В период срочной службы автор слышал рассказ своего командира – полковника-танкиста об индийцах, учившихся с ним в академии. Его поразило, что те, составляя один экипаж, обедали за разными столами. «Им же в бой вместе идти, в одном танке гореть!» – сокрушался мой командир. Дело было в том, что танкисты принадлежали к разным кастам.
And all economists know this and so does Manmohan Singh. But then, you know opposition party, Budget time, what do we expect? We must all recall though that jobs are a cost of getting something done, not a benefit of something being done
После провозглашения независимости Индии на приоритетные позиции в идеологии и практике индусских националистов вышла борьба за сохранение индусской идентичности — «хиндутвы», под которой представители ультраправых организаций страны понимали, в первую очередь, противостояние чуждым культурным и политическим влияниям — исламу, христианству, марксизму. Помимо уже действовавших «Хинду Маха Сабха» и «Раштрия сваямсевак сангх», в Индии 1950-х — 1960-х гг. появляются новые праворадикальные организации, как правило, выступающие с более жестких позиций, чем их «старшие» партнеры.
После провозглашения независимости Индии на приоритетные позиции в идеологии и практике индусских националистов вышла борьба за сохранение индусской идентичности — «хиндутвы», под которой представители ультраправых организаций страны понимали, в первую очередь, противостояние чуждым культурным и политическим влияниям — исламу, христианству, марксизму. Помимо уже действовавших «Хинду Маха Сабха» и «Раштрия сваямсевак сангх», в Индии 1950-х — 1960-х гг. появляются новые праворадикальные организации, как правило, выступающие с более жестких позиций, чем их «старшие» партнеры.
Пока индийские банки, работающие с населением, пытаются определить, когда же ситуация с наличными более-менее нормализуется, глава Резервного банка Индии (РБИ) У.Пател в среду 18 января предстал наконец перед парламентариями, чтобы ответить на их крайне нелицеприятные вопросы, касавшиеся осуществленной в ноябре прошлого года демонетизации. Раньше у него времени для этого не нашлось. Да и кто, собственно, они такие эти народные избранники, чтобы задавать ему – главе центрального банка – какие-то вопросы?Тем не менее, главе РБИ пришлось изрядно попотеть, отвечая на вопросы депутатов, ведь в конечном итоге ни на один серьезный поставленный вопрос он так и не ответил. Бывшему премьер-министру Индии Манмохану Сингху, возглавлявшему в свое время и РБИ, даже пришлось вступиться за нынешнего руководителя ЦБ, хотя он и считает проведенную демонетизацию «организованным грабежом».Пател не сказал, сколько старой валюты действительно поступило в банки, заявив, что подсчеты продолжаются. Поэтому определить, насколько успешной оказалась затеянная правительством демонетизация в борьбе с черным налом и фальшивомонетничеством, так и осталось невозможно. Не ответил он и на вопрос, когда для клиентов банков будут сняты ограничения на снятие наличных со своих счетов. Пател лишь сказал, что существующие лимиты на снятие наличных довольно велики – 24 тысячи рупий в неделю и 96 тысяч в месяц на владельца счета (рупия в настоящее время примерно равна 1 рублю) – и в дальнейшем ситуация будет постепенно приходить в норму. По существующим данным, в среднем в месяц снимали со счета по 50 тысяч рупий. Поэтому пока повышения лимитов не планируется, поскольку это может привести к хаосу.Единственные сведения, которые Пател предоставил парламентариям, заключались в том, что в обращение поступили 9,1 триллионов рупий, из которых 43% банкнот имеют номинал в 500 и 2000 рупий. Также он подтвердил, что центральный банк полностью согласен с правительством в отношении целей проведенной демонетизации. Ему, как и главе министерства финансов, вновь придется появиться перед депутатами до 8 февраля этого года.Тем временем недавние действия РБИ, повысившего с понедельника 16 января дневные лимиты на снятие наличных в банкоматах с 4,5 до 10 тысяч рупий, а также лимитов снятия с текущих счетов с 50 до 100 тысяч рупий в неделю, вновь привели к возникновению дефицита наличных. Поэтому банки оказались вынуждены перераспределять снабжение наличными отделений и банкоматов в пользу тех, на которые приходится повышенная нагрузка. Особенно это относится к небольшим городам, не получающим наличные в достаточном количестве.Если до 8 ноября 2016 года, дня начала демонетизации, в банкоматы ежедневно загружалось порядка 130 – 140 миллиардов рупий, то на текущий момент этот объем составляет примерно 90 миллиардов. По сравнению с первыми днями после демонетизации, когда в банкоматы поступало 20 – 30 миллиардов рупий, это значительное улучшение, но до окончательной нормализации обстановки еще потребуется довольно много времени. Банки рассчитывают, что к концу января в банковскую систему вернется примерно 75% от общего объема выведенной из обращения наличности.Мои книжки «Крах «денег» или как защитить сбережения в условиях кризиса», «Золото. Гражданин или государство, свобода или демократия», «Занимательная экономика»,«Деньги смутных времен. Древняя история», «Деньги смутных времен. Московия, Россия и ее соседи в XV – XVIII веках» можно прочитать или скачать по адресу http://www.proza.ru/avtor/mitra396
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room 12:50 P.M. EST MR. EARNEST: Good afternoon, everybody. Happy Friday. TGIF, for one last time. Q Friday, the 13th. MR. EARNEST: That's good luck. Let me do one, quick announcement before we get to your questions. Today the White House is hosting a transition exercise with current and perspective Cabinet members, agency heads and senior White House officials. The exercise provides an opportunity to familiarize members identified by the President-elect to fill senior administration positions on the authorities, policies, and coordination structures that this administration has used to respond to major domestic incidents. Cabinet members, agency heads and advisors in the current administration will share experiences and lessons from incident responses that they have led as they discuss a number of response scenarios together. This exercise, which we announced back in November, advances the President’s goal of conducting the most professional, seamless transition possible. We'll be in a position to provide some additional details at the conclusion of the meeting. You’ll recall that an exercise like this was held in early 2009 between -- it was hosted by senior officials from the Bush administration and they invited their counterparts from the Obama administration at the time. And this is the next step in the process of ensuring a smooth and effective transition to the incoming administration. So, with that, Darlene, want to get us started with questions? Q Thank you. Is this an all-day sort of exercise? MR. EARNEST: It's not an all-day exercise. I know it's a multi-hour exercise. So it's ongoing as we speak, and I suspect that it will encompass a significant portion of everyone’s afternoon schedule. Q Is there any more detail you can provide on exactly what they’re doing and how they’re doing it? Are they breaking up into little groups and doing exercises? Are they doing policy and all things domestic? MR. EARNEST: The way that it's been described to me is that this is primarily a large-group exercise and will be an opportunity to discuss a variety of different scenarios, some related to domestic emergency response -- response to a natural disaster or a significant weather event, for example. But it also will include some foreign policy and national security exercises as well. And it will include both a review of responses that this administration has led to specific incidents, as well as exercises to walk through the options that are available in the context of a hypothetical event. Q And what senior administration officials from this administration are participating? MR. EARNEST: We'll get you some additional information about the participants in the meeting once the meeting is concluded. Q On another subject, will the President signed the waiver that's moving through Congress to allow General Mattis to serve as Defense Secretary? MR. EARNEST: I think we've indicated in the past that that's not something that the President would prevent from passing. So, yes, I think you can anticipate that if it did make it to the President’s desk the he would sign it. Q Thank you. MR. EARNEST: Okay. Ayesha. Q Thanks. I want to follow up on the actions on Cuba yesterday, on the ending of “wet foot, dry foot.” I wasn’t clear -- is this a move that can be overturned by the next administration? Realizing that it is the ending of a policy, but is this something that could easily -- they could come in and decide they want to put that policy back in place? MR. EARNEST: This policy change was codified in an executive agreement between the U.S. government and the government in Cuba. As even some of the incoming administration’s nominees have noted, there’s a tradition of subsequent Presidents observing and adhering to the executive agreements that were put in place by the previous President unless, of course, a specific decision is made to change the policy. So, obviously, President-elect Trump will assume the awesome responsibilities of the American presidency on January 20th, one week from today. And he'll be able to exercise all of the executive authority that are invested in the presidency at his discretion. We believe that there is a strong case to be made about normalizing relations between our two countries, and this is just the latest step in that process to ensure that we are treating Cuban migrants the same way that we treat migrants from other countries. And that has a variety of benefits, including not providing an incentive for Cubans to attempt the very dangerous journey across the 90 miles of ocean that separate our two countries. So I think the response to this announcement I think is indicative of how public opinion is changing on these issues, including in the Cuban-American community. And I noted the supportive comments of someone like Jorge Mas, who is the chairman of the Cuban American National Foundation, somebody who is a leader in that community, obviously an influential voice. And his indication of support for this step I think is an indication of a growing majority of Americans who agree about the direction that the President has moved the relationship between the United States and Cuba. Q Does the White House have any message to those -- I mean, there were -- there have been a number of stories done on people who were just at, like, the Mexican border trying to get across who had come from Cuba, made a very long, treacherous trip and were just there and just missed getting over before this policy was ended. Does the White House have any message for those people that were just there? I mean, some of these stories sound pretty heartbreaking. MR. EARNEST: Look, I think the first thing that's important for people to understand is that the migrants from Cuba will be treated in the same way that migrants from other countries are, which is to say legitimate claims for refugee status or for asylum will be subject to due process, which means that their claims will be evaluated. And if they have legitimate claims for asylum, then that will be granted. But that will be adjudicated through the regular process that every other -- that migrants from other countries go through as well. And as we've talked a lot about immigration policy over the last several years, obviously the President believes strongly that the United States live up to our values as a nation of laws and as a nation of immigrants. And that means abiding by the law, but it also means showing respect and recognizing the humanity in people who are fleeing their home country. So this is -- and the policy change that we have announced ensures that we are harmonizing and normalizing our immigration policy with regard to Cuban migrants. Q On one other topic, the head of the House Oversight Committee has threatened to subpoena the Office of Government Ethics -- the head of the Office of Government Ethics for his comments about Trump’s conflicts of interest. Does the White House think it's appropriate for Congress to be looking into those comments from the Office of Government Ethics? Do they think that -- I mean, I think the comment from Chaffetz was that he felt like the head of the Office of Government Ethics wasn’t behaving ethically when he was discussing Trump’s conflicts. Does the White House have any thoughts about this? MR. EARNEST: Well, this is the completion of the congressional Republicans’ swamp-filling hat trick. They were able to get it done in two short weeks. You will recall that before congressional Republicans were even sworn into office their first act was to vote in secret to repeal the ethical regulations that applied to them. And it was only after an outcry from the public and a tweet from the President-elect that they reversed course. A week later we learned that Senate Republicans were prepared to roll back the standards that they’d insisted on for eight years when it came to making sure that nominees for executive positions had been fully vetted and fully complied with ethical requirements before they were given a hearing before the United States Senate and considered for their nomination. And Senate Republicans have famously walked that back, such that they are moving through the process nominees that haven't been subjected to the kind of scrutiny that they, themselves -- that Mitch McConnell himself had said was necessary. And now, to complete the hat trick, we've got the Republican Chairman of the House Government Oversight Committee, the individual who, as much as anyone else in the United States Congress, is charged with providing oversight of the executive branch, is now seeking to intimidate a senior executive branch official who’s responsible for enforcing ethics rules. He’s threatening to shut down the office of the guy who is doing the job that Jason Chaffetz himself is refusing to do. It's outrageous -- and I will say, only the latest installment in the embarrassing series of episodes that have characterized Jason Chaffetz’s tenure as chairman of that committee. You’ll recall this is the guy who was charged with investigating government employees who were using personal email for government purposes at the same time that he’s handing out his government business card with his personal email address on it. You can't make it up. This is the guy who led the investigation into Benghazi that the House Republican leader admitted was focused solely on politics and hurting Hillary Clinton’s poll ratings. So this is not some -- a departure from the series of embarrassing episodes that have characterized his tenure as chairman of the committee. And it certainly, as I've said before, runs contradictory to the preferences of the millions of Americans who showed up at the polls on Election Day and voted for the guy who is vowing to drain the swamp. Certainly it's going to make for an interesting relationship between the members of that committee, I suspect. And I think it will be worth watching -- particularly we'll be counting on all of you to watch the relationship between that committee and the incoming administration. Michelle. Q Thanks, Josh. Speaking of outrage, House Democrats -- MR. EARNEST: Yeah. (Laughter.) Q -- after meeting with James Comey, and they expressed all kinds of emotions -- anger, concern, lost confidence, yes, outrage -- MR. EARNEST: I think Washington psychiatrists are going to be doing a brisk business in the years ahead. (Laughter.) Q -- some of them are saying that they have no confidence in the Director of the FBI at this point and that they don't feel like he’s fit to do the job. I mean, hearing these strong words coming from Democrats -- I mean, we knew, obviously, some of that sentiment was there -- but at this point, Americans have heard anger and doubts coming from both sides related to the FBI and the intelligence community over the past couple of weeks. What are your thoughts on hearing this and the indication of deep problems that the American public now sees laid bare? MR. EARNEST: Well, again, I think it is really important to make sure that we don't draw too many parallels between these two different situations. With regard to the handling of the investigation into Secretary Clinton by the Department of Justice and the FBI, for better or worse, we've spent a lot of time in this room talking about that matter -- not just in October, but, frankly, for a lot of the last two years. But when this came to a head in October, you often heard me describe the merits of abiding by the longstanding norms and traditions about the way the FBI conducts investigations and traditionally doesn’t talk about those investigations in public. Now, as I said back in October, and I’ll repeat again, the President does not at all believe that Director Comey was motivated by a desire to influence the outcome of the election. But there are longstanding norms and traditions that have served senior Department of Justice officials well over the years. Now, there’s also -- as was announced yesterday by the Inspector General, there’s now an independent investigation into this matter. And that certainly is going to limit the degree to which I can discuss it. That investigation was initiated at the sole discretion of the independent Inspector General. That’s the way the process should work. And presumably, when he’s got some findings to release, presumably he’ll be in a position to do that publicly. With regard to the situation with the intelligence community, I think it’s different, because I think what you’ve heard from the intelligence community, including from Director Clapper in the statement that he released just a couple of days ago, is the intelligence community feels a strong responsibility to communicate to senior officials as much as possible about what they know, and as much as possible about the information that is available to them. Now, what Director Clapper also said in that statement is he expressed confidence that the intelligence community was not the source of those leaks. I verified for you before that the White House is not the source of those leaks. And I think all of that is an indication that both the intelligence community with regard to this matter and the White House with regard to this matter is following longstanding precedent and tradition and norms and guidelines that have served generations of White House officials and intelligence officials well. So I think that that’s why I would caution against drawing too many parallels between these situations. There are obvious similarities between these two cases, but there are certainly some places, as I just described, where the handling of these matters was different. Q I think Comey, in his explanations, talked about how he felt the need to share information. He was choosing between two bad options, but he felt getting that information out there was the right thing to do at the time. MR. EARNEST: Well, but by getting it out there, briefing it to the President-elect, making sure that the President-elect himself was aware of the information that had come to the attention of the intelligence community. He stated in his statement that he could not at this point confirm the accuracy of the report, but I’ll leave it to him and other intelligence officials to describe how they described this information to the President-elect. Q Okay. And does it bother the administration that retired General Flynn was in contact with the Russian ambassador several times on the day that President Obama was sanctioning Russia? MR. EARNEST: I’ve read some of these reports and I think, to answer your question as bluntly as I can, it depends on what he said. And I know that some members of the President-elect’s transition team have tried to describe those conversations. Obviously, I have zero insight into what may have been communicated back and forth, so I’d refer you to General Flynn himself or spokespeople for the transition who may be able to provide additional insight into the nature of those conversations and why those conversations were initiated. Q Okay. And you, today, and often you sort of list a long string of problems you have with behavior of Republicans in Congress over the last couple of years. But I wonder if everyday, average Americans who aren’t in this industry or yours really know or care. I think maybe a lot of that falls on deaf ears. I don’t know how much of that translates. And we just heard President Obama, in his latest interview, say that he feels that on some issues that he and his team lost the PR battle. So why do you think that is? Why do you think these things that you and he have been stressing as being so important, in some cases so important to democracy itself, they don’t seem to matter? MR. EARNEST: Well, as a substantive matter, they do make a difference. They do have a bearing on the strength and success of our democracy. But you’re asking I think an entirely relevant question, particularly in light of the election outcome. Given the sordid record that Republicans have on some of these ethical matters, and have continued since the election, it raises questions about why that didn’t influence the vote of more people. And I don’t know that I can give you a real direct answer on that. I think that in some ways, the President addressed this in his speech on Tuesday night pretty directly. He said that it’s a problem in our democracy when we excuse the ethical shortcomings of people in our own party but are ready to question the motives of people in the other party. He said it more eloquently than that, but you know the passage I'm referring to. I think the concern that I'm raising is about one of the basic functions of the United States Congress, which is to provide oversight. There have been a bunch of ethical questions that have been raised about some members of Congress, about some of the conflicts of interest that loom in the background of some of the nominations that the incoming administration has put forward. There are some people who fit both those categories. And the responsibility lies with all of you and with the United States Congress to resolve those questions. And the real problem I have right now is that there seems to be zero appetite among Republicans who were voted into office by people literally chanting "drain the swamp" for enforcing not tougher ethical regulations -- they're not even doing the basics. They're not even enforcing the minimum standards. They're trying to roll back those standards. They're voting to reduce the standards that apply to them. They're not applying the standards to Cabinet nominees that they have been applying for the last eight years. And in this case, the most egregious case, you have the person in the House of Representatives, who is most responsible for oversight, suggesting he's going to shut down the office of the independent ethical watchdog of the executive branch. So, again, they're moving in the wrong direction. And those are all facts. I think it would be hard to contest any of this. Is it going to make a difference at the polling place the next time that people have an opportunity to vote for their elected representatives in Congress? I don't know. We'll see. But it does seem like Republicans are taking a pretty big risk, considering the "drain the swamp" chants at their pre-election rallies. To roll back those ethical standards within their first couple of weeks back in Washington I think does pose an electoral risk to them. And the last time that Democrats won the majority back from Republicans in the House of Representatives was prompted in no small part by a series of ethical transgressions on the part of congressional Republicans. But, again, I think it's far too early to be making particularly specific prognostications about the 2018 elections. But we'll see. April. Q Josh, a couple questions and primarily on justice issues. With the announcement today, kind of makes me go back to something with justice. The Justice Department put new federal officials on the case for Eric Garner. Do you believe there's still enough time left in this administration for some action to happen? MR. EARNEST: I saw news reports about that. But I do not have -- as we've discussed in here many times, the White House is not briefed on these kinds of criminal investigations. Those investigative decisions, including determining which investigators will take a look at a particular case -- those are decisions that are made entirely by the Department of Justice without any influence or input from the White House. Q Okay, I understand that, but do you still have time left -- yes, we have next week, but do we still have time left? Is there still enough time for things to happen? MR. EARNEST: I don't know at what stage they are in the investigation, so it's hard for me to assess how much more time they need in order to complete their investigation. Q Okay. And lastly, several of President Obama’s friends have had to do some prison time or jail time. And there’s one in particular, Congressman Chaka Fattah -- there’s a letter that has been sent to President Obama for a pardon. What does President Obama feel about pardoning some friends like Chaka Fattah? Jesse Jackson Jr. has not asked for a pardon, but what does he feel about that issue, about his friends asking for pardons and the possibility of pardons for those people? MR. EARNEST: I assume you’re using “friend” in the broadest possible context. Q Well, no, they were friends -- no, no, no, when I said -- but when I -- no, no, no. When I say “friend,” Chaka Fattah was a friend to this administration. I’m not saying that he was involved. I’m saying there were friends of the administration he was supportive -- MR. EARNEST: He was a political supporter of the administration. Q Right, as what -- MR. EARNEST: And the President certainly appreciated his political support. But I think describing him as a friend might be going a little too far here. Q And what about Jesse Jr. who was part of the campaign, who was a big part of the -- MR. EARNEST: Well, I’m not sure it’s fruitful for us to assess the President’s relationship on an individual basis with all these people. But let me just get to the root of your question, which is simply that there is a process in place at the Department of Justice to evaluate petitions for clemency that are filed by individuals who are currently incarcerated or people that have a record that they’re looking to clear. And the President established this process and has asked the Department of Justice to take the lead in considering these applications, to help process these applications as efficiently as possible and make individual determinations on the merits. And that’s what the President expects the Department of Justice to help him do, and that’s a standard that we have lived up to. Olivier. Q Thanks, Josh. A couple for you. One, can you -- you’ve already been asked for more details about the exercise today, but I’m wondering if you can say now whether this is actual incidents that they’re being walked through, or whether they’re modeled on incidents that -- like, is there an Ebola crisis model? What exactly are they responding to? MR. EARNEST: What I can tell you is it’s a little bit of both. And I’m sort of -- there’s a reference to it in here. It will be a combination of both walking through hypothetical scenarios so that