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Saturday, April 7, 2012
Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Chase Speed waits for the patrol order before departing friendly lines at Forward Operating Base Whitehouse, Afghanistan, during a March 30, 2012, operation. Speed was injured during a firefight when an enemy bullet went through his waistline, and after a two-week recovery period, he went back to the fight. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Albert J. Carls
Face of Defense: Wounded Corpsman Returns to Action
By Marine Corps Sgt. James Mercure
Regimental Combat Team 6, 1st Marine Division
FORWARD OPERATING BASE WHITEHOUSE, Afghanistan, April 6, 2012 - Navy Petty Officer Third Class Chase Speed still has the blood-soaked belt he was wearing when an insurgent put a bullet through it last year.
Speed, a native of Orangeburg, S.C., was serving as a corpsman with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, the day his platoon was inserted by helicopter into Jahazi, a small town that was a hotbed for insurgent activity.
"I saw guys watching us from the tree line and from a compound to our southeast. A fire-team element of military-age males went into the same compound so we knew our position was about to get attacked," Speed said. "Sure enough, we started to take fire from the compound, and our staff sergeant yelled to take cover, and then we began to engage them. As we were bounding to a different compound, I got hit and kept running another 50 meters. I got on the ground facing the enemy and kept firing to protect my guys."
Suffering from a deep laceration in his right hip, while consistently receiving automatic weapons fire from the insurgents, Speed heard his staff sergeant yell, "Corpsman up!"
"I half ran, half limped to the Marine we thought was in trouble," Speed said. "I checked him out, and he didn't have any apparent injuries, so we busted into a nearby compound. I told him, 'I think I got shot in the [butt].' We both laughed about that in the middle of the firefight."
Once inside the compound, Speed was able to check his wounds and begin to apply first aid.
"I looked down and saw I had an entrance wound near the base of my spine, and the exit wound was coming out of my right hip," he said. "Luckily, the bullet cauterized the wound, so there wasn't as much bleeding as there could have been."
After the Marines called for a medical evacuation for their 'Doc,' his right leg had gone numb. He could no longer walk without help.
"A sergeant had to help me get to the bird as it was coming in. I hadn't taken any of the meds I was carrying in case my Marines got hurt worse than me," Speed said. "So I was glad when the crew chief gave me something to dull the pain when I got on the helicopter."
After several operations and two weeks of recovery at Camp Bastion, 'Doc' Speed returned to his unit, which was still engaged in the fight.
"The day he got back he was still smiling and as happy-go-lucky as ever," said Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Gerald Brant Jr., an independent duty corpsmen who worked with Speed last year and during his current deployment. "It was like getting shot didn't affect him. He still went on patrols with his Marines and still kept up like nothing happened to him."
Throughout the whole ordeal, Speed has stayed positive, setting his sights on continuing his career in the Navy.
"Ever since I got injured, I've had more pride in the uniform and understand that if you get knocked down, you have to get right back up," the Purple Heart Medal recipient said. "I get sharp pains every now and then, but it doesn't slow me down a bit. I still keep up with my guys, and I keep pushing forward no matter what, because my Marines count on me, and I will be there for them."
Speed is serving as a corpsman with Police Advisor Team 2, 1st Bn., 8th Marines, and he said he plans on becoming a naval officer as a critical care nurse after returning from his current deployment.
FROM: U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
18th Commemoration of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide
Press Statement Mark C. Toner
Acting Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson Washington, DC
April 6, 2012
The United States joins countries on April 7 throughout the world as we collectively remember the approximately 800,000 Rwandan men, women and children who, over the course of 100 days, were brutally murdered in Rwanda’s genocide 18 years ago. We offer heartfelt sympathies to the families of the victims and to the survivors who suffered through one of the most horrific events in history.
This is a solemn day of remembrance. We commemorate those who were lost, and we are also are inspired and encouraged by Rwandans’ relentless determination to move beyond this tragedy to rebuild their country and reestablish peace and hope for their children. Since the genocide, Rwanda has made remarkable strides in health, education and agriculture, and has done much to promote regional stability and good governance. Once a country steeped in violent conflict, Rwanda has emerged as an important contributor to the global economy, and to global peace as one of the largest and most effective peacekeepers in the world. Rwanda continues to deliver impressive results in economic growth and development, and the U.S-Rwanda Bilateral Investment Treaty that entered into force in January promises to further open avenues for investment, trade and ties between our countries.
As we honor the victims of the 1994 genocide, the United States affirms its commitment to continue to work together with the people and Government of Rwanda to ensure that freedom, justice and peace are respected and enjoyed by all.
FROM U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Judge orders defunct California construction company to restore nearly $520,000 to employee retirement plan following US Labor Department lawsuit
Explore General failed to remit workers’ fringe benefits
SAN FRANCISCO — Fresno-based Explore General Inc. and Jaime M. Gonzalez have been ordered to restore $519,601 to the company's 401(k) profit-sharing plan, according to the terms of a judgment and order entered in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.
The judgment and order resolve a lawsuit that was filed by the U.S. Department of Labor based on an investigation by its Employee Benefits Security Administration. The suit alleged that the defendants failed to pay required fringe benefits to the plan and breached their fiduciary duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by not administering the plan solely in the best interests of participants. At the time of the violations, Gonzalez was the owner and president of the company.
Chief Judge Anthony W. Ishii found that the now-defunct construction company was required to pay its workers an hourly prevailing wage rate, including a fringe benefit for each participant in the form of contributions to the retirement plan, when it was contracted to perform work on projects financed by government agencies. The company was paid in full by the agencies for its work, including fringe benefit amounts, and certified that it was sending the fringe benefits to the plan. However, the company failed to remit more than $300,000 to the plan, choosing instead to use the money for general operating expenses. In addition to that amount, the judge's order requires the company to restore lost earnings to the plan.
