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Saturday, May 18, 2013

U.S. Department Of State Daily Press Briefing - May 17, 2013

Daily Press Briefing - May 17, 2013



DOD Plays Supporting Role in U.S. Global Health Efforts
By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 16, 2013 - The Defense Department supports U.S. global health activities because such efforts as preventing and containing lethal outbreaks align with DOD's mission to help ensure geopolitical stability and security, a senior defense official said here today.

Kathleen H. Hicks, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, discussed DOD's role in global health here before an audience at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a private health-policy analysis and research organization.

"DOD performs an important role in supporting the U.S. interagency response to human-made and natural disasters. ... In such situations, our military draws upon its incredible logistical capabilities -- providing air and sea transport for medicines, equipment and personnel," Hicks said.

DOD also serves the public health mission by maintaining an international network of laboratories and technologies, therapies and medical expertise, she added, all of which can be used in support of public-health efforts in the United States and abroad.

In its support of global public health activities, Hicks said, DOD must recognize the roles of federal agencies such as the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, and recognize the importance of helping partner countries take the lead in protecting the health of their own people.

"We at DOD need templates to understand how to best engage with our fellow government agencies and our foreign partners in the complex and vital work of protecting public health in actual and potential crisis situations," Hicks noted.

Four years ago, Hicks and two colleagues published an analysis of DOD's global health engagement activities. It addressed DOD's role in global health, including the effect of the department's health activities on national and regional security, the principal deputy undersecretary said.

"That paper's recommendations included creating a strategy for global health engagement [and] a health-security cooperation plan to guide our efforts to build the public health and medical capacity of partner militaries," she said.

Above all, Hicks added, "our analysis underscored the importance of ensuring that we do a better job of synchronizing our efforts, not only with our fellow government agencies but also among our own commands and components worldwide."

Since the study was published, she said, there have been improvements in DOD coordination with the State Department and USAID, coordination within DOD, and incorporating humanitarian and global health scenarios in military exercises.

Over the past year, Hicks added, the department has made significant strides in establishing measures of effectiveness for its global-health-related activities.

"Already in 2013," she added, "there have been at least two noteworthy examples of how we used global-health engagement to help partner nations address an urgent health need."

The first occurred after a January nightclub fire in Santa Maria, Brazil, that killed 241 people, the principal deputy undersecretary said.

Brazil's Ministry of Health put out an urgent request to the U.S. government for medicine kits that could treat victims suffering from cyanide toxicity due to inhaling fumes from burning acoustic foam.

After determining that no other agency could respond in time to help, she said, U.S. Southern Command coordinated transport of the medication from St. Louis to Brazil via Miami by working with Miami-Dade aviation officials, the Transportation Security Administration and American Airlines, which flew the medicine to Brazil free of charge.

"This was a great example of public and private collaboration," Hicks said, "exactly the kind of collaboration we are likely to need as we continue to respond to urgent crises of all kinds."

In April, another health emergency occurred after a measles outbreak in Georgia. Responding to a request from that nation's Health Ministry to the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, the Defense Department funded 75,000 emergency vaccinations. UNICEF handled the procurement and the Georgian National Center for Disease Control distributed the vaccine, she said.

"While we need to continue to work with our partners to hone our responses to such crises, we also need to plan for future challenges," Hicks said, adding that an excellent example is an upcoming event sponsored by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN.

The Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief/Military Medicine Field Training Exercise will take place in June in Brunei and include 18 countries from Southeast Asia and elsewhere, including the United States.

It also will include an exchange of U.S. and Chinese medical officers, she noted. Hicks said three U.S. officers will spend the exercise aboard a Chinese ship, and three Chinese medical officers will be assigned to a U.S. medical treatment facility, "[working] together in advancing a global good: the health of the world's citizens."

To counter diseases and other threats to public health, Hicks said, the United States teams with countries worldwide.

The Defense HIV/AIDS Prevention Program, for example, is a military-to-military health-engagement program with a direct effect on security, she said.

Over the past four years, Hicks added, in collaboration with the Naval Medical Center San Diego and partner universities, the program has trained providers in 50 militaries around the world and helped strengthen HIV-prevention programs in the trainees' home countries.

Last summer the program hosted a major international military HIV/AIDS conference, bringing together military representatives from 75 countries, along with many government agencies and international organizations, she said.
The focus on infectious diseases has been a hallmark of DOD international public-health efforts over the past decade, Hicks said, but the department should consider expanding its efforts to include health concerns like malnutrition and disrupted access to clean water.

"The expertise and responsibility for dealing with these conditions obviously falls well outside the Department of Defense," she said. "However, we at the Pentagon do have a legitimate interest in the degree to which these conditions impair the security and stability of key countries."

Hicks said a 2008 National Intelligence Council study found that while noninfectious conditions may not present direct threats to U.S. interests, they can have wide-ranging effects on global health.

According to the study, she said, the United States should expand the focus of its global health program to include noncommunicable diseases, neglected tropical diseases, malnutrition and maternal and child health and mortality.

"Shifting DOD's global health engagement activities more in favor of building the public health capacity of partner nations' militaries, and toward synchronizing our efforts with the State Department and its health diplomacy and USAID's health development efforts," Hicks added, "would create a synergy beneficial to global health and potentially beneficial to global and national security."


Ex-Im Approves $500 million to Finance U.S. Exports
for Use in Mongolian Mine
Transaction will support 2,000 Jobs Across Several States

Washington, D.C. – The board of the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) has voted to authorize an approximately $500 million direct loan to finance the continued development of a Mongolian mine that upon completion will generate approximately 30 percent of the Mongolian GDP.

Additionally, Ex-Im Bank’s financing will support approximately 2,000 U.S. jobs across the United States, according to Bank estimates derived from Departments of Commerce and Labor data and methodology.

"This transaction will not only support good jobs and bolster our economy here in America, it will also provide a lift to the Mongolian economy and directly impact the country’s GDP," said Ex-Im Bank Chairman and President Fred P. Hochberg. "Moreover, by using American-made products in this large project, the financing will support thousands of U.S. jobs in states like Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, New York, and Texas. This transaction is even more proof of the value of exports in continuing to help the U.S. economy grow."

The Oyu Tolgoi mine, which is located in the South Gobi region approximately 550 kilometers south of the the capital city Ulaanbaatar, is an open-pit and underground copper mine that will produce concentrate containing copper, gold, and silver. Once developed, the mine will rank as one of the largest copper mines in the world. It will also count as one of the most important capital projects in Mongolia.

The mine is operated by Oyu Tolgoi LLC, which is jointly owned by Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. of Canada and Erdenes Oyu Tolgoi LLC of Mongolia. Leading global mining company Rio Tinto holds a majority stake in Turquoise Hill.

Ex-Im Bank has worked closely with the other lenders and sponsors to ensure that the project was planned to minimize the impacts on the local residents and environment in compliance with Ex-Im Bank’s strict Environmental Procedures and Guidelines and Mongolian law.

One U.S. small business that will benefit from the project is CC Solutions LLC, a Yonkers, N.Y.-based company that is a specialist in export credit agency administration. The company’s proprietary software, MTS, has processed nearly $1 billion in Ex-Im Bank disbursements across the world.

"The financing of this and other projects by Ex-Im Bank has allowed our company to provide high-value professional services, leading to permanent and partial employment for five people in the United States," said Valerie Colville, principle of CC Solutions. "The Mongolian economy will benefit tremendously from the development of the Oyu Tolgoi project. Significant mineral deposits will be recovered in a responsible and environmentally-sound manner, and the proceeds will be used for the human and social development of the people of Mongolia."

Weekly Address: The President Talks About How to Build a Rising, Thriving Middle Class | The White House

Weekly Address: The President Talks About How to Build a Rising, Thriving Middle Class | The White House


U.S. Army Capt. Jacob Estrada, left, and U.S. Army Spc. Cristian Loera, right, provide security during a meeting with the Farah City mayor at his office in Farah City, Afghanistan, May 14, 2013. Estrada is commander of Provincial Reconstruction Team Farah. U.S. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Josh Ives


Combined Force Arrests Taliban Leader in Baghlan Province
From an International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Release

KABUL, Afghanistan, May 17, 2013 - A combined Afghan and coalition security force arrested a senior Taliban leader in the Baghlan-e Jadid district of Afghanistan's Baghlan province today, military officials reported.

The senior leader oversees insurgent cells responsible for attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. He also collects illegal taxes from local civilians, facilitates the movement of insurgent weapons and equipment and consults with senior insurgent leadership for operational information to pass on to his fighters.

