Saturday, June 23, 2012
Friday, June 22, 2012
Pennsylvania Member of the Internet Piracy Group “Imagine” Pleads Guilty to Copyright Infringement Conspiracy
A Pennsylvania man pleaded guilty today to conspiring to willfully reproduce and distribute tens of thousands of infringing copies of copyrighted works without permission, including infringing copies of movies before they were commercially released on DVD, Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Neil H. MacBride and Special Agent in Charge John P. Torres of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) in Washington, D.C., announced today.
Willie O. Lambert, 57, of Pittston, Pa., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement. The plea was entered before U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen in the Eastern District of Virginia. Lambert faces up to five years in prison, a fine of $250,000 and three years of supervised release.
Lambert was indicted on April 18, 2012, along with three other leading members of the IMAGiNE Group, an organized online piracy group seeking to become the premier group to first release Internet copies of new movies only showing in theaters. A co-defendant, Sean M. Lovelady, entered a guilty plea to the same charge on May 8, 2012.
According to court documents, Lambert and his co-conspirators sought to illegally obtain and disseminate digital copies of copyrighted motion pictures showing in theaters. Lambert admitted that he went to movie theaters and secretly used receivers and recording devices to capture the audio sound tracks of copyrighted movies (referred to as “capping”). After obtaining, editing and filtering audio sound tracks and uploading them to servers utilized by the IMAGiNE Group, Lambert used and attempted to use software to synchronize the audio file with an illegally obtained video file of a movie to create a completed movie file suitable for sharing over the Internet among members of the IMAGiNE Group and others. Mr. Lambert also admitted that the IMAGiNE group’s conduct resulted in a readily provable and reasonably foreseeable infringement amount of more than $400,000.
The investigation of the case and the arrests were conducted by agents with ICE-HSI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert J. Krask of the Eastern District of Virginia and Senior Counsel John H. Zacharia of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States. Significant assistance was provided by the CCIPS Cyber Crime Lab and the Office of International Affairs in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
This case is part of efforts being undertaken by the Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property (IP Task Force) to stop the theft of intellectual property. Attorney General Eric Holder created the IP Task Force to combat the growing number of domestic and international intellectual property crimes, protect the health and safety of American consumers, and safeguard the nation’s economic security against those who seek to profit illegally from American creativity, innovation and hard work. The IP Task Force seeks to strengthen intellectual property rights protection through heightened criminal and civil enforcement, greater coordination among federal, state and local law enforcement partners, and increased focus on international enforcement efforts, including reinforcing relationships with key foreign partners and U.S. industry leaders.
This investigation was supported by the HSI-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) in Washington. The IPR Center is one of the U.S. government’s key weapons in the fight against criminal counterfeiting and piracy. As a task force, the IPR Center uses the expertise of its 20 member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions and conduct investigations related to IP theft. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the IPR Center protects the public's health and safety, the U.S. economy and our war fighters.
Lt. Col. Tim Thurston attempts to pin down Staff Sgt. Mark Velasquez during a grappling drill at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, June 12, 2012. Soldiers taught the Modern Army Combatives Program course to instructors from Air Force Basic Military Training and the security forces technical training school in an effort to improve combatives training at Lackland. Thurston is the commander of the 322nd Training Squadron and Velasquez is a security forces technical training instructor with the 343rd TRS. (U.S. Air Force photo/Alan Boedeker)
AF instructors learn modern Army combatives skills
by Mike Joseph
Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland Public Affairs
6/22/2012 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas (AFNS) -- After spending five days in a joint combatives "train the trainer" course, Air Force participants gained a valuable benefit in becoming certified to teach both Modern Army Combatives and Basic Air Force Combatives:
"Confidence," said Lt. Col. Tim Thurston, the 322nd Training Squadron commander -- This was a reaction echoed by others who participated in the Modern Army Combatives Program Level I course last week here.
Instilling self-assurance in those who teach combatives in Air Force Basic Military Training and security forces technical training was a top priority for the course instructors. They anticipate self-confidence to become a byproduct of the technique teaching process.
"It's all about confidence -- that's the end goal," said Tech. Sgt. William Rider, of the 319th TRS, who oversees the basic training combatives program. "We have a limited (three-hour)combatives program right now in BMT. We're establishing an expanded program in the future so when Airmen go to technical school or a base with a combatives program, they already have the knowledge of basic body positioning and grappling."
Army Staff Sgt. Torrey Spence, the Army III Corps combatives program assistant NCO in charge at Fort Hood, Texas, was one of two Army instructors who taught the course. He, too, emphasized the self-confidence Airmen will gain when the newly certified instructors begin implementing the program.
"The main thing we stress about the basic combatives course, whether it's Air Force or Army, is the Airman or Soldier has to have confidence to do these techniques," Spence said. "This course gives them that. We call it reality-based training -- train like you fight.
"Along with the confidence, it builds the warrior ethos," he said. "The definition of a warrior is the willingness to go the distance in a fight. We want every Airman or Soldier to have that."
A majority of the 17 participants in the course were military training instructors as basic training prepares to expand its combatives course.
"Col. (Glenn) Palmer's) intent is to have a realistic and safe combatives program," Rider said, referring the 737th Training Group commander. "He wants something for Airmen because we teach warrior ethos and because of the joint mission. We'd like a program in place to give them physical conditioning and the grappling experience, which creates unnatural and uncomfortable positions."
The Army program teaches how to control the range between fighters, gain and maintain a dominant body position, and to finish the fight when a dominant body position has been established. Participants were taught hand-to-hand techniques to create space and engage with a primary weapon, how to maintain space and employ a secondary weapon, and how to achieve a dominant clinch position.
"After taking this course, you not only have confidence in your teammates, you have self-confidence to defend yourself," Thurston said. "We are the best fighting force in the world because we believe we are. What we've learned in this training, we can pass down. It will make us a better fighting force."
Staff Sgt. Jesse Armstrong, one of three 343rd TRS instructors who took the course, said it will be beneficial to students in security forces technical training.
"It gives me the confidence to know I'm teaching students the right way, to help them not just learn the moves, but if it happens to them they will know how to react," Armstrong said. "It's given me a boost of confidence to know I can go into a hand-to-hand fight and win or come out on top.
"By starting this training at tech school, I think, as it spreads out, it's going to help every security forces squadron," she said.
Kalamazoo River and Morrow Lake to Open
MARSHALL, Mich. June 21 -- Local, state and federal agencies responding to the Enbridge oil spill announced today that an additional 34 miles of the Kalamazoo River and the entire 2 miles of Morrow Lake are now open for recreational use.
Part of the area referred to as the Morrow Lake Delta is still closed. The closed portion will be identified by buoys. Those using the river should follow buoy restrictions for their own safety and the safety of workers still conducting cleanup.
Boaters will have to portage between a canoe launch on the delta and the River Oaks boat launch.
The newly opened portion stretches from Saylor’s Landing near 15 Mile Road and the Kalamazoo River in Calhoun County to Morrow Lake. This follows the April 18 opening of a nearly three-mile portion from Perrin Dam in Marshall to Saylor’s Landing, a new river access site near 15 Mile Road and the Kalamazoo River.
"The long wait to open most of the oil-damaged Kalamazoo River is now over -- just in time for summer," said Susan Hedman, EPA Region 5 Administrator. "EPA will remain in the Marshall area until the cleanup is completed."
“I am pleased that we are finally able to open a larger stretch of the river for people to use,” said James Rutherford, Calhoun County Public Health Director. “We know that people have been eager to get back and start using the river again.”
Linda Vail, director of the Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department, agreed.
“People want to use the river and riverside parks for recreation,” Vail said. “We want to make sure that they have a safe place to have fun.”
People could see sheen or flecks of oil in the river, even after this new portion is open. Sheen appears as a filmy or rainbow-like substance floating on the water surface.
