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Saturday, June 2, 2012
FROM: U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
Piracy: Where We Are Today
Remarks Thomas P. Kelly
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs The American Petroleum Institute, Biennial Tanker Conference
May 21, 2012
Scott, thanks for that introduction, and for inviting me here today. I want to thank API for the work that it does promoting U.S. business and commerce, and for organizing this important event. It is my pleasure to be here and to speak to an audience with so much experience and expertise. I look forward to hearing from you following my remarks.
Piracy off the coast of Somalia is a critical issue for the United States, the international community, and the global economy. Since 2008, Somali pirates have hijacked 175 vessels and attacked at least 445 others. They have kidnapped 3,000 crewmembers from over 40 countries, and are still holding 241 hostages today. They hijacked 27 ships last year and six already this year. There are ten ships currently being held by Somali pirates. Three are tankers.
While piracy at sea is certainly not a new problem, its modern reincarnation has new impacts. Piracy off the coast of Somalia threatens one of the principal foundations of today’s modern interconnected global economic system -- the freedom of navigation. In a globalized world, the impact of piracy in one area of the world can cause a ripple effect across the globe. People in countries around the world depend on secure and reliable shipping lanes for their food, their medicine, their energy, and consumer goods brought by cargo ships and tankers. By preying on commercial ships in one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, pirates off the Horn of Africa threaten more than just individual ships. They threaten a central artery of the global economy -- and that means that they threaten global security.
In 2007 and 2008, pirate attacks began to escalate dramatically. A vicious and reinforcing cycle was forming. Motivated by escalating ransom payments – which grew into the millions of dollars – and a lack of other opportunities to make money quickly, more and more Somali men took to the sea. Piracy, as a result, went from a fairly ad hoc, disorganized endeavor to a highly developed transnational criminal enterprise. Flush with money, pirates were also able to improve their capabilities and expand their operations further and further from shore.
To make matters worse, Somalia offered pirates near ideal conditions. Piracy is a prime example of the dangers and problems that can arise from the presence of ungoverned spaces in our globalized world. In places off the coast of Somalia where pirates operate – throughout the coastal areas in Puntland and parts of central Somalia – the lack of governance and weak institutions provide them with safe haven. With more than two thousand miles of coast line and with the Gulf of Aden to its north, Somalia sits along one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. This high volume of trade means that there is virtually an endless variety and supply of ships for Somali pirates to target. Over time, tankers and other high-value ships became prized targets for potential high ransoms that raised the bar on the amounts demanded by and paid to pirates for individual ships and crews. The fact that many tankers are ‘low and slow’ makes them particularly attractive targets.
Piracy emanating from Somalia represented a perfect storm for the international community – a weak state in a strategically essential location that harbors a rapidly growing transnational criminal enterprise and which threatens a vital artery of the global economy.
The U.S. government has made it clear that it will take all appropriate measures to protect our citizens, safely recover hostages, and bring hostage takers to justice. Just months into office in 2009, the Obama administration was confronted with the hostage taking of the American captain of the MAERSK Alabama, a U.S.-flagged ship carrying a cargo of food aid. The President authorized the use of force to rescue the captured captain, and after a tense standoff, U.S. Navy Seals successfully freed the captain. And just hours before the State of the Union address last January, President Obama ordered U.S. Special Forces to rescue an American and a Danish aid worker being held hostage on the ground in Somalia. The health of the American hostage Jessica Buchanan was deemed to be in jeopardy and the President ordered U.S. forces to rescue her. This dangerous but ultimately successful mission demonstrated our resolve.
In the past, there seemed to be no limit to the growth of piracy. Today, through the collective efforts of the international community and the private sector, we are now seeing signs of clear progress. In 2011, the number of successful pirate attacks fell by nearly half. There has been a significant drop in the numbers of ships and crew held hostage. In January 2011, pirates held 31 ships and 710 hostages. In early May of 2012, pirates hold ten ships and 241 hostages – a roughly 70 percent decline. This is still an unacceptable number, but clearly we are making progress. This morning, I’d like to talk to you about the U.S. response to Somali piracy and why I think our efforts, in conjunction with the efforts of the international community and the private sector, are having an impact.
In combating piracy, the United States has pursued an integrated multi-dimensional approach toward combating piracy that focuses on:
diplomatic engagement to spur collective international action;
expanding security at sea through the use of naval assets to defend private vessels and to disrupt pirate attacks;
preventing attacks by encouraging industry to take steps to protect itself;
deterring piracy through effective legal prosecution and incarceration; and
disrupting the piracy enterprise ashore, including the financial flows that make it possible.
From the beginning, the United States has led and adopted a multilateral approach focused on addressing piracy as a shared challenge most effectively addressed through broad, coordinated, and comprehensive international efforts. In January 2009, the United States helped establish the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia to both prompt action and coordinate efforts to suppress Somali piracy. It has grown from 29 initial participants to nearly 70 nations and international organizations today. It also includes international and maritime industry organizations.
The Contact Group’s meetings enable interaction between states, regional and international organizations, and industry. A number of specialized working groups were established within the Contact Group to address a variety of subjects, including naval coordination at sea; judicial and legal issues concerning captured pirates; liaison with industry; public diplomacy programs in Somalia to discourage piracy; and most recently, a working group to focus on and coordinate efforts to disrupt the pirate enterprise ashore. Many of you may be familiar with Working Group 3, until recently co-chaired by the U.S. Maritime Adminstration and U.S. Coast Guard, which was very effective in communicating industry views and concerns to government and intergovernmental policy makers. The Republic of Korea recently assumed the chairmanship of Working Group 3 from the United States. We’re looking forward to continuing to support this very important forum for liaison with the maritime industry.
Through its five working groups, the Contact Group draws in international expertise and adopts a problem-solving approach toward addressing piracy. This coordinated international engagement has spawned significant and effective action.
In this regard, the Contact Group helps to synchronize the many efforts underway to utilize resources effectively, prevent duplication, and maximize the impact of national international efforts. Private sector contributions to these efforts would be welcome. One activity that your firms may wish to consider would be contributions -- in cash or expertise -- to the Trust Fund to Support Initiatives of States Countering Piracy off the Coast of Somalia. General or designated donations for particular projects are possible. For example, Shell, Maersk, BP, and Japan Shipping recently announced a combined donation to economic capacity-building projects in Somalia. We would welcome similar donations by U.S. industry.
There’s another interesting international effort currently underway. RAPPICC stands for the Regional Anti-Piracy Prosecutions Intelligence Coordination Centre in the Seychelles. Early this year, the UK and the Seychelles decided to move forward on RAPPICC, which will be located on an old Seychellois Coast Guard base. The RAPPICC will be an information fusion center that facilitates the capture and prosecution of the financiers, investors and ringleaders of Somali piracy. It will be part of a larger “Crime Campus” with a 20-person holding facility for use in conducting interviews.
The UK allocated over one million dollars in initial funding and proposed that RAPPICC be initially led by the British Serious Organized Crime Agency. The Seychelles agreed. The U.S. is now examining possible support to and participation in RAPPICC.
The issue of armed robbery and piracy has also become a significant component of our bilateral diplomatic engagements with other countries. When we engage in diplomatic talks with countries as varied as India, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Brazil, this issue is on the agenda. It is a shared challenge that many countries have an interest in seeing addressed.
In West Africa and the Gulf of Guinea, we are working with our partners on a related but different problem. Their situation varies from Somali piracy; we shouldn’t conflate the two. Piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea is not systematic hostage taking for ransom. Instead, it is often illegal oil bunkering abetted by corrupt regional actors. Recent UN Security Council Resolutions encourage States of the Gulf of Guinea region to develop “a regional framework to counter piracy and armed robbery at sea, including information-sharing and operational coordination mechanisms in the region.” Towards that end, the United States, led by the U.S. Africa Command, has supported regional organizations in their efforts to address the problem.
Another way that government can help is by increasing security at sea. As you know, as pirate attacks increased, the United States, NATO, the EU, and many other national navies responded.
The United States established Combined Task Force 151 – a multinational task force charged with conducting counter-piracy naval patrols in the region. It operates in the Gulf of Aden and off the eastern coast of Somalia, covering an area of over one million square miles. In addition, there are a number of coordinated multinational naval patrols off the Horn of Africa. NATO is engaging with Operation Ocean Shield, the European Union has Operation ATALANTA, and other national navies in the area conduct counter-piracy patrols and escort operations as well.