The security force also seized a pistol in the operation.

In Afghanistan operations yesterday:

-- A combined force in Helmand province's Now Zad district arrested an insurgent and seized and destroyed more than 5,500 pounds of opium, two assault rifles and 19 ammunition magazines.

-- Afghan Provincial Response Company Helmand, advised by coalition forces, arrested nine insurgents and seized ammunition in Helmand's Lashkar Gah district.

-- In Farah province's Push-e Rod district, Afghan Provincial Response Company Farah, enabled by coalition forces, arrested seven insurgents and seized a machine gun and more than 100 rounds of ammunition and destroyed a rocket-propelled grenade rocket.

In other news, Afghan local and uniformed police killed seven insurgents in Ghazni province's Deh Tak district May 15 during an operation designed to deny insurgents sanctuary in the district's Rozi Kala and Ali Kala villages.


2013 U.S.-China Govenors Forum
Reta Jo Lewis
Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs
Luncheon Hosted by the Chinese People's Association for Friendship With Foreign Countries (CPAFFC)
Beijing, China
April 15, 2013

Thank you for that kind introduction.

Good afternoon distinguished Madam Li and guests. I would like to express my appreciation to the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) for hosting us today at the 2013 U.S.-China Governors Forum. We look forward to productive exchanges between U.S. governors and Chinese provincial leaders on economic and trade issues and environmental management.

Let me extend a special recognition to Governor Terry Branstad of Iowa, a longtime friend of China, Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia, and Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin who traveled a long way to be here with us today. I also would like to extend a special welcome to the Governors of Fujian, Guangxi, Hebei and Helongjiang. We are delighted that you are here with us today.

When we speak about our countries, it is easy to fall into the habit of talking about our capital cities. When we say that "Beijing" and "Washington, DC" are working together, we typically mean the countries as a whole.

We all know, however, that the work of nations also takes place at the subnational level – the states, the provinces, and the cities.

As Secretary of State John Kerry’s Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs, I am proud to be here representing both "Washington, DC" and America’s subnational governments, all of whom are interested in fostering better relations with China’s provinces and cities.

One of the real highlights for me during my three years as Special Representative has been the development of the U.S.-China Subnational Initiative. The Memorandum of Understanding creating this initiative was signed in January 2011 by then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and then-Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.

Since then, we have witnessed a historic level of engagement at the subnational level, including dialogues and exchanges like the U.S.-China Governors Forum and this event that provide many opportunities to strengthen bilateral ties and build mutual understanding.

For example, just this week we are witnessing California Governor Jerry Brown’s successful Trade and Investment Mission to China which included stops in Beijing, Nanjing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen. This trip followed more than a year of significant diplomatic and business exchanges between the State of California and China. While in China, Governor Brown has met with Chinese central and provincial officials, opened the California-China Office of Trade and Investment in Shanghai, and signed agreements with Jiangsu and Guangdong Provinces.

U.S.-China ties are richer and more extensive than ever before. Bilateral cooperation and dialogue have moved beyond traditional diplomacy into the fields of economic and commercial engagement.

Moreover, our people-to-people ties remain strong. Over 200,000 Chinese students study in U.S. universities each year – the largest number of students from any country. We are proud that Chinese students choose to invest in a U.S. education. The interactions between students and teachers will pay dividends for decades to come, helping Americans and Chinese forge ever closer bonds between individuals, communities, businesses, universities, and even government.

The further we deepen our relationship, the more we need to bring into play the skills and energies of partners beyond our central and federal governments.

I believe that engagement at the local level will continue to offer an exciting and effective method for Americans to discuss issues of mutual concern with Chinese provincial officials.

I look forward to continued collaboration with our Chinese friends to further enhance existing relationships and to foster new relationships to facilitate greater understanding between our two great nations.


Army Spc. Elizabeth Wasil wins the gold medal in the 1,500-meter wheelchair race during the 2013 Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colo., May 14, 2013. DOD photo by E.J. Hersom
Gold Medalist Embodies Warrior Spirit
By Shannon Collins
Joint Hometown News Service, Defense Media Activity

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., May 17, 2013 - As the young Army specialist sat in the 5-pound speed wheelchair, she took a deep calming breath, buckled her helmet, put her hands on the wheels and raced down the track. Any slight movement of the hips would move the chair outside the lane and would leave the athlete disqualified.

But she went all-out and took the gold in the 100-meter, 200-meter and 1,500-meter race chair races.

For Army Spc. Elizabeth Wasil, this was yet another new experience. She took three gold medals in the race chair, a bronze medal in the shot put and a bronze in the hand cycle/recumbent cycling race during the 2013 Warrior Games, which concluded yesterday at the Olympic Training Center and the U.S. Air Force Academy here.

Throughout the seven-day event, wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans from the Army, Marines, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard, along with a team from U.S. Special Operations Command and a team from the British military, competed in track and field, shooting, swimming, cycling, archery, wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball.

Wasil began her warrior journey at 16, when she decided to focus on her studies and sought out the Army National Guard's Arizona Project Challenge, an intensive five-month program that gave her a glimpse at military life and the ability to graduate from high school before she turned 17.

"It changed my life," Wasil said. "It was the happiest I could remember being. This program gave me structure, discipline and a foundation. I found somewhere I belonged and met mentors who believed in me and changed my life. It was amazing."

Following in the military footsteps of her retired Marine dad, James Marks, she enlisted in the Army at age 17. And just like her father, who served in Vietnam, she deployed, serving in Iraq in 2010. She was in Iraq as a medical assistant when she suffered injuries to her hips.

While recovering from three hip surgeries, Wasil fought with the Army medical board to stay in. She could have received a medical retirement, she said, but she was determined to stay on active duty and serve her country. She proved her capabilities to the medical board by competing in the Warrior Games last year and was found fit for duty in July.

Wasil said her recovery began with swimming.

"I was going to the pool on my own to try rehabilitation when [Army] Master Sgt. [Rhoden] Galloway saw me swimming and suggested I try out," she said of her Warrior Games teammate. "The Warrior Games was my first adult swim competition, and I got a gold, silver and a bronze in women's swimming. It was fun."

Wasil said the Warrior Games changed her life. "They showed me how to adapt in ways I never knew I could," she explained. "They gave me a whole new path in life that I would've never known existed."

Using her fighter instinct, Wasil trained so well in the pool that when she competed in breast stroke races of 50, 100 and 200 meters in an international event, she broke an American record.

"They thought I was going to come in 12th or 14th in all of my races," she said. "I ended up winning all three races. It was very emotional and overwhelming, but great. I just wanted to qualify. It was a great first race."

Wasil not only beat records, but also became too good to compete in swimming events at this year's Warrior Games. She's now a member of the Army's World Class Athlete Program at Fort Carson, Colo., and is working on her swimming times so she can compete in the Paralympics in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.

At this year's games, Wasil switched from the upright bikes to the recumbent bikes, which require more arm and leg power. She joked that she was proud that her arms could pull that race off, and that the hills were no joke.

Wasil, always quick to laugh or smile, said she was a little scared but excited when she competed in the speed chair.

"It was my first time in a speed chair competitively. I was scared again," she said with a smile. "The Warrior Games is a time for a lot of new things. I was in the chair for the first time racing, and when I did my first race, I just went all-out. The chair's so hard, but so rewarding. When I was done, it was an adrenaline rush. I just went from one race to the next."

When Wasil received her medal for cycling, she had the chance to meet Britain's Prince Harry and get a photo taken with him. He was a nice guy, she said, but the always-focused soldier added that she was paying more attention to her teammates and their accomplishments.

Wasil said the Warrior Games tapped into her warrior spirit and reassured her that even if she was medically retired, she would still be a part of the military.

"When I was facing the med board, I was scared that when I left the Army, I would lose my military family," she said. "Whether you stay in the military or get out, it's good to know that you never lose that family. Maintain that pride for your service and know that even when you're out, we still accept you and love you as if you're in."

Wasil's husband, Colton, a personal trainer, said his wife always is a positive person who loves the military.

"If she had her way, she would be 80 years old and still serving in the Army," he joked. "She's always positive and motivated. She has a great personality. I'm very happy for her successes. She does well in anything she enters. She's capable of anything she sets her mind to. I'm so proud of her."

Her warrior spirit and love of the military are ever-evident, he said.

"She's legitimately excited to be in the military," he said. "She was inspired by her father, and the military is just who she is. It fits her perfectly. She's military."


