White House.gov Press Office Feed
Saturday, June 9, 2012
Hosts a Lunch for President of the Republic of the Philippines Benigno S. Aquino III
Remarks Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State,
Benjamin Franklin Room
June 8, 2012
Good afternoon, everyone. And welcome – please sit down – welcome to the State Department, to the Ben Franklin Room, where we are so honored to be hosting President Aquino and the Philippine delegation and celebrating the enduring friendship between our two countries.
Together, the United States and the Philippines are writing a new chapter in our storied alliance and building a multifaceted relationship for the 21st century. Our trade and economic linkages continue to deepen through initiatives like the Partnership for Growth. And just a few minutes ago, Secretary del Rosario and I signed a new agreement that will spur joint efforts on science and technology, because when our scientists share their ideas and their resources, not only do our two countries but the world reaps the benefits. And we are also increasing the number of United States Peace Corps volunteers in the Philippines. (Applause.)
Last year, I celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Mutual Defense Treaty in Manila, and Secretary Panetta and I co-hosted our counterparts for the first time ever last April. Our special forces have been working side by side with their Filipino counterparts. We are also working closely together to increase information and intelligence exchanges and coordination on maritime domain issues. And in this context, I'm pleased to announce today that the United States will support the construction, outfitting, and training of a new National Coast Watch Center in the Philippines. (Applause.)
As allies, our two nations consult on important regional issues, as we have done regarding our respective diplomacy in the South China Sea. As I’ve said many times, the United States does not take a position on the competing territorial claims in the South China Sea. But we do, however, have a clear interest in the maintenance of peace and stability, freedom of navigation, respect for international law, and unimpeded lawful commerce in the South China Sea. (Applause.)
In this context, we welcome the initial steps to defuse tensions surrounding the Scarborough Reef taken by President Aquino. And we encourage continued diplomatic dialogue and further efforts to lessen tension, to disengage, and to resolve the situation peacefully. The United States has been consistent in that we oppose the use of force or coercion by any claimant to advance its claims, and we will continue to monitor the situation closely. We also call on ASEAN and China to conclude their efforts to reach consensus on a code of conduct for the South China Sea.
Now, President Aquino first came to the United States over 30 years ago to seek asylum with his family as political turmoil ravaged his country. Today, I welcome him here to reaffirm our shared future based on mutual respect and interests, our common democratic values, new partnerships, and the bonds between our peoples.
I think, Mr. President, you can see from just looking out here that we have quite a few Filipino Americans here today. And indeed – (applause) – if we’d had a room twice or three times as big, you’d see even more Filipino Americans, because this is time not only to celebrate the friendship between our nations, but it is also a time to recognize the many contributions of Filipino Americans to our nation and the gratitude we have that Filipino culture, family ties, and connections have enriched the United States so much.
So please join me in a toast to the president and to the people of the Philippines, and to the partnership and friendship between the United States and the Philippines. Cheers, Mr. President.
U.S. Relations With Malta
Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
June 6, 2012
Malta and the United States established full diplomatic relations upon Malta's independence in 1964. The government seeks close relations with the United States, with an emphasis on increased trade and private investment. U.S. Navy ships visit on a semi-regular basis. During the period of rebellion in Libya that began in February 2011, Malta played an important role in supporting evacuation of third-country nationals, including Americans; coordinating humanitarian aid to the people of Libya; and providing general assistance to forces of nations involved in enforcement of UN Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973.
U.S. Assistance to Malta
The U.S. foreign assistance to Malta currently provides International Military Education & Training (IMET) funding and has in the past included foreign military financing (FMF) grants and other defense assistance allowing for the acquisition of U.S. security related equipment, services and training. Under a refugee resettlement program, almost 1000 third-country migrants have been resettled in the U.S. from Malta.
Bilateral Economic Relations
The United States has been supportive of Malta's campaign to attract private investment, and a number of U.S. companies are operating in Malta. These include major hotels, light manufacturing and repair facilities, pharmaceutical and medical supply firms, and some offices servicing local and regional operations. In an effort to boost trade relations, the United States and Malta signed a double taxation agreement in 2008, which came into force in 2011. Malta joined the Visa Waiver Program in 2008. This program allows citizens of certain countries to travel to the United States visa-free for tourist and business purposes for stays under 90 days.
Malta's Membership in International Organizations
Malta became a member of the United Nations in 1964 following independence from the United Kingdom. Malta and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the UN, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, World Trade Organization, and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Malta is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO) Partnership for Peace. Malta has been a member of the European Union since 2004, and is also a member of the Schengen Agreement on the abolition of border checks and the Euro zone.
A Medal of Honor hangs from the newly unveiled John Lee Levitow memorial in the heritage room of the 3rd Special Operations Squadron at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., May 22, 2012. Levitow was an AC-47 gunship loadmaster who became the lowest ranking Airman to ever receive the Medal of Honor for exceptional heroism during a time of war. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Xavier Lockley)
3 SOS unveils Levitow Memorial at Cannon AFB
by Public Affairs Staff
27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
5/22/2012 - CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- The 3rd Special Operations Squadron unveiled a memorial dedicated to Airman 1st Class John L. Levitow in their heritage room at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., May 22.
Assigned to the 3 SOS during the Vietnam War, Levitow worked as a loadmaster on an AC-47 Spooky gunship. While supporting a firefight and dropping white phosphorus flares through the open door of the gunship, his aircraft was jarred by a tremendous blast. A North Vietnamese Army 82-millimeter mortar shell landed on top of the right wing and exploded inside the wing frame. Everyone in the back of "Spooky 71" was wounded, including Levitow.
Immediately after the explosion, Levitow saw that a burning Mark 24 magnesium flare that had been knocked free in the fuselage and was rolling amid ammunition cans that contained 19,000 rounds of live ammunition. Despite his wounds, he threw his body onto the burning flare and dragged himself to the rear of the aircraft where he hurled the flare through the open cargo door. At that instant, the flare separated and ignited in the air, but clear of the aircraft. Levitow's actions saved the gunship and the lives of the crew members onboard.
Levitow was awarded the Medal of Honor for these heroic acts, and he became the lowest-ranking Airman ever to receive the prestigious honor for exceptional heroism during wartime.
According to the official website for the Public Broadcasting Service, there have been seventeen Medal of Honor recipients since the formation of a separate Air Force in 1947. This places Levitow in an elite group.
"John Levitow was part of the 3 SOS, a fellow Air Commando, and a significant part of our squadron's lineage," said Master Sgt. Charles Nichols, 3 SOS operational superintendent. "Our troops are so proud to finally see this memorial within the 3 SOS after all the work we put into getting it here."
Today, the 3 SOS flies the MQ-1B Predator, a Remotely Piloted Aircraft that is employed primarily for intelligence collection. The 3 SOS has flown more than 200,000 hours since October 2005 and continues to conduct operations in support of Special Operations Forces worldwide.
Chief Master Sgt. Gary Glover, 27th Special Operations Group superintendent, came up with the concept of erecting the memorial at the 3 SOS. "I wanted to do it for the squadron, but it's more of a testament of the sacrifice and service before self attitude that the squadron still lives by today," said Glover. "Knowing the heritage of your squadron helps inspire pride and professionalism."
While Glover started the memorial project, Nichols took the steps necessary to follow through on the initiative.
"I didn't succeed alone in this endeavor," said Nichols. "A lot of hard working people stepped up from the squadron to make this memorial a reality. Everyone in the 3 SOS played some part, so it really was a team effort."
