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Saturday, February 2, 2013


Members of the Joint Color Guard practice for the Super Bowl at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Belle Chasse, La., Jan. 15, 2013. U.S. Army photo by Jennifer Villaume

Louisiana Recruiters to Carry Colors at Super Bowl
By Jennifer Villaume
Baton Rouge Recruiting Battalion

NEW ORLEANS, Feb. 1, 2013 – Local service members will present the nation’s colors to kick off Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes Benz Superdome here Feb. 3.

But before the kickoff service members carrying the nation’s colors will march in unison, representing the whole of the military force which preserves that American identity and culture.

"This is a unique experience because this will be the first time I will have the opportunity to work alongside every branch of the Department of Defense and the U.S. Coast Guard," said Air Force Master Sgt. Antonio Frese. "Usually joint operations involve two to three service components, so this is a rare opportunity to be exposed to all branches."

The Joint Armed Forces Color Guard is made up of local recruiters from each branch which serves New Orleans and surrounding areas.

"It is quite an honor to be selected to lead our team in presenting the National Colors at such a huge event. I am a soldier and a recruiter. Not only will I be representing the Army; I am representing what it means to serve," said Sgt. 1st Class Ervin Davis. "It will be a positive message for all the young men and women watching who may have a desire to serve their country to see the professionalism and pride of our men and women in uniform."

The Joint Armed Forces Color Guard has met for practice two days a week leading up to the Super Bowl at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Belle Chase, La. The full dress rehearsal is being conducted today.

"Every branch has different drill and ceremony procedures so practice is essential," Army Staff Sgt. Lester Scott said.

For a 10-member color guard practice does make perfect.

"We have to be able to execute by time and feel, instead of sight, since we are not standing next to each other," Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Stephen Howell said. "Many of my friends and family will be watching, and I want them to be proud of my effort. We will be the face of the Marine Corps."

Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Daphne Gilles arrived at her new unit just four months ago.

"I am extremely honored that I was selected," Gilles said. "I was given the position of Captain of Coast Guard District Eight Color Guard and Honor Guard Team upon my arrival. It is a tremendous privilege to represent the Coast Guard."

Even with all the practicing and precision required, to everyone involved it will be a memorable and fun day.

"I will be able to point to a large-framed picture on my wall of me holding the Air Force flag at the 50-yard line and say proudly, ‘The United States Air Force trusted in me enough to represent the service in front of 100 million people worldwide.’ It doesn’t get any better than that," Frese said.

The Super Bowl provides a connection to home for many service members deployed overseas.

"I have been deployed twice, both for one year each. I missed my baby’s birthdays and other special events. The Super Bowl was the only event that I requested off while overseas, knowing that we were all watching together," Scott said. "Something about this football game brings us all together no matter what is going on. This game has meant the world to me by connecting me to home, and now I get to be a rifle man next to the American flag. It is an honor."

This year, they get to watch together. Scott’s two children will be in the Superdome cheering on their dad.

Other Joint Armed Forces Color Guard team members include:

-- Staff Sgt. Joshua Reyes, U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion, New Orleans Company;

-- Gunnery Sgt. Toland Howard, U.S. Marine Corps Recruiting Battalion, Baton Rouge Company;

-- Petty Officer 2nd Class Holly Diaz, U.S. Navy Recruiting Battalion, New Orleans Company;

-- Staff Sgt. Adrian Munoz, U.S. Marine Corps Recruiting Battalion, Baton Rouge Company; and

-- Lance Cpl. Randy West, U.S. Marine Corps Band, New Orleans.

Since the Superdome opened in 1975, it was the site of six Super Bowls. The "dome" underwent a six-year major renovation after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It is now the fifth largest NFL stadium in the country.



ISS Update: Record-Setting Science on Station

NASA Public Affairs Officer Brandi Dean talks with Vic Cooley, Lead Increment Scientist, about the many experiments taking place aboard the International Space Station.


Europe Remains Cornerstone of U.S. Engagement, Biden Says
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 2, 2013 - Europe remains the cornerstone and catalyst for America's engagement with the world, Vice President Joe Biden said in Munich today.

The vice president spoke at the annual Munich Security Conference, where he also addressed the situation with Iran and what the nations of the world can do together to confront the terrorist threat.

The Munich Conference is one of the preeminent gatherings of security leaders in the world, and Biden is not stranger to the group. As a senator on the Foreign Relations Committee he often journeyed to Munich and he last addressed the body in 2009, as the newly elected vice president.

The sanctions the world has placed on Iran are working, the vice president said. He stated that the U.S. position on Iran is not containing the rogue nation from gaining nuclear arms, but preventing it. "We've also made clear that Iran's leaders need not sentence their people to economic deprivation and international isolation," he said. "There is still time, there is still space for diplomacy, backed by pressure, to succeed. The ball is in the government of Iran's court, and it's well past time for Tehran to adopt a serious, good-faith approach."

Biden contrasted what the world was like when he last addressed the conference in 2009. "Four years ago, the world was mired in the deepest economic downturn since the Great Depression," he said. "Today, times remain tough for too many American and European families -- but conditions are improving."

The United States and European nations must work to put their economies on a sound footing, he said. That, after all, is the key to national power and influence, Biden added.

In 2009, al-Qaida was on the ascendancy, the vice president said. "Osama bin Laden was alive and well and plotting against our countries, inspiring followers," he said. "Now, as a result of the joint efforts of all of our countries and renewed and relentless focus on counterterrorism, the cooperation of our law enforcement agencies, and President [Barack] Obama's unflinching determination to bring Osama bin Laden to justice, ... we've made progress. We've dealt that organization, al-Qaida, a crippling blow, [and] made all our homelands more secure."

Now it is the affiliates of al-Qaida that pose the danger, he said. Affiliates in Yemen, Somalia, North Africa, Iraq and Syria, while not posing the same threat as the original group, still are dangerous. "Increasingly they are targeting Western interests overseas," he said. "That's why we have been just as relentless in taking them on."

These extremists are exploiting porous borders, broad swaths of ungoverned territory, readily available weapons and "a swelling generation of disaffected young people whose futures are stifled by stagnant economies," he said.

The solution is not to spend billions on defense, but to reach out and engage these nations and peoples, Biden said. "It will take a comprehensive approach -- employing the full range of the tools at our disposal -- including our militaries," he said. "That's why the United States applauds and stands with France and other partners in Mali, and why we are providing intelligence support, transportation for the French and African troops and refueling capability for French aircraft. The fight against (al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb) may be far from America's borders, but it is fundamentally in America's interest."

Biden noted there has been progress over the past four years in many areas, but much remains to be done. The issues confronting the United States and Europe are solvable, he said, but the nations must work together closely to address those issues.

Over the next four years, he said, the United States wants to advance a comprehensive nuclear agenda to strengthen nonproliferation; combat climate change; enhance initiatives to promote global health and food security and end extreme poverty; and strengthen alliances.

"As I hope we'll all agree, although our mutual agenda has shifted over the past four years, one important thing remains unchanged: We need to work together; we need to stick together," Biden said. "We need you as much as you need us. Neither the United States nor any other country can alone address the challenges we face."


Hurricane Sandy Cleanup.  Credit:  FEMA
Sandy Debris Removal Passes 95 percent in 95 days
February 1, 2013

NEW YORK – Debris removal efforts after Hurricane Sandy in New York are nearing completion. More than 95 percent of the debris has been removed within 95 days of the storm hitting New York.

That includes everything from fallen trees to vehicles, boats, drywall and furniture, washers, dryers and insulation. It all amounts to 5.25 million cubic yards of debris caused by the strong winds and heavy rains created by Hurricane Sandy, beginning Oct. 27, 2012. That’s enough debris to fill the 102-story Empire State Building a little more than 3.5 times.

