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Saturday, June 8, 2013

F-16'S MAY REMAIN IN JORDAN DUE TO CONCERNS OVER SYRIA

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

Patriots, F-16s May Remain in Jordan After Eager Lion Exercise
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service


WASHINGTON, June 5, 2013 - The United States could leave Patriot anti-missile batteries and F-16 fighter jets in Jordan following the end of Exercise Eager Lion, a Pentagon spokesman said here today.

Jordan has requested the batteries, but Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has not yet reviewed it, Army Col. Steve Warren told reporters. Hagel is returning from NATO meetings in Brussels today.

"When the secretary receives the request, he will favorably consider it," Warren said. "Jordan is a strong partner with us. We have a longstanding and strong relationship with the Jordanians, and we want to do what we can to support their security requirements."

The fighting in neighboring Syria has raised concerns in Jordan. The Patriot batteries and F-16s are going to Jordan to take part in Eager Lion – an annual exercise that this year encompasses 19 nations and about 8,000 service members. It is scheduled to start June 9 and to run through June 20.

About 200 U.S. soldiers of the 1st Armored Division based at Fort Bliss, Texas, deployed to Jordan in April to provide a nucleus of command and control capabilities if the fighting in Syria spills over into Jordan. About 120,000 Syrians have fled to Jordan to escape the country's civil war.

Weekly Address: Time to Pass Commonsense Immigration Reform | The White House

Weekly Address: Time to Pass Commonsense Immigration Reform | The White House

U.S. NAVY AND THAI MARINES/NAVY PARTICIPATE IN CARAT THAILAND

FROM: U.S. NAVY

130608-N-RG360-164 NAKHORNNAYOK RIVER, Thailand (June 8, 2013) U.S. Navy Sailors assigned to Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Training, Security Forces Assistance Detachment, observe Royal Thai Marines and Royal Thai Navy sailors during an insertion and extraction exercise as part of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Thailand 2013. More than 1,200 Sailors and Marines are participating in CARAT Thailand. CARAT is a series of bilateral military exercises between the U.S. Navy and the armed forces of Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Timor Leste. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Melissa K. Russell/Released)

130608-N-RG360-136 NAKHORNNAYOK RIVER, Thailand (June 8, 2013) U.S. Navy Sailors assigned to Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Training, Security Forces Assistance Detachment, ride in rivierine boats with Royal Thai Marines and Royal Thai Navy sailors during Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise Thailand 2013. More than 1,200 Sailors and Marines are participating in CARAT Thailand. CARAT is a series of bilateral military exercises between the U.S. Navy and the armed forces of Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Timor Leste. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Melissa K. Russell/Released)

EPA APPROVES PLAN REGARDING SEWER OVERFLOWS IN CINCINNATI AREA

FROM: U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
EPA Approves Plan to Control Sewer Overflows in Cincinnati Area


Will Reduce Releases of Sewage and Polluted Stormwater by More Than 1.5 Billion Gallons Each Year

WASHINGTON
– The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the approval of an innovative plan for the control of combined sewer overflows (CSOs) in the city of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Ohio.

"This plan is good news for the residents of Cincinnati and for communities along the Ohio River," said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "Not only will this innovative plan ensure that significant volumes of polluted stormwater and raw sewage are kept out of local waterways, but it will also cost less than more traditional approaches, saving money for ratepayers and the city."

The plan establishes priorities to address communities’ most serious water quality problems and promotes cost-effective, innovative solutions to reduce pollution. Specific components include separating sewers to keep rainwater out of the combined sewer system and use of green infrastructure to manage rainwater diverted from the combined system.

Under a 2010 consent decree and CSO control plan, the Metropolitan Sewerage District of Greater Cincinnati (MSDGC) was required either to construct a deep tunnel system under Mill Creek to alleviate CSOs in many neighborhoods in the city, or conduct further analyses and propose an alternative plan. MSDGC proposed the alternative plan to EPA in December 2012. The alternate plan is expected to save more than $150 million (in 2006 dollars) from the original deep-tunnel plan.

The plan will also create a green corridor that will convey stormwater runoff to Mill Creek in the Fairmont neighborhood of Cincinnati. The corridor will also include a floodway that will help prevent flooding of local streets, homes and businesses during extreme rain events. The green corridor and constructed channel will be an amenity for the neighborhood and may contribute to neighborhood stabilization and economic revitalization in addition to helping to resolve overflow issues.

Combined sewer systems, which collect both sewage and rainwater, become overwhelmed during rain events, allowing untreated sewage mixed with rainwater to be discharged into local water bodies and the Ohio River. Keeping the rainwater out of the combined system helps open up capacity in the combined sewer systems and helps to reduce overflows.

Raw sewage contains pathogens that threaten public health, leading to beach closures and public advisories against fishing and swimming. This problem particularly affects older urban areas, where minority and low-income communities are often concentrated. This settlement also highlights the benefit of using integrated planning approaches and green infrastructure to facilitate sustainable, innovative, and cost-effective solutions to protect human health and improve water quality.

Today’s announcement is the latest in a series of Clean Water Act settlements and CSO control plans that will reduce the discharge of raw sewage and contaminated stormwater into U.S. rivers, streams and lakes. It is part of EPA’s national enforcement initiative to keep raw sewage and contaminated stormwater out of the nation’s waterways.
The state of Ohio and the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission were also parties to the 2010 consent decree.


U.S. Department of Defense Armed with Science Update

U.S. Department of Defense Armed with Science Update

AF SAYS F-35 LIGHTNING II WILL HAVE INITIAL OPERATIONAL CAPABILITY IN DECEMBER 2016

FROM: U.S. AIR FORCE

Air Force establishes F-35 IOC target

5/31/2013 - WASHINGTON, D.C. (AFNS) -- The Air Force announced today it expects to declare F-35A Lightning II initial operation capability in December 2016. The announcement was included in a joint report detailing service-specific IOC requirements and dates for each of the F-35 variants that was delivered to Congress today.

"The Air Force has spent the last six months looking at our initial capability requirements and the expected availability date. This announcement is exciting news for the Air Force," said Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley. "It highlights to members of Congress, our international partners, and the American public that the program is on track to bring the United States military and our allies this critical capability."

Congress directed the secretary of the Air Force and secretary of the Navy to provide a report that details the IOC dates, requirements and capabilities for each of the F-35 variants by June 1.

The Air Force will achieve IOC when the first operational squadron has 12 or more aircraft and Airmen are trained and equipped to conduct basic close air support, interdiction, and limited suppression and destruction of enemy air defense operations in a contested environment.

"The F-35 is a vital capability that the nation needs to stay ahead of adversary technological gains, and it provides the multi-role capabilities that the anti-access and area denial environment of the future will require," said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III. "We're excited that this program is on the road to success, and we're grateful that our international partners remain as committed to this program as we are."

The F-35 is an unprecedented 5th generation fighter combining stealth technology with fighter speed and agility, fully integrated sensors and network enabled operations, and state-of-the-art avionics.

The world's most advanced fighter has achieved a string of milestones recently as it moves toward IOC. A few of these include the beginning of pilot training at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., in January; the delivery of the first operational test aircraft to Edwards AFB, Calif., and Nellis AFB, Nev., in March; the first operational pilot aerial refueling in April; and the completion of high angle of attack testing in May.


 

WHY ARE DISEASES NASTY TO THEIR HOSTS?


House Finch.  Credit:  Wikimedia.
FROM: NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION
Evolution in the Blink of an Eye

A disease in songbirds has rapidly evolved to become more harmful to its host at least twice in two decades, scientists report.

The research offers a model to help understand how diseases that threaten humans may change in virulence as they become more prevalent in a host population.

"Everybody who's had the flu has probably wondered at some point: 'Why do I feel so bad?'" said Dana Hawley of Virginia Polytechnic Institute, lead author of a paper on the results published today in the journal PLOS Biology.

"That's what we're studying: Why do pathogens cause harm to the hosts they depend upon? And, why are some life-threatening, while others only give you the sniffles?"

Disease virulence is something of a paradox.

"The jumping of a pathogen to a new host, such as bird flu jumping to humans, is just the first step of disease emergence," said Sam Scheiner, National Science Foundation (NSF) program director for the joint NSF‒National Institutes of Health Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases Program, which funded the research.

"The subsequent evolution of that pathogen in its new host can be critical to determining further [pathogen] spread," Scheiner said.

"This study is the first to confirm predictions that pathogens may evolve to become more deadly. The results are important for planning responses to events such as the bird flu outbreak in China."

