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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Weekly Address: Confirming Rich Cordray to Lead the CFPB | The White House

Weekly Address: Confirming Rich Cordray to Lead the CFPB | The White House


U.S. on Track in Afghanistan, Military Leaders Tell Senate
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 18, 2013 - Despite Taliban resistance, U.S. military objectives in Afghanistan are on track, senior U.S. military leaders told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey and Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr. told the committee during their reconfirmation hearing that the International Security Assistance Force mission is on track to achieve its objectives in Afghanistan and end its mission by 2015.
President Barack Obama nominated Dempsey and Winnefeld for second terms as chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Dempsey told the senators that Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the ISAF commander, said he will achieve his campaign objectives in developing the Afghan security forces.

"Now, he does also acknowledge there are some potential gaps that he will have better clarity on after this fighting season," Dempsey said.

The chairman and vice chairman told the senators that they have given their recommendations for the size of a residual force the United States will leave in Afghanistan post-2014.

"We've provided several options," Dempsey said. "As the Joint Chiefs, we have made a recommendation on the size, and we've also expressed our view on when that announcement would best meet the campaign objectives."

The United States and Afghanistan must finalize a bilateral security arrangement -- with legal protections for American service members -- before a decision is made. Dempsey said he would stress this when he meets with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Dempsey told the senators he seeks opinions about Afghanistan.

"Besides speaking with General Dunford on a weekly basis and visiting him about quarterly, I also reach out to as many other people as I can possibly reach out to who can give us other views," he said.

All these reports align, the chairman added.

Having American troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014 is crucial to success in the country, Dempsey said.

"Although I've told you that the progress of the security forces has been significant," he added, "they would not have the level of confidence to sustain themselves over time if it happens that precipitously."

U.S. Navy Photos of the Day Update

U.S. Navy Photos of the Day Update


Air Force Readiness Harmed by Steep Cuts, Welsh Says
By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 18, 2013 - The rigid requirements of sequestration spending cuts have made it difficult for the Air Force to maintain readiness, the service's top officer said yesterday.

Speaking to CNN's John King at the annual Aspen Institute Security Forum in Aspen, Colo., Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III said each service has four major accounts: personnel, infrastructure and facilities, modernization, and readiness.

"We have had a great amount of difficulty recently doing anything about the infrastructure and facility costs -- we can't seem to get to a point where we can reduce those," he said. "We have not been able to reduce the people costs. In fact, the people costs have gone up exponentially over the last 10 years."

So, he said, sequestration requirements have driven the Air Force to look at modernization and readiness costs. "Those are the only places we have to take money from," Welsh said.

"We are trading modernization against readiness," he added. It's the only place we have to go for funding because of this abrupt, arbitrary mechanism that is sequestration -- and it's causing a real problem on the readiness side of the house and putting out ability to modernize over time at risk."

The civilian employee furloughs necessitated by the spending cuts are a problem for the Air Force for two reasons, Welsh said. "The first is a very human reason -- we have about 180,000 civilians in our Air Force. Those civilian airmen are integral to every mission we do, and in some cases, they are the mission -- they're the entire workforce."

About 150,000 of those civilians are being furloughed for 20 percent of the remaining fiscal year, he said. Most of them are lower-wage scale employees who are going to have trouble making ends meet, Welsh added.

From a corporate perspective, the Air Force is losing 70 million man-hours of work during the furlough period, he said. "That's going to leave a bruise," he added.

The Air Force and the Defense Department as a whole recognize that they have to be part of solving the nation's fiscal problems, Welsh said. But the department has to make overly steep cuts in the modernization and readiness account in the first two years of sequestration, he added, because personnel or infrastructure can't be cut quickly enough.

Impacts to operations already are being felt, Welsh said. "We've prioritized everything that we know about, ... but if something new happened, we'd be affected dramatically, because our ability to respond quickly is affected."

In his discussion with King, Welsh also addressed a number of recent headline-making events.

Recent leaks of classified material are a lesson re-learned, he said. The existing safeguards need to be adjusted based on these cases to ensure that personnel with access to classified information will protect it properly, he said.

"I think the key is [to] control access to information," he added. "Everybody doesn't need it, and you have to very carefully vet people who have the skills to operate on your networks because we know the cyber domain is now a huge vulnerability -- as well as an opportunity."

Solving the sexual harassment and sexual assault crisis will require the services and the Defense Department to partner with Congress, victims' advocacy groups, universities and experts around the country, the general said.

"I don't care who else has the problem; my problem is the United States Air Force. ... The trauma of this crime is to the entire institution," he said.

Last year, 792 sexual assaults were reported in the Air Force, he said.

"The real number is higher than that. ... According to our surveys, only about 17 percent of the people report it," the general told King. "If you take a look at one victim -- not 792, just one -- and you look at the pain, the suffering, the lifetime of anguish, ... this is horrible. And multiply that by 792 times, and it's appalling."

For the Air Force, Welsh said, it's not about addressing some spike in activity. It's about making lasting changes across the entire spectrum of the force.

"From trying to screen for predatory behavior," he said, "to deterring this kind of conduct from those idiots who become criminals ... who might not technically be ... violent predators, but they put themselves in situations where they take advantage of other people."

Turning to the situation in Syria, Welsh said sequestration would make implementing a no-fly zone there difficult. "It would take some time to do it right," he added, "because some of the units that we would use ... haven't been flying."

Because of continuing rotations to Iraq and Afghanistan, the Air Force's overall readiness levels have been declining since about 2003, Welsh said.

"We had to back off a little bit on full-spectrum training ... where we try and simulate the most-difficult threat we can and train realistically," the general said. In addition, the Air Force was forced to use some readiness funds to pay for modernization, he added.

"The Air Force is old," Welsh said. "Our aircraft fleet is older, on average, than it's ever been. ... Modernization is not optional for the Air Force. We've got to modernize."

The F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter is imperative to the future of the Air Force, Welsh said. Upgrading the existing fleet may save money, he said, but it will not make it competitive.

"A fourth-generation aircraft meeting a fifth-generation aircraft in combat will be more cost-efficient," Welsh said. "It will also be dead before it ever knows it's in a fight.

"Not having the F-35 right now ... operationally makes zero sense to the warfighter," he continued. Russia and China are rushing to produce their own fifth-generation fighters, the general noted, "which will put our fourth-generation fleet at immediate risk."

Welsh said he doubts the United States will fight China or Russia in the next five years, "but the reality today is that about 53 different countries around the world fly Chinese or Russian top-end fighters."

And despite the drawdown in Afghanistan, the Air Force isn't going to get less busy. It still will perform intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions all over the world, Welsh said, and will be doing an airlift mission every 90 seconds, every hour of every day.

About 15,000 space operators will be providing missile warning for the United States, about 25,000 airmen will be on the nuclear alert mission, satellite operators will be flying about 170 different satellites and more than 50,000 airmen will be engaged in cyber command and control, Welsh said.

"Our Air Force does an awful lot of stuff behind the curtain that people don't really see," he added.

Readiness will be affected if personnel, health care and retirement costs are not reined in, Welsh said.

"We have to solve the problem," he added. "We just have to -- there's no other option. Or we'll be doing nothing but paying people in the next 20, 30 years. We won't be turning a wheel. ... There's no magic bucket you go to [in order] to get more money."

Welsh acknowledged "a certain ambivalence" about the Air Force among the American people, "because they really don't know everything we do. And it's easy to get disconnected."

In the areas around Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve bases, it's easier for the larger Air Force to stay connected to communities, he said. The civilian airmen come to work on base and live in the community, Welsh noted.

"So, we're actually better in those communities than we are anywhere else," he said, "and we have to figure out how to take that strength and expand it."


Auto industry steel project to boost efficiency, safety
Los Alamos partners with Colorado School of Mines in $1.2 million clean-energy manufacturing project

LOS ALAMOS, N.M., July 11, 2013—Higher-strength, lighter-weight steels could be coming to a car near you in the near future as part of a U.S. Department of Energy advanced manufacturing initiative. Los Alamos National Laboratory and Colorado School of Mines (CSM) researchers are lending their expertise to a three-year, $1.2 million project to develop a new class of advanced steels for the automotive industry, materials that will be produced using cleaner manufacturing methods and eliminating the traditional heat-treatment and associated costs and hazards of the process.

“The new project’s goal is to eliminate the time and energy required to heat these parts to around 900°C (red-hot) by creating steels that will meet the safety requirement and still be formable at room temperature,” said Kester Clarke, one of the Los Alamos researchers. The current method for forming safety-critical “b-pillars” for automotive applications is a process called hot-stamping.

As experts in phase transformations in steels, microstructural evolution and alloying/processing response, researchers will use specialized Los Alamos capabilities to help meet the project’s advanced manufacturing initiatives.