Collecting and hauling debris to the curbs has involved homeowners, neighbors and volunteers working with city, state and federal agencies. Neighbors and volunteers combined their skill and chainsaws to remove broken trees from yards and streets along with cleaning up disaster debris from public streets.

The demolition of destroyed structures is ongoing and about 20 percent complete.

Early in the cleanup, barges were used to haul debris to landfills in upstate New York.

The debris is also being trucked to landfills in other states.

Vegetation, such as wood, tree branches, leaves and other organic matter, is incinerated or chipped. Chips will be recycled for beneficial reuse.

FEMA’s Public Assistance program reimburses state and local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations 75 percent of eligible debris removal costs. In order to qualify, damage must be a direct result of Hurricane Sandy.


Southcom Speeds Medications to Brazil for Nightclub Victims
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 2, 2013 - Medication to treat victims suffering from the tragic Jan. 27 nightclub fire in Santa Maria, Brazil, funded by and transported through coordination by U.S. Southern Command, are scheduled to arrive in Brasilia today, Southcom officials reported.

Southcom partnered with the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia, the Brazilian Ministry of Health, American Airlines, Miami Dade Aviation and the Transportation Security Administration to secure the rapid transport of the medication, officials said.

The Brazilian Ministry of Health submitted a request to the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia for 140 doses of the drug Cyanokit to treat victims exposed to cyanide poison when the fire ignited acoustic foam insulation inside the club, they said.

Southcom, in turn, worked with the Defense Logistics Agency to secure the medication under an existing contract with Meridian Medical Technologies. The command used funds from its humanitarian assistance program to pay for the drugs, valued at more than $97,000, officials said.

Southcom also coordinated transport of the medication from St. Louis to Brazil via Miami by working closely with Miami Dade Aviation, TSA and American Airlines. The drugs are scheduled to arrive today aboard an American Airlines flight. In Brasilia, they will be turned over to local health ministry officials to immediately distribute to health care facilities treating victims exposed to the poison, officials said.

The command is one of six geographically focused, unified commands within the Defense Department. It is responsible for U.S. military operations in the Caribbean, Central America and South America.



Operation IceBridge: Getz Mission in 3 Minutes

Can you stuff all the sights and science of a 12-hour mission into just three minutes? Maybe not, but here's our first try, chronicling NASA's recent flight to Antarctica's remote Getz Ice Shelf, where Operation IceBridge measured everything from the ice surface to the bedrock below, flew low over giant icebergs, and even scanned a lengthy new crack in the ice. Credit-NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Weekly Address: A Balanced Approach to Growing the Economy in 2013 | The White House

Weekly Address: A Balanced Approach to Growing the Economy in 2013 | The White House


Photo Credit:  Wikimedia.
Inaugural Meeting of Whistleblower Protection Advisory Committee

Highlighting its continued emphasis on protecting the rights of whistleblowers, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration hosted the inaugural meeting of the Whistleblower Protection Advisory Committee. Acting Secretary of Labor Harris commended the new committee members on their passion for whistleblower protections during the January 29 meeting, which brought together the 12 voting and three ex-officio members. Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, stressed the importance of whistleblowers to the broad economy, to worker safety, the environment, and the integrity of the financial system, transportation safety and food safety. He also updated the committee on the selection of Beth Slavet to head the whistleblower program, and a recent accord signed between OSHA and BNSF Railway Company that protects workers' rights to report safety concerns or injuries without fear of retaliation. In his closing remarks, Michaels reiterated the importance of whistleblowers who can "play an important role in preventing the next Deepwater Horizon or avoiding the next Enron."


Credit:  The White House
Biden, in Munich, Holds Syria-related Meetings
From a White House News Release

WASHINGTON, Feb. 2, 2013 - Vice President Joe Biden, attending the Munich Security conference, today met with United Nations and Arab League Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi on the conference's margins.

Biden thanked Brahimi for his steadfast work to resolve the ongoing crisis in Syria and pledged that the United States would continue to support his efforts, officials said. The vice president and Brahimi discussed the dire humanitarian situation inside Syria and the regional implications of the crisis, officials said.

Biden also met separately on the margins of the conference with Syrian Opposition Coalition President Moaz al-Khatib. The vice president praised al-Khatib's personal courage and leadership of the coalition, the legitimate representative of the Syrian people, officials said.

Biden urged al-Khatib to continue his efforts to maintain unity among the coalition's leadership, officials said, and to isolate extremist elements within the broader opposition. The vice president also encouraged the coalition president to reach out to, and be inclusive of, a broad range of communities inside Syria, including Alawites, Christians and Kurds.

Officials said during the meeting, Biden reaffirmed the U.S. call for an end to the Assad regime and a transition that leads to a peaceful, inclusive and democratic Syria, where the rights of all Syrians are protected. The vice president also commended al-Khatib's recent statements, including in Munich, expressing openness, under certain circumstances, to the possibility of negotiations to bring the Syrian people the leadership they deserve, officials said.


Thursday, January 31, 2013
Two Aryan Brotherhood of Texas Gang Members Plead Guilty to Federal Racketeering Charges

Two members of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas gang (ABT) pleaded guilty to racketeering charges related to their membership in the ABT’s criminal enterprise, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson of the Southern District of Texas.

Ben Christian Dillon, aka "Tuff," 40, of Houston, and James Marshall Meldrum, aka "Dirty," 40, of Dallas, each pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Sim Lake in the Southern District of Texas to one count of conspiracy to participate in racketeering activity.

According to court documents, Dillon, Meldrum and other ABT gang members and associates, agreed to commit multiple acts of murder, robbery, arson, kidnapping and narcotics trafficking on behalf of the ABT gang. Dillon, Meldrum and numerous ABT gang members met on a regular basis at various locations throughout Texas to report on gang-related business, collect dues, commit disciplinary assaults against fellow gang members and discuss acts of violence against rival gang members, among other things.

Dillon and Meldrum admitted to being ABT gang members and engaging in multiple acts in support of the criminal enterprise. Dillon admitted to trafficking in methamphetamine, acting as an enforcer to collect drug debts owed to the ABT enterprise, committing acts of arson for the gang and attempting to kill a fellow ABT gang member who had been marked for death by senior ABT officials. Meldrum admitted to trafficking in methamphetamine and severely beating a subordinate gang member.

According to the superseding indictment, the ABT was established in the early 1980s within the Texas prison system. The gang modeled itself after and adopted many of the precepts and writings of the Aryan Brotherhood, a California-based prison gang that was formed in the California prison system during the 1960s. According to the superseding indictment, previously, the ABT was primarily concerned with the protection of white inmates and white supremacy/separatism. Over time, the ABT has expanded its criminal enterprise to include illegal activities for profit.

Court documents allege that the ABT enforced its rules and promoted discipline among its members, prospects and associates through murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to murder, arson, assault, robbery and threats against those who violate the rules or pose a threat to the enterprise. Members, and oftentimes associates, were required to follow the orders of higher-ranking members, often referred to as "direct orders."

According to the superseding indictment, in order to be considered for ABT membership, a person must be sponsored by another gang member. Once sponsored, a prospective member must serve an unspecified term, during which he is referred to as a prospect, while his conduct is observed by the members of the ABT.

At sentencing, Dillon and Meldrum each face a maximum penalty of life in prison. Dillon’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 24, 2013, and Meldrum’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Sept. 26, 2013.

Dillon and Meldrum are two of 34 defendants charged in October 2012 with conducting racketeering activity through the ABT criminal enterprise, among other charges.

