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Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. This week, the President wrapped up an 8 day tour demonstrating American leadership and opening up economic opportunity for America in the Asia Pacific region. Upon his return he signed legislation to help our veterans find jobs, traveled to New Hampshire to urge Congress to cut payroll taxes for workers and small businesses, and pardoned two turkeys. That's November 18th to November 24th or "Your Best You."+ More details
Take a journey on the path to diplomacy with this educational Web site. To capture the spirit of this important facet of government, Second Story created a site that would lead visitors through a diversity of stories that exemplify diplomacy. Diplomacy is the act of developing and sustaining relationships. Yet, such a simple definition doesn’t fully represent the work of the Department of State. To further explain its role, and cultivate public engagement, Second Story created a site that is itself an act of diplomacy. Easily navigable across three main sections, the site covers the essentials of diplomatic principles. “Diplomacy 101” introduces the key concepts of what a diplomat does, where it all happens, and how relationships are created and sustained. An interactive map visualizes the people, places, and issues involved in the Department of State’s global network. An animation with kinetic typography introduces users to the cardinal values of diplomacy and illustrates how it affects every American. Built using HTML5, the site is flexible, accessible, and friendly to mobile devices. For complete project credits visit: http://secondstory.com/portfolio/works/discover-diplomacy U.S. Diplomacy Center+ More details
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We just launched this fun new video to great effect at the Democratic state convention in Los Angeles. It features yours truly (well, a version of me, anyway) battling a dark money cloud and a two-headed, eight-armed Koch Monster. Yes, you read that correctly. Take a look and let us know what you think. It’s not your typical campaign video – that’s for sure. Derek+ More details
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On March 15th, 2011 The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan held their first annual Panel Discussion on "Ethics in Our World: Symposium Exploring Ethics in America". Elaine Didier, Director of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum and Library hosted the symposium. Victoria Vuletich, Chair A.B.A. Center for Professional Responsibility's Continuing Legal Education Committee served as the panel moderator. The three member panel was composed of various leaders in their related fields, bringing different insights regarding the current status of ethics in America. Steve Ford, son of Gerald & Betty Ford, offered opening remarks from an "insider's view of his father’s values". Ford spoke on how his father was a man whose strong ethics and sense of right and wrong allowed him to do the unpopular, but right thing. Ford offered President Gerald R. Ford's pardoning of Richard Nixon as an example of how his father demonstrated his willingness to possibly sacrifice a second term. President Ford believed the pardon would move to "heal the nation" and allow for the focus of the country to be shifted to more pressing issues of the day, the Vietnam War and downtrodden stock market. Brigadier General Michael McDaniel’s, former Deputy Assistant Director of the U.S. Department of Defense, spoke of the obligation public servants have upon being sworn in to their office to promote the general welfare and at the same time protecting self interests of the individual. McDaniel outlined the dynamics and tension between self and collective interests, citing the Westboro Baptist Church's protests at fallen soldiers funerals as an example. Terri Lynn Land, former Michigan Secretary of State, focused on ethics in the political arena. Land specifically worked for campaign finance reform and also worked to create legislation which would have provided more transparency during her time in office. Land also referred to her office making polling places more accessible to handicapped citizens. Though it was an expensive and thus somewhat unpopular choice, she believed it was "the right thing to do". Bruce A. Courtrade, Vice President of Commissioners for the State Bar of Michigan, argued for the relationship between a struggling economy and a perceived decline in ethics. Michigan, being the only state in the last census to lose population has been forced into the practice of "unhiring employees". This increased competition to gain and retain clients has led to a "win at all cost mentality", which in turn Courtrade believed has led to ethical crises (i.e. Enron's and Wall Street).+ More details
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Aldersgate Group parliamentary reception held at the House of Commons on January 13th, 2010 on the progress achieved at COP 16 in Cancun. Speakers include Rt Hon Chris Huhne, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Yvo de Boer, Special Advisor, KPMG and former Executive Secretary to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Richard Evans, President, Pepsico UK & Ireland and Peter Young, Chairman, Aldersgate Group. Event chaired by Lord Smith of Finsbury.+ More details