To spread, viruses and bacteria must reproduce in great numbers. But as their numbers increase inside a host's body, the host gets more and more ill.

So a highly virulent disease runs the risk of killing or debilitating its hosts before the hosts can transmit the bug along. But sometimes pathogens find the right balance through evolution. The new study shows that can happen in just a few years.

Hawley and co-authors studied house finch eye disease, a form of conjunctivitis, or pinkeye, caused by the bacteria Mycoplasma gallisepticum.

It first appeared around Washington, D.C., in the 1990s. The house finch is native to the Southwest but has spread to towns and backyards across North America.

The bacteria are not harmful to humans, which makes them a good model for studying the evolution of dangerous diseases such as SARS, Ebola and avian flu.

"There's an expectation that a very virulent disease will become milder over time, to improve its ability to spread," said André Dhondt, director of bird population studies at Cornell University. "Otherwise, it just kills the host and that's the end of it for the organism.

"House finch eye disease gave us an opportunity to test this--and we were surprised to see it actually become worse rather than milder."

The researchers used frozen bacterial samples taken from sick birds in California and along the Eastern Seaboard on five dates between 1994 and 2010, as the pathogen was evolving and spreading.

The samples came from an archive maintained by co-author David Ley of North Carolina State University, who first isolated and identified the causative organism.

The team experimentally infected wild-caught, house finches, then measured how sick the birds got with each sample. The researchers kept the birds in cages as they fell ill then recovered (none of the birds died from the disease).

Contrary to expectations, the biologists found that in both regions--California and the Eastern Seaboard--the disease had evolved to become more virulent over time.

Birds exposed to later disease strains developed more swollen eyes that took longer to heal.

A less-virulent strain spread westward across the continent. Once established in California, however, the bacteria again began evolving higher virulence.

In evolutionary terms, some strains of the bacteria were better adapted to spreading across the continent, while others were more suited to becoming established in a more localized area.

"For the disease to disperse westward, a sick bird has to fly farther, and survive for longer, to pass on the infection," Hawley said. "That will select for strains that make the birds less ill.

"But when it gets established in a new location, there are lots of other potential hosts, especially around bird feeders. It can evolve toward a nastier illness because it's getting transmitted more quickly."

House finch eye disease was first observed in 1994 when birdwatchers reported birds with weepy, inflamed eyes as part of Project Feederwatch at Cornell University.

Though the disease does not kill birds directly, it weakens them and makes them easy targets for predators.

The disease quickly spread south along the East Coast, then north and west across the Great Plains and down the West Coast. By 1998 the house finch population in the eastern United States had dropped by half--a loss of an estimated 40 million birds.

Birdwatchers can do their part to help house finches and other backyard birds by washing their feeders in a 10 percent bleach solution twice a month.

Along with Hawley, Dhondt and Ley, the paper's authors include Erik Osnas and Andrew Dobson of Princeton University, and Wesley Hochachka of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

-NSF-

Friday, June 7, 2013

U.S. State Department Daily Press Briefing - June 7, 2013

Daily Press Briefing - June 7, 2013

FIRST FEMALE CHIEF SCIENTIST APPOINTED BY AIR FORCE

 
The Air Force appointed Dr. Mica Endsley as its first woman chief scientist to lead the way in the technology and science fields. U.S. Air Force photo



FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Face of Defense: Woman Becomes Air Force's Chief Scientist
By Senior Airman Carlin Leslie
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs
WASHINGTON, June 6, 2013 - The Air Force has appointed the service's first female chief scientist to lead the way in the technology and science fields.

Dr. Mica Endsley assumed her new duties and responsibilities as the Air Force's 34th chief scientist June 3 in support of Air Force senior leaders and airmen across the service.

"Having served on the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board for many years, I've had the pleasure of working closely with the current and several former Air Force chief scientists," Endsley said. "I know this is a tremendous opportunity to help the Air Force excel in its goal of maintaining the critical technological edge that gives our airmen a strategic advantage."

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III emphasized the important role Endsley will play in continuing the Air Force's legacy of innovation.

"I'm pleased to have Dr. Endsley as a part of the Air Force team," Welsh said. "She follows in the footsteps of many superb minds that have advanced our technological edge and provided much-needed capabilities to our airmen. Although she arrives at a very challenging time, I'm confident she'll continue a proud legacy of chief scientists who use innovation and strong leadership to keep our Air Force the world's finest."

Successfully maintaining that technological edge Welsh mentioned is a key job, Endsley said, and she plans to use every available resource to effectively and cost efficiently get the job done in support of airmen.

"This involves working with the top scientists and engineers within the Air Force as well as in academia, industry and the other armed services," she said, noting this will "ensure that the Air Force's research and development efforts are being directed at the right problems."

Endsley said she plans to ensure the Air Force continues to develop technologies and systems that will truly support airmen and their missions.

"I know that in many cases, we can dramatically improve our mission effectiveness by using the science of human performance to design technology," she said.

This, she added, will "better support the way people work."

As Endsley takes the helm of an office that has made large strides over recent years, she's motivated to push the envelope even further.

"My goal will be to continue with these efforts, making sure that we are implementing their recommendations and achieving the needed milestones in our science and technology portfolio," she said. "To stay competitive in the future, we need to make sure that Air Force systems keep up with this rapid pace of change, particularly in computers, cyber and all across the information spectrum."

Endsley feels that along with the growth of the organization, she has a duty as the first female chief scientist to reach out to the younger generation, speaking on the advantages of a career in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields.

"I want to share with the young women I speak to, the many advantages of a science, technology, engineering and math career," she said, and that it will "make many more interested if they knew how very creative and team-oriented engineering work is and how satisfying it is to be able to solve real problems that affect people's lives."

Endsley said she is excited to begin looking across the Air Force, ensuring the needs of airmen are understood and met. At that point she can help bring technology to bear in the right ways to solve the problems they face.

"I deeply respect the challenges and sacrifices that all of our airmen, at every level, make daily in service to our nation," she said. "To be asked to join them and do what I can to support them was simply an opportunity I could not pass up."

BOSNIAN NATIONAL EXTRADITED TO STAND TRIAL IN BOSNIA

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Monday, June 3, 2013
Bosnian National Extradited to Stand Trial for Murder and Torture

The United States has extradited Sulejman Mujagic, a citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina and a resident of Utica, N.Y., to stand trial in Bosnia for charges relating to the torture and murder of one prisoner of war and the torture of another during the armed conflict in Bosnia.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Richard S. Hartunian of the Northern District of New York and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton made the announcement.

"This extradition is the result of close cooperation between the U.S. and Bosnian authorities to bring alleged perpetrators of war crimes and torture in Bosnia to justice," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Raman.

"Through the coordinated efforts of many law enforcement agencies and prosecutors, Sulejman Mujagic will stand trial in a Bosnian court for the alleged murder of an unarmed soldier and the torture of a second soldier," said U.S. Attorney Hartunian. "This case is a reflection of our steadfast commitment to support the rights of crime victims – wherever they are."

"For the families who lost loved ones during the Bosnian war, justice has been a long time coming, but they can take some comfort in knowing that those responsible for this tragedy are now being held accountable for their crimes," said ICE Director Morton. "I applaud the outstanding work by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents in upstate New York, ICE’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center, and our partners at the Department of Justice and Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities. Thanks to their efforts, Sulejman Mujagic will now face justice for his actions. We will continue to work tirelessly to ensure our country does not serve as a safe haven for human rights violators and others who have committed heinous acts."

Mujagic is being extradited to Bosnia to be tried for war crimes committed on or about March 6, 1995, during the armed conflict that followed the breakup of the former Yugoslavia. Bosnia has alleged that Mujagic, then a platoon commander in the Army of the Autonomous Province of Western Bosnia, summarily tortured and executed a disarmed Bosnian Army soldier and tortured a second soldier after the two prisoners had been captured by Mujagic and his men.

In response to the Bosnian government’s request for extradition pursuant to the extradition treaty currently in force between the United States and Bosnia, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a complaint in U.S. federal district court on Nov. 27, 2012, and HSI special agents arrested Mujagic the next day in Utica for purposes of extradition.

On April 2, 2013, the federal district court in the Northern District of New York ruled that Mujagic was subject to extradition to Bosnia to stand trial for the murder and torture of the two unarmed victims. On May 31, 2013, Mujagic was delivered to Bosnian authorities and removed from the United States. The Office of the Cantonal Prosecutor of the Una-Sana Canton in Bihac is handling Mujagic’s prosecution in Bosnia.

Mujagic entered the United States in July 1997 and obtained status as a lawful permanent resident in March 2001. Mujagic does not retain U.S. citizenship.