The 3 SOS hosted a base-wide motorcycle ride and squadron barbeque to raise money needed for the memorial. More than 30 motorcyclists took part in the ride, which went through Clovis, Melrose and Portales, N.M., and helped raise more than $800.
One of the more difficult items to procure was the actual Medal of Honor ribbon, which needed Congressional approval to be sent to the 3 SOS. Levitow originally received the medal in 1969.
"It just goes to show that no matter how many stripes you have on your sleeve or how much brass you have on your collar, you can make a difference in the lives of others," said Nichols. "To see this year-long project finally realized makes us feel like we've made an impact at Cannon."
FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Adoption of the First International Principles and Guidelines on Indigent Defense June 6th, 2012
2012 Posted by Tracy Russo
The following post appears courtesy of the Access to Justice Initiative
One of the cornerstones of the United States criminal justice system is the right to legal representation for criminal defendants. In the United States the right is confirmed by the federal Constitution, but many countries also guarantee this right to their citizens through their domestic laws.
Recognizing that criminal legal aid – or indigent defense – “is an essential element of a fair, humane and efficient criminal justice system that is based on the rule of law,” the United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (the UN Crime Commission) adopted the first international principles and guidelines on indigent defense at its recently concluded 21st session. The United Nations Principles and Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems affirm the importance of legal aid at all stages of the criminal justice system.
Created in 1992 by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the UN Crime Commission is the central body within the United Nations system dealing with crime prevention and criminal justice policy. It is one of the governing bodies of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The 40-member body, which includes the United States, met this past April in Vienna, Austria to consider 11 resolutions on issues such as combating violence against migrants and migrant smuggling, setting minimum standards for the treatment of prisoners, and criminal legal aid.
The United States was one of 16 co-sponsors of the United Nations Principles and Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems, which was initially submitted by Georgia and South Africa (on behalf of the African Group). This resolution adopted the principle and guidelines. Although the UN principles and guidelines correctly recognize that, “states employ different models for the provision of legal aid,” these comprehensive guidelines and principles can be effective tools in strengthening and growing existing criminal legal aid systems throughout the world.
The creation of the Access to Justice Initiative at the U.S. Department of Justice in March 2010 is a testament of the United States’ commitment to supporting indigent defense. The Access to Justice Initiative was launched to help ensure that basic legal services are available, affordable and accessible to everyone in this country regardless of status or income. A significant part of our work is directed at strengthening and supporting indigent defense. Because of this, a representative from the Access to Justice Initiative was invited to join the U.S. delegation to the UN Crime Commission to assist with negotiating this resolution.
The adoption of the United Nations Principles and Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems is a significant milestone in the global development of fair and just systems of criminal justice. It will likely be submitted to the United Nations General Assembly for approval later this year.
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Zachary G. Harrison, an aviation ordnance technician assigned to Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 3, helps EA-6B Prowler aircraft pilots navigate the runways at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Andrea Dickerson
Marine Helps Pilots Navigate Runways
By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Andrea Dickerson
2nd Marine Aircraft Wing
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C., June 8, 2012 - Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Zachary G. Harrison is out to learn as many military skills as he can.
An ordnance technician working with EA-6B Prowler aircraft, Harrison also can be seen on the flightline here, visually communicating necessary commands and signals Prowler pilots need to navigate the runway.
"He is one of the best Marines this squadron has," Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Jasmine L. Saunders, the ordnance chief for Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 3, said of Harrison. "He is always our go-to person because [of] the dedication he has for his job."
Harrison "is the first to volunteer when we need something done," Saunders said. "His work ethic is unparalleled."
A native of Port Huron, Mich., Harrison said he loves his job because there is always the opportunity to gain knowledge and new skills.
"I work with the ordnance on the Prowlers, but I am now training as a team leader so I am now the person standing in front of the aircraft conducting hand and arm signals to other team members," he said.
Saunders said Harrison is progressing very quickly though he's only been with the squadron a short time.
Labels: MILITARY PLANES NAVIGATING RUNWAYS, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, U.S. MARINE CORPS. MARINE TACTICAL ELECTRONIC WARFARE SQUADRON 3
Resale Program Provides Important Benefits, Officials Say
By Amaani Lyle
WASHINGTON, June 7, 2012 - Despite the prospect of major defense cuts early next year, the Defense Department remains committed to resale programs that provide valuable benefits to uniformed members and employment for family members and veterans, a senior department official told the House Armed Services Committee today.
Robert L. Gordon, deputy assistant secretary of defense for military community and family policy, joined other officials in giving testimony before the committee to underscore the importance of the military resale program.
"On my visits to military communities, I hear of the tremendous appreciation for, and in some cases, the need for commissaries and exchanges," Gordon said. "Often, they are (the only) source of high-quality American made products -- but equally important, they are the lifeblood to many of our installation support programs."
Programs such as the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, the Navy Exchange Service Command, Semper Fit Exchange Service and the Defense Commissary Agency are not only a significant source of employment for military family members, but they bring quality-of-life enhancements to service members around the globe, Gordon and other witnesses explained.
"A strong exchange benefit is one of the cornerstones of the military way of life," said Air Force Brig. Gen. Francis L. Hendricks, AAFES commander. "It enhances recruitment and retention, thereby aiding in the readiness of the armed forces."
Hendricks recalled AAFES' rapid growth in theater since the spring of 2003, when U.S. ground forces fought their way up the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. "Our first store in Iraq operated out of the back of a Toyota Landcruiser," Hendricks said. "As troops advanced northward, so did our store."
During the next eight years, AAFES established 95 sites throughout the theater, and more than 4,000 of its employees volunteered to operate retail stores and food activities in support of the troops. "We brought them familiar products and services and the food they craved," Hendricks said. "In that moment, at that place, we brought a little piece of home to them."
Humanitarian aid to military members and surrounding communities is but another virtue of the resale program, according to Thomas Gordy, Armed Forces Marketing Council president. When the earthquake and tsunami struck Japan in March 2011, military resale systems worked with industry partners and the services to ensure military families stationed in the devastated region had access to food, water, milk and other essential items.
"The resale stores in Japan remained stocked, while the stores outside the gate were empty," Gordy said. "Not only did the system support our military families, but (supported) the recovery effort with essential supplies, providing United States with another element of humanitarian support to our friends in Japan."
Wherever in the world uniformed members and their families rely on commissaries and exchanges, the resale program's budget-conscious prices can offer consumers significant savings advantages, said retired Rear Adm. Robert J. Bianchi, Navy Exchange Service Command chief executive officer. "Our 2011 annual market basket survey results show that customers save an average of 23 percent below commercial retail prices not including sales tax, generating over $500 million in non-pay compensation," Bianchi said.
Investigation Has Yielded 24 Plea Agreements to Date
WASHINGTON — Two Northern California real estate investors have agreed to plead guilty for their roles in conspiracies to rig bids and commit mail fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Northern California, the Department of Justice announced.
Felony charges were filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in Oakland, Calif., against Douglas Ditmer of San Ramon, Calif. and Keith Slipper of Oakland.
To date, as a result of the department’s ongoing antitrust investigation into bid rigging and fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Northern California, 24 individuals, including Ditmer and Slipper, have agreed to plead or have pleaded guilty.
