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Saturday, August 31, 2013


Obama: Strike Syrian Regime, But Have Congressional Debate, Vote
By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 31, 2013 - President Barack Obama said today he supports a U.S. military strike against Syrian regime targets in response to the regime's use of chemical weapons against its own people, but he called on Congress to debate and vote on how America should react to "the worst chemical weapons attack of the 21st century."

At the White House Rose Garden, Obama spoke of the Aug. 21 attack on Damascus suburbs that, he noted, killed more than 1,000 people, including several hundred children -- "young girls and boys gassed to death by their own government."

"Ten days ago, the world watched in horror as men, women and children were massacred in Syria," the commander in chief said. " ... Yesterday, the United States presented a powerful case that the Syrian government was responsible for this attack on its own people."

The president said U.S. intelligence reports "show the Assad regime and its forces preparing to use chemical weapons, launching rockets into highly populated suburbs of Damascus, and acknowledging that a chemical weapons attack took place. And all of this corroborates what the world can plainly see: hospitals overflowing with victims; terrible images of the dead."

Obama called the attack "an assault on human dignity" that also presents a serious danger to U.S. national security and "risks making a mockery of the global prohibition on the use of chemical weapons."

Syria is currently embroiled in a bitter civil war pitting President Bashar Assad and his regime against the rebel opposition. The situation presents a danger to U.S. friends and partners on Syria's borders, Obama said, such as Israel, Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq.

The Syrian regime's use of chemical weapons could lead to their escalated use in the region, he said, or their proliferation to terrorist groups intent on harming the United States.

"In a world with many dangers, this menace must be confronted," the president said.

Obama said after careful deliberation, he has decided "that the U.S. should take military action against Syrian regime targets." Such an intervention would be limited in scope and duration and would not place U.S. boots on the ground inside Syria, he said.

"I'm confident we can hold the Assad regime accountable for their use of chemical weapons, deter this kind of behavior, and degrade their capacity to carry it out," he said.

Obama said the United States has military assets in the Middle East, and he noted that Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, "has informed me that we are prepared to strike whenever we choose."

Dempsey has also advised "that our capacity to execute this mission is not time-sensitive," the president said.

"It will be effective tomorrow, or next week, or one month from now," Obama said. "And I'm prepared to give that order."

Obama added, however, that as president of "the world's oldest constitutional democracy," he has also decided that as leader of a representational government, "I will seek authorization for the use of force from the American people's representatives in Congress."

He said he has spoken with U.S. Senate and House leaders, "and they've agreed to schedule a debate and then a vote as soon as Congress comes back into session."

The president said his administration stands ready to inform Congress "what happened in Syria and why it has such profound implications for America's national security."

He added that he is confident that action need not wait on United Nations inspectors.

"I'm comfortable going forward without the approval of a United Nations Security Council that, so far, has been completely paralyzed and unwilling to hold Assad accountable," Obama said.

As a consequence, he added, many people "have advised against taking this decision to Congress, and undoubtedly, they were impacted by what we saw happen in the United Kingdom this week when the Parliament of our closest ally failed to pass a resolution with a similar goal, even as the Prime Minister supported taking action.

"And undoubtedly," he continued, "they were impacted by what we saw happen in the United Kingdom this week when the parliament of our closest ally failed to pass a resolution with a similar goal, even as the prime minister supported taking action."

Yet, any U.S. military actions against the Syrian regime will be more effective if they follow a debate in Congress and a vote, Obama said.

"We should have this debate, because the issues are too big for business as usual," he said.

A government that considers even limited military force faces a grave decision, Obama acknowledged.

"I respect the views of those who call for caution, particularly as our country emerges from a time of war that I was elected in part to end," he said. "But if we really do want to turn away from taking appropriate action in the face of such an unspeakable outrage, then we must acknowledge the costs of doing nothing."

The president said his question to Congress and the global community is this: "What message will we send if a dictator can gas hundreds of children to death in plain sight and pay no price? What's the purpose of the international system that we've built if a prohibition on the use of chemical weapons that has been agreed to by the governments of 98 percent of the world's people and approved overwhelmingly by the Congress of the United States is not enforced?"