Russian Missiles in Syria will Prolong Suffering, Dempsey Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 17, 2013 - Russia's planned delivery of advanced anti-ship missiles and the S-300 air defense system to Syria "is at the very least an unfortunate decision that will embolden the regime and prolong the suffering," said Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey during a Pentagon news conference today.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff went on to call the decision "ill-timed and very unfortunate."

Dempsey and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the United States continues to try to find a way for the United States and Russia to work together to end the Syrian civil war. "One of the primary reasons that Secretary of State John Kerry went to Moscow was to find some ... intersection of interests in the Middle East," Hagel said.

The secretary said there is a real danger that the war could spill over Syria's borders and ignite the entire region. "What we don't want to see happen is for Syria to erupt to a point where we may find a regional war," he said. "We continue to work with the Russians and do everything we can to convince the powers in the region to be careful with escalation of military options and equipment."

Hagel said the United States is leaving all options open. "We are already doing a lot in Syria on the humanitarian side, the non-lethal side," he said. Still, U.S. leaders are trying to work out some consensus on Syria with the players in the region and beyond.

The anti-ship and air defense capabilities are more capable systems, Dempsey said. The S-300, for example, has a higher ceiling, longer range and multiple tracking capability. "It pushes the stand-off distance out a little more, increases risk, but it's not impossible to overcome," he said.

"What I really worry about is that (Syrian leader Bashar) Assad will decide that since he's got these systems he is somehow safer and more prone to a miscalculation," the chairman said.

There are several capabilities that Syria has not used responsibly including chemical weapons, long-range rockets, missiles and high-end air defense, Dempsey said. "The things they have in their control, we have things to deal with," the general said. "We do not have options in any way to prevent the delivery of any military sales to Syria."

Friday, May 17, 2013

Department of Defense News Briefing with Secretary Hagel and Gen. Dempsey from the Pentagon

Department of Defense News Briefing with Secretary Hagel and Gen. Dempsey from the Pentagon


Missile Defense System Completes Successful Intercept Test
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 16, 2013 – The Missile Defense Agency and Navy sailors aboard the USS Lake Erie conducted a successful flight test of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system yesterday, Pentagon officials reported.

In the test, the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense 4.0 weapon system and a Standard Missile 3 Block IB missile intercepted a separating ballistic missile target over the Pacific Ocean.

A separating short-range ballistic missile target was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii, and flew northwest toward a broad ocean area. The USS Lake Erie detected and tracked the missile with its onboard AN/SPY-1 radar. The ship, equipped with the second-generation Aegis BMD weapon system, developed a fire control solution and launched the SM-3 Block IB missile.

The SM-3 maneuvered to a point in space based on guidance from Aegis BMD weapon system and released its kinetic warhead. The warhead acquired the target re-entry vehicle, diverted into its path, and, using only the force of a direct impact, engaged and destroyed the target.

Initial indications are that all components performed as designed, officials said, and program officials will assess and evaluate system performance based upon telemetry and other data obtained during the test.

Last night's event, designated Flight Test Maritime 19, was the third consecutive successful intercept test of the Aegis BMD 4.0 weapon system and the SM-3 Block IB guided missile, and the 25th successful intercept in 31 flight test attempts for the Aegis BMD program since flight testing began in 2002.

Across all Ballistic Missile Defense System programs, this is the 59th successful hit-to-kill intercept in 74 flight tests since 2001, officials said.

Aegis BMD is the naval component of the Missile Defense Agency's Ballistic Missile Defense System. The MDA and the Navy cooperatively manage the Aegis BMD program.



Action Follows a Verified Change of Behavior from the Elaf Islamic Bank

– The Department of the Treasury today lifted sanctions against the Elaf Islamic Bank in Iraq following the bank’s significant and demonstrated change in behavior.

On July 31, 2012 the Treasury Department imposed sanctions under the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 (CISADA), against Elaf Islamic Bank, a privately-owned Iraqi financial institution, for knowingly facilitating significant transactions and providing significant financial services for the U.S. and EU-designated Export Development Bank of Iran (EDBI). Following the CISADA finding, Elaf immediately engaged the Treasury Department and began an intensive course of action to stop the conduct that led to the CISADA sanction, including freezing EDBI accounts at Elaf and reducing its overall exposure to the Iranian financial sector. Following today’s action U.S. financial institutions are once again permitted to open or maintain correspondent accounts or payable-through accounts in the United States for Elaf Islamic Bank.

"Today we welcome Elaf Islamic Bank back into the U.S. financial system, and we urge other designated individuals and entities around the world to follow its positive example. As today’s delisting demonstrates, our sanctions are flexible and can be lifted if the conduct that led to the sanction terminates," said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen. "As we increase our sanctions against Iran, we will continue to target any financial institution that works with designated Iranian banks or attempts to assist Iran in evading sanctions."

Sanctions may be, and regularly are, lifted when circumstances warrant, which includes ceasing the sanctionable activity. Any sanctioned party may petition OFAC for sanctions to be lifted. In general, demonstrating changes in circumstances or behavior are essential to the lifting of sanctions.

Treasury will continue to use all tools at its disposal to target entities or individuals engaging in sanctionable activity related to Iran. CISADA was signed into law by President Obama in July 2010. Among other things, CISADA provides the Secretary of the Treasury with the authority to impose strict conditions on, or prohibit the opening or maintaining of, correspondent accounts or payable-through accounts in the United States for foreign financial institutions that knowingly facilitate a significant transaction or provide significant financial services for a person whose property and interests in property are blocked under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act in connection with Iran’s proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or delivery systems for WMD, or for Iran’s support for international terrorism.

Proba-V abre los ojos

Proba-V abre los ojos



Federal Agencies Expand Urban Waterway Revitalization Efforts in Western Lake Erie Basin

CHICAGO (May 14, 2013) – Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, announced that the Western Lake Erie Basin is one of 11 new locations selected for revitalization efforts by the Urban Waters Federal Partnership. First launched in 2011, the Urban Waters Federal Partnership works to reconnect urban residents with their waterways and open spaces.

EPA Region 5 Administrator/Great Lakes National Program Manager Susan Hedman was joined by Rich Sims, the Northeast Regional Conservationist for the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Lt. Col. Owen J. Beaudoin, Commander of the Buffalo District for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, at a kick-off event today at Middlegrounds Metropark in Toledo, Ohio. U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, Toledo Mayor Michael P. Bell and Tim Schetter, Director of Natural Resources for Toledo-area Metroparks joined them for the announcement.

"Restoring waterways in the Toledo area will improve public health, provide recreational opportunities and boost the local economy," said Hedman. "EPA, NRCS and the Corps will work with local partners to transform degraded waterways into assets for Toledo residents and to improve water quality in the Western Lake Erie basin."

"Including Toledo in the Urban Waters Federal Partnership program is a big step forward for us," said Congresswoman Kaptur. "We worked hard to get our region included in this initiative because a healthy Lake Erie is vitally important to a healthy local economy."

With the addition of 11 new locations across the country, the work of the partnership is now in 18 communities. A progress report released last week details the successes and plans for future actions as well as actions taken by each of the 13 federal partners. Through the partnership, agencies are working to revitalize urban waterways and communities that surround them, transforming overlooked assets and driving urban revival. Projects will further the goals of the partnership and address a wide range of issues such as improving water quality, restoring ecosystems and enhancing public access to urban waters.

"The Natural Resources Conservation Service has a long history of working through partnerships to create sustainable environmental benefits, like improved water quality," said Sims. "In 2006, NRCS and many of the partners here today established the Western Lake Erie Basin Watershed Partnership. Projects like the Toledo Rain Garden Initiative began with support from NRCS and the WLEB Partnership. Over 50 rain gardens planted around Toledo retained 200,000 gallons of untreated rainwater to date. The Urban Waters Partnership allows us to expand our efforts in the Western Lake Erie Basin."

"The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Buffalo District looks forward to collaborating with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Service on the Urban Waters Partnership," said Lt. Col. Beaudoin. "The partnership will allow USACE to identify synergies between Federal, state and local agencies through our existing authorities, and engage communities on the importance of urban water resources management."
Americans use urban waterways as sources of drinking water and for a variety of activities including boating, fishing and swimming. Revitalizing these urban waterways will reconnect citizens to open spaces and have a positive economic impact on local businesses, tourism and property values, as well as spur private investment and job creation in communities.

Launched in 2011, the Urban Waters Federal Partnership closely aligns with and advances the work of other White House efforts such as the Partnership for Sustainable Communities by revitalizing communities, creating jobs and improving the quality of life in cities and towns. The partnership also supports President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative aimed at making the federal government a better partner with communities that are working to provide safe, healthy and accessible outdoor places.