This case is being investigated by a multi-agency task force consisting of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Drug Enforcement Administration; FBI; U.S. Marshals Service; Federal Bureau of Prisons; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations; Texas Rangers; Texas Department of Public Safety; Montgomery County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office; Houston Police Department-Gang Division; Texas Department of Criminal Justice – Office of Inspector General; Harris County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office; Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office; Atascosa County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office; Orange County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office; Waller County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office; Fort Worth, Texas, Police Department; Alvin, Texas, Police Department; Carrollton, Texas, Police Department; Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office; Atascosa County District Attorney’s Office; and the Kaufman County, Texas, District Attorney’s Office.

The case is being prosecuted by David Karpel of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Hileman of the Southern District of Texas.


A B-1 Lancer near a KC-135 Stratotanker during contact training April 10, 2012, in western Wyoming. The B-1 is with the 34th Bomb Squadron out of Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., and the KC-135 is with the Utah Air National Guard’s 151st Air Refueling Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo)
Airmen gear up for largest B-1 modification
by Airman 1st Class Charles V. Rivezzo
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

1/31/2013 - DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFNS) -- Members of the 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron are gearing up for the largest B-1 Lancer modification in program history, as part of the Integrated Battle Station and Sustainment-Block 16 upgrade.

Because of the magnitude of this upgrade, additional work is being done to make sure members of the 337th TES are ready to test and develop tactics needed to take full advantage of the new equipment and software.

Sustainment-Block 16, or SB-16, includes significant upgrades to the B-1, including the Fully Integrated Data Link and Central Integrated Test System in the aft station and the Vertical Situation Display Upgrade in the front station. Included under the umbrella of SB-16, the B-1 will also receive navigation, radar and diagnostic upgrades.

The VSDU upgrades the B-1's forward cockpit by replacing two unsupportable, monochrome pilot and co-pilot displays with four multifunctional color displays, giving the pilots more situational awareness data in a user-friendly format.

The B-1 FIDL will give the aft cockpit new digital avionics including a Link 16 data link that adds line-of-sight capability to the B-1's existing beyond line-of-sight Joint Range Extension Applications Protocol data link and integrates the JREAP, data onto new, full-color displays with intuitive symbols and moving maps.

The CITS upgrade adds a new color display in the aft cockpit and replaces an obsolete computer that continuously monitors the aircraft's performance. It is used by flight and ground support personnel to identify and troubleshoot B-1 system anomalies.

These three modifications fall under the Integrated Battle Station initiative, which is slated to be installed concurrently through 2019.

"The IBS upgrades will provide B-1 aircrews with a higher level of situational awareness and a faster, secure digital communication link," said Maj. Michael Jungquist, from the 337th TES. "This will enable the aircrews to perform at an even more effective level and will make the B-1 cockpit more reliable and supportable."

Developmental testing of SB-16 is scheduled to begin in April at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., while the 337th TES is on track to receive its first fully modified B-1 later this year to begin operational testing.

To test the new datalink capabilities, the 337th TES members are constructing a Link-16 network for use in local airspace. The squadron has spent nearly $1.5 million to create a control room capable of sending and receiving Link-16 and JREAP messages in addition to ultra-high frequency voice communications.

"The groundwork we lay here will enable the 7th Bomb Wing to conduct more effective training, in addition to our ability to test new capabilities in the future," Jungquist said.

Furthermore, 337th TES members have begun writing test plans, creating training plans and even recruited several members of the FIDL and VSDU developmental test teams for expertise and training.

In addition to aircrew training, the maintenance element of the 337th TES has begun preparing for the arrival of the initial IBS configured aircraft. The 337th TES maintainers and maintainers from the 7th Maintenance Group will undergo significant classroom and on-aircraft training at Edwards AFB and Tinker AFB, Okla., prior to the aircraft's arrival.

"The enhancements are so dramatic that, for all intents and purposes, B-1 aviators will need to treat an IBS modified B-1 like a new aircraft," said Jungquist, who flew during both FIDL and VSDU testing.

"The IBS/SB-16 upgrade to the B-1 enhances the ability of this amazing aircraft to integrate and operate with the most advanced air, sea, land and cyber platforms of our military forces," said Lt. Col. George Holland, the 337th TES commander. "Whether providing air support over ground forces in Iraq and Afghanistan or shifting focus to support maritime operations in the Pacific, the IBS upgrade to the B-1 provides more capability to the quiver of our combatant commanders. The 337th TES looks forward to leading the B-1 community through the IBS upgrade."



An MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to the Dusty Dogs of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 7 delivers cargo from the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) to the guided-missile frigate USS Kaufman (FFG 59) during a vertical replenishment. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brandon Parker (Released) 130130-N-HG389-082

130127-N-OY799-372 U.S. 5TH FLEET AREA OF RESPONSIBILITY (Jan. 27, 2013) An F/A-18C Hornet from the Golden Dragons of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 192 launches from the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). John C. Stennis is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts and support missions for Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kenneth Abbate/Released)


Friday, February 1, 2013


Farewell Remarks to State Department Employees
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
C Street Lobby
Washington, DC
February 1, 2013


DEPUTY SECRETARY BURNS: Good afternoon, everyone. Madam Secretary, four years ago, I stood on this same spot and had the honor of introducing you to the men and women of the Department of State. From that first day on, you’ve touched the lives of millions and millions of people around the world, you have left a profoundly positive mark on American foreign policy, and you have done enormous good for all of us and for the country we serve. We will miss you deeply, but none of us – (applause) – but none of us will ever forget your extraordinary leadership, and each of us will always be deeply proud to say that we served in Hillary Clinton’s State Department. (Applause.)

And so now it’s my great honor to introduce, one last time, the 67th Secretary of State of the United States of America, Hillary Rodham Clinton. (Applause.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you. Well, just standing here looking out at all of you, the people I have been honored to serve and lead and work with over the last four years, is an incredible experience.

When I came into this building as the Secretary of State four years ago and received such a warm welcome, I knew there was something really special about this place, and that having the honor to lead the State Department and USAID would be unique and singular, exciting and challenging. It has been all of those things and so much more. I cannot fully express how grateful I am to those with whom I have spent many hours here in Washington, around the world, and in airplanes. (Laughter.)

But I’m proud of the work we’ve done to elevate diplomacy and development, to serve the nation we all love, to understand the challenges, the threats, and the opportunities that the United States faces, and to work with all our heart and all of our might to make sure that America is secure, that our interests are promoted, and our values are respected. As I look back over these past four years, I am very proud of the work we have done together.

Of course, we live in very complex and even dangerous times, as we saw again just today at our Embassy in Ankara, where we were attacked and lost one of our Foreign Service nationals and others injured. But I spoke with the Ambassador and the team there, I spoke with my Turkish counterpart, and I told them how much we valued their commitment and their sacrifice.

I know that the world we are trying to help bring into being in the 21st century will have many difficult days, but I am more optimistic today than I was when I stood here four years ago, because I have seen, day after day, the many contributions that our diplomats and development experts are making to help ensure that this century provides the kind of peace, progress, and prosperity that not just the United States, but the entire world, especially young people, so richly deserve. I am very proud to have been Secretary of State.

I will miss you. I will probably be dialing Ops just to talk. (Laughter and applause.) I will wonder what you all are doing, because I know that because of your efforts day after day, we are making a real difference. But I leave this Department confident – confident about the direction we have set, confident that the process of the QDDR, which we started for the first time, has enabled us to ask hard questions about what we do, how we do it, and whether we can do it even better. Because State and AID have to always be learning organizations. We owe it to ourselves, we owe it to the President, we owe it to the American people. And so I will be an advocate from outside for the work that you continue to do here and at AID.

So it’s been quite a challenging week saying goodbye to so many people and knowing that I will not have the opportunity to continue being part of this amazing team. But I am so grateful that we’ve had a chance to contribute in each of our ways to making our country and our world stronger, safer, fairer, and better.

