Monthly Archives: February 2015

Astronaut Salutes Nimoy From Orbit

International Space Station astronaut Terry Virts (@AstroTerry) tweeted this image of a Vulcan hand salute from orbit as a tribute to actor Leonard Nimoy, who died on Friday, Feb. 27, 2015. Nimoy played science officer Mr. Spock in the Star Trek series that served as an inspiration to generations of scientists, engineers and sci-fi fans around the world.

Cape Cod and Boston, Massachusetts, Nimoy’s home town, are visible through the station window.

Astronaut Salutes Nimoy From Orbit

International Space Station astronaut Terry Virts (@AstroTerry) tweeted this image of a Vulcan hand salute from orbit as a tribute to actor Leonard Nimoy, who died on Friday, Feb. 27, 2015. Nimoy played science officer Mr. Spock in the Star Trek series that served as an inspiration to generations of scientists, engineers and sci-fi fans around the world.

Cape Cod and Boston, Massachusetts, Nimoy’s home town, are visible through the station window.

JAGUAR ( 15V091000 )

Dated: FEB 12, 2015 Jaguar Land Rover North America, LLC (Jaguar) is recalling certain model year 2013 XF vehicles manufactured September 11, 2012, to October 8, 2012. The electronic modules which control the fuel pump …

HYUNDAI ( 15V100000 )

Dated: FEB 17, 2015 Hyundai Motor America (Hyundai) is recalling certain model year 2008-2010 Elantra vehicles manufactured June 1, 2008, to April 30, 2010, and 2009-2010 Elantra Touring vehicles manufactured November 1,…

Talenti Gelato & Sorbetto Issues Allergy Alert for Limited Number of Jars of Talenti Gelato & Sorbetto Sea Salt Caramel Gelato Due to Undeclared Peanut

Talenti Gelato & Sorbetto, a Unilever company, is voluntarily recalling a limited number of jars of Talenti Gelato & Sorbetto Sea Salt Caramel Gelato because they may inadvertently contain peanuts (as peanut butter), which are not listed as an ingredient on the label. Persons who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to peanuts run the risk of a serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume this product.

U.S. Department of Education to End Contracts with Several Private Collection Agencies

Following a review of 22 private collection agencies, the U.S. Department of Education announced today that it will wind down contracts with five private collection agencies that were providing inaccurate information to borrowers. The five companies are: Coast Professional, Enterprise Recovery Systems, National Recoveries, Pioneer Credit Recovery, and West Asset Management.

Daily Press Briefings : Daily Press Briefing – February 27, 2015

Jen Psaki
Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
February 27, 2015

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TRANSCRIPT:


12:33 p.m. EST

MS. PSAKI: Hi, everyone. We have two from AP again today. Congratulations on the birth of your new child, Brad. Exciting to expand the bullpen family.

Two items for all of you. One update on the Secretary's upcoming travel. In addition to traveling to Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, and the UK, the Secretary will also travel to Paris, France on Saturday, March 7th to meet with French Foreign Minister Fabius. They will discuss a wide range of topics, including Ukraine, ISIL, and Iran nuclear negotiations.

On Bangladesh, the United States condemns in the strongest terms the brutal murder of Avijit Roy, which was horrific in its brutality and cowardice. Avijit was a journalist, a humanist, a husband, and a friend, and we extend our condolences to his family and friends. He was taken from us in a shocking act of violence. This was not just an attack against a person, but a cowardly assault on the universal principles enshrined in Bangladesh's constitution and the country's proud tradition of free intellectual and religious discourse.

With that, Matt.

QUESTION: All right. Well, just on the Bangladesh —

MS. PSAKI: Oh, can I add one more thing?

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. PSAKI: We have a couple of friends in the back here – hello – who are visiting with us today. So we have two ladies, Jennifer and Ali, visiting, and Joe, who is one of Ryan’s friends, who is also getting married soon.

Okay. Go ahead, Matt.

QUESTION: So on the Bangladesh murder —

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: — does the – is the Administration at a point where it can ascribe any kind of motive to this? Do you believe that it was anything more than just a murder? It certainly seems that the circumstances surrounding it would indicate that it is.

MS. PSAKI: We don’t have more information at this point. We, of course, will provide consular assistance as is appropriate. We’re also – stand ready to assist in the investigation if asked. Clearly, we know his background, which was why I outlined it, but don’t have anything to ascribe in terms of a motive in this case.

