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Saturday, May 12, 2012

"BATTLESHIP" THE MOVIE

FROM:  U.S. NAVY
Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class David Hooper, films an interview between a KTLA Channel 5 reporter and writers of the movie "Battleship," Jon and Erich Hoeber, on the "blue" carpet at the premiere of the film. Universal Pictures gave service members the celebrity treatment alongside cast members of the movie and invited them to attend the special screening of the film prior to its release in more than 3,000 theaters nationwide. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Trevor Welsh (Released)

GENERAL DEMPSEY SAYS LAW OF THE SEA CONVENTION SHOULD BE RATIFIED


Photo:  U.S. Department of Defense



F

ROM:  AMERICAN FORCES PRESS SERVICE






Dempsey Urges Ratification of Law of the Sea Convention

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 9, 2012 - Ratifying the Law of the Sea Convention is the right thing to do for American national security, the U.S. military's highest-ranking officer said here today.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Pew Charitable Trusts gathering on the treaty that he joins each chairman since the document was signed in 1994 to urge the Senate to ratify it.
Republican and Democratic administrations have both urged approval. And, Dempsey maintains, the treaty is good for American military rights.

"It codifies navigational rights and freedoms essential for our global mobility," he said. "It helps sustain our combat forces in the field."

The treaty also guarantees the right of innocent passage through foreign territorial seas, the right of transit passage through international straits and the right to exercise high seas freedoms in foreign exclusive economic zones — all without permission or prior notice.

In addition, the treaty also affirms the sovereign immunity of U.S. warships and other public vessels. "And it gives us the framework to counter excessive claims by states seeking to illegally restrict movement of vessels and aircraft," Dempsey said. "These are all rights and capabilities that we want and that we need. In fact, they are of our own making. We negotiated them into the convention to advance our national security interests."
The United States could, of course, not ratify the treaty and depend on the same strategy an infant republic used more than 200 years ago, the chairman said. "At that time, we commissioned the Navy's first ships to safeguard our seaborne merchants against the Barbary pirates," he said.

The force of arms should not be America's only national security instrument, the chairman said, and the Law of the Sea Convention provides an additional way to navigate an increasingly complex international security environment.

"Ratification now represents an unprecedented opportunity," the chairman said. "The convention offers an opportunity to exercise global security leadership."

More than 160 nations are now a party to the convention. "Even so, the world looks to us for leadership," he said. "We have the world's largest and most capable navy, largest economy, and the largest exclusive economic zone. We will become the leader within the convention as soon as we enter it. And that's never been more important."
Dempsey said that on, over and under the oceans, nations are making competing claims or posturing themselves to restrict the movement of others, and these actions affect the United States, its allies and friends.
"As a party to the convention, we can help resolve conflicts, strengthen alliances and foster innovative partnerships," he said. "We have never been better poised – or more welcomed – to lead a global security order benefiting all peaceful nations."

The convention secures legitimate global freedom of access for the U.S. armed forces, Dempsey told the audience. "Today, we rely on customary international law and assert it through physical presence – warships and aircraft transiting and challenging illegal restrictions," he said. "Some say this alone is sufficient."
But this works against U.S. rights in that nations will continue to try and bend customary law to restrict movement on the ocean, he said, and it puts U.S. ships, subs, aircraft and personnel at risk to continually challenge these claims.

"We are strong enough for this role. We can and will continue to defend our interests, and we'll do that with force when necessary," Dempsey said. "But we can also be smart. We can leverage law to mitigate the need for physical assertion. Under the Law of the Sea Convention, we can be both strong and smart."
Ratifying the convention also strengthens the U.S. position in Asia, the chairman said.

Finally, Dempsey said, joining the Law of the Sea Convention will strengthen America's strategic position in Asia. "The Western Pacific is a mosaic of competing claims for territory and resources," the chairman said. "This is a critical region where, as a Pacific nation, our security and economic prosperity are inextricably linked."
The United States wants to mitigate any conflict in the Pacific, Dempsey said. "The convention gives us another tool to effectively resolve conflicts at every level," he added. "It provides a common language, and therefore a better opportunity, to settle disputes with cooperation instead of cannon fire."

SEC CHARGES APARTMENTS AMERICA AND ITS OWNERS IN SCHEME TO DEFRAUD INVESTORS


Photo:  Wikimedia
FROM:  U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
May 11, 2012
On May 10, 2012, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged a California-based real estate company and its owners with defrauding potential investors by boasting a false company track record to tout their purported real estate expertise while concealing the bankruptcy of their previous company.

The SEC alleges that Michael J. Stewart, John J. Packard, and Randall A. Smith created Apartments America, LLC to pool investor proceeds from an unregistered offering of securities and invest primarily in apartment buildings in Southern California and Arizona. They solicited potential investors through a website, Internet advertisements and postings, cold calls, solicitation letters, and advertising in a national newspaper. They boasted a track record of producing more than a 60 percent annual return on investment and creating more than $100 million in net equity.

According to the SEC’s complaint filed in federal court in Orange County, California, what potential investors did not know is that Apartments America was a new company with no assets and no track record. Stewart, Packard, and Smith were merely using the same investment strategy and selective statistics from their prior bankrupt company that had defaulted on $91.6 million in promissory notes held by 647 investors.

According to the SEC’s complaint, Stewart lives in San Clemente, California, and Packard and Smith each live in Long Beach, California. Together they formed Apartments America in September 2009, just three months after Pacific Property Assets (PPA) filed for bankruptcy. Stewart and Packard owned PPA and Smith worked for them. In the months prior to defaulting on its promissory notes, PPA was actively soliciting investor funds and promising an annual interest rate of 24 to 30 percent.

The SEC alleges that under Apartments America, whose securities have never been registered with the SEC, Stewart, Packard, and Smith similarly solicited investor funds with the same plan to purchase apartment buildings. But they engaged in a concerted scheme to distance themselves from PPA and its bankruptcy. In communications to potential investors, they selectively and misleadingly used some of PPA’s historic investments and touted them as Apartments America data. For instance, they arrived at their fabricated statistic of a 60 percent annual return on investment by cherry-picking PPA’s successful property investments while omitting the losses incurred on more than 50 properties in PPA’s portfolio at the time of its bankruptcy. Stewart, Packard, and Smith also misrepresented that they had created more than $100 million in net equity by calculating some of PPA’s property investments while omitting information about its bankruptcy and the losses on its bankrupt properties. They also falsely represented to potential investors that they were managing a property portfolio valued at more than $200 million when that in fact referred to PPA’s bankrupt property portfolio, which was actually being managed by the bankruptcy trustee.


NEW ENGLAND CRIME BOSS SENTENCED FOR RACKETEERING AND EXTORTION



FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE 
Friday, May 11, 2012
Former New England Organized Crime Leader and Associate Sentenced for Racketeering and Extortion Activities

WASHINGTON – Luigi “Louie” Manocchio, an admitted former boss and underboss of the New England La Cosa Nostra (NELCN), was sentenced today to 66 months in federal prison for his leadership of and participation in a racketeering and extortion conspiracy that demanded and received between $800,000 and $1.5 million in “protection” payments from several Rhode Island adult entertainment businesses from 1995-2009.
Raymond R. “Scarface” Jenkins, an admitted associate of the NELCN, was also sentenced today to 37 months in prison for his admitted participation in a conspiracy to extort $25,000 from a Rhode Island individual and his wife by using implied threats of violence, including a visit to the individual’s residence.

The sentences were announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Peter F. Neronha, U.S. Attorney for the District of Rhode Island; Richard DesLauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Boston Field Office; Colonel Steven G. O’Donnell, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police; and Providence, R.I., Public Safety Commissioner Steven M. Pare.

Manocchio and Jenkins were sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge William E. Smith in the District of Rhode Island.  Manocchio, 84, was also sentenced to serve three years of supervised release following his prison sentence.  Jenkins, 47, was sentenced to serve three years of supervised release following his prison sentence.

Manocchio pleaded guilty on Feb. 22, 2012, to one count of racketeering conspiracy and Jenkins pleaded guilty on Feb. 23, 2012, to one count of conspiracy to violate the Hobbs Act by participating in extortion.

Manocchio and Jenkins are among eight Rhode Island men charged in a second superseding indictment returned on Sept. 22, 2011, for crimes involving racketeering and extortion.  Edward “Eddy” Lato, an NELCN leader; NELCN member Alfred “Chippy” Scivola; and NELCN associates Albino “Albie” Folcarelli, Thomas Iafrate and Richard Bonafiglia pleaded guilty to participating in racketeering and extortion activities.  Iafrate was sentenced on Dec. 12, 2011, to 30 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release.  The remaining defendants are awaiting sentencing.

An eighth defendant named in the second superseding indictment, Theodore Cardillo, pleaded not guilty to three counts of racketeering conspiracy and three counts of extortion conspiracy.  He is awaiting trial.