The project, “Quenching and Partitioning Process Development to Replace Hot Stamping of High Strength Automotive Steel,” is led by CSM Metallurgical and Materials Engineering Professor Emmanuel De Moor, along with colleagues David Matlock and John Speer of the school’s Advanced Steel Processing and Products Research Center. Los Alamos National Laboratory researchers Amy Clarke (a Mines alumna), Robert Hackenberg and Kester Clarke (also a Mines graduate) are also part of the effort as well as industrial partners AK Steel, General Motors Corporation, Nucor Steel, Severstal, Toyota and United States Steel Corporation.

Specialized equipment at Los Alamos such as a quench dilatometer will be used to provide critical details about phase transformations during heating and cooling, which will, in turn, guide the development of steel compositions and thermal processing routes. Advanced microstructure characterization techniques, including electron microscopy, neutron diffraction and bulk thermal- and deformation-processing capabilities will be used to simulate industrial-scale processing.

The project is part of a DOE $23.5 million investment in innovative manufacturing R&D projects. This new funding for advanced manufacturing—as well as $54 million invested in 13 projects during the first round of selections in June of 2012—will serve as a ground floor investment in Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy's new Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative. DOE Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Office hosted a summit in Washington DC June 24-25.

Friday, July 19, 2013


5 p.m. ET No. 526-13
July 19, 2013
            Dell Federal Systems LP, Round Rock, Texas, (W91QUZ-07-D-0006); International Business Machine Corp., Bethesda, Md., (W91QUZ-07-D-0007); Unicom Government Inc., Herndon, Va., (W91QUZ-07-D-0008); CDW Government LLC, Vernon Hills, Ill., (W91QUZ-07-D-0009); Iron Bow Technologies LLC, Chantilly, Va., (W91QUZ-07-D-0010); and World Wide Technology Inc., Maryland Heights, Mo., (W91QUZ-07-D-0011); were awarded a firm-fixed-price, multiple-award, task-order contract with a maximum value of $494,000,000 for the hardware, software and related integration services in support of the Information Technology Enterprise Solution-2.  Performance location and funding will be determined with each order.  The bid was solicited through the Internet, with 18 bids received.  The Army Contracting Command, Rock Island, Ill., is the contracting activity.

            Thales -- Raytheon Systems Company LLC, Fullerton, Calif., was awarded a firm-fixed-price, multi-year contract with a maximum value of $83,500,000 for spare parts, components and repairs for various radar systems.  Performance location and funding will be determined with each order.  The bid was solicited through the Internet, with one bid received.  The Army Contracting Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., is the contracting activity (W15P7T-13-D-C104).

            Bosh Global Services, Newport News, Va., was awarded a firm-fixed-price, multi-year, option-filled contract with a maximum value of $60,000,000 for small unmanned aircraft systems training, logistics support and technical management services.  Work will be performed in Huntsville, Ala.  Fiscal 2013 operations and maintenance funds in the amount of $5,000 are being obligated on this award.  The bid was solicited through the Internet, with seven bids received.  The Army Contracting Command, Natick, Mass., is the contracting activity (W911QY-13-D-0097).

            FSA + JKC Joint Venture One LLC, Tampa, Fla., was awarded a firm-fixed-price contract with a maximum value of $53,822,000 for the renovation of Scott Barracks at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.  Fiscal 2013 operations and maintenance funds are being obligated on this award.  The bid was solicited through the Internet, with six bids received.  The Army Contracting Command, West Point, N.Y., is the contracting activity (W911SD-13-C-0007).

            Greenway Enterprises Inc., Helena, Mont., was awarded a firm-fixed-price, task-order contract with a maximum value of $49,000,000 for construction projects for western states, primarily in Utah, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico.  Performance location and funding will be determined with each order.  The bid was solicited through the Internet, with two bids received.  The Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore, Md., is the contracting activity (W912DR-13-D-0023).

            Northrop Grumman, Rolling Meadows, Ill., was awarded a cost-plus-fixed-fee, multi-year contract with a maximum value of $17,225,000 for the procurement of repair and calibration of secondary items in support of the integrated family of test equipment.  Fiscal 2013 procurement funds in the amount of $200,000 are being obligated on this award.  The bid was solicited through the Internet, with one bid received.  The Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W31P4Q-13-D-0038).

            GPS Source Inc., Pueblo West, Colo., was awarded an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, firm-fixed-price contract with a maximum value of $16,613,430 for the procurement of defense advanced global positioning system receiver distributed devices.  Performance location and funding will be determined with each order.  The bid was solicited through the Internet, with two bids received.  The Army Contracting Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., is the contracting activity (W15P7T-13-D-C116).

            Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., Sunnyvale, Calif., is being awarded a $9,552,979 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to provide security hardware, associated software, equipment installation, system test, accreditation, certification and delivery of nuclear weapon security system equipment at U.S. Navy Installations.  This contract contains options, which if exercised, will bring the contract value to $10,917,152.  Work will be performed in Sunnyvale, Calif. (34.2 percent); Kings Bay, Ga. (28.49 percent); Silverdale, Wash. (12.17 percent); Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. (11.62 percent); Pittsfield, Mass. (9.3 percent); Honolulu, Hawaii (4.22 percent).  Work is expected to be completed Oct. 30, 2015.  If all the options are exercised, work will continue through March 31, 2016.  Fiscal 2013 Other Procurement, Navy, Fiscal 2013 Operations & Maintenance, Navy, and Research, Development, Test & Evaluation contract funds in the amount of $9,552,979 will be obligated at the time of award.  Contract funds in the amount of $484,750 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.  This contract was not competitively procured in accordance with FAR 6.302-6 and 10 U.S.C. 2304(c)(1).  The Navy's Strategic Systems Programs, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00030-13-C-0043).

            General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine, is being awarded a $7,526,038 cost-plus-award-fee modification to the previously awarded task order under a Basic Ordering Agreement (N00024-09-G-2301 ER09) to provide engineering and management services for advance planning and design in support of the post-shakedown availability for the USS Independence (LCS 2).  Bath Iron Works will provide design, planning, and material support services for the vessel.  Efforts will include program management, advance planning, engineering, design, material kitting, liaison, and scheduling.  Work will be performed in Bath, Maine (55 percent), and San Diego, Calif. (45 percent), and is expected to be completed by March 2014.  Fiscal 2013 Research, Development, Test & Evaluation and Fiscal 2013 Operations & Maintenance, Navy funding in the amount of $7,526,038 will be obligated at the time of award.  Funding in the amount of $602,083 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.  The Basic Ordering Agreement was awarded on a sole-source basis pursuant to 10 U.S.C. 2304 (c)(1).  The Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Conversion, and Repair, Bath, Maine, is the contracting activity.


West Wing Week: 07/19/13 or "It's Hard To Argue With Success" | The White House

West Wing Week: 07/19/13 or "It's Hard To Argue With Success" | The White House


Hagel Stresses Value of Special Operations Forces to Security
By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Steven Fox
U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C., July 18, 2013 - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel highlighted the value of special operations forces during a visit with Marines at the Stone Bay facility here yesterday.

The secretary told Marines and sailors of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command that MARSOC's strength lies in its seasoned Marines who are capable of dealing with developing situations in a complex operational environment.

"Special operations are going to continue to be a critical, critical component of our national security," Hagel said. "I see a tremendous future. We can learn a lot from what special operations does. It's going to be a main piece of our national defense strategy."

Defense Department officials said the purpose of Hagel's visit was to candidly engage with Marines and sailors here on military budget cut impacts and to gain understanding of how MARSOC plans to posture an enabled Marine Special Operations Company for current and future operations.

In meeting with service members here, the secretary expressed his appreciation to them and their families for their continued sacrifice.

"I understand that I'm the first secretary of defense to visit MARSOC, and let me just say thank you," he said. "I try to come out to better understand my job so that I can better support you."

Hagel also stressed that current budget realities in a dangerous world require the Defense Department to learn to do more with less.

"The last 10 or 12 years, the defense budget has been unchallenged, and those days are over," he said. "We have to be more agile and flexible."


Up To $9.5 Million Available From EPA for 2013 Great Lakes Restoration Projects

CHICAGO – (July 15, 2013) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today issued a Request for Applications soliciting proposals from states, municipalities, tribes, universities and nonprofit organizations for Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grants to fund new projects to restore and protect the Great Lakes.  Up to $9.5 million will be available during the current funding cycle.  Grants will be awarded on a competitive basis for projects in the Great Lakes basin.  Applications are due August 14, 2013.

"This round of Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding will be used for projects that reduce exposure to toxic substances from fish consumption, control invasive species, and improve water quality in the Great Lakes," said EPA Great Lakes National Program Manager Susan Hedman. "The work funded by these grants will help to restore and protect waters that are essential to the health and jobs of millions of Americans."


