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Posts from May 2010

Following passage of their legislation requiring a strategy to confront the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), the bipartisan, bicameral group of legislators behind the bill called on President Obama to quickly sign it into law and make a personal commitment to ending the LRA’s ongoing bloodshed. The LRA, Africa’s longest running rebel group, is responsible for countless atrocities in Uganda and neighboring countries. The LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act, introduced by Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI), Sam Brownback (R-KS) and James Inhofe (R-OK) in the Senate and Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Ed Royce (R-CA) in the House, requires the Obama administration to develop a new multifaceted, interagency strategy to assist regional governments in disarming the LRA, while ensuring the protection of civilians. This legislation has been cosponsored by 194 members of the House of Representatives and 64 members of the Senate, making it the most widely cosponsored Africa-specific bill in recent U.S. history.

"Passage of this bill with historic bipartisan support shows that Congress is committed to ending the LRA’s reign of terror," Senator Feingold said. "I urge President Obama to sign this bill into law and quickly develop a plan to stop Joseph Kony and the LRA from committing further atrocities by bringing a lasting resolution to this conflict."

"I applaud my House colleagues for passing this important piece of legislation. The LRA is a serious threat to the people of Uganda and neighboring countries. We must continue to work for a lasting peace. I am hopeful that the President acts quickly to sign this bill into law," Senator Brownback said.

"Last night’s House action on the LRA bill marks a major step in addressing the atrocities of Joseph Kony and the LRA’s devastating activities in Uganda," said Inhofe. "This bill will help protect the children and people from Joseph Kony’s reign of terror. As the only U.S. Senator that has made over 100 country visits to the continent of Africa, I have witnessed first-hand the devastation caused by the LRA. Because of this, I have become fervently involved in trying to prevent further abductions and murders of Ugandan children. Now we are offering hope as this bill mandates the development of strategies to apprehend Kony and other top LRA leaders. I look forward to President Obama signing this measure," Senator Inhofe said.

"I'm very pleased that this important, bipartisan legislation will be going to the President for his signature," Rep. Jim McGovern said. "It is crucial that the United States commit to a proactive strategy to help bring this conflict to an end and to strengthen humanitarian assistance. Passage of this bill is a tribute to the thousands of activists across the country who have dedicated themselves to this cause."

"The LRA’s objectives are threefold: kill, capture and resupply for its next pillage. There is no other reason for its being. The removal of Kony and his top leadership would decapitate this group. This legislation ensures U.S. leadership in making that happen. The day can’t come soon enough," declared Rep. Ed Royce, a former Africa subcommittee chairman.

For over two decades, the LRA terrorized northern Uganda, resulting in the displacement of nearly two million people at the height of the problem. The LRA has been pushed out of Uganda in recent years, but continues to wreak havoc in the border region of northeastern Congo, southern Sudan and Central African Republic. In addition to requiring a strategy, the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act calls for increased humanitarian assistance for communities throughout the region now affected by the LRA’s brutality. It also authorizes U.S. assistance for transitional justice and reconciliation efforts in Uganda.

"I look forward to the United States strengthening our relationship with Great Britain, America's closest ally, under Prime Minister Cameron. Our nations must continue to speak with one voice in pursuing our mutual interests of defeating terrorism, securing Israel and preventing rogue nations from developing nuclear weapons."
“This is the second time in four months that luck and a terrorist’s incompetence prevented the mass murder of Americans. We cannot count on luck as a national security strategy. I applaud the citizens who were vigilant in notifying police of suspicious activity, and I applaud law enforcement and intelligence officials for identifying and arresting Shahzad before he left the United States. However, I am greatly concerned that he was able to get onto an international flight despite being placed on the No Fly List. I look forward to a clearer understanding of what happened between the time Shahzad was identified and the time he boarded the plane. While we are still early in the investigation, ultimately Congress needs to ensure that all passengers are checked against real time information from our Intelligence Community, and that officials are instantly able to act on that information. Anything short of this is inexcusable. Our hope is that Secure Flight will accomplish this.”
On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Gus M. Bilirakis (R-Fla.) introduced H.R. 5208, the Student Visa Security Improvement Act, which would improve the background checks conducted on student visa applicants from high risk areas and enhance America’s ability to ensure, once in the country, foreign students are abiding by the terms of their visas.

"Everyone understands the important role foreign students play in our society. However, we must remain vigilant both domestically and abroad to ensure that terrorists do not use our student visa process as a back door into our country," said Bilirakis, who serves as the Ranking Member of the House Homeland Security Committee’s Management, Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee. “Over the past several years there have been multiple instances which demonstrate shortcomings in our ability to properly screen and monitor foreign students.”

Earlier this year, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) disrupted student visa fraud schemes where individuals fraudulently obtained or maintained student visas even though the students were not attending class. Additionally, the admitted Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad, reportedly first entered the United States on a student visa in 1998, while several 9/11 terrorists had violated the terms of their student visas.