A third superseding indictment was returned in this matter on April 24, 2012, which charges Anthony L. Dinunzio, 53, of East Boston, Mass., the alleged acting leader of the NELCN, with one count each of racketeering and extortion, and five counts of travel in aid of racketeering.  He entered a plea of not guilty on April 25, 2012, and was ordered detained while awaiting trial.

GOVERNMENT SAYS "WHOLE-OF-GOVERNMENT" BOOSTS EUCOM'S EFFECTIVENESS


FROM:  AMERICAN FORCES PRESS SERVICE
Ambassador Lawrence Butler, U.S. European Command's deputy to the commander and foreign policy advisor, discusses regional security issues with U.S. Ambassador to Latvia Judith Garber, during the Baltic Sea Region Senior Leadership Seminar at the Eucom headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, April 20, 2012. U.S. European  

'Whole-of-Government' Focus Boosts Eucom's Effectiveness’
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
STUTTGART, Germany, May 11, 2012 - Some staff members at U.S. European Command, the oldest and in some people's view, most traditional of the U.S. combatant commands, thought the "whole-of-government" concept introduced about three years ago was nothing but a fad.

Mike Anderson, acting director of Eucom's Interagency Partnering Directorate, said he knew differently from the start. The idea of promoting interagency collaboration that leverages all elements of national power to address challenges in Europe and Eurasia simply made too much sense to fade with the times, he said.
Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis had already seen the benefits of interagency collaboration as commander of U.S. Southern Command when he arrived here three years ago to take the helm at Eucom. Because the Eucom staff interfaces with NATO and European militaries , Stavridis opted to assign a Napoleonic "J code" to the command's new interagency partnership directorate to help synchronize it with the NATO structure and elevate its stature within his own command.

Southcom, U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Pacific Command have since adopted the same J9 model, Anderson noted. U.S. Northern Command, Centcom and U.S. Special Operations Command all also have standalone interagency directorates, although they do not designate them as "J9" staffs.

"It's one thing organizationally to make a change, but the more important thing, in my humble opinion, is the cultural change," Anderson said during an interview with American Forces Press Service. The cultural change didn't come overnight at Eucom, he admitted, but thanks to the commander's emphasis, visible contributions, and repeated reinforcement, it has taken hold.

"Two-and-a-half years into it, it is almost second nature," Anderson said. "The mindset has changed."

What's accelerated that, he said, is more than simply command emphasis. The proof has been in the pudding, the value that comes from incorporating interagency partners directly into the staff.

Stavridis' civilian deputy to the commander, Ambassador Larry Butler, brings a State Department perspective as he advises Stavridis regarding the command's missions and activities.

In addition, the Interagency Partnering Directorate -- a staff of about 30 military members, DOD civilians and agency partners from throughout the federal government -- contributes specialized expertise throughout the command. The directorate hosts representatives from the departments of State, Justice, Energy and Treasury, the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection, the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Agency for International Development, Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance and the Justice Department's International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program.

This sprinkling of "soft power" and law enforcement representatives throughout the command brings "vital depth and breadth to our command, its operations and our outreach across the continent," Stavridis said. That, he said, contributes directly to the mission and increases Eucom's effectiveness and ability to speak and act across various organizational cultures.

"There's been a huge return on investment," Anderson agreed. "This military headquarters of nearly 1,000 people has realized that the relatively small investment of 30 people in this directorate makes the plans they are working on and the exercises they are training on more realistic and better informed than when they previously were informed by just a single, Defense Department vantage point."

Interagency partnering has become a foundation for applying "Smart Defense" at time when budgets may be shrinking, but threats aren't, Stavridis recently told Congress.
Today's complex security environment exceeds the capacity of any single government organization, the admiral told the Senate Armed Services Committee in March.
"It demands whole-of-government solutions that draw strength and effectiveness from the collective judgment, training and experience of the many public servants in government who, working together, can effectively synchronize the elements of national power," Stavridis said.

And particularly in light of constrained resources, he said, there's clear recognition of the benefits of bringing both "soft" and "hard" power to the table. "At European Command, we believe that 'no one of us is as smart as all of us, thinking and working together,'" Stavridis told the Senate panel.

The interagency partners' contributions extend far beyond their representation on the Eucom staff, Anderson explained. Each has direct reach-back to other experts within their agencies, as well as working relationships with their counterparts in U.S. embassies in Europe and Eurasia. Besides hosting federal agency partners, the J9 directorate serves as the command's lead for interacting with international and non-governmental organizations, the private sector, think tanks and academia.

The presence of other agency expertise at a military command has had a huge payoff at Eucom, enhancing the support it's able to provide allied and partner nations. For example, Eastern European nations that come to Eucom for help in securing their borders -- not a traditional U.S. military mission -- can tap into expertise from other U.S. agencies that specialize in that function.

"Now, we have border-security experts right down the hallway," Anderson said, including Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and DEA. And when needed, they can call on their respective agency headquarters to dispatch "A teams" to advise and train partner nations.

"So when you talk about 'bang for the buck,' there's been a realization on the staff here that by having this relatively small footprint of interagency partners, we have so much more reach-back to the rest of the 'whole-of-government,'" Anderson said.
As the United States draws down its forces in Afghanistan and shifts it focus to preserving strategic partnerships with European allies, Anderson said the "strategic bridges" established throughout the U.S. interagency can't be forgotten.

"We also don't want to lose the strategic partnerships we have developed with our own federal partners," he said. "They are strategic partners as well, and our strengthened relationships with them were also born of crisis, after 9/11. And they, too, will be critical to our country as we face the future."

TESTING THE COLD TEMPERATURES OF SPACE



Testing Webb Telescope‘s OSIM and BIA Instruments – The OTE (Optical Telescope Element) Simulator or OSIM wrapped in a silver blanket on a platform, being lowered down into a vacuum chamber (called the Space Environment Simulator, or SES) by a crane to be tested to withstand the cold temperatures of space. (Photo Credit NASA Goddard/Chris Gunn

U.S. RENEWS SECURITY RELATIONS WITH BAHRAIN


FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
Photo Credit:  Vladimir Arshinov([User:Vladimir_arsh GFDL CC-BY-SA-3.0 
Renewal of U.S. Security Cooperation With Bahrain
Press Statement Victoria Nuland
Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson Washington, DC
May 11, 2012
Today, the Administration informed Congress that for national security interests we have decided to release additional items and services for the Bahrain Defense Force, the Coast Guard, and the National Guard for the purpose of helping Bahrain maintain its external defense capabilities. Bahrain is an important security partner and ally in a region facing enormous challenges. Maintaining our and our partners’ ability to respond to these challenges is a critical component of our commitment to Gulf security.

We have made the decision to release additional items to Bahrain mindful of the fact that there are a number of serious unresolved human rights issues that the Government of Bahrain needs to address. We will continue to maintain the holds on the TOW missiles and Humvees that were notified to Congress last October. Certain additional items for the Bahrain Defense Force, as well as all items for the Ministry of the Interior, excepting the Coast Guard and units deployed in Afghanistan, will also remain on hold. The items that we are releasing are not used for crowd control.

While the Government of Bahrain has begun to take some important steps to implement the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry report, the country is becoming increasingly polarized and much work remains to be done. We are concerned about excessive use of force and tear gas by police. At the same time, we are concerned by the almost daily use of violence by some protestors. We urge all sides to work together to end the violence and refrain from incitement of any kind, including attacks on peaceful protestors or on the Bahraini police.

Going forward, we will continue to engage with Bahrain to encourage meaningful progress on human rights and reform. The United States believes that addressing the underlying causes of last year’s unrest and undertaking meaningful political and institutional reforms are critical to Bahrain’s stability and the strength of our countries’ longstanding partnership. All Bahrainis have a significant stake in participating in dialogue that leads to reform, and we call on the Bahraini government and people to resolve their issues through discussion. We remain committed to supporting Bahrain in achieving progress in these areas.

AIR FORCE INSTITUTES NEW MEASURES TO MAKE F-22 FIGHTER SAFER

Photo:  U.S. Air Force
FROM:  THE U.S. AIR FORCE

Medical Official Explains F-22 Pilot-protection Efforts

By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 9, 2012 - The Air Force has instituted measures designed to protect its pilots, ensure mission completion and assess the possible physiological effects of flying the F-22 Raptor fighter aircraft, the command surgeon for Air Combat Command told reporters here today.

"The health and safety of our pilots -- all of our pilots -- is the utmost priority," Air Force Brig. Gen. (Dr.) Daniel O. Wyman said. "Our operational flight surgeons and medical staff interact with our pilots on a daily basis, and mission No. 1 is their health and safety."

Before resuming F-22 flights in September 2011 after a safety stand-down, Wyman said, officials collected baseline blood samples and pulmonary function tests from every pilot.

"We had every pilot go through retraining with the reduced oxygen breathing device so that they would experience and know their own specific 'hypoxia symptoms,' he said, adding that the command also incorporated a pilot pulse oximeter and the C2A1 filter as protective measures.