"Retirement savings are a vital part of ensuring a steady income after we leave the workforce, which is a key reason that Congress chose to give them special protections," said Phyllis C. Borzi, assistant secretary of labor for employee benefits security. "Unfortunately, the individuals entrusted with protecting this plan violated those safeguards."
CFTC Charges Royal Bank of Canada with Multi-Hundred Million Dollar Wash Sale Scheme
CFTC also charges that bank concealed material information from, and made material false statements to, a futures exchangeWashington, DC – The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) today announced the filing of a complaint in federal district court in New York charging theRoyal Bank of Canada (RBC), a Canadian bank and financial services firm doing business in New York, with conducting a multi-hundred million dollar wash sale scheme in connection with exchange-traded stock futures contracts. The CFTC’s complaint also alleges that RBC willfully concealed, and made false statements concerning, material aspects of its wash sale scheme from OneChicago, LLC (OneChicago), an electronic futures exchange, and CME Group, Inc. (CME Group), the entity that exercised the regulatory compliance function for OneChicago.
From at least June 2007 to May 2010, RBC allegedly non-competitively traded hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of narrow based stock index futures (NBI) and single stock futures (SSF) contracts with two of its subsidiaries that RBC reported as “block” trades on OneChicago. The CFTC’s complaint alleges that RBC’s NBI and SSF trading activity, which accounted for the majority of OneChicago’s volume during the relevant period, constituted unlawful non-competitive trades, wash sales and fictitious sales.
Specifically, according to the CFTC’s complaint, RBC’s NBI and SSF trades were not negotiated at arm’s length between the counterparties to the trades, as required by law, but were instead designed and controlled by a small group of senior RBC personnel acting on RBC’s behalf. The trading scheme was allegedly designed as part of RBC’s strategy to realize lucrative Canadian tax benefits from holding certain public companies’ securities in its Canadian and offshore trading accounts.
Prior to each trade, RBC allegedly identified stocks in U.S. and Canadian companies that RBC believed would generate a tax benefit. RBC and a subsidiary allegedly bought and sold these stocks, and also bought and sold NBI or SSF futures contracts written on the stocks opposite each other. According to the complaint, RBC’s futures trading was conducted in a riskless manner that ensured that the positions, profits and losses of each RBC counterparty washed to zero, in disregard of the price discovery principles of the futures markets, which resulted in a financial and position nullity for RBC while allowing it to reap the tax benefits.
In addition, the CFTC’s complaint alleges that, from at least January 2005 to April 2010, RBC unlawfully concealed material information from, and made false statements to, CME Group concerning RBC’s SSF trading activity. Specifically, the complaint alleges that when RBC purported to describe the trades to CME Group, RBC falsely stated that its SSF trading was conducted at arm’s length between the counterparties to the trades, and concealed the fact that the trading strategy was created and managed by a group of senior RBC personnel acting on RBC’s behalf. In addition, the complaint alleges that RBC concealed from CME Group the fact that it had intentionally designed its stock futures trading strategy to exclude non RBC-affiliated parties from RBC’s futures trades.
“A fundamental purpose of the futures markets is to provide an arm’s-length mechanism for market participants to discover prices and shift risks associated with products traded in those markets,” said David Meister, the Director of the CFTC’s Division of Enforcement. “As we allege, RBC not only designed and executed a wash sale scheme that undermined that purpose, it went a step further and misled the exchange into believing that its conduct was lawful. Today’s action should make clear that the CFTC will not hesitate to bring charges against even the most sophisticated market participants who unlawfully exploit the futures markets for their own gain.”
In its continuing litigation, the CFTC seeks civil monetary penalties and a permanent injunction against further violations of the Commodity Exchange Act and the CFTC’s Regulations, as charged.
The following CFTC Division of Enforcement staff members are responsible for this case: Susan Gradman, David Slovick, Lindsey Evans, Joseph Rosenberg, Joseph Patrick, Scott Williamson, Rosemary Hollinger and Richard Wagner.
Commission Charges Texas Bank Holding Company’s CEO and CFO with Misleading Investors about Loan Quality and Financial Health during the Financial Crisis
The Commission announced that it charged Franklin Bank Corp.’s former chief executives for their involvement in a fraudulent scheme designed to conceal the deterioration of the bank’s loan portfolio and inflate its reported earnings during the financial crisis.
The SEC alleges that former Franklin CEO Anthony J. Nocella and CFO J. Russell McCann used aggressive loan modification programs during the third and fourth quarters of 2007 to hide the true amount of Franklin’s non-performing loans and artificially boost its net income and earnings. The Houston-based bank holding company declared bankruptcy in 2008.
“Nocella and McCann used the loan modification scheme like a magic wand to change non-performing loans into performing assets,” said Robert Khuzami, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “Their disclosure and accounting tricks misled investors into believing that Franklin was outperforming other banks during the height of the financial crisis.”
David Woodcock, Director of the SEC’s Fort Worth Regional Office, added, “Franklin’s analysts and investors monitored the quality of the bank’s loan portfolio as a key indicator of its financial health. But Nocella and McCann intentionally concealed the fact that the quality of the bank’s loan portfolio was rapidly deteriorating.”
According to the SEC’s complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas late Thursday, as Franklin’s holdings of delinquent and non-performing loans rose significantly in the summer of 2007, Nocella and McCann instituted three loan modification schemes that caused Franklin to classify such loans as performing. By the end of September 2007, Nocella and McCann had used the loan modification programs to conceal more than $11 million in non-performing single family residential loans and $13.5 million in non-performing residential construction loans.
As a result of the loan modifications, Franklin overstated its third-quarter 2007 net income and earnings by 317% and 77% respectively, and reported that it earned $0.30 per share, of which $0.23 per share was directly attributable to the loan modifications. On May 2, 2008, in a Form 8-K report filed with the SEC, Franklin acknowledged that the accounting for the loan modifications should be revised and that investors should no longer rely upon Franklin’s Form 10-Q for the quarter ended September 30, 2007.