This case was investigated by HSI Buffalo, with assistance from the ICE Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center and INTERPOL Washington. The case was handled by Trial Attorneys Ivana Nizich and Jay Bauer of the Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Carla Freedman of the Northern District of New York. The extradition was handled collaboratively with Criminal Division Trial Attorneys Ken Harris, Marcus Busch and Terry Schubert of the Office of International Affairs.

The case was a result of the close cooperation between the U.S. and Bosnian authorities, particularly the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Office of the Public Prosecutor of the Una-Sana Canton in Bihac, Bosnia.

West Wing Week: 06/07/13 or “Cooler at Night" | The White House

West Wing Week: 06/07/13 or “Cooler at Night" | The White House

Tien jaar Mars Express: onthulling mineralen-atlas Mars

Tien jaar Mars Express: onthulling mineralen-atlas Mars

AIR FORCE CHIEF SCEINTIST FINISHED HIS LAST DAY AT THE PENTAGON

FROM: U.S. AIR FORCE
AF science guru appointment closes out
by Staff Sgt. David Salanitri
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

5/31/2013 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The Air Force's chief scientist  spent his last day on the job May 31 after more than two and half years in the Pentagon.

Dr. Mark Maybury's time with the service is heavily marked by major strides in the science and technology.

Three of those major changes include studies that created roadmaps for energy, cyberspace and research and development.

All three define how the service can harness science and technology to its advantage.
His first research focused on energy. Why energy? The first sentence of the document entitled, "Energy Horizons" puts the bottom line up front.

"Energy is a center of gravity in war and assured energy advantage can enable victory," it reads.

The 72-page plan aims to increase energy supplies, reduce demand and change the culture to meet mission requirements.

His second study, Cyber Vision 2025, outlines the Air Force's vision for the science and technology, acquisition and operations needed to provide the assured cyberspace advantage to the Air Force, combatant commanders and interagency partners.

"It is cyberspace (science and technology) that can provide the assurance, reliance, affordability and empowerment to mitigate and defeat these risks," Maybury said. "However, this requires integration across authorities and domains, shaping of doctrine, policy, people and processes and intelligent partnering."

Finally, his third study, titled "Global Horizons", identifies threats and opportunities in the near, mid and far term through 2030. It identifies how to best leverage the $1.4 billion in global research to achieve revolutionary Air Force advancements.

"These three strategic studies should have long-term impact," said Maybury, who is slated to work in the nonprofit sector. "Already we have seen the Air Force benefit from the insights our Air Force team. It also has helped us focus our investments of what is most critical."

One of the accomplishments that stand out to him is linking the Air Force with other agencies as well as internationally.

When it comes to building those relationships, Maybury said "you only have a limited time."

With his days as the Air Force chief scientist closing fast, Maybury encourages the upcoming generation of students to explore the technology and cyber realm.

"I especially want to encourage parents and students to seek to excel both in science, technology, mathematics and engineering but also in the arts," he said. "STEM is the foundation of our productivity, economic competitiveness and military strength. Moreover, it's a doorway into an exciting and limitless career."

As Maybury makes his way out of the Air Force, his motivation to do great things is abundant.

"I'd like to say to any kids or parents listening out there, that I was just a little boy from a small town, Chelmsford, Mass." he said. "You can do anything if you work hard, excel in school and learn from (others)."

Those who worked with Maybury describe him as energetic with a "type A" personality who gets things done, and while he'll no longer be the service's top scientist, he isn't going far, as he's been nominated to serve another four years on the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board.


 

UNDERSTANDING NATURES BIODIVERSITY: ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY

Marbled Salamander.  Credit:  NSF/Wikimedia Commons
FROM: NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

Understanding Biodiversity Patterns in Nature: It Takes Two Fields--Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
What do marbled and spotted salamanders in ponds in eastern North America have to teach us about biodiversity patterns elsewhere on Earth?

Plenty, if research conducted by biologist Mark Urban of the University of Connecticut is any guide.

In a paper published today in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Urban reports results that may fundamentally change how scientists view the importance of evolution in ecological research.

"This project looked closely at the separate and interactive contributions of genetic and environmental factors in shaping pond food webs," says Alan Tessier, program director in the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s Division of Environmental Biology, which funded the research.

"The results add to a growing understanding of the importance of genetic variation within species, and of eco-evolutionary processes in explaining patterns of biodiversity."

The findings show that the evolutionary divergence of populations is as important as biodiversity patterns based on ecological features, such as the presence of a top predator.

In this study, the subjects were the marbled salamander, an apex, or, top predator, in temporary ponds; the spotted salamander; and their shared zooplankton prey.

The marbled salamander breeds in the autumn. Its larvae grow under the ice of ephemeral ponds during winter.

As a result, marbled salamander larvae eat zooplankton all winter--and grow large enough to eat the spotted salamander larvae that hatch in these same ponds in late spring.

But Urban discovered that spotted salamanders sharing space with marbled salamanders have evolved so that they're born with voracious appetites.

Their increased foraging makes sense, he says, given that these salamanders live in ponds largely depleted of zooplankton prey, due to the presence of marbled salamanders.

The smaller salamanders need to grow quickly to reach a size at which marbled salamanders can't easily capture them.

"The evidence suggests that the repeated evolution of high foraging rates in spotted salamanders is an adaptive response to marbled salamander predation," says Urban.

Knowing how apex predators such as marbled salamanders structure biological communities, he says, requires that scientists understand their direct ecological effects as predators, and their indirect effects via the natural selection they impose.

"Finding that adaptive evolution may disguise strong ecological effects means that a range of ecological predictions are likely to be unreliable if we ignore how evolution affects biological communities."

Urban refers to this as "the invisible finger of evolution" which, he says, may tip the scales toward or away from ecological influences.

"That the effect of an apex predator can be so strong that it causes evolutionary responses in other species," he says, "shows that ecology and evolution are inexorably intertwined."

-NSF-

Thursday, June 6, 2013

U.S. Department Of State Daily Press Briefing - June 6, 2013

Daily Press Briefing - June 6, 2013

ISAF NEWS FROM AFGHANISTAN FOR JUNE 6, 2013

 
As seen through a night-vision device, U.S. Marine Sgt. Ryan Burks points at an objective during a mission rehearsal on Camp Bastion in Helmand province, Afghanistan, May 27, 2013. Burks, a squad leader, is assigned to Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 7. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Kowshon Ye

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Combined Force Arrests Haqqani Leader
From an International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Release

KABUL, Afghanistan, June 6, 2013 - An Afghan and coalition security force arrested a Haqqani leader and three other insurgents during an operation in the Matun district of Afghanistan's Khost province today, military officials reported.

At the time of his arrest, the Haqqani leader and his associates were planning to conduct a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device attack in Khost province, officials said.

The security force also seized one AK-47 rifle, one pistol, magazines and some ammunition as a result of the operation, officials said.

In other Afghanistan operations today:

-- A combined force killed two extremists during a search for a senior Taliban leader in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province. The sought-after insurgent leader is the ranking Taliban official in the Nahr-e Saraj district. He has been a significant figure in the local Taliban network for years, and has control of a group of more than 200 insurgents responsible for a significant number of attacks involving small arms, rocket-propelled grenades, IEDs and suicide bombers against Afghan and coalition forces. He also runs an unlawful court system in Nahr-e Saraj that illegally punishes Afghan civilians for running afoul of the Taliban.

-- A combined force arrested a Haqqani leader in the Sayyid Karam district of Paktiya province. The leader maintains operational control over a group of extremists responsible for attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. He also serves as a financier for local extremist groups, oversees IED operations in the region, and performs intelligence and reconnaissance operations.

In operations yesterday:

-- A combined force killed two extremists during a search for a Taliban leader in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province. The sought-after Taliban leader is responsible for directing IED, indirect-fire and direct-fire attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. He also interfaces with senior Taliban leaders, trains subordinate fighters on IED operations, and facilitates the movement of weapons and military equipment in the local area.

-- Afghan National Army Special Forces Commandos of 1st Company, 4th Special Operations Kandak, and coalition forces recovered and destroyed 998 pounds of ammonium nitrate and detained an insurgent on the border of Farah and Nimruz provinces.

-- Members of the 8th Special Operations Kandak, Afghan Local Police, Afghan Uniformed Police, and coalition forces killed two insurgents and neutralized six IEDs in the Mya Neshin district of Kandahar province. The joint forces conducted the clearing operation in Seyed Usan village with a multi-purpose canine, who discovered all six IEDs.