Designed and certified by the Defense Department for the chemical warfare environment, Wyman said, the C2A1 filter canister was incorporated into the pilot's life support system to filter any potential contaminants from the air they breathed. The filter has been tested against military and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health protocols, and found to be effective against a number of different chemical warfare and industrial chemicals, Wyman said.

"It was cleared for flight use by the U.S. Air Force program office, and has been used by the military for over a decade in the ground crew and aircrew ensembles," he added.

For each flight, the pilot would receive a new C2A1 filter consisting of a high-efficiency particulate, or HEPA, air filter and activated carbon and charcoal, Wyman said, and they turned in the filters at the end of each flight.
Once flying resumed, Wyman said, a black dust was found in some of the breathing hoses near the C2A1 filter.
"We analyzed it and found it to be activated carbon dust ... an inert or nonreactive compound that has been used for air and water filtration for decades without any significant evidence of harm," Wyman said.

Filter test results indicated the amount of activated carbon dust liberated during normal use was well below the industrial hygiene standard levels set by government agencies, the command surgeon said. Thirty pilot throat swab samples examined by electron microscope also indicated no evidence of activated carbon, he added.
Still, some Raptor pilots have reported suffering persistent coughing, which Wyman maintained may stem from high concentrations of oxygen while undergoing spiked G-forces during maneuvering. These conditions, he said, may result in adsorption of the oxygen -- adhesion of a small layer of molecules -- and subsequent microcollapse of some of the small air sacs in the lungs.

"Coughing is a natural physiologic response that serves to re-inflate the air sacs," Wyman said, noting the condition typically occurs following the flight and is brief in duration.

Air Combat Command has implemented a "recognize-confirm-recover" approach to fortify safety measures, Wyman said. In addition to training that helps ensure pilots can more readily recognize hypoxia or hypoxia-like symptoms, fliers can also pull an emergency oxygen ring, then descend to an altitude at which hypoxia would not occur, he said.

Wyman stressed that the command will continue to evaluate for other potential contaminates or environmental or aircraft system factors through the use of sensors and other collection devices. No root cause has yet been discovered, he said.

"Every step of the way during the F-22 return-to-fly, we have worked with our pilots and all of our personnel involved to inspect the fleet, train the force, protect the crews and collect and analyze data," Wyman said.

SOLDIER'S MOM WHO HELPS THE WOUNDED


FROM:  AMERICAN FORCES PRESS SERVICE
Marilyn Durso donates blood at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Md., with her son, Army 1st Lt. Greg Durso, a platoon leader with the 10th Mountain Division from Fort Drum, N.Y. Durso recently returned to the U.S. from deployment in Afghanistan. He and his mother visited three of his friends recovering from severe injuries at Walter Reed. Armed Services Blood Program photo by Vikki Fernette  

Face of Defense: Proud Mother Comforts Wounded Warriors
By Jessica Overbeck
Armed Services Blood Program Office
FALLS CHURCH, Va., May 11, 2012 - Marilyn Durso cherishes a Mother's Day gift that she calls "a sweet acknowledgment from a son to his mother."

It's a shirt with the words "Warriors Come from Warriors" sprawled across the front that her son, Army 1st Lt. Greg Durso, gave her a few years ago when he was attending the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.
At 23, Marilyn's son, an Army ranger, deployed to Afghanistan.

"Wearing it meant more to me personally than wearing it for 'show,'" she said, explaining why she wore the shirt under sweaters during her son's deployment. While donating blood after her sun returned home, she met several warriors and another "Warriors-Come-From-Warriors" mother.

As a platoon leader in Afghanistan with the 10th Mountain Division from Fort Drum, N.Y., Durso led 40 U.S. soldiers and about 30 Afghan troops. While on patrol one day, Army Pfc. Rex Thrap triggered a roadside bomb. Army Spc. Joe Mille ran to help him, but in the process, triggered a second bomb.

"They never cried out, they never lost their cool," Marilyn said, noting the wounded soldiers were more concerned about their comrades.

Both Tharp and Mille lost their legs from the bombs.

"But because they were so poised and had it together, the medic and the rest of the team were able to attend to them more efficiently," Marilyn said. "It's survival, spirit and camaraderie. Who wouldn't want to belong to a group of people who live under that code?"

Not long after, 1st Lt. Durso learned that another soldier and friend had been severely injured during a separate mission. One month into his deployment, Army 1st Lt. Nicholas Vogt's platoon also struck several roadside bombs. Moments after the first detonation, Vogt pushed one of his soldiers out of the way of a second bomb, and took the brunt of the blast himself. Vogt survived, but required nearly 500 units of donated blood.

"Nick's story is a heart-wrenching account of survival and what people are willing to do to keep others alive," Marilyn said. "Once you have an intimate knowledge of the experience, you can't just sit there.

"Even though I had never met Nick, when I heard from Greg about what happened, in that moment, everyone becomes your son and daughter," she continued. "You quickly learn that the military family is large, and it's not just the people in uniform -- it is friends, the community and the people who are willing to donate blood."

Marilyn said her son wanted to become a soldier from childhood.
"As a mother, you don't want him to do anything that puts him in harm's way," she said, "but you have to rely on his confidence, his training ... you worry from [the time they enlist]."

For Marilyn, knowing that the Armed Services Blood Program is able to provide lifesaving blood to ill or injured service members worldwide helps to alleviate some of her fears of sending her son off to war.

"When I heard the story of Nick's injuries and the story that led to his survival, I know in my mind what [our sons and daughters] are doing is real," she said. "And it reminds me that there are men and women over there right now who still need our help."
Lt. Durso, along with his mother and grandmother, visited Vogt, Tharp and Mille while they recovered at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. and also donated blood.

At first, Marilyn said she was concerned the visit would make her worry more, but she said "it brought me peace and confidence instead."

"It was an emotional feeling to experience how truly dedicated the family was to the well being of those who do so much to serve and protect us all," said Vikki Fernette, blood donor recruiter from the medical center.

Marilyn was able to spend time with Vogt's mother, Sheila, and said she could see where Vogt got his strength.

"She's amazing," Marilyn said. "A mother will do anything to help her children get through a rough time."

"It was an honor and a privilege to meet and chat with three generations of patriots who have experienced firsthand the close fight, both deployed forward and in support from back home," said Army Lt. Col. Robert Pell, chief of blood services at the Bethesda medical center. "The Dursos truly define commitment, to each other, their military family and especially to the Armed Services Blood Program that they support with their selfless blood donations."

Marilyn is planning to donate blood again when she is eligible in July.
"The facilities are beautiful and you get the chance to thank a soldier firsthand and see what they are up against, see their spirit and their great attitudes," Marilyn said of the medical facility.

"I can't wait to go back. How do you not do something that is so simple? If donating blood can keep them alive until they get to come back home, it's a privilege."

NSF: GAME OF HEARTS, QUEEN OF SPADES AND A NEW EVOLUTIONARY THEORY



FROM:  NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION
Queen of Spades Key to New Evolutionary Hypothesis 
May 10, 2012
Sleight of hand is a trait that belongs mainly to humans.
Or so scientists thought.

Studies of common, microscopic ocean plankton named Prochlorococcus show that humans aren't the only ones who can play a mean game of cards.

Their method lurks in the Black Queen Hypothesis, as it's called, after the Queen of Spades in the card game Hearts.

Scientists Jeffrey Morris and Richard Lenski of Michigan State University and the BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action, and Erik Zinser of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, knew that smaller genomes were the norm in symbiotic microbes--those that have reciprocally beneficial relationships--but wondered how non-symbionts got away with cutting out functions it appeared they needed.

These non-symbiotic microbes, the researchers found, may be getting others to do the hard work of living for them.

The biologists published their results in a recent issue of the journal mBio, in a paper titled: "The Black Queen Hypothesis: Evolution of Dependencies through Adaptive Gene Loss."

"Black Queen" sets forth the notion that eliminating a necessary function confers an evolutionary advantage--as long as your neighbors continue to do the work. "It would make sense for a microbe to 'want' to lose a gene that's a burden," says Morris, "and get someone else to pick it up."

In the game of Hearts, the winning strategy involves avoiding the Queen of Spades.
"A microbe stuck carrying the load for another is, in effect, holding the Queen of Spades," Morris says. "But the Queen of Spades is a card that, while a drag, is necessary--whether in the hand or in the sea. If everyone threw out the Queen of Spades, it would be 'game over.' The whole community would suffer."

To test the Black Queen Hypothesis, the researchers applied it to a genus of microbes that has been the source of scientific confusion. Prochlorococcus, one of the most common groups of plankton in the open ocean, has a much smaller genome than biologists would expect in free-living bacteria.

How has Prochlorococcus been so successful in colonizing the sea while jettisoning seemingly important genes, including the gene for catalase-peroxidase, which lets the microbes neutralize hydrogen peroxide, a compound that can damage or kill cells?
Prochlorococcus, it turns out, relies on other microorganisms to remove hydrogen peroxide from the environment, says Zinser, "allowing it to dump its responsibilities on the unlucky card-holders floating around nearby."