QUESTION: I don’t have anything else.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Is there anything you can tell us about the U.S.-Cuba talks that are now ongoing? I realize that they’re ongoing, but it struck me that you might have gotten some kind of readout from the morning sessions.

MS. PSAKI: We’ll wait to give the readout when Roberta Jacobson does her press conference or press availability at 4 o’clock this afternoon. As we talked about a little bit in advance, as you all remember, those of you who were there during the talks in Havana last month, the parties identified a set of issues that needed to be addressed as we reestablish diplomatic relations between our countries. They discussed at the time the opening of our embassies in our respective countries, and we certainly expect and hope that today will be an opportunity to build on our previous conversations and begin to find ways to address these issues. But again, there’s an availability in just a few hours.

QUESTION: Same topic? Same topic?

MS. PSAKI: Cuba?

QUESTION: Same —

QUESTION: Cuba, yeah. Could you explain —

MS. PSAKI: Okay. We’ll come back to you. Go ahead.

QUESTION: What – could you explain in your own terms as detailed as possible: What are the benefits of reopening with Cuba, as simple as that?

MS. PSAKI: The benefits of —

QUESTION: The benefits of reopening – reestablishing the relations with Cuba.

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve talked about this quite a bit, but I’m happy to take the opportunity to reiterate. Clearly, the United States had a policy for 50 years that was broken, that wasn’t working. It didn’t work for our national security interests, it didn’t work for the people of Cuba and civil society activists in Cuba who wanted to have a greater voice and be able to communicate in a better way. And so the benefits are national security benefits, they’re economic benefits both to the United States as well as to the people of Cuba.

Obviously, we’ve put in place a number of steps through the Commerce Department to start to kind of open up some of our economic relationship. And obviously, there’s a great deal of work to go from here, but certainly we were a country in the region – in the hemisphere, I should say, that had a relationship that was different from most of the other hemispheres. So beyond our relationship with Cuba and the benefits to our national security interests and to the Cuban people, we also think this will be beneficial to our relationships in the region.

Cuba?

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: Since he just asked about Cuba —

MS. PSAKI: Oh, we’ll go to you, Matt, and Michele next if that works. Go ahead.

QUESTION: The Secretary has made a point of saying how the talks on normalization are distinct from the process underway on the state sponsor of terrorism review. The Cubans have noted repeatedly how they can’t do simple things like banking, normal business transactions, until that designation is lifted. While you guys have said that shouldn’t be the case, you haven’t been able to establish a banking client for them or – has that changed or —

MS. PSAKI: Well —

QUESTION: — has there been any progress on that front?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. There are a couple of issues at play here. And what the Secretary was referring to was the fact that certainly any process to put a country on or off the state sponsor of terrorism list is a process that’s mandated by Congress. It has specific steps and requirements. We’re seeing that process through. It’s not completed.

Separately on the banking issue, we do continue to help the Cuban interests section find a long-term banking solution. We also encourage them to take action on their own behalf. Banking services, as is evidenced by the fact that Cuban officials have raised this, is an ongoing discussion, a subject of discussion for the parties. We have made amendments to the Cuban assets and control regulations that now provide a general licensing authority for U.S. depository institutions to operate accounts and extend credit to the official missions of the Government of Cuba. That’s a step we took. Since July 2013, which was when we first were informed the mission – that the mission’s then bank would sever its business relationship, this is something that we continue to work on. But of course, it’s up to independent financial institutions in the United States to make decisions about what kind of relationships they will proceed with.

QUESTION: When was that, the revision?

MS. PSAKI: I can check on that, Matt. I think it was – I believe it was late 2013 or early 2014. I’ll check.

QUESTION: Back when it first became a problem.

MS. PSAKI: Yes. But I can check on when we actually put the amendments in place.

QUESTION: Given that the Cubans at this point still don’t have that banking relationship yet with anyone in the United States, and presumably they would need that to be an embassy – I mean, you can’t strap cash to your body and come across the border every time you need to pay a paycheck.

QUESTION: Why not?

QUESTION: Well, you can, but that would hardly be normal relations, I would guess. Do you – don’t you see that these two things are, then, linked, even if the actual process of negotiation versus review are distinct?