Not all sheen is caused by oil. There are two general sources of sheen – petroleum-based and natural. On the Kalamazoo River, some sheen may come from the Enbridge oil spill, while some sheen may be caused by traditional sources such as motorboats and gasoline or motor oil that is washed away from parking lots and into the river system.
Natural sheen can occur by decomposition of vegetation. According to the U.S. Geologic Survey, oil-like films and rock coatings are often made by bacteria reacting to iron and manganese in the water. Both types of sheen appear similar floating on water.
According to recent Public Health Assessments, the Michigan Department of Community Health has concluded that contact with the submerged oil will not cause long-term health effects. At the same time, contact with the submerged oil may cause temporary effects, such as skin irritation.
Both county health departments and the Michigan Department of Community Health don’t expect any long-term health effects from people touching residual oil on the river or in the sediment, but there could be temporary effects such as skin irritation.
The health agencies recommend washing skin and clothes with plain soap and water as soon as possible after coming in contact with oil. Stations with cleaning wipes have been set up near kiosks at launch stations to clean skin and boating equipment.
Enbridge will continue to perform oil recovery, even after openings occur, under the direction of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.
People may encounter ongoing work activities at some locations along the river. They should use caution when involved in recreation around these work zones. They should obey all buoys and signage, and use only marked, public areas for accessing the river, and stay off private property.
While the cleanup is in its final stages, EPA and MDEQ are committed to remaining on-site as long as necessary to protect human health and the environment.
The river was closed from Perrin Dam in Calhoun County to the Morrow Lake Dam in Kalamazoo
County in July 2010, after an Enbridge pipeline ruptured discharging oil into Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River. Enbridge has estimated that it discharged 843,444 gallons of oil during this pipeline spill. The cause of the pipeline rupture is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.
Remarks at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development Plenary
Remarks Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
June 22, 2012
SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning. To President Rousseff, the Brazilian Government, the Brazilian people for hosting us, to Secretary General Ban, Secretary General Sha: Thank you for convening this conference. And thanks to all of you representing governments, civil society, the private sector, young people, men, women, and children everywhere.
Brazil has done the world a great service by hosting us all here. This can be a fractious time. But thanks to Brazil’s deft and effective leadership, we have coalesced around an outcome document that marks a real advance for sustainable development. We know this is one of the most pressing matters of our time, because how we grow together over the long term isn’t a question for only some countries. It is a question for all countries. And here in Rio, thanks to Brazil, we are at the center of our shared efforts to find answers.
I want to thank the President of Samoa for his remarks and the reminder that we meet at a critical moment. For some countries and some people around the world, this is not just a matter for long-term planning, but for immediate, pressing action. And we know that voices are being raised demanding expanded opportunities and a greater role in the decisions that affect the lives of us all. We have the potential to answer that call. Hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of extreme poverty in just the past generation, laying the groundwork for even more progress. We are working together to end chronic hunger, an area where Brazil has shown particularly strong leadership. I believe we can end preventable child deaths and chart a path towards an AIDS-free generation.
In short, this is a time for us to be pragmatic, but also optimistic. A more prosperous future is within our reach, a future where all people benefit from sustainable development no matter who they are or where they live. But let’s be honest. We know what is possible. We know what we could do. But we also know that future is not guaranteed, because the resources that we all depend upon – fresh water, thriving oceans, arable land, a stable climate – are under increasing pressure. And that is why, in the 21st century, the only viable development is sustainable development. The only way to deliver lasting progress for everyone is by preserving our resources and protecting our common environment.
So we have come together, here in Rio, to identify practical ways we can all promote sustainable development. And while our views may differ sometimes, I believe we agree on some fundamental principles. We cannot be boxed in by the orthodoxies of the past. We should and must make decisions based on research and scientific evidence about what works. And above all, we need fresh, agile, action-oriented partnerships that can produce results year after year after year.
So while the outcome document adopted here contains many important principles and proposals, the most compelling products of this conference are the examples of new thinking that can lead to models for future action. It should be said of Rio that people left here thinking, as the late Steve Jobs put it, not just big, but different.
We should be thinking different about harnessing the power of the market. Remember in the 1960s, official development assistance accounted for 70 percent of the capital flows to developing nations, but today it amounts to only 13 percent, while at the same time, development budgets have actually increased. Why is that? Well, you know very well. Because while continuing to provide assistance, the private sector investments, using targeted resources and smart policies, have catalyzed more balanced, inclusive, sustainable growth.
The United States has taken this idea to heart. And earlier today, I helped launch a partnership between the United States and African nations that will use $20 million in U.S. Government funding to unlock hundreds of millions of dollars in private financing for clean energy projects in Africa and beyond. It’s part of our contribution to the United Nations Sustainable Energy for All initiative, which has secured significant private sector investments for sustainable energy. And we hope to see even more coming out of Rio.
You also see the power of the market in the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, which aims to help 100 million families adopt clean cookstoves and fuels by 2020. By supporting consumer research and creating incentives for manufacturers, we’re helping to create a market for stoves that people will pay for and use, while at the same time preventing health problems in women and children, and cleaning the air of black soot.
Now in addition to tapping into the private sector, we should be thinking different about new types of partnerships to solve problems that might otherwise seem insurmountable. Here in Rio, the United States launched joint efforts on everything from deforestation and water to solid waste. We’re also leading Feed the Future, a global effort to improve food security that is helping food producers adapt to climate change even as they reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions.
And earlier this year, I was privileged to host six countries in the United Nations Environment Program as we launched the Climate and Clean Air Coalition. The goal is to reduce short-lived climate pollutants that cause more than 30 percent of current global warming, as well as millions of premature deaths and extensive crop losses. We know we have to keep working together on CO2, but we think that our Climate and Clean Air Coalition, to which many more countries are joining, and we welcome you, can take targeted action and produce results with respect to methane and black soot and HFCs.
We also have to be thinking different about development in our cities. That is, after all, where most of the world’s population lives today, where most of the growth is and will take place, and where innovative ideas are being put into action. Under the Joint Initiative on Urban Sustainability that President Rousseff and President Obama kicked off last year, we are bringing political officials from every level – from state, county, local, municipalities – together along with industry leaders and developers to find creative ways to generate sustainable economic growth. If, as I heard earlier today, that 70 percent of the structures that will be needed in 30 years to house, to provide economic opportunities for the world’s population have yet to be built, then we have a tremendous opportunity we cannot waste.
And finally, the only prosperous, sustainable economy is an inclusive economy. That means we should think different about how we recognize the needs of workers in the informal economy, how we unleash the talent and energy of young people, and how we act on the compelling evidence most recently published by the World Bank that women are essential drivers of sustainable development.ã€€ I applaud the bold call to action issued here in Rio by UN Women, and likewise the Rio+20 outcome document devotes a strong section to expanding opportunities for women.
And while I am very pleased that this year’s outcome document endorses sexual and reproductive health and universal access to family planning, to reach our goals in sustainable development we also have to ensure women’s reproductive rights. Women must be empowered to make decisions about whether and when to have children. And the United States will continue – (applause) – the United States will continue to work to ensure that those rights are respected in international agreements.
Now none of this is an abstract discussion. There is just too much at stake, too much still to be done. And many of you visited the U.S. Center here in Rio and saw practical solutions related to some of the work I’ve discussed and other goals we hold in common. We believe solutions require action by all of us. Governments, yes; let’s do our part. Let’s do more than our part. Let’s pave the way for more clean energy investments, take on the entrenched political and economic interests that stand in the way of clean energy,
technology, and sources being used in nations around the world. Let’s use the private sector, particularly the consumer goods companies, as they have agreed to do, to make sure they have sustainable supply chains, the right kind of packaging and marketing that puts the least amount of burden on the earth we share.
Let’s bring in the nonprofits, the civil society organizations, faith groups, individuals, all of us, committed to realizing the sustainable development goals that we have embraced. We know that we will be judged not by what we say nor even by what we intend to do, but by whether we deliver results for people alive today, and whether we keep faith with future generations. I’m very honored to be here with all of you, and I pledge my country’s, the Obama Administration’s, and my own personal efforts to continue our work together. We simply cannot afford to fail.