Those of you who are staying, as many of you will, please know that I hope you will redouble your efforts to do all that you can to demonstrate unequivocally why diplomacy and development are right up there with defense; how, when we think about who we are as Americans, it’s because we are united and committed across our government to do whatever is required to fulfill the missions we have assumed as public officials and public servants.

So next week, I would expect that all of you will be as focused and dedicated for Secretary Kerry as you have been for me, and that you will continue to serve President Obama and our nation with the same level of professionalism and commitment that I have seen firsthand.

On a personal basis, let me wish all of you the very best, whether you’ve been here a week or 30 or even 40 years, Pat. (Laughter.) Let me give you the very best wishes that I can, because I’m proud to have been a part of you. I leave thinking of the nearly 70,000 people that I was honored to serve and lead as part of a huge extended family. And I hope that you will continue to make yourselves, make me, and make our country proud.

Thank you all, and God bless you. (Applause.)

Press Briefing | The White House

Press Briefing | The White House


Acts of Terrorism in Beirut
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
October 19, 2012

The United States condemns in the strongest terms the acts of terrorism that took place in Beirut’s Achrafieh neighborhood today. We extend our deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of those who were killed.

The assassination of the Brigadier General Wissam al-Hassan, who was a strong defender of Lebanon’s security and its people, is a dangerous sign that there are those who continue to seek to undermine Lebanon’s stability. Lebanon must close the chapter of its past and bring an end to impunity for political assassinations and other politically motivated violence. We call on all parties to exercise restraint and respect for Lebanon’s stability and security.

The United States remains committed to an independent, sovereign, and stable Lebanon. We will continue to work with our partners to preserve Lebanon’s security and stability.


Hagel: Accountability Key Factor to Defense Management
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 1, 2013 - Accountability is at the heart of managing the Defense Department, former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel told the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday.

Hagel, President Barack Obama's choice to succeed retiring Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, provided eight hours of testimony to the Senate panel.

Senators asked Hagel how he will manage the largest institution in the United States.

Hagel said you don't really manage the department, you lead it.

"It's not about me. The secretary of defense, he leads, he advises the president, but it's really about the people who have the accountability and the responsibility to manage every aspect of our defense apparatus," Hagel said.

The department has roughly 50 presidential appointees, so that leaves most of the day-to-day management to officers and senior civilians, and those officials must be accountable, he said.

"We're all accountable, and the emphasis on accountability I don't think could ever be overstated," Hagel said.

It is important to give managers the resources they need and the flexibility to make the best use of them, he said.

"You give them direction and expectations ... but not to the point where you don't want their input and their ability to be flexible with their management," Hagel said. "I think that's the ... key to anything, but surely it is the key to something as large as the Department of Defense."

Hagel said he has a lot of learning to do if he is confirmed as the next defense secretary.

"I will be the leader. I'll be responsible. I'll be accountable," he said. "But I've got to rely on the right teams, the right people, bring those people together."


Credit:  SEC

Washington, D.C., Jan 29, 2013 — The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged a day trader in Sugar Land, Texas, with defrauding investors in his supposed high-frequency trading program and providing them falsified brokerage records that drastically overstated assets and hid his massive trading losses.

The SEC alleges that Firas Hamdan particularly targeted fellow members of the Houston-area Lebanese and Druze communities, raising more than $6 million during a five-year period from at least 33 investors. Hamdan told prospective investors that he would pool their investments with his own money and conduct high-frequency trading using a supposed proprietary trading algorithm. Hamdan promised annual returns of 30 percent and assured investors that his program was safe and proven when in reality it was a dismal failure, generating $1.5 million in losses. As he failed to deliver the promised profits, Hamdan told investors that his funds were tied up in the Greek debt crisis and the MF Global bankruptcy among other phony excuses.

The SEC is seeking an emergency court order to halt the scheme and freeze Hamdan’s assets and those of his firm, FAH Capital Partners.

"Hamdan’s affinity scam preyed upon people’s tendency to trust those who share common backgrounds and beliefs," said David R. Woodcock, Director of the SEC’s Fort Worth Regional Office. "Hamdan raised money by creating the aura of a successful day trader among friends and family in his community, and he continued to mislead them and hide the truth while trading losses mounted."

According to the SEC’s complaint filed in federal court in Houston, Hamdan is well-known in the Lebanese and Druze communities in the Houston area and is a former treasurer of the Houston branch of the American Druze Society. Hamdan found investors for his trading program by talking with his friends and family in these communities. As word spread about his purported trading success, he asked existing investors to solicit their friends for investments.

The SEC alleges that Hamdan misrepresented to investors that he generated positive returns in 59 of 60 months between 2007 and 2012. He showed them phony documentation to support his false claims. For instance, a purported brokerage statement he provided investors for the first quarter of 2010 showed an opening balance of more than $2.3 million with quarterly trading gains of $2.7 million for a closing balance above $5.1 million. An actual brokerage statement obtained by SEC investigators for Hamdan’s account during that same period shows the opening balance at just $27,970.76 and the closing balance at $148,210.02, with quarterly trading losses of $7,452.80.

According to the SEC’s complaint, Hamdan made several other false claims to potential investors. For instance, he lied about the existence of a cash reserve account that secured their investments. Hamdan falsely stated that investments were further secured by a $5 million "key-man" insurance policy. He also falsely claimed that a well-known hedge fund manager in the Dallas area made a million-dollar investment with him and promised to invest more based on Hamdan’s continuing success.

The SEC’s complaint alleges that Hamdan violated the antifraud provisions of the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The complaint seeks various relief including a temporary restraining order, preliminary and permanent injunctions, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains with prejudgment interest, and financial penalties.

The SEC’s investigation was conducted by Jonathan Scott, Timothy Evans, and Mark Pittman of the Fort Worth Regional Office. Bret Helmer will lead the SEC’s litigation.


Mobile App Provides Biofeedback For Patients
National Center for Telehealth and Technology News Release

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash., Feb. 1, 2013 - The Department of Defense has released a smart phone mobile application to help service members use the therapeutic benefits of biofeedback.

BioZen, a mobile app from the Defense Department's National Center for Telehealth and Technology based here, known as T2, uses wireless sensors to show users their physical level of relaxation. It is the first portable, low-cost method for clinicians and patients to use biofeedback in and out of the clinic.

"Mastering biofeedback successfully is difficult and frustrating for many people," said Dr. David Cooper, T2 psychologist. "This app takes many of the large medical sensors found in a clinic and puts them in the hands of anyone with a smart phone. BioZen makes it easier for anyone to get started with biofeedback."

BioZen shows real-time data from multiple body sensors including electroencephalogram, electromyography, galvanic skin response, electrocardiogram, respiratory rate, and skin temperature. Each sensor sends a separate signal to the phone so users can see how their body is responding to their behavior.

The system can display Delta, Theta, Alpha, Beta, and Gamma brain waves. It can also combine the brain waves to show meditative and attentive cognitive states. Users can document their session with biofeedback data recorded in the phone or tablet. BioZen generates graphical feedback from the recording sessions to show the user's progress over time.

The mobile application, free for Android devices, is built on an open source framework Bluetooth Sensor Processing for Android, also known as B-SPAN, developed by T2.

Users need to purchase compatible medical sensors to use the app. A sensor can range in price depending on quality. The cost of compatible sensors begins between $75 and $150. A list of compatible sensors is on the BioZen website.

The National Center for Telehealth and Technology, a component center of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, serves as the primary Department of Defense office for cutting-edge approaches in applying technology to psychological health.