MS. PSAKI: Well, let’s separate the state sponsor of terrorism issue and that process, which is ongoing, from the banking question, which is one that we’ve worked on with the Cubans since prior to the announcement by the President in late December. We certainly support and have taken steps to enable them to have access to this financial process. It’s an ongoing discussion. We haven’t, obviously, found a solution quite yet, but we’ve taken a number of steps and we’ll continue to discuss it. And certainly it’s discussed – continues to be discussed with the Cubans.

Oh, Michele, go ahead.

QUESTION: Yeah, just a question about the terrorism list.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Is there – there are members of Congress – Menendez, for instance, wrote a letter to Secretary Kerry about this, telling him to consider the fact that there – that Cuba still houses fugitives from U.S. law – fugitives from the U.S. And I wonder if that is part of the consideration. I mean, do they deserve to be on a terrorism list because they’re harboring people who are criminals here in the U.S.?

MS. PSAKI: Well, there are a range of factors that are taken into account in the process, and the Secretary spoke a little bit to this earlier today. That process is one that has been mandated by Congress, and we certainly respect. In terms of the specific criteria or which components we look at, I don’t believe I can get into that level of detail. But I can certainly check if there’s more specifics.

QUESTION: Can you just confirm this is a decision the State Department makes on its own, there’s no congressional – you just notify Congress about it?

MS. PSAKI: That’s my understanding, yes.

QUESTION: Can we go back to —

MS. PSAKI: Any more on Cuba before we continue? Go ahead.

QUESTION: Yeah. Yesterday, the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said that fighting ISIS was not a priority of Turkey, and basically accused Turkey of allowing thousands of fighters to go in. How is that juxtaposed with the agreement that you signed with Turkey on the 19th of this month?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I would certainly refer you to DNI for any specific comments or questions you have about Director Clapper’s comments. I will say that Turkey remains an important partner. They have taken steps on every aspect of our anti-ISIL coalition, which is not just military; it is also cracking down on foreign fighters. It’s also about financing. It’s also about delegitimizing ISIL. From the beginning, we’ve said that there’s more that the global community can do, and we’ve worked with countries, including Turkey, to take those steps. I think you’re referring to the train and equip program that there – an agreement was signed on that. Or which are you referring to?

QUESTION: Well, yeah, I mean, you signed an agreement, presumably all designed so you and they could fight ISIS as a priority. But what he said, he said very clearly – that this was not a priority for Turkey.

MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure what you’re making or – I addressed that question, but —

QUESTION: I’m asking you —

MS. PSAKI: — how are you making a link between the train and equip program and —

QUESTION: I’m making – because, I mean, at the end of the day you are training the Syrian opposition, train and equip and so on. So you’re saying —

MS. PSAKI: Which are heavily vetted through the DOD process.

QUESTION: That’s fine. Let me rephrase that question.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: So there are two separate issues. Train and equip is one thing, but Turkey is not cooperating in the fight against ISIS is another thing.

MS. PSAKI: I think I just addressed that question. Do we have any more on ISIL?

QUESTION: No – one last one.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So you disagree with the director of national intelligence?

MS. PSAKI: I think I just addressed it, Said. Any more on ISIL?

QUESTION: Turkey?

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Kind of related, Turkey. How do you define that – you said it’s still (inaudible) Turkey and U.S. relations while the Turkey, they – in a recent visit of Secretary of Defense, he went to Middle East and but – and didn’t visit Turkey, which is part of the coalition, supposedly. And but he didn’t go there. And there’s – and also I think Secretary Kerry is going to the Middle East and that area, but he’s not also going to Turkey. Is that still a normal relation between Turkey and U.S.?

MS. PSAKI: Turkey remains an important partner. Turkey’s a NATO ally. General Allen and Ambassador McGurk have been there I’m not sure even how many times. The Secretary speaks with his counterpart on a regular basis, and I think you certainly understand that on every trip, we don’t visit every country; otherwise we’d never return to the United States, right?

QUESTION: Sometimes it feels that way.

MS. PSAKI: It does feel that way sometimes. But that – I wouldn’t make any connection. There’s zero connection there.

Go ahead, Roz.

QUESTION: One on Turkey.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: The – there are reports suggesting that its first choice for getting a missile defense system – and I may be getting this wrong – trying to strike a deal with China for missiles is running into trouble. Do you have a comment on that and how that’s affecting any negotiations with the U.S. on getting these missiles?