Thank you all very much. (Applause.)
FROM: U.S. NAVY
The U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, fly in the Delta formation over Sugarloaf, S.C. The Blue Angels were en-route to Latrobe, Penn., to perform at the Westmoreland County Air Show June 23-24. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Rachel McMarr (Released) 120620-N-DI587-368
U.S. Marines depart a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter as it prepares to depart from a landing zone in Leogane, Haiti, Jan. 25, 2010. The Marines established a humanitarian aid area for Haitian earthquake victims at a missionary compound. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Bobbie A. Curtis
Southcom, Partners Prepare to Respond to Natural Disasters
By Donna Miles
MIAMI , June 22, 2012 - Putting lessons learned from the 2010 earthquake response in Haiti into practice, U.S. Southern Command has entered this year's hurricane season ready to provide timely, effective aid should another disaster strike the region, command officials reported.
"We remain deliberately prepared," Southcom commander Air Force Gen. Douglas M. Fraser reported to Congress in the lead-up to hurricane season, which kicked off this month.
"As we look at the hurricane season, we prepared for that, not only within our own headquarters, but with our partners in the region," Fraser said.
Southcom's area of responsibility, which includes Central and South America and the Caribbean, is no stranger to natural disasters. The largest earthquake recorded worldwide in the 20th century occurred in 1960 in Valdivia, Chile. Mount Pelee's 1902 eruption in Martinique caused more than 30,000 deaths, and the 1985 Nevada del Ruiz eruption and mudslide in Colombia killed 25,000 people. Major flooding in northern Venezuela in 1999 left more than 20,000 dead.
Haiti has been tormented throughout its history with cyclones, hurricanes, tropical storms, torrential rains, floods and earthquakes. Haiti's 7.0-magnitude earthquake in January 2010 left thousands dead and hundreds of thousands homeless. That disaster sparked the Southcom-led Operation Unified Response mission in support of the U.S. Agency for International Development's Office of Foreign Disaster Relief.
At the peak of that mission, Joint Task Force-Haiti included 22,000 service members -- 7,000 land-based and the rest operating aboard 33 Navy and Coast Guard vessels, 262 fixed-wing aircraft and 57 helicopters. They reopened the heavily damaged international airport at Port-au-Prince, repaired port facilities and delivered 2.6 million bottles of water, 2.9 million food rations, 17 million pounds of bulk food and 149,000 pounds of medical supplies into Haiti.
The task force also provided one of the largest medical outreach efforts in history, with humanitarian and engineering support continuing long after the six-month disaster response in Haiti concluded.
The mission proved to be a "tremendous learning experience" for Southcom that underscored the importance of close interagency and non-governmental cooperation, Army Maj. Gen. Gerald W. Ketchum, Southcom's director of theater engagement, told American Forces Press Service at the organization's headquarters here.
The response effort led to revisions in the command's disaster response plan, increases in its disaster-response capabilities and expanded disaster-preparedness outreach across the region, Ketchum reported.
Coincidentally, the Southcom headquarters was getting a demonstration of a new computer-networking tool to promote collaboration in the event of a natural disaster the very day Haiti's earthquake hit. The All Partners Access Network, initially introduced at U.S. Pacific Command, provides a standardized platform for coordinating efforts between the various interagency, non-governmental organization, international and military responders. The scenario being used to demonstrate the APAN system was a notional hurricane hitting Haiti and taking out its emergency response command-and-control capabilities.
But based on real-life events, the Southcom staff quickly took the demonstration live and hundreds of organizations began using APAN to coordinate a faster and more efficient relief response that saved lives. Southcom is now using the system as part of an improved framework for military support to civilian-led disaster relief operations, Fraser noted in his command's 2012 posture statement.
Meanwhile, Southcom is collaborating with regional partners to increase their ability to prepare for and respond to natural disasters. Fraser described a three-part effort through Southcom's humanitarian assistance program, disaster preparedness projects and annual humanitarian assistance exercises.
Last year, those efforts included building disaster-response warehouses, wells, potable water systems and emergency operations centers, he said. In fiscal year 2011, Southcom also conducted 169 projects designed to increase disaster preparedness in Central America, South America and the Caribbean.
In addition, the command supports the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, a regional effort to increase disaster resilience and response capabilities among the 18 Caribbean nations involved.
A new project Southcom sponsored in the wake of the Haiti earthquake involves forward-staged kits that provide disaster-response teams with essential services, including potable water, hybrid renewable power, communications and situational awareness.
"Past experience has demonstrated that one of the biggest challenges in providing an effective response is the ability to accurately assess the situation on the ground after communications go down and transportation infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed," Fraser noted in his commander's blog.
Pre-positioned Expeditionary Assistance Kits, or PEAKS, developed in partnership with the National Defense University, "enable decision makers to gain a better understanding of how best to deploy relief efforts," he said.
The kits underwent a joint capability technology demonstration last year at Soto Cono Air Base in Honduras, less than a year after the program's inception, Fraser noted. Joint Task Force Bravo in Honduras, Southcom's main expeditionary organization, and members of Honduras' military and civil-relief agencies, put the kits to the test under realistic field conditions.
Meanwhile, Fraser emphasized the importance of training to ensure the Southcom staff is prepared to support USAID, the lead federal agency for international disaster response, if called upon. This includes a joint operations course it hosts, with classes presented by USAID.
"This recurring training guarantees that when disaster strikes, U.S. Southern Command is ready to assist," Fraser said.
And to ensure regional nations are as prepared as possible for disasters when they occur, many Southcom-sponsored exercises incorporate disaster-response scenarios or training activities that enhance capabilities and cooperation, Ambassador Carmen Martinez, Southcom's civilian deputy to the commander, explained.
The Fuerzas Aliadas Humanitarias annual exercise series, sponsored by Southcom and executed by U.S. Army South, helps bring together regional militaries, civilian disaster management agencies and first responders to train in disaster relief and recovery efforts. The 2011 exercise, held in Trinidad and Tobago and Guatemala, included 640 participants from 27 nations to practice the national and international response to an imaginary earthquake.
Martinez credited these efforts with building partner-nation capability, noting that no U.S. military forces were called on during last year's hurricane season to provide support.
"I think that is the direct result of the constant training and exercising and assisting of these nations, that they were able to take care of things themselves," she said. "And I think that's a real tribute to the host nations. But it is also a tribute to the programs that U.S. Southern Command has conducted in the region."
Labels: SOUTHCOM COMMANDER AIR FORCE GEN. DOUGLAS M. FRASER, U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT, U.S. SOUTHERN COMMAND
In a published opinion that issued on Wednesday, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals enforced a Board Order finding that a Michigan long-term care and rehabilitation center unlawfully refused to bargain with a unit of charge nurses. In doing so, the Court affirmed the Board's conclusion that the nurses were not supervisors under the Act.
The 43 charge nurses at Fountain View of Monroe had been represented by a union since 2003. However, when their collective bargaining agreement expired in 2009, the employer challenged their ability to be represented by a union, claiming that under the Board’s decision in Oakwood Healthcare, 348 NLRB 686 (2006), the charge nurses were supervisors and were not eligible to be represented by a union. The Board rejected that argument and ordered the employer to bargain. The order was appealed to the Sixth Circuit.
In a detailed and fact-intensive opinion, the Court rejected the employer's arguments and found that substantial evidence supported the Board's analysis of the status of the charge nurses and its finding that they are in fact employees under the Act.
Photo: Osprey Aircraft In Flight. Credit: U.S. Air Force
FROM: AMERICAN FORCES PRESS SERVICE
U.S., Japanese Officials Discuss Osprey IssuesWASHINGTON, June 22, 2012 - Defense Department officials today held a director-level meeting at the Pentagon with officials from the Japanese Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Foreign Affairs to provide an update on MV-22 and CV-22 Osprey aircraft issues, according to Pentagon Press Secretary George Little.