It's a clear instance, Zinser says, of one species making out like a bandit while letting other members of the community carry the load.

The Black Queen Hypothesis offers a new way of looking at complex, linked communities of microbes, says Lenski.

"People often think about evolution as leading to more and more complex organisms, and that's often, but not always, the case," he says. "Sometimes organisms evolve to become simpler if that saves time or energy."

Under the Black Queen Hypothesis, these simpler organisms take advantage of "helpers" that perform essential functions. In that sense, beneficiaries are "cheaters" that exploit what might be called a public service.

Sometimes they contribute in other ways. Prochlorococcus, which benefits from the peroxide clean-up performed by other microbes, contributes energy through photosynthesis that supports the larger community.

The Black Queen Hypothesis describes an evolutionary process that may include cheating, but in other ecological contexts, may result in neutral or positive interactions between species.

Take Shooting the Moon, an alternate route to victory in Hearts. This risky move requires a player to capture all the point-scoring cards, including the Queen of Spades, the opposite of the usual strategy of minimizing one's points.

Shooting the Moon may be an analog to the Black Queen Hypothesis. Might a species, having become a helper for one function, therefore be more likely to become a helper for other, unrelated functions?

"Such an outcome would involve evolution toward a niche with high resource requirements," write the scientists in their paper, "but with the advantage of high 'job security' for the helper owing to the dependence of the community on its continued well-being."

The scientists ask, what forces lead to the reliance of communities on keystone organisms, whose extinction can lead to instability and potential catastrophe?
"The Black Queen Hypothesis has far-reaching implications for understanding the evolutionary forces behind diverse, interconnected ecological communities," says George Gilchrist, program director in the National Science Foundation's Division of Environmental Biology, which co-funded the research with NSF's Division of Ocean Sciences.

In the game of Hearts--or the game of life--the Queen of Spades, it turns out, may be the most important card.

SEC CHARGES SCOTLAND-BASED FUND MANAGEMENT GROUP WITH CONFLICTS OF INTERESTS


Photo:  NYSE Credit:  U.S. Government
FROM:  SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C., May 10, 2012 — The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged a Scotland-based fund management group for fraudulently using one of its U.S. fund clients to rescue another client, a China-focused hedge fund struggling in the midst of the global financial crisis.

Martin Currie agreed to pay a total of nearly $14 million to the SEC and the United Kingdom's Financial Services Authority (FSA) to settle the charges that it steered a U.S. publicly-traded fund called The China Fund Inc. into an investment to bolster the hedge fund. The hedge fund had acquired a significant and largely illiquid exposure to a single Chinese company. Martin Currie directly alleviated the hedge fund's liquidity problems by deciding to use the China Fund — to the detriment of the fund and its shareholders — in a bond transaction that reduced the hedge fund's exposure.

"The misconduct in this case strikes at the heart of the fiduciary relationship between an investment adviser and its client. Advisers must treat each client with undivided and disinterested loyalty, and must make full and fair disclosure of all material conflicts of interest," said Robert Khuzami, Director of the SEC's Division of Enforcement.

Bruce Karpati, Co-Chief of the SEC's Asset Management Unit, added, "The China Fund's board was led to believe it was making a routine investment in a Chinese company. But in reality, the investment proved harmful to fund shareholders while sparing an affiliated hedge fund from its own problems during the financial crisis."

According to the SEC's order instituting settled administrative proceedings against Martin Currie, the firm managed the China Fund side-by-side with the hedge fund through its SEC-registered investment adviser subsidiaries. These funds and other Martin Currie accounts made similar investments in Chinese companies under the direction of two senior portfolio managers based in Shanghai. One company was Jackin International, a printer-cartridge recycling company listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

According to the SEC's order, in June 2007, Martin Currie's lead portfolio manager in Shanghai caused the hedge fund to purchase $10 million of unlisted illiquid Jackin bonds that deviated from the fund's normal equities-trading strategy. Martin Currie improperly classified those bonds as cash in its risk-management system, and as a result the liquidity and credit risks associated with the hedge fund's exposure to Jackin weren't revealed until November 2008 after the hedge fund had purchased additional Jackin bonds. By that time, the hedge fund's total investment in Jackin had come close to breaching the fund's limit on portfolio exposure to a single issuer.

The SEC's order says that as the global financial crisis deepened, the hedge fund faced a significant increase in redemption requests by its investors, exacerbating the fund's liquidity problems. At the same time, Jackin was starved for capital to continue funding its operations and make debt payments to bondholders such as the hedge fund. In response to the hedge fund's overlapping problems, Martin Currie decided to use the China Fund to purchase $22.8 million in convertible bonds from a Jackin subsidiary. The subsidiary instantly lent $10 million of the proceeds to Jackin, which in turn redeemed $10 million in otherwise-illiquid bonds held by the troubled hedge fund. The bond transaction closed in April 2009.

According to the SEC's order, Martin Currie officials were aware that the China Fund's involvement presented a direct conflict of interest and may have been unlawful. In an attempt to cure that conflict, they sought and obtained approval from the China Fund's board of directors. However, they failed to disclose that proceeds of the fund's investment would be used to redeem bonds held by another client — the hedge fund. Martin Currie also failed to sufficiently consider whether the investment's rationale and pricing were in the China Fund's best interests.

The SEC's order noted that the China Fund's bond investment in the Jackin subsidiary turned out poorly. In April 2011, the China Fund sold the bonds for about 50 percent of their face value for a loss of $11.5 million.

The SEC's order found that Martin Currie engaged in separate improper conduct by failing to follow the China Fund's policies and procedures for fair valuing the convertible bonds at issue. Between April 2009 and October 2010, Martin Currie advised the China Fund's board to value the convertible bonds at cost ($22.8 million) while failing to disclose information that was relevant for the board to fair value the bonds.

The SEC charged Martin Currie with certain violations of the antifraud, affiliated transaction, reporting, and compliance provisions of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 and the Investment Company Act of 1940. Without admitting or denying the SEC's findings, Martin Currie agreed to settle the SEC's charges by paying a penalty of $8.3 million and accepting censures and cease-and-desist orders against future violations. Martin Currie also agreed to pay a penalty of £3.5 million ($5.6 million in U.S. dollars) to settle the FSA's action. In reaching the settlement, the SEC took into account that Martin Currie had compensated the China Fund for losses and expenses arising from the misconduct. Martin Currie cooperated with the SEC's investigation and implemented several remedial measures, including severing association with its lead Shanghai-based portfolio manager and making enhancements to its compliance program.

The SEC's investigation, which is continuing, has been conducted by Paul Kim and Natasha Guinan under the supervision of Scott Weisman, who are all members of the Enforcement Division's Asset Management Unit. The case originated from an SEC examination conducted by Jason Rosenberg and Lucas Tepper under the supervision of Mavis Kelly.

The SEC thanks the FSA for its assistance in this matter.

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SEIZES ILLEGAL GAINS FROM DISTRIBUTION OF COUNTERFEIT SPORTS APPAREL


Photo:  Lady Justice.  Cr. WIKIMEDIA
FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Friday, May 11, 2012
Department of Justice Seizes More Than $1.5 Million in Proceeds from the Online Sale of Counterfeit Sports Apparel Manufactured in China. Action Comes After Earlier Seizures of Another $896,000 in Proceeds

WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice has seized more than $1.5 million in proceeds from the distribution of counterfeit sports apparel and jerseys as the result of an investigation into the sale of counterfeit goods on commercial websites, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Ronald C. Machen Jr. and John Morton, Director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The investigation also resulted in the seizure of three domain names used in the sale of counterfeit sports apparel.  The funds were seized from interbank accounts and six money service business accounts.  The seizure warrants were unsealed in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia on May 7, 2012.

The developments are the latest result of Operation In Our Sites, a law enforcement initiative targeting online commercial intellectual property crime announced by ICE’s Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in June 2010.  Operation In Our Sites targeted online retailers of a diverse array of counterfeit goods, including sports equipment, shoes, handbags, athletic apparel, sunglasses and DVD boxed sets.  To date, 761 domain names of websites used in the sale and distribution of counterfeit goods and illegal copyrighted works have been seized as a result of Operation In Our Sites.

Additionally, last month, the Department of Justice seized more than $896,000 in proceeds from the sale of counterfeit sports apparel on commercial websites as part of Operation In Our Sites.

According to court documents, investigation by federal law enforcement agents revealed that subjects whose domain names had been seized in a November 2010 In Our Sites operation continued to sell counterfeit goods using new domain names.  In particular, the individuals, based in China, sold counterfeit professional and collegiate sports apparel, primarily counterfeit sports jerseys.  Law enforcement agents made numerous undercover purchases from the websites associated with the new domain names.  After the goods were confirmed to be counterfeit or infringing, seizure warrants for three domain names used to sell the infringing goods were obtained from a U.S. Magistrate Judge in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

The individuals conducted sales and processed payments for the counterfeit goods using money service business accounts and then wired their proceeds to bank accounts held at a Chinese bank, the court documents state.