MS. PSAKI: I’m happy to check on that. I think we talked about this maybe a couple of weeks ago, Roz, or several days ago. Our priority is often that it is NATO operable and that – interoperable – sorry, it’s a Friday afternoon. And so that’s certainly something we convey to Turkey or any other country, but we can certainly check on our involvement in this recently.

QUESTION: That would be good. Thanks.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: On this same question. Said just mentioned but I just want more elaboration on it.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: On Clapper’s comment he basically said that Turkey – ISIL is not priority for Turkey. As a result they are able to travel into the country, through the country —

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything more to add to what I just conveyed.

QUESTION: So don’t you think it’s contradicting, for example, with Allen’s comment or —

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything more to add. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Related to ISIS. Back in August 2007, then DNI Mike McConnell in an interview with the El Paso Times was asked about terrorist activity on the U.S.-Mexico border. He said, quote, “So are terrorists coming across the southwest border? Not in great numbers,” end quote. He went on to say, quote, “There are some. And would they use it as a path given it was available to them, in time they will,” he said, end quote. Then he went on to say, quote, “There were a significant number of Iraqis who came across last year, smuggled across illegally,” end quote. And speaking about those Iraqis he said, quote, “Now some we caught; some we didn’t. The ones that get in” —

MS. PSAKI: Do you have a question in here?

QUESTION: Yes. I just want to put on the record what he said because it’s a predicate for the question.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: He said, “The ones that get in, what are they going to do? They’re going to write home. So it’s not rocket science, word will get around.” So my question is: First of all, does the State Department have any reason to doubt what then-DNI McConnell said about significant number of Iraqis crossing illegally from Mexico into the United States as of 2006?

MS. PSAKI: Well, you’re asking me about comments made from another agency almost two years ago. So I would suggest you refer your question to DNI.

QUESTION: Actually, he made it in 2007. Does the State Department —

MS. PSAKI: 2007, I’m sorry. Eight years ago.

QUESTION: All right.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: So you say you don’t have any reason to doubt it.

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any information about that. I’d refer you to DNI. Do you have any —

QUESTION: All right. Now, if an Iraqi entered the U.S. illegally before 2010 and had a child here, he would be eligible for the Administration’s delayed action program on immigration. Does the State Department have any way to absolutely confirm the identity or check the background of an illegal alien who came in from – who came from a part of Iraq that’s now controlled by ISIS?

MS. PSAKI: You’re asking a purely hypothetical question about a domestic issue, so either you can go send your question to DNI or the White House.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Does the State Department have any reason to —

MS. PSAKI: I think we’re moving on. You’re not asking a State Department-related question.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Thanks, Jen. Wendy Sherman was at Carnegie earlier today and she mentioned plans for a three-way ministerial in Korea. I was just wondering if there was anything more you can tell us about that. Does that envision to be Secretary Kerry and his two counterparts or —

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any additional details. I think you may have seen that the Secretary referenced an interest in going back to Asia sometime soon. That’s not planned yet. Obviously, there’s also been a number of senior officials who have traveled there recently, including Under Secretary Sherman, including Deputy Secretary Blinken. So no details quite yet, but it’s just an indication of our desire to continue that dialogue.

QUESTION: So there is a desire to have a high-level meeting between the U.S., Japan, and Korea during —

MS. PSAKI: Well, as you know we’ve had them before.

QUESTION: Sure.

MS. PSAKI: And so I think she’s referencing an interest in continuing to do that.

QUESTION: And she said also that there is a vision for a summit to be held after that. Is that also envisioned to be in a trilateral basis with the U.S. and two partner countries?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t – we don’t have details yet. Some of this will be an ongoing discussion with the countries involved.

QUESTION: Still on Asia?

MS. PSAKI: On Asia? Go ahead.

QUESTION: So Under Secretary Sherman also mentioned that the U.S. would support China’s proposal for an Asia international investment infrastructure bank. But she just mentioned that provided this – founding documents, included proper standards, based on other international institutions.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Which institutions was she referring to?

MS. PSAKI: I’m happy to check with our team if there’s more specifics we can outline.

QUESTION: And the —

MS. PSAKI: And we’ve talked about this a bit from here in the past.

QUESTION: But she was saying that U.S. support would be conditioned on the founding documents containing certain standards?