Today's meeting, Little said, was led by Christopher Johnstone, Director for Northeast Asia, Office of the Secretary of Defense (Policy) and Air Force Brig. Gen. Terrence O'Shaughnessy, Deputy Director for Politico-Military Affairs for Asia, the Joint Staff. The meeting also included representatives from the U.S. Marine Corps and other U.S. Air Force members who provided updates on the status of the investigations into recent mishaps involving Osprey aircraft, Little said.
Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon yesterday, Little described the meeting as an effort to address concerns about the aircraft by the governor of Okinawa. DOD is planning to deploy the MV-22 -- the Marine Corps variant of the Osprey -- to the Asia-Pacific region.
The CV-22 Osprey is the Air Force's special operations variant. The tilt-rotor Osprey can fly like an airplane and land like a helicopter.
The Department of Defense takes the inquiries made by the Japanese government very seriously and provided relevant information to the extent currently possible, and will continue to do so, Little said.
The Osprey is a highly capable aircraft with an excellent operational safety record, which includes more than five years of worldwide deployments and 140,000 flight hours, he said.
Photo Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Wikimedia
FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Friday, June 22, 2012
Louisiana Hunting Outfitter Sentenced to Prison for First Felony Conviction for Illegally Hunting Protected Alligators
WASHINGTON – Gregory K. Dupont, 38, of Plaquemine, La., was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Baton Rouge, La., to serve six months in prison, to be followed by four months in a half-way house and two years of supervised release. Dupont was also ordered to pay a $3,000 fine. Dupont’s sentencing, handed down by U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson late Thursday, was the first ever felony conviction and prison sentence resulting from the illegal hunting of American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis), in violation of the Lacey Act, the Endangered Species Act, and Louisiana law.
Dupont has owned and operated Louisiana Hunters Inc., a hunting outfitting company, since 2001. His clients hired him to take them on alligator hunts in Louisiana, and they included out-of-state residents who were required to hunt with a licensed resident alligator hunter. Dupont took some of the out-of-state clients to hunt alligators on property where he was not authorized to hunt. On Feb.10, 2012, Dupont pleaded guilty to selling American alligators by providing outfitting and guiding services, knowing the alligators to have been taken illegally, on a hunt in September 2006.
In 1967, American alligators were listed as an endangered species because the total population size in the United States reached drastically low numbers due to severe poaching and overharvesting. The conservation effect of this protected status and of the Lacey Act, the Endangered Species Act, and regulations promulgated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the state of Louisiana led to the recovery of the size of the American alligator population in the United States, and American alligators were down-listed to threatened status in 1987. The success of the American alligator conservation program is second only to that of the Bald Eagle.
Because American alligators remain federally protected, alligator hunting is regulated by federal and state rules and regulations, which require, among other things, the tagging of all harvested alligators. The integrity of the tagging system is crucial to Louisiana’s alligator management program because it enables the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to monitor harvest areas, alligator size and the number of alligators taken. This system depends in significant part upon the honesty and self-regulation of Louisiana’s licensed hunters for its continued success.
In Louisiana, an allotted number of alligator hide tags are issued to licensed hunters. Each tag may be used for one alligator only, and Louisiana law requires alligator hunters to hunt only on property for which hide tags are issued. The areas where alligator hunting is permitted are determined on a yearly basis by wildlife biologists, whose decisions are based on the need to maintain a healthy alligator population. If hunters poach alligators from areas for which they do not have tags, then the integrity of the entire alligator management system is undermined, thereby threatening Louisiana’s alligator population and alligator industry, which is a significant component of Louisiana’s economy.
According to court documents, Dupont, in violation of law, guided his clients to places in Louisiana, regardless of whether he had tags for the areas, where he hoped his clients would kill trophy-sized alligators so that they would pay him a trophy fee in addition to the guiding fees.
The case was prosecuted by Shennie Patel and Susan L. Park of the Environmental Crimes Section of the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Louisiana. The case was investigated by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Law Enforcement Division and by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement.
Map Credit: U.S. State Department.
FROM: AMERICAN FORCES PRESS SERVICE
Airstrike Kills Taliban Leader in AfghanistanFrom an International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Release
KABUL, Afghanistan, , June 22, 2012 - An Afghan and coalition airstrike killed Nabi Rahman, a Taliban leader and explosives expert, during an operation in the Watahpur district of Afghanistan's Kunar province today, military officials reported.
Rahman had coordinated the movement of insurgents in the region, provided explosive materials and training to insurgents, and planned attacks against Afghan and coalition forces, officials said.
After the strike, the security force conducted a follow-on assessment and confirmed Rahman had been killed, officials said. Officials said no civilians were harmed and no property was damaged.
In other Afghanistan operations today:
-- A combined force killed several insurgents while searching for a Taliban leader in the Baghlan-e Jadid district of Baghlan province. The security force also detained numerous suspects and seized one AK-47 rifle with a grenade launcher, one pistol, some ammunition and more than a dozen grenades.
-- In the Tarnek wa Jaldak district of Zabul province, a combined force killed an insurgent weapons trafficker and one other insurgent. The security force also seized several AK-47 rifles and a grenade.
-- An Afghan-led, coalition-supported force detained a Taliban weapons facilitator in the Zharay district of Kandahar province. The security force also detained several other suspects and seized a weapon.
-- A combined force detained several suspects and confiscated multiple AK-47 rifles during a search for a Taliban leader in the Nawah-ye Barakzai district of Helmand province.
-- An Afghan-led, coalition-supported force detained a Haqqani leader and several other suspects in the Musa Khel district of Khost province. The leader is linked to the planning of the June 20 suicide bombing in Khost province.
-- In the Sabari district of Khost province, a combined force detained several suspects during a search for a Haqqani leader. He is another Haqqani leader linked to the June 20 suicide attack in Khost.
-- A combined force detained a Taliban leader who specializes in IEDs and two other suspects in the Wali Muhammad Shahid Khugyani district of Ghazni province. The leader was involved in the construction, transportation and placement of IED's used in attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. He also provided information to senior Taliban leaders in the region.
And on June 21, a combined force discovered a cache containing 1,995 pounds of hashish in the Zharay district of Kandahar province. The drugs were destroyed.
Army scientists are squeezing more power from batteries by developing new methods and materials with incredible results. “Our battery group has recently developed some new materials that could potentially increase the energy density of batteries by 30 percent,” said Cynthia Lundgren, electrochemical branch chief at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory.
This small group of scientists work on energy and power solutions for America’s soldiers.
“This 30 percent is actually quite a big deal. Typically improvements range about one percent a year with a few step changes,” Lundgren said.
For years, researchers studied how batteries work. They looked at how each component reacts with another. At high voltages, batteries are extremely energetic systems.
“There has never been a battery, a single cell, that operated at five volts,” Lundgren explained. “Through our understanding of that interface, we were able to design an additive that you add into the electrolyte that is somewhat of a sacrificial agent. It preferentially reacts with the electrode and forms a stable interface. Now the battery is able to operate at five volts.”
Scientists are calling the additive a major step forward. Since Army researchers Kang Xu and Arthur Cresce designed the substance two years ago, the lab has filed patent applications.
“This is what you would call a quantum leap,” Cresce said. “We’ve gone from circling around a certain type of four volt energy for quite a while. All of a sudden a whole new class of batteries and voltages are open to us. The door is open that was closed before.”
Army research has the potential to reduce battery weight and allow soldiers to carry more ammunition or water.
“Our goal is to make things easier for the soldier,” Lundgren said. “This research started because of the Army’s unique needs. There is a huge investment in batteries.”
Master-at-Arms Seaman Sharon Berg, a K-9 handler with the military working dog unit at Naval Station Mayport, runs her K-9 partner, KKowalski, through an obstacle course at the base kennel. Berg runs the course with KKowalski multiple times a day to promote endurance and motor skills. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Damian Berg (Released) 120621-N-TC587-002
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
South Carolina Man Pleads Guilty to Committing Federal Hate Crime Against African-American Teenager
Chase McClary, 23, of Johnsonville, S.C., pleaded guilty today in federal court in the District of South Carolina to violating the Matthew Shepard-James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in his violent assault of an African-American teenager.