On any given day, up to 30 vessels from as many as 20 nations are engaged in counter-piracy operations in the region. This force includes countries new to this kind of effort, like China, India, and Japan. U.S. and international naval forces have thwarted pirate attacks in progress, engaged pirate skiffs, and successfully taken back hijacked ships during opposed boardings. We have also sought to create a safe transit corridor for commercial shipping vessels. U.S. Naval Forces Central Command has worked with partners to set up a nearly 500-mile long transit corridor through the Gulf of Aden. This transit zone is heavily patrolled by naval forces and used by some countries for convoy operations. The corridor has helped reduce the number of attacks within the transit zone, but it also has had the side effect of pushing pirate activities further out to sea.
The pirates’ expansion of their area of operations demonstrates how they adapt their tactics in response to international efforts. The expanded use of mother-ships has made pirates more difficult to interdict and more effective at operating during the monsoon seasons, which previously restricted their activities. Mother-ships have extended the pirates’ reach far beyond the Somali Basin, all the way to the west coast of India. Somali pirates now operate in a total sea space of approximately 2.5 million square nautical miles – an area equivalent to the size of the continental United States. This makes it difficult for naval or law enforcement ships and other assets to reach the scene of a pirate attack quickly enough to disrupt an ongoing attack. There is just too much water to patrol.
Navies can’t be everywhere. That’s why we need the maritime industry’s ships themselves to become tougher for pirates to seize. Indeed, the best defense against piracy is often simply vigilance on the part of the maritime industry. The private sector is now playing a major role in deterring and preventing pirate attacks.
In response to the growing threat, we’ve worked with the shipping industry to develop and implement “best management practices” to prevent pirate boardings before they take place. These include practical measures, such as:
proceeding at full speed through high risk areas;
employing physical barriers such as razor wire;
posting additional look-outs;
reporting positions to military authorities; and
mustering the crew inside a “citadel” or safe-room in the vessel when under attack.
These steps, when properly implemented, remain some of the most effective measures to protect against pirate attacks. Recognizing the value of these measures, the U.S. government has required U.S.-flagged vessels sailing in designated high-risk waters to take additional security measures. Nevertheless, we remain troubled that there are still commercial ships travelling through pirate-infested waters that have yet to implement appropriate security measures. Approximately 20 percent of all ships off the Horn of Africa are not taking proper security precautions. Unsurprisingly, these account for the overwhelming number of successfully pirated ships. Take the case of the Smyrni, a tanker that was taken by Somali pirates earlier this month. The Smyrni was transporting a valuable cargo of oil that was loaded in Turkey and was destined for Indonesia. What is noteworthy and unfortunate about the Smyrni hijacking is that it was avoidable. The ship had no embarked security team on board and took a dangerous course. It was easy pickings for the pirates.
However, we must also recognize that even when fully implemented, best management practices do not guarantee security from pirates. As a result, we have also supported the maritime industry’s use of additional measures to enhance their security – such as embarking armed security teams. To date, not a single ship with Privately Contracted Armed Security Personnel aboard has been pirated.
These teams serve as a potential game-changer in the effort to counter-piracy. The IMO is examining the issue of internationally recognized standards for the use of Privately Contracted Armed Security Personnel. In most engagements, the situation ends as soon as pirates are aware an armed security team is on board. Pirates often break off the attack and turn their skiffs around and wait for another less protected ship to come by. These teams therefore have served as an effective deterrent.
Best Management Practices and Privately Contracted Armed Security Personnel are not an either/or choice. They should be used together and tailored to the specific needs of particular ships and transit plans.
When a vessel is successfully hijacked, our foremost concern is always about the safety of the crew, regardless of nationality. The U.S. government is acutely aware of the dilemma that shipowners face when ships and sailors are taken hostage. While the safety of the crew is critical, it’s also a fact that submitting to pirate ransom demands ensures that future crews will be taken hostage. The United States has a long tradition of opposing the payment of ransom, and we have worked diligently to discourage or minimize ransom payments. While some may consider this the cost of doing business, every ransom paid further institutionalizes the practice of hostage-taking for profit and promotes its expansion as a criminal enterprise. We strongly encourage flag States, shipowners, and private parties involved in hostage crises to seek assistance from appropriate U.S. government sources in their crisis management procedures.. The average ransom is now at $4.5 million per incident; one ransom totaled $12 million. And as I’m sure you know, tankers command the highest ransoms. Total ransom payments paid to Somali pirates increased from approximately $80 million in 2010 to $140 million in 2011. The average ransom demanded has soared from roughly $150,000 in 2005 to $4.6 million in 2011. In light of the pirates’ growing difficulties at sea, we have seen pirates shift to targeting hostages on land, such as with captured aid workers or tourists at beach resorts. Pirates’ ability to adapt means that the maritime industry and the international community must be constantly vigilant in assessing the effectiveness of self-protection measures.
The United Kingdom’s February conference on Somalia explored a wide range of global initiatives to speed assistance to Somalia, promote a credible political transition, sever the terrorist group al-Shabaab’s financial lifelines, and counter piracy and kidnapping operations. The United States welcomed the United Kingdom’s initiative to create an international task force to discourage the payment of ransoms to pirates, terrorists, and other groups, as well as prevent the illicit flow of money and its corrosive effects. We are participating in this task force and doing everything in our power to make it more effective.
Prosecution, Incarceration, and Pirate Networks
Now let me turn to another aspect of our response – our efforts to deter piracy through effective apprehension, prosecution and incarceration of pirates and their supporters and financiers. Today, over 1,100 pirates are in custody in 20 countries around the world. Most are or are expected to be convicted and sentenced to lengthy prison terms.
An important element of our counter-piracy approach involves renewed emphasis on enhancing the capacity of states – particularly those in the region – to prosecute and incarcerate suspected pirates. The United States is currently supporting efforts to:
increase prison capacity in Somalia;
develop a framework for prisoner transfers so convicted pirates serve their sentence back in their home country of Somalia; and
to establish a specialized piracy chamber in the national courts of regional states.
We are moving in the right direction in this area. Last year, a new maximum security prison opened in northern Somalia to hold general convicts and convicted pirates. Nevertheless, the capacity and willingness to prosecute and incarcerate pirates is limited. Countries in the region that might be able and otherwise willing to prosecute Somali pirates in their national courts often decline to do so because they do not want to squeeze more pirates into their already overburdened prison systems. In this regard, we are in some ways a victim of our own success. We are apprehending more pirates at sea, leading to more crowded prisons. Expanding the capacity to prosecute and incarcerate pirates is a real challenge and is one that the international community, including the governments of flag states and ship owners, will have to work hard to address. Your industry can also support this important effort by contributing to the Trust Fund. I encourage all of you to do that.
As piracy has evolved into an organized transnational criminal enterprise, it is increasingly clear that the arrest and prosecution of pirates captured at sea is insufficient on its own to meet our longer term counter-piracy goals. Most pirates captured at sea are often low-level operatives. The sad fact is that prosecution is often a limited deterrent for men lacking employment opportunities onshore and who are willing to venture hundreds of miles out to sea in nothing more than a small boat. An untold number of pirates are lost at sea every year. Part of what makes piracy seem so intractable is that despite these dangers, the lack of other economic opportunities in coastal communities means there is no shortage of willing recruits for pirate organizers to choose from.
After an intensive review of our strategy last year, Secretary Clinton approved a series of recommendations which constitute a new strategic approach. A focus on pirate networks is now at the heart of our strategy. We are using all of the tools at our disposal in order to disrupt pirate networks and their financial flows. We are focused on identifying and apprehending the criminal conspirators who lead, manage, and finance the pirate enterprise, with the objective of bringing them to trial and disrupting pirate business processes. Often, the best way to attack organized crime is to follow the money. That’s how the U.S. put some nefarious criminals behind bars. Pirate organizers receive income both from investors and ransom payments, and disburse a portion of the proceeds of ransoms back to these investors. Already, the United States has convicted one Somali pirate negotiator.
The Contact Group recently endorsed this approach and formed a new working group, under Italy’s leadership, to assist in multilateral coordination to disrupt the pirate enterprise ashore. We are working to connect law enforcement communities, intelligence agencies, financial experts, and our international partners to promote information sharing and develop actionable information against pirate conspirators. This effort will include tracking pirate sources of financing and supplies, such as fuel, outboard motors, and weapons.