On the ground: looking into Harvard Forest's trees from a less lofty perch.  Credit: NSF Harvard Forest LTER Site
Changing Atmosphere Affects How Much Water Trees Need

Spurred by increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, forests over the last two decades have become dramatically more efficient in how they use water.

Scientists affiliated with the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Harvard Forest Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) site report the results in this week's issue of the journal Nature.

Harvard Forest is one of 26 such NSF LTER sites in ecosystems from deserts to grasslands, coral reefs to coastal waters, around the world.

Studies have long predicted that plants would begin to use water more efficiently, that is, lose less water during photosynthesis, as atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rose.

A research team led by Trevor Keenan and Andrew Richardson of Harvard University, however, has found that forests across the globe are losing less water than expected and becoming even more efficient at using it for growth.

Using data collected in forests in the northeastern United States and elsewhere around the world, Keenan and Richardson found increases in efficiency larger than those predicted by state-of-the-art computer models.

The research was done in collaboration with scientists from the USDA Forest Service, Ohio State University, Indiana University and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany.

"This could be considered a beneficial effect of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide," said Keenan, the first author of the Nature paper.

"What's surprising is we didn't expect the effect to be this big. A large proportion of the ecosystems in the world are limited by water--they don't have enough water during the year to reach their maximum potential growth.

"If they become more efficient at using water, they should be able to take more carbon out of the atmosphere due to higher growth rates."

While increased atmospheric carbon dioxide may benefit forests in the short-term, Richardson emphasized that the overall climate picture would remain grim if levels continue to rise.

"We're still very concerned about what rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide mean for the planet," Richardson said.

"There is little doubt that as carbon dioxide continues to rise--and last month we just passed a critical milestone, 400 parts per million for the first time in human history--rising global temperatures and changes in rainfall patterns will, in coming decades, have very negative consequences for plant growth in many ecosystems around the world."

How do increasing carbon dioxide levels lead to more efficient water use?

The answer, Keenan said, is in the way photosynthesis works.

To take in the carbon dioxide they need, plants open tiny pores, called stomata, on their leaves. As carbon dioxide enters, however, water vapor is able to escape.

Higher levels of carbon dioxide mean the stomata don't need to open as wide, or for as long, so the plants lose less water and grow faster.

To take advantage of that fact, commercial growers have for years pumped carbon dioxide into greenhouses to promote plant growth.

To test whether such a "carbon dioxide fertilization effect" was taking place in forests, Keenan, Richardson and others turned to long-term data measured using a technique called eddy covariance.

This method, which relies on sophisticated instruments mounted on tall towers extending above the forest canopy, allows researchers to determine how much carbon dioxide and water are going into and out of the ecosystem.

With more than 20 years of data, the towers at the NSF Harvard Forest LTER site--which have the longest continuous record in the world--are an important resource for studying how forests have responded to changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, scientists say.

"A goal of the NSF LTER program is understanding forest ecosystems and the basis for predicting fluxes of energy and materials in these ecosystems," said Matt Kane, program director in NSF's Division of Environmental Biology, "as well as distributions of forest biota as a result of global climate change."

"Findings from this study are important to our understanding of forest ecosystems--and how they can be managed more effectively now and in the future."

Though more than 300 towers like Harvard Forest's have sprung up around the globe, many of the earliest--and hence with the longest data records--are in the northeastern United States.

When the researchers began to look at those records, they found that forests were storing more carbon and becoming more efficient in how they used water.

The phenomenon, however, wasn't limited to a single region. When the scientists examined long-term data sets from all over the world, the same trend was evident.

"We went through every possible hypothesis of what could be going on, and ultimately what we were left with is that the only phenomenon that could cause this type of shift in water-use efficiency is rising atmospheric carbon dioxide," Keenan said.

Going forward, Keenan, who is now at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, is working to get access to data collected from yet more sites, including several that monitor tropical and arctic systems.

"This larger dataset will help us better understand the extent of the response we observed," he said.

"That in turn will help us build better models, and improve predictions of the future of the Earth's climate.

"Right now, all the models we have underrepresent this effect by as much as an order of magnitude, so the question is: What are the models not getting? What do they need to incorporate to capture this effect, and how will that affect their projections for climate change?"

The research was also supported by NOAA. Field measurements at the sites, which are part of the AmeriFlux network, have also been funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and the USDA Forest Service.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Press Briefing | The White House

Press Briefing | The White House

45th ESOS crewmembers speak with ANG and ANGRC leadership after landing at Joint Base Andrews, Md., July 12, 2013

45th ESOS crewmembers speak with ANG and ANGRC leadership after landing at Joint Base Andrews, Md., July 12, 2013

Steps for your child's asthma

Steps for your child's asthma

EBRD funds first private mill for production of recycled cardboard in Turkmenistan [EBRD - News and events]

EBRD funds first private mill for production of recycled cardboard in Turkmenistan [EBRD - News and events]



Washington, D.C., July 17, 2013 — The Securities and Exchange Commission today obtained a $13.9 million penalty against former Goldman Sachs board member Rajat K. Gupta for illegally tipping corporate secrets to former hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam. Gupta also is permanently barred from serving as an officer or director of a public company.

The SEC previously obtained a record $92.8 million penalty against Rajaratnam for prior insider trading charges.

“The sanctions imposed today send a clear message to board members who are entrusted with protecting the confidences of the companies they serve,” said George S. Canellos, Co-Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “If you abuse your position by sharing confidential company information with friends and business associates in exchange for private gain, you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent by the SEC.”

In its complaint filed in late 2011, the SEC alleged that Gupta disclosed confidential information to Rajaratnam about Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s $5 billion investment in Goldman Sachs as well as nonpublic details about Goldman Sachs’s financial results for the second and fourth quarters of 2008.

In addition to imposing the civil penalty, the order issued today by the Honorable Jed S. Rakoff of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York enjoins Gupta from future violations of the securities laws, and permanently bars him from acting as an officer or director of a public company, and from associating with any broker, dealer, or investment adviser.

In a parallel criminal case arising out of the same facts, the SEC provided significant assistance to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York in its successful criminal prosecution of Gupta, who was found guilty on June 15, 2012 of one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and three counts of securities fraud. Following the jury verdict, Gupta was sentenced on Oct. 24, 2012, to a term of imprisonment of two years followed by one year of supervised release, and ordered to pay a $5 million criminal fine.

On Dec. 26, 2012, the SEC obtained a final judgment ordering Rajaratnam to disgorge his share of the profits gained and losses avoided as a result of the insider trading based on Gupta’s tips, plus prejudgment interest.


Additional Missile Defense Tests Necessary, Official Says
By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 17, 2013 - Following recent testing failures, the director of the Missile Defense Agency told Congress today that he is committed to a full evaluation of the way forward for the nation's ballistic missile defense system.

Navy Vice Adm. James Syring told members of the Senate Appropriations Committee's defense subcommittee that the most recent flight test, conducted July 5, was intended to assess the ability of a ground-based interceptor to intercept a midcourse target. Although the missile launched successfully, it failed to intercept its target, he added.

The payload -- an upgraded Capability Enhancement-I exo-atmospheric kill vehicle -- is designed to separate from the missile carrying it, Syring said.

While the most recent test is considered a failure because the payload failed to separate, he said, it achieved secondary objectives, including demonstrations of the system's sensors and the first use of an Aegis missile as a ground-based, midcourse defense launch-armed sensor.

The cause of the failure is still under review, Syring said, but he underscored his commitment to the program and noted that this was the first failure in four tests of this particular version of the kill vehicle.

"We've seen separation issues in previous flight tests, before the CE-I, earlier on in the prototype testing. And those have been corrected," he told committee members. "We'll find out what happened here, and we'll correct this as well.

"I am committed to conducting a full evaluation of the path ahead for the [ground-based midcourse defense] program," he continued, "to include more regular testing, an acceleration of the CE-II upgrades after intercept testing or redesign, and upgrade of the current [exo-atmospheric kill vehicle]," Syring said.

Regardless of the path the agency embarks upon, he said, it will aggressively attack any substantiated quality control problems coming out of the failure review board.

Future testing dates are still under consideration, Syring said, and could involve a repeat of the most recent test.

"What's important is continued testing," he noted. "And I've requested in the [fiscal year 2014] budget two intercept tests and at least one intercept test in subsequent years."

Syring acknowledged that he couldn't guarantee additional funding wouldn't be necessary, but, he said, "the budget, as it's currently structured, has adequate funding to complete the development of the CE-II, to test the CE-II [and] to complete the upgrades to the CE-I fleet."

The admiral told the committee that while ground-based interceptor systems have been deployed before being fully developed, that decision was made with good reason.