Under warrants issued by a U.S. District Judge, law enforcement agents seized $1,455,438.72 in proceeds that had been transferred from the money service business accounts to various bank accounts in China.  The funds were seized from correspondent, or interbank, accounts held by the Chinese bank in the United States.  Under additional seizure warrants issued by a U.S. Magistrate Judge, law enforcement agents also seized $94,730.12 in funds remaining in six money service business accounts used by the subjects.

“The seizures we are announcing today are another step forward in our efforts to disrupt and disable those engaged in intellectual property crime,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer.  “By seizing the domain names and profits of online counterfeit goods operations, we are protecting consumers and sending a message to criminals that we will use every tool at our disposal to stop them.”

“Within a matter of weeks, this law enforcement operation has seized more than $2.4 million in proceeds from individuals overseas who are preying on the American economy and consumers with their sales of counterfeit goods,” said U.S. Attorney Machen.  “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to target these unscrupulous operators where it hurts them the most – at the bank.”

“ICE will continue to target those who traffic in counterfeit goods by attacking the financial profits of counterfeiting sites and shutting them down,” said ICE Director Morton.  “Operation In Our Sites and the tireless work of the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center protect consumers from fraud on the Internet and combat intellectual property theft which exacts a toll on our economy and industries.”

The investigation was conducted by the National Intellectual Property Rights Center and ICE-HSI.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jonathan Hooks and Diane Lucas of the District of Columbia, Senior Trial Attorney Pamela Hicks and Trial Attorney Katharine Wagner of the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section and Trial Attorney Thomas Dougherty of the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

USNS MERCY ARRIVES AT JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKMAN


FROM:  U.S. NAVY
Service members man the rails aboard the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) while arriving at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in support of Pacific Partnership 2012 (PP12). PP12 is the seventh in a series of U.S. Pacific Fleet-sponsored humanitarian and civic assistance missions that work to strengthen regional relationships and to collectively respond to natural disasters in southeast Asia and the western Pacific region. U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Daniel Barker (Released) 120509-N-RI884-094 


THE MARINE CORPS WRESTLER


FROM:  AMERICAN FORCES PRESS SERVICE
Marine Corps Sgt. Gaylon Summers, left, grapples with Azteca at an outdoor wrestling match in Fukuoka, Japan, May 4, 2012. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Kenneth Trotter

Face of Defense: Marine Balances Duty, Professional Wrestling
By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kenneth Trotter
Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni
IWAKUNI, Japan, May 10, 2012 - What do Randy Orton, the "Road Dogg" Jesse James and Chuck Palumbo all have in common? All three men were Marines and professional wrestlers sometime in their careers.

Marine Corps Sgt. Gaylon Summers, ground safety manager for Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 12, hopes to be counted among those who have handled the stress of being a Marine and professional wrestler.

Summers, a Dyersburg, Tenn., native, has the tall, massive physique many would expect of a professional wrestler.

"It's always [been] something I've wanted to do," Summers said. While stationed in Cherry Point, N.C., he said, he saw a television commercial for an independent wrestling show. He sought contacts and soon was in touch with other wrestlers and began wrestling with them.

Summers said he has been an avid professional wrestling fan since he was a child, watching the likes of Hulk Hogan, Randy "Macho Man" Savage. He was attracted to the spectacle and athleticism he saw on the screen, he said.

"I started watching it when I was 3 or 4 years old," he said. "Memphis wrestling was really big in the '80s and '90s, and my grandfather was a big wrestling fan. Every Saturday morning, when I was staying with him, I would get up and watch that with him."

Summers gradually spread his horizons to take in any wrestling programs he could.
"It got to the point where even if I wasn't there, I was watching it," he said. "I started watching World Championship Wrestling, the National Wrestling Alliance and World Wresting Entertainment."

Summers has wrestled in various independent promotions in Japan and earned a tryout with New Japan Pro-Wrestling and made the cut to train at their dojo in coming months.
"I'm excited," he said.

Summers credits the Marine Corps with instilling the type of discipline and confidence needed to consistently train as a wrestler.

"A lot of people think because it's a scripted sport, it's easy. It's not," he said. "It's given me a lot of discipline to push through the training. As much as I love it, there are some mornings when I'm hurting from training."

His Marine Corps background helps with handling the pressure, Summers said. "I'm still nervous," he added, "but I don't look at it as something I can't do. I just know it's going to be difficult."

Summers juggles the responsibilities of being a Marine and a family man with a family who supports him.

"The first time I experienced it with him was when we watched it on TV," his wife, Sarah, said. "At that point in time, he had never actually wrestled." She thought her husband's desire to wrestle was just a weekend hobby, she said.
"I didn't know it would grow into what it has," she added. "I thought it was going to be something he did for fun."

Now that she's seen her husband's genuine love for wrestling, she lends her full support to his endeavors, trying to attend as many shows as possible.
Summers said hopes he can open more Marines' eyes to professional wrestling by having wrestling promotions on the base.

"I believe a lot of Marines would be open to it, even ones who aren't really into wrestling," he said.

Friday, May 11, 2012

CORONAL CELLS AND THEIR PROPERTIES


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE ARMED WITH SCIENCE


This shows the locations of the STEREO-A and -B spacecraft in 2011 relative to the Sun, Earth, and SDO spacecraft. (Photo: U.S. Naval Research Laboratory )

Written on MAY 10, 2012 AT 7:23 AM by JTOZER
NRL Researchers Discover New Solar Feature
Scientists at the Naval Research Laboratory have discovered a previously unreported solar feature – Coronal Cells – where high-temperature coronal emission is confined to discrete plumes that extend upward from unipolar concentrations of magnetic flux.

The NRL researchers think that future studies of these cellular regions will lead to an improved understanding of magnetic field line reconnection at the boundaries of coronal holes, and how these changes are transmitted outward into the solar wind. This research is published in the March 20 issue of the Astrophysical Journal.

NASA provided financial support through their Heliophysics Guest Investigator Program and their Living With a Star Program.

Drs. Neil Sheeley and Harry Warren, researchers in NRL’s Space Science Division, describe these Coronal Cells as appearing in discrete bundles “like candles on a birthday cake.” The researchers discovered the cells in ultraviolet emission lines formed at temperatures around one-million degrees Kelvin.

Although the researchers made their discovery using high-resolution images from the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly aboard the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), they also observed the cells on ultraviolet images from STEREO-A and -B spacecraft recently, and from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) in 2000 near the previous sunspot maximum. In addition, they used Doppler images, constructed from the Extreme-Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrometer (EIS) on the Hinode spacecraft, to deduce that the outflow is faster at the centers of the cells than at their boundaries.

The researchers used time-lapse sequences of Fe XII 193 Å coronal images to follow these special regions as they were carried across the solar disk by the 27-day solar rotation.

Near disk center, the Coronal Cells looked like photospheric granules with bright centers and dark, narrow intercellular lanes. The cells appeared as long plumes of emission projecting toward the nearest solar limb. Moreover, simultaneous observations from the STEREO-B and SDO spacecraft, separated by about 90 degrees along Earth’s orbit around the Sun, showed the same plumes projecting in opposite directions.
Such stereoscopic views left no doubt that the Coronal Cells are columns of emission extending radially outward through the lower corona, like candles on a birthday cake.

The researchers addressed the question of how the Coronal Cells are lit and extinguished, and found that the visibility of the cells bears a close relation to the evolution of the adjacent coronal holes. The Coronal Cells appeared when the holes closed and disappeared when the holes opened.

This behavior suggested that coronal holes have the same cellular magnetic structure as the newly observed Coronal Cells, but that this structure is not visible until the encroachment of opposite-polarity flux causes some of the open magnetic flux in the holes to close. For coronal holes at the north and south poles of the Sun, this happens during the approach to sunspot maximum, which is the present time in our current 11-year sunspot cycle.

During the course of their research, Drs. Sheeley and Warren observed the occasional disappearance of cellular regions when solar filaments erupted alongside them. As the chromospheric ribbon swept across the region signaling the reconnection of the field lines that were opened during the eruption, the same cells reappeared immediately behind the ribbon.

This indicates that the plumes of material are established rapidly, in step with the reconnection of the associated magnetic fields.

The discovery of Coronal Cells has already increased our knowledge of coronal magnetic structure.

In the future, studies of the evolution of Coronal Cells may improve scientists’ understanding of magnetic field line reconnection at coronal-hole boundaries and its effects on the solar wind and Earth’s space weather.

NATO'S TRANSFORMATION COMMAND AND U.S. RELATIONSHIP


Photo:  NATO Meeting.  Credit:  U.S. Air Force
FROM:  AMERICAN FORCES PRESS SERVICE
NATO's Transformation Command Reinvents Relations with U.S.
By Jim Garamone
WASHINGTON, May 9, 2012 - Though the location of its headquarters and the way it works with the U.S. military has changed since its inception, NATO's Allied Command Transformation has forged a stronger relationship with the United States, the organization's commander said here yesterday.