The SEC’s complaint seeks financial penalties, officer-and-director bars, and permanent injunctive relief against Nocella and McCann to enjoin them from future violations of the federal securities laws. The complaint also seeks repayment of bonuses received by Nocella and McCann under Section 304 of the Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002, which allows for “clawbacks” of bonuses received by executives if the company later must restate its earnings.
President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the Associated Press (AP) Luncheon at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C., April 3, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
The President believes this is a make or break moment for the middle class and those working to reach it. That’s why he has put forward a blueprint for an economy built to last - one where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules.
Today at the Associated Press Luncheon, the President discussed how his vision differs with the radical vision laid out in the House Republican Budget:
“This Congressional Republican budget, however, is something different altogether. It’s a Trojan Horse. Disguised as deficit reduction plan, it’s really an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country. It’s nothing but thinly-veiled Social Darwinism. It’s antithetical to our entire history as a land of opportunity and upward mobility for everyone who’s willing to work for it – a place where prosperity doesn’t trickle down from the top, but grows outward from the heart of the middle class. And by gutting the very things we need to grow an economy that’s built to last – education and training; research and development – it’s a prescription for decline.”
The President’s approach to reducing our deficit is a balanced approach that asks the wealthiest to pay their fair share, achieves significant health savings and enacts sensible spending cuts while making the investments we need to have a strong middle class.
Take a look at how the President’s approach and the Congressional Republican policies stack up side by side:
Side by Side - The President’s Budget vs. Republican Budget
It’s a test of fairness. The Congressional Republican budget gives every millionaire and billionaire a tax cut of at least $150,000 paid for by ending Medicare as we know it and gutting programs that help the middle class and our economy. This graphic shows just what that $150,000 means to those programs our economic recovery depends on:
The House Republican Budget – The Budget Fails the Test of Balance, Fairness, and Shared Responsibility
By standing by massive tax cuts we can’t afford paid for by the middle class and seniors, the Republican establishment has rubber stamped the economic policies of the past that caused the financial crisis in the first place. Just take a look at how much the Republican policies of the past added to our deficit:
Changes in Deficit Projections Since January 2001
At this critical moment for our economy and the middle class, the President will continue to stand by a policy of fairness that reflects our core values as a nation.
Dan Pfeiffer is the White House Communications Director
FROM U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
US Labor Department’s OSHA announces new National Emphasis Program for Nursing and Residential Care Facilities
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration today announced a new National Emphasis Program for Nursing and Residential Care Facilities to protect workers from serious safety and health hazards that are common in medical industries. OSHA develops national emphasis programs to focus outreach efforts and inspections on specific hazards in an industry for a three-year period. Through this NEP, OSHA will target nursing homes and residential care facilities in an effort to reduce occupational illnesses and injuries.
In 2010, according to the department's Bureau of Labor Statistics, nursing and residential care facilities experienced one of the highest rates of lost workdays due to injuries and illnesses of all major American industries. The incidence rate for cases involving days away from work in the nursing and residential care sector was 2.3 times higher than that of all private industry as a whole, despite the availability of feasible controls to address hazards. The data further indicate that an overwhelming proportion of the injuries within this sector were attributed to overexertion as well as to slips, trips and falls. Taken together, these two categories accounted for 62.5 percent of cases involving days away from work within this industry in 2010. For this NEP, OSHA will target facilities with a days-away-from-work rate of 10 or higher per 100 full-time workers.
"These are people who have dedicated their lives to caring for our loved ones when they are not well. It is not acceptable that they continue to get hurt at such high rates," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "Our new emphasis program for inspecting these facilities will strengthen protections for society's caretakers."
Health care workers face numerous serious safety and health hazards, and the NEP will provide guidance to OSHA compliance staff on the policies and procedures for targeting and conducting inspections specifically focused on the hazards associated with nursing and residential care. These hazards include exposure to blood and other potentially infectious material; exposure to other communicable diseases such as tuberculosis; ergonomic stressors related to lifting patients; workplace violence; and slips, trips and falls. Workers also may be exposed to hazardous chemicals and drugs.
AMERICAN FORCES PRESS SERVICE
Air Force to Continue Legacy of Innovation, Donley Says
By Jim Garamone
WASHINGTON, April 5, 2012 - More than any other military service, people have viewed the U.S. Air Force as an innovative and "leap ahead" organization, the service's top civilian leader said here today.
The pieces are in place to continue that legacy, Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley told the Defense Writers Group.
Even before the Air Force became a separate service, strategists looked on aviation as a game changer, Donley said. Often the reach exceeded the grasp, but in the long run most of the strategies have proven correct, he added.
In World War I, the use of aviation underwent hothouse growth as a way to leap over the morass of the trenches. In World War II, bombing offensives and control of the air were prerequisites for successful military operations. That war also saw the agility that air transport provided ground and sea forces.
In 1947, the Air Force became a separate service, but took with it the legacy of innovation, Donley said. Intercontinental missiles, globe-spanning bombers, air-to-air refueling, heavy airlift, early warning radars, computers, space operations and drones are just a few of the leap-ahead technologies that airmen adapted and developed.
Now, with fifth-generation fighters, unmanned aerial vehicles, B-2 bombers and more, the service is well-prepared for the future, Donley said. "We're planning for and building those capabilities," he said. "Clearly, we will be fielding a modern tanker [and] a fifth-generation joint strike fighter in numbers."
With the F-22, the United States is the only nation that has fielded a fifth-generation fighter, the Air Force secretary said. "We'll be delivering the F-35 [joint strike fighter] in numbers by the end of the teens," he said.