"The GBIs currently fielded were fielded very quickly to meet a growing threat and that served a very good purpose," he said. "It was always our intent ... to incrementally improve the GBI system over time, and that's what we're doing."

Syring said he remained confident that the interceptor fleet is ready to defend the nation, including from intercontinental ballistic missile attacks. "We have extensive model and simulation capability that projects the results of our conducted intercept testing into the longer range environment," the admiral told the Senate panel.

Speed and distance is important, Syring noted, adding that he expects to have an ICBM target available in 2015 to use in testing. "Our models and simulations and ground testing ... indicate that we would be successful," he said.

In March, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the operational fleet of ground-based interceptors increased from 30 to 44 by 2017. That decision assumes a successful testing of the next-generation exo-atmospheric kill vehicle, the CE-II, Syring told the committee. And, he said, that the results of the most recent test review do not point to any problematic common components within the currently planned production ground-based interceptors.

Additional deployments of ground-based interceptor systems are under consideration, Syring said.

The agency is evaluating locations in the continental United States for possible future deployment sites, he said. It is also working with Japanese partners to deploy a second AN/TPY-2 anti-ballistic missile mobile radar system to Japan in order to provide more robust sensor coverage for homeland defense.

"We will continue to strengthen regional defenses with funding to operate and sustain command, control, battle management and communications and the TPY-2 radars at the fielded sites," Syring said. "We will also deliver more interceptors for the terminal high- altitude aerial defense program and Aegis ballistic missile defense."

As part of the European missile defense strategy in response to threats from Iran, Syring told the committee his agency will continue to fund upgrades to Phase 1 of the European Phased Adaptive Approach. The strategy, authorized by President Barack Obama in 2009, features a mix of sea- and land-based missile interceptors and sensor systems.

"This approach is based on an assessment of the Iranian missile threat, and a commitment to deploy technology that is proven, cost-effective, and adaptable to an evolving security environment," according to a White House fact sheet released at the time.

The Missile Defense Agency also is on schedule to complete Aegis Ashore -- the land-based component of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System -- in Romania by 2015 and in Poland by 2018, Syring said.


U.S.-Australia System Promotes Logistics Interoperability
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 17, 2013 - A new logistics tracking system between the United States and Australia will help to ensure faster, more coordinated responses to humanitarian crises and other contingencies while laying the foundation for closer cooperation across the Asia-Pacific region, the senior U.S. Pacific Command logistics director reported.
Pacom, through its U.S. Army Pacific component, and the Australian defense force launched the Pacific Radio Frequency Identification System in April, Air Force Brig. Gen. Mark M. McLeod reported during a telephone interview from the command headquarters at Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii.
The system incorporates technologies commercial retailers have come to rely on to track their goods from the manufacturer to warehouses and into buyers' hands, McLeod explained.

It also leverages capabilities NATO introduced about three years ago with the standup of a network exchange hub that promotes information sharing about supply shipments bound for the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

The NATO system uses radio-frequency identification to automatically locate and track shipments through ISAF-member supply chains. Nations connected to a routing hub in Luxembourg transmit logistics data to other users, giving the entire supply chain real-time visibility on the shipments.

The Pacific Radio Frequency Identification system introduces this capability into the Pacom theater to support rotational U.S. Marine Corps forces in Darwin, Australia, and expanded military-to-military cooperation across the region, McLeod said.

The Defense Department has long used barcode technology to monitor the flow of everything from washers and nuts for a particular aircraft to armored vehicles, he explained. This gives logisticians the ability to track shipments throughout the transportation process and keep tabs on inventory stocks.

The new system takes this effort a step further. It uses radio frequency identification technology to "read" barcode information on both U.S. and Australian military equipment and supplies. Australian RFID readers recognize the barcodes affixed to U.S. shipments flowing through Australia, then automatically transmits the information to the NATO routing hub. U.S. logisticians can then monitor the flow of equipment or shipments through delivery.

"It gives everybody near-real-time access," McLeod said. "When an individual supply-line item passes along a tracking device, it is automatically read up into a database and distributed. There is literally just a matter of seconds involved in the transmission of the information to everyone's servers about where their equipment is."

The new logistics partnership saves the United States the cost of deploying and installing its own RFID systems in Australia at an estimated cost of about $560,000 over the next five years, McLeod said.

"This is a big win for U.S. and Australian forces operating in the Pacific, McLeod said. "This is 'Pacific Rebalance' in action."

With a U.S. defense strategy focused heavily on the Asia-Pacific region and expanded U.S. engagement across the theater, the system supports closer U.S.-Australian interoperability during exercises, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions and other contingencies, he said.

The system also provides a framework that could be expanded in the future to include more regional allies and partners, he said. "This is another example of how partner-nation logistics cooperation effectively and efficiently expands military reach and capability in the Asia-Pacific region," the general added.

Historically, the military has struggled with two primary obstacles to logistics-information technology: incompatible systems that made sharing difficult, and security protocols that limited what information could be shared, and with whom.

The since-dissolved U.S. Forces Command came up with an initial logistics information-sharing system about seven years ago, McLeod said. It required users from one country to email information to their partner-nation counterparts, who downloaded the file and uploaded it onto their own system.

"It was a clunky way of transmitting information, and not in real time," McLeod said. "It depended on how much manpower and how much time you had, so it wasn't an effective or efficient way of sharing information."

The United States and Australia previously attempted to share logistics information using a direct link between their systems, but got bogged down by servers that had trouble talking to each other and accreditation processes that were slow and cumbersome.

They abandoned the project in early 2011 in favor of the current one that leverages NATO capabilities.

"The system is fully operational right now," McLeod said. "It was turned on in early April, and it is up and running."

McLeod emphasized the importance of logistics information-sharing, particularly during the U.S. pivot to the Asia-Pacific region. "Knowing the times and dates when things are going to arrive empowers all the processes that we have in military logistics," he said. "Efficient and integrated international supply chains aren't just important to Wal-Mart. They are critical enablers for warfighters as well."

This capability will be particularly valuable, he said, in the event that nations need to work together to respond to a natural disaster such as the Operation Tomodachi in Japan.

"We are looking more and more toward our partners and our partner capacity to integrate with us and be more fully interoperable," he said. "This is one of those empowering enabler technologies that allow us to do that."

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Press Briefing | The White House

Press Briefing | The White House

Development Institutions Support Sustainable Development Post-2015 [EBRD - News and events]

Development Institutions Support Sustainable Development Post-2015 [EBRD - News and events]

U.S. Department of Defense Armed with Science Update: Brain Mapping

U.S. Department of Defense Armed with Science Update


Baseball All-Star Festivities Include 'Tribute for Heroes'
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 16, 2013 - As Major League Baseball showcases its top players at Citi Field in New York tonight, it will take time before the 2013 All-Star Game to honor 30 service members and veterans.

During the "Tribute for Heroes" campaign, conducted jointly by MLB and People magazine, 90 finalists were selected, and fans voted online to select one service member or veteran to represent each of MLB's 30 teams.

Over the last two days, they've taken a private tour of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and attended a VIP reception at the All-Star Gala. They also took in All-Star Red Carpet Show and last night's Home Run Derby. They will attend and be honored during the pre-game ceremony leading up to tonight's game, which will be broadcast on the Fox network beginning at 7:30 p.m. EDT.

The Tribute for Heroes campaign supports Welcome Back Veterans, an initiative of Major League Baseball and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, which addresses the needs of veterans after they return from service, according to an MLB news release. MLB has committed more than $23 million for grants to hospitals and clinics that provide post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury treatment to veterans and their families in a public/private partnership with "Centers of Excellence" at university hospitals throughout the country, the release noted.

As part of its 2013 charity initiative, PEOPLE First: Help America's Veterans, 'PEOPLE' is partnering with Welcome Back Veterans and three other nonprofit organizations that are committed to providing assistance to military men and women, and will feature them in stories in the magazine throughout 2013.


Religious Minorities in Syria: Caught in the Middle
Thomas O. Melia
Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
As Prepared
House Foreign Affairs Subcommittees on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations and on Middle East and North Africa
Washington, DC
June 25, 2013

Chairman Smith, Chairman Ros-Lehtinen, and members of the subcommittee, thank you for inviting me to discuss the situation for minorities in Syria.

Syria is comprised of a rich myriad of religious and ethnic groups. Syria’s population is approximately 22.5 million, although emigration has increased due to ongoing violence, unrest, and economic hardship. According to the State Department’s International Religious Freedom report for 2012, Sunni Muslims constitute 74 percent of the population, and include: Arabs, Kurds, Circassians, Chechens, and Turkomans. The Alawis, Ismailis, and Shia constitute 13 percent. The Druze account for 3 percent. Christian groups, who have an ancient presence in Syria, constitute the remaining 10 percent, although the Christian population may be closer to 8 percent due to recent emigration due to the conflict.

