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distributing HBC letters
Karin Shuey
JBANC thanks Baltic Caucus members for their support 
 
Before the Christmas holidays, JBANC made the rounds in Congress to thank members of the House Baltic Caucus (HBC) for their support of the Baltic countries. Currently with 52 members, the Baltic Caucus is 
co-chaired by Reps. John Shimkus (R-IL) and Adam Schiff (D-CA), and is a bipartisan registered Caucus of the House of Representatives since its inception in 1997.  

JBANC's letter to HBC members, written on behalf of its three parent organizations, expressed gratitude for the congressmen’s interest not only in issues germane to Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, but also to foreign policy concerns specific to Central and Eastern Europe. In addition, the letter stated that the Baltic countries have been steadfast allies of the United States and that Baltic-Americans have a keen appreciation for democracy and individual freedoms, which commitment is reinforced by vivid memories of the brutality of the illegal Soviet occupation. The Baltic communities remain active in promoting democratic principles and human rights, and have been keen on working to support legislation bolstering the defense of the Baltic countries, and in defending Ukraine.
Karin Shuey appointed as EANC Washington, DC Director 

The Estonian American National Council, Inc., (EANC) has named Karin Shuey as its Washington DC Director, a newly-established position. Ms. Shuey will be responsible for EANC’s Washington, DC activities and programs, representing EANC with Congress and the Administration, and at DC-area meetings and functions. She will also work closely with the Joint Baltic American National Committee, Inc (JBANC) and the Central and East European Coalition (CEEC).
With the addition of this position focusing on EANC’s political objectives, the organization will be able to intensify its work to counteract Russia’s aggressive actions, misinformation, and anti-Estonian propaganda.

Shuey is retired from a 22-year active duty career in the U.S. Navy, where she had significant experience with the U.S. European Command in Stuttgart, Germany, and with the Estonian Ministry of Defense as the U.S. Embassy’s Defense Attaché in Tallinn. Read more about her. 
 
Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH)    
Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY)
Reps. Latta and Meeks join House Baltic Caucus
 
Congressman Bob Latta represents Ohio's Fifth Congressional District and is currently serving his fifth term in the U. S House of Representatives. He serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has wide jurisdiction on legislative matters, including energy policy, telecommunications, food and drug safety, public health research, and interstate and foreign commerce.

Throughout his tenure, Congressman Latta has advocated for the interests of the people of Northwest and West Central Ohio, while also promoting policies that further economic prosperity and job creation throughout the country. His top priorities include balancing the budget, reducing the national debt and working toward commonsense government reforms.

Congressman Gregory Meeks represents
 the people of New York's Fifth Congressional District and is currently serving his seventeen year tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives. Congressman Meeks sits on two important and prominent committees in the House: the Financial Services Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee.

He serves as a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee where he is the Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats. Congressman Meeks seeks to promote policies that strengthen America's economic and national security and build relationships with other nations in a more globalized world. 

Press release can be found on the JBANC
website
Karl Altau and Karin Shuey

JBANC visits with key congressional offices
 
JBANC, in coordination with the Estonian American National Council (EANC), began a series of visits with key congressional offices to discuss common issues of concern to the Baltic-American communities. On January 13, meetings were held with staff from the offices of House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce, Rep. Brad Sherman, and House Baltic Caucus co-chairman Adam Schiff. All three members hail from California.
 
During the following week, additional meetings were held with staff from the offices of House Baltic Caucus co-chairman John Shimkus from Illinois, and House European Subcommittee Ranking Member Gregory Meeks of New York. JBANC plans further meetings in the coming weeks with the staff of House Baltic Caucus and Foreign Affairs committee members, along with key Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff.

Pictured are JBANC Managing Director Karl Altau and EANC Washington, DC Director Karin Shuey. Photo by Karoline Kelder/JBANC
Nikolajs Timrots
Nikolajs Timrots
Tomas Sadauskas
Tomas Sadauskas
JBANC welcomes two new board members

Nikolajs Timrots is a DC area native, Millennial, and can now actually say he lives in DC. He is a 2014 graduate of the University of Maryland (GIS). He was taught Latvian as his first language, attended "Katskiļu" summer camp in the Catskill Mountains, participated in "2x2" camp in 2008, worked at "Garezers" summer camp in Michigan in 2009, and was president of the organizing committee for "Meistarsacīkstes" sports tournament in 2015.
 
Currently, Nik is the Assistant General Manager at Shuttle-UM, University of Maryland's transit system. He is a member of "Namejs" folk dance troupe (1997-2002, 2009-present), having participated in 8 Song and Dance Festivals, including the one in Latvia in 2013. He is in the middle of his second year-long term on the American Latvian Youth Association (ALJA) council, and is the vice president of the organizing committee for the 2017 North American Latvian Song and Dance Festival.