the incoming administration can get a sense of what procedures and mechanisms are in place, what resources are available for responding to these kinds of hypothetical incidents so that when a real one comes up they can have a sense of how the process typically works. But they also will review in some detail real-live incidents that this administration did respond to, to help the incoming officials understand what lessons learned, what best practices we were able to implement to benefit the American people. So I guess the point is, it will be a little bit of both. Q Will you be able to say, like, they looked at a Deepwater Horizon, they looked at an Ebola crisis, they looked at -- MR. EARNEST: I don’t know how detailed our readout will be afterwards, but -- Q If we could request as detailed a readout as possible. MR. EARNEST: Okay. Okay. Q And then Rex Tillerson has been to the White House many, many, many times. On any of those occasions, as far as you’re aware, did he take a position with administration officials on the merits of sanctions involving Iran? MR. EARNEST: I don’t know the answer to that question, but I can see if we can try to get you an answer. As the leader of one of the largest companies in the United States, it certainly shouldn’t be surprising to most people that he did come to the White House on a number of occasions to discuss with senior officials important issues that have an impact on our economy and our national security. But let me see if I can get you some kind of an answer to that question. We’ll let you know. Steven. Q Josh, does the President have a reaction to the Department of Justice report on Chicago that there’s a pattern of practices of discrimination and unjustified use of deadly force? MR. EARNEST: I haven’t spoken to the President about the specific report. I know that this was an inquiry that was initiated at the discretion of the Attorney General. These kinds of investigations are conducted independently, and the conclusions were put forward based on their own independent analysis of what exactly has been happening in Chicago with regard to the local police force there. The President does believe that the Department of Justice, as a matter of principle, can play a useful role in helping uncover facts that can then be used to begin to restore trust and faith and confidence in local law enforcement, particularly among those communities that feel as if they’re -- the concerns that they have raised have gone unheard; that surfacing them in the context of these kinds of investigations can be useful in all sides designing the kinds of strategies that would rebuild trust in a way that makes these communities safer, but also makes these police officers more safe as they try to do their dangerous work, as well. These are men and women, the vast majority of whom are doing this dangerous job for all the right reasons. These are men and women who are genuinely interested in fighting crime. They’re interested in the public interest. They’re focused on trying to keep people safe. And they’ve got an extraordinarily difficult job. And if there is something that we can do to make their job just a little bit safer, then we should be looking for ways to do that. And the President’s hope is that the effective professional, genuinely independent investigations that get to the bottom of some of the root challenges that are facing some of these law enforcement agencies -- that does have the effect of restoring a little trust in making the work that police officers do every day just a little bit safer. Q There are some police officers who have said -- high-ranking law enforcement officials who have said that the scrutiny that’s applied on police agencies is leading to -- a Ferguson effect. Does the President share that concern? I guess particularly in Chicago. MR. EARNEST: The President, when he’s been asked about this in the past, has indicated that he hasn’t seen any evidence to support that hypothesis. And I think some of it goes to the argument that I was making, which is that the vast majority of men and women in uniform who put on the blue every day, who go out there to put their lives on the line to keep us safe, are motivated much more by their genuine interest in public safety than they are in covering their own behind, if you will. And to be totally blunt about it, I think it speaks to their character. I think there is a reason that people have put forward this hypothesis. And I think there is a reason that a number of law enforcement officers and leaders have taken some umbrage at that suggestion, because they see the men and women under their command at work every day, and they recognize that they're putting their lives on the line, intervening in dangerous situations to try to protect the public, try to protect public safety, to live up to their motto "To serve and protect." And they do that even in the face of some of these other -- an environment in which their job is as complicated as it's ever been. And, again, I think that's a pretty powerful illustration of the character of the vast majority of the American men and women who serve our country as law enforcement officers. Ron. Q Does the President see a connection between the challenges, as you put it, that the department faces and the spike in murders, violent crime in Chicago? MR. EARNEST: Well, again, I think this goes to the same question. I think it's difficult to assess exactly what that relationship is. I think the President's view is that if the local law enforcement agency has an effective working relationship with the diverse community of the city of Chicago -- I should say the diverse communities of the city of Chicago -- they'll be more effective in fighting crime. They'll also be safer as they do that important work. And so that's why the President believes it's a worthy goal for us to work in a direction that I know that Mayor Emanuel advocates. And I know that he's put in some reforms and structures to try to address this basic challenge, and I know that his administration has worked to cooperate with the Department of Justice to try to get to the root of some of these problems and try to design some solutions that would address them. Q I ask because the bigger question is, to what extent are the problems in the police department contributing to the crime problem in the city? And I ask because obviously a lot of people in law enforcement would disagree with any notion that that is contributing to the problem. And the next step in their argument might be that this is another indication of the President not supporting law enforcement, as he has been accused of in the past and as you're well aware of. MR. EARNEST: Falsely and wrongly, but, yeah. Q That's why I'm just trying to see if the President sees any connection between problems identified by this DOJ investigation and the spike in murders, specifically. MR. EARNEST: And, again, I think the President's view is that if we can get to the root of some of these challenges, we can certainly make law enforcement more effective at protecting the rights of every citizen in their community, even as they aggressively fight crime and keep all the citizens of that community safe. Q The other thing is, the President talked to you about this losing the PR battle in the 60 Minutes interview, and he specifically mentioned his inability to get a hearing for Judge Garland. I'm wondering what other issues out there does he think it was largely a question of not PR but swaying public opinion, or bringing public opinion to bear on the Republicans or on the nation's psyche to get something done. For example, he talks about the inability to get common-sense gun laws passed. Is that another issue where he feels that his inability to get public opinion on his side was the determining factor? Or is there something else out there that was more -- caused it? But I know, again, it's hard to sort out what caused what, so on and so forth -- beyond Garland, what else was he referring to? MR. EARNEST: Well, I think it's important to differentiate between public opinion and mobilizing the public. So, for example, when it comes to things like common-sense gun safety measures, closing a gun show loophole, closing the loophole that allows an individual who is on the no-fly list from walking into a gun store and buying a gun -- those are measures that have the strong support of a majority of Americans, a majority of Republicans, a majority of Democrats, a majority of gun owners. Those are common-sense measures. And the fact that they are common-sense measures is evidenced, at least in part, by the fact that there is common agreement around the country that these would be good things for the Congress to do. So I don't know if people needed to be persuaded about the notion of common sense. But what clearly didn't happen is there was not a successful mobilization of the American people around that common sense to get Congress to act. And the President has been deeply frustrated by that. And I think that would -- and I think the Garland nomination would actually fall in that same category, because I think if you take a look at sort of the public view of that situation, the vast majority of Americans didn't have any objections to Chief Judge Garland, which is notable because Republicans didn't really have any substantive objections to him, either -- other than the fact that he was nominated by a Democratic President. Q Okay. So the question is, to what extent is it the inability to mobilize public opinion as sort of a tactical thing, versus misreading public opinion and misreading what’s really out there in terms of what people want in terms of gun safety or Judge Garland, or I don't know -- any other range of -- MR. EARNEST: Immigration reform I think would be another -- Q Yes, exactly. MR. EARNEST: Right? Because again, there was strong -- there’s a strong coalition of Democrats, Republicans, law enforcement, religious leaders, faith leaders, business community who support the kind of common-sense immigration reform that this administration pursued and that this administration worked effectively with Republicans in the Senate to pass. But it was House Republican leaders who got together to block it. So I think the other element of all this, Ron, is the widespread and damaging dysfunction that Republicans have imposed on the United States Congress. That strategy of essentially political sabotage was something that did apparently work for them politically, but it was bad for the country. Some of these common-sense steps are things that would be good for the country, and everybody agrees that they would be. Immigration reform would have lots of obvious economic benefits. Q Right, but on immigration reform, there’s a lot of people who also want to build a wall. And it seems like there’s more of them out there, based on the outcome of the election, than those who fall in the other category -- MR. EARNEST: Not when you consider that Secretary Clinton got 3 million more votes. So, again -- and not when you consider that Democratic candidates for Congress got more votes than Republican candidates for Congress. So I think what we're illustrating here is I do think that there is a risk of oversimplifying this and saying, well, you know, if you just convinced more people. That's not actually what it is. The solution to breaking through this dysfunction is more complicated than that. And this is a proposition we're going to test because I don't think -- we’ll see -- I don't think, however, that it’s possible to rely solely on dysfunction and sabotage as your organizing, governing principle when your party is in charge of both houses in Congress and the White House. Q But what the President seems to be saying is that he believes that he is on the right side on so many of these issues -- MR. EARNEST: Absolutely. Q -- and that the reason that he didn't prevail was more tactical than right or philosophical. MR. EARNEST: Well, I think what’s true about a number of the things -- Q Republicans would argue, well, no, you're not. You don't quite understand the country on immigration, or on guns, or on the inability of -- MR. EARNEST: If there are people who are, indeed, saying that, I think those are people that don't -- that aren’t familiar with some basic principles of math, because there is ample public opinion data to indicate at least on the handful of things that we've discussed here -- investments in infrastructure, investments in immigration -- or progress on immigration reform, common-sense gun safety -- there are strong majorities of Americans that agree with the President’s position on this. But, look, here’s the other disconnect. Despite the fact that the administration was advocating for those policies that have the strong support of the American public, at least some of those Americans -- despite the fact that they agree with the President on all of those measures -- voted for somebody who doesn't. And that I think is more complicated than just public relations. I think there's an element of it that relates to a political strategy, a set of obstruction tactics that were implemented by Republicans. And I think some of it has to do with how effective the Democratic Party is in communicating with those who aren’t regularly inclined to agree with Democrats. So I think there's a lot to sift through here. And some of it actually goes back to the thing that Michelle raised, which is these are issues where people say that they agree with the administration, or the position that's been put forward by the President, but they don’t appear to care. And does that raise questions about the way that some of these issues are covered in the media? It might. But I think that there's a lot of this that we're going to have to spend some time thinking about. And I think you can be assured that the President, in his post-presidential life, will be thinking about these issues and looking for ways to solve them. Q And just last one. Are you going to do a week-ahead or almost week-ahead? Full week-ahead? (Laughter.) MR. EARNEST: Yeah, I will do a week-ahead. Q And sort of on that, can you tell us anything about Friday and the President? MR. EARNEST: I'll have some additional details on that, and we'll do that at the end and look at the schedule. Alexis. Q Josh, a quick follow-up on the tabletop exercise. I missed the beginning of it. I just want to clarify, the transition team -- not the actual incoming staff -- but the transition team witnessed a tabletop practice in December, right? MR. EARNEST: That's correct. So that was the December exercise. This January exercise that's taking place today -- it's ongoing as we speak -- includes some of the individuals who have already been named to senior White House positions. And in some cases, it includes individuals who have been nominated for Cabinet positions, even though they have not yet been confirmed. Q And they're actually conducting it. MR. EARNEST: They're actually participating in the exercise, yes. Q And just to use that for Inauguration Day -- because of the 2009 threat on Inauguration Day, and the importance of having the outgoing staff here until noon with the incoming, and the meetings that took place that morning, can you just tell us who will be here on the President's staff up until noon? MR. EARNEST: Well, what I can tell you is that our staff will be structured in a way to ensure this continuity of government even through the day in which the handover takes place. So I can follow up with you with more details about how we'll be staffed here at the White House. I would not anticipate a significant presence of Obama White House staffers here on the 20th just because the incoming administration will be moving in. But there will be officials who will be available. Q Will Denis wait until noon? MR. EARNEST: I can't speak to the individual plans of staffers. I'm not sure exactly what Denis has planned. Shana, nice to see you. Q Thanks for having me. I wanted to follow up on the question earlier about the call between the Russian ambassador and Flynn. So, first, could you let me know if the White House was informed of this call at all? And secondly, I'm just trying to get a sense of how usual or unusual it would be to have someone from the incoming administration, before they've been sworn in, contacting the Russian ambassador or any sort of officials. Did anything like that happen during the Obama transition period? Is this typical or unusual at all? MR. EARNEST: Well, I think what I can say as a general matter, on principle, you can imagine why these kinds of interactions may take place, why the incoming national security advisor may have the need to contact the representative of a foreign government that's based here in Washington, D.C. But as I mentioned to Michelle, it depends on what they discussed. It depends on what he said, in terms of whether or not we would have significant objections about those conversations. Your previous question about whether or not the White House was informed in advance -- I'm not aware that we were informed in advance if he intended to make the call. I'll check on that. And if I'm wrong about that, we'll correct it. But I'm not aware that we were informed in advance of the call. Q So something like, as the Trump administration characterized it, "Merry Christmas, let's get in touch after the Inauguration, let's set up those logistics" -- that would be normal transition business? MR. EARNEST: Well, it sounds like it to me. But again, I can't pass judgment on the content of the conversation because I obviously wasn’t privy to it. Margaret. Q Josh, a follow on that. Has the White House had any contact or inquired about the nature of any of these conversations? MR. EARNEST: I can't speak to the conversations that have taken place between White House officials and General Flynn's office. And even if I were aware of the details of that, I probably wouldn’t discuss them here. So obviously what I can tell you is, with regard to White House communications with the Russian ambassador, other than a White House staffer reaching out to the Russian embassy here in Washington to offer condolences on the death of the Russian diplomat in Turkey a month or so ago, I’m not aware of any conversations, at least in this period of time, around the holidays and around the work to develop and issue the response to Russia’s malicious cyber activity earlier this year -- or in 2016. Q But I guess the reason all of this timing and the timeline becomes important is getting to the heart of what you’re saying, is it depends on what they said during that conversation. Refresh my memory: Did the White House brief the Trump team about the sanctions before they were rolled out on the 29th? MR. EARNEST: My understanding is that they were briefed on the sanctions. I don’t know that they were necessarily briefed in advance. Q So if there was a conversation on the 28th, that wouldn’t necessarily raise a red flag to you? MR. EARNEST: Well, again, I guess I can’t speak to everything that General Flynn may or may not have known. So again, I think I’ll let him describe what he knew at the time that he engaged in a conversation with the Russian ambassador to the United States. Q Do you find, I mean, the line of questioning, I guess the questions being raised generally fair, having gone through a transition yourself? I mean, technically speaking, there’s nothing to prohibit contact for an incoming NSA and a sitting ambassador, correct? MR. EARNEST: Yeah, I think that’s the point that I was trying to make with Shana, that as a general matter, I don’t think there’s anything wrong, on principle, of an incoming national security advisor having basic contact with the representative of a foreign country before taking office -- or at least the representative of that foreign country in Washington before taking office. But the whole situation is rather unique, right? I’m not sure that we've ever had a transition in which the intelligence community concluded that a foreign country made a conscious effort to try to advantage one presidential candidate. So the fact that the designated national security advisor, who has his own rather remarkable relationship with the Russian government -- the fact that that official was in touch with the Russian ambassador to the United States, I can understand why that was the subject of a column in the newspaper today. Q When you said it depends on what he said, you're leaving the door open that there was something to truly question in terms of the motivations, the content of their conversations. MR. EARNEST: I think what I'm saying is that I don't know the content of their conversations and I can't raise an objection without knowing the content of their conversations. I'm also not prepared to say it was entirely appropriate without knowing the content of their conversations. I just don't know, and it just depends. Q And when you said the last contact between the White House and the Russian diplomat here in Washington was around -- MR. EARNEST: Yeah, let me try to be slightly more precise here. This was the only contact between the White House and the Russian ambassador during this period of time in which the response to Russia was being finalized and was rolled out the last week in December. What I do not know is whether or not there have been additional conversations between the White House and the Russian embassy after the first of the year, for example -- or at least since that report was -- since our response was announced. But obviously, it was a sensitive time in this several-week period in which this response was being finalized. So obviously there were not a lot of conversations other than this expression of condolence to the Russian government and to the Russian people for the assassination of the Russian diplomat in Turkey. And that's not something that we talked about in this room because that's an event that took place when we were not doing regular briefings over the holidays, but that was the assassination of a diplomat on foreign soil. And despite our profound differences with Russia on a range of issues, that's a genuine tragedy. And the expression of condolence that was made through a staffer here at the White House was genuine, and certainly our heart goes out to the families of -- to the family of that diplomat that was killed in Turkey. Q And when you're talking about contact, you're just talking about the White House. You're not talking about John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov speaking? MR. EARNEST: Correct. I can't speak to conversations -- Q Or other government contacts. MR. EARNEST: Correct. I can't speak to conversations that may have taken place between State Department officials, for example, and the Russian embassy or other Russian diplomats. John. Q You talked about this process about presidential clemency. I just wanted to dive into that just a little bit. Today, WikiLeaks had a tweet that indicated that Julian Assange would agree to U.S. extradition if Chelsea Manning was granted a commutation of her sentence. There's also a petition out there that calls for the pardon of Edward Snowden; it has over a million signatures. I'm wondering if those sorts of extraneous factors have any sort of bearing at all on the President's decision when he ultimately decides on these cases. MR. EARNEST: Well, what I can tell you is that the Department of Justice and the President will consider individual clemency applications on their merits. And there are obviously a wide range of factors that the President and the Department of Justice will consider. And I think to illustrate one of them would be to illustrate the pretty stark difference between Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden. Chelsea Manning is somebody who went through the military criminal justice process, was exposed to due process, was found guilty, was sentenced for her crimes, and she acknowledged wrongdoing. Mr. Snowden fled into the arms of an adversary, and has sought refuge in a country that most recently made a concerted effort to undermine confidence in our democracy. So I think the situation of these two individuals is quite different. I can't speculate at this point about to what degree that will have an impact on the President’s consideration of clemency requests. But I know that there’s a temptation because the crimes were relatively similar to lump the two cases together. But there are some important differences, including the scale of the crimes that were committed and the consequences of their crimes. Obviously, as Chelsea Manning has acknowledged, and as we have said many times, that the release of the information that she provided to WikiLeaks was damaging to national security. But the disclosures by Edward Snowden were far more serious and far more dangerous. Q Just one quick question, a follow-up on that. Does the Department of Justice come forward with a recommendation on each case to recommend to the President? Or does he ultimately take that with heavy weight? Or how does it work? MR. EARNEST: The Department of Justice does administer a process where they will review factors about each case individually. They’ll do so based on the merits, and they will provide a recommendation to the President. And I think you would expect the President would very carefully consider the recommendation that's made by the Department of Justice before making a final decision. Q And then yesterday, at the end of the briefing, you were asked about these photographs that TMZ got ahold of where it was apparent that the First Dog, Sunny, bit a guest here at the White House. Were you able to follow up on that at all and find out if that was true? MR. EARNEST: I don't have a whole lot more to -- more light to shed on that particular situation. I think what I can say is both Bo and Sunny have been genuine ambassadors to the American people. (Laughter.) Thousands of people have had an opportunity to interact, play with those dogs, pet with those dogs -- as you have, my son has, I have. Q I heard April say over my shoulder that this has happened before. Are you aware that the dogs have -- either of the dogs have bitten -- Q No, it was Barney. It was Barney. Q Barney, okay. MR. EARNEST: I’m not aware that that's happened before. And I think that they have represented themselves and our country quite well in their status as the First Dogs. (Laughter.) Kevin. Q Thanks, Josh. Did the President by chance have an opportunity to watch to Speaker Ryan last night? He was part of an interesting public conversation about the Affordable Care Act. Did the President take in any of that, by chance? MR. EARNEST: The President did not watch that last night. Q I ask because one of the suggestions that was made in the conversation was that rather than sort of hang on to a program that's apparently in a death spiral, as it has been described by some, with decreasing -- MR. EARNEST: Not by economists, I’d point out. Q By some. Decreasing choices and increasing premiums, rather than sort of hang on to that, why not repeal it -- even if the process of replacing it takes longer than perhaps they would like? What do you think about that notion? MR. EARNEST: I think it’s a dangerous proposition. As a Republican congressman said, that's them loading the gun without knowing where it's pointed. It's dangerous. It's going to have impact on lives and livelihoods of millions of Americans. If Republicans repeal the Affordable Care Act, they're going