The participating agencies are:

- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
- U.S. Department of Energy
- U.S. Department of Education
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
- U.S. Economic Development Administration
- U.S. Forest Service
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
- U.S. Department of Interior
- U.S. Department of Transportation
- Corporation for National and Community Service
- National Center for Environmental Health/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration



Large majority of adults have smoke-free rules in homes, vehicles

Millions of non-smokers still exposed to secondhand smoke

Four out of five U.S. adults report having voluntary smoke-free rules in their homes and three out of four report having voluntary smoke-free rules in their vehicles, according to a study published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease, a publication of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The National Adult Tobacco Survey respondents were classified as having smoke-free rules if they never allow smoking inside their homes or vehicles. The study is the first to present estimates of smoke-free rules and secondhand smoke exposure in vehicles among U.S. adults.

Despite the high prevalence of voluntary smoke-free rules in homes and vehicles, the study found that almost 11 million non-smoking adults continue to be exposed to secondhand smoke in their home, and almost 17 million non-smoking adults continue to be exposed to secondhand smoke in a vehicle. The study also contains state-by-state data showing that the highest prevalence of smoke-free rules in homes and vehicles occurred in many states with comprehensive smoke-free laws and longstanding tobacco control programs.

"We have made tremendous progress in the last 15 years protecting people in public spaces from secondhand smoke," said Tim McAfee, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Office on Smoking and Health at CDC. "The good news is that people are applying the same protection in their homes and vehicles. However, millions of non-smokers, many of whom are children, remain exposed to secondhand smoke in these environments."

Additional study findings include:
Eighty-one percent of U.S. adults report having smoke-free rules in their homes and 74 percent have smoke-free rules in their vehicles
Eighty-nine percent of non-smokers report having smoke-free home rules, while only 48 percent of smokers have them.
Eighty-five percent of non-smokers report having smoke-free vehicle rules, while only 27 percent of smokers have them.
Secondhand smoke exposure among nonsmokers in homes and vehicles was greatest among men, younger adults, non-Hispanic blacks, and those with a lower level of education.
Many of the states with the lowest prevalence of smoke-free rules in homes and vehicles are states with a high prevalence of adult smoking.

"While almost half of all U.S. residents are protected by 100 percent smoke-free policies in worksites, restaurants and bars, overall there are still an estimated 88 million non-smoking Americans over the age of three who are exposed to secondhand smoke," said Brian King, Ph.D., an epidemiologist in the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health and lead author of this study. "It’s important to educate people on the dangers of secondhand smoke exposure and how smoke-free homes and vehicles can reduce that exposure."

Exposure to secondhand smoke causes heart disease and lung cancer in adult non-smokers. In children, secondhand smoke exposure causes more severe and frequent asthma attacks, acute respiratory infections, ear infections and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Secondhand smoke exposure is responsible for an estimated 50,000 deaths each year in the United States. The Surgeon General has concluded there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, and that only 100 percent smoke-free policies can protect non-smokers from the dangers of secondhand smoke. Opening a window does not work, nor does any other ventilation system.


Nimble Titan, a series of two-year experimentation campaigns, promotes multinational cooperation and interoperability in missile defense activities and, when required, responses. Here, U.S. soldiers deployed with a Patriot missile battery to help defend Turkey's border with Syria are part of a coordinated NATO response that includes missile defenders from Germany and the Netherlands, Feb. 4, 2013. DOD photo by Glenn Fawcett

Nimble Titan Increases Multinational Missile Defense Cooperation

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 16, 2013 - When the United States, Germany and the Netherlands deployed missile defenses to Turkey to augment the Turkish military's capabilities near the Syrian border, it wasn't happenstance that they were able to quickly coordinate their efforts and go operational.

U.S. Strategic Command has led an international effort for the past eight years to promote cooperation and interoperability in missile defense, not just among NATO allies, but also around the globe.

Known as Nimble Titan, it's a series of two-year experimentation campaigns that bring together 22 nations to address missile defense challenges in the coming decade, said Army Col. Michael Derrick, director of allied integration for Stratcom's Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense.

Nimble Titan is now in its fourth two-year iteration, with a mix of seminars, tabletop exercises, war games and instrumented experiments, Derrick explained during a telephone interview from his office at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo.

All are aimed at promoting partnership Derrick called essential to standing up to ballistic missile threats.

Each participating nation realizes that none can go it alone in missile defense, he said. That includes nations such as the United States, Japan and the Netherlands, among others that have their own missile defense systems, he added. The U.S. system, for example, depends in part on basing sensors and interceptors in other countries and using their airspace and ground facilities to operate.

"As the United States developed its own ballistic missile defense system, we realized that the system is inextricably engaged with our allies around the world," Derrick said. "Integration with our allies around the world in the field of missile defense is absolutely necessary. We simply cannot do this without them."

But international cooperation brings more to the effort, he said, increasing transparency about missile defense and setting the conditions for nations to share information and leverage one another's assets. This may save money at a time when many militaries are experiencing severe budget cutbacks, while providing more comprehensive missile defenses, he noted.

Collaboration is particularly vital at a time when several nations as well as non-state actors are ratcheting up the threat. "We have those nations that consistently threaten us, either with real capability or with rhetoric," Derrick said.

"Nimble Titan creates an environment where these likeminded nations can discuss and try to solve the challenges that we have now or anticipate that we will have in the next 10 years," he said. "Instead of doing things independently against a common foe, we are able to work together."

Through Nimble Titan events, participants explore ways to improve information-sharing and distribution and develop plans, including command-and-control procedures, to provide coordinated, synchronized missile defenses.

"We discuss concepts of operation such as how to put the capabilities from different nations together to build a coherent and effective unit," Derrick said. "The goal is to put mechanisms in place to optimize those international efforts."

Nimble Titan 14, latest in the series of campaigns, kicked off in February with an orientation seminar for new participants at the NATO headquarters in Brussels. In March, Japan hosted a planning exercise among Asia-Pacific countries focused on the Northeast Asia threat.

Participants from the Tokyo event will converge on the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., in June for a tabletop exercise based on groundwork laid at the planning exercise, Derrick said.

Another tabletop exercise, focused on the Southwest Asia threat, is slated for December at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

The most significant takeaways from these individual events will be incorporated into the Nimble Titan 14 capstone event planned for next spring in Suffolk, Va. "This will be a program that allows nations from around the world to see the global implications of what is going on in each region," Derrick said.

Although Nimble Titan isn't designed to address any particular threat, and activities all involve notional perpetrators, sometimes the events correspond with those in the real world.

Last year, for example, the capstone event for the Nimble Titan 12 series kicked off just four days after North Korea's failed three-stage missile launch. Over the course of four days, participants and observers planned military, as well as political and civil defense responses, to mock launches a decade into the future from the fictitious countries of Seac and Rubicon.

But Derrick said the cooperation developed during Nimble Titan has a huge payoff when real-world challenges develop.

"You can't work with a nation until you have some basis upon which to build that cooperation. And through Nimble Titan, we have a group of people, now in 22 nations, who know the topic, who know one another, and who know the challenges we all face," he said. "We have been very successful in building a cadre of people around the world who can work together."

This assures U.S. allies of the United States' commitment to standing with them in missile defense. "We want them to know that we are not only willing, but able to work with them," Derrick said.

But even more importantly, he said, is its deterrent effect -- one Derrick said every participating nation can agree to.

"Missile defense is an important deterrent because it doesn't threaten and can't hurt anyone," he said. "If someone launches a missile at you, being able to destroy that missile in space and cause no damage or harm whatsoever gives you the moral high ground. You have defended yourself, but you haven't caused your attacker any harm."

This makes missile defense an important complement to U.S. Strategic Command's other assets, most of which have offensive capabilities, he said.

One of its greatest advantages, Derrick said, is that it provides the opportunity for informed, coordinated responses.

"It gives our leadership at the national level a whole lot of options that otherwise would not be available: to pursue diplomatic outcomes, to arrange responses with other nations, or to go to the United Nations if they need to," he said. "That's one of the real advantages of missile defense. It provides options and time for the leadership that otherwise would not be available."


Camp and Baucus Team Up to Launch

Chairmen Launch Web Site to Provide American People Opportunity to Weigh In On Tax Reform

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Washington, DC – House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) today teamed up to launch, a new website dedicated to obtaining input from the American public on tax reform.