Press Gaggle by Deputy Principal Press Secretary Josh Earnest and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan en route Mooresville, NC, 6/6/2013 | The White House

Press Gaggle by Deputy Principal Press Secretary Josh Earnest and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan en route Mooresville, NC, 6/6/2013 | The White House

EXPORT-IMPORT BANK REPORTS RECORD SUPPORT FOR SATELLITE INDUSTRY

FROM: U.S. EXPORT-IMPORT BANK
Ex-Im Bank Adds to Record-Level Support for American Satellite Industry, Authorizes $343.3 Million Loan Financing AsiaSat’s Purchase of Communications Satellites and Launch Services

Latest Ex-Im Satellite Authorization Supports an Estimated 2,400 U.S. Jobs


Washington, D.C. – The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) has authorized a $343.3 million direct loan to Asia Satellite Telecommunications Co. Ltd. (AsiaSat) to finance the purchase of two communications satellites designed and built by Space Systems/Loral LLC (SSL) in Palo Alto, Calif.

AsiaSat 6, a C-band satellite, and AsiaSat 8, a mixed Ku/Ka-band satellite, are being manufactured by SSL under a contract that was announced in November 2011. The launches are planned for the first half of 2014.

Ex-Im Bank’s financing also will support launch services supplied by Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) in Hawthorne, Calif., and launch insurance from Marsh USA Inc. in New York, N.Y.

Ex-Im’s satellite financing is its fastest-growing portfolio. In Fiscal Year 2013 to date, the Bank has authorized $891 million in support of U.S. satellites and related services. Ex-Im Bank has financed approximately 60 percent of U.S. commercial satellite sales in the last three years.

"The satellite industry is the quintessential 21st-century business. Worldwide demand for satellite-based telecommunications is expanding, and with Ex-Im’s support, more and more of these satellites are made in America. Ex-Im Bank’s financing of these SSL communications satellites and SpaceX launch services is further expanding the global reach of U.S. satellite companies and helping to sustain thousands of jobs in California and New York," said Ex-Im Bank Chairman and President Fred P. Hochberg.

The export sale is supporting approximately 2,400 U.S. jobs, according to an Ex-Im Bank estimate derived from U.S. Departments of Commerce and Labor data and methodology.

"More than half of the communications satellites built at SSL in Palo Alto are manufactured for export," said SSL President John Celli. "We appreciate Ex-Im Bank’s support of U.S.-manufacturers and the space industry. The satellites that we are providing to AsiaSat help create jobs and keep hundreds of highly skilled engineers, technicians and managers employed."

AsiaSat is a satellite operator headquartered in Hong Kong that was established in 1988 and currently has a fleet of four satellites that provide transponder capacity for services in more than 50 countries across the Asia-Pacific region, covering over two-thirds of the world’s population. AsiaSat provides telecommunications operators and end-users with services that include voice networks, private very small-aperture terminal (VSAT) networks and broadband multimedia services. The company also serves more than 150 public and private television and radio broadcasters worldwide that offer in excess of 450 television and radio channels.

SSL is a satellite and space-systems manufacturer that currently has more satellite capacity on orbit than any other manufacturer. Beginning with the world’s first active-repeater communications satellite launched in 1960, SSL has manufactured more than 250 satellites. The company has 2,800 employees at its manufacturing facility in Palo Alto, Calif.

SpaceX designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft. The company was founded in 2002 to advance space transportation and today provides services with its family of Falcon launch vehicles and Dragon spacecraft, which have delivered cargo to and from the International Space Station. The company has more than 3,000 employees in California, Texas, Washington, D.C., and Florida.


RECENT U.S. NAVY PHOTOS




FROM: U.S. NAVY
Chief petty officers man the rails aboard the amphibious command ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) as the ship departs Lisbon, Portugal, at the conclusion of a four-day port visit. Mount Whitney, homeported in Gaeta, Italy, is the U.S. 6th Fleet flagship and operates with a combined crew of U.S. Sailors and Military Sealift Command civil service mariners. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Collin Turner (Released) 130530-N-PE825-068




A landing craft air cushion (LCAC) enters the well deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3). Kearsarge is the flagship for the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group and, with the embarked 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, is deployed supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Corbin J. Shea (Released) 130530-N-SB587-098

U.S. OFFICIAL SAYS FURLOUGH DECISIONS DIFFICULT

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

Furlough Decision 'Arduous,' Official Says
By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service


WASHINGTON, May 31, 2013 - The Defense Department continues to look at ways to reduce or avoid furloughs, the acting undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness said today, but she added that "right now, unfortunately, the department will furlough civilian employees for up to 11 days."

"The decision to furlough the civilian employees was a very hard, arduous decision," Jessica L. Wright said, but it was based on preserving the readiness of the force.

"About 85 percent of our [civilian] force will be furloughed," Wright said, including teachers at Department of Defense Education Activity schools.

But preserving the integrity of the academic year was the central concern for the department, she added. Teachers will be furloughed for five days at the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year, she explained, but it is up to each superintendent to decide what days will be furlough days. Schools will be closed to students on those days, she said, and extracurricular activities scheduled for a furlough day will not be held that day.

"But, it's important to note that our summer school will be held this year, and that children will get a good academic year," Wright added.

The department has about 767,000 appropriated fund employees, said Navy Cmdr. Leslie Hull-Ryde, a Pentagon spokeswoman. About 652,000 are scheduled to be furloughed, she said, but that total will change as employees respond to furlough notices and final determinations are made. Appropriated fund employees include those employees who are not appointed by Congress or the president and who are paid by funds designated by Congress.

According to the Defense Civilian Personnel Advisory Service website, nonappropriated fund employees may be furloughed for business-based reasons "if the reduction in appropriated fund resources leads to a curtailment in [morale, welfare and recreation] or exchange business operations. ... Furloughs of NAF employees are processed under DOD NAF human resources policies and component procedures."

Furlough notices starting going out to appropriated fund employees May 28, Wright said.

"They will either be hand-delivered," she said, "because the employee must sign that they've received the furlough notice, or, if the employee is on leave, it could be sent [via] certified mail."

Civilians excepted from furloughs generally fall into specific categories, Wright said. Examples include civilians working in combat zones, personnel with safety-of-life responsibilities, wounded warrior caregivers and full-time sexual assault prevention and response coordinators and sexual assault victim advocates for the active and reserve components.

Employees who receive a furlough notice will have seven days to respond if they believe their duties fall into one of the excepted categories, Hull-Ryde said. Otherwise, furloughs will start no later than July 8. The furlough days will be spread over the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

Wright said she urges employees with furlough questions to reach out to their human resources department and to read the detailed guidance about furloughs on the Office of Professional Management's website.

The websites for the Labor Department and OPM can assist employees with questions about eligibility for unemployment compensation, Wright said. Those eligibility requirements differ from state to state, Hull-Ryde noted.

Not all states will be affected equally, Wright said. "The majority of our workers work outside the Washington, D.C., area," she noted.

More than 80 percent of the federal workforce is based outside the national capital region, Wright said. According to Defense Department figures, in the five states with the most federal employees -- California, Georgia, Maryland, Texas and Virginia -- workers will lose $819 million in wages due to furloughs.

Every employee's situation is unique, Wright said, but the bottom line is this decision was made to preserve readiness of the military force as a whole.

"Readiness is not a service-specific thing," she said, "It's a joint, departmental thing. "We made a very collective decision to be collective on this furlough -- that we would furlough the department as a whole."

Senior defense officials have stated that the effects of sequestration will be long-lasting. Uncertainty over whether sequestration will continue has made it difficult to know whether furloughs will continue into fiscal year 2014, Wright said.

"I think that next year is going to be a difficult year," she said. "We are in the process -- the department as a whole -- of working through some of the options for next year's budget. ... If sequestration is in effect, it will be very difficult, but we have not made a decision."

Pentagon officials will do "everything in our power" not to have to furlough employees, she added.

BOUYS RELEASED TO INCREASE ACCURACY OF WEATHER FORCASTS


130528-N-HA376-137 PACIFIC OCEAN (May 28, 2013) Lt. j.g. Jeffrey Grabon launches a global drifter buoy into the Pacific Ocean from the amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) while underway for Pacific Partnership 2013. The buoy, belonging to the UCSD Scripps Institution of Oceanography, is used to measure ocean currents up to 15 meters in depth, sea surface temperatures, and atmospheric pressure. Pacific Partnership is the largest disaster response-preparation mission in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Lowell Whitman/Released)

FROM: U.S. NAVY
Global Drifter Buoys Released in Pacific Ocean
By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Samantha J. Webb

PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) -- Sailors from the office of Naval Meteorology and Oceanography released ten global drifter buoys belonging to the University of California, San Diego Scripps Institution of Oceanography from the amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52), May 28, during Pacific Partnership 2013.