Las estrellas pueden tener una maternidad tardía

Las estrellas pueden tener una maternidad tardía

Active families, active kids

Active families, active kids


The United States Applauds the Adoption of the First Global Agreement to Reduce Mercury Pollution
Press Statement
Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs
Washington, DC
January 31, 2013

The United States is pleased to have worked with more than one hundred and forty other governments to adopt an historic agreement on mercury that will help protect not only the health of the U.S. public, but human health and the environment all over the world. Mercury warrants global attention due to its long-range atmospheric transport, its persistence in the environment, and its significant negative effect on human health and the environment. Mercury exposure is a major public health threat, particularly for children and women of child-bearing age. Mercury can damage or impair the functioning of nerve tissue and even permanently damage the brain, kidneys, and developing fetus. According to most estimates, global sources contribute at least 70 percent of total U.S. mercury deposition.

The agreement, known as the Minamata Convention on Mercury, calls for the reduction of mercury emissions to the air and a decrease in the use of mercury in products and industrial processes. It will help reduce the supply of mercury by, among other things, ending primary mercury mining. The Convention will ensure environmentally sound storage of mercury and disposal of waste. The agreement also calls on governments to address the use of mercury in small-scale gold mining, which uses and releases large amounts of mercury.

"We are very pleased with the outcome of these negotiations. Transboundary air emissions are a significant global challenge that no single country can solve on its own," said Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Kerri-Ann Jones. "This agreement is an enormous success that will allow us to work together in coming years with countries around the world to make a meaningful difference in addressing mercury pollution."

The Minamata Convention negotiations ended in Geneva, Switzerland, on January 19, following four years of negotiation efforts. The convention will be open for signature at a Diplomatic Conference in Japan in October. The name of the convention pays respect to Minamata, the Japanese city that experienced severe mercury pollution in the mid-20th century. Many local citizens of Minamata suffered from a neurological syndrome caused by mercury poisoning, which became known as Minamata disease, from consuming contaminated fish and shellfish from Minamata Bay.

Press Briefing For January 31, 2013 | The White House

Press Briefing | The White House


Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer Announces Departure from Department of Justice

The Justice Department announced today that Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division will leave the department on March 1, 2013.

"Lanny has led one of the most successful and aggressive Criminal Divisions in the history of the Department of Justice, accomplishing record penalties in corruption cases at home and abroad and dismantling major organized crime and health care fraud networks around the country while also protecting the integrity of our banking systems and fighting financial fraud," said Attorney General Eric Holder. "Throughout his tenure, Lanny has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the mission of this Department and I want to thank him for his dedication and exceptional service."

"Serving as Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division has been the greatest privilege of my professional life," said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. "From my first day on this job, nearly four years ago, I have loved it, and I am so proud of what the Criminal Division has accomplished over the past four years. I have had no higher honor than to work alongside the talented and dedicated men and women of the Criminal Division, and I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to serve the American people together with them."

Assistant Attorney General Breuer was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate on April 20, 2009, and is the longest-serving head of the Criminal Division in recent history.

Under the leadership of Assistant Attorney General Breuer, the Criminal Division has taken significant steps to fight corruption at home and abroad, including by developing the innovative Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative to identify and forfeit the proceeds of foreign official corruption – ensuring that corrupt officials from other countries are prevented from hiding their ill-gotten gains in the United States. The Criminal Division has also substantially increased enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), convicting three dozen individuals for FCPA-related offenses – a record number – and entering into more than 40 corporate resolutions involving eight of the top 10 largest FCPA penalties in history. The Criminal Division also partnered with the Securities and Exchange Commission to publish groundbreaking guidance on FCPA enforcement.

Assistant Attorney General Breuer was asked by the Attorney General to oversee the Deepwater Horizon Task Force – created to investigate conduct leading up to, and following, the Deepwater Horizon explosion on April 20, 2010. The Task Force reached the largest criminal resolution in U.S. history with BP. On Jan. 29, 2013, BP was ordered to pay $4 billion in criminal fines and penalties after previously having agreed to plead guilty to 11 felony manslaughter charges, environmental crimes and obstruction of congress. The Criminal Division brought charges against four individuals in connection with the explosion and its aftermath as part of the ongoing investigation. Additionally, Assistant Attorney General Breuer has overseen efforts to combat fraud arising from the oil spill, as well as to detect and deter fraud in the wake of natural disasters such as Hurricane Sandy, through the Disaster Fraud Task Force.

Protecting the integrity of the banking system and fighting financial fraud have been hallmarks of the Criminal Division during Assistant Attorney General Breuer’s tenure. The division’s aggressive, ongoing investigation into manipulation of the London Interbank Offered Rate by global financial institutions has thus far led to nearly $2 billion in criminal penalties, as well as a guilty plea by a UBS subsidiary and charges against individuals. Assistant Attorney General Breuer also spearheaded the development of the division’s Money Laundering and Bank Integrity Unit to pursue financial institutions and individuals who violate money laundering statutes and the Bank Secrecy Act. Along with U.S. Attorney partners, the groundbreaking unit already has secured approximately $3.1 billion in criminal forfeitures from major financial institutions – including the largest forfeiture ever by a bank.

The Criminal Division has also prosecuted, together with U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, numerous significant perpetrators of financial fraud, including Lee Bentley Farkas, former chairman of Taylor, Bean & Whitaker, who perpetrated an approximately $3 billion bank fraud; and R. Allen Stanford, former chairman of Stanford International Bank, who perpetrated a $7 billion investment fraud scheme. Both were convicted at trial and are serving 30 and 110 years in prison, respectively.

Assistant Attorney General Breuer has also focused on combating healthcare fraud, helping to expand the Medicare Fraud Strike Force from two to nine cities and to carry out the two largest Medicare fraud takedowns in history, one involving 111 defendants charged and the other involving $452 million in alleged fraudulent billings.

The Criminal Division under Assistant Attorney General Breuer’s leadership, working alongside its partners at U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, has pursued innovative cybercrime and intellectual property crime prosecutions. Those prosecutions include the indictment of Megaupload and its leadership for intellectual property infringement in one of the largest criminal copyright cases brought by the United States.

During Assistant Attorney General Breuer’s tenure, the Criminal Division has made great strides in the fight against violent crime along the southwest border and across the country. Among other successes, the division, along with several U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, brought charges against 127 members and associates of La Cosa Nostra in the largest traditional organized crime takedown in U.S. history. The Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney partners also have brought prosecutions against 35 Barrio Azteca gang members and associates – including those allegedly responsible for the death of a U.S. Consular official and others in Juarez, Mexico, on March 13, 2010; individuals allegedly responsible for the murder of ICE Special Agent Jaime Zapata; and dozens of members and associates of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, including the gang’s top "generals." Assistant Attorney General Breuer has traveled frequently to Mexico to develop close relationships with Mexican counterparts and created new prosecutorial units dedicated to targeting Mexican cartels and seizing their assets. In 2012, the Criminal Division secured 115 extraditions from Mexico, a record for a calendar year.

Along with these new or expanded teams and initiatives, Assistant Attorney General Breuer has taken significant steps to reform the Criminal Division to meet the needs of the modern law enforcement climate, including creating the Organized Crime and Gang Section and the Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section, and hiring hundreds of talented prosecutors and several new Section Chiefs into the division.

In his role as head of the Criminal Division, Assistant Attorney General Breuer has engaged on issues of criminal law policy throughout the United States and around the world, delivering dozens of keynote and special addresses across the country as well as in Russia, the Ukraine, the United Kingdom, Romania, Sweden, Liechtenstein, Spain and at the World Bank and United Nations.

Prior to joining the Justice Department, Assistant Attorney General Breuer was a partner in the law firm of Covington and Burling LLP. He earlier served as special counsel to President William Jefferson Clinton, and began his legal career as an Assistant District Attorney in Manhattan. He is a graduate of Columbia College and Columbia Law School.