Innovation is an important theme for the Air Force as budgets become tighter, Donley told the defense writers. "Modernization is an overhanging requirement," he said, "and we have to be in a position to fund when those programs mature and they are ready for production."
All budget decisions keep in mind the F-35, the new tanker aircraft, the next-generation bomber and space-based capabilities to ensure the Air Force can get more capable over time, he said. Also growing are capabilities in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets, space-based opportunities and cyber capabilities, Donley told the group.
The Air Force is looking at other "leap ahead" technologies, Donley said, but he declined to discuss them, noting that the Air Force developed the U-2 spy plane and F-117 stealth fighter in secret.
Modernization of bombers, fighters and mobility forces is one side of the coin, but the Air Force may make its greatest contribution in information management, Donley said.
"A lot of our capabilities are involved with moving information and maintaining advantages in our ability to collect it, to move it and to exploit it for operational purposes," he said. "We've all lived this communications revolution of the past 25 years, and that's where those new innovations and capabilities are finding themselves. It's not just on the platforms of the tanker or bomber or fighter."
The Air Force is on a good path for mobility, bomber and fighter forces, Donley said. The capabilities are built around the communications revolution, he added, and "those are very important capabilities for the joint force moving forward."
FROM DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Thursday, April 5, 2012
Former CIA Officer John Kiriakou Indicted for Allegedly Disclosing Classified Information, Including Covert Officer’s Identity, to Journalists and Lying to CIA’s Publications Board
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Former CIA officer John Kiriakou was indicted today for allegedly repeatedly disclosing classified information to journalists, including the name of a covert CIA officer and information revealing the role of another CIA employee in classified activities, Justice Department officials announced. Kiriakou was charged in a five-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia, after he was initially charged in a criminal complaint and arrested in January 2012.
The indictment charges Kiriakou with one count of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act for allegedly illegally disclosing the identity of a covert officer and with three counts of violating the Espionage Act for allegedly illegally disclosing national defense information to individuals not authorized to receive it. The indictment also charges him with one count of making false statements for allegedly lying to the Publications Review Board of the CIA in an unsuccessful attempt to trick the CIA into allowing him to include classified information in a book he was seeking to publish.
Kiriakou, 47, of Arlington, Va., was a CIA intelligence officer between 1990 and 2004, serving at headquarters and in various classified overseas assignments. He remains free on bond and is expected to be arraigned on April 13, 2012, in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va.
The charges result from an investigation that was triggered by a classified defense filing in January 2009, which contained classified information the defense had not been given through official government channels, and, in part, by the discovery in the spring of 2009 of photographs of certain government employees and contractors in the materials of high-value detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The investigation revealed that, on multiple occasions, one of the journalists to whom Kiriakou is alleged to have illegally disclosed classified information, in turn, disclosed that information to a defense team investigator, and that this information was reflected in the classified defense filing and enabled the defense team to take or obtain surveillance photographs of government personnel. There are no allegations of criminal activity by any members of the defense team for the Guantanamo Bay detainees.
The indictment alleges that Kiriakou made illegal disclosures about two CIA employees and their involvement in classified operations to two journalists on multiple occasions between 2007 and 2009. In one case, by revealing an employee’s name as a CIA officer, Kiriakou allegedly disclosed classified information – as the employee was and remains covert (identified in the indictment as “Covert Officer A”). In the second case, Kiriakou allegedly disclosed the name and contact information of another CIA employee, identified in the indictment as “Officer B,” whose participation in an operation to capture terrorism subject Abu Zubaydah in 2002 was then classified. Kiriakou’s alleged disclosures occurred prior to a June 2008 front-page story inThe New York Times disclosing Officer B’s alleged role in the Abu Zubaydah operation.
The indictment was announced by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, who was appointed Special Attorney in 2010 to supervise the investigation. He announced the charges with James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the Washington Field Office of the FBI. Together, they thanked the CIA for its very substantial assistance in the investigation, as well as the Air Force Office of Special Investigations for its significant assistance.
The Justice Department’s National Security Division, working with the FBI, began the investigation. To avoid the risk of encountering a conflict of interest because of the pending prosecutions of some of the high-value detainees, Mr. Fitzgerald was assigned to supervise the investigation conducted by a team of attorneys from the Southern District of New York, the Northern District of Illinois and the Counterespionage Section of the National Security Division who were not involved in pending prosecutions of the detainees.
The count charging violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, as well as each count of violating the Espionage Act, carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, and making false statements carries a maximum prison term of five years. Each count carries a maximum fine of $250,000. If convicted, the court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal sentencing statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.
An indictment contains only allegations and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The government is being represented in court by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Iris Lan (Southern District of New York) and Mark E. Schneider (Northern District of Illinois), and Trial Attorney Ryan Fayhee, of the Counterespionage Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa Owings (Eastern District of Virginia) will assist in the matter under local court rules.
April 6, 2012
Statement from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on World Health Day, April 7, 2012
This year’s World Health Day theme, “Good health adds life to years”, highlights the need to ensure that people are living well as they live longer. The world’s population is aging at an unprecedented rate. Within the next five years, the number of people over 65 years will outnumber children under age five for the first time in human history. By 2050, there will be more adults over 65 years than children under age 14. Societies that support the active participation of their older populations and promote their health and well-being will be better prepared to adapt to this changing world.
Global aging is a tremendous success story. Today, people are living decades longer and lead generally healthier lives than ever before because of the triumph of public health, medical advancement, and economic development over disease and injury. These gains aren’t only being seen in industrialized countries. The most rapid and dramatic demographic changes are happening in low- and middle-income countries, particularly in Asia, where over half of the world’s older population lives. Not only will developing countries have less time to prepare for aging populations, they will also need to address age-related challenges at lower levels of economic development than industrialized countries.
The right to the best possible health does not diminish as we age. With a longer life comes the increased likelihood of disabilities, chronic illnesses or cognitive impairments like Alzheimer’s disease, which may mean growing needs for long-term care and nursing support.