to take away health care from 30 million Americans. They're going to take away protections from 130 million Americans that, because of the Affordable Care Act, currently cannot be discriminated against because they have a preexisting condition. Those protections are removed if Republicans repeal the Affordable Care Act. Q What if they repeal it and expand Medicare and Medicaid in the process? Wouldn't that sort of, at least temporarily, cover those who might be impacted while they work on the sort of -- MR. EARNEST: Well, Kevin, let me compliment you for doing much more than any Republican on Capitol Hill has done. (Laughter.) You've actually put forward an idea. You've actually put forward a specific idea that we can evaluate and we can see what impact that would have on our health care system. Republicans have refused to do that. Republicans are saying that they'll get around to putting forward a replacement at some point in the future, despite the fact they've been saying that for seven years now. They haven't put forward a plan. There's no evidence that they can actually come together around a plan to replace it. What the President has said is that if Republicans actually are willing to put forward good ideas, including potentially expanding Medicaid or increasing tax credits for people to make the purchase of health insurance on the Marketplace even more affordable, those are good ideas and those are ideas that the President and Democrats in Congress would have been and will, I think in the future, be happy to work with Republicans to implement because it would have the effect of strengthening the Affordable Care Act, expanding further access to health care coverage, and reducing costs for middle-class families. Those are all good things. But that's not what Republicans have proposed. And that's not what Paul Ryan proposed. When Paul Ryan came face to face with one person who would be very negatively affected by the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, the best he could do was reiterate chewed-over, debunked, politically motivated talking points that may have tested well in focus groups but were not at all satisfying to the millions of Americans whose lives will be put at risk if Republicans follow through on their promise. Q Let me ask you about the AG's discovery and ultimately her decision about the situation in Chicago. Is it fair to say that, ultimately, the buck stops with the mayor -- in this case, the President's good friend -- and I use that expression because I know that's a friend. MR. EARNEST: That is true. Q Rahm Emanuel. Q They're really friends? Q Yeah, they're really friends. MR. EARNEST: They are. Q They are. Q Would it be fair to say the buck stops with him? And how disappointing would that be, as someone who not only knows him well but has affinity for that city, that they were unable, at least at this point, to get a handle on what was obviously something that was happening within the police department? MR. EARNEST: Well, I think, Kevin, I haven't read the Department of Justice report, but I am confident that it will say that the challenges that were uncovered, the problems that were uncovered in the police department have been in place for a long time. And having heard Mayor Emanuel talk about these issues, it is clear that his interest in solving those problems is genuine. He's got an authentic interest in trying to address some of these very thorny challenges, because he recognizes -- in the same way that the President does -- that the men and women of the Chicago Police Department are safer and are going to be more effective at fighting crime, and the communities that they patrol will be safer if the breach in trust that has erupted in the last few years between some of the communities in Chicago and the Chicago Police Department can be repaired. Those repairs are not going to happen overnight. You don't build trust with somebody overnight. You build trust with somebody over time, particularly when you're talking about an institution as large as the Chicago Police Department and when you're talking about neighborhoods that are as large and as populated as some of the communities in Chicago. So it's going to take some time. And what's going to be required is people like Mayor Emanuel stepping up and showing the kind of leadership that he has for the last several years in making these reforms a priority and making getting to the truth a priority, and genuinely engaging in the kind of work that is hard, is not glamorous, and, in some cases, may not be politically popular in order to get at the crux of these problems. And I think -- that's why I know that President Obama is proud of the leadership that Mayor Emanuel has shown and is counting on him to continue to show it so that the Chicago Police Department and the entire city can continue to make progress in the right direction. John. Q Thank you, Josh. Two questions. First, you and the President have noted from this podium historic firsts. Does the administration have any comment at all about the news last night that Vice President-elect Mike Pence has selected Justice Clarence Thomas to administer the oath of office to him, and that that will make him the first black American ever to swear in one of the top two officials in U.S. history? MR. EARNEST: I was not aware of that announcement from Vice President-elect Pence, but obviously Justice Thomas, for all of our profound differences when it comes to some pretty important basic American values, he is somebody who has had a genuinely historic career. And I think this is just the latest evidence of the historic nature of the position that he holds, and I think it's also reflective of the political philosophy of Vice President-elect Pence that he would choose Justice Thomas to administer the oath. But obviously that was a decision that was left up to him. Q Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy spoke yesterday, and he addressed some of the concerns about taking time to come up with an alternative to the Affordable Care Act. And what he said is that they, Republicans, would be criticized in the past if they rushed into a plan, and that by taking their time and considering things they were going to get it right this time. I’m paraphrasing the Majority Leader. MR. EARNEST: Right. Q Do you have a response to that, or a comment? MR. EARNEST: I’ll try to keep this one short. Seven years seems like a really long time to me. Lalit. Q Thank you, Josh. Official Chinese media today warned U.S. if it is denied access to the artificial islands in the South China Sea. This follows after a few hearings on the Hill. What do you have to say on this? MR. EARNEST: I think this is an allusion to some comments that were made by Mr. Tillerson, the gentleman that President-elect Trump has designated to serve as -- or has nominated -- been nominated to serve as Secretary of State. I would refer you to Mr. Tillerson’s team for an explanation of what exactly he was trying to convey in his remarks. I can tell you that the policy that's been in place in the Obama administration has been to not take sides in the competing land claims in the South China Sea. Certainly, the United States doesn't have any claims to any territory in that region of the world. And what we have suggested is that those with competing claims should seek to resolve those competing claims not through brute force or through intimidation or coercion, but rather through diplomacy and negotiation. And that is something that we have encouraged all parties to do. And I don't know whether or not that will be the policy of the incoming administration. I assume that will be one of the topics that will be covered in first briefing that you guys have in here with my successor. But that's the policy that's been in place in this administration. Q The Asia Pacific pivot was one key aspects of the President’s foreign policy. Do you feel that it might be dumped in the Pacific in the new administration? MR. EARNEST: Can you repeat the first part of your question one more time? Q The Asia Pacific pivot was one of the key aspects of the President’s foreign policy. MR. EARNEST: Yes, it was. Again, I can't speak to what foreign policy priorities will be pursued by the incoming administration. Q Did it serve as value? MR. EARNEST: Oh, I think the interests of the United States of America were advanced in important ways with the commitment of this administration to strengthening our alliances in the Asia Pacific and looking for ways to expand economic opportunity for the American people in the Asia Pacific. Of course, this administration did complete the trade agreement with the Republic of Korea, something that does deepen our ties with our allies in South Korea. It also expands economic opportunity for American businesses that are looking to get access to South Korean markets. Now, what we advocated and what President Obama dedicated a significant portion of his presidency to doing was negotiating a Trans-Pacific Partnership. This would be a trade agreement with 11 other countries, where the United States would be able to work effectively to level the playing field and impose higher and enforceable labor and environmental standards, enforceable and higher human rights standards, protections for things like intellectual property that would give U.S. businesses access to some of the fastest-growing economies in the world. The benefits of the policy include slashing 18,000 taxes that other countries impose on American goods and services. But unfortunately, Congress did not take action on the agreement that the Obama administration negotiated. And that's unfortunate because early indications are that other countries are prepared to move forward without the United States. That's going to put U.S. businesses and the U.S. economy at a disadvantage. It means that other countries’ products are going to be cheaper for some countries to import. And that's going to put U.S. businesses at even greater disadvantage. So it’s a very difficult case for opponents of the Trans-Pacific Partnership to make that the Trans-Pacific Partnership would have a negative impact on our economy. The fact is this would have followed through on a number of the President’s promises, including renegotiating NAFTA in a way that has positive benefits for the U.S. economy for American businesses and for American workers. So the President believes that the interests of the United States were well served by our policy of rebalancing our attention to Asia, but there certainly is more that can and should be done. But we’ll have to see what the incoming administration chooses to do. Chris. Q Josh, already at the start of this year, there are a number of proposals in state legislatures that seem to enable discrimination against LGBT people, including measures in Texas, Virginia, and Kentucky that would bar transgender people from using the restrooms consistent with their gender identity. You've spoken against measures along these lines at your time from the podium. Is it incumbent upon the Trump administration to speak out against these measures as well as they move forward? MR. EARNEST: Well, I think the first observation I would make is I’d encourage the leaders of those states that you named to consult with outgoing North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory about whether or not that's a particularly smart political idea. I’m not sure that it is. I would also encourage them to contact the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce to determine whether or not the state of North Carolina benefitted economically from implementing these policies. They did not when you consider the business decisions that were made by not just high-profile organizations like the NCAA and the NBA, but also other businesses that were looking to expand their footprint, and expand their business in that state. They chose not to do so because they were concerned that their employees and their customers were at heightened risk of being discriminated against. So obviously these states, because of our system of government, have an opportunity to pass and implement laws as they see fit. But they might consider the experience of the state of North Carolina before they do so. Q I know what you think. But it is incumbent upon the person who -- MR. EARNEST: I haven’t really kept it a secret, have I? Q Yes. (Laughter.) Is it incumbent upon the person who takes the podium after you to make a similar case? MR. EARNEST: The incoming administration is going to be responsible for what they choose to advocate for. I've always been proud to stand at this podium and advocate for fairness and justice and equal treatment of every single American. I think the incoming administration will have to determine if they're going to do the same thing. John Decker. Q Thank you, Josh. I'm curious about this change in policy as it relates to Cubans that make it to U.S. shores. Was there any effort by the administration to consult with, reach out to, give a heads up to the Trump transition team or President-elect Trump as it relates to this policy? MR. EARNEST: There was an effort, a successful effort, to brief the incoming administration shortly before this policy change was made public. Q And give me a sense, if you could, about the reaction coming from the Trump transition team once you gave them an effort to let them know about this policy change. MR. EARNEST: I'll let the incoming administration describe their reaction to this policy change. Q Talk a little bit about the timing here. It comes eight days before a new administration takes over and will then be in charge of immigration policy. Was there any thought about, do we do this now? It's so soon before the next administration takes over and will be in charge of immigration policy. MR. EARNEST: Well, John, it takes time to negotiate these kinds of executive agreements, particularly with a country like Cuba that does not have a long history of negotiating these kinds of agreements with the United States. For more than 50 years, the United States pursued a policy of diplomatic isolation with Cuba. And so it's only over the course of the last year or so that we've had the kind of diplomatic opening that will allow us to have these kinds of conversations. So, negotiating these kinds of executive agreements takes time, but as soon as this agreement was completed, we announced it right away. Q President-elect Trump, I think it was in late November, took to Twitter to talk about what he called the deal that has been reached between the U.S. government and the Cuban government. And essentially, he threatened that he may undo it once he becomes President. Is that a concern of this administration? MR. EARNEST: Well, listen, if he wants to cancel this policy, he'll be cancelling $6 billion of increased exports and financial ties between the United States and Cuba. Q It's all about the financial relationship? MR. EARNEST: I think it's relevant. He certainly seems to be motivated by financial interests in some pretty important ways; he has over his professional career. So I think he'll find that argument persuasive, particularly when you consider that there were reports that his company was negotiating with Cuba for exactly those kinds of agreements. So he obviously recognizes the economic opportunity that's there. There's more than a hundred flights every day between the United States and Cuba. That's cancelling a lot of flights if he wants to roll back this policy. And I can't imagine that the U.S. airline industry is going to be particularly pleased by that kind of development. There are thousands of Americans that have an opportunity to travel to Cuba, and they've had an opportunity to enjoy their time there, learn a little bit more about the country, enhance ties between our two countries, and they've been able to return to the United States with all of the cigars and rum that they could pack into their suitcase if they choose to. I don’t think those Americans are going to be particularly pleased to see that policy rolled back. Q In that answer you failed to mention -- that long answer -- you failed to mention -- MR. EARNEST: I'm happy to go on. (Laughter.) So I will. Q Please do. MR. EARNEST: I think what we also know is that the Cuban people genuinely support this policy. Q -- human rights. Can you talk about that issue as it relates to the Cuban people? Because you talk mainly about the economic benefits that will -- MR. EARNEST: As I mentioned, I could go on. Q -- the Cuban government. MR. EARNEST: I'm happy to go on. And I think what we have found is that for 50 years, more than 50 years, there was a policy of diplomatic isolation in place that had no material impact in improving the human rights situation in Cuba. If anything, it got worse. This policy has been in place for about a year. And is there more that we would like to see the Cuban government do with regard to protecting human rights? We absolutely would. But our view is that the ability of the United States to advocate for those kinds of improvements is enhanced when we deepen the ties between our two countries. When there are more Americans that are traveling to Cuba, when there is more communication going back and forth between Cuba and the United States, when there are more Cuban Americans that have an opportunity to visit family and send money to family in Cuba, all that is going to promote freedom. That's going to promote our values. And what we've also succeeded in doing is removing an impediment to our relationship with countries throughout Latin America that have important relationships with Cuba. For most of the last 50 years, those countries in Latin America didn’t apply that much pressure to Cuba about their human rights situation, and were focused on the United States and our failed policy of trying to isolate them. Now that that impediment has been removed, it's not just the United States that's encouraging the Cuban government to improve their human rights situation, but you've got countries throughout the Western Hemisphere that are making the same argument. So all we have done is to increase pressure on the Cuban government to improve the human rights situation there, and, at the same time, the merican people have enjoyed a number of material benefits, including monetary benefits, that I do think will be persuasive to the incoming President as he determines what policy he believes is best with regard to the United States and Cuba. Q Do you think there has been an improvement in human rights in Cuba since the policy change? MR. EARNEST: Not nearly as much as we would like to see. But the policy has been in place for a little over a year. So let’s give it another 50 years and see where it ends up. Goyal. Q Thank you, sir. Two questions. One, as far as U.S.-India relations are concerned, President Obama has been dealing with two Indian Prime Ministers -- Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and now Prime Minister Modi. And he became the first U.S. President to visit India twice during his administration. And many members of the Indian-American community will miss him, and of course, some of us will miss you. (Laughter.) MR. EARNEST: Wow. Goyal is getting all sentimental here. It's not even my last day. Mark chooses not to associate himself with your remarks. (Laughter.) That's very kind of you, Goyal. Thank you. Q Thank you. So the relations have been great between U.S. and India under this administration and of course, in relations to India. My question is that what is the future of -- can you highlight some of the policies during this administration and what you think the future will be between the two countries, and what you think the new President will have for the new administration. MR. EARNEST: Well, President Obama has recognized the opportunity that exists with India to deepen our security, economic and diplomatic relationship. And the President believes that doing that successfully allows the United States to advance our interest not just in Asia but around the world. And President Obama is proud of the success that we have had in doing exactly that. There are important economic benefits for the American people. There obviously are important security benefits in that region of the world as two of the world’s largest democracies get together and work together to advance the interests of peace-loving countries like our two countries. With regard to the future, that's something that the incoming administration will have to speak to. But President Obama had an opportunity during his eight years in office to chart a course that he believes benefitted the citizens of the United States and India. Q And second, as far as the press relations are concerned between President-elect Trump press relations and also you think -- what advice do you think the President will have -- President Obama for President-elect as far as press relations are concerned, or what President-elect believes or might be thinking that press who are not favoring him or was against him? And also, any advice for upcoming press secretary, Sean Spicer, who is not a new face in the White House or in this town? MR. EARNEST: Well, listen, I had an opportunity to meet with Mr. Spicer at the beginning of last week. We had a nice conversation. My colleague, Jen Psaki, who has got a lot of experience working here at the White House, spent a long time talking to him about the opportunity to work here and talked to him a little bit about the logistics of running a White House press office, but also some of the things that he can do to prepare himself to do the important work, standing behind this podium and representing the interests of not just the administration but of the country. And both of us, in private and as I've done publicly, I wish him well and will be hoping for his success as he manages the relationship between the White House and the White House Press Corps and as he seeks to advocate for the best interests of the United States. With regard to advice that the President has given the President-elect, as we've discussed in here a few times, the President and President-elect had an opportunity to consult on the telephone a number of times since they met in person in the Oval Office back on November 10th. But I'm going to protect their ability to have a private conversation. Q One on the new relations, please? MR. EARNEST: Okay, last one. Q Yes, sir. Thank you. Still so many people are waiting and see that if there is a light in the dark tunnel for them under Obama administration. What is the future of -- because many of them are living under the prospect of working under -- so what do you think is for them, what is their future? MR. EARNEST: Well, again, it's hard for me to speak to the future because there’s an incoming administration who will set their own agenda and pursue the priorities that they have identified. But President Obama certainly recognized that there is an important opportunity for us to reform our broken immigration system. And we did work to develop a proposal that was supported by a number of Republicans in the United States Senate that would bring people out of the shadows and prevent people from taking advantage of them because of their status, and also asking them, after undergoing a background check and paying taxes -- giving them a path to citizenship. That is consistent with the United States of America being a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. That's a policy that reflects the views of a broad majority of the American public. But we'll have to see what this Congress and the next administration chooses to pursue. Yes, sir. Q My country, Canada, and yours, the United States, share common igloos in the Northern Arctic, and we've heard a word bandied about -- some very wonderful interviews by with Barack Obama -- “hope.” What kind of hope do you have for environmental and natural habitat issues in the Arctic? MR. EARNEST: Well, what I can tell you is that President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau have been able to work quite effectively together to safeguard some of the most beautiful places in the world in the Arctic. Obviously both the United States and Canada are Arctic nations, and being able to work together to safeguard some of those areas is an important legacy of President Obama. And I know that President Obama is hopeful that Prime Minister Trudeau will continue to look for ways to make efforts to protect the Arctic and fight climate change a top priority. And I can't speak for the incoming administration, but I would expect that -- well, what I will say is that President Obama is hopeful that Prime Minister Trudeau will continue to make those issues a priority. Q (inaudible) -- the next administration? MR. EARNEST: I think it remains to -- Q -- denying the issues of environmental changes and the things that are taking place there. Are you -- MR. EARNEST: Well, I think what we have found and certainly what President Obama has found over his eight years in office is that we can make tangible, important progress in protecting the planet by working closely with other countries. And the United States has played a leading role in doing exactly that. The United States brokered an agreement with China that really mobilized the international community and convinced individual countries to make their own commitments to reduce carbon pollution in a way that has had a tangible, positive impact on the diplomatic track, in terms of making commitments to reduce carbon pollution. That's good for the country. It's good for the planet. It's also good for our economy, because the United States does stand at the forefront of many of the technologies that other countries we'll have to invest in, in order to keep their promises. And so whether that's a company -- a U.S. company like Westinghouse that builds nuclear reactors, or if it's smaller American companies that are at the forefront of wind energy technology or at the forefront of solar technology or at the forefront of energy efficiency technology, countries now around the world will be turning to that kind of technology in order to meet the commitments that they have made. So by enforcing these commitments and by continuing to lead the international community to make these commitments, President Obama has created a real economic opportunity. And hopefully those are the kinds of policies that will be continued and the full benefits will be enjoyed. I'll give you the last one, sir, and then we'll do the week ahead. Q It isn't your last day, but it is your last week. I'd love to hear your own self-criticism, what you think you could have done better on the job; what you think we could have done better. And finally, Chiefs and Steelers -- what’s your -- MR. EARNEST: I thought you would never ask. (Laughter.) With regard to -- we'll get to that. With regard to my own performance, I'm confident that we could spend a decent amount of time every day underscoring aspects of my presentation that could have been improved. The one thing that I feel good about having done is I succeeded in being consistently honest. I succeeded in understanding the President's point of view and doing my best to accurately describe it to all of you and to the American public. And I've shown a genuine interest in and respect for the role that all of you play in holding people in power accountable. That's critical to the success of our democracy. You all have dedicated a significant portion of your lives to doing exactly that, and I certainly hope that it continues. With regard to assessing your performance, it's not my first day here -- I'm not going to fall into that trap. (Laughter.) So there is a healthy separation between the United States government and the independent media that covers us, so I'll leave it to all of you to assess your own performance and to look for ways to play your important role in our democracy even better. With regard to -- Q Gold, silver, or bronze -- you, Gibbs and Carney? (Laughter.) MR. EARNEST: I'll let you award the medals. With regard to the football game this weekend, I'm really looking forward to it. The Chiefs have not won a home playoff game since 1994, so to say that the Chiefs are due is an understatement. But as I recall, that game that they won in January of 1994 was against the Steelers. Look, what I do think is if the defense can make some stops and even slow down that potent Pittsburgh offense, then I think the Chiefs stand a good chance. Q -- on that regard? MR. EARNEST: I don't want to jinx it, but I will be watching with interest. Q Week ahead? MR. EARNEST: Let's do the week ahead. Darlene seems as interested in the football game as I am. (Laughter.) On Monday, Martin Luther King Day, the President will welcome the Chicago Cubs to the White House to honor that team and their 2016 World Series victory. Later that day, the President will participate in a service project to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day. On Tuesday, the President will attend meetings at the White House. On Wednesday, the President of the United States will host his final news conference as President of the United States here in the briefing room. It will be in the afternoon, but we'll get you a specific time next week. Q East Room? MR. EARNEST: It will be in this room. On Thursday, the President will attend meetings at the White House. On Friday morning, President Obama and the First Lady will welcome President-elect Trump and Melania Trump to the White House for tea and a small reception. Then, per custom, President Obama and President-elect Trump will motorcade up to the United States Capitol together. The President and First Lady will attend the inaugural swearing-in and inaugural address of President-elect Trump, and then depart the United States Capitol via helicopter, as other Presidents have done in recent years. At that point, President Obama and the First Lady will proceed to Joint Base Andrews, where he will deliver remarks to a group of staff that will be gathered there to bid farewell. And then he and Mrs. Obama will depart Joint Base Andrews on their last flight aboard the presidential aircraft to a destination to be announced. Q Are those staff remarks open? Or pooled? MR. EARNEST: There will be some pool coverage of the President's remarks to staff at Joint Base Andrews. Q White House staff? MR. EARNEST: I think it will be both the White House staff and staff from across the administration. Q Are you briefing Tuesday? MR. EARNEST: Tuesday I will do a briefing and it will be, as you could tell from the schedule, my final briefing at the White House as well. Q It better be great. MR. EARNEST: Bring your hankies. (Laughter.) Q No, you need to bring your hanky. (Laughter.) MR. EARNEST: I will not brief on Thursday. On Thursday, I anticipate that will be a quiet day of packing. (Laughter.) Q Are you going to miss this? MR. EARNEST: Absolutely. Can't you tell? (Laughter.) Q You're going to miss us. MR. EARNEST: I will. Q No, I'm serious. MR. EARNEST: I am -- we'll have an opportunity to talk about this on Tuesday. Francesca, do you have the last one here? Q Did you say what he's doing this weekend? MR. EARNEST: I'm not aware that the President has a public schedule this weekend. Have a good weekend, everybody. END 2:23 P.M. EST