Situation on the Ground in Somalia
All of the policies I’ve described help us to combat piracy. But the only long-term solution to piracy is the re-establishment of stability, responsive law enforcement, and adequate governance in Somalia. This will require concentrated and coordinated assistance to states in the region and credible governing authorities in Somalia to build their capacity to deal with the social, legal, economic and operational challenges to governance, effective law enforcement and economic development. To that end, the United States continues to support the Djibouti Peace Process, the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), and other regional authorities working toward these same goals. In February, Secretary Clinton attended the London Conference on Somalia, which the United Kingdom convened to galvanize high-level international support for Somalia’s political transition.
However, acknowledging the difficult situation on shore doesn’t preclude progress at sea. While there is no simple solution to modern-day piracy, we are having a positive effect on what was seemingly an intractable transnational problem.
The U.S. response to piracy also shows how we as a government can address new and emergent transnational challenges. Addressing these threats requires us to be flexible and innovative in how we respond. It also requires agencies across the U.S. government to work together so that we bring every tool that we have to bear – including our diplomatic, military, law enforcement, economic, and intelligence tools.
There isn’t just one single thing we can do, or just one policy we can implement, that will end piracy. Reducing and mitigating the threat posed by piracy will be long, hard work. But it is clear that the multifaceted nature of our response is having an impact. As pirates continue to adapt, we need to stay vigilant and continue our efforts. The security of your ships, the region, and the global economy depend on it.
Finally, we come to the question of what you can do to insure the safety of your crews and vessels. They key actions should be:
Maintain, and where necessary increase, situational awareness.
Employ Best Management Practices on your ships.
Employ embarked security teams where circumstances necessitate their use.
Train your crews on the piracy threat.
Train your crews in the methods of preserving evidence when ships are attacked or taken.
Provide personnel for participation in investigations and trials, including giving testimony.
Make contributions for general or particular projects to the Trust Fund.
And finally, stay in touch with the personnel, military units, and governments involved in fighting piracy.
With that, I thank you for your attention, and will be glad to take your questions.
FROM: U.S. NAVY. Members of the Indonesian army board the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19). Mercy is participating in Pacific Partnership, an annual U.S. Pacific Fleet humanitarian and civic assistance mission now in its seventh year that brings together U.S. military personnel, host and partner nations, non-government organizations and international agencies to build stronger relationships and develop disaster response capabilities throughout the Asia-Pacific region. U.S. Navy photo by Kristopher Radder (Released) 120531-O-ZZ999-007
FROM: U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
A World in Transition: Charting a New Path in Global Health
Remarks Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State Oslo, Norway
June 1, 2012
Well, that is quite a compliment. And whatever it takes to accept, I do. Your Majesty, Your Royal Highness, Mayor, my dear friend and colleague, your excellent foreign minister, also let me recognize Ingrid Schulerud, wife of the prime minister who, along with her husband, just hosted me and my delegation for a wonderful luncheon, and to everyone who has organized this extraordinary conference, which I think does come at a historical turning point.
It’s no surprise that we would be meeting here in Norway, one of the most generous nations on earth when it comes not only to global health but so much more, and that we would have gathered here the panel and others who bring such broad and deep experience, and also have the opportunity to elevate an issue that is connected to so much else.
I often think about issues like maternal health from a personal perspective because I am privileged to have known what it meant to me to have had the great good fortune and gift of my daughter. And I think about what it would have been like that cold February day in 1980 if I didn’t know that the facility was available. Or were it available, I didn’t really know for sure if it would be open. And I couldn’t count on a doctor or a midwife or a nurse being present. Or if they were, if something went wrong, that they would have the equipment and the expertise to handle whatever the emergency might be. But indeed, as we have just heard described by the minister from Sierra Leone, that is the experience of many millions of women every single day throughout the world.
So I greatly appreciated the invitation by the foreign minister to increase and accelerate our mutual efforts as to how together we, and hopefully bringing others with us, can do more to save the lives of mothers during labor and delivery. Now, maternal health has a value in and of itself, I think we would all agree with that, but it is deeply connected to a broader purpose. And our panelists have all very persuasively discussed that.
How do we achieve health systems that will help every country improve life for more of their people? And the key question comes down to, if you really want to know how strongly a country’s health system is, look at the well-being of its mothers. Because when a woman in labor experiences complications, it takes a strong system to keep her alive. It not only takes skilled doctors, midwives, and nurses, it takes reliable transportation, well-equipped clinics and hospitals that are open 24 hours a day. Where these elements are in place, more often than not women will survive childbirth. When they aren’t, more often than not they die or suffer life-changing, traumatic injuries.
When China, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia upgraded and expanded their health systems, their maternal mortality rates dropped dramatically. When Zimbabwe’s system began to crumble, its maternal mortality rates shot up dramatically. That is a powerful, inescapable correlation. And it is why improving maternal health is a priority for the United States.
Through our development agency USAID, we are supporting more skilled midwives and cell phone technology to spread health information. We’re involved in the International Alliance for Reproductive, Maternal, and Newborn Health, a five-year effort to improve donor coordination. We are partnering with Norway and others to support innovative interventions that improve outcomes for pregnant women and newborns. And we are working to ensure access to family planning so that women can choose the spacing and size of their families. Reproductive health services can and do save women’s lives, strengthen their overall health, and improve families’ and communities’ well-being.
And of course, women’s health means more than just maternal health and therefore we must look to improve women’s health more generally, because it is an unfortunate reality that women often face great health disparities. And improving women’s health has dividends for entire societies, from driving down child mortality rates to sparking economic growth. And Norway, as Jonas just pointed out, has been a leader in not only doing that, but recognizing it.
And the comment he made at the end about the difference between Norway’s GDP with oil and gas and with women’s empowerment and involvement is very striking because a recent study that Norway has just completed demonstrated that Norway’s GDP actually do more to the empowerment of women than the discovery of natural resources and their exploitation.
Norway has been a leader in also pointing out the direct links between gender-based violence and health. So for our part, the United States is integrating services throughout our health programs so women and their families have access to the range of care they need. And we are linking our health programs to others that address the legal, social and cultural barriers that inhibit women’s access to care, such as gender-based violence, lack of education, and the low social status of women and girls.
But you can’t impose a health system, and you can’t change some of these attitudes from the outside. We understand that. There has to be encouragement for it to grow from within, the kind of leadership that the minister is discussing about what is happening in Sierra Leone.
That is the principle of what we call country ownership. And I think it’s important to stress the connection between maternal mortality, strong health systems, and country ownership. Because while the global health community has recognized that we have to rigorously think about what works and what doesn’t work, and that we endorsed country ownership at the high-level forum in Paris in 2005 and reaffirmed it in Accra and Busan, it is enshrined in numerous global health agreements.
But few of us have honestly forced ourselves to examine what country ownership means for the day-to-day work of saving lives. Now, for many people, that phrase is freighted with unstated meaning. Some worry that it means donors are supposed to keep money flowing indefinitely while recipients decide how to spend it. Others, particularly in partner countries, are concerned that country ownership means countries are on their own. (Laughter.) Still others fear that country-owned really means government-run, freezing out civil society groups or faith-based organizations that in some places operate as many as 70 percent of all health facilities.
And this is not just a matter of semantics, because if we are not clear about what country ownership means, we cannot know whether we are making progress toward achieving it. And we certainly can’t identify what works and what doesn’t. And what’s more, we will achieve real gains in maternal health and global health more generally only with effective country ownership. Now, one or two programs in isolation are not enough. It takes an integrated, country-owned approach. So let me share with you what our latest thinking about what that means is.
To us, country ownership in health is the end state where a nation’s efforts are led, implemented, and eventually paid for by its government, communities, civil society and private sector. To get there, a country’s political leaders must set priorities and develop national plans to accomplish them in concert with their citizens, which means including women as well as men in the planning process. And these plans must be effectively carried out primarily by the country’s own institutions, and then these groups must be able to hold each other accountable as the women did in front of the parliament in Sierra Leone.
So while nations must ultimately be able to fund more of their own needs, country ownership is about far more than funding. It is principally about building capacity to set priorities, manage resources, develop plans, and carry them out. We are well aware that moving to full country ownership will take considerable time, patience, investment, and persistence. But I think there are grounds for optimism.