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ATLANTA, GA – Two leaders of elections watchdog groups, John Fortuin and Garland Favorito, called for former Secretary of State Karen Handel to withdraw her gubernatorial bid on the grounds of a lack of ethical conduct during her tenure as Secretary of State. The leaders also challenged state and local news media to investigate ethics questions for all candidates. The charges of inappropriate ethics included evidence that: She took tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from individuals directly connected to the voting machine vendor lobbyist, Massey and Bowers; She reversed her position on Georgia’s unverifiable voting machines after accepting the contributions; She allowed a voting machine vendor lobbyist to have undue influence and control over the Secretary of State office by appointing a partner of the lobbying firm as her deputy; She conducted politically motivated investigations cited in many of the 60 impeachment articles filed in the General Assembly against her Inspector General, Shawn LaGrua; John Fortuin, videographer of 6 years of State Election Board meetings, elaborated: “We believe there is clear evidence that the Secretary of State office has been an epicenter of political corruption for 8 years. Just like her predecessor Cathy Cox, Karen Handel has gotten a free pass from the media on ethics questions. Although the improprieties cited have been well documented for months and even years in some cases, only a couple of news media outlets have carried stories about them.” To illustrate the point the leaders cited the Lowndes County State Election Board case 2008-00133. They contend that the impeachment articles and supporting documents clearly indicate that a voting machine technician was framed to cover-up violations committed by an elections supervisor who was an acquaintance of Karen Handel. The HR1714 articles of impeachment filed by the General Assembly can be found at: http://www.legis.ga.gov/legis/2009_10/fulltext/hr1714.htm. Documents concerning the Lowndes Co. State Election Board case can be found at http://www.voterga.org/more/index.cfm?Fuseaction=more_15727 Media Contacts: Garland Favorito (404) 664-4044+ More details
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Former Secretary of State, Dr. Madeline Albright, appeared at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum as part of her traveling “Read My Pins" exhibit. The majority of attendees were middle school and high school students from Kent County. She fielded their questions regarding her experiences as the first female to serve as U.S. Secretary of State under former President Bill Clinton. There was a wide range of questions from the students. Perhaps the most frequently asked questions touched upon the obstacles she was faced with, and ultimately overcame in order to achieve becoming the first female Secretary of State. Interestingly enough, Albright shared that she faced more problems with men in our own government, who knew her as a “carpool mom” than with any foreign diplomat. She attributed this to perhaps resentment that they had not been given the honor of serving that position, even though she had paid her dues coming up, just as they had. Albright was also posed questions about the extreme partisanship in Washington today and how she felt that came off to countries such as Egypt who are experimenting with the idea of Democracy. She quickly pointed out that because of the constant fight between parties it is easy to see how many countries are skeptical as the U.S. being the quintessential example of Democracy, but also points out that this type of government is not an event, but rather a process that has been evolving since our founding fathers penned the Constitution. Several of the students in attendance had parents who made their way to the U.S. as refugees during the events in Kosovo and Bosnia, events which helped to define Albright’s tenure as Secretary of State. Albright applauded the bravery of those refugees, and recalling from a visit to the Kosovo last year, was proud at how hard the people were working to build and maintain a strong country. When asked what one world event she would have changed the U.S. response to, Albright is quick to reply…. Rwanda. She recalled moments discussing the situation with former President Clinton, and now believes wholeheartedly that the U.S. should have intervened to try and stop the horrific genocide and ethnic cleansing that took so many lives. Finally, Albright was asked what the pin she was wearing represented. She gave background as to how her pin wearing came about---being compared to a serpent by Saddam Hussein in the 1990’s. After he made those comments, Albright began wearing a snake pin, showing that she was not bothered by the comparison, but embraced it, letting him know she was not intimidated. The pin tradition took off from there. During the student assembly, Albright was wearing an American eagle pin. She wore in honor of the country, as it is the National Bird, and also as a tribute to President Ford while visiting his museum.+ More details
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