That’s why our department is working to make sure Americans and people around the world get the care they need to stay healthy as they age. The Affordable Care Act is making prevention benefits available and prescriptions more affordable for seniors and people with disabilities and will soon ensure that people, of all ages, with pre-existing conditions get coverage. The Administration on Aging helps communities, caregivers, and health care providers prepare for an aging society and works internationally to promote the dignity and independence of older people. The National Institute on Aging conducts research to discover what may contribute to healthy aging while addressing the disease and disability sometimes associated with growing older.
Meeting the changing needs of our population involves all sectors of society – that’s why the Departments of Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Transportation are all part of the network of age-friendly communities recently launched by AARP, in affiliation with the World Health Organization. We can build healthy, vibrant communities by working across generations to promote aging in place, and engaging the skills and experience of our older populations.
At HHS, we are pleased to join the World Health Organization and people around the world in answering World Health Day's call to action, and to work closely with the international community to improve health and well-being for older populations at home and abroad.
FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
The following post appears courtesy of the Civil Rights Division
Last week, a federal court in Mississippi issued an order requiring the public school district in Cleveland, Miss., to end the racial segregation of students in its schools, and to eliminate racial disparities in the composition of faculty at schools across the District.
In May 2011, the Department of Justice asked the Court to find that the District had violated its desegregation obligations, noting that while the District had been governed by desegregation orders for more than 42 years, predominantly black schools located to the east of the railroad tracks that run through the District had never been desegregated. The United States further asserted that the ratio of black and white faculty at numerous District schools reinforced the reputation of those schools in the community as “white” or “black” schools.
The court agreed with the Department of Justice that Eastside High School – one of only two high schools in the District – was formerly a segregated black school by law, and “has never been anything other than a racially identifiable African American school” since. The court similarly determined that there was “no data” to indicate that D.M. Smith Middle School, one of the District’s two middle schools and also located on the east side of the railroad tracks, “was ever meaningfully desegregated.” The court observed in its decision that these two predominantly black schools are only 1.2 miles away from a high school and middle school with a substantial population of white students located to the west of the railroad tracks.
With respect to the racial composition of faculty and staff, the court noted that school districts are prohibited from assigning to any individual school a ratio of black to white faculty and administrators that is so imbalanced as to support a perception that the school is a “black” or “white” school. In this case, the court found that the ratio of black and white faculty at every school in the District deviated from the district-wide faculty ratio.
Accordingly, the court ordered the district to submit a proposed plan to desegregate Eastside High School and D.M. Smith Middle School, and to integrate the faculty at each of its schools, by May 15, 2012. The United States will then have 30 days to review the plan and confer with the District to resolve any objections to the plan. If no resolution is reached, the United States can file written objections to the District’s plan within 20 days.
The violations identified by the court in this case are not unique to the Cleveland, Miss.,schools. The Civil Rights Division continues to enforce desegregation orders in 200 school districts, many of which raise issues similar to those found in this case. For example, the Division entered into a consent decree with the Valdosta, Georgia schools last month addressing that school district’s failure to desegregate the faculty at one of its schools. In January, the federal district court for the Southern District of Mississippi approved another consent order between the United States and the Wayne County school district addressing concerns about classroom segregation and impermissible transfers by white students from majority-black to majority-white schools.
In all of these cases, and in the many others like them, the Division has taken seriously its obligation to ensure that the last remnants of school segregation are eliminated “root and branch” from all of our public schools. Enforcement of the court orders mandating the desegregation of school districts formerly segregated by law is a top priority of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
We will not waver in our commitment to ensure that each and every school district eliminates the vestiges of separate black and white schools. We look forward to working collaboratively with the Cleveland School District and members of the community to implement the court’s order in a manner that fosters the continued growth and success of all students in the district.
Statement by Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis on March employment numbers
WASHINGTON — Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis issued the following statement on the March 2012 Employment Situation report released today:
"Our nation's labor market added 121,000 private sector jobs in the month of March, while the unemployment rate fell to 8.2 percent.
"For 25 consecutive months, we've registered private sector job growth. Some months we are seeing tremendous job gains, while other months we are seeing more modest gains. But the trend line is clear: Our economy is growing, and our recovery is durable.
"Since this president took office, we've added more than 4 million jobs to an economy that was bleeding 800,000 a month under the last administration. That's a noteworthy achievement.
"We've added nearly half a million manufacturing jobs since February 2010. This week, major U.S. carmakers announced that their U.S. sales rose last month to the highest level in at least four years. When President Obama took office, the U.S. auto industry was on the verge of collapse. Since he bet big on the American autoworker, the industry has seen a complete turnaround, adding more than 230,000 jobs since the summer of 2009.
"However, the fact that some Americans are still leaving the labor force shows that we cannot rest on our laurels and expect to coast our way back to prosperity. This administration continues to fight for programs that will support and train our youth and displaced workers. Our recovery will only be as lasting as our commitment to the American worker. Now that the country is on a steady path toward recovery, we need to invest in community colleges and job training programs that prepare our workers for 21st century jobs."
Scientists at the H.J. Andrews LTER site, one of 26 such NSF sites, study water resources.
Long-Term Ecological Research Reveals Causes and Consequences of Environmental Change
Photo Credit: NSF H.J. Andrews LTER Site
April 6, 2012
As global temperatures rise, the most threatened ecosystems are those that depend on a season of snow and ice, scientists from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network have found.
"The vulnerability of cool, wet areas to climate change is striking," says scientist Julia Jones of Oregon State University and the H.J. Andrews LTER site in Oregon.
Jones is the lead author of a paper in the April issue of the journal BioScience; the issue features results from more than 30 years of long-term ecological research.
In semi-arid regions like the Southwestern United States, mountain snowpacks are the dominant source of water for human consumption and irrigation.
