Earlier this month Secretary Clinton delivered a major address to the Economic Club of New York on the role of economics in US foreign policy. She talked candidly about a variety of critical issues such as currency manipulation, piracy, sustainability, and various modern-day trade and investment barriers, including those cherished by many old-school “free” traders.
A comprehensive, clear, and compelling review of current events and future strategy, the speech is the fourth in a series that the Secretary has given on various aspects of economic statecraft. As always, her remarks are well worth reading or viewing:
The prior three speeches in the series treated different aspects of the same general topic. The first speech discussed how diplomacy and overseas development assistance contribute to domestic economic health. The second emphasized economic values and the importance of respecting rules of fair global competition. The third focused on the critical role of women in creating and maintaining a robust and equitable global economy.
Delivered in the immediate aftermath of passage by Congress of comprehensive and mutually beneficial economic relations agreements with South Korea, Columbia, and Panama, the fourth speech is a strong statement of how the Administration will engage in matters of trade, investment, and economics going forward.
I was delighted this morning to learn that Victoria University of Wellington’s First Light team placed 3rd overall in the 2011 Solar Decathlon. That’s an impressive and exceptional result.
First Light team members celebrating after the final scores were announced.
Sponsored by the US Department of Energy, the Solar Decathlon is a biennial competition that challenges entrants to build an environmentally friendly house which is then judged on ten different sets of aesthetic, efficiency, conservation, and comfort criteria. You can read all about the competition in my previous post of November 2010.
Last year the First Light crew became the first New Zealand team ever to make the Solar Decathlon finals. That entitled them to reconstruct their house this year on the National Mall in Washington DC, to compete head-to-head against the other 19 finalists from around the United States and several other countries.
Washingtonians and tourists queue up to tour the First Light house.
My Embassy colleagues and I have been tracking First Light’s journey since the very beginning, and we had the great pleasure of touring the house a few months ago, just before it was shipped to DC.
I can tell you first-hand that the First Light bach is a truly impressive building structurally, aesthetically, and functionally. I knew it would impress the judges. Take another look to see what I mean:
My DC friends tell me that the Kiwi bach was very popular among the hundreds of thousands of people who visited the various houses during the competition. You can get a flavor of the energy and adventure in Washington from the First Light team’s blog.
Like First Light, the other top winners were inspired by the natural environment in their home locales. A team from Maryland University won first prize in the competition with its WaterShed house inspired by Chesapeake Bay’s ecosystem.
The 1st place WaterShed house created by the University of Maryland team.
Second place went to the team from Purdue University for its Midwestern-inspired INhome (short for “Indiana home”).
The entry from Appalachian State University won the People’s Choice award for its Solar Homestead inspired by traditional Appalachian settlements.
Purdue University’s 2nd place INhouse.
All of the teams worked long and hard to create impressive structures. Check out the final scores to see how the teams did in each of the ten challenges in the competition. Take a look at the Department of Energy 2011 Solar Decathlon Flickr pages to see photos of all of the entrants as well as more shots of the crowds of viewers.
Congrats again to my friends from Victoria University on the great First Light showing, and thanks to my colleagues at the Department of Energy for developing and running such an important, impactful, and exciting program.
Congratulations to my friend Mike Moore, who is now not only Right Honourable but also quite Excellent, i.e., officially New Zealand’s Ambassador to the United States of America.
President Obama receiving Ambassador Moore in the Oval Office.
Mike recently presented his credentials to President Obama in the traditional ceremony in which a new ambassador delivers documents proving that he or she is the duly appointed representative of his or her home country. (Upon arrival in New Zealand, I presented my own credentials – an original letter of appointment signed by President Obama – to Governor-General Rt Hon Sir Anand Satyanand after a powhiri at Vogel House.)
At the White House ceremony, Mike and the President had a chat during which the President expressed his condolences on the loss of PRT member Lt. Tim O’Donnell in Afghanistan. My White House sources tell me that the President was impressed with Mike’s directness and economy of speech. When asked what his objectives were in his new post, Mike answered quite simply that he had been instructed to “make himself useful.” Frankly, I can’t imagine a wiser response. continue reading…
I’ve been hearing a lot of inside chatter all week from Washington about Prime Minister John Key’s visit and his participation in the Nuclear Security Summit.
The Summit starts with a moment of silence in memory of Polish President Lech Kaczynski and the others lost on his airplane. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
The visit really started on a high note when the PM met with Vice President Joe Biden. I know from direct experience that both men are smart, direct, and down-to-earth. I am told by staff friends that they took an instant like to each other and had a great meeting. The discussion was broad-ranging as they brainstormed about ways our two countries can cooperate together further, not only bilaterally but regionally and globally.
There was so much chemistry and common ground that the meeting ran long. They discussed the obvious topics – climate change, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), Afghanistan, nuclear non-proliferation, and Iran’s nuclear program – all matters on which the two countries are collaborating, in many instances through United Nations mechanisms. When the PM and the VP finally emerged, both underscored that the U.S.-New Zealand relationship is the strongest that it has been in decades.
The PM also met with Secretary Tom Vilsack, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. I had lunch in Los Angeles with the then-Governor and a few friends when he was exploring a potential run for the Presidency a few years ago, and I know him to be a down-to-earth, smart, and practical problem-solver as well as a strategic thinker.