The buoys measure ocean currents up to 15 meters in depth, sea surface temperatures and atmospheric pressure. All are important elements in creating an observation network, allowing for more accurate weather forecasts.

"The mission of Pacific Partnership is disaster relief preparedness," said Lt.j.g. Jeffrey S. Grabon, Pacific Partnership Mobile Environment Team division officer. "Most of the disasters that are going on in this region are from typhoons and tsunamis, so if we have observations that we can use to help forecast typhoons, that benefits the area."

The buoys were deployed at specific coordinates while USS Pearl Harbor transited the Pacific Ocean to Samoa, the first mission port of Pacific Partnership.

Both Scripps and the Navy seek to benefit from the buoy drop and subsequent data to be collected.

The global drifter buoys provide real-time data in support of both civilian and DoD activities. That data can be used to improve forecasts, which can benefit the effectiveness of activities like search and rescue missions and disaster response operations.

"I think it is absolutely crucial we have the ability to engage with the U.S. Navy and work in a synergistic way to collect useful data and create deployment opportunities in regions that are hard to access with commercial and scientific vessels," said Luca Centurioni, scientist, Scripps physical oceanography research division. "We really welcome the opportunity to work together with the U.S. Navy 3rd Fleet. "

Grabon said that much of the ongoing research has the potential to impact the Navy.

"Because the Navy is a sea-going, war-fighting force, the better the universities understand the ocean, the better the Navy will understand it," said Grabon.

Pacific Partnership is about bringing people together. The collaboration of the University of California, San Diego Scripps Institute of Oceanography and the United States Navy demonstrates a cooperative approach to both disaster preparedness and prevention by working to understand the many variables that contribute to the long history of natural disasters that have earned the whole region the moniker, "The Pacific Ring of Fire."

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

U.S. CONDEMNS RACIALLY MOTIVATED ACTS IN MALI

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

U.S. Condemns Racially Motivated Acts and Supports Negotiations in Mali
Press Statement
Jen Psaki
Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
June 5, 2013 

The United States supports an urgent negotiated resolution to Kidal that will permit the return of civil administration so that presidential elections can be carried out in the entire Malian territory on July 28. We also condemn the racially motivated acts of detention and expulsions in Kidal and call on all parties to respect human rights and fully comply with their obligations under international law. The United States is fully committed and providing financial assistance for the holding of free, transparent and credible elections throughout Mali. This is a vital part of restoring peace and stability in Mali and in the region and will set the stage for a broader process of national reconciliation in a unified Mali. The United States commends the leadership of ECOWAS mediator President Blaise Compaoré, and the support of the United Nations, the African Union, and other regional and international partners in this effort.

DVIDS - Video - NATO Press Conference

DVIDS - Video - NATO Press Conference

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE HAGEL WELCOMES SUSAN RICE AS NEW NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Hagel Welcomes Rice's Selection as National Security Advisor

American Forces Press Service


WASHINGTON, June 5, 2013 - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel today said he looks forward to working with Susan Rice in her new role as national security advisor.

In a statement released after President Barack Obama announced that he had selected Rice -- currently the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations -- to succeed Tom Donilon, Hagel said he strongly supports the president's choice.

"Susan Rice has been a very important leader on President Obama's national security team who has helped galvanize the international community to act on some of the toughest security challenges facing the United States," he said. "I also look forward to working with President Obama's nominee to succeed her, Samantha Power. She brings years of experience at the White House, in academia, and as a journalist to this critical position."

Hagel also expressed thanks to Donilon for his "strong leadership and tireless efforts."

"For the past four and half years, both in my capacity as co-chairman of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board and now as secretary of defense, I have greatly valued Tom's intellect, skill, and dedication to an honest and open process that provides the president with the best advice on the toughest issues," the secretary said. "I wish Tom and his family the very best for the future."

U.S. State Department Daily Press Briefing - June 5, 2013

Daily Press Briefing - June 5, 2013

Department of Defense News Briefing with Secretary Hagel at NATO Headquarters, Brussels, Belgium

Department of Defense News Briefing with Secretary Hagel at NATO Headquarters, Brussels, Belgium

Media Availability with Gen. Dunford in NATO Headquarters, Brussels, Belgium

Media Availability with Gen. Dunford in NATO Headquarters, Brussels, Belgium

ISAF NEWS FROM AFGHANISTAN FOR JUNE 5, 2013



U.S. Army Sgt. Thomas Banner leads his squad on a dismounted presence patrol near Forward Operating Base Spin Boldak in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, June 2, 2013. Banner, a squad leader, is assigned to Company B, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment. The soldiers were on patrol to meet area farmers and project force posture. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Shane Hamann  

 
FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Afghan, Coalition Forces Kill Enemy Fighters in Helmand Province

From an International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Release

KABUL, Afghanistan, June 5, 2013 - A combined Afghan and coalition security force killed three extremists and arrested a Taliban facilitator and another extremist in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Afghanistan's Helmand province today, military officials reported.

The facilitator procures weapons and equipment for attacks against Afghan and coalition forces and helps to coordinate and execute those attacks. He also maintains several weapons caches.

During the operation, enemy fighters set up a fighting position against the security force. The force engaged them, killing three. The security force also seized an assault rifle and two magazines.

Also today, a combined force in Kandahar province's Zharay district arrested a Taliban facilitator who builds and places improvised explosive devices targeting Afghan and coalition forces. He also finances local Taliban cells. The security also arrested three enemy fighters in the operation.

In an operation yesterday, a combined force killed a senior Taliban leader and two other enemy fighters in Wardak province's Sayyidabad district.

The Taliban leader controlled a group responsible for ambushes and other attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. He also facilitated the movement of weapons and equipment to local Taliban cells and was involved in the construction and placement of IEDs.

In other news from Afghanistan, more than 600 members of the Afghan national security force gathered in Laghman province June 3 to execute a clearing operation in the areas surrounding Nawrah and Hakimabad villages. Supported by the provincial police chief and coalition advisors, they uncovered and neutralized 12 IEDs.

HHS TOUTS "SECURE HEALTH DATA" AS AN IMPROVEMENT IN CARE

FROM: U.S. HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

Secure health data helping patients, doctors improve care and health


Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced the release of new data and new opportunities for researchers and developers at the beginning of Health Datapalooza IV. This is the fourth annual national conference on health data transparency, which brings together government, non-profit, and private sector organizations to look at the potential for open data from HHS and other sources to help improve health and health care.

The
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today released new data – including county-level data on Medicare spending and utilization for the first time, as well as selected data on hospital outpatient charges. In addition, the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) released additional information on the adoption of specific electronic health record (EHR) systems, as well as the winners of new opportunities for building innovative tools that build off health data.

"A more data driven and transparent health care marketplace can help consumers and their families make important decisions about their care," said Secretary Sebelius. "The administration is committed to making the health system more transparent and harnessing data to empower consumers."

Today HHS released data and tools that will help researchers and consumers take advantage of health information:
Building on
the release last month of the average charges for the 100 most common inpatient procedures, CMS today released selected hospital outpatient data that includes estimates for average charges for 30 types of hospital outpatient procedures from hospitals across the country, such as clinic visits, echocardiograms, and endoscopies.
CMS today released new data sets for the first time at the county level: one on Medicare spending and utilization, and another on Medicare beneficiaries with chronic conditions. Both data sets will enable researchers, data innovators and the public to better understand Medicare spending and service use, spurring innovation and increasing transparency, while protecting the privacy of beneficiaries. The data will also be available through an interactive state level dashboard based on the spending information, allowing users of any skill level to quickly access and use the data.
ONC released data today from the Regional Extension Centers about the different brands of EHR products used by 146,000 doctors by state, specialty, and each doctor’s stage in meaningful use attestation.
HHS is also co-sponsoring a national competition – known as a "code-a-palooza" – to design an innovative app or tool using Medicare data that primary care providers can use to help manage patient care. The national competition, sponsored by ONC, the Health Data Consortium
, and the cloud software company Socrata, will give $25,000 in prizes to the teams of coders and medical experts that build the best tools or apps by the end of Datapalooza.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is demonstrating the latest applications of its two powerful health databases, the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) and the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS). HCUP is the largest collection of longitudinal hospital care data in the U.S., representing 97 percent of all inpatient hospital discharges. MEPS is the most complete source of U.S. data on the cost and use of health care services and insurance coverage, obtained through large-scale, annual surveys of families, individuals, medical providers and employers.
ONC in coordination with the Health Resources and Services Administration selected the winners of the
Apps4TotsHealth Challenge, which was launched to help parents and caregivers of young children better manage their nutrition and physical activity. The winning developers, researchers, and other innovators make use of Healthdata.gov data to strengthen these tools and make them more user-friendly. More on the winners here.
ONC also announced today the launch of the Blue Button Co-Design Challenge, designed to spur the creation of new applications that will allow patients to better use their own health data to improve their own care. The challenge will ask the public to vote on ideas from which developers will build tools to address health priorities determined by public voting.