During his guilty plea, McClary admitted that in August 2010, he approached a 16-year-old African-American male and struck him numerous times with the jagged end of a broken coffee mug because of the victim’s race. The attack resulted in severe injuries to the victim’s head, face and neck.
Sentencing will be set at a later date. The plea agreement calls for a sentence of 48 months in prison.
“Motivated by hate, the defendant attacked a teenager and scarred him for life. No one should have to endure such an abhorrent act of criminal violence,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney for the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will vigorously prosecute cases of bias motivated violence to the full extent of the law.”
“Prosecution of hate-based crime – whether the motive is the color of skin, sexua l orientation, religion, gender or national origin – is critical to the American way of life and the justice system,” said U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles for the District of South Carolina. I want to thank the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the F lorence County Sheriff’s Office and Ed Clements, the Thirteenth Circuit Solicitor, for their work on this civil rights case.”
This case was investigated by Special Agent Steven Stokes of the FBI, with assistance from the Florence County Sheriff’s Investigator Alvin Powell, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brad Parham and Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney Christopher Lomax.
Photo Credist: U.S. Navy.
FROM: U.S NAVY
Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group Returns From Deployment
Story Number: NNS120622-04Release Date: 6/22/2012 10:22:00
From Amphibious Squadron 5 Public Affairs
SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) returned to their homeport of San Diego June 22 following a seven-month deployment.
The three ships that comprised the Makin Island ARG were amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8), amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18) and amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52).
In addition to the more than 1,700 Sailors who returned today, one day earlier, more than 2,100 Marines assigned to the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), which had embarked the three ships for the deployment, returned home to friends and family members at Camp Pendleton, Calif.
During the seven-month deployment, the nearly 4,000 Sailors and Marines of the Makin Island ARG conducted maritime security operations (MSO) and theater security cooperation (TSC) exercises and events in the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet areas of responsibility.
"In addition to the MSO mission, Amphibious Ready Groups bring flexible assets into the theater that allow fleet commanders the ability to deliver combat forces, support humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions as well as noncombatant evacuations," said Capt. Donald Cuddington, commander, Amphibious Squadron 5. "During this deployment, the Sailors and Marines of the Makin Island ARG took part in a number of exercises and TSC events in support of our nation's maritime strategy."
Cuddington said highlights of the deployment included supporting exercises Kilat Eagle in Malaysia, MAREX 2012 in Cambodia, and numerous TSC events with other coalition partners in the Gulf region.
"A key component of our maritime strategy is building regional partnerships to ensure security, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region," said Cuddington. "Our deployment is proof of just that, and that we are a professionally trained fighting force also capable of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief if needed."
While deployed, the embarked 11th MEU participated in a total of 14 exercises with regional partners and host nations.
"We were able to sharpen our skills while strengthening partnerships with our hosts," said Col. Michael R. Hudson, 11th MEU commanding officer. "From survival and jungle training in Cambodia and Malaysia to full-scale raids and live-fire exercises with counterparts throughout the Middle East and Horn of Africa, this deployment employed all the capabilities of our air-ground-logistics team."
Hudson said this was also the first operational deployment of the four-blade AH-1Z Viper helicopter. When deployed with the UH-1Y helicopter, the "Yankee-Zulu" package replaces the older two-blade Marine Corps AH-1W and UH-1N helicopters.
The new helicopters can carry an additional 2,000 to 4,000 pounds, travel faster and conduct combat operations from a safer distance. The AH-1Z and UH-1Y also share an 85 percent parts commonality, which streamlines training and maintenance.
"Although we are most capable as a three-ship [group], positioning our forces throughout our area of operations permitted Marines to be three and sometimes four places at once," said Hudson. "At one point, we were participating in three different large-scale exercises in the Western Pacific, while simultaneously planning three more. We were able to accomplish these exercises and other contingency-support missions because of the agility and capability inherent in a MEU embarked on amphibious ships."
Sailors and Marines from the Makin Island ARG also participated in a variety of community relations activities in a total of six different countries during the deployment. These projects include spending time with needy children and the elderly, making improvements to local schools and orphanages, and taking care of abandoned cats and dogs at animal shelters.
This was the maiden deployment for Makin Island, the Navy's newest amphibious assault ship and the only U.S. Navy ship with a hybrid electric propulsion system.
"Our Sailors and Marines successfully met every mission during our historical maiden deployment in support of the nation's maritime strategy," said Capt. Cedric Pringle, Makin Island's commanding officer. "As the Navy's first operational test platform for this hybrid-electric propulsion system, our fuel efficiency directly enhanced the ability to operate forward for longer. Additionally, our significant fuel cost savings, coupled with our lessons learned, will serve as a solid foundation for optimizing this ship, as well as current and future ship designs. The value of our first deployment will continue to increase, as we assess required refinements in engineering subsystems, training, and logistics support."
During the deployment, Makin Island made port visits to Singapore, Bahrain, Jordan, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. USS New Orleans visited Cambodia, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain, Jordan, Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. USS Pearl Harbor stopped in Singapore, Cambodia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Jordan, Thailand, Republic of the Philippines and it's namesake of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
Hundreds of family members joined the Sailors and Marines on each of the three ships for the final leg of the deployment, from Hawaii to California, as part of a scheduled Tiger Cruise.
A German air force Eurofighter Typhoon launches from the runway at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, June 4, 2012. The Germans are participating in Red Flag-Alaska 12-2, a two-week exercise providing aircrew realistic combat sorties and increasing their chances of survival in combat. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Miguel Lara III)
German air force brings Eurofighter, skills to Eielson AFB
by Airman 1st Class Zachary Perras
354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
6/21/2012 - EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska (AFNS) -- After a nearly 5,000-mile trip across the world, 150 members of the German air force recently arrived here with eight German Eurofighter Typhoons.
It is the first time the German airframe has deployed overseas, according to German officials. In fact, it is the very first of the Eurofighter's participation in any U.S. exercise.
German air force Col. Andreas Pfeiffer, the commander of Fighter Wing 74, at Neuburg air base, Germany, said training here is a completely different experience for the German air force, specifically because Alaska provides more air space and accommodates high-caliber coalition training. Most importantly, though, it is host to the 18th Aggressor Squadron.
"The (18th) Aggressor Squadron, which provides us with the best training on Earth, is unique -- there is no other training partner like the Aggressors," Pfeiffer said. "If you put all of the factors together, this is probably the highest quality training you could possibly get in modern air combat."
One of the most valuable aspects the 18th AGRS provides is dedicated adversary support that the German air force might not find back home, giving a new perspective for German flying and tactics, said Capt. Cory Farrer, an 18th AGRS F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot.
"It allows us to fly with another ally and integrate with them as well as giving them a large piece of airspace to train in," Farrer said. "The Eurofighter is a very capable and formidable airframe, and it's a great and valuable asset (for our allies)."
The German air force's aim with Red Flag was to bring the Eurofighter into an environment in which its pilots could show their proficiency with the aircraft while being able to learn and enhance their experience level, Pfeiffer said.
"The goals we have for this Red Flag exercise are focused on our wing capabilities, both in terms of logistics as well as techniques, to prove that the Eurofighter is capable of coping with all of the challenges of modern air combat," said Pfeiffer. "At the same time, it's for us to increase our own technical performance and capabilities."
In addition to months of training in Europe, the Germans arrived in May to participate in Distant Frontier in order to prepare for Red Flag. Since then, Pfeiffer said his forces have learned valuable lessons.
"We are learning that we are flying and fighting on a common tactical basis," he said. "Although we are flying alongside coalition forces on a regular basis (in Europe), what we learn here is a completely different dimension ... and we are able to prepare ourselves for possible future operations anywhere."