Syria looks disturbingly different today than it did at the start of the revolution. What started as a peaceful demand for human rights in Deraa has turned into a devastating conflict nationwide with a growing human toll. The Assad regime continues to commit gross and systematic violations of human rights. According to the U.N., more than 93,000 Syrians have died since the beginning of the conflict and the number is rising. More than 1.6 million people have left their homes in Syria to seek refuge in another country – a number that could more than double by the end of 2013. And nearly 4.5 million Syrians are internally displaced, all out of a total population of only 20 million. The last several months have been particularly concerning. We have seen increasing sectarian undertones in the horrific massacres of Bayda, Banias, and Qusayr. Indeed, the UN Commission of Inquiry’s June 4 report underscores that crimes against humanity have become a daily reality for the people of Syria. The regime has provoked and attempted to divide Syria’s population by driving a wedge between the minorities and Sunni majority. The regime continues to target faith groups it deems a threat, including members of the country’s Sunni majority and religious minorities. Such targeting included killing, detention, and harassment. Regime attacks have also destroyed religious sites, including more than 1,000 mosques.

The attacks on Qusayr marked a dangerous new precedent of direct sectarian threats by Hizballah’s forces that are fighting at the behest of the regime. During the June session of the UN Human Rights Council session, we co-sponsored an urgent debate and resolution on the regime and Hizballah’s attack on Qusayr. Unfortunately the regime did not halt its attacks. Over 200 civilians were killed and many more wounded who now desperately need humanitarian assistance.

There are reports the regime is now moving north to Aleppo as well as calling on Shia civilians to fight against the Sunni population.

We have also seen al-Qaida-linked groups and other violent extremist groups engaged in gross human rights abuses. We have seen several reports of violent extremists conducting massacres of Shia civilians as well as destroying a Shia mosque. Many Christians have reported receiving threats on their lives if they do not join the opposition efforts against the regime, have been driven from their homes and killed in mass as presumed supporters of the regime. We have also seen increasing lawlessness in the northern areas and increasing threats to civilian security, including kidnapping, rape, and looting. Syrian Orthodox archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim and Greek Orthodox archbishop Paul Yazigi were kidnapped April 22 by persons unknown, and remain missing. The Nusrah Front has claimed responsibility for bombings across the country. A 15-year-old boy was executed for blasphemy this month by extremists in Aleppo who, reports suggest, have come from outside the country to fight the regime. As you know, the Obama administration designated the Nusrah Front in December 2012 as an alias of al-Qaida in Iraq, and supported a similar designation by the UN Security Council as well. We did that to warn others in the Syrian opposition of the risks that they take by working with the Nusrah Front.

These groups do not support the aspirations, nor do they reflect the mindset, of the vast majority of the Syrian people, or even the vast majority of the active Syrian opposition. The atrocities committed by these extremist elements should not be conflated with the efforts by the moderate opposition, including the Supreme Military Council, to seek an end to the Assad regime and to facilitate a political transition. In fact, the list of acceptable targets for these extremist groups is increasingly long, and includes Sunnis. In a recent interview with the Economist magazine, one Nusrah Front fighter stated that even Sunnis who want democracy are “unbelievers” who deserve to be punished.

Sectarian based retribution plays directly into the regime’s and violent extremists’ hands. It does not move the country closer to the inclusive, post-Assad future that Syrians have been struggling to achieve. We have been very clear that all sides in this conflict must abide by international humanitarian law and we continue to urge all Syrians to speak out against the perpetration of unlawful killings against any group, regardless of faith or ethnicity. In our conversations with opposition military leaders, we have consistently urged opposition groups to respect international law and human rights , and applauded those groups that signed on to the code of conduct issued by the Free Syrian Army in the fall of 2012. We are encouraged by the actions of our political and military opposition partners to work towards and speak out in favor of these shared goals, and are working to use our assistance to improve the capacity of these proven actors.

We continue to try to help bring an end to the violent conflict in Syria by strengthening the moderate opposition, blocking the Assad regime’s access to cash and weapons, facilitating a political transition to end Assad’s rule, providing humanitarian assistance, and laying the groundwork for an inclusive democratic transition, including accountability for the egregious violations committed. We are also working closely with our allies to stem the flow of money and resources to violent extremist groups.

We believe that a political transition is the best solution for the crisis in Syria. We support the letter and intent of the June 2012 Geneva Communiqué, which calls for a transitional governing body with full executive powers and formed on the basis of mutual consent. We have been clear that there is no role for Assad in a transitional government; he has lost his credibility and must be held accountable.

Our and our partners’ efforts to strengthen the moderate opposition and change the balance on the ground include diplomatic outreach to improve the representativeness and connectedness of the opposition bodies themselves. We have repeatedly encouraged the political opposition to include grass roots activists from inside Syria, minorities, and women from all communities in their leadership. We hope that their upcoming meetings will produce more diverse and inclusive membership and leaders who reflect the diversity of Syria’s opposition.

We regularly track violations and abuses committed in Syria by all parties, and regularly reiterate our call for all parties to the conflict in Syria to protect and to respect the rights of all civilians, regardless of ethnicity, religion, or gender. We have been absolutely clear that those responsible for serious violations of international human rights law and humanitarian law must be held accountable. As we have noted at the UN, the international community must continue to support documentation and other efforts to lay the groundwork for justice and accountability processes, and to support Syrian efforts as they identify how best to bring to justice those who have committed these heinous acts. As we look toward expanding our engagement with the Syrian opposition, efforts by the United States and the international community focused on justice, accountability, and conflict resolution will be critical to ensuring the protection of human rights during Syria’s transition. By helping Syrians to accelerate their efforts to lay the groundwork for eventual criminal trials, we aim to deter current and potential perpetrators of these crimes, as well as sectarian vigilante justice or collective reprisals.

The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) at the State Department is supporting Syrian civil society so they can more effectively coordinate to advocate for human rights and democracy concerns. We are also bolstering efforts to lay the groundwork for future transitional justice initiatives, by supporting the documentation of violations and abuses committed by all sides of the conflict, and education about locally-owned accountability and transitional justice mechanisms. We are also promoting conflict mitigation and reconciliation by supporting positive cross-sectarian engagement, coalition building, and targeted humanitarian assistance and conflict prevention training at the local level. We support these activities by partnering with large interfaith and ecumenical non-governmental international organizations and universities with experience working in Syria. A broad range of Syrian ethnic and religious minority groups are included throughout our efforts.

We are also honoring the work of human rights activists, such as female Syrian Alawite activist Hanadi Zahlout, who recently was selected for the 2013 Department of State Human Rights Defender Award. It is critical for Syrians and the international community to understand that Syria’s minorities hold a range of political views and associations, despite the Assad regime’s efforts to act as their sole representative and protector against the Sunni majority. Not all Alawites support the regime or the abuses committed by pro-regime militias, just as not all Sunnis support the opposition. Ms. Zahlout has been active on human rights issues in Syria since before the revolution, and was a founding member of the Local Coordination Committees (LCCs) which are an integral part of the opposition infrastructure. She is providing education and messaging on antisectarianism, as well as raising awareness about current threats to the security of minority communities and concerns about their role in a future transition.

Other U.S. backed transition assistance programs are helping to provide vital services such as food, water and electricity to local community groups, which help establish credible alternatives to new extremist elements among opposition groups. We supplied over 6,000 major pieces of equipment, including communications gear, to enable activists to coordinate their efforts. We boosted radio signals, extending the reach of broadcast on FM stations, and funded media outlets. We then used those media platforms to address sectarian violence and issue public service messages on chemical weapons exposure.

We also have trained and equipped thousands of local leaders and activists – including women and minorities – from over 100 Syrian opposition provincial councils. These graduates are empowering local committees and councils from Damascus to Dayr az Zawr to Idlib to better provide for the needs of all members of their communities. And we are looking to improve civilian security through training and some non-lethal equipment to opposition police and judges. This is critical to addressing the security vacuum in liberated areas easily exploited by extremists.

Finally, to ensure that our assistance reaches its intended targets and does not end up in the hands of extremists, we will continue to vet recipients using the formal processes that have been established across various government agencies.

The United States stood with the Syrian people at the outset of this conflict, beginning with U.S. support for activists and civil society during the early protest movement. We stand with the Syrian people today, with ongoing and increasing efforts to strengthen the opposition and civil society. And we will continue to stand with them going forward, until the day that we can together welcome a new Syria, one where the Syrian people can enjoy a free, stable, and democratic country without Assad.

We look forward to working with Congress toward this goal. Thank you again for the invitation to testify before your committee today. I am happy to take any questions you might have.