ISS Update: Studying Smart Fluids in Space

Dr. Eric Furst from the University of Delaware joins NASA Public Affairs Officer Kelly Humphries in the Mission Control Center in Houston via telephone to discuss the InSpace-3 experiment taking place aboard the International Space Station


WASHINGTON — Following a two-week trial, a federal jury in Puerto Rico today convicted a former executive of a Florida-based coastal water freight transportation company for his participation in a conspiracy to fix rates and surcharges for water transportation of freight between the continental United States and Puerto Rico, the Department of Justice announced.

Frank Peake, the former president of Sea Star Line LLC, was found guilty today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico, of participating in a conspiracy to fix rates and surcharges for water transportation of freight between the continental United States and Puerto Rico from at least as early as late 2005, until at least April 2008.

"The coastal shipping price-fixing conspiracy affected the price of nearly every product that was shipped to and from Puerto Rico during the conspiracy," said Bill Baer, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice's Antitrust Division. "This successful prosecution shows that the division will hold accountable high-level executives who perpetuate these crimes."

Sea Star pleaded guilty on Dec. 20, 2011, and was sentenced by Judge Daniel R. Dominguez to pay a $14.2 million criminal fine for its role in the conspiracy from as early as May 2002, until at least April 2008. Sea Star transports a variety of cargo shipments, such as heavy equipment, perishable food items, medicines and consumer goods, on scheduled ocean voyages between the continental United States and Puerto Rico.

According to evidence presented at trial, Sea Star, Peake and co-conspirators carried out the conspiracy by agreeing during meetings and communications to allocate customers of Puerto Rico freight services and to rig bids and fix the rates and surcharges to be charged to purchasers of water transportation of freight between the continental United States and Puerto Rico. The department said the conspirators also engaged in meetings for the purpose of monitoring and enforcing adherence to the agreed-upon rates and sold Puerto Rico freight services at collusive and noncompetitive rates.

Including today’s jury conviction, as a result of this ongoing investigation, three companies and six individuals have pleaded guilty or been convicted at trial. The five individuals and three companies that have been sentenced have been ordered to serve a total of more than 11 years in prison and to pay more than $46 million in criminal fines.

Peake was convicted of price fixing in violation of the Sherman Act, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine for individuals. The maximum fine may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine.

Today’s conviction arose from an ongoing federal antitrust investigation into price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct in the coastal water freight transportation industry, which is being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s National Criminal Enforcement Section; the Baltimore Resident Agency of the Department of Defense’s Office of the Inspector General, Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS); the Miami Field Office of the Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General; and the Jacksonville Field Office of the FBI.


Photo:  Lake In Anatartica. Credit:  NASA-Ames. Chris McKay.

In a Scientific and Engineering Breakthrough, NSF-funded Team Samples Antarctic Lake Beneath the Ice Sheet
Samples may contain microbes from an ecosystem isolated for thousands of years, with implications for the search for life elsewhere in extreme environments

January 28, 2013

In a first-of-its-kind feat of science and engineering, a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded research team has successfully drilled through 800 meters (2,600 feet) of Antarctic ice to reach a subglacial lake and retrieve water and sediment samples that have been isolated from direct contact with the atmosphere for many thousands of years.

Scientists and drillers with the interdisciplinary Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access Research Drilling project (WISSARD) announced Jan. 28 local time (U.S. stations in Antarctica keep New Zealand time) that they had used a customized clean hot-water drill to directly obtain samples from the waters and sediments of subglacial Lake Whillans.

The samples may contain microscopic life that has evolved uniquely to survive in conditions of extreme cold and lack of light and nutrients. Studying the samples may help scientists understand not only how life can survive in other extreme ecosystems on Earth, but also on other icy worlds in our solar system.

The WISSARD teams' accomplishment, the researchers said, "hails a new era in polar science, opening a window for future interdisciplinary science in one of Earth's last unexplored frontiers."

A massive ice sheet, almost two miles thick in places, covers more than 95 percent of the Antarctic continent. Only in recent decades have airborne and satellite radar and other mapping technologies revealed that a vast, subglacial system of rivers and lakes exists under the ice sheet. Lakes vary in size, with the largest being Vostok Subglacial Lake in the Antarctic interior that is comparable in size to Lake Ontario.

WISSARD targeted a smaller lake (1.2 square miles in area), where several lakes appear linked to each other and may drain to the ocean, as the first project to obtain clean, intact samples of water and sediments from a subglacial lake.

The achievement is the culmination of more than a decade of international and national planning and 3 1/2 years of project preparation by the WISSARD consortium of U.S. universities and two international contributors. There are 13 WISSARD principal investigators representing eight different U.S. institutions.

NSF, which manages the United States Antarctic Program, provided over $10 million in grants as part of NSF's International Polar Year portfolio to support the WISSARD science and development of related technologies.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Cryospheric Sciences Program, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the private Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation also provided support for the project.

The interdisciplinary research team includes groups of experts in the following areas of science: life in icy environments, led by John Priscu, of Montana State University; glacial geology, led by Ross Powell, of Northern Illinois University; and glacial hydrology, led by Slawek Tulaczyk, of the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Sharing of expertise by the groups of disciplinary experts will allow the data collected to be cast in a systemic, global context.

The WISSARD team will now process the water and sediment samples they have collected in hopes of answering seminal questions related to the structure and function of subglacial microbial life, climate history and contemporary ice-sheet dynamics.

Video surveys of the lake floor and measurements of selected physical and chemical properties of the waters and sediments will allow the team to further characterize the lake and its environs.

The approach to drilling was guided by recommendations in the 2007 National Research Council-sponsored report aimed to protect these unique environments from contamination.

A team of engineers and technicians directed by Frank Rack, of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, designed, developed and fabricated the specialized hot-water drill that was fitted with a filtration and germicidal UV system to prevent contamination of the subglacial environment and to recover clean samples for microbial analyses. In addition, the numerous customized scientific samplers and instruments used for this project were also carefully cleaned before being lowered into the borehole through the ice and into the lake.

Following their successful retrieval, the samples are now being carefully prepared for their shipment off the ice and back to laboratories for numerous chemical and biological analyses over the coming weeks and months.


From:  Wikimedia.
Keep health, safety during Super Bowl celebration
by Staff Sgt. Julius Delos Reyes
50th Space Wing Public Affairs

1/30/2013 - SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo -- It's that time of the year again when families and friends celebrate an American national "holiday" Feb. 3, filled with merriment and food - the Super Bowl.

Though this year's celebration will pit Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers, fans of the losing teams will still take this opportunity to watch the biggest American sporting event.

As the second largest day for food consumption after Thanksgiving, it is essential for people to take health and safety into consideration, especially when hosting a party, preparing food or going out for a celebration.

"Keep healthy eating in mind and consume food in moderation while having fun," said Staff Sgt. Vanessa Arthur, Schriever Health and Wellness Center NCO in charge. "Have healthy options available because it will encourage people to eat them."

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer tips on how to have a safe and healthy Super Bowl celebration.

Food consumption:
- When hosting a party, add healthy snacks to the menu instead of high fat foods. Eat healthy snacks before the celebration to prevent overindulging.
- Include fresh fruits and vegetables, such as apple halves or carrot sticks. There should be a variety in season.
- Many dips and dressings contain far more calories than people think. Limit portions or serve fat free or low fat dips and dressings.
- Offer foods and beverages low in fat, calories, sugars, salt and sodium.
- Serve foods and beverages that can be consumed by people with diabetes or on special diets.
- Consider food safety. Take steps to avoid serving recalled products and follow food safety guidelines to prevent illness.
- Follow rules of food safety: clean, separate, cook and chill.