The Student Visa Security Improvement Act would require ICE personnel stationed at high-risk visa issuing posts overseas to review student visa applications and conduct interviews with applicants before they are granted a student or exchange visa. The legislation also calls for more vigilant monitoring of foreign students once they are in the country by ensuring they are active participants in the programs in which they are enrolled and are observed more often than is currently required.

“The legislation I introduced today would more effectively ensure that foreign students are coming to the United States to receive an education and are attending class once here,” Bilirakis added.

Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), the Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade, issued the following statement in response to developments in the Times Square car bombing plot.

"This plot once again demonstrates the centrality of Pakistan’s radical religious schools in terrorist plots against our country and across the world. We are seeing the consequences of that country’s failure to control the Deobandi educational infrastructure of hate, which has been putting down roots across Pakistan for decades.

"Simply put, we got lucky. Our counterterrorism tools – everything from intelligence collection on individuals entering the United States to no-fly lists to interrogation procedures and methods – have to be sharp. There can be no room for errors.

"We owe a great deal to the citizens and police officers who helped to discover this plot and place this individual into custody. The attempted attack demonstrates the changing nature of the terrorist threat against our country, which means we have to adapt all the much quicker."

Royce returned this week from a congressional oversight trip to Pakistan, where he met with President Zardari, Prime Minister Gilani, the former minister of education and religious leaders.
WASHINGTON – Congressman Connie Mack (FL-14), the Ranking Republican on the House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, today blasted Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for his outrageous comments this afternoon against the United States and other freedom-loving countries, and called for immediate sanctions against the oppressive regime.

Mack said:

“A day before arriving in New York for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty conference, Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stated that his country “cuts any hand that signs a document against Iran” and offered that he had documents to prove that Washington is the root of world terrorism.

“These vile statements, and the hateful comments he made against the United States and Israel at the conference this afternoon, beg the question of why he was yet again allowed to spread his hateful, venomous rhetoric on American soil.

“Under Ahmadinejad’s leadership, Iran continues to enrich uranium and push forward with its plans for a nuclear program, while building stronger relations with Venezuela and other enemies of freedom in our hemisphere.

“Furthermore, this is a man who denies the existence of the Holocaust, threatened to wipe Israel off the map, and continues to fund terrorist organizations like Hezbollah.

“The Obama Administration must send Ahmadinejad a strong message that the United States will not back down, we will not tolerate Iran’s aggressive nuclear development, and we will continue to stand for freedom and democracy around the world. We can do that by immediately enacting meaningful sanctions designed to cripple the Iranian regime, Ahmadinejad, and the mullahs.”
World Malaria Day
by Boozman Press Office
April 27th, 2010


This past Sunday, April 25 was World Malaria Day. Countries across the globe are working to eliminate this disease. As a co-chair of the House Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases Caucus I have worked with organizations to spread the word that ending malaria deaths is attainable. Here is a blog I wrote for the Global Network of Neglected Tropical Diseases.

Every day, we are able to sit in our backyards without having to worry about whether the mosquito that bit us is infected with Malaria. However, for millions of Africans, that is a dream. We are working hard to make that dream a reality.Malaria is a parasitic disease that causes more than one million deaths each year. Each day, nearly 3,000 African children die as a result of Malaria. That is about one child every 30 seconds. In fact, by the time you finish reading this, another child will have died from Malaria. This is an astonishing and inexcusable statistic, especially considering the fact that Malaria is preventable and treatment costs only a few dollars.As Chairman and Member of the House Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health, I have made several trips to Africa and seen the devastating affects of Malaria on the poor and the young. With the advancements we have made in medicine, there is no reason for Malaria to infect millions of people in 106 countries. Even so, the impact of the disease on health care budgets and economies in Africa is staggering. In fact, health officials in Africa spend 40 percent of their health care budgets on Malaria in hopes of educating, preventing, and treating the disease. In addition, the 250 million people who become sick and suffer from symptoms, such as fever and headache, are not able to work or go to school. As a result, healthy family members are forced to leave work to care for their ill relatives and more than $12 billion in productivity and resources are lost. Preventative measures, such as spraying homes with insecticide and sleeping under insecticide-treated nets, are cost-effective ways to reduce the transmission of Malaria. We have seen the success of these measures both in Ethiopia and Zanzibar. In Ethiopia, cases of Malaria fell 60 percent and deaths decreased by 51 percent in two years time. In Zanzibar, Malaria in school children was reduced from 60 percent to about one percent. These are excellent results, and we must to use this momentum to build on our progress. Members of Congress are taking steps, like organizing the Congressional Malaria Caucus, in hopes of raising awareness on this issue in the international community. In addition, non-governmental organizations and foundations, such as United Against Malaria, are taking advantage of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa by teaming up with soccer stars and celebrities to help fight this disease. If we continue our work and do not lose focus, our goal of reducing the number of deaths resulting from the disease to zero by 2015 is attainable.

We all must recognize our role in the battle against Malaria, and we must work to stop this tragedy from continuing. I am confident that Members of Congress, organizations, and people around the globe will answer the call and commit to saving lives.

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