“By agreeing not to compete with one another in the bidding process, these investors illegally profited and undermined the integrity of the real estate market,” said Scott D. Hammond, Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Antitrust Division’s criminal enforcement program. “The conspiracy eliminated competition and prevented lenders and distressed homeowners from getting fair market prices for their property.”
According to court documents, Ditmer and Slipper participated in conspiracies to rig bids and commit mail fraud by agreeing to stop bidding or to refrain from bidding for properties at public foreclosure auctions in Contra Costa and Alameda counties, Calif., negotiating payoffs with other conspirators not to compete, purchasing selected properties at public auctions at suppressed prices, and participating in second, private auctions open only to members of the conspiracy, where the property was awarded to the conspirator who submitted the highest bid.
The department said Ditmer conspired with others to rig bids and commit mail fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Contra Costa County beginning as early as July 2008 and continuing until about January 2011, and in Alameda County beginning as early as June 2007 and continuing until about January 2011. Slipper conspired with others to rig bids and commit mail fraud at public foreclosure auctions in Contra Costa County beginning as early as June 2008 and continuing until about December 2010, and in Alameda County beginning as early as March 2009 and continuing until about May 2009
“The FBI continues to work closely with the Antitrust Division to target those individuals who engage in fraudulent bid rigging and other anticompetitive activities at foreclosure auctions,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephanie Douglas of the San Francisco Field Office. “We are committed to bringing to justice those who engage in illegal and unfair practices that adversely impact legitimate home buyers and sellers.”
The department said that the primary purpose of the conspiracies was to suppress and restrain competition in order to obtain selected real estate offered at Contra Costa and Alameda county public foreclosure auctions at non-competitive prices. When real estate properties are sold at these auctions, the proceeds are used to pay off the mortgage and other debt attached to the property, with remaining proceeds, if any, paid to the homeowner. According to court documents, these conspirators paid and received money that otherwise would have gone to pay off the mortgage and other holders of debt secured by the properties, and, in some cases, the defaulting homeowner.
Each violation of the Sherman Act carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine for individuals. The maximum fine for the Sherman Act charges may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victim if either amount is greater than $1 million. Each count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The government can also seek to forfeit the proceeds earned from participating in the conspiracy to commit mail fraud.
The charges today are the latest cases filed by the department in its ongoing investigation into bid rigging and fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions in San Francisco, San Mateo, Contra Costa and Alameda counties, Calif.
The ongoing investigation into fraud and bid rigging at certain real estate foreclosure auctions in Northern California is being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s San Francisco Office and the FBI’s San Francisco office.
One of two interceptor boats delivered to Grenada in May under the Secure Seas U.S. maritime security assistance initiative, part of U.S. Southern Command's theater engagement efforts helping regional partners deter maritime threats. DOD photo by Michael Wimbish
Southcom Strives to Maximize Theater Engagement Efforts
By Donna Miles
MIAMI, June 7, 2012 - U.S. Southern Command continues to move full steam ahead on its array of theater engagement programs, but recognizing budget realities, is exploring new, more efficient ways to conduct them and to maximize their impact, a senior military leader here reported.
"We all understand what the future looks like. We know the trend is downward for future funding," Army Maj. Gen. Gerald W. Ketchum, director of the command's theater engagement directorate, told American Forces Press Service.
"So we are going to have to be smart," he said. "We probably aren't going to be able to do all the things we have done in the past, so we are going through this very deliberate process right now of ensuring that where we are spending our money is, in fact, where we need to be doing that."
That, Ketchum explained, involves scrutinizing every activity within the command's "robust toolkit" of engagement programs to eliminate those with marginal return in favor of those with proven results. "So you have to ensure that the activity you select truly is going to accomplish what you want and is going to provide the [desired] end results," he said.
Southcom's theater engagement programs run the gamut, from bilateral and multilateral exercises, training programs and educational exchanges to a security assistance program that helps partners meet their defense and modernization needs.
All are designed to help partner nations build their own military capacity and to improve their ability to operate with each other and the United States, Ketchum said. Because partner-nation capability varies widely across the region, Southcom tailors its engagements to address specific requirements, identified through close coordination with the partners themselves as well as the command's service components, U.S. embassy teams and U.S. service members operating in the theater.
Ultimately, these engagements aim to create strong partnerships able to stand up to regional challenges, Ketchum said. "We truly want to be the partner of choice," he said. "And we want those partnerships to be enduring."
The success of the effort has a direct impact on the United States, Ketchum said. "We are a community of nations, and we are completely interlocked because of globalization," he said. "And the threats we face do not end at borders. They are international in nature, and therefore, it takes an international response to address those challenges."
As the Southcom staff studies the way ahead for these programs, Ketchum said it's already well-versed in the creative, cost-effective ways of operating laid out in the defense strategic guidance issued in January.
"We have been doing that in Southcom already for a very long time," he said. "You start to talk about low cost, small footprint, efficient ways of doing business, and [Air Force] Gen. [Douglas W.] Fraser, [Southcom's commander], would say you are describing Southcom."
For example, a unique organizational construct at the command helps ensure its theater engagement efforts build on each other without expensive and unnecessary overlap. Unlike other geographic combatant commands that spread these programs across a variety of staff offices, Southcom consolidates them under one umbrella – the J7 theater engagement directorate that reports directly to Fraser.
"At the very elementary level, this prevents duplication," Ketchum said. "You don't want to have one program doing something and another program doing something very similar – the left hand not talking to the right hand – to be good stewards of the taxpayers' money."
But more importantly, we are looking for synergy," he said.
Ketchum used the example of a security assistance effort that helps a partner nation's military acquire new boats to patrol its waterways. "Wouldn't it make sense, right after that, to come in and provide training to the operators and maintainers?" he said. "And then maybe after that, wouldn't it make sense to have them participate in an exercise using that asset?"
The Secure Seas maritime security assistance initiative, managed by U.S. Southern Command, is helping in this way. The United States is providing interceptor boats and associated equipment, state-of-the-art command and control communications systems and training and technical support to nine Eastern Caribbean nations to help them deter threats associated with transnational organized crime.
Marine Forces South Commander Maj. Gen. John M. Croley joined U.S. Ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Larry L. Palmer at the first delivery ceremony, in Dominica, May 31. The initial delivery package included similar provisions for Grenada and St. Lucia.
This building-block approach to theater engagement works particularly well when the staff who oversee each piece of the larger effort work closely together and report to the same boss, Ketchum said. "Organizationally, it is much easier if they are all part of the staff where individuals providing the equipment are sitting in the next cubicle or down the hall from the guy who is organizing the training," he said. "That's what we have here in the new U.S. Southern Command headquarters building."
The new headquarters, which opened in December 2010 and replaced numerous smaller buildings in the Miami area, also includes representatives from other agencies who bring insights and experience to the decision-making process.
"The whole idea is to look at this holistically, to take all our tools, and with that awareness and visibility, to look at a whole-of-government approach," Ketchum said. "It is absolutely critical to everything we do here at Southcom. It's not a sound bite. It's something we have embraced."