Начало 2017 года стало своего рода рубежом, после которого произошло резкое сокращение количества новостей, посвященных демонетизации в Индии. Основное внимание теперь там сосредоточено на предстоящих в целом ряде штатов этой страны выборов, и демонетизация и ее последствия рассматриваются именно в этом контексте. Оценки вполне естественны. Правящая партия во главе с премьер-министром утверждают, что демонетизация стала большим успехом в борьбе коррупцией, финансированием терроризма и «черным налом». Оппозиция, как только может, клеймит действия нынешних властей, обвиняя их в том, что они подорвали нормальное развитие экономики страны, а также доверие к ее правоохранительным и судебным институтам и центральному банку. Бывший премьер-министр Индии и уважаемый экономист Манмохан Сингх, благодаря усилиям которого экономика Индии смогла сделать значительный шаг вперед в своем развитии, выступая в среду 11 января на партийной конференции Индийского национального конгресса, резко раскритиковал демонетизацию, назвав ее катастрофической. Она уже нанесла ущерб стране, но самое худшее – еще впереди.Резервный банк Индии (РБИ) пытается отвести от себя обвинения и спихнуть ответственность за осуществленную в ноябре демонетизацию на центральное правительство, уверяя, что это была прежде всего их идея. Бывший глава РБИ, перебравшийся в прошлом году до демонетизации на гораздо более спокойное местечко в Банке международных расчетов в Базеле, уверяет, что весной 2016 года никаких планов по выводу из обращения банкнот в 500 и 1000 рупий не обсуждалось. Тогда лишь планировалось ввести в обращение новую банкноту в 2000 рупий. Стоит заметить, что в последнее время РБИ все больше становится настоящим посмешищем. Сначала стало известно о новых банкнотах в 2000 рупий, которые рассыпались в руках. Потом стали появляться банкноты в 2000 рупий без центрального на них изображения Махатмы Ганди. Однако и это было далеко не все. Самым свежим хитом индийского центрального банка стали новые банкноты в 500 рупий, напечатанные лишь с одной стороны. Как отметили в банке, это типографская ошибка. Вероятно, эти напечатанные с одной стороны новые банкноты, выпущенные центральным банком, лучше всего отражают как итоги демонетизации, так и ценность всех остальных бумажных необеспеченных валют. Из известных банкнот, напечатанных всего с одной стороны, на память, как аналогия нынешним событиям в Индии, сразу же приходят бумажные марки, выпускавшиеся рейхсбанком в Веймарской республике в 1923 году. Ценность миллионов и миллиардов бумажных марок была такой ничтожной, что тратить краску на то, чтобы печатать сразу обе стороны банкнот было экономически бессмысленно. Сразу возникает вопрос: а как дела обстоят с твердыми обеспеченными деньгами? С начала нового года биржевая цена золота без особого шума поднялась с примерно 1150 до 1200 американских дензнаков за унцию или почти на 4,5%, а серебро - с 15,9 до 16,9 ам.дензнаков за унцию или на 6,3%. Розничный спрос на драгоценные металлы также находится на высоком уровне. Буквально в первый же день продаж в новом году Монетным двором США было поставлено потребителям 73,5 тысячи унций золотых и 3,7475 миллионов унций серебряных «орлов». Это составляет почти 60% продаж золотых и 63% продаж серебряных монет за весь январь 2016 года. Продажи серебра уже превышают ежемесячные объемы продаж серебряных монет с июня прошлого года за исключением лишь октября (3,825 миллиона унций), но совершенно очевидно, что и октябрьские результаты скоро могут оказаться превзойденными, если, конечно, у монетного двора будет достаточно серебра. Несмотря на все усилия власть предержащих, драгоценные металлы и монеты из них не просто продолжают пользоваться спросом у населения, но этот спрос также продолжает свой постепенный рост.Мои книжки «Крах «денег» или как защитить сбережения в условиях кризиса», «Золото. Гражданин или государство, свобода или демократия», «Занимательная экономика»,«Деньги смутных времен. Древняя история», «Деньги смутных времен. Московия, Россия и ее соседи в XV – XVIII веках» можно прочитать или скачать по адресу http://www.proza.ru/avtor/mitra396
отрывок из статьи, опубликованной Bloomberg: “Послание к Моди: Не причиняй больше вреда”, автор Михир Шарма:""""" Хаос, вызванный “демонетизацией”, не утихает. Похоже, что сбои в экономике – и особенно, в сельских районах Индии, где торговля велась исключительно за наличные – окажут значительное давление на экономический рост, по крайней мере, в следующие несколько кварталов. Сложно сказать, каковы будут последствия такой политики, и как долго они будут ощущаться – мы находимся на неизведанной территории, а поэтому догадки разнятся очень сильно. Но многие аналитики соглашаются с бывшим Премьер-министром Индии Манмоханом Сингхом, прогнозирующим, что новая политика властей отнимет 2 процентных пункта роста ВВП страны, который до настоящего времени опережал мировые темпы увеличения этого показателя.Изначально демонетизация преподносилась, как “хирургическая операция по избавлению от черных денег” – то есть речь шла, об ударе по незаконным скоплениям наличных, владельцами которых являлись богатые граждане, скопившие эти деньги, избежав уплаты налогов. Теперь стало отчетливо ясно, что эта политика совсем не напоминает хирургическую операцию.....Однако населению все это продолжает преподносится, как борьба с незадекларированным богатством, а значит Моди нужно искать новые пути, чтобы соответствовать заявленному. Таким образом, правительство начало заставлять сборщиков подоходного налога проводить рейды по жилищам тех, кто заподозрен в сокрытии активов поимо наличных таких, как золото.В обществе распространились страхи о том, что подобные рейды станут массовыми, и поэтому представители правительства выступили с успокаивающими заявлениями. Однако, это не помогло. Правительство “прояснило”, что, помимо прочих вещей, существуют четкие правила, по которым чиновники могут конфисковывать золото: ничего не случится, “если количество хранимого золота ограничено 500-ми граммами для замужней женщины, 250-тью граммами для незамужней женщины и 100-та граммами для мужчины”. Также было сказано, что не будет ограничений на ювелирные изделия, “при условии, что они унаследованы”, а еще, что “офицер, проводящий обыск, может по своему усмотрению не конфисковывать даже большее, чем разрешено, количество золотых ювелирных украшений.”"""""Богатые смогут избежать ответственности, бедным и среднему классу придется страдатьРейды властей, направленные на поиски золота, делают ситуацию только хуже. За пределами краткосрочной перспективы, такие действия станут причиной еще большего спроса на золото.
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday tore into his successor Narendra Modi's clampdown on the cash economy, calling it an "organized loot and legalized plunder" of the country.
Manmohan Singh, the former PM, has said that India's demonetisation program will cut 2% from GDP. This is of course entirely possible--but it's very far from certain. Yes, of course, there will be disruption from the change in the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. We can all see that [...]
За последнее десятилетие много написано о дрейфе Индии в сторону США. Хотя Нью-Дели рьяно это отрицает, его растущие и более разнообразные оборонные закупки у США, усиливающиеся экономические связи, рост числа официальных визитов на различных уровнях и высокая интенсивность совместных военных учений убедили многих, что США — это новый предпочтительный партнер Индии. Периодические разногласия, например, по недавно заключённому Соглашению о логистической поддержке, отбрасываются как пережитки антиамериканизма в среде политиков и политических обозревателей, в годы холодной войны восхвалявших СССР и Китай.
It facilitates crime, bribery, and tax evasion – and yet some governments (including ours) are printing more cash than ever. Other countries, meanwhile, are ditching cash entirely. And if Star Trek is right, we won’t have money of any sort in the 24th century. The post Why Are We Still Using Cash? appeared first on Freakonomics.
26 июля 1991 года Манмохан Сингх (тогда возглавлявший Минфин, а затем в течение 10 лет руководивший правительством) обратился к парламенту с призывом преобразить Индию. С той речи, в общих чертах обрисовывавшей первый бюджет избранного правительства под руководством премьер-министра Нарасимха Рао, началось путешествие Индии по волнам экономических реформ, с целью ухода от социалистического стиля управления в частном секторе.
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room 1:37 P.M. EDT MR. EARNEST: Good afternoon, everybody. Nice to see you all. I do not have any comments at the top, so we can go straight to your questions. Kevin, do you want to start? Q Sure. So what is the White House reaction to Donald Trump encouraging Vladimir Putin to find and make public missing emails deleted by Hillary Clinton? MR. EARNEST: Listen, I'm periodically asked about the controversial comments uttered by the Republican nominee for President, and I don't make a habit of responding. What I can just make clear in this case is what the Obama administration’s approach to this issue is, and it's a pretty simple, common-sense one. The United States counters cyber threats targeting all Americans regardless of which political party they belong to. And that's consistent with the national security approach that's been taken by Democratic and Republican Presidents for virtually our nation’s entire history. Q There’s been a lot of concern about his comments, though. I guess my question is if you think that's overblown. MR. EARNEST: Well, particularly now, and particularly this week, there’s active political debate about the claims and rhetoric that are used by candidates on both sides. And I'll let others do that. But when it comes to our national security, and when it comes to President Obama’s approach to national security, we're going to do everything we can to protect the American people without regard to which political party they belong to or who they voted for in the last election. Q Harry Reid today came out and said that intelligence agencies should withhold briefings for Donald Trump, in part as a result of his comments. Is that something that the White House thinks should be done? MR. EARNEST: Well, the President has made clear that ensuring a smooth transition to the next President is a top priority, and it's certainly one of his top priorities for his last six months in office. And that requires a lot of advance preparation. And I can tell you that White House staff and agency staff all across the federal government are already working on the steps and procedures related to ensuring a smooth transition from one President to another. And that's important, in part because of the significant threats around the world. For more than 60 years now, the intelligence community has offered briefings to the presidential nominees of the two major political parties in an effort to facilitate a smooth transition. Again, in the same way that the Obama administration isn't going to start planning for the transition after the election, we're going to take steps in advance, the intelligence community is going to do the same thing in terms of preparing the potential next President. And they’re doing that based on a tradition that's been in place for more than 60 years. So the Director of National Intelligence has indicated he intends to conduct those briefings pursuant to that longstanding tradition, and he certainly is supported by this administration and this White House in doing so. What’s also true of the intelligence community is they understand what steps are necessary to protect sensitive national security information. And the administration is confident that they can both provide relevant and sufficient briefings to the two major party presidential candidates while also protecting sensitive national security information. The one other thing that I'll clarify, just to make sure that everybody understands this, is Director Clapper has also publicly indicated that his expectation is to provide the same information to both nominees. And that certainly seems appropriate. Jeff. Q Josh, Russia said today that the U.S. needs to handle this hacking issue on its own, responding to both comments by Donald Trump and others. Has there been any diplomatic exchange about this between Russia and the United States? MR. EARNEST: Well, let me take that in a couple different ways. The first is I want to be careful of trying to answer these questions that we're all cognizant of the fact that there is an ongoing FBI investigation into the cyber breach at the DNC, and so I'm going to be as circumspect as I can out of a desire to protect the integrity of that ongoing investigation. I just don't want to say anything that could be perceived even as having some kind of influence over the course of that investigation. That investigation, as always, is being led by the investigators who will follow the facts, and they’ll do so without regard to politics. I think the political sensitivities here are obvious, and that's why I'm trying to go to great lengths here to make clear exactly how this is being handled. So separate from that, so the reason I'm making that point right now is that the FBI has not revealed any information about who may have perpetrated the cyber intrusion at the DNC. There’s plenty of speculation out there. I recognize there’s been an analysis done that has indicated that the Russians are likely to blame, but that is not a conclusion that the FBI has chosen to publicize at this point. They’re conducting an ongoing investigation, and so I'll let them speak to whether or not they’ve made such a determination, and I'll let them speak to whether they believe it's appropriate to go public with such a determination. That all said, I do understand that Secretary of State Kerry indicated, after his meeting with his Russian counterpart, that he had raised cybersecurity issues with Mr. Lavrov. That certainly is not the first time that senior-level U.S. government officials have raised significant concerns about Russian activities in cyberspace. In fact, just yesterday -- I believe it was yesterday, maybe it was two days ago -- the President’s top homeland security advisor, Lisa Monaco, gave a speech at the International Conference on Cybersecurity up in New York, and in that speech, she noted “The global landscape is increasingly diverse and dangerous. Nations like Russia and China are growing more assertive and sophisticated in their cyber operations.” Mike Rogers, who is the Director of the NSA and the Commander of Cyber Command, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier this year. He said “Russia has very capable cyber operators who can and do work with speed, precision and stealth. Russia is also home to a substantial segment of the world’s most sophisticated cyber criminals who have found victims all over the world.” You’ve heard similar comments -- I’ll spare you the quotes for now, at least -- from Director Clapper, Secretary Carter, and other senior U.S. officials. The reason I cited those quotes, Jeff -- and we can go through other -- do more of them if it’s necessary -- to make clear that the Obama administration has been mindful of the cyber threat emanating from Russia for quite some time. And that threat takes a variety of forms. In some cases, as the Director of the NSA indicated, there are actors that are both affiliated with the state, and some actors that are affiliated with criminal organizations, and occasionally, those two actors will have different motives in conducting their operations. In all cases, the Obama administration and the United States government is committed to countering those threats, whether they emanate from Russia or anywhere else. And we will do so to protect all of the American people without regard to the political party that they support. Q So it is safe to conclude that Russia and the United States have had diplomatic exchanges about this hacking topic, with both regard to what the Republican nominee has said about it and with regard to the investigation related to the DNC? MR. EARNEST: Well, I can’t speak to the conversation that Secretary Kerry had with his counterpart. I do know that within the course of that conversation Secretary Kerry did something that he did not do for the first time, which is raise concerns with his Russian counterpart about some of Russia’s activities in cyberspace. I can’t speak with any more specificity than that. And those are messages that we’ve delivered both in private and in public in the past. And I gave you a couple of examples of the public expressions of concern we have about Russia’s activity in cyberspace and the potential threat it poses to U.S. citizens and U.S. national security. Q Briefly, on one other topic, China said today it will hold routine naval exercises in the South China Sea with Russia in September. Is the United States convinced that those are routine? And is that announcement generally a concern, or not? MR. EARNEST: Well, I don’t have any insight into what sort of exercises they’re planning. What I can tell you is that the United States conducted some exercises with Chinese military officials and Chinese military forces in the Pacific earlier this year. Just last week, the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Richardson, was in China interacting with his counterparts and even touring some Chinese military facilities in China. So that kind of military-to-military relationship is not just one that exists between China and Russia, it’s also a relationship that exists between the U.S. military and the Chinese military. So I don’t know what exercises they are planning, but in the same way that the United States and China have a military-to-military relationship, I’m not surprised to hear that Russia and China are seeking to build on their military-to-military relationship, as well. Q But this is the South China Sea, which is a disputed -- MR. EARNEST: Yes, there’s no denying that this is a region of the world that is a sensitive diplomatic topic right now. But again, that doesn’t change the nature of the military-to-military relationship that the United States and China have. And I’ll let Chinese and Russian officials speak to the nature of their military-to-military relationship, but that’s not a particularly new development. Justin. Q I wanted to ask first about the reported split between al Nusra and al Qaeda. It’s a move that seems designed to sort of embed al Nusra more with the broader Syrian insurgency. And so I’m wondering if there’s a concern that doing so risks al Nusra, through their influence, radicalizing more moderate Sunni insurgent groups; it’s going to complicate our ongoing talks with Russia about a political transition in Syria; and how, or what our plans are to distinguish al Nusra from sort of the other insurgency groups that we’ve sought to protect to some extent. MR. EARNEST: Justin, I think it’s worth remembering from the beginning that it’s a direct result of Bashar al Assad’s failed leadership that extremist organizations have sought a safe haven inside of Syria. Extremist organizations like al Nusra, like ISIL and others, seek to take root amid the chaos. And that is deeply destabilizing, as we saw with ISIL’s advance over the border with Iraq. We’ve also seen that it poses a real national security risk to the United States and our allies. And our allies in Europe have been targeted and innocent people have been killed by individuals who traveled to Iraq and in Syria, got training, equipment, support, and then traveled back to the West and carried out terrorist attacks, killing innocent people. So the fact is that the extremist threat that exists inside of Syria is one that is serious and concerning to the United States and to our allies. That’s why you’ve seen such a robust response on the part of the Obama administration, building a coalition of about 67 countries and entities to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL. But it’s not just ISIL that we've been focused on. On the very first day that President Obama, in late summer of 2014, authorized military action inside of Syria, U.S. military fighter pilots also hit extremist targets not affiliated directly with ISIL. So we've been mindful of the extremist threat in Syria literally since the first day of our military operations there. That all said, you will be surprised to hear me express some skepticism about the claims that you just cited. The United States continues to asses that Nusra Front leaders maintain the intent to conduct eventual attacks in and against the West and there continues to be increasing concern about Nusra Front’s growing capacity for external operations that could threaten both the United States and Europe. So President Obama and the rest of the Obama administration and our military actions have been focused on and directed against a variety of extremist groups inside of Syria, including both ISIL and the Nusra Front. Q I guess the question is more if -- I’m not surprised the United States will continue to distinguish between al Nusra and other opposition groups. But as they're clouding the picture on the ground in Syria, is there a concern among the administration that that will complicate our efforts either to negotiate a sort of political solution, or to win the hearts and minds of the Syrian people as we're trying to garner that if our attacks on al Nusra are seen as in a way bolstering the Assad regime? MR. EARNEST: Well, Justin, what I think is true is that you're accurately citing some of the complexities on the ground as it relates to the security situation and the political situation inside of Syria. I think what I would say is those complexities aren’t significantly changed by this newly issued public denial from leaders of the Nusra Front. Q I wanted to ask about something else. Kind of buried in Donald Trump’s press conference yesterday, he said that he’d look at the possibility of recognizing Crimea as Russian and at the possibility of lifting sanctions against Moscow. I’m wondering both if you have a reaction to that, but also if you've heard any alarm from U.S. allies that obviously faced tough domestic policies to keep those sanctions in place. MR. EARNEST: I haven’t been informed of any diplomatic communications in response to that political rhetoric. Again, I’ll let -- there are plenty of others, particularly this week, who are on duty responding to controversial comments uttered by the Republican presidential nominee, so I’ll let others handle that. But with regard to the policy of the Obama administration, since early 2014, the United States and the rest of the international community has been deeply concerned about Russia’s flagrant violation of the territorial integrity of Ukraine, including by attempting to annex Crimea. That is an action that wasn’t just not recognized by the international community, it actually prompted an aggressive response from the international community in the form of well-coordinated and integrated sanctions that have placed economic pressure on Russia. There are also sanctions that have been targeted by the United States Treasury Department against certain entities -- Russian entities operating in Crimea and other Crimean entities that were complicit. So the United States has been very direct about our view that the attempted annexation of Crimea by Russia is a flagrant violation, an egregious violation, of international norms. And it's not a violation that the United States is prepared to tolerate. It also, by the way, is not an international violation that most of Europe is prepared to