Economic growth is making it possible for many developing nations to meet more of their people’s own needs. In 2010, the GDPs of Mozambique, Botswana, and Ethiopia grew more than 8 percent. Nations across sub-Saharan Africa are seeing similar growth. And what we want to be sure of is that countries don’t substitute donor funding for their own, because unfortunately, there are examples – Zimbabwe being one – where an existing health system that was providing basic services to many was allowed to deteriorate while the government chose to put funding elsewhere. We have seen ministries of health lose funding to ministries of defense or ministries of transportation. And so what had been possible only a decade before becomes very difficult going forward.
So what we are trying to do is to help put in place the essential pieces of strong health systems. That means we are helping to build clinics and labs, to train staff, improve supply chains, make blood supplies safer, set up record-keeping systems; in short, creating platforms upon which partners can eventually launch their own efforts. Now, with this momentum, the question before us is not: Can we achieve country ownership? We think we are in a very good position to begin that process. Instead, we have to ask ourselves: “Are we achieving it? And if we are not, what must each of us do better?”
Well, some countries are. And earlier we heard about Sierra Leone. And I am very excited by what the minister has done to enlist 1,700-plus women as health monitors, responsible for checking up on their local clinics, reporting problems to the health ministry. That’s a wonderful way for ownership to migrate down from the national level to the local level and then come back up as a reporting mechanism.
Or consider Botswana, where the government manages, operates, and pays for HIV treatment programs. With PEPFAR’s support, it is also working with American universities to build a national medical school that will train the nation’s next generation of healthcare workers. And perhaps we can then stop the brain drain, because so many countries train excellent doctors, midwives, and nurses who then leave that country. My birth was assisted by a nurse midwife from Ghana – the birth of my daughter, and I know how wonderful and skilled she was. Now she’s back in Ghana, because she thinks she has opportunities to do her best work in her home country.
If you look at what India has achieved – and I appreciate the minister being here – six years ago, when the government launched its National AIDS Control Program, half the budget came from outside donors. Today, less than one fifth does, and the Indian Government covers the rest. But these are the exceptions, not yet the rule.
In too many countries, if you take a snapshot of all the health efforts, you see donors – that’s all of us – failing to coordinate our work, leaving some diseases underfunded, burying our partners in paperwork that I am convinced hardly anyone ever reads once it’s filled out, paying too little attention to improving systems. You see partner countries committing too few of their own resources and avoiding accountability for delivering results. And you see patients encountering a maze of obstacles that block them from the services they need. So therefore it is up to us – donor and country alike.
There is an old proverb that says: “When a man repeats a promise again and again, he means to fail you.” At the turn of this century, we made a collective promise to cut the maternal mortality ratio by three quarters and achieve universal access to reproductive health services. And yes, we have repeated that promise again and again. And although we do not mean to fail, we risk failing all the same, if we don’t change course.
So what do we need to do? Let me offer a few suggestions. Beginning with donors, governments, foundations, multilateral organizations – and I see a number of familiar faces. First, we do need to move from rhetoric to the reality of making it a priority to strengthen country-led health systems. That means meeting our commitments even in tough economic times. Part of this assistance should include an assessment of country systems, led by the countries themselves, with common international benchmarks so we can compare results across borders. And those are not only national borders but donor borders.
We need, for example, to follow closely the National Heath Accounts supported by USAID that give us an excellent view of the state of a health system’s financing – not to point fingers or cast blame, but to identify gaps and then develop plans to fill them.
Second, we donors have to recognize that supporting country ownership in health requires hard choices. It is often easier to start a new program than to phase out an existing one, even when the existing one is not producing results. But if we are serious about helping our partners plan, implement, and ultimately pay for their own efforts, we have to be willing to make the tough calls.
Third, donors must embrace transparency, even when it brings bad news. For example, when Zambia uncovered corruption in its Global Fund program, some donors responded by punishing them for the corruption, rather than applauding them for uncovering it. Now, we should never turn a blind eye to corruption or throw good money after bad, but it is counterproductive to punish our partners when they root out problems like that. It sends exactly the wrong message: We want you to fight corruption, but if you find any, we might freeze your funding. Instead, we should say find the corruption so that we can help you fix the problems.
And fourth, donors need to solve the coordination curse. Donor coordination has been a theme at health and development conferences for so long, it is a cliché. But there’s a reason it keeps coming up, and that’s because it is critically important and notoriously hard to get right.
When President Obama took office, we recognized that the United States Government needed to do a much better job of coordinating with ourselves to start with, as well as our partners and other donors.
For years, health teams within the U.S. Government operated independently. HIV/AIDS teams under PEPFAR would work with a country to develop one plan; USAID, which was the implementing partner for HIV/AIDS, might very well develop another plan; in would come our malaria team, they would develop a third plan, so on and so on. It was enough to make anybody just dizzy.
So we are trying to integrate our programs. And under our Global Health Initiative, each of our country teams now assess how they fit within a comprehensive vision and program, based upon a health plan established by the country where we are operating. And we have worked with partners to develop these health plans in more than 40 countries.
For donors, tackling all these problems will be essential if we want to get more partners back on the path to helping build sustainable, country-owned systems. And this goes for the emerging economies that recently were recipients of assistance but now are net donors. These countries are playing an increasingly important role, and some have shared technical advice and lessons with their developing nation partners. We want to see that expand.
But at the same time, we look to all emerging powers to recognize that with this growing power comes growing responsibility, and they should consider working whenever possible through existing multilateral channels and ensure that the ultimate aim of their efforts is to put more countries on the path to meeting their own needs, not to – figuratively and literally – pave the way for extracting countries’ natural resources.
Now, partner countries have challenges to meet as well. First, I challenge our partner countries to invest more in the health of their own people. If you went to Abuja and agreed to put 15 percent of your national budget into health, we need you to deliver on that commitment. That should be a priority – not just for health ministers, but for all political leaders, starting with presidents and prime ministers to finance and defense ministers. Meeting this commitment will pay off many times over, making it possible to expand services to underserved areas and people, develop your workforce, and even expand economic growth.
And there’s a special opportunity here for those nations that have recently discovered new sources of wealth in oil, gas, and other extractive industries. I urge you to follow the examples of two countries that are not often mentioned together in the same sentence: Norway and Botswana. Both discovered large stores of natural resources. Both dedicated a portion of the income to health and education. And in both cases, their investments coming from their own ground, their own natural resources, are saving lives and lifting up communities. And both Norway and Botswana are very generous in being willing to offer advice and technical assistance about how to do this.
Second, partner countries must take on the flip side of donor coordination. While it’s absolutely true we donors need to do a better job of working together, only one player has the authority to speak about a nation’s needs and orchestrate all the different groups working in a county, namely the national government of that country. So we need you to help identify the needs that aren’t being met and to convene the partners to determine who will fill which gaps. I applaud Rwanda and Ethiopia for their exemplary progress along these lines. Now, I know it is very difficult for many countries, but in the end only you have the power. No one else can do it for you.
Third, partner countries must begin bringing down the political barriers to improving health. That means making regulatory changes that allow faster approval of new drugs, procurement reform to ensure that drugs get to clinics on time, setting and delivering a living wage for health workers.
And it also does mean taking on corruption at every level. We’ve had the very sad experience of negotiating to provide antiretroviral drugs for HIV/AIDS in some countries, and it’s very clear that the leadership of the country wants to make sure that they get their hand in the money for those drugs before it is delivered to the people who need it. And we have been very clear you have to take on corruption – local, regional, national – ensuring that drugs don’t get diverted to the black market.
It means repealing laws that stop progress, like the unfortunate treatment of women in so many places, ending gender-based violence and discrimination, creating true health equality for women and men. In some countries, women and girls are considered inherently less valuable than men and boys and are treated that way by custom and law. In many countries, members of the LGBT community are considered very much outside the mainstream and are treated that way, often therefore not being able to access health services that will benefit them and benefit the larger community. A system with built-in bias against any part of the population is not only unjust, but is unstable and unsustainable.
Now, my own country’s views about this global health work is shaped by what we have learned. As I said earlier, we are very proud that PEPFAR helped create platforms that countries can use to tackle a wide range of health problems. But as many observers have pointed out, PEPFAR did not initially set out to strengthen country systems. Instead, it began by creating a parallel network of clinics that were separately managed and paid for.