"The tax code is littered with special interest provisions that Washington has put in over the last 27 years. It is time to go line-by-line through the tax code and clean it up. There is no reason Americans should have to spend over 6 billion hours and over $160 billion every year just trying to comply with the tax code. Chairman Baucus and I believe in a tax code that is more effective and efficient. A simpler, fairer tax code will help families and it will help strengthen our economy. But Washington doesn’t have all the answers. That is why we are joining together in a non-partisan way to invite you to weigh in on this debate. We want you, the American people, to share your story and your ideas about how our tax code should work," Chairman Camp said.

"America’s tax code today is complex, inefficient and acting as a brake on our economy. Chairman Camp and I believe it is in need of a serious overhaul. Over the past two years we’ve held more than 50 hearings and heard from hundreds of experts on how to fix the tax code, to make it simpler and fairer for families and spark a more prosperous economy. Now it’s time to hear from the most important stakeholders — the American people," Chairman Baucus said. "Through the web site and Twitter all Americans will be able to weigh in and participate directly in the debate. We want to know what people think the nation’s tax system should look like and how we can make families lives easier."

Developed in partnership with the Joint Committee on Taxation, will serve as a platform for the American public to weigh in on tax reform. Input from visitors to the web site will be valuable to the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee as they craft legislation. The site also incorporates many Twitter tools that allow the public to weigh in by following @simplertaxes.

The idea is based on efforts of former Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski to engage the American public in the last successful overhaul of the U.S. tax code in 1985. He encouraged the American public to send letters in support of tax reform in what became known as the "Write Rosty Campaign." As a result, Rostenkowski received more than 75,000 letters and post cards from the American public in support of tax reform, helping lead to the Tax Reform Act of 1986.

Chairmen Baucus and Camp have recreated the outreach effort with a 21st century twist. Visitors to the website can learn about tax reform and submit ideas on how to improve the tax code. The site has been built around three sections: Why reform the Tax Code? What’s already underway? Share your story and ideas.

The site also provides a library of material detailing the efforts by Baucus and Camp over the past two years as they have developed comprehensive tax reform proposals.

Background on the "Write Rosty Campaign"

In early 1985, at the start of the last successful overhaul of the nation’s tax code, a little-known House committee chairman named Dan Rostenkowski delivered the Democratic response to President Reagan’s national address on tax reform. Rostenkowski used his speech, which drew immediate praise, as an opportunity to launch his "Write Rosty" campaign, calling on Americans to send his Capitol Hill office letters of support for a tax reform plan that would make the system simpler and fairer.

Within days, Rostenkowski had received more than 75,000 letters, as well as several more eclectic items, including a tax reform t-shirt and a two-by-four to "beat back lobbyists." Rostenkowski noted at the time how important it was for him and the Democratic Party to engage a naturally-skeptical public on tax reform to demonstrate what it was about – simplicity and fairness. He said average Americans felt like "suckers and chumps" when they paid their taxes because the system was rigged to give special privileges to the lucky few who could hide money in tax shelters and dodge paying their fair share.

"Write Rosty" with a 21st Century Twist

There is a compelling story to be told about how Chairmen Camp and Baucus are working together to revive public engagement on tax reform. They are developing bills to make the tax code simpler and fairer, and they want everyday Americans to be active participants in the reform process.

The public, just like in 1985, is naturally skeptical of tax reform. That’s partly because the issues are so complex, but it’s also because Democrats and Republicans in Congress have struggled to find common ground on much of anything lately. But tax reform has backers in both parties, and Chairmen Camp and Baucus have one of the most productive bipartisan relationships in Congress. They see this as an opportunity to legislate in the light of day and keep partisan politics from derailing the process. And the kind of engagement the "Write Rosty" campaign sparked nearly 30 years ago is even easier today thanks to the Internet and social media. That’s why the chairmen are launching and @simplertaxes to get the public involved and active in the process.


An RQ-7B Shadow, an unmanned aerial vehicle is catapulted into flight at Forward Operating Base Fenty, Afghanistan, May 2, 2013. UAVs collect intelligence and provide security for troops on the ground. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Margaret Taylor

Combined Force Kills Insurgent in Paktia Province
From an International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Release

KABUL, Afghanistan, May 16, 2013 - A combined Afghan and coalition security force in the Zurmat district of Afghanistan's Paktiya province today killed an insurgent and arrested four others during a search for a Haqqani network leader who participates in kidnappings throughout the province, military officials reported.

The Haqqani leader also engages in weapons trafficking investigates insurgent activity for senior insurgent leadership.

During the operation, a group of insurgents opened fire on the security force. The security force returned fire, killing one insurgent. The security force also seized two assault rifles, three fragmentation grenades, eight magazines and ammunition.

Also today, a combined force in Helmand province's Nahr-e Saraj district arrested a senior Taliban leader who plans, coordinates and executes attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. He also facilitates the movement of weapons and relays operational information to insurgent leadership.

In Afghanistan operations yesterday:

-- A combined force in Balkh province's Chimtal district killed senior Taliban leader Shah Gul, who had controlled a group responsible for attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. He was involved in kidnappings, weapons procurement and distribution, and collecting illegal taxes to fund insurgent activities.

-- In Nuristan province's Waygal district, a combined force wounded an insurgent during a search for the district's top Taliban military official. He is responsible for facilitating the movement of al-Qaida terrorists, erecting and enforcing illegal checkpoints, kidnapping Afghan officials and leading attacks against Afghan and coalition forces.

-- Afghan and coalition special operations forces in Ghazni province's Deh Yak district killed a Taliban leader who was responsible for 20 insurgents and had been facilitating attacks. Six insurgents were detained.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

President Obama Holds a Press Conference with Prime Minister Erdogan | The White House

President Obama Holds a Press Conference with Prime Minister Erdogan | The White House



Remarks With Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa Before Their Meeting
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
May 16, 2013

SECRETARY KERRY: Good afternoon, everybody. I am delighted to be here with Foreign Minister Natalegawa from Indonesia. And there are a number of reasons why my opportunity to meet with the Foreign Minister is important.

First of all, we are representing the second and third largest democracies in the world. And that is an important reason for us to work on a number of different things, but to be committed as partners. We also do a great deal with respect to counter-narcotics, protection of the environment, trade issues, disaster relief, and maritime security. And all of these things are extremely important to our relationship.

In addition to that, Indonesia will be chairing the APEC conference this year, and I’m particularly looking forward to being part of that conference, going out there. We will have, I think, a very exciting agenda that the Foreign Minister and Indonesia have settled on regarding connectivity, increasing connectivity, globalization of trade, working on a number of the environment and other challenges in law enforcement and maritime security. So we have a big agenda.

And in the end, we are particularly interested in furthering this relationship as much as we can because Indonesia plays such a critical role in the balance of interests in that region, and because we’ve been rebalancing ourselves towards Asia. And so this relationship becomes even more important. So I’m very grateful that the Minister is here to spend some time talking through our issues. Welcome.

FOREIGN MINISTER NATALEGAWA: Thank you very much, Secretary. Likewise, I am delighted to be back in Washington. And thank you for making it possible for the two of us to meet. I echo the points that you have said. Our relations – our two countries’ relations are strong; they’re solid. We enjoy what we call comprehensive partnership; it’s a broad subject matter on which we cooperate, and this truly is in a sense a partnership among friends, mutually beneficial, and of a mutual – a great deal of mutual interest. I wish through our discussion this afternoon not only to strengthen that bilateral relations, but to further project closer cooperation on many regional and global issues as well.

SECRETARY KERRY: Look forward to it.


SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you. Welcome.

U.S. State Department Daily Press Briefing - May 16, 2013

Daily Press Briefing - May 16, 2013



New Authority Supports Global Special Operations Network
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

TAMPA, Fla., May 15, 2013 - A new arrangement that gives U.S. Special Operations Command responsibility for manning, training and equipping special operators assigned to regional combatant commands is beginning to pay off in strengthening the global special operations force network, the Socom commander reported here yesterday.

Navy Adm. William H. McRaven told attendees at the 2013 Special Operations Forces Industry Conference that the new command structure amends a shortcoming that had left Socom with "no institutional relationship" with regional special operations commanders.

Then-Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta approved the change in February. "In essence, now U.S. Special Operations Command has authority over all special operations [forces]," McRaven said, including those assigned to U.S. European Command, U.S. Pacific Command, U.S. Central Command, U.S. Southern Command and U.S. Africa Command.

This authority also will extend to U.S. Northern Command, which is standing up its own special operations element.

A key part of the arrangement, McRaven said, is that these special operators and their regional special operations commanders will remain under the operational control of their respective geographic combatant commander.

"That is very important," he said, emphasizing that geographic commanders will determine what missions special operators conduct within their areas of responsibility.