MS. PSAKI: Okay. We’ll get you a little more information or we can certainly connect you with an expert from our bureau.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Thank you, Jen. A few days ago you stated that you had advocated through Ambassador Warlick the release of two Azerbaijani hostages held by the separatist authorities. According to Armenian media reports from yesterday, Foreign Minister Nalbandian stated that none of the OSCE Minsk group co-chairs have called for the release of these hostages. Can you confirm or clarify if Ambassador Warlick, indeed, made those calls to release the hostages?

MS. PSAKI: I believe I was referencing, I think, public comments that were made. So I would point you to that, and I certainly made those calls from here. So those reflect the position of the Department and everybody up in the senior ranks.

QUESTION: Jen —

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: On Ukraine. The other day on the Hill the Secretary said that the Russians had been lying and had lied to his face. Presumably, he was referring to Foreign Minister Lavrov, whom he is supposed to meet on Monday in Switzerland, But Foreign Minister Lavrov appears to have taken exception to the suggestion that he is lying to Secretary Kerry’s face, saying it was not – this was not a diplomatic comment, to say the least. I’m wondering if you have any reaction, response, or thought – other thoughts on this little episode.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think the Secretary was referring to comments made broadly, not as specific as you suggest, but privately and certainly publicly that any claims that we’ve seen publicly many, many times that Russia has not had a hand in or engagement in what’s happening in eastern Ukraine. And that’s certainly a statement of fact. We’ve seen a great deal of evidence that confirms that.

QUESTION: Right. But – so the Secretary is – did not mean to say or imply that Foreign Minister Lavrov had lied to his face?

MS. PSAKI: He wasn’t referring to a specific meeting, but we have seen comments made, countless comments made, consistently made by the Russian – by Russian officials suggesting they have no involvement in Ukraine. We know that’s not factual.

QUESTION: Well, let me just ask this then: Has the Secretary met face-to-face with any other Russian official than Foreign Minister Lavrov?

MS. PSAKI: I think you’re taking his comment a little literally. He’s talking about comments that Russia has consistently made. They don’t claim – make different claims privately. But he was making a broad point about their claims about their lack of involvement.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, it’s not me that – it’s Foreign Minister Lavrov who had made the comment.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. Well, let me clarify it in that way then.

QUESTION: So you would not say that Foreign Minister Lavrov has lied to Secretary Kerry’s face about Russian involvement in Ukraine?

MS. PSAKI: I think he is conveying that any statement made publicly or privately by any Russian official —

QUESTION: Is a lie.

MS. PSAKI: — that they have no involvement in Ukraine we know is clearly not —

QUESTION: A lie.

MS. PSAKI: — inaccurate.

QUESTION: Not a lie?

QUESTION: What’s up with the “to my face” aspect of it though, because that really does imply that it’s – people have said things directly to him that were lies. It doesn’t imply that; it states that.

MS. PSAKI: He sees public comments. He reads the newspaper. He certainly, as I just said, public – privately and publicly, there are the same claims made.

QUESTION: As far as you —

QUESTION: So people have lied to his face then just —

MS. PSAKI: I think I’m – I think I have addressed this question.

QUESTION: But as far as you know, the meeting with Foreign Minister Lavrov is still on?

MS. PSAKI: Yes, and they’ll talk about Ukraine and the Secretary will reiterate our concerns. I expect they’ll also talk about a range of issues. They certainly have had disagreements in the past, and we’ve still worked with them on issues like the Iran negotiations, and that will continue.

QUESTION: I understand that. But I mean, I don’t believe the Secretary of State has ever said publicly that he’s being lied to —

QUESTION: To his face.

QUESTION: — to his face.

MS. PSAKI: Well —

QUESTION: So as far as you know, the meeting is still on?

MS. PSAKI: Correct.

QUESTION: And they still have a cordial working relationship?

MS. PSAKI: Yes, yes.

QUESTION: All right.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Palestinian-Israeli issue very quickly?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Did Secretary of State Kerry during his call warn President Abbas not to suspend security cooperation with Israel?

MS. PSAKI: I can give you a readout, Said. As we noted yesterday – and you asked for a readout, so here we are to deliver – he spoke to President Abbas on Wednesday. They discussed current dynamics between the Palestinian Authority and Israel and the importance of ensuring the financial viability of the Palestinian Authority. The Secretary also detailed his efforts with key stakeholders to prevent a crisis in the West Bank and the way ahead in the coming months.