Alcohol intake:
Alcohol is common during sports celebrations, especially during one of the biggest sporting events.
- Limit alcohol intake. Take steps to prevent guests from driving under the influence of alcohol.
- Only serve alcohol to guests 21 years of age and older.
- Plan ahead. Always designate a non-drinking driver before any party or celebration begins. Find unique ways to reward the driver at the party such as giving them a great spot to watch the game or letting them have the first pass at the table.
- Determine ahead of time when you'll stop serving alcohol, such as one hour before the end of the party or at the end of the third quarter of the game and begin serving coffee and dessert.
- Don't drink and drive or let others drink and drive.
- Be a helpful host by reminding guests to designate a sober driver and offer non-alcoholic beverages.

Super Bowl parties can be fun but it's important to pay close attention to things that may cause injury and take precautions.
- Never leave children unattended.
- Avoid wearing clothing or costumes that block vision or restrict movement.
- Make sure pets can handle the excitement before placing them in new or strange situations.
- Never use generators, grills, camp stoves or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside the house, basement, garage or camper. Even when using these items outdoors, make sure they are not near an open window.
- Have a fire extinguisher nearby when cooking or using a grill in case there's an accidental flare-up.
- Have a first-aid kit in your home and vehicle to handle injuries like small cuts and bruises.
- Wear seatbelts.
- Wear appropriate protective gear when playing a pick-up game or riding bicycles, motorcycles and skateboards.

"It is essential to plan ahead to ensure the safety of the guests," said Tech. Sgt. Sarah Law, 50th Space Wing ground safety manager. "As always, be a wingman. Fans do not let fans drive drunk."


Commission Tackles Complex Pretrial Issues in 9/11 Case
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

FORT MEADE, Md., Jan. 31, 2013 - The judge presiding over pretrial hearings for five defendants charged with orchestrating the 9/11 terrorist attacks ruled today at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, that only he will have the authority to block audio feeds believed to contain classified information.

Army Col. James Pohl, wrapping up the latest round of hearings for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind behind the attacks, and four co-defendants admonished the unnamed "original classification authority" that had activated a censor button in the courtroom earlier this week.

The button sets off a flashing warning light and blocks the audio for anyone observing the proceedings via closed-circuit TV, as well as media who sit behind soundproof glass in the courtroom.

The Jan. 28 incident caught Pohl and others by surprise, and he subsequently ordered that information disclosed during about two minutes of static be admitted to the court record. He also ordered the government to disconnect technology that enables anyone but him and his security officer to activate the mute button.

"This is the last time an [original classification authority] or any third party can decide if it can be unilaterally decided," Pohl decreed. "The pubic has no unfettered right to access classified information. However, the only person who is authorized to close the courtroom is the judge."

Activation of the warning light prompted the defense team to question who may be listening in on and presumably censoring the proceedings, as well as their confidential discussions with their clients. David Nevin, Mohammed's lead defense attorney, submitted an emergency motion to halt the proceedings until the matter is resolved.

He expressed concern that confidential discussions between the defense team and defendants could be jeopardized. During a news conference following today's proceedings, Nevin, as an example of his concern, questioned why guards at the detention facility ask what language defense attorneys will use during meetings with their clients.

Army Brig. Gen. Mark Martins, chief prosecutor for the Office of Military Commissions, explained during the news conference that court feeds are used by court reporters to provide accurate records of the proceedings.

"The prosecution never listens to any confidential communications between the accused and their counsel," he said in a statement. "To do so would be a blatant violation of our professional responsibilities and our oaths to serve justice and would also implicate the court reporters in a breach of their oaths and neutral responsibilities. And let me be clear that there has never been any substantive or credible allegation that the prosecution listens to such conversations."

Navy Cmdr. Walter Ruiz, one of the defense attorneys, called the "invisible hand" that activated the mute button emblematic of the flawed commission system. Ruiz called it a "counterfeit system" that defies America's values, ideals and legal principles.

Much of the week's hearing -- which ran Jan. 28 and 29, recessed during Jan. 30 and wrapped up today -- involved complicated legal issues regarding procedures for the government to provide classified information to the defense team. Before receiving it, the defense must sign a memorandum of understanding agreeing to how that information will be handled.

The defense team also objected to requirements that they submit information about their witnesses in advance, telling Pohl it will disadvantage their cases by giving the prosecution advance notice of the approach they are taking.

Pohl acknowledged that nobody wants "trial by surprise," but ruled that the defense must articulate why they want any particular witness to testify.

In an unusual twist during this week's hearing, the defense attorneys asked Pohl to allow them to spend two nights in Camp 7, where the defendants are detained. They told the judge they hope to get a better sense of the conditions their clients are living under. Pohl did not rule on the request.

In addition to Mohammed, the other defendants are Walid Muhammad Salih Mubarak Bin Attash, Ramzi Binalshibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, and Mustafa Ahmed Adam al Hawsawi. All five defendants were captured in Pakistan in 2002 and 2003 and have been confined at Guantanamo Bay since 2006.

They were charged during their arraignment in May 2012 with terrorism, conspiracy, attacking civilians, attacking civilian objects, intentionally causing serious bodily injury, murder in violation of the law of war, destruction of property in violation of the law of war, hijacking or hazarding a vessel or aircraft.

The prosecution has since requested that the conspiracy charge be dropped.

Exercising a right clarified earlier this week, all of the defendants opted to skip today's court proceedings. Pohl ruled, however, that they must attend the opening day of their next pretrial hearing Feb. 11.

A trial date has not been set. "Jury selection will take many months," as will the trial itself, Martins told reporters today. That's to be expected in complex criminal prosecutions, "particularly one with this much at stake," he added.

Defense attorney James Connell condemned what he called an uncharacteristically long and cumbersome commission process. He complained to reporters that this week's pretrial hearings, and those before them, had consumed "so much time and so much money," while "accomplishing so little."

Nevin defended the defense team's challenges to the commission system. Doing so, he said, ensures the process remains true to the spirit of U.S. law, seeks to "honor, rather than disrespect" the memory of those killed in the 9/11 attacks.

Family members who lost loved ones during 9/11 were mixed in their impressions of the system. Phyllis Rodriguez, who lost her son Greg on 9/11, told reporters that the case should be tried in U.S. federal court. This would make the process more open and transparent and allow more Americans to see the process, she said.

Rodriguez added that she opposes the death penalty and doesn't want any of the defendants to receive it.

Matthew Selitto, whose son Matthew was killed on 9/11, disagreed, calling Guantanamo Bay the appropriate venue for the commissions. Selitto told reporters he believes the defendants are getting a fair shot at justice. "There are not too many countries in the world today where they would get the chances they are being given," he said.

His wife, Loreen Selitto, said delays in the commission process are hurtful to families. She urged the legal teams to "do your jobs" and "get justice moving."

She said she felt pride seeing the men and women who serve at Guantanamo Bay. It demonstrated "the strength of my country and all you do to serve us," she said.

Thursday, January 31, 2013


Hagel Says Vietnam Shaped Perspective on War
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 31, 2013 - Having seen war "from the bottom," President Barack Obama's nominee to be the next secretary of defense said today, that experience informs him as he looks at policy.

Former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel spoke about his experiences in Vietnam during his Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing.

Hagel and his brother Tom served together in Vietnam in 1968. It was the year of the Tet Offensive, and the young infantryman was wounded twice during his tour. "I saw it from the bottom," he said today. "I saw what happens. I saw the consequences and the suffering and horror of war."

More than 16,000 Americans died in Vietnam in 1968. Hagel said his experiences in Vietnam informed the decisions he made as a senator, and will continue to inform him if he is confirmed to succeed retiring Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta.

Hagel used his stance in regard to the surge in Iraq as an example. As a senator, Hagel opposed the surge. He felt it was a mistake, he told the Senate panel today.