"We will not do anything," McRaven said, repeating it for emphasis, "without the approval -- underline that -- of a geographic commander and the chief of mission [or] ambassador."

The admiral elaborated on the arrangement during his testimony before the House and Senate armed services committees in March.

"As the Socom commander, with some unique exceptions, I do not command and control any forces in combat or crisis," he said. "I am a 'supporting commander' to geographic combatant commanders and the chiefs of mission.

"It is my job to provide them the best special operations force in the world," he continued. "It is their job to employ those forces in support of U.S. policy."

Yesterday, McRaven told the forum of special operators and defense contractors he advocated the change of authority to better support theater special operations commanders and their assigned forces.

"I want to be held responsible for the manning, training, equipping and resourcing of the theater special operations commanders," McRaven said. That way, he said, if a theater special operations commander doesn't have the best talent or isn't well resourced, there's no question about who should be held accountable.

"The answer ought to be, 'You come here to Socom because we are now responsible for it,'" he said. "It really is about, 'How do we better support those theater special operations commanders?'"

Special Operations Command already is making good on its new responsibility.

Army Brig. Gen. Sean P. Mulholland, commander of Special Operations Command South, reported that his command, long stretched for manpower and resources, is slated to triple in size over the next few years. Meanwhile, the funding lines will start to shift based on McRaven's emphasis on bolstering the theater special operations commanders, he said.

Navy Rear Adm. Brian L. Losey, commander of Special Operations Command Africa, reported that his command has received additional funding for technical requirements, as well as temporary augmentees from the Socom staff. The new command arrangement "is absolutely empowering" the theater special operations commanders, he said.

But there's an additional benefit in the communication links the new command relationship allows. McRaven now conducts weekly videoconferences with all of his theater special operations commanders, encouraging them to share information about their activities and challenges.

"Before long, we begin to knit together the global problems that we are seeing," he said. "And we are passing information [among the theater special operations commanders] that is the beginning of enhancing this global [special operations force] network."


Attorney General Eric Holder Testifies Before the House Committee on the Judiciary

~ Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Good afternoon, Chairman Goodlatte; Ranking Member Conyers. I appreciate this opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the Justice Department’s recent achievements and to provide an overview of our top priorities.

Particularly in recent years, the Department has taken critical steps to prevent and combat violent crime, to confront national security threats, to ensure the civil rights of everyone in this country, and to safeguard the most vulnerable members of our society. Thanks to the extraordinary efforts of my colleagues – the nearly 116,000 dedicated men and women who serve in Justice Department offices around the world – I’m pleased to report that we’ve established a remarkable record of progress in expanding our nation’s founding promise of equal justice under law, and ensuring the safety and security of our citizens.

The need to continue these efforts – and to remain vigilant against a range of evolving threats – was brought into sharp focus last month, in the most shocking of ways, when a horrific terrorist attack in Boston left three innocent people dead and hundreds injured. In the days that followed– thanks to the valor of state and local police, the dedication of federal law enforcement and intelligence officials, and the cooperation of members of the public – those suspected of carrying out this terrorist act were identified. One suspect died following a shootout with police and the other has been brought into custody and charged in federal court with using a weapon of mass destruction. Three others have been charged in connection with the investigation of this case, which is active and ongoing.

As we continue working to achieve justice on behalf of our fellow citizens and brave law enforcement officers who were injured or killed in connection with these tragic events – and to hold accountable, to the fullest extent of the law, all who were responsible for this heinous attack – I want to assure you that my colleagues and I are also committed to strengthening our broader national security efforts. Over the past four years, we’ve identified, investigated, and disrupted multiple potential plots involving foreign terrorist organizations as well as homegrown extremists. We’ve secured convictions – and tough sentences – against numerous individuals for terrorism-related offenses. We’ve utilized essential intelligence-gathering and surveillance capabilities in a manner that’s consistent with the rule of law, and with our most treasured values.

Beyond this work, my colleagues and I are enhancing our focus on a variety of emerging threats and persistent challenges – from drug trafficking and transnational organized crime, to cyber-threats and human trafficking. We’re moving to ensure robust enforcement of antitrust laws, to combat tax fraud schemes, and to safeguard the environment. We’re building on the significant progress that’s been made in identifying and thwarting financial and health care-related fraud crimes. For example, in FY 2012, our fraud detection and enforcement efforts resulted in the record-breaking recovery and return of roughly $4.2 billion.

Over the last three fiscal years alone – thanks to the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force and its federal, state, and local partners – we have filed nearly 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 14,500 defendants, including more than 2,900 mortgage fraud defendants. As these actions prove, our resolve to protect consumers and seek justice against any who would take advantage of their fellow citizens has never been stronger.

The same can be said of the Department’s vigorous commitment to the enforcement of key civil rights protections. Since 2009, this commitment has led our Civil Rights Division to file more criminal civil rights cases than ever before – including record numbers of human trafficking cases. Using new tools and authorities, including the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, we’ve improved our ability to safeguard our civil rights and pursue justice for those who are victimized because of their gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. We will continue working to guarantee that – in our workplaces and military bases; in our housing and lending markets; in our schools and places of worship; in our immigrant communities and our voting booths – the rights of all Americans are protected.

But all of this is only the beginning. As we look toward the future, my colleagues and I are also determined to work closely with Members of Congress to secure essential legislative changes – including commonsense steps to prevent and reduce gun violence, and comprehensive legislation to fix our nation’s broken immigration system.

It’s long past time to allow the estimated 11 million individuals who are here in an undocumented status to step out of the shadows, to guarantee that all are playing by the same rules, and to require responsibility from everyone – both undocumented workers and those who hire them. Like many of you, I am encouraged to see that these basic principles are reflected in the bipartisan reform proposal that is currently being considered by the Senate. The Department will do all it can to help strengthen that proposal, and to advance a constructive, responsible dialogue on this issue. I understand that this Committee and other Members are working on immigration reform proposals as well, and I look forward to working with you as those efforts move forward to enact comprehensive reforms.

However, I must note that our capacity to continue building upon the Department’s recent progress is threatened by the long-term consequences of budget sequestration and Joint Committee reductions, which will worsen in Fiscal Year 2014, unless Congress adopts a balanced deficit reduction plan. Should Congress fail to do so, I fear that these reductions will undermine our ability to deliver justice for millions of Americans, and to keep essential public safety professionals on the job.

We cannot allow this to happen. This afternoon, I ask for your support in preventing these cuts and ensuring that the Department has the resources it needs to fulfill its critical missions. I thank you, once again, for the chance to discuss our current efforts with you today. And I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.


A view of the Buchi Multivapor P-12 Evaporator, apparatus that can be used in the preparation of the uranium sulfate fuel. LANL PHOTO.

Domestic Production of Medical Isotope Mo-99 Moves a Step Closer at Los Alamos

Researchers produce molybdenum-99 from irradiation of low-enriched uranium solution

LOS ALAMOS, N.M., May 13, 2013—Today, Los Alamos National Laboratory announced that for the first time, irradiated uranium fuel has been recycled and reused for molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) production, with virtually no losses in Mo-99 yields or uranium recovery. This demonstrates the viability of the separation process, as well as the potential for environmentally- and cost-friendly fuel recycling. Medical isotope production technology has advanced significantly now that scientists have made key advances in separating Mo-99 from an irradiated, low-enriched uranium (LEU) solution.

Low-Enriched Uranium as a Source of Mo-99

Technetium-99m (Tc-99m) is the most commonly used medical isotope today, accounting for about 50,000 medical imaging procedures daily in the United States. Tc-99m is derived from the parent isotope Mo-99, predominantly produced from the fission of uranium-235 in highly enriched uranium targets (HEU) in aging foreign reactors. The North American supply of Tc-99m was severely disrupted when the Chalk River nuclear reactor in Canada experienced an outage several years ago.

The National Nuclear Security Administration’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) implements the long-standing U.S. policy to minimize and eliminate the use of HEU in civilian applications. In support of this objective, GTRI is working with U.S. commercial entities and the U.S. national laboratories to develop a diverse set of non-HEU-based technologies to produce Mo-99 in the United States.

The U.S. national laboratories aid GTRI’s programmatic mission by conducting research and development, engineering and design support, and proof of concept demonstrations. Toward this goal, GTRI has been working with Los Alamos to ensure its technical expertise is available to support GTRI’s commercial partners, including Morgridge Institute for Research-SHINE Medical Technologies (MIR-SHINE), which proposes to use a particle accelerator to produce Mo-99 from a mildly acidic LEU solution.