Research by Jones and colleagues shows that as average temperatures increase in these snowy ecosystems, a significant amount of stream water is lost to the atmosphere.
The study involves more than thirty years of data from 19 forested watersheds across the country. All the study sites provide water to major agricultural areas and to medium and large cities.
But, like many long-term studies, this one revealed a surprise.
Water flow only decreased in the research sites with winter snow and ice.
"Streams in dry forested ecosystems seem more resilient to warming," says Jones. "These ecosystems conserve more water as the climate warms, keeping streamflow within expected bounds."
A range of factors can affect watersheds, from human influence past and present, to El Niño climate oscillations.
"Long-term records are finally long enough to begin to separate the effects of each," Jones says.
"This research shows both the vulnerability and resilience of headwater streams. Such nuanced insights are crucial to effective management of public water supplies."
Surprising and transformative results are common in the NSF LTER network, which comprises 26 sites in North America, Puerto Rico, the island of Moorea and Antarctica.
The network has amassed more than 30 years of data on environmental recovery and change.
In contrast to most such research, which spans only a few years, LTER studies are sustained over decades, documenting gradual changes and long-term variability that often cannot be revealed by short-term studies.
"Each additional year of LTER data helps us to better understand how ecosystems respond to environmental change," says Scott Collins, an ecologist at the University of New Mexico and principal investigator at the Sevilleta LTER site in New Mexico.
"Such understanding provides valuable information for federal agencies, land managers and legislators who want to develop responsible policies to deal with a rapidly changing world."
The results reveal that the LTER network's diversity of long-term research approaches--including detailed observations and experiments, environmental gradient studies and complex simulation models--can contribute to new solutions in an era of unprecedented environmental change.
"How can we evaluate the ability of natural ecosystems to sustain critical ecological processes and the human societies that depend on them?" asks Saran Twombly, NSF LTER program director.
"LTER research demonstrates the unique and powerful insights that emerge from long-term studies and the analysis of long-term data," she says. "The results reach beyond scientists to engage the public and decision-makers."
In addition to deciphering ecosystem-level clues, LTER research can identify the biological winners and losers in a changing climate.
"The cryosphere, or the part of the Earth affected by snow and ice, has been shrinking," says scientist Andrew Fountain of Portland State University in Oregon and the McMurdo Dry Valleys LTER site.
"Populations of microbes, plants and animals that depend on snow and ice will decrease if they are unable to migrate. But life that finds the cryosphere too hostile should expand."
In shallower snow, he explains, animals such as white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk and caribou expend less energy and can more easily escape predators.
"One species' loss can be another species' gain," says Fountain.
The retrospective look at the LTER network comes at a time when institutions charged with stewarding the nation's environmental health are increasingly being challenged to provide a basis for their decision-making.
An article by scientist Charles Driscoll of New York's Syracuse University and the Hubbard Brook LTER site in New Hampshire shows that LTER research has contributed to important decisions over the past decade, including state and regional forest and watershed management policies.
"LTER datasets and experiments help inform local- to national-scale decisions on climate change, pollution, fire, land conversion and other pressing environmental challenges," says Driscoll. "This creates a crucial bridge between the scientific community and society."
Demand for natural resources is increasing with the global human population, which the United Nations projects will reach at least nine billion by 2050.
Long-term ecosystem data can help researchers simulate a region's future based on a range of possible human actions.
"For example, how might forest ecosystems change if more people begin to use wood to heat their homes?" asks Jonathan Thompson of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Va., and the Harvard Forest LTER site in Massachusetts. Thompson is the lead author of a paper in the volume.
Each year, some 2,000 scientists and students carry out more than 200 large-scale LTER field experiments to find new answers.
The resulting datasets are freely and publicly available online.
"LTER sites are providing transformative information about the causes and consequences of climate and environmental changes to ecosystems," says David Garrison, NSF program director for coastal and ocean LTER sites.
"They are some of our best hopes for providing the sound scientific underpinnings needed to guide policy for the challenges of future environmental change."
MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. – Two cutting-edge NASA prototype robots will be
featured during a "Robot Block Party" at Stanford University,
Stanford, Calif. from 1 – 6 p.m. PDT, Wednesday, April 11, 2012. The
Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School is hosting the
free public event as part of the third annual National Robotics Week.
Robotic technology from the Intelligent Robotics Group (IRG) at NASA's
Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., will be on display,
including a volleyball-sized free-flying satellite, known as "Smart
SPHERES." Also featured will be a prototype robot based on a
dynamically-controlled "tensegrity structure" – a collection of rods
connected and suspended by tensioned cables – called "TenseBot."
The International Space Station currently houses three Synchronized
Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES)
equipped with a Nexus™ S Smartphone made by Samsung Electronics and
using Google’s Android™ platform. Later this year, the IRG will
remotely control the Smart SPHERES from the Mission Control Center at
NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston. The test will simulate a mobile
inspection of the space station to see how well the free-flying
robots can collect data using the smartphone's camera and sensors.
The TenseBot will be used to explore how tensegrity structures, which
are typically built as architectural art exhibits, can be controlled
by computers. Researchers in the IRG are interested in tension-based
structures because they have great potential to save space, weight
and energy and can be used for a variety of tasks on NASA's future
space missions, including deploying antennas, aligning large payloads
and pointing solar arrays.
Other robotic technology on display at the Robot Block Party includes
robots that drive cars, climb walls, assemble delicate parts, and
help perform medical procedures.
The Robot Block Party will be held in the Volkswagen Automotive
Innovation Lab at 473 Oak Rd, off Stock Farm Rd, Stanford. Park in
Parking Structure 5, or adjacent lots.
National Robotics Week is organized by the Robotics Caucus of the U.S.
Congress and leading robotics companies, schools, and organizations.