That’s a fair point. But let’s remember that in 2003, when the world faced an epidemic unlike any we had seen, HIV/AIDS demanded an emergency response, and the United States had the resources to answer the call. And today, we’ve made phenomenal progress with more than 4 million people receiving lifesaving treatment, 600,000 babies having been born HIV-free, and just last year 40 million receiving HIV counseling and testing.
But we know now it is time to shift from that emergency response to a country-owned model built to last. Last year, when I spoke about the goal of an AIDS-free generation, I made it clear that it could only happen by embracing country ownership. And PEPFAR provides us the framework, because there are five-year plans we have made with nearly two dozen countries to identify their most critical needs, to make joint commitments to meet those needs, and outline steps for transitioning responsibility for their HIV/AIDS programs. Our partners are no longer just recipients. They are now managers of their own response to the epidemic. And what we’re doing extends beyond HIV/AIDS. In Nepal, we have a USAID partnership to drive the expansion of family planning, maternal health, and children’s health. Nepal is now on track to achieve Millennium Development Goal five, as are Bangladesh, Egypt, and other countries.
So I am very pleased that the United States will be a part of the Saving Mothers, Giving Life partnership, along with Merck for Mothers, Every Mother Counts, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. We’re not focusing on a single intervention, but on strengthening health systems. We are beginning with projects in parts of Uganda and Zambia, learning what works and how we then can spread it. And I want to thank Norway for your extraordinary commitment, and I am pleased to announce the United States is committing $75 million to this partnership.
There are so many forums where matters of global health are discussed. I think every one of us have been to dozens, probably. But we have to do things differently. We have to be open about the obstacles that we confront. We have to be willing to admit what doesn’t work. We have to be ready to applaud those who point out mistakes or corruption. That kind of dialogue can be difficult. There will be times when we don’t see eye to eye. But it is fitting that we meet here in Oslo City Hall, where the world comes together each year to honor historic accomplishments that further the cause of peace, and think about the men and women who have stood here in this city hall being honored – the organizations like the International Red Cross or Doctors Without Borders.
Norway has long understood that the stability of any nation is tied up in the well-being of its people. And every life we save is a step toward that more peaceful, prosperous planet we seek. I think back to that day when I had my daughter and how fortunate I was. But surviving childbirth and growing up healthy should not be a matter of luck or where you live or how much money you have. It should be a fact for every woman everywhere. And I think we can make this happen, and by doing so, bring the world closer to recognizing that working together we not only can save lives, we can help improve them, bring greater peace, prosperity to all.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
Photo Credit: Wikimedia.
FROM: AMERICAN FORCES PRESS SERVICE
Southcom's Engagement Program Promotes Human Rights
By Donna Miles
MIAMI, June 1, 2012 - An active theater engagement program at U.S. Southern Command is making notable progress in promoting respect for human rights within regional militaries, the command's human rights coordinator reported.
"Throughout our entire area of responsibility, many nations in this region have had a history of human rights abuse in the past 20 or 30 years," Leana Bresnahan acknowledged in an interview with American Forces Press Service.
Bresnahan credited Southcom's human rights policy, the first for a U.S. combatant command when it was issued in 1990, and its standup five years later of the first COCOM human rights office, with helping reverse that course.
"This emphasis on human rights is something that is unique for a combatant command," said Army Maj. Gen. Gerald W. Ketchum, director of Southcom's theater engagement directorate. "But the reality is that it is integral to everything we do."
Southcom's human rights office represents an institutional statement of U.S. values and the command's commitment to maintaining a robust human rights program in the region, Bresnahan said.
"Human rights are part of our national values, our history, our traditions," she said. "The bottom line is -- it is what we do as a nation."
That principle underpins U.S. engagements with countries around the world, and is written into foreign security assistance laws. The so-called Leahy Law, for example, prohibits U.S. military assistance to foreign military units that violate human rights with impunity.
"We are prohibited from providing security assistance or any other DOD-funded training to a unit of a foreign national military if there are credible allegations of gross human rights abuse unless there has been effective action to investigate and prosecute those human rights abuses," Bresnahan said.
That congressional mandate provides the carrot that has helped Southcom inculcate respect for human rights within the region, she noted.
Bresnahan said she's been encouraged, as the region has put decades of military dictatorship and conflict behind it and embraced democracy, at how open regional partners have been to the human rights message.
The American Convention on Human Rights, for example, established the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to protect and promote human rights, as well as the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to enforce these rights.
"The transformation has been amazingly positive, and the militaries serving in these countries today are receptive to the human rights message," Bresnahan said. "They know that human rights are an issue, and there is a great deal of awareness. They are aware of their responsibilities and open to assistance."
As part of its charter, Southcom's human rights office works with regional militaries to help them develop doctrine that encompasses human rights principles and training programs that introduce them to their forces. The staff also works with them to help strengthen their internal control systems and increase cooperation with civilian authorities.
These efforts are particularly important and relevant, Bresnahan said, in the few countries where the governments call on their militaries to help local police forces provide internal security.
Ketchum emphasized that the United States strives to be a facilitator, supporting partners in their efforts and promoting shared values. "We are not dictating what people should be doing," he said. "We provide forums and minimal resourcing that allows everyone to come together on this issue. We emphasize the importance of it and try to help where we can as they develop their own path for training, for integrating that into institutions, into how they develop their doctrine."
"And we have had some real success stories in providing support," he said.
The training focuses at every level, through classroom courses and field training exercise scenarios to senior-level military colleges and seminars.
The Western Hemisphere Institute of Security Cooperation at Fort Benning, Ga., integrates human rights into every course it provides to Latin American mid-level officers and noncommissioned officers every year, Bresnahan said.
Meanwhile, the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies in Washington is introducing more human rights into its strategic-level curricula for senior-level officers and civilians. In addition, the Defense Institute of International Legal Studies incorporates respect for human rights into training it provides at the schoolhouse in Newport, R.I., and around the region through its mobile education teams.
But equally important, Bresnahan said, is the troop-level training conducted predominantly by partner-nation military members themselves.
Often the U.S. military members' biggest contribution, she said, is the example they set. "The respect that partner nation militaries have for the U.S. military is tremendous," she said. "These guys in uniform are the best messengers you can get. It is very powerful."
Every member of Southcom's staff as well as service members traveling or operating in its area of responsibility are required take an online human rights course and carry a pocket-sized card describing the command's human rights policies. The reverse side covers the so-called "five Rs" of human rights: recognize, refrain, react, record and report.
"They need to recognize what a human rights violation is, refrain from committing a violation, react if they see one being committed by someone else, and if they can't prevent it, immediately record it and report it up their chain of command," Bresnahan said.
While acknowledging that some military members initially questioned why they were getting involved in human rights training, she said, "increasingly, our own military personnel are realizing the influence they can have on this issue."
U.S. State Department and other governmental as well as nongovernmental organizations share that assessment. "They recognize that our military people have a level of influence on other militaries that they might not have," Bresnahan said.
With recognized successes, Ketchum acknowledged that the mission isn't yet complete.
In some cases, Southcom can't support a partner nation because of its human rights record. "Some of our countries are challenged and we really want to help, but human rights remains an issue that is going to have to be discussed and overcome," he said.
Navy Vice Adm. Joseph D. Kernan, Southcom's deputy commander, said that's a challenge the command struggles with as it engages in the region. "Human rights are important, and countries that ask us at the leadership level to come in and work with them know we are going to advocate human rights," he said.
"And we often advocate strongly for providing support to a country that may have had a long past human rights issue," Kernan continued. "We remain very sensitive to human rights abuses, but our perspective in some cases is that we would like to work with willing partners and promote human rights through side-by-side engagement."
"This, as well, affords us the opportunity to build a more expansive partnership across a number of other common interest areas," he added.
Bresnahan emphasized the increasingly complex security challenges the region's military forces are being tasked to meet, and warned that promoting respect for human rights is a long-term effort. "One should never assume the war has been won," she said. "Like freedom itself, respect for human rights requires constant vigilance."
FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Thursday, May 31, 2012
Justice Department Files Lawsuit Against Las Vegas Casino for Unfair Documentary Practices
The Justice Department announced today that it filed a lawsuit against Tuscany Hotel and Casino LLC in Las Vegas, alleging that the company engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination in the employment eligibility verification and re-verification process. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) requires employers to treat all authorized workers equally during the hiring, firing and employment eligibility verification process, regardless of their national origin or citizenship status.