The Technical Demonstration

In support of MIR-SHINE’s Mo-99 production efforts, researchers at Los Alamos have successfully proven the technical viability of the initial stage of Mo-99 recovery from LEU solution through a direct scaled-down demonstration of the proposed industrial process.

To undertake the necessary experimental validation, Los Alamos researchers developed methodologies for preparing and analyzing uranium sulfate fuel, safely containing the fuel during irradiation at a Los Alamos Neutron Accelerator Science (LANSCE) facility and performing chemical flow-sheet testing using a separation apparatus applicable to both low and high levels of radiation.

With a short half-life of 2.7 days, Mo-99 is a high specific-radioactivity isotope. At production scale, the post-fission solution will contain only a very small concentration of Mo-99. Unlike traditional HEU-based processes, the challenge is to recover this material from a vast excess of LEU and leave the uranium in the same chemical form to allow for recycling.

The team found that nearly all of the uranium could be recovered after Mo-99 separations were performed. The LEU fuel that passed through the column separation process was irradiated again, and then once more the fission-generated Mo-99 was separated in high yield. When the same fuel was irradiated a third time, there was still no observable loss in the subsequent Mo-99 recovery. The results confirm the viability of both the Mo-99 separation process and uranium fuel recycling, which can lower operating costs and minimize waste generation.

What help from soy supplements

What help from soy supplements


Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, commander of U.S. European Command and Supreme Allied Commander for Europe, talk before a NATO conference in Brussels, May 14, 2013. DOD photo by D. Myles Cullen
Dempsey Discusses Transition to Post-ISAF Afghanistan
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT, May 15, 2013 - The NATO chiefs of defense discussed what the post-2014 alliance presence in Afghanistan will look like and how it could work, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters after he'd attended two days of meetings that concluded today in Brussels.

Dempsey said the discussion about the post-2014 NATO presence in Afghanistan was lively and constructive.

There are a number of ways to structure the NATO presence that will remain in Afghanistan after the International Security Assistance Force mandate expires at the end of 2014. The NATO chiefs of defense looked at whether the alliance should take a regional approach to the train, advise and assist mission or should it be done at the institutional level, Dempsey said. At what level -- kandak, brigade, corps -- does it make sense to instruct? The need, he said, is different in different parts of the nation.

Each scenario has a different requirement for troops, equipment, bases and money. There are pros and cons for each and the chiefs will use these discussions to make recommendations to their civilian leaders. NATO defense ministers will gather in Brussels next month for their ministerial.

The defense chiefs heard from Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the commander of NATO ISAF and U.S. Forces Afghanistan, and the new Supreme Allied Commander – Operations, Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, who also leads U.S. European Command.

Dunford discussed the progress Afghan forces are making. Very shortly, Afghan forces will be in the lead and ISAF will be in support.

"That doesn't mean we won't get into a fight alongside them, but it does mean they will have the principal responsibility for security," Dempsey said. "Sometime this summer, [Afghan] President [Hamid] Karzai will announce tranche 5 of the transition and that will be the one that takes the alliance through the end of 2014."

The Military Committee did receive a briefing on where the Afghan Army and police are doing well and where they need work. How good do the Afghan forces need to be is a question the chiefs must ask. The Afghan security forces don't need to be as good as the American military, they just have to possess the necessary skills to protect their people, the chairman said.

"In many places in Afghanistan they are 'good enough' today," Dempsey said. "There are gaps, but we have 18 months to close those gaps."

Earlier this year, the Taliban announced a great summer offensive -- something the Taliban say every year, he said.

"It is still harvest season in Afghanistan and I suspect we've not seen the height of this year's offensive," Dempsey said. "But this year, unlike years past, the offensive will be aimed at the ANSF not us, because, again, the Afghans will be in the lead."

This fact changes and undermines the Taliban's narrative, the general said.

"Their narrative has been they are fighting the western invader," he said. "This year, they will be fighting their own people."

The NATO chiefs were supposed to hear from Pakistani Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. He did not attend because of the elections in his country. Dempsey complimented Pakistan on the elections, which returned Nawaz Sharif as prime minister.

"I give a lot of credit to General Kayani and the Pakistan military for their behavior during the election, Dempsey said.

The chiefs also discussed ways to ensure NATO has the capabilities needed for the future.

"Just as our military is trying to think through how do we rekindle its capabilities across a broad spectrum of activities beyond COIN [counterinsurgency], the alliance is doing the same thing," he said.

Dempsey also attended the May 13 Allied Command – Operations change of command where Breedlove took command from Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis, who is to retire..

Dempsey praised Stavridis for making the alliance more cohesive while still directing operations in Afghanistan, Libya and Kosovo.

The chairman welcomed Breedlove, noting that the Air Force pilot has had a number of tours in Europe and had many, many NATO wingmen.

"That is part of the benefit of our system where we immerse people in this important alliance," Dempsey said.


Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter meets with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul, Afghanistan, May 13, 2013. DOD by Glenn Fawcett

Carter Meets With Karzai, Military Leaders
By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

KABUL, Afghanistan, May 13, 2013 - Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter met today with Afghan President Hamid Karzai at Afghanistan's presidential palace here.

In a statement summarizing the meeting, Defense Department officials said Carter congratulated Karzai on the progress of the Afghan national security forces and expressed his admiration for their performance and professionalism. The progress they've made, he noted, is enabling them to take the lead in security in more 90 percent of the country.

The deputy secretary also reiterated the strong U.S. partnership with Afghanistan and emphasized the continued U.S. commitment to support the Afghan forces into the future.

Carter also continued his assessment of Afghanistan's progress toward nationwide Afghan-led security as he met with senior U.S. officials and visited locations in the International Security Assistance Force's Regional Command East.

Carter met in the morning with State Department, NATO and U.S. military officials, including Army Lt. Gen. Mark A. Milley, commander of the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command and Army Maj. Gen. Tony Thomas, commander of Special Operations Joint Task Force Afghanistan.

Milley joined the deputy secretary as he traveled east of Kabul to Jalalabad Airfield in Nangarhar province and to Forward Operating Base Gamberi in Laghman province. Army Brig. Gen. Ronald F. Lewis, Regional Command East deputy commanding general for support, and other senior leaders from the 101st Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team provided on-the-ground operational and strategic-level reviews of the security transition and retrograde.

Carter thanked service members at both outposts for their efforts, saying that he believes that the transition thus far has been "incredibly successful." He noted that although al-Qaida is not the sole remaining challenge in Afghanistan, in some circles there is a "great desire to narrow our focus, as if by narrowing our focus, we narrow the problem."

While at Gamberi, Carter also received an update on the progress of the Afghan National Army from Maj. Gen. Mohammad Zaman Waziri, commander of the ANA's 201st Corps. The 201st is responsible for the eastern portion of the country, including Kabul.

The deputy secretary is on the third and final leg of a weeklong overseas trip, and his meetings in Afghanistan are intended to underline U.S. support for the ongoing development of the

U.S. Department of Defense Armed with Science Update

U.S. Department of Defense Armed with Science Update



In the week ending May 4, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 323,000, a decrease of 4,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 327,000. The 4-week moving average was 336,750, a decrease of 6,250 from the previous week's revised average of 343,000.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.3 percent for the week ending April 27, unchanged from the prior week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending April 27 was 3,005,000, a decrease of 27,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 3,032,000. The 4-week moving average was 3,034,250, a decrease of 24,500 from the preceding week's revised average of 3,058,750.
The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 298,497 in the week ending May 4, a decrease of 2,638 from the previous week. There were 341,080 initial claims in the comparable week in 2012.

The advance unadjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.3 percent during the week ending April 27, unchanged from the prior week's unrevised rate. The advance unadjusted number for persons claiming UI benefits in state programs totaled 2,962,467, a decrease of 66,039 from the preceding week's revised level of 3,028,506. A year earlier, the rate was 2.5 percent and the volume was 3,210,670.

The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending April 20 was 4,874,526, a decrease of 89,292 from the previous week. There were 6,423,153 persons claiming benefits in all programs in the comparable week in 2012.

Extended Benefits were available only in Alaska during the week ending April 20.

Initial claims for UI benefits filed by former Federal civilian employees totaled 1,364 in the week ending April 27, a decrease of 83 from the prior week. There were 2,159 initial claims filed by newly discharged veterans, an increase of 126 from the preceding week.

There were 18,726 former Federal civilian employees claiming UI benefits for the week ending April 20, an increase of 531 from the previous week. Newly discharged veterans claiming benefits totaled 36,718, a decrease of 435 from the prior week.