tolerate. And that is why you've seen the United States and Europe be able to coordinate so effectively to impose sanctions against Russia, to impose costs against them for this action. And the international commitment to that principle is rock solid. There was some doubt early on, you'll recall, that once these sanctions were put in place -- the biggest bulk of which, the most far-reaching of which were imposed in the fall of 2014 -- there was a lot of doubt about whether or not the United States would be able to maintain political support among the Europeans for keeping those sanctions in place. But yet that's exactly what we've done almost two years later. And I think that's an indication not just of the skillful diplomacy of the Obama administration and the State Department, it also is an indication that European leaders share some deep concern about Russia's actions inside of Ukraine, including the attempted annexation of Crimea. Q Last quick one on Russia, as well. Vice President Biden described Vladimir Putin as a dictator last night in the speech. I'm wondering if that's the administration's policy towards the Russians. MR. EARNEST: Well, what I can tell you is that there is a -- first of all, there is no official government designation about dictatorships, but there was included in the State Department Human Rights report a description of the political situation inside of Russia, with regard to the Russian government. And so I'll just read from it: "The Russian Federation has a highly centralized authoritarian political system dominated by President Vladimir Putin." That's a direct quote. It went on to say that Russia's institutions "lacked independence from the executive branch." So that's the official language that's used by the U.S. government to describe the system of government that is currently in place in Russia. Q And then I guess just to put a finer point on it -- does President Obama believe that Vladimir Putin is a dictator? MR. EARNEST: Well, again, I think you'd be hard-pressed to draw a distinction between the word that Vice President Biden used and the language that was included in the State Department report. Cheryl. Q Thanks, Josh. Looking ahead to September, when Congress returns, what would the White House like for Congress to do first? What needs to be done? MR. EARNEST: There are so many things that they left town -- Q How do you categorize it? MR. EARNEST: Well, maybe, I guess, first I would say that they left a day early, and maybe they'll come back a day early. We'll see. There's plenty of work to be done. I think the President has made clear what some of his priorities are, and I think if we saw forward movement on any of them in that first day that they're back, we would welcome that sign of progress. The first thing that comes to mind, of course, is Zika. Five months ago, the Obama administration sent up to Congress a specific proposal at the request of our public health professionals about outlining the resources that they need to do everything possible to fight the Zika virus. And Republicans in Congress have not succeeded in passing legislation to do that. And that means that our public health professionals both at the federal government but also at the state and local level are not getting the support that they need to do everything possible to fight the Zika virus. The President is quite concerned about this situation. The President, earlier this week, had a telephone conversation with the Governor of Florida. Based on public reports, there are now four suspected cases of non-travel-related Zika transmission. And that's concerning because of the threat that that virus poses to pregnant women and newborn children. So congressional action on that would certainly be welcomed. But the Obama administration has also been pressing Republicans in Congress to pass legislation that actually includes funding to fight opioid addiction. There's been a lot of talk from Republicans about this being a priority. We haven’t actually seen Republicans do anything significant when it comes to providing resources that are necessary to expand treatment options for the thousands of Americans who are fighting an opioid addition. Criminal justice reform; approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. There are a wide variety of priorities, but I guess progress on any of those four on the first day would be welcomed. Q And also, just the regular annual appropriations bills are still standing. So do you see September as sort of a money battle with Congress? MR. EARNEST: Well, I don’t know. I suspect it's going to be a dysfunction battle if the first eight months of this year is any indication. Republicans in Congress promised that if they were given the opportunity to run the United States Congress that they would get Congress moving again. And that was the subject of an op-ed that was penned by the Senate Majority Leader on the day after the last midterm elections. And as you point out, they haven’t passed the budget bills yet this year through both houses of Congress. And there are a whole bunch of legislative priorities, some of which I mentioned, that should be an opportunity for Democrats and Republicans to work together, but the truth is, right now Republicans can't even work together among themselves to make progress on these priorities. So I don’t really know what September holds. But the pressure will certainly be on Republicans who worked hard and campaigned hard for the responsibility of running the United States Congress. Thus far, they've failed to perform that duty very effectively. And in expressing that view, I don’t think that's the minority opinion when you consider that the approval rating of Congress right now is in the teens. Kevin. Q Thanks, Josh. You'd mentioned pressure -- there may be a great deal of pressure tonight on Secretary Clinton. MR. EARNEST: She's up to it. Q Yeah? You think? Because I think it would be fair to say that the First Lady and the President both hit homeruns. I would say the pressure is on. Do you expect she'll hit a homerun? And what do you think she'll touch on tonight? MR. EARNEST: Well, listen, I haven’t been briefed about her speech, so I'd refer you to her campaign to talk to you about the kinds of things that she’ll prioritize in I think what everybody would acknowledge is an important opportunity for any candidate when you’re speaking to a live television primetime audience. Q Will you be satisfied with a double? MR. EARNEST: I think both Mrs. Obama and President Obama made a forceful case for why they believe -- why they’re strongly supporting Secretary Clinton’s campaign, and that’s based on their knowledge of what’s required of the job of President, but also based on their personal knowledge of Secretary Clinton’s character. So that’s why I would expect the President to watch the speech tonight. And he’ll do so with a lot of confidence in the candidate that he’s endorsed. Q I want to ask you about Gitmo. I know on occasion we’ll get an update on the number. Do you have anything to announce in terms of more detainees being moved, as we get ever closer to the President’s summer break? MR. EARNEST: I did get an updated count here. Again, the detainee population at Gitmo is 76, 32 that have been approved for transfer that are awaiting transfer at this point. I don’t have any updates in terms of potential transfers that may be upcoming, but once those transfers have taken place, we’ll announce them publicly so that you can certainly be aware of the steps that we continue to take to reduce the population of the prison at Guantanamo Bay in the hopes of eventually closing it. Q If I could, I want to draw your attention the Pope’s comments about the war on terror, broadly speaking. He said as a matter of fact that “the world is at war,” but he didn’t think it was a war of religions. Does the President share his viewpoint? And what’s his reaction to what the Pope had to say in the wake of the latest terror attacks in Europe? MR. EARNEST: I was just going to mention that, Kevin. Obviously, the American people and everybody here at the White House offers our profound condolences to loved ones of the Catholic priest that was killed by apparent ISIL sympathizers in France earlier this week. It’s a tragedy. And I know that Pope Francis is mourning the loss of that Catholic priest, and the rest of us are, as well. More generally, I will acknowledge I did not see the Pope’s comments before I came out here. But based on what you have relayed, it sounds like it’s quite consistent with the position of the Obama administration and what President Obama himself has articulated, which is it’s a fantasy for ISIL to suggest that they represent Islam in a fight against the world. The fact is ISIL has declared war against the rest of the world, but they don’t represent Islam. They represent a perverted, nihilistic world view that promises nothing but chaos and violence. And President Obama, I think like Pope Francis, continues to be confident that while that threat needs to be taken seriously, that the rest of the world, including the Muslim world, will prevail over the deeply dark, violent vision that’s put forward by ISIL. Devin. Q Hey, Josh. Thanks. A couple questions about the speech last night. One, I wanted to ask you about one line from the President. He said, “Anyone who threatens our values with their fascist, communist, jihadist, or homegrown demagogues will always fail in the end.” MR. EARNEST: Great line. Q Interesting line. When he was talking about demagogues, was he referring to Donald Trump? MR. EARNEST: What I can tell you is that as I was listening to the speech, it seemed clear to me that each of the categories that the President was describing, that the President didn’t have one person in mind. The President didn’t have one jihadi in mind; the President didn’t have one fascist in mind; the President didn’t have one domestic demagogue in mind. The President was talking about how, over the course of our country’s history, by adhering to our core American values, we’ve overcome threats emanating from individuals and organizations that could be aptly described using that criteria. Q He has referred to Mr. Trump as a demagogue before. He believes that Trump is a demagogue or can be a demagogue? MR. EARNEST: I’m sure you could do a Google search to see if the President has used that word directly in response to Mr. Trump. I don’t know if he’s done that before or not. It’s possible that he has. That portion of the speech was focused on the kinds of values that our country has pursued and sought to advance throughout our history. And our steadfast commitment to those values has served our country and our people quite well. And, look, the President ended his speech, I thought, in a way that was really powerful in terms of talking about the values of his mother’s family in Kansas. That’s a small-town community, El Dorado -- a place I’ve been to before, actually, not too far away from Kansas City. But this is typical of small towns all across the country that prioritize and value people who are humble, people who are kind, people who are generous, people who are honest, people who are unselfish. And those are the kinds of values that are rooted not just in the small towns in Kansas, though they certainly are. But those values transcend region. Those values transcend faith. Those values transcend political party. Those values transcend generations. Generations of Americans have been committed to those values. That’s served our country really well. And this is the kind of rhetoric that the President used in his very first convention speech in 2004, and that’s got a deep resonance today. And I think that’s in some ways -- it’s not uncommon for you all to ask a legitimate question in here about the President’s view of a divided America. And that passage of the speech, that four or five paragraphs near the end, it’s probably the most effective rebuttal of that question I’ve ever heard. And it certainly does reflect the President’s deeply held view. And it’s one that -- frankly, this is a view that he had before he was elected President, before he ran for President. And the fact that he is as committed to those values as ever, and the way that he sees the American people be committed to those values, is what gives him such strong optimism about the future of our country. Q And does he think Donald Trump threatens those values? MR. EARNEST: Well, there certainly are some rhetoric that we've heard on the other side of the aisle that contradicts those values. There is no denying that. But again, that's something that other people will have to decide in terms of whether or not that influences their decision in November. Q And just one more, quick follow. I was in touch with a number of servicemembers last night during the speech, a couple who are in theater, several who are here. And one of things that struck them was that the President did not mention -- as he has in all of his previous DNC speeches -- the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and troops who are in harm’s way right now. And I was wondering if there’s any kind of reason why the President didn't specifically mention those wars and the troops, aside from the fight against ISIL. MR. EARNEST: Well, first of all, Devin, I think the President certainly did talk about how disappointed he was to hear rhetoric on the other side of the aisle that describes the United States military as a disaster. In fact, the President described the United States military and the men and women who serve in it as the greatest fighting force the world has ever known. That was included in his speech. The President was introduced to the stage yesterday, last night, by a woman whose son served and gave his life for the United States in Afghanistan. And she told I thought a pretty powerful story about the way that the President has honored her son’s sacrifice and her family’s sacrifice for the country. So I think speeches to a political convention are a little different than speeches, for example in the context of a State of the Union, where there’s a set of issues that has to be covered. But I think the President made clear his deep appreciation for the service of our men and women in uniform who are serving our country all around the world, including right now in Iraq and Afghanistan, to keep us safe. Chip. Q Josh, thank you. On that same line, “fascists, communists, jihadists, and homegrown demagogues.” MR. EARNEST: You liked that line, too? (Laughter.) Q It certainly did stick out. I would venture to guess that probably about everybody who heard that speech -- MR. EARNEST: That's part of what made it so great. Q -- when he said “homegrown demagogues” thought of Donald Trump. So even if you're right that he was not referring to one individual, he was certainly grooving Donald Trump into that group of homegrown demagogues. You would concede that? MR. EARNEST: I would concede that most of the President’s speech was not geared toward subtlety. (Laughter.) I think the American people -- Q I’ll take that as a yes. MR. EARNEST: I think the American people understood quite directly the argument that the President was making. And the argument that he was making did not have -- particularly in that line -- did not have one single person in mind, but rather was talking about the kinds of values that generations of Americans have subscribed to -- Q He certainly put Donald Trump in the minds of the people who were listening. And he had to know he was going to do that. MR. EARNEST: Listen, again, I’m not suggesting that the President was trying to be subtle. I think the President was quite direct in the argument that he was making. Q But my question is, if Donald Trump was one of the “homegrown demagogues” he was referring to there, I know he doesn't think much about Donald Trump, but is it fair to group him with “fascists, communists, and jihadists”? MR. EARNEST: Well, again, I think what is fair is that the kinds of values that generations of Americans have been committed to and fought and died for have served our country quite well. It is the reason that people all around the world look to the United States as a beacon of freedom. It is the reason that people from all around the world travel to the United States. They desire to be a part of our country. They desire to be citizens of our country. It’s the reason that that diverse population signs up to serve this country in the military. And those values are what allowed the United States, for example, to defeat fascism in World War II. Those are the kinds of values that we have followed even as we have overcome the threat from terrorism. And it requires vigilance. It also requires a firm commitment to those same values, again, that transcend faith, that transcend region, that transcend generations, that transcend party. And it speaks to the unique character of the United States and the people who live here. Q And just one other. I want to follow up on Justin’s question about Crimea. You've covered the global politics of that issue pretty well. But what does the President think -- or if you haven’t talked to the President -- what does the White House think about the fact that a possible future President of the United States would say that maybe we should lift the sanctions, I’m looking into it; and I’m looking into allowing -- recognizing Crimea as Russian territory? MR. EARNEST: I have not spoken to the President about it, but I know the President believes that in order to counter Russia’s flagrant violation of Ukraine sovereignty, we need to preserve and present a united front. And at each step in mobilizing the international community to respond to this situation, President Obama has worked closely with our allies in Europe to ensure, for example, that in diplomatic exchanges with Russia about the situation in Ukraine, that the international community is on the same page. Obviously, Chancellor Merkel and President Hollande have played a prominent role in all of that, in the context of the Normandy Group discussions. But what’s also clear is that as the international community has pursued sanctions to impose costs on Russia for violating Ukraine’s sovereignty that that's required effective coordination in the international community, as well. The point that we've made on a number of occasions is that the United States -- even if those sanctions were in place -- doesn't do a whole lot of business directly with Russia when you compare it to the economic ties between Germany and Russia, or Italy and Russia, or even France and Russia. Q Right, but I’m just asking, is it acceptable for a presidential candidate to say what Donald Trump said about Crimea? Is it acceptable? MR. EARNEST: What I’m trying to get at, Chip, is I’m not going to be able to respond directly to his comments. But let me just finish this thought by saying our ability to pressure Russia and to send a clear message about how we will not tolerate the violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty is predicated on our ability to coordinate effectively with our allies. That's why it would be a bad idea to unilaterally withdraw. The United States ultimately has built a coalition that is imposing costs against Russia for violating those international norms. And the President believes strongly that the United States and our interests are better served by defending those international norms and coordinating with the international community to impose financial costs against Russia for violating them. And to unilaterally withdraw from that effort would weaken the United States. Suzanne. Q I want to follow up with yesterday in Trump’s comments. Trump said that he was being sarcastic when he called and encouraged Russian intelligence agencies to look into Hillary Clinton’s emails -- deleted emails, the hacked emails, that they would be richly rewarded. So can you clarify here, is this something -- a lot of people saw this as beyond the pale, this was unacceptable, and at the very least irresponsible, coming from a presidential candidate. How does the White House see this? Is this something that you see that’s just an off-the-cuff remark? Or is this something the White House is taking seriously as a national security concern? MR. EARNEST: Well, let me answer that question a couple different ways. The first is, I’ll let the Republican nominee explain his comments and explain his motivation. And I’ll let other people decide for themselves if they can figure out when Mr. Trump is being sarcastic and when he’s being serious. What I can speak to is the policy of the administration, and it’s a pretty simple one. It’s one I think is pretty intuitive, one that we’re all familiar with because it’s the same one that’s been pursued by Presidents of both parties since our nation’s founding, which is that the United States of America is committed to defending the American people without regard to which political party they belong to. And that certainly is true when it comes to our efforts to protect the American people in cyberspace. Q So what does that mean, Josh? I mean, people who want to know, is there any consequence, is there any reaction, is there any fallout to what he said -- is the White House taking what he said seriously? MR. EARNEST: And I guess my point is I’ll let others react to the controversial comments of the Republican nominee. I can be here to help you understand exactly what our policy is and how significant or how important that policy is. And when it comes to protecting the American people against all threats, including threats that emanate from overseas, including threats that exist in cyberspace, this country and this government is committed to protecting our citizens without first asking which political party they belong to. Q So is there any move afoot for White House officials to question the candidate or question the campaign at whether or not that was something that was, in fact, something that was real and acceptable? Or is it considered a national security issue? Does this administration consider it a national security issue, the comments that he made? MR. EARNEST: Again, I’ll let other people characterize his comments. I’ll let him explain them as best he can. But for me, we’re just going to stick to articulating what our policy is, and I think the differences in our policy and the rhetoric that is being put forward by the other side is quite different. Q And the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, has said that there’s going to be a lot more material that’s relevant to the U.S. election that could come out. Is there anything that the administration is doing to prepare or respond to in any way? MR. EARNEST: Well, not that I’m aware of. And I’m not sure that anybody is quite sure what Mr. Assange is talking about. Mark. Q Josh, on the issue of hacking, in this cyber age, is there any reason to be surprised or outraged that foreign governments engage in hacking for intelligence gathering or mischief making? MR. EARNEST: Well, let me answer that question a couple different ways. The first is, in the interview that President Obama did earlier this week, he acknowledged that we have seen Russia engage in efforts to at least interfere in a democratic process in other countries, including in Europe. So we know that interfering in the political process in other countries is a tactic, or even a strategy, that President Putin has used before. The other thing that some have observed is that in this instance, the information wasn’t just hacked, it was also released. What that actually says about the potential perpetrator or their motive is something that the FBI will have to speak to. They’re obviously conducting an investigation here, and I’ll let them speak to it. But I guess the other element of your question is how serious is this. And I think the fact that this is something that has drawn the attention of the FBI and their careful scrutiny and their coordination with experts across the federal government is an indication that a situation like this is certainly something that we take seriously. Q Are you able to say if U.S. intelligence has a policy on hacking? MR. EARNEST: I’m not able to say what sort of policy may be in place, but the Office of the Director of National Intelligence may be able to provide you with some information about that. Q On last night’s speech, did President Obama know Hillary Clinton was backstage and was going to join him on stage after his speech? MR. EARNEST: He did know that, yes. Q And what did he do after the speech? There were about 40 minutes between the end of his speech and leaving the convention. What was he doing during that period? MR. EARNEST: President Obama had an opportunity to visit backstage with Secretary Clinton, members of her family. I believe he had an opportunity to see Senator Kaine. I actually wasn’t backstage with him once he’d finished delivering his speech, but I know that there were a number of people backstage that he was eager to see and spend some time with. Q And what’s he doing today? MR. EARNEST: The President’s schedule started a little later today, given the late-night arrival last night. The President is meeting with members of his national security team. He periodically, once a quarter or so, will receive an update on the terror threat picture, so he’s meeting with members of his team to receive that update again today. And we’ll have a readout of that meeting this afternoon. Paul. Q Josh, thanks very much. Just a couple of quick ones. The President has kind of hinted about possibly getting involved in the post-presidential period in venture capital. What particular area in sort of the VC world has he expressed any particular interest in? And what is it about sort of the VC world that interests him do you think? MR. EARNEST: As I recall, the President talked about this in the interview that he did with Business Week. And there are some aspects of that line of work that appeals to some of the President’s intellectual interests. There’s obviously a lot of interesting work that’s being done in the field of innovation and science that VCs are strongly supporting. As President of the United States, the President has an opportunity to be briefed on those kinds of -- on innovations and scientific developments. The President has got a council of advisors in science and technology, his PCAST, that he meets with frequently to get some updates on a variety of scientific innovations. And I know that he finds those conversations to be exceedingly interesting. And the intellectual rigor associated with those conversations is something that he genuinely enjoys. So I think that’s part of what the -- because that essentially was what would be part of -- I think part of what a venture capital operation would include is evaluating innovations and testing the likelihood of their success. So that, I guess, would be the other thing that I think that he's discussed appeals to him, is sort of the rigorous analysis of those kinds of ideas and plans. And again, that kind of rational consideration of options is something that the President doesn’t get to do as often as he would like in Washington, D.C. Too often there is a rather irrational and dysfunctional evaluation of options that I think the President has previously spoken to as being a source of frustration. But in the VC world there's a much more rigorous, cold-eyed analysis that's done, a rational decision-making structure is applied. And