While the German air force has participated in previous exercises like Maple Flag in Canada and other Red Flags at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., the Eurofighters have never participated in such a large-scale exercise.
"We have some really experienced pilots, but this is a huge challenge for most of them -- it's the first time they've done something like this," Pfeiffer said. "Even so, I'm surprised about the performance of both our jets and our crews. Our guys and our systems are ready to face the challenges ahead."
Keeping the future in sight, Pfeiffer is eager to return to Alaska for future Red Flags, attributing the success of his forces to the hospitality and support of Eielson Air Force Base.
"I feel privileged to have the opportunity to participate with my wing and with a new jet in such an outstanding exercise," said Pfeiffer. "This is the highest quality training you could get worldwide; it is unique and simply a privilege."
Friday, June 22, 2012
FROM: COMMODITY FUTURES TRADING COMMISSION
Federal Court in Texas Orders Linda Harris, Chance Harris, CDH Forex Investments, LLC, and CDH Global Holdings, LLC, to Pay over $5.4 Million in Restitution and a Monetary Sanction for Forex Fraud
Washington, DC — The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) today announced that it obtained a federal court order imposing more than $5.4 million in restitution and a civil monetary penalty on defendantsLinda Harris, Chance Harris and their companies, CDH Forex Investments, LLC (CDH Forex) and CDH Global Holdings, LLC (CDH Global), all of Flower Mound, Texas, for fraud in connection with the operation of a commodity pool and managed accounts trading off-exchange foreign currency (forex) contracts.
The default judgment order requires Linda Harris, Chance Harris, CDH Forex, and CDH Global jointly and severally to first pay $1,361,897 to defrauded customers as restitution for their losses and then pay $4,085,691 as a civil monetary penalty. The order also permanently prohibits them from engaging in any commodity- and forex-related activity and from registering with the CFTC.
The order, entered on June 12, 2012, by Senior Judge Royal Furgeson of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, stems from a CFTC complaint filed on October 25, 2011, that charged the defendants with fraudulent solicitation, misappropriation, and misrepresentation to pool participants and regulatory organizations in a multi-million dollar forex scheme (see CFTC press release 6127-11, October 25, 2011). The CFTC complaint also charged the defendants with concealing their fraud by issuing false account statements to pool participants regarding the profitability of their investments. Linda Harris, CDH Forex, and CDH Global also were charged with making false statements and submitting falsified bank and account trading statements to the National Futures Association (NFA).
The order finds Linda Harris, Chance Harris, CDH Forex, and CDH Global liable as to all violations alleged in the CFTC’s complaint.
Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force.
FROM: AMERICAN FORCES PRESS SERVICE
Review Panel Urges Changes in Combat, Incentive Pays
By Jim Garamone
WASHINGTON, June 21, 2012 - The 11th Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation recommends changes to combat pay and changes to special and incentive pays while saying current military pay rates are about right.
Tom Bush, the study's director, said the review also recommended further study of compensation of wounded warriors and their caregivers, for survivors, and making compensation for reserve-component service members consistent.
Bush and Jeri Busch, the Pentagon's director of military compensation policy, spoke with reporters yesterday and stressed that the review's findings are recommendations. While some of the recommendations may become reality, they said, the review – convened by President Barack Obama – is meant to inform White House, congressional and Defense Department leaders.
The review found that military compensation compares favorably against private-sector pay, Bush said. Enlisted pay is at the 90th percentile of overall pay meaning it is ahead of 90 percent of comparable civilian workers' pay. The review graphed enlisted regular military compensation against civilians with high school diplomas, civilians with some college and civilians with associate's degrees. Service members do better than these comparable civilians at any point in a 20-year career, the study found.
Commissioned officers' regular military compensation is higher than that of 83 percent of civilians with bachelor's and master's degrees.
The review recommends an overhaul of combat compensation, Bush said. The review recommends setting hostile-fire pay higher than imminent danger pay and having more than one level of imminent-danger pay to reflect varying levels of danger in different locations authorized for the pay.
A QRMC survey of service members indicate that they believe combat compensation is unfair, Bush said, noting that the longer service members are in the military, the better the benefit is for them. Because they receive higher pay than junior personnel, senior service members receive more benefit from the combat zone tax exclusion for military pay. The vast majority of those under fire are junior personnel – both officer and enlisted – who do not benefit as much from the tax exemption, Bush said.
The review also recommends replacing the combat zone tax exclusion with a refundable tax credit, Bush said. "Even if their tax bill is zero, they are going to get that credit back if it is refundable," he added. The combat tax credit would be linked to coming under hostile fire, Bush explained.
Another suggestion from the review is a direct-support tax credit linked to imminent danger pay. "We would also suggest that the tax credit ... be prorated," Bush said. "If you are not in the zone, if you are not exposed to danger, you don't get it."
The review also recommends an annual recertification of combat zones, which are designated by presidential executive order, in the same manner as declaration of a state of emergency.
The review also delved into pay incentives such as bonuses and monthly incentive pays and the services use to manage particularly vital career fields. For example, nuclear officers aviators and some military medical personnel receive special pay. The review recommends establishing a general career incentive pay authority that isn't linked to specific career fields such as aviation or medicine, but could be tailored to grow or shrink as circumstances warrant.
President Barack Obama's letter of instruction on the review panel's mission specifically cited four examples: special operations forces, remotely piloted vehicle operators, linguists and translators, and mental health experts, Bush said.
The QRMC is looking whether an authority exists to offer a career incentive pay that can be applied to any career field deemed critical. The review recommends that rather than just asking for another special pay category, the Defense Department would have the authority to pay anyone – cryptanalysts, for example – when needed, Bush said. This would require legislation, he added.
The review also made recommendations on wounded warriors and their caregivers, and for survivors. The review found that wounded warriors are well provided for financially, and recommends continued study of wounded warriors' earnings and disability payments to monitor long-term financial well-being. Another recommendation looks to create a seamless transition between the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments for service members leaving the military.
The review revealed that DOD and VA need more empirical data on the financial situation of wounded warriors' caregivers, and the report recommends more study of this.
Finally, the review recommends modifying the survivor benefit plan to allow surviving spouses to receive the portion of the SBP annuity funded by retiree premiums.
SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA
In the week ending June 16, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 387,000, a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 389,000. The 4-week moving average was 386,250, an increase of 3,500 from the previous week's revised average of 382,750.
The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.6 percent for the week ending June 9, unchanged from the prior week's unrevised rate.
The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending June 9 was 3,299,000, unchanged from the preceding week's revised level. The 4-week moving average was 3,293,750, an increase of 5,250 from the preceding week's revised average of 3,288,500.
The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 359,578 in the week ending June 16, a decrease of 17,032 from the previous week. There were 394,286 initial claims in the comparable week in 2011.
The advance unadjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.4 percent during the week ending June 9, unchanged from the prior week's unrevised rate. The advance unadjusted number for persons claiming UI benefits in state programs totaled 3,091,004, a decrease of 212 from the preceding week. A year earlier, the rate was 2.8 percent and the volume was 3,491,533.
The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending June 2 was 5,826,164, a decrease of 1,164 from the previous week.
Extended benefits were available in the District of Columbia, Idaho, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and West Virginia during the week ending June 2.
Initial claims for UI benefits by former Federal civilian employees totaled 1,541 in the week ending June 9, an increase of 191 from the prior week. There were 2,799 initial claims by newly discharged veterans, an increase of 592 from the preceding week.
There were 16,398 former Federal civilian employees claiming UI benefits for the week ending June 2, an increase of 638 from the previous week. Newly discharged veterans claiming benefits totaled 38,135, a decrease of 54 from the prior week.
States reported 2,533,749 persons claiming EUC (Emergency Unemployment Compensation) benefits for the week ending June 2, a decrease of 17,764 from the prior week. There were 3,299,235 claimants in the comparable week in 2011. EUC weekly claims include first, second, third, and fourth tier activity.