States reported 1,763,177 persons claiming EUC (Emergency Unemployment Compensation) benefits for the week ending April 20, a decrease of 14,560 from the prior week. There were 2,688,157 persons claiming EUC in the comparable week in 2012. EUC weekly claims include first, second, third, and fourth tier activity.

The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending April 20 were in Alaska (5.2), Puerto Rico (4.4), Connecticut (3.5), New Jersey (3.4), New Mexico (3.3), Rhode Island (3.3), Wisconsin (3.3), California (3.2), Pennsylvania (3.2), and Illinois (3.1)

The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending April 27 were in Illinois (+1,744), Oregon (+1,244), New Hampshire (+765), Arkansas (+455), and Maine (+379), while the largest decreases were in California (-3,721), Michigan (-2,993), Wisconsin (-2,623), Massachusetts (-2,487), and Florida (-2,062).


U.S. Marines unload weapons and gear after returning from a mounted patrol on Forward Operating Base Shir Ghazay, Helmand province, Afghanistan, May 7, 2013. U.S Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Alejandro Pena

Afghan, Coalition Forces Wound Taliban Leader, Kill Insurgents
From an International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Release

KABUL, Afghanistan, May 15, 2013 - A combined Afghan and coalition security force wounded a Taliban leader and killed two other insurgents in the Qush Tepah district of Afghanistan's Jowzjan province yesterday, military officials reported.

The leader has operational control over a group responsible for attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. He also engages in illegal taxation against Afghan civilians, provides training on improvised explosive device operations to his subordinates, and facilitates the movement of money, weapons and insurgent fighters in the area.

In other Afghanistan operations yesterday:

-- Afghan special forces soldiers, advised by coalition forces, detained eight insurgents and seized and destroyed 200 gallons of homemade explosives and other bomb components in Kandahar province's Panjwai district.

-- In Ghazni province's Andar district, an Afghan local police quick-reaction force responding to attacks on two checkpoints killed an insurgent and wounded another.

-- An Afghan quick-reaction force killed two insurgents while responding to an attack on a local police checkpoint in Ghazni's Gelan district. After the engagement, the security force recovered two asault rifles.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Press Briefing | The White House

Press Briefing | The White House

Department of Defense Press Briefing with Maj. Gen. Thomas from the Pentagon

Department of Defense Press Briefing with Maj. Gen. Thomas from the Pentagon



Remarks at the Arctic Council Ministerial Session
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov
Kiruna City Hall
Kiruna, Sweden
May 15, 2013
(Kiruna Declaration Signing takes place)


And could I then – I think they are ready for the readout, for two or three questions, anyone here on Arctic Council issues. Then I think there is – that’s a microphone over there – and then I think there is a national leader opportunities of these four.

So please, if there is questions.

QUESTION: If I could ask Secretary Kerry and Minister Lavrov, you’ve spent a lot of time in the last few weeks and months working together on a variety of issues from Syria to the Arctic issues that you’ve discussed in the last two days. And yesterday, you had an American official from the Embassy in Moscow who was detained by the Russians and accused of espionage. Is that constructive to the kind of work, collaborative work, that you’re trying to do now? Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: (Off mike.) Testing – one, two, three, four, five. So for all of you who didn’t hear that answer, I have nothing to add with respect to the situation regarding an Embassy official in Moscow.

And I’m grateful to my friend Sergey Lavrov, the Minister of Russia, for a very productive meeting yesterday in which we did the large business of our countries, which was facing first of all the challenge of Syria. We met at length. We both agreed that there is much work to be done. We understand what each of us has to do in the next days. We’re very optimistic that we can get that work done. We’ve both been in touch with the United Nations, with Ban Ki-moon, with other participants. Each of us has agreed to work very hard with respect to the flow of people that we are in touch with, the foreign ministers, the opposition, the Assad regime, others, in order to bring the parties to the table. And I think it’s fair to say that both of us are confident about the direction that we’re moving in and very, very hopeful that within in a short period of time the pieces will have come together fully so that the world, hopefully, will have an opportunity to be given an alternative to the violence and destruction that is taking place in Syria at this moment.

FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: Thank you. I can confirm that we had a very productive meeting yesterday. We did not discuss the incident to which you refer. Everything we should have to say – we, the Russian side – on that particular incident was stated yesterday by the spokesman of the Russian Foreign Ministry. I have nothing to add.

As to the substance of our cooperative meeting yesterday, I would share the assessments just presented by John. We have a very clear initiative on the table. The Russian-American proposal to convene a conference to start implementing the Geneva communique of June last year – it’s self explanatory and what we need now is to mobilize support for this initiative on the basis of what was, I believe, in Geneva and what was proposed by Washington and Moscow – to mobilize support first of all by all the Syrian groups, the regime and all opposition groups; and second by those outside actors who have influence on either one or the other Syrian group.

That’s what we discussed. That’s what we will be doing in our conference with all outside players and with the Syrian, but especially in the expectation of the two events, which the opposition is holding one, a meeting by National Coalition in Istanbul. And about the same time there is – there will be a meeting in (inaudible) convened by the internal opposition, in particular by the National Coordinating Committee. It is very important that the participants of both meetings express their clear support for the Russian-American initiative to start implementing the Geneva communique. Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: If I could just add, I want to emphasize the degree to which we both believe Russia and the United States share a belief that is extremely constructive and positive that we are working together cooperatively in an effort to try to implement a peaceful resolution based on Geneva I, which recognizes the need for a transition government with full executive authority by mutual consent. That’s what we’re working towards, and I don't think it’s insignificant that at this moment in time we are finding this common ground and working closer together.

FOREIGN MINISTER BILDT: Next question over there.

QUESTION: Hello. Yelena Chernenko, Kommerserant Daily Newspaper. As far as I understand, your ministers, all of the requests from the countries to become observer members have been accepted today. The question is, does such a high number of observers not make the Arctic Council less effective and is there a limit of how many observers in the future there might be in the Council, or it can it grow forever, the number of observers? Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER BILDT: That’s why we have also adopted (inaudible) the about the recent procedure earlier with some procedures, so there’s a very clear what observers are and what observers aren’t. That’s been the very purpose of that work that’s been done.

As to your question, I would say it demonstrates the broad international acceptance of the role of the Arctic Council, because by being observer, these organizations and states, they accept the principles and the sovereignty of the Arctic Council on Arctic issues. So I think it – as a matter of fact, it strengthens the position of the Arctic Council on the global scene. That is why this is, that we hope that the remaining issues that are indicated concerning (inaudible) is that that will be sorted out fairly quickly, and I trust that will be the case.

One there before we --

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, what will be your priority when it comes to Arctic issues in the future?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, I think it’s premature for me, prior to assuming the chairmanship, with my Canadian friend standing to the left of me, to start laying out the agenda. But as I said in my statement, the Arctic is a precious treasure for all of the world. And the United States recognizes that we are one of the two major contributors to global emissions. More than 50 percent of the world’s emissions come from two countries, China and the United States. And then there are 17 to 20 major emitters, as we know, some of whom are standing here and others are not, who are responsible for well over 90 percent. So you have small nations who are hugely impacted by the long-time development practices of other nations.

President Obama has twice now this year at significant events embraced the importance of dealing with climate change, once in his Inaugural Address, and second time in his State of the Union message. And we are looking at every single option available to us to act responsibly. But no one nation can solve this. The United States of America today is below Kyoto levels in emissions. People don’t know that. The United States today is actually below the Waxman-Markey legislation mandates that didn’t pass. So we’re doing things – automobile efficiency, standards, efficiencies, building codes, fleet purchase, all kinds of things, but not enough. No one is doing enough.

The problem is that everything that we do or everything one other nation does is going to be wiped out by China or another nation if they continue with coal firepower at the rate that we are proceeding. So the warning signals are all there, and I can assure that when our chairmanship time comes around we will pick up on Leona’s appropriate concern for indigenous populations and we will build on that with respect to the needs for all of us to do things that recognize the global impact on the ecosystem of what is happening in the Arctic.

FOREIGN MINISTER BILDT: Thanks and just two final remarks from my side. First that I do wish, on the issue that was mentioned earlier, that spirit of cooperation, of true Arctic cooperation of these few days, will continue to inspire U.S. to leading members of the UN Security Council when you proceed on your – on the enormously important issue of Syria.

Secondly, let me just on behalf of all us thank the city of Kiruna for having the your neighbors occupy this beautiful city hall and thank also the people of Kiruna and for your understanding that we might have messed up your town for a couple of days, but I hope that you accept that we’ve come here for not only one but for a couple of valuable purposes. Thanks very much. (Applause.)