STATE DEPARTMENT SAYS 39 NATIONS HAVE ADEQUATE MEASURES TO PROTECT SEA TURTLES FROM SHRIMP TRAWL FISHING
Photo: Kemps-Ridley Sea Turtle on Padre Island. Credit: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
FROM: U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
Sea Turtle Conservation and Shrimp Imports
Media Note Office of the Spokesperson Washington, DC
June 8, 2012
On April 19, the Department of State certified 39 nations and one economy as having adequate measures in place to protect sea turtles during the course of shrimp trawl fishing, which permits those countries to export wild-caught shrimp to the United States under Section 609 of Public Law 101-162 (Section 609). Section 609 bans the import of wild-caught shrimp and shrimp products harvested in ways that may adversely affect some sea turtle species unless the Department of State certifies to Congress that the government of the harvesting nation has taken measures to reduce the incidental catch of sea turtles in its shrimp trawl fisheries, such as through the use of turtle excluder devices (TEDs), or that the fishing environment of the harvesting nation does not threaten sea turtles. The Department makes certifications annually by May 1 and bases them in part on the results of verification visits by State Department and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) teams to exporting countries. For more information on the 2012 certification, see the Federal Register Notice on the 2012 Certification published at 77 FR 31062 on May 24: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-05-24/pdf/2012-12635.pdf.
Implementation of Section 609 of Public Law 101-162 has provided considerable benefits to endangered sea turtles species. Six of the seven species of marine turtles are listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Well-designed and installed TEDs reduce the mortality of sea turtles incidentally caught in shrimp trawl nets by up to 97 percent without appreciable loss of shrimp. The United States Government is currently providing technology and capacity building assistance to a variety of nations in the hope they can contribute to the recovery of sea turtle species and be certified under Section 609. For more information on United States Government sea turtle conservation efforts,
Map Credit: Central Intelligence Agency.
FROM: U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
U.S. Humanitarian Aid Reaching Syria and Neighboring Countries
Fact Sheet Office of the Spokesperson Washington, DC
June 8, 2012
The United States is pursuing every avenue to provide humanitarian relief to those affected by the violence in Syria and is engaged in focused diplomatic efforts to secure full and unfettered access for humanitarian organizations to reach those in need. The United States is providing an additional $12.8 million in humanitarian assistance to support the people of Syria, bringing the total amount of U.S. emergency aid to just over $52 million during the current fiscal year for this crisis. Our assistance continues to reach those affected by the violence through our contributions to international and non-governmental humanitarian partners, including:
$16.5 million to the World Food Program (WFP);
$14.9 million to non-governmental organizations (NGOs);
$8.5 million to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR);
$8 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC);
$3 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA);
$750,000 to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and
$500,000 to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian
The UN estimates that at least 1 million people in Syria are in need of assistance, with the number of internally displaced Syrians estimated at approximately 300,000. These, as well as other vulnerable and besieged communities, have received U.S. assistance in the form of medical supplies and other humanitarian relief. Humanitarian assistance is provided on the basis of need, not political affiliation, and is being distributed to the most vulnerable through UN agencies, international and local non-governmental organizations. Working together, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) and ICRC, as well as UNICEF, WFP and other international and local NGOs are providing substantial assistance to Syrians and other civilians under great risk.
Nearly 45,000 needy people in Homs, some 15,000 people in Hama, and 14,500 people in Idlib and rural Damascus have received food and other essentials over the last two weeks from the SARC, with ICRC support. ICRC has established teams inside Syria to more efficiently deliver assistance to those most in need. The ICRC provided the SARC branches in Damascus, Rural Damascus, Idlib and Homs with enough medical supplies to treat 200 casualties. Additionally, 2,000 displaced persons will benefit from improved water and sanitation at 10 public buildings in Homs. UN and NGO partners are delivering critical medical services and supplies, food, water, blankets, hygiene kits, and household items to the Syrian people targeting more than 400,000 people.
In Neighboring Countries:
We recognize the generosity of the Governments of Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, and Iraq, who have kept their borders open and are hosting and providing assistance to those fleeing the violence in Syria.
According to the Government of Turkey, as of June 5, 2012, there were more than 26,700 displaced Syrians in camps in Turkey. The Turkish government, with the help of the Turkish Red Crescent, provides camp-based humanitarian assistance that exceeds international standards. At the Turkish government’s request, UNHCR provides technical assistance to Turkish authorities on protection issues including camp management, voluntary repatriation, and registration. In 2012, UNHCR has provided 3,100 family tents and 23,880 blankets in support of the Turkish government’s humanitarian response to the displaced Syrians in Turkey; UNHCR preparations are underway to provide an additional 2,000 family tents, 10,000 blankets, and 2,000 kitchen sets.
In Lebanon, more than 26,000 Syrians are being assisted throughout the country. More than 13,500 have been registered by UNHCR and Lebanon’s High Relief Commission in the North. UNHCR and partners are registering and assisting an additional 3,000 in Tripoli, 900 in the Beirut area, and 7,500 in the Bekaa valley. Ongoing security incidents have impeded assistance in the North, due to road closures, limited movement and inhibited access to affected communities.
Partners distributed 17,000 core relief items, more than 15,500 food kits, and more than 13,000 hygiene kits in north Lebanon. Additionally, UNHCR and partners have distributed clothing, baby kits and heating fuel coupons. WFP will distribute food parcels for 1,300 families in north Lebanon in June 2012.
NGOs have rehabilitated the homes of 29 host families in Lebanon by providing cash grants; and have rehabilitated 19 collective centers. An additional 35 homes are currently being rehabilitated, with 51 more dwellings in line to be renovated. Collective centers have also been identified for future rehabilitation, and technical assessments on the rehabilitation of 30 unfinished buildings in the Bekaa were completed. ICRC and the Lebanese Red Cross have provided medical training to a number of hospitals.
In Jordan, approximately 24,000 displaced Syrians have been registered by UNHCR, with another 2,500 scheduled for registration. Local organizations have identified 35,000 Syrians in need of assistance in Jordan. The Government of Jordan has provided a much higher number of 115,000 Syrians present in country, as many who entered have not registered with UNHCR.
A range of UN agencies are providing relief assistance, education, and health support to displaced Syrians in Jordan in coordination with various Jordanian Ministries. Nearly 2,600 individuals received out-patient health services through UNHCR and its implementing partners since April 1, 2012. Three clinics, in the cities where most Syrians are located, provide free health services to Syrians. Additionally, mobile medical units are also free of charge and travel to newly arrived Syrian populations in need. Some 400 individuals have received non-food items, such as blankets, mattresses, cooking sets and other items. WFP distributed food rations through partners to 12,615 Syrians who are living in host communities. Additionally, WFP provided more than 30,315 hot meals in transit centers since April 19, 2012.
In Iraq, UNHCR has registered more than 4,600 Syrians, with 425 individuals awaiting registration. Many families are staying with relatives and do not immediately seek registration; the most destitute of arrivals have relocated to Domiz camp, where the number of residents has reached more than 3,425 individuals. As of May 30, Domiz camp comprised 254 family tents and 35 tents for individuals. Water and septic tanks have been installed and connected, and the construction of 125 individual cooking areas has begun.
FROM: U.S. EXPORT-IMPORT BANK
Friday, June 08, 2012
U.S. Exports in April Hit $182.9 Billion
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States exported $182.9 billion in goods and services in April 2012, according to data released today by the Bureau of Economic Analysis of the U.S. Commerce Department. Compared to the same time period in 2011, there has been increased activity in Australia ($9.9 billion, +26.3%), the Middle East ($2.1 billion, +23.1%), and China ($3.5 billion, +4.3%). Additionally, fiscal year-to-date authorizations through May 31 for the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) are up from $20.4 billion in 2011 to $21.9 billion in 2012.