The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending June 2 were in Alaska (4.4), Puerto Rico (3.7), Pennsylvania (3.5), California (3.3), New Jersey (3.3), Connecticut (3.2), Oregon (3.2), Illinois (3.1), Nevada (3.0), and Virgin Islands (3.0).
The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending June 9 were in California (+12,987), Pennsylvania (+7,036), Texas (+4,028), Georgia (3,686), and North Carolina (+3,148), while the largest decreases were in Missouri (-438), Alaska (-126), Puerto Rico (-99), Nevada (-99), and Minnesota (-66).
Washington, D.C., June 21, 2012 – The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged that a former broker in Orlando, Fla., defrauded investors in an astrology-based Ponzi scheme.
The SEC alleges that Gurudeo “Buddy” Persaud lured family, friends, and others into investing in his firm, White Elephant Trading Company LLC, by falsely guaranteeing their money would be safe and yield lofty returns ranging from 6 to 18 percent. Persaud told investors he would invest in the debt, stock, futures, and real estate markets, but did not reveal that his trading strategy was based on his belief that markets are affected by gravitational forces.
According to the SEC’s complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Persaud used investors’ money to make payments to other investors, the hallmark of a Ponzi scheme. Persaud also lost $400,000 of investor funds through his trading and diverted at least $415,000 to pay for his personal expenses, the SEC alleged. The same month Persaud began receiving investor money, he started using some of that money for his personal expenses. The SEC said that Persaud created phony account statements to hide his trading losses and give investors a false sense of security.
“Persaud preyed on people who trusted him by promising high and steady returns while hiding his unconventional trading strategy,” said Eric I. Bustillo, Director of the SEC’s Miami Regional Office. “When Persaud blatantly lied to investors and hid their losses through a Ponzi scheme, he should have known that an SEC enforcement action was in the stars.”
Persaud was a registered representative at a Florida-based broker-dealer but separately operated the now-inactive White Elephant, starting in mid-2007. In all, Persaud raised more than $1 million from at least 14 investors between July 2007 and January 2010.
The SEC alleges that in making trading decisions, Persaud chiefly relied on an Internet service that provided directional market forecasts based on lunar cycles and gravitational pull. Persaud’s strategy was premised on the idea that gravitational forces affect mass human behavior, and in turn, the stock market. For example, Persaud believed that when the moon exerts greater gravitational pull on the Earth, people feel dejected and are more inclined to sell securities.
The SEC’s complaint seeks disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, financial penalties, and injunctive relief against Persaud to enjoin him from future violations of the federal securities laws.
The SEC’s investigation was conducted in the Miami Regional Office by Senior Counsel Rachel K. Paulose and Accountant Karaz S. Zaki under the supervision of Assistant Regional Director Elisha L. Frank, with assistance from examiners Anson Kwong and Brian H. Dyer, Examination Manager George Franceschini, Assistant Regional Director Nicholas A. Monaco, and Associate Regional Director John C. Mattimore. Amie Riggle Berlin will lead the SEC’s litigation.
Photo: Earth Rise Seen From The Moon. Credit: NASA.
B-2 Flies To North Pole. Credit: U.S. Air Force.
FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
New START Implementation
Testimony Rose Gottemoeller
Acting Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Statement before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Washington, DC, June 21, 2012
Mr. Chairman, Senator Lugar, and members of the Foreign Relations Committee, thank you for this opportunity to provide an update on the implementation of the Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START).
As you know, New START celebrated its first birthday this past February. Its ratification and entry into force would not have been possible without the strong bipartisan support of this body. We are grateful to senators on both sides of the aisle for supporting a treaty that has done so much to strengthen global and national security.
When the Treaty is fully implemented, it will result in the lowest number of deployed nuclear warheads since the 1950s, the first full decade of the nuclear age: 1550 warheads deployed on 700 delivery vehicles, that is, intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and bombers. To illustrate the great distance we have traveled in reducing our nuclear weapons, I would like to mention that when the START Treaty was signed in July 1991, the United States and the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) each deployed approximately 10,500 nuclear warheads.
Photo: Launch of ICBM Minute Man III. Credit: U.S. Air Force.
The current implementation process is providing ongoing transparency and predictability regarding the world’s two largest deployed nuclear arsenals, while preserving our ability to maintain the strong nuclear deterrent that remains an essential element of U.S. national security and the security of our allies and friends.
The verification regime for New START is a detailed and extensive set of data exchanges and timely notifications covering all strategic offensive arms and facilities covered by the Treaty, as well as on-site inspections, exhibitions, restrictions on where specified items may be located, and additional transparency measures.
In negotiating the Treaty, both sides worked hard to find innovative new mechanisms to aid in the verification of the Treaty and the results of that work are already evident. The regime provides for effective verification and, at the same time, is simpler to implement and lessens disruptions to the day-to-day operations of both sides’ strategic forces.
These verification mechanisms are enabling us to monitor and inspect Russia’s strategic nuclear forces to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Treaty. For both the United States and Russia, accurate and timely knowledge of each other’s nuclear forces helps to prevent the risks of misunderstandings, mistrust, and worst-case analysis and policymaking.
To date, the implementation process has been positive and pragmatic. Under New START, we are continuing the professional working relationship that was established during the negotiation process in Geneva.
In the first Treaty year, the United States and the Russian Federation kept pace with each other on conducting inspections. Both Parties conducted the yearly maximum of 18 inspections. So far this Treaty year, the Russian Federation has conducted 8 inspections and the United States has conducted 7 inspections. These inspections have taken place at intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), and heavy bomber bases; storage facilities; conversion or elimination facilities; and test ranges.
Through inspection activities, we have acquired new and valuable information. For example, New START includes intrusive reentry vehicle inspections that are designed to confirm the exact number of reentry vehicles (or warheads) on individual missiles selected for inspection. We are now able to confirm the actual number of warheads on any randomly selected Russian ICBM and SLBM – something we were not able to do under the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).
Another new feature in the New START is that each ICBM, SLBM, and heavy bomber has been assigned a unique identifier (UIDs) – a license plate, if you will. These UIDs are helping both sides with a “cradle to grave” tracking of the location and status of strategic offensive arms from arrival at an operating base, movement between facilities, changes in deployment status, maintenance or storage, to eventual conversion or elimination.
Another aspect of Treaty implementation is the exhibition process. The purpose of exhibitions is to demonstrate distinguishing features, to confirm technical characteristics of new types, and to demonstrate the results of conversion of the first item of each type of strategic offensive arms subject to this Treaty. These exhibitions provide both Parties with an opportunity to see new types of strategic offensive arms, view distinguishing features, and confirm declared data. These exhibitions assist in the conduct of on-site inspections. They also serve to enhance transparency and provide a better understanding of each other’s systems.
Photo: B-2 Flies To North Pole. Credit: U.S. Air Force.
Both sides have conducted delivery vehicle exhibitions. In March 2011, the United States conducted exhibitions of its B-1B and B-2A heavy bombers. Following that, the Russian Federation conducted exhibitions of its RS-24 ICBM and associated mobile launcher. That was the first time we had a chance to see the RS-24, the new Russian mobile missile with multiple warheads. This exhibition provided us with a great amount of information we would have not otherwise had.
In March 2012, the United States conducted the first of four one-time cruise missile submarine (SSGN) exhibitions. The purpose of these exhibitions is to confirm that the launchers on these submarines are incapable of launching SLBMs.
The United States and the Russian Federation have also been sharing a veritable mountain of data with each other. Since entry into force, we have exchanged over 2,500 notifications through our Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers (NRRC). These notifications help to track movement and changes in the status of systems. For example, a notification is sent every time a heavy bomber is moved out of its home base for more than 24 hours. Additionally, when the United States conducts a flight test of an ICBM or SLBM, the NRRC will notify the Russian National Center one day in advance of the flight test. The Russians provide the same information for their launches. Our center receives from the Russian NRRC the incoming notification via our secure government-to-government communications link. We translate it, make secure telephonic alerts, and issue a State Department cable to concerned U.S. agencies within one hour.