The complaint alleges that Tuscany treated non-citizens differently from U.S. citizens during the employment eligibility verification and reverification process by requesting non-citizen employees to provide more or different documents or information than required during the initial employment eligibility verification process, and demanded specific documents during the reverification process. The complaint further alleges that Tuscany subjected lawful permanent residents to unnecessary reverification based on their citizenship status after requesting and entering into the payroll system the expiration date of their Permanent Resident Cards (green cards) for purposes of reverification.
“Employers must not treat authorized workers differently during the employment eligibility verification process based on their citizenship status or national origin,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The department vigorously enforces the anti-discrimination provisions of the INA so that authorized workers are treated fairly in the work place.”
The complaint, which seeks monetary and injunctive relief, was filed before the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO) of the Department of Justice and served on the company on May 29, 2012.
The Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA, which protects work authorized individuals from employment discrimination on the basis of citizenship status or national origin, including discrimination in hiring, firing and the employment eligibility verification (Form I-9) process.
FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Friday, June 1, 2012
Fourteen Defendants Plead Guilty for Their Roles in Scheme to Fraudulently Control Home Owners Associations in Las Vegas
WASHINGTON – Fourteen individuals pleaded guilty yesterday in the District of Nevada for their roles in the scheme to fraudulently take control of various home owners’ associations (HOAs) in the Las Vegas area, Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, FBI Special Agent in Charge Kevin Favreau of the Las Vegas Field Office, Sheriff Doug Gillespie of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and Richard Weber, Chief of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), announced today.
According to plea documents, the defendants each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. According to court documents, the fraud scheme operated from approximately August 2003 through February 2009 with various co-conspirators joining that scheme at different times. The conspirators operated the scheme to direct construction defect litigation and repairs at condominium complexes to a particular law firm and construction company.
In order to accomplish the scheme, certain co-conspirators identified HOAs that could potentially bring construction defect cases. Once identified, the co-conspirators enlisted real estate agents to identify condominium units within the HOA communities for purchase. The co-conspirators then enlisted individuals as straw purchasers to use their names and credit to purchase condominiums in the complexes. The defendants admitted that the co-conspirators provided the down payments and monthly payments to the straw purchasers, including HOA dues and mortgage payments, and that various false and misleading statements were made to secure financing for the properties. Certain co-conspirators operated and managed the payments associated with these properties. The payments were often wired between California and Nevada.
Bergsrud and Wilson admitted in their plea documents that they acted as real estate agents for the purpose of identifying units in HOA communities for use by the co-conspirators and to assist with the property transfer documents. Wilson also assisted the conspiracy by developing ways to increase capital, such as refinancing some of the units to recapture the down payments and other fees, and also in managing the finances for the properties. Bergsrud, Bolten, Citelli, Hawkins, Mattingly and Sutton admitted in their plea documents that they acted as straw purchasers at various condominium complexes.
Alcantar admitted that he opened, operated and managed five bank accounts on behalf of the co-conspirator construction company owner, using names of shell limited liability companies for the purpose of concealing the identity of the individuals funding the conspiracy. Alcantar managed the transfer of more than $8 million during the time period of the conspiracy, including deposits made from the co-conspirator construction defect attorney.
According to plea documents, on several occasions the co-conspirators transferred a partial interest in a particular condominium to another co-conspirator for the purpose of making it appear as if the co-conspirator was a bona fide homeowner in the community and could thereby stand for election to the HOA board of directors. Many of the straw purchasers and those who acquired a transferred interest in an HOA community agreed with co-conspirators to use their ownership interest to run for election to the respective HOA board of directors. It was through the boards of directors that the conspirators controlled the activities at the HOAs.
According to plea documents, Bergsrud, Hawkins, DeLuca, Mattingly and Sutton agreed to become board members at certain condominium complexes and thereafter breached their fiduciary duties to the homeowners, using their positions to vote in furtherance of the conspiracy.
To ensure the co-conspirators won the elections, the co-conspirators at times employed deceitful tactics, such as submitting fake and forged ballots. Some of these ballots were sent through the U.S. mail.
On several occasions, co-conspirators attempted to create the appearance that the elections were legitimate. This was done at times by hiring attorneys to run the HOA board elections as “special election masters,” to preside over the HOA board elections and supervise the counting of ballots. The “special election masters” were complicit and part of the conspiracy. They allowed co-conspirators to access the ballots for the purpose of opening the ballots and influencing the results to ensure certain co-conspirator candidates won the election.
Brown and Hindiyeh admitted in plea documents that they assisted in the HOA election rigging. Jones admitted that he acted as a special election master for certain HOA elections and allowed co-conspirators to access the ballots and alter the votes in favor of co-conspirator candidates. Wilson also admitted that he assisted in promoting the co-conspirator candidates in elections.
Once elected, the co-conspirator board members met with other co-conspirators in order to manipulate board votes and process, including the selection of property managers, contractors, general counsel, and attorneys to represent the HOA. Once hired, co-conspirators, including property managers and general counsel, often recommended that the HOA board hire the co-conspirator construction company for construction defect repairs and the co-conspirator law firm to handle the construction defect litigation.
Kim admitted that she agreed with the co-conspirators to become a property manager at a condominium complex. She knew the co-conspirator controlled board would manipulate their votes to hire her company. Kim used her position as the property manager to help the co-conspirators falsify ballots and retain their positions on the HOA board.
Winkler admitted in plea documents that she agreed to become the general counsel for the Vistana condominium complex. She bid for a position as general counsel knowing that she had a prior attorney-client and financial relationship with the co-conspirator construction company owner who intended to direct the board to award the construction defect repair contract to him. Winkler admitted that she used her position to handle legal matters for the HOA as directed by her co-conspirators and that she violated her fiduciary duties to the bona fide homeowners.
According to court documents, the defendants admitted that they were each given cash or things of value for their assistance in purchasing the properties, obtaining HOA membership status, rigging elections, or using their position to manipulate the HOA’s business to enrich the co-conspirators at the expense of the HOA and the legitimate homeowners.
The maximum prison sentence for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud is 30 years.
Ten other individuals pleaded guilty in 2011 as part of the government’s ongoing criminal investigation of activities related to various Las Vegas HOAs.
The case is being prosecuted by Deputy Chief Charles La Bella and Trial Attorney Mary Ann McCarthy of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. The case is being investigated by the FBI and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Criminal Intelligence Section.
FROM: U.S. NAVY
A shooter signals the launch of an F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the Kestrels of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 137 aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72). Abraham Lincoln is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts and support missions as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Tim D. Godbee (Released) 120530-N-SK590-078
Dempsey: Military Must Persevere to Solve Suicide Issue
By Karen Parrish
SINGAPORE, June 1, 2012 - The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff yesterday said he disagrees "in the strongest possible terms" with an Army major general's characterization of suicide as a selfish act.
"I've been in contact with Army senior leadership and know they share my concern," Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey said, regarding recent controversy over Army Maj. Gen. Dana J.H. Pittard's blog comments, since retracted.
Dempsey spoke with American Forces Press Service while flying here for the Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual Asia security summit that begins today.
Pittard, commander of the 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss, Texas, wrote the blog post in January after attending the memorial service of one of his soldiers, who took his own life. Pittard wrote that he is "personally fed up with soldiers who are choosing to take their own lives so that others can clean up their mess."
Dempsey said the comments were "both unfortunate and extremely inappropriate."
In retracting the remarks last week, Pittard expressed his "deepest sincerity and respect towards those whom I have offended," noting suicide is a very complex issue that plagues not just the military, but society overall.
There have been 140 suicides across the services thus far in 2012, according to defense officials. This compares with 122 at this time last year, and 110 at this point in 2010. Among service members who have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, more have died by suicide than by enemy action.
The Army is the largest military branch and sees the most suicides, but the Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force as well as the Army have poured time, money, effort and training into programs and services aimed at stemming the tragic flood. Veteran suicides are also alarmingly high, at 18 per day as reported by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
"We've been hard at [combating suicide] for at least the last seven years," the chairman said. "We have not spared any effort, but nor have we turned the trend line."
Dempsey said he has spoken often and at length about the need for professional military members, from the newest recruit to the most senior officer, "to be very introspective at this point in our history about what a prolonged conflict, the longest war in our history, with an all-volunteer force, has done to us and to our families."
"The issue of suicide, and all of the other tragic mental health issues that we have experienced over the last 10 years of war, require us to continue to seek to learn," he added.