“These results demonstrate that U.S. exports remain strong even though there has been economic uncertainty throughout Europe, said Fred P. Hochberg, the chairman and president of Ex-Im Bank. “Exports continue to offer American companies extraordinary opportunities to boost sales to the 95 percent of the world's customers that are located outside the U.S."
Exports of goods and services over the last twelve months totaled $2.145 trillion, which is 35.8 percent above the level of exports in 2009 and a record for the United States. Over the last twelve months, exports have been growing at an annualized rate of 14.0 percent when compared to 2009.
Over the last twelve months, the major export markets with the largest annualized increase in U.S. goods purchases were Panama (37.2 percent), Turkey (33.0 percent), Argentina (29.8 percent), Chile (29.5 percent), Honduras (29.4 percent), Hong Kong (28.9 percent), Peru (27.9 percent), Russia (27.0 percent), Brazil (24.6 percent), and Ecuador (23.0 percent). Of these, Brazil and Turkey are among the nine countries that Ex-Im has identified as having the greatest sales potential for U.S. companies. The other seven countries are Brazil, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, South Africa, and Vietnam.
FROM: U.S. NAVY
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG 85), right, conducts a replenishment at sea with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Towada-class fast-combat support ship JS Hamana (AOE 424) during Pacific Bond 2012. With the two ships are the Hatakaze-class destroyer JS Shimakaze (DDG 172) and the Royal Australian Navy Anzac-class frigate HMAS Ballarat (FFH 155). Pacific Bond 2012 is a U.S. Navy, Royal Australian Navy, and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force maritime exercise intended to improve interoperability and further relations between the nations. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Declan Barnes (Released)
FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Remarks to the Media Prior to and After Their Meeting
Robert R. King
Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights Issues Japanese Minister for the Abduction Issue Jin Matsubara
June 8, 2012
MINISTER MATSUBARA (Interpreted from Japanese): As far as Japan's position on the abduction issue is concerned, as clearly stated by Prime Minister Noda in his responses to questions that were raised in Diet sessions, we take the position that no normalization of Japan's relations with North Korea (is possible) without the resolution of the abduction issue.
we share the recognition that it is extremely difficult to provide any humanitarian assistance without resolution of the abduction issue. The other side of the point, though, is if we see progress on the abduction issue from them it allows us to be in a position to provide humanitarian aid.
At any rate, I believe that the issue of abductees by the DPRK is a very grave humanitarian issue and of human rights. I think it is a race against time because of the aging of the families and the abductees. Symbolically speaking, I believe that Japanese as a whole would really sense that the abduction issue has been resolved when they see a scene of the Yokotas embracing Megumi Yokota.
So I would again like to reiterate my welcome to you, Ambassador, and I would also like to request for your continued support in the resolution of this issue.
AMBASSADOR KING: Mr. Minister, as you know, the United States has been very supportive of Japanese efforts to see the return of these abductees. We will continue to follow that policy and are supportive of what you're doing in terms of seeing the enactment of these returns. Japan is a key partner to the United States, and with South Korea, as we seek to resolve the problems and difficulties in our relationship with North Korea, we want to make sure that we coordinate and cooperate with your government on our policy towards North Korea
FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Friday, June 8, 2012
Statement of Attorney General Eric Holder on the Assignment of U.S. Attorneys to Lead Investigations of Possible Unauthorized Disclosures of Classified Information
Attorney General Eric Holder issued the following statement today on the assignment of U.S. Attorneys to lead investigations of possible unauthorized disclosures of classified information:
“Today, I assigned U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Ronald C. Machen Jr. and U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein to lead criminal investigations into recent instances of possible unauthorized disclosures of classified information.
“These two highly-respected and experienced prosecutors will be directing separate investigations currently being conducted by the FBI. I have every confidence in their abilities to doggedly follow the facts and the evidence in the pursuit of justice wherever it leads.
“In carrying out their assignments, U.S. Attorneys Machen and Rosenstein are fully authorized to prosecute criminal violations discovered as a result of their investigations and matters related to those violations, consult with members of the Intelligence Community and follow all appropriate investigative leads within the Executive and Legislative branches of government.
“I have notified members of Congress and plan to provide more information, as appropriate, to members of the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees.
“The unauthorized disclosure of classified information can compromise the security of this country and all Americans, and it will not be tolerated. The Justice Department takes seriously cases in which government employees and contractors entrusted with classified information are suspected of willfully disclosing such classified information to those not entitled to it, and we will do so in these cases as well.”
Judge Upholds Charges Against Alleged Document Leaker
By Donna Miles
FORT MEADE, Md., June 8, 2012 - The military judge trying the case of alleged WikiLeaker Army Pfc. Bradley Manning today rejected a defense motion to throw out 10 of the 22 charges against him.
Army Col. Denise Lind refused the defense's argument that eight of the charges are unconstitutionally vague and overly broad.
She also upheld two other charges that Manning had exceeded his authorized access to classified Defense Department networks. Lind did announce, however, that she would use a narrow interpretation of the statute in this case. This raises the standard for what the prosecution will need to prove for Manning to be found guilty, a military lawyer told reporters.
The judge also announced that Manning's trial, initially scheduled to begin Sept. 21, likely will be delayed until November or possibly January. The defense team had asked for more time to review documents associated with the case and prepare its arguments.
The rulings came at the end of a three-day hearing here leading up to what's expected to be a three-week trial.
Manning, 24, is accused of the largest intelligence leak in U.S. history while deployed to Iraq as a military intelligence analyst. The former 10th Mountain Division soldier is accused of installing unauthorized software onto government computers to extract classified information, unlawfully downloading it, improperly storing it, and transmitting the data to the whistle-blowing group WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks, in turn, released thousands of these documents, including classified records about military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, on its website.
Manning is charged with aiding the enemy, wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the Internet knowing that it is accessible to the enemy, theft of public property or records, transmitting defense information, and fraud and related activity in connection with computers. The charges also include violation of Army Regulations 25-2 "Information Assurance" and 380-5 "Department of the Army Information Security Program."
If found guilty, Manning could receive up to life in prison. He also could be reduced to E-1, the lowest enlisted grade, and face a total forfeiture of all pay and allowances and dishonorable discharge.
Much of this week's pre-trial hearing, one of several to iron out issues related to the case, centered around what documents are being made available, and how quickly, for the defense to prepare for the trial.
Manning's civilian attorney, David Coombs, complained of getting discovery documents too slowly, in a piecemeal fashion or with so many sections redacted – meaning parts of them have been blacked out – that they're of little value.
The defense team hopes to use these documents to show that Manning caused little or no damage.
Yesterday, three State Department officials called by the defense testified that the department stood up three different teams after the leaks occurred to do damage control, identify people considered to be at risk because of the disclosures and improve computer security. The witnesses did not testify about what damages may have been caused.
In an effort to keep the proceedings as close to the projected schedule as possible, Lind announced this week that she would add additional pretrial hearings to assess progress and break through any logjams.
Lind announced that the next hearing will be June 25. At that session, both the prosecution and defense teams are scheduled to submit recommended instructions for the court to give the panel at the trial.
The defense team will have the choice of having the case decided by Lind alone, a military panel, or a jury.
Photo: Missile Interceptor Test Launch. Credit: U.S. Navy.