Gen. Stephane Abrial of the French air force, NATO's supreme allied commander for transformation, broke down the command's history and evolution in remarks at the Defense Writers Group.

When NATO established Allied Command Transformation in Norfolk, Va., the idea was to locate the command near U.S. Joint Forces Command and that the synergy would spur innovation for the alliance and for the U.S. military.

The NATO command, formed in 2003, was to lead alliance transformation efforts and develop doctrine for coalition operations. Abrial said he looked forward to building on the relationship with Joint Forces Command. But in 2010, the United States decided to disestablish that command.

"The Joint Forces Command disestablishment came as a surprise to many of us," Abrial said. When the allied command was established in 2003, he noted, the idea was to tie the two commands together under a single commander. American officers, therefore, led the command until Abrial succeeded Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis, now commander of U.S. Central Command, as commander of NATO's transformation command in 2009, while Mattis remained as commander of Joint Forces Command.

"We both had the feeling from the outset that we needed to ensure the two commands didn't drift apart," Abrial said. "This was also a concern from many nations, I may say."
The two commands established formal links – initially from commander to commander, and then at all levels. "We institutionalized the relationship to ensure it didn't go away," he said.

The result was that the relationship between the two commands increased and improved, the general said.

Abrial recalled he was in command for just over a year when he received a call from then-Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy, who told him that the United States would disestablish Joint Forces Command.

"She told me that it did not mean a decrease in interest from the U.S. to the alliance or from the U.S. to Allied Command Transformation, and that our relationship will increase and we will work more together in the future," he said. "I said, 'Thank you,' and that I was hoping that the words would become deeds."
And they did, he said.

He worked closely with Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, now chief of staff of the U.S. Army, who had succeeded Mattis as commander of Joint Forces Command. The NATO personnel at Allied Command Transformation were involved in every decision involved in Joint Forces Command's disestablishment, Abrial said. "We were a part not of decision-making, but decision-shaping, as it were," he said.

Joint Forces Command cased its colors on Aug. 4, 2011, the French general said, and the change required a different set of relations with the U.S. military. He checked off what happened with the three tiers of the command's mission.

"The one tier which dealt with concept development, modeling and simulation and so on – everything which is still in Norfolk [and] Suffolk – continues working with my headquarters as if nothing has happened," he said. "It is exactly the same way."
Joint Forces Command's next-tier missions moved to U.S. combatant commands or the services. This meant that the NATO command needed to "replug" with them, Abrial said. With Joint Forces Command, his command had one outlet, he said. With the move, Allied Command Transformation had to establish ties with many other organizations, he said, and did so.

At the top level, Abrial said, was the opportunity to move to the Pentagon.
"I would say it has increased both our visibility and our relationships at the top level with both the political and military sides of the Pentagon," he said. "Today, 16 months after the decision was made, I can confirm that Mrs. Flournoy was right: Our relationship with our American friends has increased and improved. So it was a very positive move."


WALL STREET FIRM CHARGED WITH FOREX FRAUD


Photo:  Currency Sign.  Credit:  Wikimedia
FROM:  COMMODITIES FUTURES TRADING COMMISSION
CFTC Charges New York Firm Madison Dean, Inc., and its Principals, George Athanasatos and Laurence Dodge, with Forex Fraud

Washington, DC - The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) today announced the filing of a civil enforcement action in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York charging Madison Dean, Inc. (Madison Dean), of Wantagh, N.Y., and its principals, George Athanasatos, also of Wantagh, and Laurence Dodge of Fresh Meadows, N.Y., with fraudulently soliciting approximately 19 persons to invest approximately $415,000 in managed trading accounts to trade off-exchange foreign currency (forex) contracts on a leverage or margined basis. None of the defendants has ever been registered with the CFTC.

The CFTC complaint, filed on May 8, 2012, alleges that from approximately December 2008 through approximately July 2010, defendants Madison Dean, Athanasatos, and Dodge, through an Internet website, written solicitation materials, and other actions, misrepresented and omitted material facts about Madison Dean, including the background and qualifications of Madison Dean employees and the firm’s performance record, to create a false impression that it was a well-established and successful company.

Specifically, according to the complaint, the defendants allegedly fraudulently claimed that 1) Madison Dean had been in existence since 1998, 2) Madison Dean’s customers included high net worth individuals, financial institutions, and institutional clients, 3) Madison Dean provided “professional money managers” who would be in charge of the forex trading for the customers’ managed accounts, and 4) Madison Dean had been making money for its customers for years.

Contrary to these claims, Madison Dean had not been making money for its customers for years, as it did not exist prior to December 2008, and its customers were “neither high net worth individuals, financial institutional or other institutional clients, hedge funds, nor millionaires,” according to the complaint. Also, according to the complaint, Madison Dean did not have professional money managers in charge of customer trading. Rather, Athansatos allegedly managed the trading of customer accounts, and on various occasions, Dodge and Athanasatos’ mother – neither a professional money manager – also traded customer accounts.

The complaint further alleges that Madison Dean’s customers lost approximately $250,000, “as a result of its poor trading.” As further alleged, after being in operation for a little over a year, during which time the firm collected approximately $112,000 in commissions and fees, Madison Dean shut down its operation with no notice to its customers and no way for those customers to contact the company or anyone associated with it.

In its continuing litigation, the CFTC seeks civil monetary penalties, restitution, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, trading and registration bans, and preliminary and permanent injunctions against further violations of the Commodity Exchange Act, as charged.
The CFTC appreciates the assistance of the United Kingdom Financial Services Authority in this matter.

CFTC Division of Enforcement staff members responsible for this case are Alan I. Edelman, James H. Holl, III, Michelle Bougas, Gretchen L. Lowe, and Vincent McGonagle.

NAVY MISSILE INTERCEPTOR TEST


FROM:  U.S. NAVY
PACIFIC OCEAN (May 9, 2012) A Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block 1B interceptor is launched from the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70) during a Missile Defense Agency test in the Pacific Ocean. The SM-3 Block 1B successfully intercepted a short-range ballistic missile target that had been launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility, Barking Sands, Kauai, Hawaii. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

Second-Generation Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System Completes Successful Intercept Flight Test
From Missile Defense Agency Public Affairs

FORT BELVOIR, Va. (NNS) -- The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and U.S. Navy Sailors aboard USS Lake Erie (CG 70) successfully conducted a flight test of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system May 9.

This test resulted in the first intercept of a short-range ballistic missile target over the Pacific Ocean by the Navy's newest Missile Defense interceptor, the Standard Missile - 3 (SM-3) Block 1B.

At 8:18 p.m. Hawaiian Standard Time (2:18 a.m. EDT May 10) the target missile was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility, located on Kauai, Hawaii. The target flew on a northwesterly trajectory towards a broad ocean area of the Pacific Ocean. Following target launch, Lake Erie detected and tracked the missile with its onboard AN/SPY-1 radar. The ship, equipped with the second-generation Aegis BMD 4.0.1 weapon system, developed a fire control solution and launched the Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IB interceptor.

Lake Erie continued to track the target and sent trajectory information to the SM-3 Block IB interceptor in-flight. The SM-3 maneuvered to a point in space, as designated by the fire control solution, and released its kinetic warhead. The kinetic warhead acquired the target, diverted into its path, and, using only the force of a direct impact, engaged and destroyed the threat in a hit-to-kill intercept.

The event, designated Flight Test Standard Missile-16 (FTM-16) Event 2a, was the first successful live-fire intercept test of the SM-3 Block IB interceptor and the second-generation Aegis BMD 4.0.1 weapon system. Previous successful intercepts were conducted with the Aegis BMD 3.6.1 weapon system and the SM-3 Block IA interceptor, which are currently operational on U.S. Navy ships deployed across the globe.

Aegis BMD 4.0.1 and the SM-3 Block IB interceptor improve the system's ability to engage increasingly longer range and more sophisticated ballistic missiles that may be launched in larger raid sizes. The SM-3 Block IB interceptor features a two-color infrared seeker, which improves sensitivity for longer-range target acquisition and high-speed processing for target discrimination. The SM-3 Block IB interceptor also features an upgraded onboard signal processor and a more flexible throttleable divert and attitude control system to maneuver the IB interceptor to intercept.

Initial indications are that all components performed as designed. Program officials will conduct an extensive assessment and evaluation of system performance based upon telemetry and other data obtained during the test.

FTM-16 Event 2a is the 22nd successful intercept in 27 flight test attempts for the Aegis BMD program. Across all Ballistic Missile Defense System programs, this is the 53rd successful hit-to-kill intercept in 67 flight test attempts since 2001.

Aegis BMD is the sea-based midcourse component of the MDA's Ballistic Missile Defense System and is designed to intercept and destroy short to intermediate-range ballistic missile threats. The MDA and the U.S. Navy cooperatively manage the Aegis BMD Program.