Pacific Fleet Commander Connects History with Today in Remembering Midway

Pacific Fleet Commander Connects History with Today in Remembering Midway

REMARKS BY U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE KERRY AND ARMENIAN FOREIGN MINISTER NALBANDIAN

FROM: U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
Remarks With Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian Before Their Meeting

Remarks
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
June 4, 2013


SECRETARY KERRY: Good morning, everybody. It’s my pleasure today to welcome Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian from Armenia. And for me, it is a particular pleasure to welcome him because I think everybody knows Massachusetts is home to one of the largest populations of Armenians outside of Armenia, so we’re very happy. I have many, many friends in the Armenian community, and for years, have worked with my friends in Armenia on a number of different issues.

Armenia today is an important partner with United States in a number of initiatives. Importantly, they’re helping us in Afghanistan with ISAF, they’ve played a key role in Kosovo helping to keep peace there. And one of the most issues, obviously, that we all really want to try to see resolved one day is the frozen conflict of Nagorno-Karabakh. It is critical that all the parties – when I say all the parties, I mean, obviously, the Azerbaijanis, but also Turkey, Russia, Iran, others – try to find a way to help break the impasse that has kept this struggle alive and always potentially dangerous. So my hope is that we will talk about that a little bit today.

We also have other issues of great importance to us: the economic partnership, the development of the economy and strengthening of democracy, and the security of our friends, the Armenian people. So Mr. Foreign Minister, we’re very, very happy to welcome you here today. Thank you. Good to have you.

FOREIGN MINISTER NALBANDIAN: Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be in Washington. Thank you very much for a warm welcome. I’m very glad to be back to Washington to meet you, Secretary, and to have a conversation on perspectives of enhancement of the friendly partnership between Armenia and the United States.

Both countries have a good interaction in the international arena covering international regional security, proliferation, fight against terrorism, as you mentioned, peacekeeping operations from Kosovo to Afghanistan, other challenges, who are sharing vision – same vision – that it is important to continue efforts to find exclusively peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict based on the principles and norms of international law, particularly non-use of force, excessive force, self-determination, territorial integrity who are sharing the vision that the relations between Armenia and Turkey should be normalized without preconditions, who are sharing the same values of democracy, fundamental freedoms, liberty, human rights, market economy, who are very thankful that during the last two decades since our independence, United States extended very important support for Armenia, and we are thankful for that.

I would like to use also opportunity to express our gratitude to the President Obama Administration for remarkable contribution to the strengthening of Armenian-American relations, which are today in their highest point. And I’m sure and confident that with our joint efforts, we could elevate that to new heights. And the trust and understanding between our two countries is – are the best pillars to extend further our relations.

Thank you again very much. Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much, Edward. Thank you, sir. Thank you all very much. Thank you.

Segue em direto o lançamento do ATV-4 Albert Einstein, quarta-feira, 5 de Junho 23:52 CEST

Segue em direto o lançamento do ATV-4 Albert Einstein, quarta-feira, 5 de Junho 23:52 CEST

TWO BUSINESSMEN SENTENCED FOR ILLEGAL CAMPAIGN CONTRIBTION REIMBURSEMENTS

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

Friday, May 31, 2013
Two Virginia Businessmen Sentenced for Illegally Reimbursing Campaign Contributions

William P. Danielczyk Jr. was sentenced today to 28 months in prison and ordered to pay a $50,000 fine for illegally reimbursing $186,600 in contributions to the Senate and Presidential campaign committees of a candidate for federal office and then obstructing the subsequent law enforcement investigation.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride of the Eastern District of Virginia and Valerie Parlave, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge James C. Cacheris in the Eastern District of Virginia.

On Feb. 26, 2013, Danielczyk, 51, and Eugene R. Biagi, 78, both of Oakton, Va., pleaded guilty to making illegal conduit campaign contributions. Biagi was sentenced to two months’ supervised probation for his role in Danielczyk’s scheme.

According to court records, Danielczyk was the chairman of Galen Capital Corporation and Biagi served as the corporation’s secretary. In September 2006, Danielczyk co-hosted a fundraiser for a candidate’s campaign for the U.S. Senate and in March 2007 he co-hosted a fundraiser for the same candidate’s 2008 campaign for the President of the United States.

Danielczyk admitted that he recruited individuals, including Biagi and other corporate employees, to serve as "straw donors" to the campaigns, assuring the donors that they would be reimbursed for their contributions. Danielczyk’s assistant collected the contributions, and Danielczyk and Biagi then reimbursed the straw donors for their contributions using Galen Capital Corporation’s corporate funds.

Biagi admitted that he disguised the nature of the reimbursement payments by falsely identifying the purpose of the reimbursement checks on the memorandum line of the check itself and by issuing the checks for amounts slightly larger than the campaign contributions. As part of the obstruction scheme, Danielczyk directed the creation of back-dated letters addressed to individual contributors, which falsely characterized the reimbursement payments to them as "consulting fees." One set of the letters contained a check for $1,500 in order to further the charade that the reimbursement checks were consulting fees. Biagi furthered the scheme by, among other means, signing the back-dated letters and the checks, thereby supporting Danielczyk’s aims at covering up the true conduct and obstructing the investigations focused on the reimbursement scheme.

Danielczyk and Biagi admitted they used corporate funds to reimburse a total of $186,600 to the two campaigns. The campaigns unwittingly reported them as lawful contributions from the individual "straw donors."

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark D. Lytle and Timothy D. Belevetz from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia and Trial Attorney Eric L. Gibson of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.

Press Briefing | The White House

Press Briefing | The White House

Background Briefing en Route to Guatemala

Background Briefing en Route to Guatemala

RECENT U.S. NAVY PHOTOS






FROM: U.S. NAVY

130522-N-OV434-142 CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan (May 22, 2013) Seabees assigned to the Convoy Security Element of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 15 construct a bunker project in support of the Afghan National Army. NMCB-15 is deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and is an expeditionary element of U.S. Naval Forces that supports various units worldwide through national force readiness, civil engineering, humanitarian assistance, and building and maintaining infrastructure. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Daniel Garas/Released)


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

DOD Daily Press Briefing - June 4, 2013

Daily Press Briefing - June 4, 2013

ISAF NEWS FROM AFGHANISTAN FOR JUNE 4, 2013

 
U.S. Special Forces team members pull security on the roof of a compound during a meeting with an Afghan local police checkpoint commander in the Zharay district of Kandahar province, Afghanistan, May 21, 2013. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Kaily Brown
FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Combined Force Kills Enemy Fighters in Kunduz Province
From an International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Release

KABUL, Afghanistan, June 4, 2013 - A combined Afghan and coalition security force killed five enemy fighters who opened fire on them during a search for a senior Taliban leader in the Archi district of Afghanistan's Kunduz province today, military officials reported.

The Taliban leader builds improvised explosive devices and suicide vests and has directed and coordinated attacks that have killed numerous Afghan national security force personnel, officials said.

The security force also seized a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, four RPG rounds and an assault rifle.

In Afghanistan operations yesterday:

-- Afghan commandos and uniformed police and coalition forces killed seven enemy fighters and wounded four others during a clearing operation in Kunduz province's Imam Sahib district.

-- A combined force in Kandahar province's Panjwai district killed a Taliban intelligence operative who coordinated attacks in the area. He directed ambush attacks and placement of IEDs targeting Afghan and coalition forces. He also facilitated the movement of weapons and IEDs in the district.

 

TRIAL BEGINS FOR ACCUSED WIKILEAK'S LEAKER PFC. BRADLEY MANING

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

Trial Begins for Soldier Accused of Classified Leaks

By David Vergun
Army News Service

FORT MEADE, Md., June 4, 2013 - With the prosecution accusing Army Pfc. Bradley Manning of causing immeasurable harm to national security and Manning's attorney portraying the soldier as "young and naïve, but good-intentioned," Manning's court-martial in what has become known as "the WikiLeaks case" began here yesterday.