Joint Enabling Capabilities Command Postures for Future Ops
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 16, 2013 - Joint Enabling Capabilities Command, the Defense Department's 911 call force for joint force headquarters operations and bridging joint operational requirements, is implementing a new, five-year strategy to position it for future operational demands, its commander reported.

The new strategy, "Force for Today, Force for the Future," is designed to better align the command with the priorities U.S. Transportation Command, its higher headquarters, began instituting last fall in its own five-year strategy, Navy Rear Adm. Scott A. Stearney said during a telephone interview from Norfolk, Va.

Air Force Gen. William M. Fraser III, Transcom's commander, unveiled the most-sweeping strategic planning effort in the command's 25-year history in October. In a nutshell, it aims to make Transcom the department's "transportation and enabling-capability provider of choice," Stearney said.

That goes beyond the transportation, airlift, sealift and distribution support Transcom is well known for, to include less-recognized but critical contributions like those provided by Joint Enabling Capabilities Command.

The JECC is DOD's "A team" for the capabilities needed to quickly stand up and operate a Joint Task Force, with experts in operations, plans, knowledge management, intelligence, logistics, communications and public affairs. They deploy anywhere in the world within just a few days' notice, organized in teams tailored to the specific combatant commander's mission to augment assets already on the ground.

"We send very high-performing, small, mission-tailored teams that are very experienced" in joint task force headquarters operations, Stearney said. "They bring those joint skill sets that are required to make those task forces truly joint."

The JECC and its three support elements -- joint planning, joint communications and joint public affairs -- have supported every major military operation since 9/11. That has ranged from contingency missions in Iraq and Afghanistan to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions in Pakistan, Haiti and Japan. Most recently, the command supported Hurricane Sandy relief efforts in the United States and operations in U.S. Africa Command with its supporting role to the French in Mali.

Based on a year-long review, the new strategy aims to increase the JECC's capability by more closely aligning it to combatant commanders' requirements.

"The nuance here is that we look to an end state where we are even more connected and more interdependent with the combatant commanders we operate with," Stearney said.

The strategy focuses on four additional areas:

-- Training and building experience to be ready to respond to emergent joint operations;

-- Engaging with combatant command customers to prepare and enable seamless joint force headquarters solutions;

-- Innovating with an eye to expanding joint force commanders' expeditionary command-and-control capability; and

-- Operating in complex environments with high-performing, mission-tailored teams that Stearney said "provide the right force at the right time to meet and accomplish global mission requirements."

"The end state is that we are going to deliver unmatched joint operational command-and-control enablers to the joint force commanders who are conducting full-spectrum military operations," he said. "This strategy leverages the JECC core competencies and targets those capabilities most needed by our combatant command customers when resources are tight, time is short and risk is high."

Stearney and his team now plan to develop directives that spell out how the strategy will be implemented.

With strict belt-tightening measures underway, he said this process will help the JECC prioritize its efforts to best support its mission and those of the combatant commands it supports. This will be particularly important, he said, in the event that more cuts are required.

"But in my view, the JECC is already a high-value and highly efficient organization," Stearney said. "We are very lean in the headquarters and have just enough to get our mission done. We try to put most of our muscle and our personnel, as well as our resources, into the elements."

Looking to the future, Stearney said he sees no downturn in the appetite for the specialized skills and experience those elements provide. The defense strategy and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey's Capstone Concept for Joint Operations both recognize that contingency operations are likely to become more -- not less -- frequent in the decade ahead, he noted.

Whether for combat operations or a response to a humanitarian disaster, U.S. military forces will be called on to provide support, he said. And wherever they operate, it will almost assuredly be as a joint force that deploys with little advance notice and hits the ground running.

That means they'll need a command-and-control structure able to spring into action with them at full throttle -- the forte of the JECC.

"We provide the rapid joint task force enabling capabilities for the Department of Defense as a 911 force that provides these skill sets to any type of JTF that would stand up as a result of any type of emerging crisis," Stearney said. "It doesn't matter if it's Pacific Command or Central Command or Southern Command or another command. We support them all."

And during the next five years, he said, the JECC "will assume an expanded role in how our nation responds to emergent global events."


Forest Death.  Credit:  Leigh Brandt
Rising Global Temperatures Accelerate Drought-induced Forest Mortality
Research has dire global implications for forests

LOS ALAMOS, N.M., July 10, 2013—Many southwestern forests in the United States will disappear or be heavily altered by 2050, according to a series of joint Los Alamos National Laboratory-University of New Mexico studies.

In a new video produced by Los Alamos, Nathan McDowell, a Los Alamos plant physiologist, and William Pockman, a UNM biology professor, explain that their research, and more from scientists around the world, is forecasting that by 2100 most conifer forests should be heavily disturbed, if not gone, as air temperatures rise in combination with drought.

“Everybody knows trees die when there's a drought, if there's bark beetles or fire, yet nobody in the world can predict it with much accuracy.” McDowell said. “What's really changed is that the temperature is going up,” thus the researchers are imposing artificial drought conditions on segments of wild forest in the Southwest and pushing forests to their limit to discover the exact processes of mortality and survival.

Wild forest analysis more effective than greenhouses
The study is centered on drought experiments in woodlands at both Los Alamos and the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge in central New Mexico. Both sites are testing hypotheses about how forests die on mature, wild trees, rather than seedlings in a greenhouse, through the ecosystem-scale removal of 50 percent of yearly precipitation through large water-diversion trough systems.

At the Sevilleta, additional plots are irrigated to examine how wet climate cycles may make forests more vulnerable to subsequent droughts, whilst at Los Alamos, both droughted and ambient precipitation piñon and juniper trees are also heated in Plexiglas chambers to mimic an environment that's 5 degrees Celsius warmer than today.

“Because we're not working in a greenhouse with plants in pots, but we're working with plants that grew on a natural landscape and we're working over a long period of time. . . our field manipulations provide great power to understand what actually happens to real plants,” said Pockman.

Starving trees for essential data
Scientists take data to test hypotheses regarding plant starvation, dehydration and vulnerability to insect attack during severe drought, including measurements of carbon dioxide transfer in the leaves and carbohydrate content of the plants.

“The Sevilleta site is part of a network of sites funded by the National Science Foundation Long-term ecological Research Program,” said Pockman. “It's intended to provide a source of data that spans long time periods, which is essentially the time scale over which ecological processes occur.”

The research project at the Sevilleta now has eight years worth of data on drought and tree death.

Rainfall is not always the answer
“The irrigation has revealed that trees can do really well when it rains a lot, and obviously that's not a huge surprise,” said McDowell. “But they may also be more vulnerable to a subsequent drought. So climate predictions suggest that with more droughts, we should also have more heavy rainfall periods.

Those things may actually set up these trees for failure during the next drought.”
Bad news for the piñon pines, especially, which tend to give up completely when the hot, dry air pulls essential moisture from their needles. The junipers, standing nearby, lose a branch at a time to the heat and moisture stress treatment, but perish more slowly than the piñon neighbors.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Press Briefing | The White House

Press Briefing | The White House

Red Arrow aims for tactical excellence

Red Arrow aims for tactical excellence

Sobrevolando un cañón en Marte

Sobrevolando un cañón en Marte


EPA Announces $15 Million in Supplemental Funds to Clean up and Redevelop Contaminated Brownfields Sites Across the Country 

WASHINGTON – Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced approximately $15 million in supplemental funding to help clean up contaminated Brownfields properties. The Revolving Loan Funding (RLF) will help 41 communities carry out cleanup and redevelopment projects. These projects will help communities create jobs while protecting people’s health and the environment.

“These funds – granted to communities who have already achieved success in their work to clean up and redevelop brownfields – will help boost local economies, create local jobs and protect people from harmful pollution by expediting Brownfield projects,” said Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. “The RLF supplemental recipients are some of the nation’s top performers. Collectively, these communities have already leveraged more than $2.5 billion in clean up and redevelopment investment – the RLF funding announced today will help sustain that incredible progress.”

Revolving loan funds specifically supply funding for grant recipients to provide loans and sub-grants to carry out cleanup activities at brownfield sites. When these loans are repaid, the loan amount is then returned to the fund and subgranted or re-loaned to other borrowers, providing an ongoing source of capital within a community for additional cleanup of brownfield sites. The supplemental grants range in funding from about $200,000 to $400,000 with an average grant award of $300,000.