Friday, April 6, 2012
FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
20th Anniversary of the Siege of Sarajevo and U.S. Recognition of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Press Statement Mark C. Toner
Acting Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson Washington, DC
April 6, 2012
Today, April 6, marks the 20th anniversary of the start of the siege of Sarajevo, the longest siege of the 20th century. For four long years, Serb forces bombarded the city and sniped at the residents of the famously multiethnic city, targeting and killing 11,541 men, women and children of all ethnicities. Today we pause to remember them. We also pay tribute to the resilience shown by the residents of Sarajevo throughout the siege, and reflect upon the terrible price they paid as the international community struggled to develop an effective response.
On April 7, 1992, the United States recognized Bosnia and Herzegovina as a sovereign and independent country, beginning a friendship and partnership that continues today. Bosnians can be proud of all that their country has achieved in the past two decades. Bosnia and Herzegovina is working towards activation of its Membership Action Plan with NATO and has signed a Stabilization and Association Agreement with the European Union. The United States will continue to support Bosnia and Herzegovina on its path toward full integration into Euro-Atlantic and European institutions.
FROM: AMERICAN FORCES PRESS SERVICE
Navy Commander Provides Statement on F-18 Crash
From a Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic News Release
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va., April 6, 2012 - A senior Navy officer expressed his concern for the community and thanked emergency responders following today's crash here of a two-seater F/A-18D Hornet aircraft assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 106.
Both aircrew safely ejected from the aircraft, officials said. The crew's squadron is based at nearby Naval Air Station Oceana.
The Navy is coordinating with local authorities, officials said.
"My thoughts and prayers are with our citizens and families who have been impacted by the tragic crash today in Virginia Beach by an aircraft from NAS Oceana," Navy Adm. John C. Harvey Jr., commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command based at Norfolk, Va., said in a statement issued today.
"I deeply regret that some in our community have lost their homes, and I, like many, pray for the well-being of all," Harvey added.
Initial reports indicate that at approximately 12:05 p.m., the jet crashed just after takeoff at a location just off of the base. News reports also say the stricken jet struck some apartment buildings located near the base. Reports say several civilians were being treated at a local medical center.
In his statement, Harvey expressed his gratitude to the citizens of Virginia Beach and the Mayfair Mews Apartments, as well as Virginia Beach's first responders "for their immediate and heroic response to take care of our aircrew after they ejected and all at the scene of the mishap."
Harvey said all resources "are being made available to the City of Virginia Beach as we all deal with the impacts and recovery from this terrible mishap."
"We will continue to work directly with the City of Virginia Beach and continue to provide all possible assistance," the admiral added.
Harvey said a complete investigation into the cause of the crash will be made. He also pledged to "share all information we have as soon as we are able to do so."
VFA-106 serves as the East Coast Fleet Replacement Squadron. The unit's mission is to train Navy and Marine Corps F/A-18 replacement pilots and weapon systems officers to support fleet commitments.
FROM U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine Meets with Russian Special Presidential Representative for International Cultural Cooperation Mikhail E. Shvydkoy
Media Note Office of the Spokesperson Washington, DC
April 6, 2012
On April 6, Under Secretary Tara Sonenshine welcomed Special Presidential Representative Mikhail Shvydkoy at the State Department to discuss future plans for collaboration in the areas of education, media, sports and professional exchanges. The two senior officials jointly chair the U.S.-Russia Presidential Commission’s Education, Culture, Sports, and Media (ECSM) Working Group. Presidents Obama and Medvedev established the U.S.-Russia Presidential Commission (BPC) in July 2009 to improve coordination between both countries, to address shared challenges, and to explore new opportunities for partnership in areas of mutual interest. The ECSM Working Group is focused on developing personal connections and innovative collaboration to promote new dialogue and understanding between the people of the United States and Russia.
Under Secretary Sonenshine took this opportunity to congratulate Special Presidential Representative Shvydkoy on his contributions to the success of the ECSM Working Group. Over the past three years, more than 100 different groups of American musicians, dancers, artists, and writers have introduced Russians to the depth and diversity of U.S. culture as part of the “American Seasons” in Russia program. U.S. audiences similarly enjoyed the rich heritage of Russian culture through performances and artistic events in the United States. Both the United States and Russia have worked together to promote educational exchanges at all levels. In February 2012, they signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Educational Cooperation that will foster future exchanges.
Under Secretary Sonenshine and Special Presidential Representative Shvydkoy also discussed plans for the Media Sub-Working Group to develop our first young media professionals exchange, operated by the International Center for Journalists and the Moscow Union of Journalists, with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. In the coming months, the Education, Culture, Sports, and Media Working Group looks forward to working in partnership to increase opportunities for educational exchanges. The next meeting of the U.S. and Russian Sub-Working Group is scheduled to take place in Washington, D.C., in October 2012.
FROM AMERICAN FORCES PRESS SERVICE
Panetta, Singapore Defense Chief Affirm Deeper Cooperation
By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 5, 2012 - The Defense Department's move to deploy U.S. combat ships to Singapore and raise the level of joint exercises will deepen the bilateral military relationship, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Singapore Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen said in a joint statement after a Pentagon meeting yesterday.
Panetta and Ng, in Washington on his first official visit as Singapore's defense minister, discussed defense and security issues and affirmed the nations' longstanding bilateral defense relationship, the statement said.
Both underscored the shared belief that a strong U.S. presence in the Asia-Pacific region enhances regional stability and security.
The defense leaders also discussed the proposal for the United States to deploy up to four littoral combat ships to Singapore. The ships will be deployed on a rotational basis and will not be based in Singapore. The deployment signals U.S. commitment to the region, the joint statement said, and enhances the ability to train and engage with regional partners.
The rotational deployments are one part of the U.S.-Singapore partnership documented in the 2005 Strategic Framework Agreement, Pentagon spokeswoman Navy Cmdr. Leslie Hull-Ryde said. "This marks a significant movement in terms of our cooperation with Singapore," she added. "The specific details related to this unprecedented engagement are still being discussed."