Manning, 25 is charged with committing various crimes, including aiding the enemy, by leaking classified information to the WikiLeaks website while assigned to Iraq as an intelligence analyst in 2009 and 2010. If convicted, Manning could be sentenced to life in prison.

In his opening statement, Army Capt. Joe Morrow, the prosecutor, called the leaks the "biggest ever" in U.S. history, involving hundreds of thousands of classified documents, and that they provided "potentially actionable information for targeting U.S. forces."

David Coombs, Manning's attorney, said in his opening statement that Manning was selective about the documents he released and "was hoping to make the world a better place" by doing so.

The judge, Army Col. Denise Lind, asked Manning if he wanted to reconsider trial by a military judge alone, herself, rather than by jury, which is termed a "panel" by the military. Manning declined.

In the afternoon, the prosecutor called the first witness, Army Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Smith, who was the senior enlisted Criminal Investigative Division agent at the time. He and another case agent, Tony Graham, were the first to investigate the "scene of the crime," as Smith called the sensitive compartmented information facility where Manning worked in Iraq. Smith discussed the procedures they used to collect evidence and conduct interviews.

The prosecutor will call more witnesses and use sworn statements as evidence as its case proceeds. The defense will present its arguments in the coming days.

ISAF NEWS FROM AFGHANISTAN FOR JUNE 03, 2013

 
U.S. Army Sgt. Christopher Ross, left, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Olin Harrington, center, and U.S. Army Spc. Jared Malda, right, provide security for their team outside a village in Zabul province, Afghanistan, May 26, 2013. Ross, Harrington and Malda, assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division's 2nd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, were part of an Afghan-led search for weapon and explosive caches. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Tim Morgan

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Afghan Force Kills 20 Enemy Fighters in Paktika Province

Compiled from International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Releases

WASHINGTON, June 3, 2013 - An Afghan quick-reaction force killed 20 enemy fighters and detained another while responding to an attack on a local police checkpoint in the Orgun-e district of Afghanistan's Paktika province yesterday, military officials reported.

The Afghan force engaged an unknown number of enemies shortly after being dispatched by the district operations center, officials said.

In other Afghanistan operations yesterday:

-- A combined Afghan and coalition security force in Nangarhar province's Khugyani district arrested a Taliban leader who has conducted numerous attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. He also coordinates the movement of weapons and fighters and performs limited intelligence duties for local Taliban networks.

-- In the Helmand province city of Lashkar Gah, a combined force arrested a Taliban leader who controls a group responsible for attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. He also is involved in the construction and emplacement of improvised explosive devices, facilitates the movement of weapons and receives guidance from senior Taliban officials for dissemination to front-line fighters. The security force also arrested another enemy fighter and seized ammunition and five assault-rifle magazines.

In June 1 operations:

-- A Haqqani network leader was killed in Paktia province's Gardez district. Faizullah, also known as Shahab, conducted IED attacks and intimidation campaigns targeting Afghan and coalition forces. He facilitated the movement of weapons and military equipment and was responsible for kidnapping operations and coordinating with senior Haqqani leaders.

-- In Zabul province's Shah Joy district, local police and coalition forces seized and destroyed three rifles, two pistols, a 107 mm rocket, a machine gun, a shotgun and assorted ammunition.

-- A combined force in Helmand province's Marjah district arrested a Taliban leader who is responsible for attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. He also is involved in the construction of vehicle-borne IEDs and provides operational reports to other Taliban fighters. The security force also seized a mortar round and an assault rifle.

-- In Kandahar province's city of Kandahar, a combined force arrested an enemy fighter during a search for a Taliban leader who controls a group responsible for coordinating attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. He also has directed assassinations of Afghan civilians and has facilitated the movement of weapons.

-- A combined force in Nangarhar province's Khugyani district arrested two enemy fighters during a search for a senior Taliban leader who oversees a group involved in ambushes, IED operations and complex attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. He also facilitates the movement of weapons and serves as an intelligence operative for senior Taliban officials. The security force also seized 8 pounds of opium.

President Obama Speaks at the National Conference on Mental Health | The White House

President Obama Speaks at the National Conference on Mental Health | The White House

ACCOUNTANT SENTENCED FOR ROLES IN TWO FRAUD SCHEMES

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Thursday, May 30, 2013
Florida Accountant Sentenced to Federal Prison for Two Fraud Schemes

Joseph Rizzuti, of Stuart, Fla., was sentenced to 80 months in federal prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and for corruptly endeavoring to obstruct the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Justice Department and the IRS announced today.

According to court documents, Rizzuti, an accountant and the owner of Beacon Accounting Services in Palm City, Fla., interfered with the IRS’s ability to collect taxes owed by two clients by stealing payments from those clients intended for the IRS and making misrepresentations to the clients, as well as the IRS, to conceal his scheme. Rizzuti also admitted to engaging in a criminal conspiracy to commit wire fraud by making material misrepresentations to individuals throughout the United States who believed the money they were investing with Rizzuti and his co-conspirators was funding Nigerian-related oil and Bahamian construction projects, but instead Rizzuti and his co-conspirators used the investors’ money for their own personal expenses. In total, Rizzuti and his co-conspirators stole approximately $3 million.

In addition to prison time, U.S. District Judge Donald L. Graham sentenced Rizzuti to serve three years of supervised release and to pay $298,000 in restitution to victims of his schemes to the IRS. Additional penalties will be assessed in the next 90 days.

This case was investigated by special agents of IRS - Criminal Investigation and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. Trial Attorneys Justin Gelfand and Rebecca Perlmutter of the Justice Department’s Tax Division prosecuted the case.

Pain, exercise and fibromyalgia

Pain, exercise and fibromyalgia

RECENT U.S. NAVY PHOTOS




FROM: U.S. NAVY

130529-N-GH245-078 CORONADO, Calif. (May 29, 2013) Master-at-Arms 3rd Class Stephanie Alexander plays the role of an aggressor for Dax, a military working dog, who is providing detection and deterrence assistance for Master-at-Arms Seaman Mauricio Rincongonzalez during building clearing drills at Naval Base Coronado. Military working dogs are trained to provide deterrence, patrol and detection services. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Christopher Pratt/Released




130529-N-GH245-016 CORONADO, Calif. (May 29, 2013) Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Brian May is attacked by military working dog Apoch during a controlled aggression demonstration at Naval Base San Diego. Military working dogs are trained to provide deterrence, patrol and detection services. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communications Specialist Seaman Christopher Pratt/Released/Released).

 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Remarks at the American Jewish Committee Global Forum

Remarks at the American Jewish Committee Global Forum

DVIDS - Video - IISS Asian Security Summit

DVIDS - Video - IISS Asian Security Summit

Press Briefing | The White House

Press Briefing | The White House

Immagine EO della settimana: Creta

Immagine EO della settimana: Creta

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE HAGEL'S REMARKS ON BOARD THE USS FREEDOM

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel tours the flight deck of the USS Freedom in Singapore, June 2, 2013. DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

Remarks by Secretary Hagel to the Crew of the Littoral Combat Ship USS Freedom in Singapore

COMMANDING OFFICER TIMOTHY WILKE: Good afternoon. As you know, it's our honor and privilege today to have Secretary of Defense Secretary Hagel on board. It's a very important day for us on his visit out here. He took some time out of his day to come talk to us and talk to Freedom.

And without further ado, Secretary Hagel.

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE CHUCK HAGEL: Captain Wilke, thank you. And to each of you, thank you for the opportunity to come bother you this afternoon. I know you've got real work to do, but I wanted to say hello. I wanted to tell you how much we appreciate your good work.

You all are making history out here. I think you know that. What you represent to our country and our partnerships in the Asia Pacific -- I don't think can be overstated. You are really defining a new era -- a new era of partnerships -- new ship, new capacities, new opportunities.

You each were assigned to this ship because you have had records of accomplishment. And it's a big deal for our country; it's a big deal for you. I want to also thank your families for what you're doing. And thank your families when you talk with them. Tell them how much we appreciate what they're doing for our country.

I had an opportunity to be out here actually when this was being built over the years, and I watched -- as I was here three years in a row, starting in about 2002 -- how all of this was being put together, brought together, the leadership, the cooperation.

And at the beginning of that effort -- I don't know if anyone not only would have recognized but would have predicted what this was all going to be about, and eventually how we were going to put the first new combat ship out here that represented so much, and so much new capacity.

So I wanted to just, again, thank you and tell you we're grateful, and also tell you how proud we are of what you're doing out here. You all are really ambassadors in every way, and there are high expectations for you, and I think you know that. But, you're up to it, and it's an honor to be on your ship, and I look forward to meeting each of you individually as I get through this this afternoon.

