Archive for Topic Areas

The common defense

From Ambassador Bleich:

I spent a good part of the past few days in meetings and briefings with Deputy Secretary of Defense Bill Lynn. The DepSec is the sort of leader you look for in government: smart, honest, good-natured and absolutely committed to the public good. He’s also easy to travel with.

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Acknowledgement is the first step to healing

Sorry written in the sky over the Sydney Opera House

From Ambassador Bleich:

Saturday was the second anniversary of the National Apology Day for the Stolen Generation, and it has made me think about the parallels in America’s and Australia’s histories – both good and bad.

The history of Native Americans and indigenous Australians has been strikingly similar, and similarly tragic. As a lawyer in the States, I worked on Native American issues to protect Indian children from being removed from their native homes. It exposed me to the sad history of Native American tribes and the difficulty we all still face in repairing the damage. U.S. reform efforts have generally followed one of three approaches – (1) assimilating, (2) isolating, or (3) empowering and then neglecting tribes – all without appreciable success.

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Quadrennial Defense Review guides DOD’s future

Quadrennial Defense Review Report

The Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) is a legislatively-mandated review of the Department of Defense strategy and priorities. Just released this month, the February 2010 QDR assesses the threats and challenges that the United States faces and re-balances DoD’s strategies, capabilities, and forces to address today’s conflicts and tomorrow’s threats.

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The rule of law

Ambassador Bleich with Justice Scalia in Sydney

From Ambassador Bleich:

I returned today from a legal conference in Sydney with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Scalia. I first met Justice Scalia over 20 years ago when he interviewed me for a job as his law clerk. He demonstrated his wisdom and judicious thinking way back then by hiring someone else. But we got to know each other while I was clerking with the Chief Justice, and we have remained friends since.

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February is African American history month

Free at Last

President Obama has proclaimed February as National African American History Month.

“As we mark National African American History Month, we should take note of this special moment in our Nation’s history and the actors who worked so diligently to deliver us to this place,” the President remarked. “One such organization is the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People — the NAACP — which this year will witness 100 years of service to the Nation on February 12. Because of their work, including the contributions of those luminaries on the front lines and great advocates behind the scenes, we as a Nation were able to take the dramatic steps we have in recent history.”

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Australian author Alice Pung featured in webchat Saturday

Alice Pung

A recent participant in the International Writing Program fall residency at the University of Iowa, Australian author Alice Pung will participate in an on-line chat about her life, her work, and her experience at the IWP residency beginning on Saturday, 6 February,  at 7AM Canberra time (Australia Eastern Daylight Saving Time).

Born in Melbourne to Cambodian parents, Alice Pung writes fiction, non-fiction and plays.

Readers are welcome to submit questions to Ms. Pung before or during the discussion.

Update: The full transcript of Ms. Pung’s responses is now available on the Virtual Writing University website.

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President Obama to visit Australia in March

The White House announced today that President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will visit Australia in March. The specific dates for the trip were not announced. The President will also visit Guam and Indonesia.

The White House said this trip is an important part of the president’s continued effort to broaden and strengthen the partnerships that are necessary to advance our security and prosperity.

This year also marks the 70th anniversary of U.S.-Australia relations. “The president looks forward to commemorating that milestone and consulting with Prime Minister Rudd on ways that we can build on the strong relationship between our two countries and discuss issues such as global economic recovery, clean energy and climate change, nonproliferation and Afghanistan,” the White House said.

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2010 Statistical Abstract of the U.S. released

The Statistical Abstract, also known as “Uncle Sam’s Almanac,” has been published since 1878 — before automobiles, airplanes and motion pictures had even been invented. Contained in the 129th edition are more than 1,400 tables of social, political and economic facts which collectively describe the state of our nation and the world.

Did you know that in 2007, the nation’s 16,604 libraries collectively had an average of 12.5 public-use computers connected to the Internet per library?

Every edition of the Statistical Abstract, dating from 1878, is available in PDF or zip files on the Census Bureau’s Web site.

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President considers the State of the Union

“I never suggested that change would be easy, or that I could do it alone,” President Obama said today in his first State of the Union speech to the U.S. Congress. “Democracy in a nation of 300 million people can be noisy and messy and complicated. And when you try to do big things and make big changes, it stirs passions and controversy. That’s just how it is.

“We have finished a difficult year.  We have come through a difficult decade.  But a new year has come.  A new decade stretches before us.  We don’t quit.  I don’t quit.  Let’s seize this moment — to start anew, to carry the dream forward, and to strengthen our union once more.”

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Reflections on Australia Day

fireworks

From Ambassador Bleich:

Australia Day.

The Embassy was closed and so we traveled from Melbourne to Sydney and then back to Canberra and congratulated every Australian that we saw along the way.

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