On top of the individual notifications, we exchange a comprehensive database of strategic forces covered by the Treaty every six months. This full account combines with the notifications to create a living, growing document that continuously tracks each side’s strategic nuclear forces.
These data exchanges are providing us with an even more detailed picture of Russian strategic forces than we were able to obtain from earlier exchanges and the inspections allow us to confirm the validity of that data. Of course, the verification regime is backed up by our own National Technical Means of verification, our satellites and other monitoring platforms.
Another feature of the New START Treaty implementation process is the Bilateral Consultative Commission (BCC). This compliance and implementation body has met three times since entry into force. The BCC has produced Joint Statements and agreements, memorializing shared understandings of technical issues related to implementation activities. As in the implementation of the Treaty overall the environment in the BCC has been one of practical problem-solving on both sides of the table.
The latest session of the BCC was held in Geneva from January 24 to February 7, 2012. During the session, both sides continued their discussion on practical issues related to the implementation of the Treaty. The United States and the Russian Federation reached agreement there on an outstanding issue from the negotiations- the exchange of telemetric information on an agreed number of ICBM and SLBM launches and the procedures for conducting demonstrations of recording media and/or telemetric information playback equipment. Since this agreement, both the United States and the Russian Federation have conducted demonstrations of telemetric information playback equipment and recording media to be used during telemetry exchanges. Telemetric information was exchanged between the Parties on April 6, 2012.
Our experience so far is demonstrating that the New START’s verification regime works, and will help to push the door open to new, more complicated verification techniques for the future. Verification will be crucial to any future nuclear reduction plans and the United States has made it clear that we are committed to continuing a step-by-step process to reduce the overall number of nuclear weapons.
Further, the outstanding working relationship that developed during the negotiations has carried over into the implementation phase, creating an atmosphere of bilateral cooperation to resolve implementation questions as they have arisen. We look forward to reporting further success and additional updates as New START implementation progresses.
Thank you again for the opportunity to speak and I look forward to your questions.
 The Treaty’s central limits are as follows: 700 deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs and deployed heavy bombers; 1,550 warheads on deployed ICBMs and SLBMs and nuclear warheads counted for deployed heavy bombers; and 800 deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers, and heavy bombers.
FROM: U.S. NAVY
120621-N-EY938-681 EAST CHINA SEA (June 21, 2012) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG 85), left, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) helicopter destroyer JS Kurama (DDH 144) and the Republic of Korea Ship (ROKS) Munmu the Great (DDH 976) are in formation in the East China Sea. The U.S. Navy, Japan Maritime Self Defense Force and Republic of Korea navy ships are participating in a trilateral exercise to improve interoperability, readiness and the capability to respond quickly to various situations in the region, ranging from disaster relief to maritime security activities. (US Navy photo by Lt. Cmdr. Denver Applehans/Released)
Map: Artic Circle. Credit: Wikimedia/CIA
FROM: NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION
Remote Siberian Lake Holds Clues to Arctic--and Antarctic--Climate Change
June 21, 2012
Intense warm climate intervals--warmer than scientists thought possible--have occurred in the Arctic over the past 2.8 million years.
That result comes from the first analyses of the longest sediment cores ever retrieved on land. They were obtained from beneath remote, ice-covered Lake El'gygytgyn (pronounced El'gee-git-gin) ("Lake E") in the northeastern Russian Arctic.
The journal Science published the findings this week.
They show that the extreme warm periods in the Arctic correspond closely with times when parts of Antarctica were also ice-free and warm, suggesting a strong connection between Northern and Southern Hemisphere climate.
The polar regions are much more vulnerable to climate change than researchers thought, say the National Science Foundation-(NSF) funded Lake E project's co-chief scientists: Martin Melles of the University of Cologne, Germany; Julie Brigham-Grette of the University of Massachusetts Amherst; and Pavel Minyuk of Russia's North-East Interdisciplinary Scientific Research Institute in Magadan.
The exceptional climate warming in the Arctic, and the inter-hemispheric interdependencies, weren't known before the Lake E studies, the scientists say.
Lake E was formed 3.6 million years ago when a huge meteorite hit Earth, leaving an 11-mile-wide crater. It's been collecting layers of sediment ever since.
The lake is of interest to scientists because it has never been covered by glaciers. That has allowed the uninterrupted build-up of sediment at the bottom of the lake, recording hitherto undiscovered information on climate change.
Cores from Lake E go far back in time, almost 30 times farther than Greenland ice cores covering the past 110,000 years.
The sediment cores from Lake El'gygytgyn reflect the climate and environmental history of the Arctic with great sensitivity, say Brigham-Grette and colleagues.
The physical, chemical and biological properties of Lake E's sediments match the known global glacial/interglacial pattern of the ice ages.
Some warm phases are exceptional, however, marked by extraordinarily high biological activity in the lake, well above that of "regular" climate cycles.
To quantify the climate differences, the scientists studied four warm phases in detail: the two youngest, called "normal" interglacials, from 12,000 years and 125,000 years ago; and two older phases, called "super" interglacials, from 400,000 and 1.1 million years ago.
According to climate reconstructions based on pollen found in sediment cores, summer temperatures and annual precipitation during the super interglacials were about 4 to 5 degrees C warmer, and about 12 inches wetter, than during normal interglacials.
The super interglacial climates suggest that it's nearly impossible for Greenland's ice sheet to have existed in its present form at those times.
Simulations using a state-of-the-art climate model show that the high temperature and precipitation during the super interglacials can't be explained by Earth's orbital parameters or variations in atmospheric greenhouse gases alone, which geologists usually see as driving the glacial/interglacial pattern during ice ages.
That suggests that additional climate feedbacks are at work.
"Improving climate models means that they will better match the data that has been collected," says Paul Filmer, program director in NSF's Division of Earth Sciences, which funded the "Lake E" project along with NSF's Office of Polar Programs.
"The results of this collaboration among scientists in the U.S., Austria, Germany and Russia are providing a challenge for researchers working on climate models: they now need to match results from Antarctica, Greenland--and Lake El'gygytgyn."
Adds Simon Stephenson, director of the Division of Arctic Sciences in NSF's Office of Polar Programs, "This is a significant result from NSF's investment in frontier research during the recent International Polar Year.
"'Lake E' has been a successful partnership in very challenging conditions. These results make a significant contribution to our understanding of how Earth's climate system works, and improve our understanding of what future climate might be like."
The scientists suspect the trigger for intense interglacials might lie in Antarctica.
Earlier work by the international ANDRILL program discovered recurring intervals when the West Antarctic Ice Sheet melted. (ANDRILL, or the ANtarctic geological DRILLing project, is a collaboration of scientists from five nations--Germany, Italy, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States--to recover geologic records from the Antarctic margin.)
The current Lake E study shows that some of these events match with the super interglacials in the Arctic.
The results are of global significance, they believe, demonstrating strong indications of an ongoing collapse of ice shelves around the Antarctic Peninsula and at the margins of the West Antarctica Ice Sheet--and a potential acceleration in the near future.
The Science paper co-authors discuss two scenarios for future testing that could explain the Northern Hemisphere-Southern Hemisphere climate coupling.
First, they say, reduced glacial ice cover and loss of ice shelves in Antarctica could have limited formation of cold bottom water masses that flow into the North Pacific Ocean and upwell to the surface, resulting in warmer surface waters, higher temperatures and increased precipitation on land.
Alternatively, disintegration of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet may have led to significant global sea level rise and allowed more warm surface water to reach the Arctic Ocean through the Bering Strait.
Lake E's past, say the researchers, could be the key to our global climate future.
The El'gygytgyn Drilling Project also was funded by the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP), the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research, Alfred Wegener Institute, GeoForschungsZentrum-Potsdam, the Russian Academy of Sciences Far East Branch, the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, and the Austrian Ministry for Science and Research.