mentioned some places where sustained u.s. efforts have help over the last year. we're focused on how to push for more progress in the year ahead. in burma, the civilian government has begun to free political prisoners. we will do everything we can to support it in tackling reform of the country's laws and constitution, seeking peace with ethnic minorities and addressing the human rights and humanitarian challenges of the state. n vietnam, t.p.t., if congress approves it, offers the chance as the secretary mentioned to break the government's monopoly on labor organization. president obama's visit to vietnam in may will encourage progress in other human rights issues in keeping with vietnam's
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pledge to bring its laws and constitution in harmony with its constitution and international standards. in nigeria we'll support a newly elected government in its fight against boko haram, gear -- gearing our assistance to a strategy that wins the trust of the civilian population by protecting them and respecting their rights. tunisia se zha -- in we are working to strengthening the most hopeful model of governments to emerge from the air rab spring. in iraq we'll be advancing our campaign against daesh and striving to do so in a way that restores good governance and gives i.v.p.'s, including minority groups subjected to genocide and crimes against humanity the confidence to return home. in venezuela we'll be working with regional partners to persuade the government to listen to the will of its people by releasing political prisoners and respecting its newly elected parliament.
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in sri lanka we'll be encourage regular conciliation and justice in keeping with the joint resolution its government co-sponsored with us at the u.n. human rights council. in china, given all the hardships that people working for better governance there now face, we think it is especially important to stand by the lawyers being imprisoned for doing their jobs, the religious minorities persecuted for their faith, the activists and journalists being abconducted, in some cases from other -- abducted in some cases from other countries, for speaking out. in march we mobilized the first joint statement from the u.n. on china's human rights record in over a decade. we'll continue to try to forge a common front with our friends and allies on these issues. there are a lot of other issues i could mention, i assume you'll ask me about some of them. before i finish, i'd like to raise one final issue that's central to everything we are
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trying to do to advance human rights around the world and that is the fight against corruption. secretary kerry said thrst nothing more demoralizing andties empowering to any citizen of any nation than the belief that the system is rigged against them and people in positions of power are crooks who are stealing the future of heir own people. but there's also nothing harder than dick -- harder for dictators to justify than tealing from their own people. orruption is at once a sign of authoritarianism and its greatest threat. we heard about how some of the world's most powerful people have been able to evade taxes and hide their wealth, some of which may have been ill gotten, in anonymous shell companies with the help of firms that provide financial secrecy to clients who can pay. in certain quarters, it's been
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suggested that these revelations can only be some kind of american plot. well, if the allegation is that the united states supports law enforcement agencies and civil society groups around the world that expose this kind of corruption, then we take it as a big compliment. that's what we should be doing and we will keep on doing. as you follow the story, one thing i'd like you to keep in mind is for two years now, the obama administration has been asking for legislation requiring all countries registered in the united states to identify the human beings who actually own them. there are many members of congress who ar dently support the cause of human rights and who press us every day here in the state department to do more. i would argue the most important thing that they can do to advance human rights this year is to pass legislation to keep
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our legal and financial system rom being used to facilitate autocracy and corruption overseas. with that, i would be happy to take your questions. >> thank you for taking my uestion. i wanted to ask you, human rights was a moral only fwation, should that obligation be extended to the palestinians under occupation and if so, what steps have you take ton hold israel accountable for its human rights violations such as home demolition? thank you. mr. malinowski: the simple answer to you question is yes, it should, it does, and it has. these issues are issues we raise with every country around the world. we raise them with our adversaries, we raise them with our closest allies and the
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secretary has raised those issues with the israeli government on many, many occasions. look, we have always argued that israel has a right to defend itself against terror attacks. that is a human rights imperative in and of itself, whether those attacks come in the form of indiscriminate rocket fire or people stabbing civilians on the streets. but that right to defend itself as we always argued needs to be exercised in a manner that is consistent with israel's obligations under human rights law and humanitarian law, whether that is in gaza or the occupied territories or in israel itself. >> where would you say this accelerating trend to stifle freedoms has been most stark in
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2015? you mentioned that in china, russia, maybe turkey, where would you say you've seen it most starkly? mr. malinowski: i mentioned china and russia because they are particularly influential ountries and when we see etermined efforts to legislate an end to freedom of association in a country as large as as influential as russia, or china, whether it's through targeting of foreign funding of n.g.o.'s and the treatment of russians campaigning against torture or for free elections as if they are somehow traitors to their country, or china's con flation
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activism and journalism with terrorism through legislation, that is of particular concern because those practices are much more likely to be copied in other countries. i would single them out. but then there are also, as the secretary and i both mentioned, there are places where civil societies is holding its own and fighting back and democracy is advancing. i had one of the most moving experiences in my time in the state department yesterday, eting a group of newly ppointed ministers, i.e. governors and ministers from burma,


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