the President is pretty good at that and feels like that's something that he would both do well at and find to be incredibly interesting in his post-presidential life. I don’t know if he'll actually do it. But having read the interview and having heard him talk about this a little bit, I think those are a couple of things that appeal to him about that line of work. Q -- it's occurred to me that even in times that are far worse than today -- the dark era of the Civil War, the Great Depression -- Presidents then, Lincoln and Roosevelt, always spoke in terms of faith and optimism and hope for a future. Why is it, you think, that Donald Trump's darkness now is getting so much traction? We don’t live in times nearly as bad as the times I mentioned. Why is he getting so much traction? MR. EARNEST: Well, I'm not sure. And I know that there are a lot of theories that have been floated out there. I'll let other people speculate about that. But I will acknowledge that I was thinking about this a little bit myself earlier today, and the thing that occurred to me is, we don’t actually have to go that far back in our history to find an example of a time when the United States was facing a really tough challenge. When President Obama took office in 2009, the United States was on the brink of a second Great Depression. The U.S. auto industry was weeks away from utter collapse, costing millions of Americans -- at least a million Americans their jobs. There were hundreds of thousands of jobs that were being hemorrhaged from our economy every month. Q But why are people responding to fear now and they didn’t then? What's changed? MR. EARNEST: Again, I think -- stick with me on this. Even in the midst of what I would readily acknowledge was a scary time for our country in 2008 -- we saw these precipitous declines in the stock market; Congress had to vote for extraordinary legislation that would try to stabilize the financial system -- even in the midst of all of that, President Obama continued to articulate his hope, optimism and confidence in the future. There's no denying -- even Mitch McConnell won't deny that our country is in a far better position now than we were then -- something that the Majority Leader has committed to publicly. And President Obama continues to have a lot of confidence in the country and is more optimistic than ever about the future of our country, in part because we weathered those hard times and we came out stronger on the other end. It doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot more work that needs to be done. And the President walked through some of those examples last night. So, again, I can't account for the strategy that's being pursued by the Republican presidential nominee. But it's a lot different than the strategy that President Obama employed in 2008 and 2012, and I don’t think it's a coincidence that President Obama is actually the first President since President Eisenhower to win two national elections back to back, earning a majority vote from the American people* [President Reagan won twice with a majority of the vote. President Obama won twice - getting more than 51% each time. He's the first President since Eisenhower to do so.] Q I think you mean the first Democrat. MR. EARNEST: The first one since Eisenhower. He's actually the first President, Democrat or Republican, to get more than *50  percent of the vote twice. Q No, Reagan did it twice, actually. MR. EARNEST: Reagan did not do it twice. Q He got 50.7 in 1980, if I'm correct. The final question -- MR. EARNEST: I'll follow up with you on it. I'm confident the facts are on my side on this one. Q Okay. I could be wrong. The final question is, historians were always ranking Presidents, and the numbers kind of move up and down. Right now there's sort of a general consensus that of the 43 men who have been President that Obama currently bounces around 19, 20, 21 -- sort of in the middle of the pack. Does that strike you about right? MR. EARNEST: Well, I'm sure I'm biased. So, look, I also am confident that historians will spend a lot of time considering the Obama presidency. And I think historians acknowledge that, with time, that it's easier to draw a more precise evaluation. What that means for the actual numbers is something that historians will determine. Jane. Q Thank you very much, Josh. Donald Trump has mentioned that when he's elected President of the United States, that he will withdraw U.S. troops from South Korea. It seems like withdrawing troops from Korea, that it concerns the security of Korean Peninsula and the U.S.-South Korea relationship. What is the Democratic Party's view of withdrawal on Korean Peninsula? MR. EARNEST: Well, the United States of America has an ironclad commitment to the security of our South Korean allies. That is a commitment that transcends party. I know that President Obama's predecessor, President George W. Bush, was committed to the U.S.-South Korea alliance. I know that President Clinton was, as well. So there has been a longstanding tradition of holding that alliance as a high priority and committing the United States to the defense of our South Korean allies. That's the policy of the United States. It is a policy that benefits our national security. It's a policy that President Obama has prioritized. And if there are people who disagree with that policy, even people who are running for President, I'll let them make their own case. Goyal. Q Thanks, two questions. One, as far as U.S.-India relations are concerned, President Obama has had a very cozy and personal relations with at least two prime ministers of India, including Dr. Manmohan Singh and now Prime Minister Modi. And not only business-to-business or country-to-country, but also on a personal basis. What do you think will be the future after he leaves? Because many, including these two prime ministers and millions of people in India will miss him. MR. EARNEST: Well, listen, part of President Obama's Asia rebalance has included prioritizing the United States relationship with the world's largest democracy. And President Obama has traveled multiple times to India. And the President has been warmly received by the Indian people on each visit. I know that he's enjoyed each visit. And the President has appreciated the effective working relationship that he's had with the leaders of both countries. Of course, President and Mrs. Obama hosted Prime Minister Singh and his wife here at the White House for the very first White House state dinner. And President Obama was able to work effectively with Prime Minister Modi to reach an agreement about the commitments that India would make in the context of the Paris climate talks. That was viewed by many as the lynchpin of completing the agreement in Paris. So I think it's an indication of the longstanding warm relationship between the United States and India. Some of that is a result of the deep investment of diplomatic capital that President Obama has made in that relationship. And he certainly is hopeful that his successor will do the same thing, because it benefits the American people and our economy, and certainly our national security. Q Do you think the President will have a word with President Donald Trump or President Hillary Clinton, whoever will be in the White House, before he leaves regarding U.S.-India relations and the future of U.S.-India relations? MR. EARNEST: Well, what President Obama has indicated is that he is committed to ensuring a smooth transition from the Obama administration to his successor. And I'm confident that will include conversations between President Obama and the President-elect when the time comes. I don’t know how wide-ranging that discussion will be. It certainly could include India. But whoever it is, President Obama is committed to ensuring a smooth transition. Q And second, as far as hate in America and trust in America is concerned, millions of people in India, they think that there is no country -- and of course the Indian-American community here -- on Earth where there's a trust in America, or many people want to come here. Now, there's a program, Invest in America. And does the President support, the White House support this program? Because thousands of people in India are lining up to come to the U.S. and invest in America, which is close to $500,000 to $1 million for a green card or to be here. They feel safer, and there's law and order and justice in America. MR. EARNEST: Well, Goyal, I'll admit I'm not familiar with that specific program. We can see if somebody around here is and can give you our perspective on it. We obviously -- and President Obama has made it a priority to seek out people who are committed to invested in the United States. Insourcing has been a top priority, and we certainly have welcomed the kind of investment that we've seen from countries around the world and from businesses around the world who recognize the opportunity that exists to invest in the United States. That obviously creates jobs and economic opportunity here in the United States, and we've gone to great lengths to try to encourage it. Brian, I saw you had your hand up. Do you want the last shot here? Q Thanks. I actually wanted to ask about the transition also. Next week, the GSA has made office space available to the two candidates. And I'm just wondering, has the President said any -- given any specific marching orders or instructions to his agencies, to his people about how they should pursue -- or to what degree they should cooperate -- MR. EARNEST: The President made clear at the beginning of this year that one of the top priorities of the federal government is to ensure the smooth transition from the Obama administration to the next administration. President Obama benefitted tremendously from the effective management and planning that was performed by his predecessor to ensure a smooth transition from the Bush administration to the Obama administration. It's one of the reasons that President Obama holds President Bush in high regard. President Bush was committed to that effective transition across political parties. And this is a testament to President Bush and his commitment to this country and to the institution of the presidency, and President Obama shares that commitment. President Obama has identified the same priority and has certainly used the strategy employed by President Bush as a template for his team. And so I can tell you that, for months, senior officials here at the White House have been engaged in planning, interacting with senior officials at a wide variety of government agencies to begin preparing now, months before the actual election, to ensure that that smooth transition takes place. And President Obama believes that this is what the American people can and should expect from their federal government. All right? Thanks, everybody. We'll see you tomorrow. END 2:41 P.M. EDT
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room 1:10 P.M. EDT MR. EARNEST: Good afternoon, everybody. I do not have any comments to make at the top, so we can go straight to your questions. Darlene, would you like to start? Q Thank you. Let’s start with the breaking political news, or Republican convention news -- the statement from Melania Trump’s speechwriter that she made a mistake and incorporated some phrasing from Michelle Obama in Melania Trump’s speech. Do you have any comment on that today? MR. EARNEST: Nothing beyond what I said yesterday. Look, obviously, Mrs. Obama spoke movingly, in her own words, about her life story, about her values. And she was warmly received by the crowd. She got strong reviews from pundits. And I'm confident that in the future, aspiring first ladies or potential first husbands would draw on the same kinds of sentiments to advocate for their spouse. And Mrs. Obama is quite proud of the speech that she gave in 2008, and I'm confident that she’ll deliver another speech that's equal to the test next week. Q Can you say whether the news has made its way through various parts of the White House and reached the President and/or the First Lady? Are they aware of the statement from the Trump campaign? MR. EARNEST: I have not spoken to the President and the First Lady since that letter became public, so I'm not sure if they’re aware of it right now. Q To follow up on yesterday’s meeting the President had with the Attorney General and others on police matters. He talked about police departments around the country needing resources for things like bullet-proof vests and training and other items. Can you say if he’s preparing to ask Congress for money to provide police departments with those things? MR. EARNEST: Well, what is clear is that as is true of solving so many of these complex problems, there’s an important role for Congress to play. And has been true for much of the last 18 months, it's not at all evident that the Republicans who lead the House and the Senate are up to the job. Included in the President’s budget proposal were resources that could be -- could have been dedicated to those kinds of priorities, but as you recall, Republicans wouldn't even convene a hearing to discuss the President’s budget. Every year for the last 40 years, whether Democrats were in charge or Republicans were in charge of the Congress, there’s been a hearing about the President’s budget, where the President’s budget director has been called to testify, to discuss the priorities that are included in the President’s budget. And this year Republicans cancelled that hearing, and they wouldn't even discuss those proposals with the President’s budget director. It's particularly ironic because Republicans have, themselves, utterly failed to pass their own budget, either in the House or the Senate. So it's an indication that the congressional budget process is broken. And it's the American people that have to deal with the consequences. But the President obviously believes that our men and women in law enforcement would benefit from additional support from the federal government and the President is certainly eager to provide it. I don't have any news to make about an additional funding request, but when it comes to COP grants and funding for staffing and resources and equipment, the President believes that Congress needs to make that a priority. Q Lastly, the new British Prime Minister is on her first overseas trip. She’s in Germany today meeting with Angela Merkel. She’s supposed to go to France. When President Obama spoke with her last week, did he invite her to come to the White House? Would he like to see her here before his time in office is up? MR. EARNEST: I'm not aware that the President extended a specific invitation to Washington, D.C. I think the President’s expectation is that when she travels to China for the G20 that she will be in attendance and they will have an opportunity to see one another there. If there’s an additional meeting scheduled either before or after that conversation, we'll definitely let you know. Ayesha. Q Thanks. So Reuters reported yesterday that Donald Trump, if he wins the presidency, has a plan where he would purge any federal government officials appointed by this administration, and that he might seek legislation from the Congress to make it easier to fire public workers. And part of that is a concern because they fear that this administration might try to convert appointees to civil servants, which would make it harder for them to get rid of these appointees. I guess, first of all, is that a plan? Like is there any idea about converting appointees from this administration into civil servants as the term comes to an end? And then also, just a response to this idea that if Trump were elected that he would do this purge. MR. EARNEST: Well, I think just as a factual matter, my understanding is that there is a specific process that certain political appointees can enter into to make themselves eligible for a career civil service position in the federal government. And I know that political appointees in both parties over the years have availed themselves of that process. I will acknowledge I don't have a lot of detailed knowledge about what that process is, but I just know that that is a longstanding precedent. The second thing that I know, based on the Reuters reporting that I've seen on this, is that this is a policy priority that was identified and promoted by Governor Christie. I think it's fair to say that if you want to stack up the ethical record of President Obama and his political appointees against the ethical record compiled by Governor Christie and his political appointees that we'd welcome that kind of comparison. Q And on to Zika. So Florida health officials are investigating the case of Zika that may be actually locally transmitted and not connected to travel outside of this region. I was wondering, is the White House being kept abreast of this investigation? And also, like, is there a concern that now is this the start of maybe the disease spreading locally here in the United States? MR. EARNEST: Well, I've seen these reports of what could potentially be the first example of local transmission of the Zika virus. And by local transmission I mean an individual in the United States who has not traveled overseas to a Zika-infected location, but rather somebody who contracted the Zika virus through a mosquito bite here in the United States. It would be the first time that has happened. I know the Florida authorities are still taking a look at this, and they obviously would be the ones to confirm any results that they have reached. The Centers for Disease Control and other public health experts in the federal government have been in close touch with public health officials in Florida on this matter and I would expect that they will continue to be, both as they conduct the investigation and also as they initiate any needed response. That's going to be -- as we saw with Ebola, the effective coordination between federal public health authorities and state and local public health authorities will be critical to our success in combatting this virus, and it's certainly something that public health officials at the highest levels of the CDC are closely watching. I think what is unfortunate is those very public health professionals in the federal government that are responsible for fighting this disease, providing support to state and local health officials to prevent the spread of this disease, don't have all of the resources that they would like to have to do everything possible to protect the American people from the Zika virus. And the reason for that is simply Republicans have rebuffed that request. Yet, again, Republicans in Congress have a responsibility to step up and foot the bill for the response to a genuine public emergency, and Republicans in Congress dropped the ball in a way that makes the American people more vulnerable. And, again, I guess they'll have the seven weeks of a recess to think about the consequences of their failure to deal with this situation. That's unfortunate. But the federal government is certainly prepared to use the resources that we have to coordinate with officials in Florida, in this case, to investigate what happened and to respond accordingly in a way that's necessary to protect the people of Florida and the people of the United States. Michelle. Q Yesterday, when we were talking about this speech incident at the convention, you mentioned that, well, you know, it shows that there's bipartisan support of these kinds of values. But in this particular speech, the wording and phrasing was taken from the First Lady's speech. Even if the sentiments or the idea was the same, the words themselves were taken. Does that bother you, or does that bother the President? MR. EARNEST: Well, listen, I'll let people draw their own conclusions based on what they have seen of the speech delivered by both women, eight years apart. Q But now that we know that the words were taken, so that's changed. But I'm asking, does it bother you that those words were taken from the First Lady's speech, as though -- credit was then given, though it was maybe better placed somewhere else -- does it bother the President or you? MR. EARNEST: Well, listen, I think the focus that we've had has been on the substance of the speech. And the fact that Mrs. Trump received such warm applause and such a strong review of her speech based on a reflection of the same kinds of values that were included in Mrs. Obama's speech, I think that's an indication that the country has got a lot of common ground, even in spite of the political divisions that are on display at the convention. And I think that certainly buttresses an argument the President has been making quite frequently of late about the country not being as divided as it might seem. Q Well, how do you say that when some of the other speeches within the same basic time frame were blasting Secretary Clinton and President Obama? I mean, isn't that completely the opposite of what you just said? MR. EARNEST: Again, I think those are the kinds of speeches that might make it seem that our country is quite divided, but, again, a speech that closely tracks with what Mrs. Obama said eight years ago and highlighting the same kinds of values, highlight the importance of those values in terms of the next generation of Americans and in our system of government receives applause in the room and strong reviews from pundits -- again, I think that's an indication that there's a lot of common ground and that Americans are drawing on the same kinds of values. Again, their political leaders may have their differences, but the values of the country are still broadly shared. I think the real question -- and this is a question that ultimately the American people will determine in the fall -- is who is best suited to put forward an agenda and advance an agenda that embodies those values. And that's an assessment that the American people will make. Q Do the speeches matter at all? MR. EARNEST: Sure. The conventions matter and the speeches matter. And that's the reason the First Lady is working so hard on hers, and the President is working so hard on his, is that it does give people an opportunity to be heard and to make a case about what they stand for and what our parties stand for. And, again, the American people I think will have an opportunity to evaluate those speeches, and those who tune into both will have an opportunity to compare the values and the message that's included in both. Q So when Governor Christie last night called on this huge crowd to judge Hillary Clinton guilty or not on a number of accounts, what's your reaction to that? MR. EARNEST: I don't have much of a reaction to that, again, beyond the observation I made earlier about the ethical record compiled by Governor Christie and his political appointees in New Jersey. Cheryl. Q Thanks, Josh. To go back to the Reuters story about federal employees. If you remember, in early 2009, did this administration have a concern about agency staff that had been carried over from the Bush administration? MR. EARNEST: Well, look, the irony of all this is that it's Republicans in Congress, chiefly, who have, in many cases, been waging an all-out assault on federal employees. It's Republicans who have advocated for cutting pay and cutting retirement benefits from civil servants. So the President has been in a position of both making smart decisions when it comes to our budget, and there's some evidence that we can provide about growth and size of the U.S. government under President Obama is much smaller than the rate of growth of the federal government under self-described conservative Republican Presidents. So those are just the facts. So I think the President's approach to this has been much more responsible. Again, when it comes to Governor Christie, I think he's got a tougher case to make. Q Do you think there's any value in replacing agency heads and agency staff with people from the President has been able to select? MR. EARNEST: Well, look, we're balancing two priorities here, right? The President has talked about himself in terms of the value of fresh legs and new blood in important leadership positions in the federal government; that many of these jobs that are filled by civil servants are quite demanding, and having a schedule for turnover and giving different people with different perspectives and new insights, potentially, into the job is healthy for any organization and certainly is healthy for an organization as large as the federal government. At the same time, there's institutional knowledge that's accrued over time, and people develop an expertise in a role or in a field that could be valuable. And in some cases, there are negative consequences for losing that institutional knowledge and that expertise. So balancing those two things is certainly a challenge for any large organization that wants to preserve continuity. And that challenge is no less significant for the federal government, either. But the alternative to managing those kinds of changes is not changing at all, and I don't think anybody thinks that's an option and it certainly would not be an indication of a healthy democracy. So the American people are counting on this kind of transition to be effectively managed to enjoy the benefits of protecting institutional knowledge and expertise, and maximizing the benefits of fresh thinking and fresh legs and new perspective. And that's certainly what the President has made a priority as we prepare for a transition that's set to take place in six months or so. I guess six months from today, actually, now that I think about it. Q Only a half-year left. A couple questions on President Peña Nieto's visit from Mexico. As you know, that will be the day after Donald Trump's speech at the Republican National Convention. MR. EARNEST: I am aware of that. (Laughter.) Q How much of this discussion do you expect will center on Trump's proposals, including a wall between the U.S. and Mexico? MR. EARNEST: I would not anticipate much time at all being spent on discussing that. There are any number of important, substantive issues between the United States and Mexico, and what President Obama has found over his seven and a half years in office is that effectively investing in the relationship with Mexico has strengthened the security and the economy of the United States. And coordinating on countering narcotics and drug-trafficking and other security issues has improved the security situation on both sides of the border. President Obama has obviously worked effectively with the Mexican government to reach a Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement that would raise labor and environmental standards, would raise standards when it comes to intellectual property protections in a way that would level the playing field for U.S. businesses and U.S. workers. That certainly has important economic benefits for the American people and the U.S. economy. So I'm confident that the President will be discussing that with his Mexican counterpart as well. So there's plenty on the agenda that doesn't involve the Republican nominee. Q So is the visit or its timing, right between the two conventions, meant to highlight differences between Democrats and Republicans on treatment of Mexico or Latinos? MR. EARNEST: No, I think the goal is to highlight the importance of the strong relationship between the United States and Mexico. And President Obama has certainly invested in that relationship