Senior leaders in particular are "accountable for helping the entire profession, the entire force, understand the issues," the chairman said, adding that Pittard's comments "didn't help, but hurt, our efforts to understand. They added another layer of confusion."
Leaders must help men and women who are experiencing "incredible stresses in their lives" get help, he added.
Dempsey said his approach is to ensure military leaders don't address issues such as suicide in isolation.
"We've got ... the issue of increasing suicides; we've got statistics that demonstrate sexual assault remains [an issue]; we've got an increase in reported instances of hazing," he said. "Not all are related to war, but all are related to who we believe we are, and ... what knowledge, skills and attributes we seek in the young men and women who serve -- and the not-so-young men and women who serve."
The chairman said his goal is to see those issues in context with each other, and to ensure recruiting, policies, education and training across the forces are managed to address the issues as effectively as possible.
"Over the last 10 years we've learned a lot about what attributes we may need for the future," Dempsey said. "Are we, in our recruiting base, seeking them? In our education system, are we developing them? In our evaluation reports, are we rewarding them?"
The military is a wonderful profession of which he couldn't be more proud, Dempsey said, yet there are now a number of "weak signals" that, taken together, emphasize the need for continued learning and change.
"Ultimately, we are responsive to the people of the United States of America and to the Constitution," he said. "You're not a profession just because you say you are, you're a profession because you earn that title every day. This is another one of those instances where I think we've got to take a good hard look at ourselves."
The chairman noted he often speaks of maintaining the bond of trust within the military.
Part of that bond rests in leaders paying attention to the mental health of service members, building in their troops a sense of resilience and the self-confidence that comes with "hard training, knowing you're mentored, knowing you're cared for, knowing there's someone out there that cares about you and you're part of a team," he said.
Multiple pressures come to bear in the lives of service members and their families, Dempsey said.
"We've got to keep at this," he said.
Photo: Texas Wind Farm. Credit: United States Department of Agriculture.
FROM: U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
Remarks at the Green Partnership for Growth Launch
Remarks Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State Parliament
May 31, 2012
Thank you so much, Prime Minister. Thank you for those very strong words, and more than that, thank you for the commitment that Denmark has made and the leadership that Denmark continues to show in this important area. Mr. Speaker, thank you for welcoming us to the Parliament. I served in our United States Senate for eight years and it’s a great pleasure to be on this side of the government, and thank you for having us. I also wish to thank the premier of Greenland for being here. Thank you for adding this event to your very busy itinerary while you’re here in Denmark.
I’m also very grateful to the leaders of both the American chamber as well as the Confederation of Danish Industries and to all of you who are here for this 2012 meeting of the Green Partnership for Growth. It’s a great honor to join you because we think this is one of the highest priorities of any nation, and certainly of all nations working together. And I appreciate the attention that our American Ambassador, Laurie Fulton, and the staff from the U.S. Embassy here in Copenhagen has been placing on this.
We have tried to make green growth a center of our diplomacy here because we think we have a lot to learn from Denmark. It is certainly not a surprise that Denmark leads the world when it comes to clean energy and energy efficiency. Because, as the prime minister said, for the past few decades, Denmark has grown economically. As you have also made it clear, that can be done without significantly increasing your electricity use. Your national plan to be completely independent of fossil fuels by 2050 is a global first. And in true Danish fashion, the plan is comprehensive and rigorous. (Laughter.)
But I believe if any country can do this, it’s yours. So we are here to learn and listen and support. But the ambitious plan that you have set for 2050 is just the latest in your efforts on climate change – your commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent in 2020. And it is for me, personally, inspirational to see government and business working so closely together, because I do think this is a win-win. The green economy has so many opportunities not only for national purposes, but for exports and other ways of building the green market globally.
In fact, I know in 2009, when I was last here at the UN Climate Conference with President Obama, we brought a number of American companies with us, and many of them came home and told us we had no idea how many opportunities there are in Denmark for business partnerships in green tech, and some of those businesses are represented here today. So the word spread, and our team at the Embassy began bringing Danish and American businesses together. In 2010, we had a delegation of American companies come, and in 2011, a delegation of Danish companies traveled to the United States.
Now with the Green Partnership for Growth, we are carrying these exchanges forward by joining with the Danish Government to promote more public-private partnerships between our countries. Now the United States has three goals with this initiative. First, we want to help create more opportunities for U.S. companies to export their products and services to Denmark. Second, we want to open the door to more investments by Danish companies in America, which would have mutually beneficial, positive effects, including creating jobs in both. And third, we want to find opportunities for Denmark and the United States to work together to export green tech products and services throughout the world.
Now we know that energy efficiency and the development of clean energy are going to continue to rise in importance as the world grapples with meeting the energy needs of a growing population. So we have every confidence that this industry will thrive well into the future, and we certainly cannot afford to overlook its potential, not if we’re serious about creating jobs and achieving sustainable economic growth.
So we’ve got the growth part of it figured out – if we can get the green part of it actually figured out as well. (Laughter.) We know that we have to decrease our greenhouse gas emissions. If we’re going to fulfill our responsibilities as fellow inhabitants on this planet, we have to work to try to help solve the climate crisis. And the only way to do that that is known to us is to change the way we use energy. We need to be, we should be, more efficient and develop cleaner energy sources. And this partnership should help us.
Now, it’s not that Denmark has the only examples. California, years ago, way back in the 1970s, made decisions about more efficient use of electricity. California’s population has grown in the last 30-plus years. Their output, their gross domestic product, if you will, has certainly grown. They’ve continued to innovate. They’ve seen new industries develop, like those in Silicon Valley, that consume huge amounts of electricity. But their use of electricity statewide has stayed flat, because they’ve had a good framework that was put into place that rewarded energy efficiency and innovation.
Now, at the national level, the United States has implemented a range of actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It’s often not well-known, because our legislative approach in the Obama Administration was not able to pass completely through the Congress, but the Administration has gone forward in taking actions. And our new fuel efficiency standards are slated to be among the most aggressive standards in the world. In March, our Environmental Protection Agency put forth the first ever national standards for CO2 emissions from new power plants, the largest stationary source of carbon pollution in the United States, accounting for 40 percent of our emissions.
As the prime minister said, we’ve invested more than $90 billion in clean energy and energy efficiency. We’re more than doubled our installed capacity of wind and solar since 2008. And this year we launched the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, which brings together governments, the private sector and key organizations around the world to work toward reducing short-lived climate pollutants, which cause more than 30 percent of near-term warming. Reducing short-lived pollutants is an important complement to the work we must do to reduce carbon emissions. And I’m delighted, Prime Minister, that Denmark has agreed to join the Climate and Clean Air Coalition.
So this Green Partnership for Growth exemplifies what we call a win-win. As part of our commitment, our countries are going to look for opportunities to make our governments greener. The Danish minister for defense recently returned from a trip to the United States, after having met with officials at the U.S. Department of Defense to discuss ways to make our militaries more energy efficient. We think this is a quite promising area of collaboration.
So we’re looking forward to continuing these conversations, to keep identifying new ways of working together to share our knowledge, increasing bilateral trade and investment. And I want to thank Denmark for agreeing to host the next meeting of this partnership this fall in Copenhagen. And I really admire Denmark’s leadership in creating the Global Green Growth Forum, which is an innovative platform to encourage leaders to do exactly what we’re doing here today to work across sometimes the gaps that divide us between government and the private sector, academia, the not-for-profit civil society, to work toward the same goal.
Thanks to everyone here for being part of what is among the most consequential work we can do together. We have to do this work; there is no doubt about it. As I am sure you are aware, we still have something of a political debate going on in my country, and it is quite remarkable that we still have a hard core of people who refuse to accept either the science or the responsibility that goes along with the science. But I can assure you that despite that, we have continued to move forward, and not only at the governmental level but equally, if not more importantly, at the private sector, business-driven level as well.
We have quite the argument going on back home between natural gas and coal, and many of the utilities that a few years ago used coal, which made up 50 percent of our energy, are now moving toward natural gas. And the United States is becoming a net energy exporter because of natural gas. And we are continuing to make progress. It often is not in the headlines, but it is part of the trend lines that I think in many ways are more important and actually stand the test of time.
Every day when I look at the news, of course I look at the headlines. But I try to find those stories that are sometimes buried that are going to really affect our lives today, tomorrow, far into the future, even going on to generations. And this commitment that Denmark has made and exemplified to clean energy and energy efficiency is certainly one of those, and we are very proud to be your partner.