I have a couple of other answers to some of the other questions you asked yesterday, if you’d like me to tick through them.

QUESTION: Right. Please, yes.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. You asked about Israel flooding – reports of Israel flooding. We don’t have confirmation of that. We continue to be concerned, of course, about the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza and we’re working with our international partners, including the Government of Israel, to support recovery and reconstruction efforts in Gaza.

I believe Michael, who I don’t think is here, asked also yesterday about reports that came out during the briefing about Israel confirming it will supply water and electric power to Rawabi and other Palestinian cities. We’re looking forward to the Rawabi complex receiving the water it needs to function, and that deliberate electricity cuts to Palestinian cities in the West Bank will cease. We support all efforts to improve the investment climate and generate greater prosperity and opportunity for Palestinians and Israelis. And of course, we encourage the continued dialogue on lasting solutions regarding electricity and water supplies.

QUESTION: Okay. Will the —

QUESTION: Do you know – related to Gaza —

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — apparently, there’s several thousand, or maybe even more than several thousand Gazans who want to go on the Haj who are not able to leave because the Egyptians have closed the border. Do you know if this is a subject that you’ve raised with Egypt at all or if it is even on your radar?

MS. PSAKI: I’m happy to check on that, Matt. I don’t know at the top of my head.

QUESTION: If I could just ask —

QUESTION: Go ahead.

QUESTION: On the same topic —

QUESTION: On the West Bank, yeah. Since last week when you mentioned the urgent financial needs of the Palestinians and then the Secretary repeated it in London on Saturday, firstly, has the U.S. rushed any emergency financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority? And secondly, in that time, has there been – are you aware of any broader financial support that’s been delivered?

MS. PSAKI: I’d have to check on others, Brad. I think our assistance has – is pretty extensive and has been for quite some time. And some of the challenges has been that there are additional needs beyond the assistance that we provide, but I can check if others have provided. And I think the point we’re making and the reason we’re raising this frequently is because it is a dire situation and one that needs a greater deal of financial assistance.

QUESTION: But no new U.S. financial support to meet this new crisis to – since you both have made these calls, there has been no new U.S. financial support to the Palestinians; is that right?

MS. PSAKI: Correct, but we have provided a range of assistance in the past.

QUESTION: Very quickly —

MS. PSAKI: That’s ongoing, obviously, including ongoing projects.

QUESTION: The PA today claims that the Israelis bulldozed Roman ruins between my village, Abu Dis, and the next adjacent village. I wonder if you have any comment on this. Under the pretext that it is a closed military area. Do you have any information on this?

MS. PSAKI: I’m happy to check into those reports, Said.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Same topic also, which is —

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Why press reports this morning from Palestinian press is headlining, actually – if you could deny that or confirm it – I don’t know, really.

MS. PSAKI: What is the headline? I have to see.

QUESTION: The headline is Kerry – Mr. Kerry threatening Abbas of U.S. sanctions if he even dared to stop the security cooperation with Israel. That’s the headlines from this morning, actually, coming from the local press over there.

MS. PSAKI: I just addressed the question of what they discussed, and I think that certainly isn’t consistent with what I just outlined in terms of their call.

QUESTION: They said during the phone call.

MS. PSAKI: Correct. Well, I would – I just gave you a readout of the phone call.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: On Iraq?

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: In Kurdistan, there is – a journalist has been arrested by the Kurdish security forces in Dohuk. Are you aware of that? Saba (ph), his name.

MS. PSAKI: A Kurdish journalist has been arrested?

QUESTION: Journalist, yes, few weeks ago.

MS. PSAKI: By Kurdish authorities?

QUESTION: By Kurdish authorities, yeah.

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any details on that.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: All right.

QUESTION: Okay. It’s Friday.

MS. PSAKI: It’s Friday.

QUESTION: Happy Friday. So I have to ask you: What color is the dress? (Laughter.)

MS. PSAKI: What dress?

QUESTION: Oh my God. Where have you been?

QUESTION: Where have you been?

MS. PSAKI: I’ve been trying to follow up on questions you guys have. I need to check some social media or something. (Laughter.)

(The briefing was concluded at 12:58 p.m.)