STATE DEPARTMENT REMARKS ON GLOBAL WATER SECURITY


Photo:  Death Hollow Utah. Cr. Wikimedia
FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Global Water Security: The Intelligence Community Assessment
Remarks Maria Otero
Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights   Woodrow Wilson Center
Washington, DC
May 9, 2012
Thank you, Jane. It is an honor to be included in this National Conversation on the Intelligence Community Assessment on Global Water Security. The Woodrow Wilson Center has been visionary in the area of environmental security and it's heartening to see a growing appreciation for your work.

Let me also take a moment to thank Cas Yost from the National Intelligence Council, who will speak right after me. Thank you for the NIC’s hard work and persistence to make this Intelligence Community Assessment, or ICA, a reality.

Finally, thanks to our esteemed panel for joining us today.
As Secretary Clinton has noted, perhaps no two issues are more important to human health, economic growth, and peace and security than access to basic sanitation and sustainable supplies of water.

Each day, nearly 4,000 people – mostly children under five – die from preventable diseases caused by contaminated water. Not surprisingly, women and girls are impacted most.
In addition to the health impacts, water will affect our ability to protect the environment, achieve food-and-energy security, and respond to climate change.
Competition for water and that lack of access to basic water and sanitation services may become a source of conflict.

In order to better understand the impacts of global water challenges on our national security interests, last year Secretary Clinton requested that the intelligence community produce a National Intelligence Estimate to further study the issue.
The release of the unclassified Intelligence Community Assessment on Global Water Security, whose contents draw from the National Intelligence Estimate, confirms much of what we already suspected – that if left unaddressed, water challenges worldwide will post a threat to U.S. security interests.

This is in addition to the tremendous burden that water scarcity and the mismanagement of water resources is already placing on populations and critical freshwater and marine ecosystems throughout the world.

Recognizing this, in 2010 Secretary Clinton defined five specific steps the U.S. would take to address these challenges.

First, build and strengthen institutional and human capacity at the local, national and regional levels. Countries and communities must take the lead in securing their own water futures. We need to help build their capacity so they can deliver.
This includes building support for and strengthening regional mechanisms for advancing cooperation on shared waters. We are already active in many basins throughout the world – from the Nile to the Mekong – supporting riparian country efforts. We recently launched the Shared Waters Partnership to focus donor efforts on key regions throughout the world.

Second, increase and better coordinate our diplomatic efforts. We need to work to raise international awareness; to encourage developing countries to prioritize water and sanitation in national plans and budgets; and to integrate water into global food security, health, and climate change initiatives.

Both Secretary Clinton and USAID Administrator Shah have been active in promoting these issues and reinforcing the need for countries to commit themselves to doing more.
Third, mobilize financial support. This will require resources. In many cases, there is capital within developing countries. We need to work to mobilize these resources towards water and sanitation infrastructure by strengthening local capital markets, providing credit enhancements, and exploring other avenues for support.

Fourth, promote science and technology. There is no silver bullet. That said, science and technology can have a huge impact. We need to work harder to incentivize the development of technologies that can make a difference at scale and to share U.S. expertise and knowledge with the rest of the world.

And finally fifth, build and sustain partnerships. We cannot solve this problem on our own. Just last month, Secretary Clinton launched the U.S. Water Partnership. It aims to mobilize U.S. knowledge, expertise, and resources to improve global water security. I encourage you to visit its website to learn more and get involved.

We will today see that the ICA confirms that this comprehensive approach by the U.S. government to manage water-related challenges is exactly what is required.
The ICA reinforces our view that water is not just a human health issue, not just an economic development or environmental issue, but also a security issue. We will ensure water issues stay at the top of our foreign policy and national security agenda.

The ICA also reinforces the need to engage diplomatically, to carefully coordinate our development and diplomatic efforts, and to build stronger partnerships across sectors.
I look forward to what I expect will be a very interesting and interactive dialogue. I hope we leave here today with a better understanding of the ICA‘s findings and what they mean for our work.

As a follow-up to today's event, the State Department is working closely with partners to convene additional dialogues on the ICA and its implications.
We hope that policy makers from every corner – across sectors and at the national, regional, and global levels – will roll up their sleeves and join the discussion, with the goal of finding new and better ways to ensure global water challenges are not obstacles to global health, economic development, and peace and security.

Secretary Clinton has said: "The water crisis is a health crisis, it's a farming crisis, it's an economic crisis, it's a climate crisis, and increasingly, it is a political crisis. And therefore, we must have an equally comprehensive response."

This ICA therefore is an important step forward in our efforts to understand and respond to this complex challenge. Thank you.




FAMILIES OF SERVICE MEMBERS CONCERNED ABOUT CHANGE IN RETIREMENT BENEFITS


Photo:  U.S. AIR FORCE
Cadet Staff Sgt. Moranda Hern, Air Force Academy sophomore, speaks as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey; Jill Biden, the vice-president’s wife; First Lady Michelle Obama; and Tom Brokaw, television journalist, listen at the first anniversary of Joining Forces ceremony on the south lawn of the White House April 11, 2012. Hern was one of the 20 finalists in the Joining Forces Community Challenge that recognized citizens, communities and organizations for their efforts in supporting military families. . Hern started the Sisterhood of the Traveling BDUs organization that aims to help daughters ages 13-18 of military members connect and build relationships. The challenge was part of the Joining Forces program, pioneered by First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, which is a national initiative that mobilizes all sectors of society to support military members and their families. (Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jess D. Harvey) 

FROM:  AMERICAN FORCES PRESS SERVICE
Families list retirement, pay  as top issues 
by Lisa Daniel
5/10/2012 - WASHINGTON (AFPS) -- Military families regard the possible change of military retirement benefits as their top concern, according to the results of a major survey released today.

The 2012 Military Family Lifestyle Survey also shows that pay and benefits, the impact of deployments on children, operational tempo, spouse employment and education and combat stress and brain injuries are most on the minds of military family members.

Blue Star Families, a nonprofit military family support organization, released the findings of its third annual survey before a Capitol Hill audience of Congress members, military family members and support organizations, and media.

"That data in this survey is the story of our lives," said Kathy Roth-Douquet, the chief executive officer of Blue Star Families. The survey, she said, is conducted by professional researchers who also are military family members.

More than 4,000 family members responded to the survey, representing each of the services -- active, National Guard and reserve, and Coast Guard -- and all areas of the country. Nearly half of the survey respondents have a service member in the senior enlisted ranks, and 64 percent of respondents are between the ages of 25 and 44.

Among the findings:

-- Thirty-one percent of respondents listed possible changes to retirement benefits as their biggest concern, followed by 20 percent who cited pay and benefits as their top concern;

-- Veterans said their biggest concerns related to separating from the military were employment opportunities, followed by access to health care;

-- Seven percent of respondents listed operational tempo as their top concern, and support for staying in the military dropped from 52 percent for families who were separated 13 to 24 months, to 15 percent for those who spent more than 37 months apart;

-- Sixty percent of spouse respondents are not currently employed, and of those, 53 percent wanted to be; 57 percent said being a military spouse has a negative impact on their ability to work; 27 percent had problems getting professional licenses to transfer to different states;

-- Six percent of respondents listed post-traumatic stress, combat stress and traumatic brain injuries as their top issue; 26 percent said their service member had signs of post-traumatic stress and 3 percent said they had a diagnosis.

Robert L. Gordon III, deputy assistant secretary of defense for military community and family policy, said the department and the nation are challenged by economic problems today, but that both must take care of military families.

Things changed after the Vietnam War, Gordon said.

"We got out of Vietnam and into the all-volunteer force," he said. "Because of that, our force became a married force."

Also, Gordon said, the military now is structured so that "the entire military goes to war." Indeed, the survey found that National Guard and Reserve members have spent as much time away from home in the past decade as active duty members.

"We're challenged today, and I would say we are up to that challenge," Gordon said. "We have a supportive Congress and a supportive administration, where the first lady and Dr. [Jill] Biden are out pitching for the military" through their "Joining Forces" campaign.

"That's why this survey is so important," he said. "We need to know how these families feel. We have to have a better integration of [combat veterans] when they come home -- and they are coming home."

Other findings of the survey show:

-- Ninety-two percent of respondents said they could help their children make positive school decisions during a spouse's deployment, but 64 percent said deployment hampered their children's abilities to participate in extracurricular activities;

-- Ten percent of family members responded that they had considered suicide, compared to 9 percent for service members.

-- Fifty-seven percent said prevention should be aimed at training frontline supervisors and commanders;

-- Eighty-one percent volunteered in the past year;

-- Eighty-nine percent are registered to vote;

-- Eighty-two percent believe the all-volunteer force works well;

-- Seventy percent were satisfied with the military lifestyle, and 60 percent would recommend the military for young people; and

-- Seventy-two percent said changing the law to allow gays to serve openly has had no impact on their service members' ability to serve.