FROM: U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
Reinforcing Stability Through Missile Defense
Remarks Frank A. Rose
Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance OSCE Forum for Security Cooperation
June 6, 2012
Thank you so much for inviting me to speak today. This venue provides an opportunity for constructive dialogue on current security issues, and in this context, I will share an update on the U.S. approach to missile defense. At the State Department, I am responsible for overseeing a wide range of defense policy issues, including missile defense. In that capacity, it was my responsibility to negotiate the details of the Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) agreements with Poland, Romania, and Turkey that will enable the United States to implement the European Phased Adaptive Approach. I will touch more on this later in my presentation, but suffice to say that I have been focused over the last couple of years on ensuring that we are able to meet the vision President Obama laid out in his 2009 announcement regarding the European Phased Adaptive Approach.
Missile Defense Policy
Today, the threat from short-, medium-, and intermediate-range ballistic missiles to our deployed forces, allies, and partners is growing. This regional threat is likely to increase in both quantitative and qualitative terms in the coming years, as some states are increasing their inventories, and making their ballistic missiles more accurate, reliable, mobile, and survivable.
Recognizing the seriousness of the ballistic missile threat, the United States seeks to create an environment, based on strong cooperation with allies and partners, which will diminish an adversary’s confidence in the effectiveness of ballistic missile attacks. This will devalue ballistic missiles and provide a disincentive for their development, acquisition, deployment, and use. To that end, President Obama has made international cooperation on missile defense a key priority, and we are pursuing a region-by-region approach based on the following three principles:
First, the United States will strengthen regional deterrence architectures built upon solid cooperative relationships with an eye toward efficiently incorporating assets and structures that our partners already have today or are seeking.
Second, the United States is pursuing phased adaptive approaches (PAAs) to missile defense within key regions that are tailored to their unique deterrence requirements and threats, including the scale, scope, and pace of their development, and the capabilities available and most suited for deployment. Specifically, we will phase in the best available technology to meet existing and evolving threats, and adapt to situations that evolve in the future.
Third, recognizing that our supply of missile defense assets cannot meet the global demand we face, the United States is developing mobile capabilities that can be relocated to adapt to a changing threat and provide surge defense capabilities where they are most needed.
Missile defense plays an important role in the broader U.S. international security strategy, supporting both deterrence and diplomacy. Missile defense assures our allies and partners that the United States has the will and the means to deter and, if necessary, defeat a limited ballistic missile attack against the U.S. homeland and regional ballistic missile attacks against our deployed forces, allies, and partners.
NATO and European Missile Defense
Today I will focus on our work in Europe, which continues to receive a great deal of attention. In order to augment the defense of the United States against a future long-range threat and provide more comprehensive and more rapid protection to our deployed forces and European Allies against the current threat, President Obama outlined a four-phase approach for European missile defense called the European Phased Adaptive Approach or EPAA. Through the EPAA, the United States will deploy increasingly capable BMD assets to defend Europe against a ballistic missile threat from the Middle East that is increasing both quantitatively and qualitatively.
The EPAA is designed to protect our deployed forces and Allies in Europe, as well as improve protection of the U.S. homeland against potential ICBMs from the Middle East. As part of Phase 1, we have deployed to Turkey, a missile defense radar, referred to as the AN/TPY-2 radar. Also, as part of Phase 1, the United States deployed a BMD-capable Aegis ship to the Mediterranean Sea in March of 2011, and has maintained a BMD-capable ship presence in the region ever since.
Slightly more than a year ago, we concluded negotiations with Romania to host a U.S. land-based SM-3 BMD interceptor site, designed to extend missile defense protection to a greater portion of Europe. The land-based SM-3 system to be deployed to Romania is anticipated to become operational in the 2015 timeframe. We also reached an agreement with Poland to place a similar U.S. BMD interceptor site there in the 2018 timeframe, which will extend missile defense protection to all of NATO Europe.
The Obama Administration is implementing the EPAA within the NATO context. At the 2010 Lisbon Summit, NATO Heads of State and Government approved a new Strategic Concept and took the historic decision to develop the capability to defend NATO European populations and territory against the growing threat from ballistic missile proliferation. The Allies also welcomed the EPAA as a U.S. national contribution to the new NATO territorial missile defense capability, in support of our commitment to the collective defense of the Alliance under Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty. At the Lisbon Summit, NATO Heads of State and Government also decided to expand the scope of the NATO Active Layered Theatre Ballistic Missile Defense (ALTBMD) program to serve as the command, control, and communications network to support this new capability. NATO allies have committed to investing over $1 billion for command, control, and communications infrastructure to support NATO missile defense.
On May 20-21, the NATO Heads of State and Government met in Chicago for the NATO Summit and announced that NATO has achieved an interim BMD capability. This means that the Alliance has an operationally meaningful standing peacetime ballistic missile defense capability. NATO also agreed on the command and control procedures for ballistic missile defense, designated Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) as the commander for this mission, and demonstrated an interoperable command and control capability funded by all Allies. To support this interim BMD capability, the United States will offer EPAA assets to the Alliance as voluntary national contributions to the BMD mission, and will welcome contributions by other Allies. For example, President Obama announced in Chicago that he has directed the transfer of the AN/TPY-2 radar deployed in Turkey to NATO operational control. The EPAA also includes BMD-capable Aegis ships that can perform many roles besides BMD. If conditions warrant, we will transfer BMD-capable Aegis ships to NATO operational control.
These decisions have created a framework for Allies to contribute and optimize their own BMD assets for our collective defense, and the United States welcomes contributions from other Allies. Several NATO Allies possess land- and sea-based sensors that could be linked into the system, as well as lower tier systems that can be integrated and used to provide point defense. For example, the Netherlands has indicated that it will spend close to 250 million Euros to modify the radars on its frigates to detect and track ballistic missiles at long ranges and has indicated it will contribute its Patriot BMD systems to the NATO missile defense mission.
An update on missile defense cooperation with Europe should also include a discussion of our efforts to pursue cooperation with the Russian Federation. Missile defense cooperation with Russia is a Presidential priority, as it has been for several Administrations going back to President George H.W. Bush in the early 1990s.
When President Obama announced his new vision for missile defense in Europe in September 2009, he stated that “we welcome Russia’s cooperation to bring its missile defense capabilities into a broader defense of our common strategic interests.” Missile defense cooperation with Russia will not only strengthen our bilateral and NATO-Russia relationships, but also could enhance NATO’s missile defense capabilities. Successful missile defense cooperation would provide concrete benefits to Russia, our NATO Allies, and the United States and will strengthen – not weaken – strategic stability over the long term.
This means it is important to get the Russian Federation inside the missile defense tent now, working alongside the United States and NATO, while we are in the early stages of our efforts. Close cooperation between Russia and the United States and NATO is the best and most enduring way for Russia to gain the assurance that European missile defenses cannot and will not undermine its strategic deterrent.
Through this cooperation, Russia would see firsthand that this system is designed for the ballistic missile threat from outside the Euro-Atlantic area, and that NATO missile defense systems will not undermine Russia’s strategic nuclear deterrent capabilities. Working together on missile defense would also send a strong message to proliferators that the United States, NATO, and Russia are working to counter their efforts. And in Chicago, the NATO Allies in our Summit Declaration stated that “Through ongoing efforts in the NATO-Russia Council, we seek to determine how independent NATO and Russian missile defence systems can work together to enhance European security. We look forward to establishing the proposed joint NATO-Russia Missile Data Fusion Centre and the joint Planning Operations Centre to cooperate on missile defence.”