 


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Combining PM2.5 Component Data from Multiple Sources: Data Consistency and Characteristics Relevant to Epidemiological Analyses of Predicted Long-Term Exposures

Author Affiliations open
1Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA; 2Institute of Health and Environment, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea; 3Department of Biostatistics, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA; 4Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA; 5Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA; 6Department of Epidemiology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA

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  • Background: Regulatory monitoring data have been the exposure data resource most commonly applied to studies of the association between long-term PM2.5 components and health. However, data collected for regulatory purposes may not be compatible with epidemiological studies.

    Objectives: We studied three important features of the PM2.5 component monitoring data in order to determine whether it would be appropriate to combine all available data from multiple sources for developing spatio-temporal prediction models in the National Particle Component and Toxicity (NPACT) study.

    Methods: The NPACT monitoring data were collected in an extensive monitoring campaign targeting cohort participant residences. The regulatory monitoring data were obtained from the Chemical Speciation Network (CSN) and the Interagency Monitoring of Protected Visual Environments (IMPROVE). We performed exploratory analyses to examine features that could affect our approach to combining data: comprehensiveness of spatial coverage, comparability of analysis methods, and consistency in sampling protocols. In addition, we considered the viability of developing spatio-temporal prediction models given: 1) all available data; 2) NPACT data only; and 3) NPACT data with temporal trends estimated from other pollutants.

    Results: The number of CSN/IMPROVE monitors was limited in all study areas. The different laboratory analysis methods and sampling protocols resulted in incompatible measurements between networks. Given these features we determined that it was preferable to develop our spatio-temporal models using only the NPACT data and under simplifying assumptions.

    Conclusions: Investigators conducting epidemiological studies of long-term PM2.5 components need to be mindful of the features of the monitoring data and incorporate this understanding into the design of their monitoring campaigns and the development of their exposure prediction models.

  • This EHP Advance Publication article has been peer-reviewed, revised, and accepted for publication. EHP Advance Publication articles are completely citable using the DOI number assigned to the article. This document will be replaced with the copyedited and formatted version as soon as it is available. Through the DOI number used in the citation, you will be able to access this document at each stage of the publication process.

    Citation: Kim SY, Sheppard L, Larson TV, Kaufman JD, Vedal S. Combining PM2.5 Component Data from Multiple Sources: Data Consistency and Characteristics Relevant to Epidemiological Analyses of Predicted Long-Term Exposures. Environ Health Perspect; http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1307744.

    Received: 18 October 2013
    Accepted: 24 February 2015
    Advance Publication: 27 February 2015

    EHP strives to ensure that all journal content is accessible to all readers. However, some figures and Supplemental Material published in EHP articles may not conform to 508 standards due to the complexity of the information being presented. If you need assistance accessing journal content, please contact ehp508@niehs.nih.gov. Our staff will work with you to assess and meet your accessibility needs within 3 working days.

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In Utero and Childhood Polybrominated Diphenyl Ether Exposures and Body Mass at Age 7 Years: The CHAMACOS Study

Author Affiliations open
1Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health (CERCH), School of Public Health, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, California, USA; 2Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health, McGill University Faculty of Medicine, Montréal, Québec, Canada

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  • Background and Objectives: Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are lipophilic flame retardants that bioaccumulate in humans. Child serum PBDE concentrations in California are among the highest worldwide. PBDEs may be associated with obesity by disrupting endocrine systems. In this study, we examined whether pre- and post-natal exposure to the components of penta-BDE mixture was associated with childhood obesity in a population of Latino children participating in a longitudinal birth cohort study in the Salinas Valley, California.

    Methods: We measured PBDEs in serum collected from 224 mothers during pregnancy and their children at 7 years of age, and examined associations with body mass index at age 7.

    Results: Maternal PBDE serum levels during pregnancy were associated with higher body mass index (BMI) z-scores in boys (BMI z-score βadjusted = 0.26; 95% CI: -0.19, 0.72) but lower scores in girls (BMI z-score βadjusted = -0.41; 95% CI: -0.87, -0.05) at 7 years of age (pinteraction= 0.04). In addition, child’s serum BDE-153 concentration (log10), but not other penta-BDE congeners, demonstrated inverse associations with body mass index at age 7 (BMI z-score βadjusted= -1.15, 95% CI -1.53, -0.77) but there was no interaction by sex.