Thank you.

SECRETARY HAGEL WORKING ON PACIFIC REBALANCE

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

U.S. Following Through on Pacific Rebalance, Hagel Says
By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service


SINGAPORE, June 1, 2013 - The United States is committed to a strategic rebalance to the Asia-Pacific and aims to strengthen its ties in the region, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told an audience of Pacific leaders here today.

Hagel spoke at the first full day of the 2013 Shangri-La Dialogue, named for the Singapore hotel that serves as the annual venue for the gathering. This year defense ministers, military chiefs and other senior government leaders are representing some 27 countries at the conference.

The secretary said U.S. ties to the region are unbreakable, but need to be "renewed and reinvigorated after a decade of war in the Middle East and Central Asia." He added, however, that the rebalance should not be misinterpreted.

"The U.S. has allies, interests and responsibilities across the globe. The Asia-Pacific rebalance is not a retreat from other regions of the world," the secretary said. But, he added, developing nations, technologies and security cooperation, along with trade, energy and environmental issues all point toward the region's strategic significance.

Hagel listed what he called "a range of persistent and emerging threats" in the region. These include, he said:

-- North Korea's nuclear weapons, missile programs and continued provocations;

-- Land and sea disputes over natural resources;

-- Natural disasters, poverty and pandemic disease;

-- Environmental degradation;

-- Illicit trafficking in people, drugs and weapons, including the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; and

-- Disruptive activities in space and cyberspace.

To address those challenges, he said, America and Asia-Pacific nations must "strengthen existing alliances, forge new partnerships, and build coalitions based on common interests to ensure this region's future is peaceful and prosperous."

Hagel said the U.S. commitment to the region is demonstrated by its investments, its relationships with other Pacific nations, and its support for developing regional institutions that "evolve from talking about cooperation to achieving real, tangible solutions to shared problems, and a common framework for resolving differences."

Hagel said the Obama administration is rebalancing diplomatically and economically by increasing funding for diplomacy and development in Asia; providing new resources for regional efforts that improve water management, disaster resilience and public health; and fostering trade and investment through work with regional institutions.

The Defense Department plays an important role in securing the rebalance, he noted.

While future U.S. defense budgets will be lower than during the Iraq and Afghan wars, he said, "Even under the most extreme budget scenarios, the United States military will continue to represent nearly 40 percent of global defense expenditures."

Hagel noted he recently directed a Strategic Choices and Management Review to assess Pentagon spending priorities. While the results are not complete, he said, "I can assure you that coming out of this review, the United States will continue to implement the rebalance and prioritize our posture, activities and investments in Asia-Pacific."

That emphasis already can be seen, he said, as Army and Marine units return to home stations in the Pacific theater, and the Army's designation of its 1st Corps as regionally aligned to the Asia-Pacific.

Hagel added that the Navy will forward-base 60 percent of its assets in the Pacific by 2020, and the Air Force has allocated 60 percent of its overseas-based forces, including tactical aircraft and bomber forces from the continental United States, to the Asia-Pacific.

"The Air Force is focusing a similar percentage of its space and cyber capabilities on the region," Hagel added. "These assets enable us to capitalize on the Air Force's inherent speed, range, and flexibility."

DOD will use its capabilities to strengthen regional partnerships, he said. He noted that last year, then-Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta announced at the forum that the U.S. Navy would rotate up to four littoral combat ships through Singapore.

"In recent weeks, the first of those ships, the USS Freedom, arrived to begin a busy schedule of regional maritime engagements," he noted. "I look forward to visiting the ship tomorrow."

Meanwhile, he added, the second company-sized rotation of U.S. Marines recently arrived in Darwin, Australia, to deepen cooperation with that treaty ally and other regional partners. Hagel said that eventually, 2,500 U.S. Marines will deploy to Australia each year.

The five-year defense budget plan now before Congress prioritizes the rapidly deployable resources needed to secure a vast region largely covered by water, he said, "Such as submarines, long-range bombers, and carrier strike groups, that can project power over great distance and carry out a variety of missions."

He added the region will see more such advanced capabilities in the future, "As we prioritize deployments of our most advanced platforms to the Pacific, including the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter deployments to Japan, and a fourth Virginia-class fast attack submarine forward deployed to Guam."

Further over the horizon, Hagel said, the U.S. will bring to the region developing capabilities "that will enhance our decisive military edge well into the future," including the Navy's recently tested carrier-launched remotely piloted aircraft. He also said that next year, for the first time, the Navy will deploy a solid-state laser aboard a ship, the USS Ponce.

"This capability provides an affordable answer to the costly problem of defending against asymmetric threats like missiles, swarming small boats and remotely piloted aircraft," the secretary said.


America's allies and partners must be able to trust the nation's commitment, Hagel said. He outlined separate U.S. defense initiatives underway with Japan, South Korea, Australia, the Philippines and Thailand to support that goal.

Trilateral cooperation in the region is also promising, he said, with growing interaction among the United States, Japan and South Korea, as well as among the United States, Japan and Australia.

The department is also exploring trilateral training opportunities including jungle training between the U.S. and Thailand that could expand to incorporate South Korea, he said. Similarly, he added, the United States is working to build trilateral cooperation with Japan and India.

"Here in Singapore I look forward to building on our practical collaboration under the U.S.-Singapore Strategic Framework Agreement, which has guided security cooperation not only in this region, but in the Gulf of Aden and Afghanistan as well," he said.

Hagel described additional U.S. defense partnership initiatives with New Zealand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Burma. And with India, he said, "We are moving beyond purely defense trade towards technology sharing and co-production."

The U.S. vision for the Asia-Pacific region is an open and inclusive one, the secretary said. He added that rising powers such as India, Indonesia and China "have a special role to play in a future security order as they assume the responsibilities that come with their growing stake in regional stability."


A positive, constructive relationship with China also is an essential part of America's rebalance to Asia, Hagel said.

The United States welcomes and supports a prosperous and successful China, he said, and supports China's participation in regional and global economic and security institutions.

Hagel praised China and Taiwan's efforts to improve cross-strait relations, adding, "We have an enduring interest in peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait."

The U.S. and China differ on human rights, Syria and regional security issues in Asia, Hagel acknowledged, but added such differences are best addressed as part of a continuous and respectful dialogue.

"I am pleased that the dialogue between our armed forces is steadily improving," Hagel said. He listed positive developments over the course of the past year, including a series of visits between defense and political leaders and increased military exercises involving U.S. and Chinese forces.

While such bilateral progress is pleasing, Hagel said, maintaining regional stability will require multilateral institutions that can provide critical platforms and opportunities for countries to work together.


Hagel announced today that during meetings this weekend, he will invite defense ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to "provide another opportunity for us to discuss a shared vision for a dynamic, peaceful, and secure future for the region."

Maintaining peace and security in the region requires adherence to established principles of open commerce; rights and responsibilities of nations and fidelity to the rule of law; open access to sea, air, space and cyberspace domains; and resolving conflict without the use of force.

"Unfortunately, some nations continue to dismiss these values and pursue a disruptive path – most notably, North Korea," he said.

The United States has made clear, he said, "that we will take all necessary steps to protect our homeland and our allies from dangerous provocations, including significantly bolstering our missile defense throughout the Pacific."

No country should conduct "business as usual" with a North Korea that threatens its neighbors, Hagel said.

"We are working closely with our Republic of Korea and Japanese allies to strengthen our posture and ability to respond to threats from North Korea," he said. "The prospects for a peaceful resolution also will require close coordination with China."

Hagel then addressed the issue of competing territorial claims in the East and South China seas. The United States does not take a position on sovereignty in such cases, he said, but has an interest in how such disputes are settled.

"The United States stands firmly against any coercive attempts to alter the status quo," Hagel said. "We strongly believe that incidents and disputes should be settled in a manner that maintains peace and security, adheres to international law, and protects unimpeded lawful commerce, as well as freedom of navigation and overflight."

Hagel said he is encouraged by recent moves toward developing a code of conduct for the South China Sea.

Turning to cyber issues, Hagel said he will attend a series of NATO ministerial meetings next week, during which cyber will be an agenda item.

"The United States has expressed our concerns about the growing threat of cyber intrusions, some of which appear to be tied to the Chinese government and military," the secretary noted.

The United States and China have agreed to establish a cyber working group, Hagel said. "We are determined to work more vigorously with China and other partners to establish international norms of responsible behavior in cyberspace," he added.