in a way that has benefitted the American people. I know that President Peña Nieto is committed to strengthening his country's relationship with the United States, regardless of who wins the presidential election. And he's looking to cement much of the progress that's been made under President Obama's leadership and create a strong platform for the next President to build on, in terms of our country's relationship with Mexico. So, look, I think the other thing is they'll have a series of meetings here at the White House over the course of Friday morning, and then the two Presidents will come out and speak to all of you and take some questions about what they discussed. So you'll have an opportunity to hear from them about what priorities they've identified and what progress they've been able to make by continuing this dialogue that they had just as recently as a few weeks ago in Canada. Q One more topic. In Turkey, after the coup and its aftermath, has that had an impact on anti-ISIS operations, either from Incirlik or elsewhere? MR. EARNEST: For a detailed explanation of that, I'd refer you to the Department of Defense. My understanding, based on what my colleagues at the Department of Defense have communicated to me, is that there has not been a significant disruption of our efforts against ISIL, in part because there are operations -- flight operations that are still taking place at Incirlik. In addition to that, there are capabilities that the United States maintains in the region, including aircraft carriers that could supplement any sort of disruption that occurs. And so my understanding is that the pace of operations against ISIL targets has not been affected by some of the turmoil that we have seen in Turkey over the last few days. That said, we've spent a lot of time talking even in this room about how strategically significant the Incirlik Airbase in Turkey is because of its close proximity to Syria. It allows our aircraft, both manned and unmanned, to spend more time over the battlefield. So we certainly have credited the Turks for their partnership and their cooperation in allowing the United States and our coalition partners to use the Incirlik Airbase, and it certainly has enhanced our efforts against ISIL in a way that has had positive national security benefits for Turkey. They're the country that has the long border with Syria, so they certainly are interested in making sure that that pressure is maintained. And we're going to work with them to make sure that we can use the Incirlik Airbase to do exactly that. Q I won't ask you specific figures, but have operations out of Incirlik been curtailed? MR. EARNEST: My understanding is that they have not. But I'd check with the Department of Defense and they can give you a specific accounting. If there had been any changes or decline in the numbers, it's been very small and easily compensated by some of the redundancies that I've described. But based on what I have heard, there has not been any significant reduction at all in our ability to use Incirlik Airbase to take strikes against ISIL targets in Syria. Chip. Q Thanks, Josh. Following up on the ISIS issue. With this meeting out at Joint Base Andrews, how big a role does the President play in dealing with the Secretary of Defense in setting the agenda and determining the goals for this meeting? And is this going to be a meeting that is going to end up with a specific plan for the final defeat of ISIS? MR. EARNEST: Well, Chip, you may have seen on the President's schedule that he had an opportunity to spend 45 minutes or so in the Oval Office with Secretary Carter just yesterday and he saw Secretary Carter a week or two ago at the NATO Summit in Poland. And since that time, I know Secretary Carter has done a little traveling, including in Iraq, to review our efforts there. So there was an opportunity for the President to meet with the Secretary of Defense in advance of this important meeting that the United States is hosting here. The meeting will bring together defense ministers and chief diplomats of a number of countries -- dozens of countries -- who are part of our counter-ISIL coalition, and they'll have a discussion about what we can do to continue to apply pressure against ISIL in Iraq and in Syria. There will be a particular focus on what additional steps need to be taken to take back Mosul. Obviously, Iraqi security forces have made a lot of important progress in that effort just even in the last few weeks, including the retaking of this particular military airstrip in Iraq known as Qayyarah. That was an important strategic objective and that will serve as an important logistical hub to supply forces that move against Mosul. So all of that was particularly important. I know that there will also be an extensive discussion at the State Department among the diplomats about how to provide additional stabilization in humanitarian support to Iraq. And you'll recall that one of the chief concerns that President Obama has is making sure that even as Iraqi forces succeed in driving ISIL out of villages and towns and even cities in Iraq, that we're prepared to rebuild, that the Iraqi central government is prepared to rebuild these cities. We know that one of the things that ISIL has done in some of these other communities is essentially, on their way out of town, tried to destroy the basic infrastructure of the community. And the credibility of the Iraqi central government depends upon their ability to mobilize resources and work effectively to rebuild the infrastructure and rebuild these communities so that people can move back into their homes. And that requires significant sums of money that, quite frankly, the Iraqi central government doesn’t have right now. Iraq, like many other countries that relies on energy as an important source of income for their country and as an important export in their economy, is struggling because the price of oil is lower now than it's been in quite a while. So providing this kind of financial support to the Iraqi central government is critical to rebuilding the country of Iraq and building political support for the Iraqi central government. And that political strategy has always been the cornerstone of our broader counter-ISIL effort. Q And somebody has got to ask it -- you said the President probably watched sports rather than the convention on day one. Same thing last night? MR. EARNEST: I'm not sure what he watched on TV last night, but it was not the Republican convention. Q You'll think he'll watch any of it as we move along here? MR. EARNEST: I don’t know. I don’t know. But I'll see if I can find out and try to keep you apprised. Q Have you talked to him about -- have you had a personal conversation with him about the convention at all since yesterday? MR. EARNEST: Yes. I know that he has certainly been following the news coverage of the convention. I just don’t know that he's watched much of it firsthand. Q Is there something else you can tell us about that conversation? And a transcript would be nice. (Laughter.) MR. EARNEST: I wouldn't release a transcript. You might be disappointed in the conversation. But it sounds like on Friday you may have an opportunity to seek his reaction to the week of events in Cleveland. Kevin. Q Catching up on Netflix. (Laughter.) I want to ask you about -- on a much more serious note -- the radicalization of American women. The U.S. intelligence community is warning law enforcement agencies around the country of a persistent terror threat posed by radicalized Western women. This was in a joint intelligence bulletin. And I'm wondering what that bulletin tells us about the effectiveness of the administration's counterterrorism strategy. MR. EARNEST: I haven’t seen the bulletin, Kevin. But obviously our intelligence community is quite attuned to the strategy that ISIL is undertaking to try to use social media to radicalize people to their cause and even potentially inspire them to carry out acts of violence. And you've heard me refer on a number of occasions to news releases that are issued by the Department of Justice, announcing their success in disrupting plots that could potentially be linked to ISIL. In most cases, these are cases that are not linked directly to ISIL having command and control of these operations, but rather ISIL inspiring individuals to carry out acts of violence. And periodically, there are announcements from the FBI or the Department of Justice that American women have been detained because they've been attempting to travel to Syria or Iraq and provide support to ISIL fighters by traveling to those countries and taking up arms alongside them as well. So we're certainly mindful of this risk. And the United States has been very focused on developing a strategy that is showing more and more results of countering ISIL's efforts online. And there are somewhat important lessons that's we’ve learned. The first is that the United States government is not going to be the most credible source of information in pushing back against ISIL. We know that ISIL is an organization that seeks to pervert Islam to advance their ideology, so elevating the voices of Muslim leaders can often be a valuable way, a persuasive way to push back against ISIL's attempts to pervert that religion. That's why the United States has been able to work effectively with Muslim nations like Malaysia and the UAE to house fusion centers that essentially can be the focus of strategic planning for that counter-messaging effort. And that has yielded some important results. The federal government has also been able to work effectively with technology companies. In the past, technology companies have been able to work effectively with the federal government to counter things like child pornography, to prevent social media tools from being used to produce and disseminate child pornography. A similar strategy can be applied to prevent social media from being used to produce and disseminate radicalizing images or messages from ISIL sympathizers. So there are obviously important free speech equities that have to be weighed into this, but there is a template for succeeding on this and we've been able to implement in an effective way. So we've made some progress in this effort. Our efforts have improved. But there is more important work that needs to be done. Q I want to draw your attention to something I crossed a couple weeks ago now. There have been a number of reports of U.S. diplomats being hassled by Russian governments, Russian agents. Is the White House aware of this harassment, continued harassment, not just in Russia but throughout Eastern Europe? And what, if anything, is the administration prepared to do about it? MR. EARNEST: Well, Kevin, I can't speak to any specific case, but I can tell you that the U.S. government and the White House, at the highest levels, is aware of the harassment that some U.S. diplomats have had to endure overseas, and the United States has communicated to the Russian government our strongly held view about how important it is for the Russian government to abide by their responsibility to protect diplomats who are in their country. Those views have been communicated in an unambiguous fashion. The President has said on many occasions that the safety and security of Americans serving overseas, whether they're diplomats or servicemembers, is his top priority. And that is certainly true as we register our sincere and serious concerns with Russian officials about the kind of harassment that you've described. Q Forty-seven years ago, man on the moon. Where are we in the U.S. space program? Is the President satisfied with where we are today? MR. EARNEST: Well, my colleagues at NASA I'm sure could document in more detail the important progress that we've made in the space program over the last seven and a half years. But over the last seven and a half years, we've seen an important transition from a space agency that's focused on maintaining a space shuttle, for example, and beginning to start working with private sector groups, private entities, to develop new technology that could allow humans to explore more of the solar system. And the President pursued this approach because it was a more effective use of taxpayer dollars. It had also had the potential to unleash innovation in the private sector in a way that could have positive benefits for the broader economy and certainly positive benefits for those local economies that are closely tied to the space industry. We can certainly get you some more data and metrics that document the important progress that NASA has made in the last seven years. Q Appreciate that. Just one more. Garry Marshall, film luminary, passed away at 81 years old. Any thoughts on his passing? MR. EARNEST: Well, obviously he is somebody who made a substantial contribution to American pop culture. And there are generations of Americans that were entertained on television and on film by his work. And he certainly is somebody that I think will be fondly remembered by his fans. And so obviously our thoughts and prayers are with his family today. Karen. Q Josh, a Brexit question. The President has said and you have said, and the Vice President has said, that you want a smooth transition for the UK out of the EU. But all signs right now are pointing to the fact that the new Prime Minister said she's not going to invoke Article 50 this year. Is that too long of a delay in the opinion of the White House? And are there concerns about what the impacts would be on the global and U.S. market? MR. EARNEST: Well, Karen, the White House and the United States is not going to micromanage this process. This ultimately is about managing the relationship between two of the closest friends and partners of the United States -- specifically, the United Kingdom and European Union. So it is certainly in the interest of the United States for that process to be undertaken in an orderly fashion, mindful of the way that those negotiations could unsettle the global economy. I think both sides are keenly aware of the stakes here. And the good news is that both sides have an interest in undertaking this process responsibly. And we certainly are going to offer any support or facilitation that's required to ensure that this process is done in an orderly fashion. And the President has communicated that directly to the leaders of the EU and to the newly elected leader of the United Kingdom. And in both those conversations, he received assurances about a commitment to an orderly process. But how that process takes place and when that process take place is something that will be determined by the EU charter and by the decisions made by the negotiating teams on both sides. Q So orderly, responsibly, but you won't say quickly, as well? MR. EARNEST: Again, the timeline is one that should be determined by parties on both sides of the English Channel. Q And one on -- campaign-related. We’ve heard the President say that he often hears from foreign leaders and foreign officials who talk to him about this presidential election. The Vice President made some pretty candid comments in Australia, telling people at a town hall, don't worry about our election. And he said, “The better angels in America will prevail.” Is it appropriate to be so overtly political and make such an assurance like that? MR. EARNEST: Well, I think the Vice President is offering some reassurance to people around the world who have been a little unsettled by the tone and tenor of the political debate back here in the United States. I didn’t see the entirety of the Vice President’s remarks, but his effort is to reassure our close allies, including those in Australia, that the United States and the American people are committed to a set of principles that form the basis of our alliances and our relationships with countries around the world. And even despite some of the tension and dysfunction and colorfulness of the political debate, the American people remain committed to those institutions and to those values. And we're hopeful that people around the world, particularly our allies, will be reassured by that. Bill. Q Back to the question of potentially members of this administration serving in the next one, it's been reported that two Cabinet Secretaries, Tom Vilsack and Tom Perez, both are being considered as vice presidential nominees with Secretary Clinton. MR. EARNEST: I've seen those reports. Q Has the President, in fact, spoken to Secretary Clinton about them? And does he have a favorite? MR. EARNEST: Well, I've acknowledged in the past that President Obama has described his choice of Vice President Biden as the smartest political decision he ever made. And I think people like Secretary Clinton who know President Obama well personally can confirm that he means it when he says it. And the President feels as though he’s been extraordinarily well served by the expertise and experience and relationships and loyalty that Vice President Biden has brought to the job. So when you consider how well that turned out, it seems natural that Secretary Clinton might consult President Obama about the process that he undertook to choose Vice President Biden. I'm not going to get into the conversations that they had about them or exactly to what extent those conversations lingered on specific candidates. But obviously the two men that you just named are among those who are considered to be on the short list, and the reason that there is public speculation about their consideration for that important role is at least in part because they’ve served the country so well in the roles that they have now. So the President is extraordinarily proud of the work that Secretary Vilsack has done at the USDA and the work that Secretary Perez has done at the Department of Labor. These are individuals who are serious, who are focused on the right things. They’ve got their values in line, and these are two men who have dedicated their lives to public service and they’re in it for the right reasons. And so I guess my point is the reason that President Obama entrusted them with the responsibilities that they have now, which are substantial, their success in doing that job is exactly the same reason that people speculate that Secretary Clinton might be inclined to give them even more responsibility. Q It sounds like you're saying on behalf of the President that he is lobbying for one of these two to be the vice presidential nominee as the best way of continuing the stability and continuity with this administration. MR. EARNEST: Well, not necessarily. I mean, I think -- you didn’t ask me about Senator Kaine, but obviously he’s somebody else who’s -- Q He’s not a member of the administration. MR. EARNEST: He’s not a member of the administration -- that is true. But he is somebody who is the subject of some rather intense public speculation about -- Q I'm just asking about -- MR. EARNEST: Well, but I guess the thing is I think the President would consider Senator Kaine -- to adopt your terminology there -- one of his as well. Senator Kaine was one of the first public officials to announce a public endorsement of Senator Obama. Senator Kaine served as the chair of the DNC during President Obama’s first year in office. And Senator Kaine is somebody that the President deeply respects and I think it's been publicly reported even considered himself as a running mate back in 2008. Q Any one of the three. (Laughter.) MR. EARNEST: Well, I guess the point is that all of these individuals have fulfilled their responsibilities quite well. They’ve distinguished themselves. And the President is pleased that all three of them have distinguished themselves in serving the public while President Obama has been in office and while President Obama has been President. He has benefitted from their leadership and their good service to the administration and to the country. And so I don't know if the President has a specific favorite, but I know the President is extraordinarily proud of all three of those individuals. But, ultimately, he is going to defer to Secretary Clinton to make the decision that she believes is best. Juliet. Q Just to follow up a bit on that, continuing with this idea of these three figures, all of whom are just such close political allies of the President and also when you see the overlap between current and former members of, say, this administration and former Secretary of State Clinton's team. If you have to describe what that synergy looks like and to what extent, when Americans are thinking about who their next President is, how close is the overlap between the White House and the Clinton campaign and a future Clinton administration at this point? To what extent is it is a continuation of the President's term? MR. EARNEST: Well, there are some limits to how I can answer your question, in part because Secretary Clinton is going to describe what kind of President she will be. She will describe what agenda she will pursue and she will describe the values that she will rely on in setting that agenda. And so she should do that. So that's why it's hard to assess from here how closely the vision that she will describe is to the record of President Obama. But I think what I can say are a couple of things. The first is, President Obama, in offering his endorsement of Secretary Clinton, has talked about how he has seen firsthand her skills and her values, both as a candidate for President and as a Secretary of State. And the President obviously has enormous regard for Secretary Clinton and her leadership abilities. And he spoke at length about that a couple of weeks ago in Charlotte. Secretary Clinton herself has said publicly that she's interested in building on a lot of the progress that this administration has made. She's interested in continuing the work to raise wages, raise the minimum wage, fight for equal pay, increase funding for job training and education in a way that we can ensure that middle-class families in the United States are getting a fair shot at success, even in a 21st century global economy. We've seen Secretary Clinton talk about how important it is to build on the progress that we've made in digging out of the worst economic downturn since the Great Recession [Depression]. We've seen Secretary Clinton talk about how important it is to build on the new foundation that's been laid by Obamacare. She believes that there are some improvements that can be made, some tweaks that can be made. But she is interested in building on that progress, not tearing it down like Republicans have advocated. She is certainly a strong believer in things like the international agreement to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. She is committed to implementing the climate change deal that was reached at the end of last year. So I think based on all of that, I think that you can rightly assess that the values and priorities of President Obama and Secretary Clinton overlap. That said, people in this room have not hesitated to highlight situations or particular aspects of her agenda that differ from President Obama. And that's natural. She's somebody with her own views, her own perspectives, and there may be some places where there's a little bit of a different view. She's going to be her own President if, in fact, she is elected. And, again, the President has talked about the value of fresh legs and a new perspective in the Oval Office after the last eight years. But the President is interested in that fresh perspective and those fresh legs being a part of someone who is committed to building on all the important progress that we've made over the last seven years. And that certainly is why President Obama has been so enthusiastic in his support of Secretary Clinton's campaign. And you'll obviously hear him talk a little bit more about this next week. Q And just briefly on next week, you mentioned that the President has not been closely watching every night the Republican convention. Do you expect that he will be regularly tuning into the DNC, again, before he goes there? Can you just talk about how you think he'll be watching that event? MR. EARNEST: Well, I'm confident that he'll watch the night that his wife speaks. Just get that on the record right away. (Laughter.) So we've got that box checked. Obviously he'll be speaking one of the nights. My expectation is that he would watch at least part of Secretary Clinton's speech when she delivers the speech accepting the Democratic nomination for President. Q Just a part? (Laughter.) Q -- switching channels? MR. EARNEST: Channel surfing, maybe a little bit. No, I suspect that he'll watch that speech as well. The other night, I don't know, I can't account for that. So we'll try to update you when that night arrives. Mike. Q Thanks, Josh. It is next Wednesday night that the President will be speaking. Can you talk a bit about what he sees as his role at the convention? Is it to defend his own record, make a case for Secretary Clinton? How does he balance those two? And are there any insights you can share into the speechwriting process -- how far along it is? MR. EARNEST: Well, I know that -- I can tell you that the speechwriting process has begun, but I think the President would be the first to say that he feels like there's still a lot of work that needs to be done to get that in shape. So I would anticipate that he'll be working on that over the course of this week and over the weekend. So with that in mind, I can tell you that certainly part of the speech will be devoted to laying out the values and priorities that President Obama has been fighting for over the last seven years and underscore how important it is that that fight continues. By focusing on the middle class, by focusing on how the United States can advance our interests around the world, including through the use of diplomacy, has yielded a lot of progress for the country. Our country is more prosperous and safer than when President Obama took office. And the President believes strongly that we can't afford to flush that progress down the drain. It's so important that the next President is somebody with the judgment and skill, experience, leadership to build on that progress. And that's the overarching case that the President will make, and I think it's the kind of case that the President hopes will resonate not just with Democrats who are committed to progressive values, but also among Americans that may not have a deep attachment to one party or the other. So obviously the core of the President's agenda and his speech will be those progressive values. But he believes that there's a very strong case to make, even to Americans that aren't registered Democrats but are concerned about making sure that the next generation of Americans has an opportunity to succeed in the same way that previous generations have. The President is enormously confident about that. The President is bullish on the prospects of future generations of Americans. And he'll have an opportunity to describe why. Q Considering what you said about his own viewing habits this week, is there a degree to which his speech might change or his thoughts about what he might want to say will change, based on how the rest of the RNC proceeds? It's been starkly negative, a lot of what we've heard on stage. I don't think "Lucifer" has been referred to in a primetime speech before. MR. EARNEST: Well, at least not at a political convention -- maybe at a -- well, maybe somewhere else. Maybe on a different