"I did question a surge," he said. "It wasn't an aberration to me, ever. I always ask the question, 'Is this going to be worth the sacrifice?' Because there will be sacrifices."

The United States lost almost 1,200 service members during the surge and thousands of others were wounded, Hagel said. "Was it required? Was it necessary?" he asked. "I'm not sure. I'm not that certain that it was required. Now, it doesn't mean I'm right. It doesn't mean I didn't make wrong votes. But that's what guides me."

Questioning the need for a surge goes back to being an Army sergeant walking point in the Mekong Delta, Hagel said. "I'm not shaped, framed, molded, consumed by that experience," he said. "But it's part of me. ... We're all shaped by those experiences."

Hagel said he hopes his experiences in Vietnam will help him if he assumes the top job at the Pentagon. "I hope if I have the privilege of serving as secretary of defense, it will put someone in charge at the Pentagon ... who understands the realities and consequences of war," he said. "It doesn't mean I'm better. But that's who I am. I don't walk away from that."

The United States is the greatest military power on Earth, Hagel said, and America has been judicious and careful with its power.

"I want to make sure we continue to do that, as you all do," Hagel told the senators.

Good people can have honest differences, he told the committee.

"All I can do is my best based on my own experiences," Hagel said, "and ... reaching out, listening, learning, never knowing enough, understanding that circumstances change."


Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
Secretary General: Hold Line on Spending, Boost Capabilities
By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 31, 2013 - Emerging powers increasing defense spending as NATO allies decrease theirs poses a risk to the alliance's military capacity and political credibility, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in Brussels today.

During a news conference at the alliance's headquarters, Rasmussen said NATO's 28 nations must hold the line on defense spending while working together to close gaps in capabilities.

Though these gaps, potentially widened by the rise of emerging powers, could limit Europe's ability to work with North America, Rasmussen acknowledged that sound fiscal policy also is sound security policy.

"Governments must reduce deficits and borrowing. You can't be safe if you are broke," the secretary general said. "But in turn, our prosperity rests on our security. We have to invest to keep our societies safe, because security threats won't go away while we focus on fixing our economies."

Defense spending decisions now will have an impact on the security of the next generation, the secretary general said.

"There is a price to pay for security," he added, "but the cost of insecurity is unacceptable."

In releasing his annual report, the secretary general highlighted the establishment of Patriot missile batteries to protect more than 3.5 million people against attacks in Turkey as a demonstration of significant improvement in the allies' ability to deploy and sustain forces in recent years.

"We have started this new year with a strong signal of solidarity with Turkey," he said. "This shows NATO's steadfast commitment to the security of allies, and it shows why defense matters."


Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Dominican National Sentenced to 63 Months in Prison for Leading Role in Identity Trafficking Scheme

A Dominican national was sentenced today to 63 months in prison for his leading role in trafficking the identities of Puerto Rican U.S. citizens and corresponding identity documents, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Rosa E. Rodríguez-Vélez of the District of Puerto Rico; Director John Morton of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which oversees Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); Chief Postal Inspector Guy J. Cottrell of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS); Gentry Smith, Acting Director of the U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS); and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Chief Richard Weber.

Rafael Joaquin Beltre-Beltre, 36, formerly of Caguas, Puerto Rico, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Gustavo A. Gelpí, in the District of Puerto Rico. In addition to Beltre-Beltre’s prison term, Judge Gelpí ordered him to forfeit $424,793 in illegal proceeds and ordered the removal of Beltre-Beltre from the United States to the Dominican Republic after the completion of his sentence. On Sept. 4, 2012, Beltre-Beltre pleaded guilty in Puerto Rico to one count of conspiracy to commit identification fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit alien smuggling for financial gain and one count of international money laundering.

Beltre-Beltre was charged in a superseding indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Puerto Rico on March 22, 2012. To date, a total of 53 individuals have been charged for their roles in the identity trafficking scheme, and 25 defendants have pleaded guilty.

Court documents allege that individuals located in the Savarona area of Caguas, Puerto Rico (Savarona suppliers), obtained Puerto Rican identities and corresponding identity documents. Other conspirators located in various cities throughout the United States (identity brokers) allegedly solicited customers and sold Social Security cards and corresponding Puerto Rico birth certificates for prices ranging from $700 to $2,500 per set. The superseding indictment alleges that identity brokers ordered the identity documents from Savarona suppliers, on behalf of the customers, by making coded telephone calls. The conspirators are charged with using text messages, money transfer services and express, priority or regular U.S. mail to complete their illicit transactions.

Court documents allege that some of the conspirators assumed a Puerto Rican identity themselves and used that identity in connection with the trafficking operation. Their customers allegedly generally obtained the identity documents to assume the identity of Puerto Rican U.S. citizens and to obtain additional identification documents, such as legitimate state driver’s licenses. Some customers allegedly obtained the documents to commit financial fraud and attempted to obtain a U.S. passport.

According to court documents, various identity brokers were operating in Rockford, Ill.; DeKalb, Ill.; Aurora, Ill.; Seymour, Ind.; Columbus, Ind.; Indianapolis; Hartford, Conn.; Clewiston, Fla.; Lilburn, Ga.; Norcross, Ga.; Salisbury, Md.; Columbus, Ohio; Fairfield, Ohio; Dorchester, Mass.; Lawrence, Mass.; Salem, Mass.; Worcester, Mass.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Nebraska City, Neb.; Elizabeth, N.J.; Burlington, N.C.; Hickory, N.C.; Hazelton, Pa.; Philadelphia; Houston; Abingdon, Va.; Albertville, Ala.; and Providence, R.I.

Beltre-Beltre admitted that he operated as a Savarona supplier and was a leader and organizer in the conspiracy. He also admitted that he and his co-conspirators sold personal identifying information pertaining to real Puerto Rican U.S. citizens, including minors, and that he knew some of the identities would be used to commit tax fraud and some would be used to fraudulently apply for U.S. passports. According to court documents, in June 2011, an unauthorized alien in Arlington, Va., applied for a U.S. passport using legitimate Puerto Rico identity documents that had been supplied by Beltre-Beltre. Law enforcement agents uncovered the fraudulent application and prevented the issuance of the U.S. passport.

On Jan. 11, 2012, Beltre-Beltre was arrested and found to be in possession of over 100 legitimate identity documents in other people’s names, in addition to four legitimate but blank Puerto Rico birth certificates. Beltre-Beltre admitted that at the time of his arrest he possessed a firearm with an obliterated serial number in relation to his identity trafficking and alien smuggling operation. Beltre-Beltre is the 12th defendant to be sentenced in this case.

The charges are the result of Operation Island Express, an ongoing, nationally-coordinated investigation led by the ICE-HSI Chicago Office and USPIS, DSS and IRS-CI offices in Chicago, in coordination with the ICE-HSI San Juan Office and the DSS Resident Office in Puerto Rico. The Illinois Secretary of State Police; Elgin, Ill., Police Department; Seymour, Ind., Police Department; and Indiana State Police provided substantial assistance. The ICE-HSI Assistant Attaché office in the Dominican Republic and International Organized Crime Intelligence and Operations Center (IOC-2) as well as various ICE, USPIS, DSS and IRS-CI offices around the country provided invaluable assistance.

The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys James S. Yoon, Hope S. Olds, Courtney B. Schaefer and Christina Giffin of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section, with the assistance of Acting Assistant Deputy Chief Jeannette Gunderson of the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section, and the support of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico. The U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the Northern District of Illinois, Southern District of Indiana, District of Connecticut, District of Massachusetts, District of Nebraska, Middle District of North Carolina, Southern District of Ohio, District of Rhode Island, Southern District of Texas and Western District of Virginia provided substantial assistance.