Panetta and Ng noted progress made since 2005 in deepening bilateral defense cooperation, and recognized the value of practical interaction among regional militaries, including exercises and exchanges, in building trust.
The defense leaders agreed to increase the complexity of bilateral exercises such as Commando Sling to enhance interoperability between their armed forces. The annual Commando Sling series began in 1990 to provide combined air combat training for fighter units from the air forces of the United States and Singapore.
The exercise allows units to sharpen air combat skills, improve procedures for conducting air operations at a non-U.S. base, and enhance partnerships.
The United States and Singapore will enhance joint urban training, using installations such as Singapore's Murai Urban Training Facility, which is built to resemble a typical town. It has residential, commercial and industrial districts that feature bus stops, traffic lights and overhead bridges.
The United States and Singapore will continue to explore joint initiatives to facilitate U.S. engagement in the region, the statement said.
Near the end of the meeting, Ng expressed appreciation for U.S. support of training detachments Singapore's military has in the United States. Panetta expressed gratitude for Singapore's important contributions to stabilization and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, and to international counterpiracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden.
Navy Jet Crashes in Virginia Beach
From a Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic News Release
NORFOLK, Va., April 6, 2012 - An F/A-18D assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 106 at Naval Air Station Oceana crashed today in Virginia Beach, Va.
Initial reports indicate that the jet crashed just off the base shortly after takeoff at about 12:05 p.m. EDT.
Both crew members safely ejected from the aircraft.
Strike Fighter Squadron 106 serves as the Navy's East Coast fleet replacement squadron. Its mission is to train Navy and Marine Corps F/A-18 replacement pilots and weapon systems officers to support fleet commitments.
The Navy is coordinating with local authorities.
FROM U.S. EXPORT-IMPORT BANK
Ex-Im Bank Approves $84.8 Million for Brazilian Airline Maintenance
Ex-Im financing supports highly-skilled Delta jobs in Atlanta
Washington, D.C. – The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) today announced that the board of directors has approved a Final Commitment for an $84.8 million loan guarantee to VRG Linhas Aereas S.A. (GOL), a Brazilian airline. This financing will support the export of engine maintenance services by Delta TechOps, a subsidiary of Delta Air Lines, headquartered in Atlanta, Ga.
GOL engines will be shipped from São Paulo City to Atlanta for heavy maintenance to be performed by Delta Air Lines’ maintenance, repair, and overhaul unit. In December 2010, GOL signed a contract with Delta Air Lines to perform heavy maintenance on GOL’s CFM56-7B engines that are installed on the airline’s Boeing 737 next generation aircraft fleet. As part of the contract, Delta TechOps will provide GOL with up to 253 scheduled engine removals and additional unscheduled removals. Ex-Im Bank’s guarantee will cover the first two years of GOL’s five-year contract with Delta TechOps.
“Ex-Im Bank’s financing will support high quality, high wage, technical jobs for Delta employees in Atlanta,” said Fred P. Hochberg, chairman and president of Ex-Im Bank. “GOL is a long-time Ex-Im customer, and I’m pleased that they have chosen to have their engines repaired by highly-skilled American workers. This transaction truly highlights why Ex-Im financing is so critically important to U.S. businesses such as Delta.”
“GOL’s maintenance agreement with Delta Air Lines is essential to supporting our existing fleet, which has grown along with our airline operations in recent years,” said Constantino de Oliveira Junior, Chief Executive Officer of GOL. “The availability of Ex-Im Bank supported financing was an important consideration that led us to choose a U.S. provider for these important services.”
About Ex-Im Bank:
Ex-Im Bank is an independent federal agency that helps create and maintain U.S. jobs by filling gaps in private export financing at no cost to American taxpayers. In the past five years, Ex-Im Bank has earned for U.S. taxpayers $1.9 billion above the cost of operations. The Bank provides a variety of financing mechanisms, including working capital guarantees, export-credit insurance and financing to help foreign buyers purchase U.S. goods and services.
FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
Health care law expands support for children and families
To improve the health and development of children, 10 states received grants to provide early childhood supports and home visits to families who volunteer to receive these services, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced today.
These awards are part of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV) created by the Affordable Care Act. The nearly $72 million in funding announced today will allow states to expand or establish their home visiting program.
“Home visits from an experienced counselor can help provide skills and links to important services and early childhood education,” said Secretary Sebelius.
Today’s awards include states that have demonstrated a commitment to operating successful early childhood systems for pregnant women, parents, caregivers and children from birth-to-eight years of age. The awards also include states that are developing new home visiting programs, using proven strategies, to support families and improve health and developmental outcomes.
“These investments will give states a significant boost in their efforts to keep children safe and healthy,” said Mary K. Wakefield, Ph.D., R.N., administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
HHS’ Administration for Children and Families (ACF) collaborates with HRSA on the implementation of the home visiting program. The two agencies provide states guidance and assistance in early learning and development, the prevention and identification of child maltreatment, the improvement of maternal and child health outcomes, and family engagement.
“Helping children and families succeed involves many approaches and voluntary home visits play a key role in strengthening families and putting children on solid footing,” said George Sheldon, the ACF acting assistant secretary.
The MIECHV program is one part of the Obama administration’s strong commitment to improve health outcomes for America’s children and families.
|Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment||Denver|
|State of Connecticut Department of Public Health||Hartford|
|Iowa Department of Public Health||Des Moines|
|Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Department for Public Health||Frankfort|
|Minnesota Department of Health||St. Paul|
|New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services||Trenton|
|Commonwealth of Pennsylvania||Harrisburg|
|Tennessee Department of Health||Nashville|
|Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Health||Richmond|
|Washington State Department of Early Learning||Olympia|