channel. No, I do not anticipate the President making any changes to his speech or to his plans to deliver remarks based on anything that's said by anybody at the Republican convention. Q And lastly, is there an event at the White House that you've seen that you're looking forward to more than what will happen tomorrow here? MR. EARNEST: Well, it's hard to imagine -- (laughter) -- something more exciting than having the World Series Champion Kansas City Royals visit the White House. Look, I think what's true is that there's -- serendipity has led us to a situation where a rare Royals World Series Championship has coincided with my tenure at the White House. And so I'm obviously incredibly excited about that and really looking forward to tomorrow. Q George Brett -- MR. EARNEST: Hopefully so. We'll see. Fred. Q Thanks, Josh. One convention question. I've got a couple. But with regards to the convention, the platform calls for the end of the Johnson Amendment, which would basically allow churches to -- or pastors to endorse candidates from the pulpit. Does the White House have any thoughts on that type of rule? MR. EARNEST: I haven't seen the language that's included in the platform. I think I would just reiterate something I think the President has said, which is that one of the founding values of the country is the separation of church and state, both to ensure that state interests are not interfered with by religious authorities, but also to make sure that state interests are not interfering with the work of religious authorities. So the President believes that both our institutions of state and our institutions of religion in the United States both benefit significantly from observing that principle. Q Something I wanted to share with you -- Senator Sasse and Senator Lee have put forward a reform bill on occupational licensing. That's something that the White House has supported, some type of reform there. Would the White House, President Obama, support the Lee-Sasse bill? MR. EARNEST: I'm not aware of the details of their specific legislative proposal. But you're right that there are a number of executive actions that this administration has taken to try to streamline occupational licensing in a way that would make our economy more efficient. I know that one area where the administration has done a lot of work on this has to do with military veterans. There are a number of individuals who serve in the United States military who developed a set of skills that have been very valuable in their service to the country and would be quite valuable in the private sector. And in some cases, the transfer of those skills to the private sector has been impeded by overly burdensome regulations. And streamlining that process and facilitating the ability of our veterans to work in the private sector and use those skills in the private sector is something the administration has been quite focused on, both because it could improve the economic opportunity for veterans, but also could strengthen our economy. So again, I haven’t looked at the specific legislative proposal that's been forward, but there are some interesting things that the administration has been able to do using the President's executive authority. So look, that's something that they're interested in talking to the White House about. I'm sure they'd get their phone call returned. Q And just one last question. Last week, PolitiFact determined as mostly false President Obama's comment that it's easier to get a Glock than a book. The Washington Post fact-checker made a similar conclusion on that same point. Does the President actually believe that as fact, or does he say that kind of metaphorically to say -- to demonstrate how easy it is to get a gun? MR. EARNEST: Well, I think what I would just say is, with all due respect to the fact-checkers, when the President delivered that line to a room full of about a thousand cops, there was not a lot of evident disagreement. I think there is genuine concern on the mind of -- in the minds of law enforcement officials who work in these economically disadvantaged communities about how readily accessible illegal guns are and, frankly, how hard it is for kids in that community to get access to a quality education, or get access to high-quality educational opportunities that would eventually allow them to escape that neighborhood. And the point that the President was making is, rather than mobilize an effective policy response to that situation by increasing funding for schools or passing common-sense gun control legislation, too often -- at least in this Republican Congress -- those obvious solutions have been rejected, and as a result we've just asked law enforcement to deal with the problem. And we put law enforcement officers and police officers in a position where they're the ones that have to be the director of the after-school program or the drug counselor or the mental health professional. And that's not fair, particularly when you consider they're trying to fight crime in a dangerous neighborhood. So adding that burden to law enforcement is not fair. And I guess Darlene started out this briefing by talking about what are some of the steps that we can take to make the job of our law enforcement officers safer. One of the things that we could do is to ease the burden on law enforcement and make the kinds of investments in these communities that we know will have a tangible impact on the kind of opportunity that's available to kids that are growing up in these communities. Goyal, I'll give you the last one. Q Thanks, Josh. Two questions. One, as far as this summit on counterterrorism is concerned by the President and the Secretary of Defense and State, and -- defense ministers and also diplomatic security officials will be there. My question is that now ISIL, or ISIS, is spreading beyond these countries who will be at this summit. Do you think the President is going to meet all those countries where ISIL is spreading or will be spreading? And also, they are brainwashing the young people, (inaudible) money and other facilities on social media or Internet. And this requires much education for all the young people in those countries. My question is now, that they need money and they are buying -- they are sending the stolen oil and also buying arms. Are you going, or U.S. or these countries are going after those who are supplying them arms and buying their stolen oil? MR. EARNEST: Well, Goyal, let me just start out by saying that there are 40 nations that are represented at this conference, and many nations chose to send both their top diplomat as well as their defense minister. There will also be a number of multilateral organizations like the United Nations, NATO, EU and Interpol, who will also be a part of these discussions. And all of these organizations and these countries have made substantial contributions that benefit our fight against ISIL that is certainly focused on Iraq and Syria. This is the location where ISIL is attempting to form a caliphate. But we've seen that the mythology of that caliphate is being exposed for that it is. And that's because of the success that Iraqi forces have enjoyed in driving ISIL out of about 48 percent of the territory that they previously occupied in Iraq. The percentage of territory in Syria is a little bit smaller, but there have been important gains against ISIL, even in Syria, based on the success that our coalition has had in backing the efforts of fighters on the ground. And the thinking has been that so much of the ISIL ideology that is promoted around the world on social media is rooted in the idea that they are on the verge of establishing a caliphate. And that's why the international community has been focused on the effort of debunking that myth and depriving ISIL of the ability to have land on which they can organize and establish a caliphate. And we've made a lot of important progress in that regard. At the same time, the United States and our coalition partners have been prepared to take strikes against ISIL targets in other areas where concern has arisen. We've talked in the past about a couple of the strikes that have been taken against ISIL targets in Libya. We've talked a little bit about strikes that the United States has taken against ISIL targets in Afghanistan, and we'll continue to be mindful of risks that may emanate from other places that are related to ISIL and make sure that we can confront them. Q As far as this campaign is concerned, Madam Secretary Clinton was speaking last week at NOVA, Northern Virginia Community College, with Senator Tim Kaine. And she declared a number of things. One was that if she's elected President, she will make community colleges free for all, and all the young people will be out with the teachings of basics they need in their life, and that will help them out of these troubles and all that. And also, at the same time, she said that she will not have any taxes on the middle class, among other things. So are there any comments from the President when she's laying down all these -- future presidency? MR. EARNEST: Well, the two examples that you've cited are obviously consistent with some of the proposals that President Obama has put forward. So in his State of the Union address in 2015, President Obama laid out a clear proposal for giving hardworking students access to a free community college education based on a program that was actually pioneered by the Republican Governor of Tennessee. This is a proposal that had bipartisan support across the country, but unfortunately is not supported by Republicans in Washington, D.C. -- even though we've seen in Tennessee that it's been really good for their economy and really good for the middle class. As it relates to taxes, the President has a strong record on this in terms of protecting and making permanent tax cuts for the middle class, even as we ask those at the top of the income scale to pay a little bit more. And the President certainly believes that there's more that we could do when it comes to closing loopholes that only benefit the wealthy and well-connected. Q Finally, as far as education is concerned, when President Obama and Dr. Manmohan Singh initiative on education was signed between the U.S. and India, where does that stand now after -- MR. EARNEST: We'll get you an update. Obviously the connections between the United States and India include students in the United States that study abroad in India, and Indian students that study abroad in the United States. And so obviously that's just one measure of the important relationship between our two countries. But as it relates to the specific proposal, we can follow up with you with some more specific information. Thanks, everybody. We'll see you tomorrow. END 2:18 P.M. EDT
Представленная на сессии книга ставит вопрос: «Россию ждет революция?». Я пойду дальше в постановке вопроса — «Мир ждет революция?». И если действительно она ждет мир, то как соотносится российская революция и мировая? Сейчас тема мировой в общественном дискурсе отсутствует. Но отсутствие темы, еще не означает отсутствия соответствующего вызова. Проблема исторических революций подверглась в последнее время историографической […]
Несмотря на нешуточное давление со стороны США, президент Афганистана Хамид Карзай отказывается подписывать с американцами так называемое «Соглашение о сотрудничестве в сфере безопасности». Это значит, что военный контингент западных стран не будет иметь юридических оснований для того, чтобы остаться в Афганистане после 2014 года. И американцам всё же придётся уйти. Карта в полном размере: Афганистан - силы ISAF Напомним: срок пребывания коалиционных сил в Афганистане истекает в наступившем году. Барак Обама обещал своим избирателям, что войска будут выведены. Но, несмотря на это, США прилагают в настоящее время огромные усилия, чтобы всё же остаться в Афганистане. Сейчас там строятся 9 новых военных баз. Общий военный контингент должен составить около 15 000 военнослужащих. Союзники по НАТО поддержали США. Всё решено и всё согласовано. О чем идет речь - Сейчас там строятся 9 новых военных баз Глава МИД России озвучил информацию, согласно которой США и НАТО занимаются строительством 9 новых военных баз на территории Афганистана. И это в то время, когда группировка оккупационных войск (иначе именуемых международными силами безопасности) вроде бы должна Афганистан покинуть в 2014 году. «Мы задаём вопросы, что является целью этого остаточного присутствия, и нам говорят, что это в учебных целях и только для точечных операций в случае необходимости. Это всё ещё не очень прозрачно», http://www.afghanistan.ru/doc/64964.html — сказал Сергей Лавров. Между тем, вопросы эти носят скорее дипломатический характер. Они служат для того, чтобы лицемерная американская политика в регионе не осталась незамеченной. И нашему МИДу, и всем думающим людям давно понятно, что цели США в Афганистане с самого начала были далеки от «борьбы с международным терроризмом». Географическое положение и исторические особенности Афганистана таковы, что позволяют влиять на обстановку как в Средней Азии и Прикаспийском регионе, так и в Пакистане, который является ключевой страной для будущего Южной и Юго-Восточной Азии. И поэтому американцы пришли в Афганистан ещё во времена Советско-Афганской войны, а затем под благовидным предлогом закрепили там своё военное присутствие. Официально США вошли в Афганистан для борьбы с Аль-Каидой. Но реально им противостояло движение Талибан. Оно не имело глобальных геополитических амбиций и было сугубо региональным явлением, охватывавшим пуштунскую часть афганского населения (и частично пакистанского). Оно даже не имело централизованных органов управления, которые могли бы направить усилия организации на внешние цели. Результатом американской деятельности в Афганистане стало превращение этой страны в оплот фундаментализма и международную базу подготовки боевиков. В тренировочных лагерях, находящихся в стране «побеждённого терроризма», проходят подготовку бандиты со всего мира. Они несут смерть и хаос повсюду, от Африки до Индии и Средней Азии. Наркотические потоки, распространившиеся из Афганистана по всем странам Евразии, составляют материальную базу для террористических организаций. Движение Талибан, в боях с иностранными интервентами получившее глобальные амбиции, без сомнения снова захватит власть в этой стране. Только теперь это уже не сугубо региональная сила, а часть международного радикального движения. Теперь, когда дело сделано, американцы оказались вполне способны договориться с талибами. Они строят 9 новых военных баз, чтобы продолжать оказывать влияние на обстановку в регионе. Они и не собирались никуда уходить. Ответ на вопрос Лаврова прост. Американцы остаются в Афганистане ровно для того, для чего они туда вошли. Чтобы дестабилизировать с его территории и с помощью окрепших местных радикальных сил — весь Евразийский континент. И пока весь регион не будет дестабилизирован — их цели не будут достигнуты. И, следовательно, они оттуда не уйдут. Для нас в этой ситуации важно, во-первых, открыто указывать на лицемерие американской деятельности, объяснять всем, каковы истинные намерения «глобальных миротворцев». Во-вторых — закупорить снаружи этот очаг нестабильности вместе с находящимися там американцами. И мы способны это сделать. В конце концов, не американцам, а окружающим странам придётся расхлёбывать заваренную американцами кашу. И поэтому коллективным силам ОДКБ, Китаю, Индии и Ирану пора начать координировать свои усилия, направленные на стабильность у себя дома. Иначе этим по-прежнему будут заниматься заокеанские незваные гости. http://www.odnako.org/blogs/show_30007/ Чтобы прочитать, нажмите на треугольник справа Дело за малым — нужно формальное соглашение с правительством Афганистана, разрешающее американцам и их союзникам остаться. Правительство Хамида Карзая до последнего времени считалось марионеточным, и от него никак не ожидали сопротивления подобному развитию событий. Но Хамид Карзай преподнёс американцам большой сюрприз. Не подписывая соглашение, он в одиночку оказался способен добиться полного вывода западных войск. Все западные наблюдатели уверены, что соглашение всё же будет подписано, как только Хамид Карзай выторгует за него побольше выгод. Однако мы позволим себе сомневаться в этом. И вот почему. В полном размере: Афганистан - карта перехода власти от НАТО к правительству Подписав соглашение и оставив американцев на территории своей страны, Хамид Карзай вовсе не сохранит своё текущее положение. Пятнадцатитысячный контингент западных войск — это смехотворно мало для сдерживания движения Талибан, Исламской партии Афганистана и других вооружённых группировок, объединивших усилия в борьбе с оккупантами. Война длится 13 лет. Однако альянс западных стран не смог добиться победы над своим противником. Конечно, это если считать, что разгром радикальных группировок вообще предполагался. Об истинных целях США в Афганистане можно поговорить отдельно. Но думать, что пятнадцатитысячный контингент сможет справиться с задачей, которая оказалась невыполнимой для стотысячного — могут только дети. А Хамид Карзай к этой категории, безусловно, не относится. Он, не без оснований обвинявший американцев в сговоре с талибами за своей спиной, прекрасно понимает, что небольшой контингент американских войск никак не способен будет помочь в сдерживании вооружённой оппозиции. К тому же одно из условий Хамида Карзая — подписание соглашения после апрельских выборов — не устраивает американцев. Они настаивали на немедленном подписании. Госсекретарь США Джон Керри даже заявлял, что соглашение можно подписать без участия строптивого афганского президента. А это значит, что сами американцы не верят в возможность сохранения нынешней афганской власти и стремятся подписать соглашение, пока это ещё возможно. То есть они уже списали Карзая со счетов и наверняка действительно договорились о пребывании своего контингента с талибами. Просто подписывать подобное соглашение с движением Талибан открыто для них неприемлемо по имиджевым соображениям. Госсекретарь США Джон Керри даже заявлял, что соглашение можно подписать без участия строптивого афганского президента Афгано-американское соглашение о сотрудничестве в сфере безопасности может быть подписано без участия президента ИРА Хамида Карзая, заявил накануне госсекретарь США Джон Керри. Напомним, что выдвижение нынешним главой Афганистана дополнительных условий подписания документа вызвало недоумение и беспокойство со стороны США и других стран, задействованных в миссии МССБ. Как передаёт информационное агентство “Reuters”, в ходе недавней пресс-конференции в Брюсселе Джон Керри предложил несколько альтернативных способов заключения соглашения, при которых не требуется участие президента Хамида Карзая. «Соглашение не обязательно должно быть подписано президентом, – подчеркнул госсекретарь. – Его может подписать министр обороны или правительство, главное, чтобы кто-либо смог принять на себя ответственность». Керри подчеркнул, что скорое подписание соглашения необходимо в целях своевременной подготовки к новой миссии на территории ИРА. Кроме того, госсекретарь отметил, что отказ главы государства не отражает позицию афганского руководства. https://afghanistan.ru/doc/66494.html Чтобы прочитать, нажмите на треугольник справа И ещё. У нас среди многих уважаемых экспертов и наблюдателей распространено мнение, что мы больше заинтересованы в присутствии военной силы НАТО в Афганистане, чем в её выводе. Такая точка зрения основана на предположении, что американцы сдерживают радикальные силы от контроля всей территории Афганистана. И стоит войскам НАТО уйти — как российским пограничникам и военным снова придётся сдерживать движение Талибан уже на границах Средней Азии. Однако такое предположение не соответствует реальности. За годы пребывания войск западных стран в Афганистане эта страна не стала меньшей проблемой для региональной безопасности. Скорее наоборот. Карта в полном размере: Национальности Афганистана Афганистан используют как тренировочный лагерь боевики самых разнообразных радикальных группировок. Мягко выражаясь, под носом у американцев проходили подготовку боевики из ливийского Бенгази, которые затем помогли НАТО уничтожить Каддафи и Ливию. Там же обучается немалая часть террористического интернационала, воюющего в Сирии. В Афганистане под боком у коалиционных сил спокойно проходят обучение члены террористических организаций из России и стран Средней Азии. Правительство Пакистана ведёт на своей территории перманентную войну с радикальными группировками, которые действуют также и в Афганистане. А «помощь» американцев в борьбе с этими группировками заключалась в ударах с беспилотных аппаратов по территории Пакистана. При ничтожном военном значении таких ударов они имеют одно важнейшее последствие — население северо-западных провинций поддерживает радикалов в борьбе как с американцами, так и с собственным правительством. И теперь сугубо афганская проблема радикальных вооружённых группировок стала реальной головной болью для правительства Пакистана. Не стоит сомневаться, что после неминуемой победы в Афганистане они направят свою активность на борьбу с пакистанскими властями. А ведь Пакистан — не только ядерная держава, но и важнейший транспортный коридор Китая. Карта в полном размере: Религии Афганистана Иными словами, до сих пор американцы были в Афганистане фактором, не снижающим, а увеличивающим нестабильность. Объективно говоря, в Афганистане американцы вели борьбу не с транснациональными террористическими организациями, а с группировками, движениями и отдельными полевыми командирами, не имевшими глобальных амбиций вне Афганистана. И логичным результатом этой борьбы стало превращение сугубо афганских группировок в элементы всемирного джихада, а самого Афганистана — в головную боль для всего мира. И вряд ли это положение изменится, если на смену стотысячному контингенту придёт пятнадцатитысячный, имеющий неясные задачи и цели. Реальной военной силой, способной остановить продвижение вооружённой оппозиции, такой контингент обладать не будет. А чтобы обучать и помогать афганской полиции и армии, американцы давно не требуются. Ещё в конце 2012 года член Политбюро ЦК КПК Чжоу Юнкан подписал с афганским правительством соглашение, аналогичное тому, которое сейчас хотят подписать США. Китай уже готов обучать и снабжать афганские силовые структуры, активно помогая им в борьбе с террористическими группировками. Аналогичные соглашения подписаны и с Россией. В конце декабря Афганистан с рабочим визитом посетил Сергей Нарышкин. Там он объявил, что Россия готова увеличить объём подготовки специалистов афганских силовых структур и объёмы поставки оружия и боеприпасов. Ранее Сергей Шойгу объявил о создании в Афганистане центра обучения для подготовки сапёров. Ранее Сергей Шойгу объявил о создании в Афганистане центра обучения для подготовки сапёров Россия собирается оказать поддержку Афганской национальной армии в деле обучения военных инженеров для работы по обезвреживанию взрывных устройств, заявил накануне министр обороны РФ Сергей Шойгу. «Мы работаем над созданием центра обучения для подготовки сапёров, которым предстоит обезвреживать мины в Афганистане», – сообщил глава Минобороны в ходе недавней встречи со студентами ведущих российских вузов в Москве. Шойгу уточнил, что в целях преодоления языкового барьера в рамках проекта в занятиях будут принимать участие переводчики, владеющие широко распространёнными диалектами Афганистана. Стоит отметить, что перспектива вывода основной части военного контингента МССБ из ИРА длительное время является источником обеспокоенности не только стран-соседей, но и российского руководства. Москва уже прилагала усилия для стабилизации обстановки в ИРА, в том числе в деле поставок вертолётов Ми-17, участия в антинаркотических операциях, а также оказывая содействие охране афгано-таджикской границы. В настоящее время российские власти намерены продолжить помощь Афганистану в борьбе с угрозами безопасности. Напомним, что около недели назад РФ и Индия договорились о строительстве завода по ремонту оружия. http://afghanistan.ru/doc/70447.html Чтобы прочитать, нажмите на треугольник справа Совместно с Индией Россия восстановит в Афганистане завод по ремонту оружия. Некоторые соглашения в сфере безопасности Хамид Карзай подписал и во время визита в Иран. Россия восстановит в Афганистане завод по ремонту оружия Индия и Россия договорились о совместном восстановлении завода по ремонту оружия в Афганистане. Как заявил посол Афганистана в Индии Шаида Абдали, «эксперты уже провели предварительные встречи по этому вопросу и сейчас обсуждается детальный план восстановления завода», передаёт индийское информационное агентство «Indian Express». Абдали, который ранее занимал пост заместителя советника президента ИРА по вопросам национальной безопасности, также отметил, что Индия также могла бы направить в Афганистан инструкторов для обучения афганских ВС в новом военном институте. По его словам, речь идёт приблизительно о 120 инструкторах. Напомним, что с 12 по 15 декабря Хамид Карзай совершит визит в Индию. На 13 декабря запланирована его встреча с индийским премьер-министром Манмоханом Сингхом. http://afghanistan.ru/doc/70225.html Чтобы прочитать, нажмите на треугольник справа В общем, борьбу с террористическими организациями в Афганистане, с которой не справились США и НАТО, уже готовы взять на себя страны, которые прямо заинтересованы в успешности этой борьбы. И думается, что если американцы не будут мешать — Афганистан станет более безопасным местом. А уж о том, чтобы американцы не смогли остаться, оказался вполне способен позаботиться Хамид Карзай, ещё недавно считавшийся их марионеткой. Вероятно, для США это стало большим разочарованием. Собираясь сдать Афганистан террористическим группировкам и списав со счетов своих недавних союзников, американцы явно не могли предположить, что их самих уже списали из решения судьбы этой страны. Довольно забавно, что до последнего момента американцы искренне этого не понимали. Так, пытаясь оказать давление на Хамида Карзая, спецпредставитель США по Афганистану Джеймс Доббинс умудрился выдать желаемое за действительное. Он сообщил, что будто бы Владимир Путин лично просил Хамида Карзая подписать соглашение. Нашему МИДу даже пришлось опровергать мечты американцев: «Президент РФ в ходе беседы с Хамидом Карзаем «на полях» саммита ШОС в Бишкеке 13 сентября заявил, что суверенное афганское правительство вправе самостоятельно решать вопрос о подписании вышеупомянутого документа. При этом было подчёркнуто, что Кабул должен ясно представлять последствия такого шага и не допустить, чтобы он вступил в противоречие с интересами третьих стран». http://www.rg.ru/2013/12/16/mid-anons.html Стоит заметить, что «третьи страны» уже давно видят в деятельности США на Евразийском пространстве дестабилизирующую роль. Нельзя не порадоваться, что евразийские страны начинают сообща избавляться от американцев в своём доме. Причём мягко и совершенно без лишних разговоров. В наступившем году США и их союзников ждёт ещё много сюрпризов. http://www.odnako.org/blogs/show_35892/
Власти Индии и России ведут переговоры о строительстве нефтепровода, по которому в Индию будет поставляться неочищенная нефть, пишет The Financial Express со ссылкой на высокопоставленного чиновника индийского внешнеполитического ведомства. По словам совместного секретаря Аджай Бисария, данный вопрос обсуждался в ходе визита в Россию премьер-министра Индии Манмохан Сингх в конце октября. Общий объем вложений в строительство трубопровода может достигнуть $30 млрд.