    Conclusions: We estimated sex-specific associations with maternal PBDE levels during pregnancy and body mass index at age 7 with positive associations in boys and negative associations in girls. Children’s serum BDE-153 concentrations were inversely associated with body mass index at age 7 with no difference by sex. Future studies should examine the longitudinal trends in obesity with PBDE exposure and changes in hormonal environment as children transition through puberty, as well as evaluate the potential for reverse causality.

  • This EHP Advance Publication article has been peer-reviewed, revised, and accepted for publication. EHP Advance Publication articles are completely citable using the DOI number assigned to the article. This document will be replaced with the copyedited and formatted version as soon as it is available. Through the DOI number used in the citation, you will be able to access this document at each stage of the publication process.

    Citation: Erkin-Cakmak A, Harley KG, Chevrier J, Bradman A, Kogut K, Huen K, Eskenazi B. In Utero and Childhood Polybrominated Diphenyl Ether Exposures and Body Mass at Age 7 Years: The CHAMACOS Study. Environ Health Perspect; http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1408417.

    Received: 13 March 2014
    Accepted: 24 February 2015
    Advance Publication: 27 February 2015

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Blood Pressure, Left Ventricular Geometry, and Systolic Function in Children Exposed to Inorganic Arsenic

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1Departamento de Toxicología, Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados del IPN, México D.F. México; 2Hospital Español, México D.F., México; 3Departamento de Biociencias e Ingenieria CIIEMAD-IPN, México D.F., México; 4Unidad de Investigación y Salud en el Trabajo, Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social, México D.F., México

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  • Background: Inorganic arsenic (iAs) is a ubiquitous element present in the groundwater worldwide. Cardiovascular effects related to iAs exposure, have been extensively studied in adult populations. Few epidemiological studies have been focused on iAs exposure-related cardiovascular disease in children. This study investigates the association between iAs exposure, blood pressure (BP) and functional and anatomical echocardiographic parameters in children.

    Methods: A cross sectional study of 161 children between 3-8 years was conducted in Central Mexico. The total concentration of arsenic (As) species in urine (U-tAs) was determined by HG-CT-AAS and lifetime iAs exposure was estimated by multiplying As concentrations measured in drinking water by the duration of water consumption in years (LAsE, µg/L-year). BP was measured by standard protocols, and M-mode echocardiographic parameters were determined by ultrasonography.

    Results: U-tAs concentration and LAsE were significantly associated with diastolic (DBP) and systolic blood pressure (SBP) in multivariable linear regression models: DBP and SBP were 0.013 (95% CI: 0.002, 0.024) and 0.021 (95% CI: 0.004, 0.037) mmHg higher in association with each 1-ng/mL increase in U-tAs (p<0.025), respectively. Left ventricular mass (LVM) was significantly associated with LAsE [5.5 g higher (95% CI: 0.65, 10.26) in children with LAsE >620 compared with <382 µg/L-year; p=0.03] in an adjusted multivariable model. The systolic function parameters left ventricular ejection fraction (EF) and shortening fraction were 3.67% (95% CI: –7.14, –0.20) and 3.41% (95% CI: –6.44, –0.37) lower, respectively, in children with U-tAs >70 ng/mL compared with <35 ng/mL.

    Conclusion: Early-life exposure to iAs was significantly associated with higher BP and LVM and with lower EF in our study population of Mexican children.

  • This EHP Advance Publication article has been peer-reviewed, revised, and accepted for publication. EHP Advance Publication articles are completely citable using the DOI number assigned to the article. This document will be replaced with the copyedited and formatted version as soon as it is available. Through the DOI number used in the citation, you will be able to access this document at each stage of the publication process.

    Citation: Osorio-Yáñez C, Ayllon-Vergara JC, Arreola-Mendoza L, Aguilar-Madrid G, Hernández-Castellanos E, Sánchez-Peña LC, Del Razo LM. Blood Pressure, Left Ventricular Geometry, and Systolic Function in Children Exposed to Inorganic Arsenic. Environ Health Perspect; http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1307327.

    Received: 6 July 2013
    Accepted: 24 February 2015
    Advance Publication: 27 February 2015

    EHP strives to ensure that all journal content is accessible to all readers. However, some figures and Supplemental Material published in EHP articles may not conform to 508 standards due to the complexity of the information being presented. If you need assistance accessing journal content, please contact ehp508@niehs.nih.gov. Our staff will work with you to assess and meet your accessibility needs within 3 working days.

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