JUSTICE FILES LAWSUIT TO STOP UNCONSTITUTIONAL PRACTICES BY SHERIFF'S OFFICE IN MARICOPA COUNTY

FROM:  U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT
Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Thomas E. Perez Speaks at the Maricopa County Press Conference Phoenix ~ Thursday, May 10, 2012
Today, the Department of Justice did something it has done only once before in the 18-year history of our civil police reform work; we filed a contested lawsuit to stop discriminatory and unconstitutional law enforcement practices. In our police reform work, we have invariably been able to work collaboratively with law enforcement agencies to build better departments and safer communities. Maricopa County, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Arpaio have been a glaring exception. Attempts to forge solutions to address the serious civil rights and public safety concerns have proven elusive.

In June 2008, the Department of Justice began its initial inquiry into allegations that the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Joseph Arpaio were violating the constitutional rights of people in Maricopa County. In September 2010, following repeated unsuccessful efforts to obtain MCSO’s and Sheriff Arpaio’s voluntary compliance with its legal obligations to provide information in connection with our investigation, the department took the virtually unprecedented step of filing a lawsuit to force MCSO to comply. This lawsuit successfully caused MCSO to meet its legal obligations and it was settled in June 2011.

Six months later, in December 2011, the department issued its letter of findings detailing the results of our investigation. Our investigation found that there is reasonable cause to believe that MCSO and Sheriff Arpaio engage in: 1) a pattern or practice of discriminatory policing of Latinos, 2) discriminatory jail practices against Latino prisoners with limited English skills, and 3) a pattern or practice of unlawful retaliatory behavior against perceived critics of MCSO through baseless criminal charges, unfounded civil lawsuits and meritless administrative actions.

After we issued our findings letter, we tried to reach a negotiated settlement. The United States is not seeking, and has never sought, monetary damages or attorney’s fees in connection with our case, though Title VI authorizes the termination of federal funding. Rather, we sought, and continue to seek, to accomplish one important goal: to fix the problems identified in our investigation and ensure that the necessary policies, practices and oversight are in place so that MCSO and Sheriff Arpaio comply with the Constitution and laws of the United States.

We traveled to Phoenix in early February and met with lawyers for MCSO and Sheriff Arpaio as well as with the county attorney, where we discussed the parameters of a potential settlement. We made it clear, orally and in writing, that a settlement would require an independent monitor. Later that month, we gave MCSO and Sheriff Arpaio a 128-page draft settlement agreement, which we hoped would serve as the framework for further discussion. Unfortunately, these further discussions were brief, and negotiations broke down, primarily because MCSO and Sheriff Arpaio would not agree to any settlement that included an independent monitor.

A monitor, in general, and specifically in a case of this nature, is not a new requirement. Monitors have been critical components of our settlements in other police cases, from Los Angeles to Pittsburgh to Cincinnati, and they play an important role in ensuring that reforms are carried out in an effective, fair and sustainable fashion. Ronald Reagan was correct: trust but verify. Monitors do not usurp the function of sheriffs; in fact, there was a provision in the proposed agreement that stated, “The monitor shall not, and is not intended to, replace or assume the role or duties of the defendant, including the Sheriff.” Monitors work collaboratively with sheriffs’ offices, police departments, courts, communities and the Justice Department to provide necessary support and assistance to ensure that the problems are fixed in a sustainable fashion. Unfortunately, this provision was unacceptable to the Sheriff and MCSO and they ended negotiations.

Left with no choice, earlier today we filed a civil complaint in the United States District Court against Sheriff Arpaio, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and Maricopa County.

The police are supposed to protect and serve our communities, not divide them. At its core, this is an abuse of power case involving a sheriff and sheriff’s office that disregarded the Constitution, ignored sound police practices, comprised public safety, and did not hesitate to retaliate against perceived critics. Constitutional policing and effective policing go hand-in-hand. Our complaint alleges that the defendants’ actions were neither constitutional nor effective.

There are three categories of claims in the complaint. First, the complaint alleges that MCSO’s police practices unlawfully discriminate against Latinos in violation of their constitutional and statutory rights. It is Sheriff Arpaio’s prerogative to set law enforcement priorities for his agency. Whatever his priorities, he must carry them out in a manner that is consistent with his constitutional and statutory obligations. Law enforcement agencies cannot cut constitutional corners in the pursuit of their objectives, and the complaint alleges that from at least 2006 to the present, MCSO officers have unlawfully discriminated against Latinos and violated their constitutional rights in a number of ways, including racial profiling of Latinos in traffic stop settings; unlawful detention, searches and arrests of Latino drivers and passengers; and unlawful targeting and illegal detention of Latinos during home and worksite raids.

The complaint further alleges that MCSO failed to adopt basic policy, training and internal oversight practices to monitor these police activities, examine their effectiveness, and prevent unlawful activities. For instance, despite the fact that the traffic operations have very low “hit rates,” and very high rates of stopping Latino U.S. citizens and legal residents, the specialized units receive little oversight and inadequate training. If you looked Latino, you were all too frequently fair game for MCSO officers.

The second category of claim in the complaint is that MCSO’s correctional practices violate the constitutional and statutory rights of Latino prisoners in MCSO jails who have limited English skills.  It is essential as a safety matter and as a civil rights matter for officials who administer a jail to ensure that employees can effectively communicate with prisoners who have limited English skills.  MCSO recognizes this obligation. In a position statement of June 14, 2010, MCSO noted the importance of providing language assistance to LEP prisoners, stating that such assistance is “essential to the overall operation of the jails and the safety of the prisoners and officers.”

The complaint outlines how MCSO failed to put this into practice in its jails.  MCSO and Sheriff Arpaio routinely failed to provide necessary Spanish language assistance to Latino prisoners with limited English skills.  As the complaint outlines, MCSO detention officers routinely issue commands only in English.  In some instances, when Latino prisoners with limited English skills failed to follow a command given in English because they could not understand, the detention officers placed an entire area of a jail in lockdown.  This incites obvious and unwarranted hostility toward the inmates, potentially placing prisoners and officers alike in harm’s way.

In other circumstances, MCSO detention officers have forced Latino prisoners with limited English skills to sign key legal documents printed in English, in which they forfeited key rights.

MCSO’s failure to provide effective language assistance services is a violation of the civil rights of Latino prisoners with limited English skills, and is a substantial departure from generally accepted correctional standards.

The third category flows from Sheriff Arpaio and MCSO’s pattern or practice of retaliating against perceived critics of MCSO practices.  The complaint outlines a number of instances where MCSO and Sheriff Arpaio have targeted a range of people, including judges, lawyers, and community leaders who made statements or took actions that they either disliked or perceived were critical of MCSO or the Sheriff.

A hallmark of our democracy is freedom of expression.   It is equally important that dedicated public servants are able to carry out their responsibilities without fear of unlawful, retaliatory reprisals.   The complaint outlines a series of retaliatory actions by MCSO and Arpaio, designed to silence and punish perceived critics, with the added effect of chilling would-be critics.  Retaliatory activities were directed at public officials, judges and private citizens engaged in lawful protests.     For instance, the complaint quotes from a recent opinion arising out of an ethics complaint filed against the former County Attorney and two of his assistants, which found the Sheriff and others to be involved in “a concerted effort to wrestle power from [the Maricopa Board of Supervisors], County officials and Superior Court judges, and to instill fear in the hearts of those who would resist.”

Nobody is above the law, and nobody can misuse the legal process to silence those with different opinions.

Leadership starts at the top, and all of the alleged violations outlined in the complaint are the product of a culture of disregard for basic rights within MCSO that starts at the top and pervades the organization.   The complaint alleges that MCSO employees frequently use derogatory terms such as “wetback” and “Mexican bitches” to refer to Latinos.   Such words and actions exemplify the culture of bias that contributes to the unlawful actions.

In terms of next steps, the matter will now be assigned to a federal judge, and we will follow the Court’s direction.   Our goal remains the same: we want to fix the problems and work collaboratively with the defendants, the community, and the court, to devise and implement a comprehensive blueprint for sustainable reform.   We recognize the hard and dangerous work law enforcement officers do every day.   Our work is intended to make their work more effective and safer.

I would rather fix the problem than debate the existence of a problem.   It was ironic that yesterday, the same day that the defendants received our letter informing them that a lawsuit was imminent, Sheriff Arpaio released a 17-page document entitled, “Integrity, Accountability, Community.” We see these 17 pages as largely an admission of the problem. As our complaint states, MCSO’s failure to ensure integrity and accountability has led to a crisis of confidence within the community. While it is noteworthy and perhaps heartening that a number of these changes appear to be taken from the 128 page proposed settlement agreement that we provided back in February, this too little, too late document cobbled together beyond the 11th hour, is no substitute for meaningful reform.

It is time to forge comprehensive, sustainable solutions that include meaningful, independent oversight. Unfortunately, today’s complaint, and the time-consuming path that will follow, is the only way forward.