Tomas Sadauskas is the newest Lithuanian representative to the JBANC board of directors.  He is a native of Connecticut and grew up attending church in a Lithuanian parish (St. Andrew Roman Catholic Church).  All four of his grandparents were born in Lithuania as well as his father Adomas who emigrated to the U.S. in 1949 as a displaced person.  Tomas grew up learning to speak Lithuanian from his grandparents who lived with his family.  He remembers that he always spoke Lithuanian with his grandparents and never English.  His education includes a BS degree in Accounting from the University of Connecticut, an MBA in Health Administration from the University of Chicago and a CPA Certificate from the University of Illinois.  Tomas has served in the U.S. Air Force as a healthcare administrator and later work as a health IT consultant.  Currently, he is a civilian employee in the Department of Defense supporting the Military Health System.    
Strikers arriving in Estonia

Pentagon to boost European reassurance spending in fiscal year 2017 request 

 
By Tony Capaccio (Bloomberg) 

The Defense budget request of approximately $583 billion will contain between $3 to $5 billion for Europe-based initiatives, up from $789 million requested for this year, according to two defense officials.

Funding will come from $58.8 billion warfighting request, not $524 billion base defense bill, say the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because budget hasn’t been formally released. Increased funding will pay for expanded prepositioning of war stocks in Baltics, rotation of Army armored brigade, exercises, officials say. No weapons programs terminated in FY17 request but face adjustments, official says. Official says it’s unlikely Defense Secretry Ashton Carter will preview budget in Washington.

Note by the author: Pentagon Comptroller Mike McCord in September interview said Russian assertiveness in Europe, Middle East would shape FY17 request.


Source: http://about.bgov.com/blog/pentagon-to-boost-european-reassurance-spending-in-fy17-request/

Pictured are US Stryker armored vehicles arriving to Tapa, Estonia. Photo courtesy Estonian Ministry of Defence.
 
Ed Royce at AEI discussed the need for the U.S. to confront weaponization of information

January 8, House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) spoke at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) about the need for the Obama administration to step up efforts to confront the weaponization of information by ISIS, Putin, Iran, and others. Watch the video here.
 
“I was in Eastern Europe, in East Germany, on an exchange program years ago. I saw the effects of Reagan’s orchestration of those broadcasts under Radio Free Europe [and] Radio Liberty…
 
[W]e were sharing our values … political pluralism, freedom, free speech, freedom of religion, tolerance… and people were listening to this. This is what should be going on now with respect to our broadcasts into Eastern Europe and into Russia.
 
“[E]ven the administration says that broadcasting is practically defunct. So the legislation that myself and Eliot Engel are moving addresses that in two ways. You put a strong CEO in charge of this instead of nine members of the board that can’t make a quorum. You let that CEO run it day to day and you give that CEO the mission that we once gave Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. And you get us back up countering what Putin is doing with his propaganda machine and RT television along with what ISIS is doing.”
 
House Baltic Caucus member Royce is the author of the United States International Communications Reform Act of 2015 (H.R. 2323), bipartisan legislation to improve the missions, objectives, and effectiveness of U.S. international broadcasters, which are overseen by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG).  Enacting this important reform measure is a top priority for Royce and the committee this year.  More information about the Chairman’s efforts to reform our broken U.S. international broadcasting is available here.  
 
According to the the Legislative Effectiveness Score Rep. Royce has seen nine of the 18 House bills that he sponsored treated substantively, with such actions as committee markups and hearings. This makes him one of the 10 most effective lawmakers in the U.S. Congress in 113th Congress.  

Photo by Aaron Clamage © American Enterprise Institute
Williams College students pose with Kaja Weeks (center) during the film project. Prof. Lois Banta and JBANC's Karl Altau are to the right. 
Estonian oral history project visits with JBANC to record video interviews 
 
On January 18, JBANC hosted a day-long program to film oral histories involving Estonian-Americans. The project was held in conjunction with the Kogu Me Lugu ("Collect Our Story," or "Our Entire Story") initiative, which was launched in 2013 in Estonia, to "collect and share stories in the form of video interviews and short films, about totalitarian regimes in the 20th century and crimes against humanity committed by them."
 
Five students from Williams College in Massachusetts, under the supervision of Professor Lois Banta, traveled to the Washington DC to record interviews with local Estonians Priit Vesilind, Kaja Weeks, Tiina Ets, and Ago Ambre. Karl Altau of JBANC also participated in the interviews, which will be catalogued on the “Kogu me Lugu” YouTube channel: 
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCenwcbc7WE7H5iItmmLkPOg.  

Noted documentary filmmakers James and Maureen Tusty ("The Singing Revolution" and "To Breathe as One") are teaching the film class at Williams College and helping give direction to the project. Cameraman Ants Tammik filmed the interviews. Interviews were also conducted in New York by the Williams College team.
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