This year’s supplemental funds will support an array of cleanup and redevelopment projects across the country. For example:

The City of Brea, Calif., will use its supplemental funding to clean sections of a former rail line, which will be reused as a rails-to-trails project for alternative transportation and recreation options.
Cleanup of a downtown property in Great Falls, Mont., will allow Easter Seals Good Will to move forward with a $2.5 million redevelopment, which will create numerous construction and permanent jobs.
A loan from the Indiana Finance Authority will go toward cleanup of the former Carpenter Manufacturing site, which will be redeveloped into a business park redevelopment creating approximately 100 jobs.
The Land-of-Sky Regional Council will use the additional funding for cleanup at the former Chatham Mill in Salem, N.C. Once cleaned, developers plan to rehabilitate the 300,000 square foot structure into approximately 150 multifamily rental units.
In Nassau County, N.Y., funds will be used to address the last un-remediated parcel of Glen Cove’s 52 acre waterfront redevelopment area.

There are an estimated 450,000 abandoned and contaminated sites in the United States. EPA’s Brownfields program targets these sites to encourage redevelopment, and help to provide the opportunity for productive community use of contaminated properties. EPA’s Brownfields investments overall have leveraged more than $20 billion in cleanup and redevelopment funding from public and private sources and on average, $17.79 is leveraged for every EPA Brownfields grant dollar spent.

The funds have enabled the support of 90,000 jobs in cleanup, construction and redevelopment.

DVIDS - Video - SECDEF Hagel at Fort Bragg

DVIDS - Video - SECDEF Hagel at Fort Bragg


X-Ray Imaging, Spacecraft Nuclear Fission and Cosmic Ray Contraband Detection Score R&D 100 Awards

Los Alamos and partner technologies honored for innovation and utility

LOS ALAMOS, N.M., July 8, 2013—R&D Magazine today announced the winners of its annual “R&D 100” competition, commonly known as the “Oscars of Innovation,” and three technologies from Los Alamos National Laboratory and its partners are among the honorees.

“The innovation and creativity shown in this year’s awards is truly inspiring. It gives me great confidence in the Laboratory’s intellectual vitality and ongoing role in national security science. Congratulations to our researchers and their partners,” said Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Charles McMillan.

A Digital X-ray Imager for Field Use

 MiniMAX is a battery powered, digital x-ray imaging system that is completely self-contained, lightweight, compact and portable. Its applications include homeland security (postal inspection of suspicious packages and explosive ordnance disposal), nondestructive testing, weld inspection, disaster relief (to triage broken bones and confirm dental X-rays) and for field and veterinary medicine. (Joint entry with Los Alamos, Leica Camera AG, JDS Uniphase and JENOPTIK Optical Systems LLC.)
Nuclear Fission for Spacecraft

KiloPower uses a nuclear fission system as a heat source that transfers heat via a heat pipe to a small Stirling-engine-based power convertor to produce electricity from uranium. With KiloPower, it is possible for NASA and other government and industrial organizations to continue developing probes and spacecraft for the exploration of deep space. (Joint entry with Los Alamos, NASA Glenn Research Center and National Security Technologies, LLC.)
Cosmic Ray Muons for Contraband Detection

Multi-Mode Passive Detection System (MMPDS) is a scanning device using muon particles from cosmic rays for quickly detecting unshielded to heavily shielded nuclear and radiological threats as well as explosives and other contraband. (Joint entry with Los Alamos and Decision Sciences International Corporation.)
But wait, there’s more. . .

Los Alamos was also a joint winner with Sandia National Laboratories, which led the work, on

Mantevo Suite 1.0: This suite of software prototypes or small sections of code allows computational scientists to measure the performance of new computing environments and helps in the design of future computing applications. (Joint entry with Sandia, Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore national laboratories, the United Kingdom-based Atomic Weapons Establishment and Santa Clara-based NVIDIA Corp.)
A History of Success

Since 1978 when it first competed, Los Alamos has won 129 of the prestigious R&D100 awards that celebrate the top 100 proven technological advances of the year as judged by R&D Magazine. These technologies include innovative new materials, chemistry breakthroughs, biomedical products, consumer items, testing equipment, and high-energy physics.

In the years since 1995, winning innovations have returned more than $45 million in funding to Los Alamos in the form of Cooperative Research and Development Agreements, Work for Others, User Facility Agreements and licenses. An estimated 80 patent awards have been associated with winners with many more patents pending. Some 25 percent of LANL's commercial licenses and 35 percent of noncommercial licenses can be attributed to R&D 100 winners.

multi-mode passive #66DDCF3.jpg
About Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory, a multidisciplinary research institution engaged in strategic science on behalf of national security, is operated by Los Alamos National Security, LLC, a team composed of Bechtel National, the University of California, The Babcock & Wilcox Company, and URS Corporation for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

Los Alamos enhances national security by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction, and solving problems related to energy, environment, infrastructure, health, and global security concerns.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Press Briefing | The White House

Press Briefing | The White House

Latest EBRD innovation in RUB swap market to extend yield curve [EBRD - News and events]

Latest EBRD innovation in RUB swap market to extend yield curve [EBRD - News and events]

Improving Rijeka’s water services [EBRD - News and events]

Improving Rijeka’s water services [EBRD - News and events]

Wisconsin Guard unit returns after engineering successful Afghanistan deployment

Wisconsin Guard unit returns after engineering successful Afghanistan deployment

Liftoff ATV-4 / Highlights / Photos / For Media / ESA

Liftoff ATV-4 / Highlights / Photos / For Media / ESA


Principal military official stops moves to Egypt
by Staff Sgt. Ian Hoachlander
Air Force Personnel Center Public Affairs

7/10/2013 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) -- Military officials have temporarily halted movement of personnel, to include permanent change of station moves and most temporary duty assignments to Egypt, due to the State Department's ordered departure of all dependents and nonmission essential personnel from Egypt.

The stop movement order, initiated by the principal military official at the American Embassy in Cairo, is in effect until further notice and will be updated as the situation dictates.

"The order affects both military and civilian Air Force members, who are required to proceed to Egypt," said Ron Gallucci, from the AFPC assignment programs and procedures branch. "However, active-duty members with a permanent change of station date in July and August are affected and they need to know what the restrictions are."

Stateside-based Airmen projected to move to Egypt, and those who have out-processed but have not departed from their current duty station must not depart or proceed. Airmen stationed overseas who have a projected assignment to Egypt and a July or August return from overseas date who have not yet departed the overseas area must consult with their current base personnel section.

Members who do not intend to take leave enroute and who have not yet signed out their unit will not be allowed to proceed until further guidance is provided. Voluntary return from overseas extension requests will be considered, and some affected Airmen may be authorized additional temporary lodging allowance.

Airmen stationed in Egypt who departed their base on leave or temporary duty are authorized to return with the approval of their commander. The home station force support squadron must communicate to commanders their responsibility to account for Airmen in temporary duty status and make a determination on proceeding back to home station.

Air Force civilian employees are also affected by the stop movement, said Christine Armstrong, from the AFPC Civilian Force Integration Directorate.


Spectators gather near the Combat Talon I, Cherry One, during a ceremony officially welcoming the retired aircraft to its new home by the front gate of Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., June 28, 2013. The Talon flew point in the largest covert operation of the Vietnam War, the Son Tay Raid, to rescue Prisoners of War. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jette Carr)
Son Tay Raid aircraft displayed at Cannon
By Senior Airman Jette Carr
27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

7/2/2013 - CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- The 27th Special Operations Wing held a ceremony to celebrate the official new home of Combat Talon I, Cherry One, near the front entrance of Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., June 28, 2013.

If the retired aircraft could speak, it would undoubtedly have many hair-raising and death-defying exploits to share. Perhaps, though, the most intimidating story it could tell is that of the Son Tay Raid, the moment this particular Talon cemented its mark in time during a Prisoner of War rescue mission in the Vietnam War.

The notorious MC-130E was given a voice during the Cannon ceremony by way of several original crew members who flew the craft during the famous raid. Together, the veterans reminisced, chiming in with details and reminding each other of the moment they leapt into the history books.

Retired Lt. Col. Irl "Leon" Franklin, the Talon's pilot, recalled the day he was recruited to play a part in the Son Tay Raid.

"We got word from Headquarters [U.S. Air Force] to provide a crew for an unknown, classified mission," said Franklin. "They expressed my name specifically, and that of another fellow, a navigator, by the name of Tom Stiles. The rest of the crew was to be chosen from the 7th Special Operations Squadron."

It was a joint-service operation of the utmost secrecy -- formulated like a puzzle. Only those with a need-to-know were told how the pieces fit together, leaving most participants in the dark. Each group, from the flight crews to the army rangers, practiced specific combat maneuvers, all the while speculating what their mission would be.

According to the National Museum of the United States Air Force, an assortment of aircraft trained for the operation, including six helicopters, five small attack planes and two large support aircraft. All unknowingly prepared for a raid on a POW camp in North Vietnam, where intelligence analysts believed 55 prisoners were being held.

Eventually, the mission was briefed to all and they flew what was to become the largest covert operation of the Vietnam War on the night of Nov. 20, 1970.