That said, Russia has raised the issue of wanting a legal guarantee with a set of “military-technical criteria” that could, in effect, create limitations on our ability to develop and deploy future missile defense systems against regional ballistic missile threats such as those presented by Iran and North Korea. We have made it clear that we cannot and will not accept limitations on our ability to defend ourselves, our allies, and our partners, including where we deploy our BMD-capable Aegis ships. These are multi-mission ships that are used for a variety of purposes around the world, not just for missile defense.
While we seek to develop ways to cooperate with Russia on missile defense, it is important to remember that under the terms of Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, NATO alone bears responsibility for defending the Alliance from the ballistic missile threat. This is why the United States and NATO cannot agree to Russia’s proposal for “sectoral” missile defense. Just as Russia must ensure the defense of Russian territory, NATO must ensure the defense of NATO territory. NATO cannot and will not outsource its Article 5 commitments.
We would, however, be willing to agree to a political framework including a statement that our missile defenses are not directed at Russia. Any such statement would be politically binding and would publicly proclaim our intent to work together and chart the direction for cooperation.
As the NATO Declaration issued at the Chicago summit stated: “We propose to develop a transparency regime based upon a regular exchange of information about the current respective missile defence capabilities of NATO and Russia. Such concrete missile defence cooperation is the best means to provide Russia with the assurances it seeks regarding NATO’s missile defence plans and capabilities. In this regard, we today reaffirm that the NATO missile defence in Europe will not undermine strategic stability. NATO missile defence is not directed against Russia and will not undermine Russia’s strategic deterrence capabilities. NATO missile defence is intended to defend against potential threats emanating from outside the Euro-Atlantic area. ”
We look forward to continuing discussions with the Russian Federation to develop a mutually agreed framework for missile defense cooperation.
Today’s ballistic missile threats continue to increase in number and sophistication. This increasing threat reinforces the importance of our collaborative missile defense efforts with allies and partners around the world, which not only strengthen regional stability, but also provide protection for our forces serving abroad and augment the defense of the United States. At the same time we are continuing to work with Russia and appreciate the statements of President Putin, Prime Minister Medvedev, and other Russian officials that we should continue to work to find common ground to resolve our differences.
Thank you for your time and attention. I look forward to your questions.
Friday, June 8, 2012
FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Civil Rights Protections for Service Members
June 7th, 2012 Posted by Tracy Russo
The following post appears courtesy of Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez for the Civil Rights Division.
Last month I had the opportunity to meet with approximately 200 members of the 101st Airborne Division at Ft. Campbell to discuss the many way the Department of Justice protects the civil rights of service members.
It was particularly appropriate that our visit to Fort Campbell coincided with the 58th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education. Brown v. Board unanimously outlawed “separate but equal” schools and called for the desegregation of schools throughout the nation. The 101st Airborne Division’s extraordinary accomplishments around the world on behalf of democracy and freedom are well known, but few know they also include a critical role during the Civil Rights Movement, when its soldiers escorted and protected the “Little Rock Nine” as they attended classes at the all-white Little Rock Central High School. Members of the 101st Airborne Division also deployed to Oxford, Mississippi, when James Meredith became the University of Mississippi’s first African-American student. These important missions were highlighted during our tour of the Don F. Pratt Museum.
During my visit, I discussed with Ft. Campbell’s soldiers and their families how the Civil Rights Division enforces laws designed to protect the rights of service members and their families. These laws ensure their brave and selfless service never puts them at risk of losing their jobs at home. They make sure members of the military and their families never have to forfeit their right to vote because they may be stationed far from home. They also protect military families when they act as consumers and make sure they are not penalized for their courageous decision to serve. In addition, I shared the ways the Americans with Disabilities Act protects the rights of individuals with disabilities, and can help those who return from combat with new disabilities.
I heard directly from the men and women serving our nation about the challenges they confront and I reminded Ft. Campbell’s soldiers they may seek advice from their Staff Judge Advocate office about their rights under these laws. They can also report violations of their rights to their Staff Judge Advocate.
FROM: US. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
EPA Announces $1.8 million in Grants to Clean Up Contaminated Sites in St. Paul; State to Receive a total of $2,650,000 in Grants and Loans
(CHICAGO – June 6, 2012) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator Susan Hedman today joined Mayor Chris Coleman and Port President Louis Jambois at the new River of Goods and Terrybear building to announce $1.8 million in grants to redevelop contaminated properties, create jobs and protect public health in St. Paul. These EPA “brownfield grants” will be used by St. Paul and the St. Paul Port Authority to assess and clean up abandoned industrial and commercial properties.
"EPA's brownfield grants will help clean up contaminated sites in St. Paul so that they can be used again," said EPA Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman. “The grants will help to revitalize neighborhoods and help businesses create jobs.”
St. Paul will receive a $200,000 brownfield grant to clean up the Trillium Central site at 179 E. Maryland Ave. The site was part of a rail yard from the late 1800s through the 1970s and included several storage structures and storage areas. It is contaminated with petroleum compounds from years of petroleum storage, handling and transfer operations. The Trillium Central site represents 8.7 acres of the city’s proposed 45-acre Trillium Nature Sanctuary.
"In St. Paul, we've seen how investing in revitalizing brownfields has paid off. By taking underutilized sites and transforming them into useful, productive spaces, formerly polluted and abandoned land can again be a prosperous part of our city," Mayor Chris Coleman said.
The St. Paul Port Authority will receive $1.6 million in brownfield grants. The Port Authority will use $400,000 for environmental assessments in areas that are targeted for redevelopment around the city. Two cleanup grants of $200,000 each will focus efforts to clean up hazardous substance in soil and soil gas at two former 3M Corp. parcels at or near 900 Bush Ave. Both sites were used for industrial and commercial purposes from the late 1800s through 2009. Soil and ground water at both sites are contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, diesel range organics and volatile organic compounds. When 3M Corp relocated from its main campus to the neighboring suburb of Maplewood, the Port Authority took over redevelopment of the 46-acre site.
An $800,000 supplemental Brownfield Revolving Loan Fund grant will help the Port Authority continue to provide low-interest loans for the cleanup of brownfield sites. The Port Authority has been successfully preparing properties for redevelopment with Revolving Loan Fund grants since 2003, with an emphasis on creating and keeping jobs.
"Brownfield redevelopment is a partnership process. It requires participation of every level of government and the private sector to be successful," Jambois said. "We're very appreciative of the EPA's energy and commitment to redeveloping core cities.”
The St. Paul grants are part of the EPA’s $69.3 million 2012 nationwide brownfields grants. Since 2003, EPA has awarded $13 million to St. Paul.
FROM: AMERICAN FORCES PRESS SERVICE
Dempsey: 'Extraordinarily Dissatisfied' With Pakistani Action Against Haqqani Network
By Claudette Roulo
WASHINGTON, June 7, 2012 - The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey joined Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta today in expressing unhappiness with Pakistan's progress in battling the Haqqani network's use of safe havens in Pakistan.
Pakistan is working to battle other threats within the federally administered tribal area, or FATA, Dempsey told reporters.
"Although we are extraordinarily dissatisfied with the effect that Pakistan has had on the Haqqani [network], we are also mindful that they are conducting military operations, at great loss ... elsewhere," Dempsey said.
During a news conference earlier today in Kabul, Panetta said the United States was reaching the limits of its patience with Pakistan following an attack on Forward Operating Base Salerno in Khost province, Afghanistan, earlier this week. One contractor and dozens of service members were wounded in the attack, attributed to the Haqqani network.
Regional Command East, which includes Khost and Logar provinces, has seen an uptick in activity, largely due increased activity by the Haqqani network, Dempsey said.