Thank you very much, friends.
Photo: Supply Delivery To Antarctica. Credit: U.S. Air Force.
FROM: NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION
May 31, 2012
A Legacy of the Race to the South Pole: New Scientific Discoveries in Antarctica
Forbidding though Antarctica is, the stations located there are nevertheless irresistibly inviting to scientists, as Antarctica supports a cornucopia of unique life forms, geologic wonders, and marine and atmospheric conditions
This winter marks the 100th anniversary of the race to the South Pole. After crossing Antarctica-the coldest, windiest, driest continent on Earth-the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen and his team arrived at the geographic South Pole on Dec. 14, 1911, the first people in history to reach the bottom of the Earth.
About one month later, on January 17, 1912, the British explorer Navy Captain Robert Falcon Scott and his party arrived at the South Pole to discover that Amundsen had beaten them there. Sadly, Scott died on the ice while attempting to return from the Pole. Nevertheless, the work of the Scott team on their trek to and from the Pole-including hauling 35 pounds of rock and fossil specimens on their return journey-helped lay the foundation for modern Antarctic science.
If Amundsen and Scott could somehow magically be transported back to the South Pole now, they would probably be amazed and honored to discover that the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, a massive, two-story, science-support structure, overlooks the spot they worked so hard to reach. Nearby is a 10-meter radio telescope that is currently being used to study the nature of mysterious dark matter. Below the surface of the ice sheet ice is a cube-shaped detector--a kilometer on each side--searching for elusive subatomic particles called neutrinos.
Amundsen-Scott is one of three year-round stations operated by the U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP), which is managed by NSF under terms of Presidential Memorandum 6646. The other stations are McMurdo Station on Ross Island and Palmer Station on Anvers Island in the Antarctic Peninsula Region.
Forbidding though Antarctica is, the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, McMurdo Station and Palmer Station are nevertheless irresistibly inviting to scientists because Antarctica supports a cornucopia of fantastic life forms, geologic wonders, and marine and atmospheric conditions that are found nowhere else on Earth.
For example, researchers are studying adaptations that enable various life-forms-from microorganisms to penguins to seals-to survive in Antarctica, and how research into those adaptations may ultimately benefit human health. Researchers are even looking at the living and working conditions of research teams already in Antarctica to get a better understanding for how people can survive in such extreme ecosystems.
Some Antarctic species, despite their adaptations, are under particular stress. The retreat of sea ice in some parts of Antarctica are critically affecting two penguin species with particularly restricted ranges, and recent warming of water temperatures may be influencing the proliferation of undersea giants, including extremely large sea stars, jellyfish and sea spiders.
Photo: Break-up Of Antarctic Sea-Ice, Credit: NASA
Scientists are also investigating global changes for which Antarctica provides an ideal study site, such as the current state of our planet's ozone layer, which protects us from ultraviolet radiation, and the impacts that are emerging as global climate changes. Observations of Antarctica's response to a warming globe-such as ocean acidification and the calving of glaciers off of continental ice sheets-are important for understanding such factors as the effects of ice retreat on global sea level and, more broadly, serve as bellwethers for the planet as a whole.
Thursday, May 31, 2012
Plastics Producer SABIC Agrees to Reduce Harmful Air Pollution from Leaking Equipment to Resolve Clean Air Act Violations in Indiana and Alabama
SABIC Innovative Plastics US LLC, and its subsidiary, SABIC Innovative Plastics Mt. Vernon LLC, have agreed to pay an approximately $1 million civil penalty and improve leak detection and t (CAA) at chemical marepair practices to settle alleged violations of the Clean Air Acnufacturing facilities in Mt. Vernon, Ind., and Burkville, Ala., the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today. Emissions of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) from leaking equipment may cause serious health effects including cancer, reproductive issues and birth defects.
“This compliance program continues our efforts to control fugitive emissions and will require SABIC to upgrade its monitoring and maintenance practices to help prevent future violations,” said Robert G. Dreher, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division at the Department of Justice.
“Communities near large industrial facilities depend on EPA to protect public health and the environment by enforcing our nation’s environmental laws,” said Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Today’s settlement with SABIC will reduce the potential for future violations and protect residents in Indiana and Alabama from emissions of hazardous air pollutants.”
In addition to paying a penalty, SABIC will implement a comprehensive program to reduce emissions of HAPs from leaking equipment such as valves and pumps. The emissions, known as “fugitive” emissions because they are not discharged from a stack but rather leak directly from equipment, are generally controlled through work practices, like monitoring and repairing leaks. The settlement requires SABIC to implement enhanced work practices, including more frequent leak monitoring, better repair practices, and innovative new efforts designed to prevent leaks.
The program also requires SABIC to replace valves with new “low emissions” valves or valve packing material, designed to significantly reduce the likelihood of future leaks of HAPs. In response to EPA’s inspection of the Mt. Vernon facility, SABIC engineered HAP emission controls for hundreds of drains and trenches and the settlement further requires SABIC to control similar emissions from an oil/water separator. The estimated cost of these controls is almost $4 million. SABIC will also invest an additional $1.3 million to control HAP emissions from certain process vents as a supplemental environmental project. The compliance program and engineered controls will reduce HAP emissions by up to 136.7 tons per year.
According to the 15-count complaint, filed simultaneously with the settlement today in the Southern District of Indiana, SABIC allegedly violated CAA requirements to monitor and repair leaking equipment, demonstrate compliance with regulations applicable to chemical plants, and report known violations to EPA.
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta speaks to troops and civilian employees of U.S. Pacific Command headquarters on Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii, May 31, 2012. Panetta is on a 10-day trip to the Asia Pacific to meet with defense counterparts. DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo
Pacific Command Stands at Forefront of Defense Change, Panetta Says
By Jim Garamone
CAMP H.M. SMITH, Hawaii, May 31, 2012 - The personnel at U.S. Pacific Command are at the forefront of changes to American defense strategy, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said here today.
The secretary spoke to about 300 members of the command in front of the Nimitz-MacArthur headquarters building. The command has a huge role, "in promoting peace and prosperity and security throughout the Asia-Pacific region," Panetta said.
The new defense strategy will play out particularly in the Pacific, the secretary said. "It is going to be in your hands," he told them.
The secretary said new strategic guidance protects a strong military for the future while still cutting $487 billion over 10 years. Cuts to the military must be done carefully and must maintain the military capabilities needed to counter the possible threats. Officials used the strategic guidance to form the budget, and it was done carefully.
"The last damn thing I want to do is hollow out the force," Panetta said. "I want to ensure that we maintain the strongest military in the world, and I want to make sure that we don't break trust with those who have put their lives on the line -- you. What we promised you we will stick to."
The key elements of the strategy are at play in the Asia-Pacific region, he said. The American military must be more agile, more flexible and more deployable, and it must maintain capabilities on the cutting edge of technology.
"We've got to focus on where the main threats are," Panetta said. "That means we continue to focus on the Pacific region and the Middle East, because that's where the potential problems are for the future."
But the U.S. military has worldwide commitments and forces must show the flag in other parts of the world. "The way to do that is develop these kind of creative rotational movements that allow us to go into countries and be able to work with countries to develop their capabilities," he said.
The U.S. must be able to confront and defeat multiple threats at the same time. "If we have to fight a war in Korea at the same time we have to fight in the Middle East, we can do that, and we have to be able to do that," he said.
Finally, the strategy isn't just about cutting, but investing. The U.S. must invest in cyber capabilities, invest in space and invest in the technologies that make the military more agile and deployable.
Panetta stressed that service members are the key to the strategy. "It's because of you we really are at a turning point," he said. "We brought the war in Iraq to an end, we've given Iraq the opportunity to govern and secure itself."
There is also a plan to responsibly withdraw from Afghanistan, the secretary said.
"There is tough fighting ahead, but we are headed in the right direction," Panetta said. "We have successfully gone after al-Qaida, we[have]successfully gone after bin Laden and their leadership, and we've made very clear that nobody attacks the United States and gets away with it – nobody."
There is still a threat from al-Qaida but it has shifted to Yemen, Somalia and North Africa. And U.S. pressure has meant the organization cannot plan with impunity, he said.
"Look at the last 10 years, and we have something to point to because of those who were willing to serve, to put their lives on the line," he said. "Because of those who did everything we asked them to do, we are making the world safer."