Flying point under the call sign Cherry One was the faithful Talon 0523, prepared to lead a team of helicopters in close formation. However, as it would happen, all was not smooth sailing for the military bird as the mission started off with what the craft's copilot, retired Maj. William Guenon, called a "Murphy" moment.

"In any good, secret and dangerous mission deep behind enemy lines, there's usually a few surprise 'Murphy' moments to be dealt with along the way, and this will always be the case no matter how much development and training is done," Guenon said. "Our mission was no exception. After having flown Cherry One for more than four months with absolutely no serious issues, on the night of the raid, her number three engine would not start. We lost 21 minutes before we finally, using the double-starter-button-trick, got number three to start."

Once airborne, the crew modified their route to make up for lost time and caught up to the already in-flight formation. Upon reaching their destination, the Talon crew began to drop flares on the sleeping prison camp below, lighting up the area for other aircraft that destroyed Son Tay's defenses and landed inside the fortifications to begin the raid.

Cherry One then flew up the road away from camp and dropped fire crackers to simulate a ground fire-fight in an effort to deter North Vietnamese reinforcements. Finally, Cherry One was to drop a couple napalm bombs, which would burn bright and serve as a reference point for five A-1E Skyraiders and Cherry Two, another Combat Talon I. The first bomb went out on point, but it was the second that gave the crew of aircraft 0523 a bit of a problem.

"Another anxious moment that will always remain with the crew of Cherry One was when our second napalm bomb was armed, got hung up during airdrop and would not leave the aircraft," said Guenon. "You can believe we all had our individual visions of what nasty things could happen, and you can be sure none of these thoughts were very pretty. That derelict napalm was finally jettisoned by using negative G's and an old-fashion, and properly timed, heave-ho by our highly motivated ramp crew."

Though they were prepared for nearly every kind of hiccup in the mission, there was one moment that no one saw coming. During the raid a message came over the radio that simply stated, "No packages."

"When they said negative packages, I never knew what that meant," said Tom Eckhart, head navigator on Cherry One. "I said, 'What's that'; and they said, 'No prisoners.' That was quite a letdown because that was our purpose, but later on I found out it was worthwhile because I got to speak with several people who were prisoners in Vietnam and each one told me that I saved their lives. That made it all worthwhile."

"They were told over and over again, 'Nobody will come and get you; they don't care about you; they have forgotten about you, and you're here forever'," said Eckhart. "After the Son Tay Raid, they [the POWs] found out that we did come for them."

Because of the raid on Son Tay, North Vietnam gathered all POWs together in one location, fearful of a repeat attack. It gave men who had been in isolation for many years the ability to communicate with one another - they were no longer alone.

In Secret and Dangerous, a book by Guenon containing a first-hand account of the rescue operation, was a letter from a Vietnam POW, retired Brig. Gen. Jon Reynolds, who expressed the importance of the Son Tay Raid.

"While the rescue was not to be, the success of the mission and its importance for American prisoners in North Vietnam should never be understated," said Reynolds. "Its impact on us was positive and immediate...morale soared. The Vietnamese were visibly shaken. Even though not a man was rescued, the raid was still the best thing that ever happened to us."

After the mission was completed, the crew parted ways with their Talon, though they found they had become quite attached. At their craft's retirement, the Vietnam veterans were glad to see Cherry One, not in the bone-yard or buried in a museum, but prominently displayed at a special operations base.

"Our bird, Cherry One, aka 64-0523, is a larger than life C-130E(I) - one of the first, and has been operating in the shadows around the many hot spots of the world, she's always brought her aircrews safely home," said Guenon. "When not stemming the tide of communism, she, in the dark of night, quietly pursued those fanatics who still wanted to harm the U.S. Indeed, for a large-sized aircraft, this is certainly no small feat."

"By displaying a proven special operations legend at the Cannon Air Force Base front gate, aircrews can see and realize the true spirit and proud tradition of the Son Tay Raid from so long ago," Guenon continued. "Hopefully her example will influence others to succeed in spite of great odds."



Los Alamos Exceeds Waste Shipping Goal
Lab breaks another record with three months remaining in fiscal year

LOS ALAMOS, N.M., July 8, 2013—Los Alamos National Laboratory, which broke its waste shipping records in 2012, has exceeded last year’s record with three months left to go in fiscal year 2013. During the past nine months, Los Alamos shipped 1,074 cubic meters of transuranic (TRU) and mixed low-level waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant and other approved waste disposal facilities, exceeding last year’s record of 920 cubic meters.

“Los Alamos continues to exceed expectations dispositioning waste from Area G,” said Pete Maggiore, assistant manager for Environmental Operations at the Department of Energy’s Los Alamos Field Office. “The success of this campaign has been made possible through the efforts of many people, including our partners at the New Mexico Environment Department.”

The effort is part of an agreement between the New Mexico Environment Department and the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration and Office of Environmental Management to remove 3,706 cubic meters of TRU waste stored aboveground at Area G, the Laboratory’s waste storage facility, by June 30, 2014. The accelerated removal campaign is in its second year, with a goal to remove 2,600 cubic meters of waste by September 30, 2013. Since the campaign began, Los Alamos has removed 1,994 cubic meters of waste.

“We’ve made significant progress removing waste stored above ground at Area G, and we made this progress while maintaining an excellent safety record,” said Jeff Mousseau, associate director of Environmental Programs at the Laboratory. “We are confident this trend will continue throughout the rest of the campaign.”

What is transuranic, or TRU, waste?

TRU waste consists of clothing, tools, rags, debris, soil and other items contaminated with radioactive material, mostly plutonium. Transuranic elements such as plutonium have an atomic number greater than uranium, so they are labeled transuranic, for “beyond uranium” on the periodic table of elements.

About 90 percent of the current TRU waste inventory is a result of decades of nuclear research and weapons production at the Laboratory and is often referred to as “legacy” waste.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

LANL News: Importance of science education to national security will be Los Alamos director's topic at TEDxABQ

LANL News: Importance of science education to national security will be Los Alamos director's topic at TEDxABQ

U.S. Navy Top Stories Update

U.S. Navy Top Stories Update

U.S. Department of Defense Armed with Science Update

U.S. Department of Defense Armed with Science Update


Maritime Forces Returning to Traditional Roles, Greenert Says
By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 11, 2013 - The Navy and Marine Corps spent the last decade moving away from their traditional supporting/supported roles, "and it's time to come back," Navy Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, the chief of naval operations, said today at a forum on the future of maritime forces.

For the Navy, Greenert said, that means maintaining a day-to-day presence where it matters, "and we've got to be there when it matters."

The admiral noted the speed with which naval forces were able to respond during the recent North Korean missile crisis.

"If we were not there, if we did not have ... a forward deployed naval force, we would not have been able to put in place the ballistic missile defense construct that we had in place in just about 72 hours," Greenert said.

Today, he said, the Navy has the Kearsarge Amphibious Readiness Group in place in the North Red Sea, off the coast of Egypt. They wouldn't be there if they hadn't already been forward-deployed, he added.

"We can't garrison and respond, because it will be too late," Greenert said.

In an era of shrinking budgets, the Navy has to make the most of what it has today, he said, and that means finding innovative ways to be forward. "We have a budget that has been sequestered, but the requirement [to respond] hasn't been sequestered," the admiral said.

Flexibility is the key to keeping costs down while maintaining a forward presence, he said. Through disaggregated operations, commanders have the ability to pull together ships and units to meet specific requirements, Greenert said, but the Navy's older inventory wasn't designed with this in mind.

The Navy has to build smarter, he said, and that means not constructing platforms that are so integrated and so complicated that they're only good for about a decade, instead of a more realistic 30-40 year lifespan.

"An alternative is distributed operations with tailored ships with tailored capabilities," the admiral said.

The Navy's newest vessels, including Littoral Combat Ships, Joint High Speed Vessels and Mobile Landing Platforms, will provide volume, speed and persistence, with modular, evolvable payloads, and at a lower cost than previous ship generations, Greenert said.

Construction is already underway on these ships, he said, and won't be affected by sequestration.

But, the admiral said, sequestration will mean fewer carrier strike groups and amphibious readiness groups available to surge to respond to crises. He likened the result to hollowing out a melon. At some point, Greenert said, the Navy will reach a point where it won't be able to support a surge.

The admiral acknowledged that after spending so long largely operating independently of each other, command and control between Navy and Marine Corps forces is still a challenge.

During Bold Alligator 2012, an annual fleet exercise, he said, "We found we needed a common way to plan and execute amphibious operations ... We need a better way to understand the ship-to-shore connectors."

However, exercises are intended to serve as learning experiences, Greenert said, and the Navy is now investing in portable mission planning and force-tracking capabilities to address this issue.