A report of civilian deaths following an airstrike in Afghanistan's Logar province is under investigation, Dempsey said. The strike followed a call for assistance from troops who came in contact with the enemy.
Dempsey said two wounded civilians came forward immediately following the airstrike saying they were wounded by the attack. U.S. troops who searched the area found no other injured or dead, he added, but an Afghan provincial leader said further searches found civilian casualties.
"We do our very best to avoid civilian casualties," Dempsey said. "This investigation will try to determine if there were civilian casualties and then we will take the appropriate actions."
The Haqqani network is as big a threat to Pakistan as it is to Afghanistan and the United States, Dempsey said. He added that the U.S. will continue to work with Pakistan to find common ground on ways to deal with the cross-border threat posed by the Haqqani network and other groups.
In addition to the recent activity by the Haqqani network, Dempsey said al-Qaida remains a threat in Pakistan, particularly within the FATA, and to a lesser extent within Afghanistan. Coalition efforts have been very successful in eliminating al-Qaida leaders, though others continue to take their place, he added.
Dempsey cited the June 4 death of Abu Yahya Al-Libi, al-Qaida's second in command, as an example of those successes, calling it a significant loss for the terror group.
"He had longstanding credibility and he had operational skills that are tough to grow overnight, and so that will be something that affects ... the al-Qaida network globally, not just in south Asia," Dempsey said.
"Most of those who 10 years ago we began tracking are no longer a part of al-Qaida, they're no longer part of any organization," Dempsey said. "We are at war with al-Qaida and ... we will pursue them wherever we find them," he said.
Photo: Detroit, Hart Plaza. Credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
FROM: U.S. EXPORT-IMPORT BANK
Ex-Im Bank Approves Increased Loan Guarantee For Over 200,000 Ford Motor Company Vehicles, Export Sales Top $8.5 Billion
WASHINGTON, DC – Ford Motor Company of Dearborn, Michigan was recently approved by the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) board of directors for a working capital loan guarantee of $300 million. This represents a $50 million increase compared to an existing $250 million guarantee which was approved by the board in 2010 and will expire later this year. Given its success, the new increased Loan Facility will support the Company’s growing sales in existing markets, as well as developing ones.
The new guarantee will support growing sales to buyers in Canada and Mexico (markets covered by the existing guarantee), as well as global markets in Asia and South America. This will support U.S. automobile manufacturing jobs and indirectly jobs at Ford’s suppliers for the export of over 200,000 vehicles valued at $8.5 billion.
“Ford Motor Company experienced what we hope for all U.S. companies – success overseas by expanding into new markets and increasing sales in existing ones,” said Fred P. Hochberg, chairman and president of Ex-Im Bank. “This additional export financing will not only support American jobs, but also the development of emerging markets with high-quality, new automobiles.”
“We are pleased to continue working with Ex-Im Bank,” said Neil Schloss, vice president and treasurer, Ford Motor Company. “This guarantee supports low-cost financing for our exports from the U.S., which in turn supports jobs in the U.S.”
Models to be exported using the Ex-Im Bank loan guarantee include the E-Series van, the Escape, Expedition, Explorer, and Navigator SUVs, the F-150 pickup, and the Taurus car. These exports will be manufactured in plants located in Avon Lake, Ohio; Chicago, Illinois; Dearborn, Michigan; Kansas City, Missouri; and Louisville, Kentucky. The Private Export Funding Corporation (PEFCO) will provide the funding for the revolving $300 million Loan Facility which will be backed by Ex-Im Bank's guarantee.
Photo Credit: NASA.
FROM: U.S. NAVY
Navy Researchers Seek To Improve Weather Prediction For Global Operations
ARLINGTON, Va. (NNS) -- With the Atlantic hurricane season officially beginning this month, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) is pursuing a number of projects to help Navy forecasters and meteorologists around the world predict storms better.
ONR's efforts in funding ocean research are yielding enhanced weather and ocean prediction models-highlighted in a new video-that help Navy leaders understand how to route ships around the globe to avoid storms, reduce fuel consumption, avoid Arctic ice flows and promote safety at sea.
"Weather is one of the most significant factors affecting naval operations at sea," said Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder. "ONR-funded research in weather prediction is improving the Navy's forecasting capability and accuracy for any location around the world where our Sailors and Marines are conducting missions."
At the Fleet Weather Center in Norfolk, Va., Navy meteorologists depend on ONR-developed weather models and tools to provide timely, comprehensive and tactically-relevant products and services to support fleet training and operations. "We use real-time sensing data, observations from ships and combine that with modeling outputs to try and get as far ahead of the bad weather as possible," said Cmdr. Adam Newton, operations officer. "This information improves safety at sea and can give the fleet a real warfighting advantage."
While the Navy forecasters focus on supporting Fleet operations around the world, ONR often partners with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) because the same data and weather models that Navy forecasters use also help NOAA to provide accurate weather prediction and storm warnings across the country.
"There is a concerted effort to link various atmospheric and oceanic models together to attain more accurate weather forecasts," said Dan Eleuterio, an ONR program officer. Eleuterio is working on a new computer model called the Tropical Cyclone Coupled Ocean/Atmospheric Mesoscale Prediction System, or TC-COAMPS, which allows scientists to forecast storms' track and strength in real time at high resolution. It was the first dynamic model to demonstrate better skill than statistical approaches at NOAA's National Hurricane Center, and is one of several Navy and NOAA models being evaluated by the National Weather Service's Hurricane Forecast Improvement Program.
"Up until now, predicting the intensity of storms was done with statistical-dynamical models," said Eleuterio. "What that means is that forecasters would look at several decades of observed data and they would simply say that if a storm is in this place this season, it is most likely going to get stronger or weaker or change. It wasn't an actual prediction, and TC-COAMPS will change that as a next-generation weather prediction model."
ONR researchers work with underwater autonomous vehicles, ocean gliders and other sensors to collect information about how much the ocean environment drives global weather patterns. That data helps scientists improve mathematical equations for computer models that predict weather, ocean, sea, and even Arctic ice conditions.
The Navy has a long history of conducting missions in the Arctic for research and military purposes, and in 2009 published the Navy Arctic Roadmap to help ensure naval readiness and capability and promote maritime security in the Arctic region. Developed by the Navy's Task Force Climate Change, the plan includes increasing operational experience, promoting cooperative partnerships and improving environmental understanding.
"The Arctic ice flows are retreating, and that has strategic implications for our country and naval operations in that region of the world as sea lanes open for shipping," said Rear Adm. David Titley, director of the Navy's Task Force Climate Change. "ONR research is helping us understand the Arctic environment, which helps us predict conditions and design future Navy ships better suited for that tough mission."
Tracking the sea ice cover is the responsibility of the National Ice Center (NIC), a multi-agency organization operated by the Navy, NOAA and the United States Coast Guard in Suitland, Md. "Weather modeling is really key to better understanding and forecasting of changing ice conditions in the Arctic," said Pablo Clemente-Col?n, NIC's chief scientist.
In the future, ONR researchers hope to combine multiple weather prediction models to create a comprehensive coupled global model that will greatly extend prediction capability, accuracy and our understanding of the world's environment.
The Department of the Navy's Office of Naval Research (ONR) provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps' technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 70 countries, 1,035 institutions of higher learning and 914 industry partners. ONR employs approximately 1,400 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel, with additional employees at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C.