He continued, "... We cannot raise our children in a world where we will not follow through on the things we say, the accords we sign, the values that define us."

The president said his message to the world is that "an atrocity committed with chemical weapons is not simply investigated, it must be confronted."

Obama said he knows Americans are weary of war.

"We've ended one war in Iraq," he said. "We're ending another in Afghanistan. And the American people have the good sense to know we cannot resolve the underlying conflict in Syria with our military. In that part of the world, there are ancient sectarian differences, and the hopes of the Arab Spring have unleashed forces of change that are going to take many years to resolve. And that's why we're not contemplating putting our troops in the middle of someone else's war."

The United States will continue to support the Syrian people through pressure on the Assad regime, commitment to the opposition, care for the displaced, and pursuit of a political resolution "that achieves a government that respects the dignity of its people," Obama said.

American values dictate that the nation "cannot and must not turn a blind eye to what happened in Damascus," he said.

"So to all members of Congress of both parties, I ask you to take this vote for our national security," Obama said. "... I've told you what I believe, that our security and our values demand that we cannot turn away from the massacre of countless civilians with chemical weapons.

"I'm ready to act in the face of this outrage," he added. "Today I'm asking Congress to send a message to the world that we are ready to move forward together as one nation."


Shared IT Architecture Leads to Cost Savings
By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 28, 2013 - A new architecture-sharing and modernization agreement among the Air Force, the Army and the Defense Information Systems Agency will increase bandwidth and network security and avoid more than $1 billion in future costs.

"As [the Defense Department] continues to move aggressively towards [the Joint Information Environment], this partnership is an important step forward," said Teresa M. Takai, DOD's chief information officer.

Due to force structure changes, the Army was left with excess information technology capacity, said Richard Breakiron, network capacity domain manager for the Army's chief information office. At the same time, the Air Force was seeking to modernize its IT architecture to meet the requirements of the future joint information environment.

By partnering and taking advantage of the Army's upgrade to faster multiprotocol label switching routers and regional security stacks, the Air Force was able to identify about $1.2 billion in cost avoidance. The Army expects to reduce its IT budget by $785 million between fiscal years 2015 and 2019 by consolidating hundreds of network security stacks into 15 joint regional security stacks, which the Air Force will also use.

"It's great to have strong partners as we move toward JIE," said Gen. William L. Shelton, Air Force Space Command commander. "I especially appreciate the tremendous spirit of cooperation that has emerged between the Army, Air Force, and DISA teams."

MPLS routers are an industry-standard technology for speeding and managing network traffic flow. The upgraded routers will increase the backbone bandwidth to 100 gigabytes per second, said Mike Krieger, the Army's deputy chief information officer. At Army installations, network speeds will rise to 10 gigabytes per second, he said. To put that in perspective, Fort Hood, Texas, currently operates at 650 megabytes per second, Krieger said.

Regional security stacks are designed to improve command and control and situational awareness and are essential to enabling a single security architecture in the joint information environment, said Krieger. The move will tremendously increase the network security posture and reduce costs, he added.

"More and more, we're saying that some of the service-delivery capability can be managed at the enterprise level, greatly improving efficiency, effectiveness and security," Breakiron said. But, he noted, to perform these enterprise functions off of the local installation, the IT backbone must be much more robust, because users are relying on it for much more service capability.

The new, larger-capacity routers will help the Air Force and Army converge their enterprise network backbones and gain cost savings in other areas, he said.

"As we do our investment in MPLS, it now allows us to do not only [Voice over Internet Protocol], it allows us to do unified capabilities and it allows us to put much more of this capability up at the enterprise level," Brig Gen Kevin Wooton, Air Force Space Command director of communication, said.

Together, MPLS routers and the regional security stack construct improve performance and security, said Air Force Lt. Gen. Ronnie D. Hawkins Jr., DISA director.

"It creates a network that is fundamentally more defensible and more efficient," Hawkins said. He added that the move is a major step in building the Joint Information Environment architecture.

The Army and DISA plan to implement the joint MPLS transport cloud and JRSS consolidation in fiscal years 2013 and 2014 to support operations in Southwest Asia and the continental United States.

The Air Force and the Army will have access to data from JRSSs that are owned and operated by DISA as a joint capability. Army and Air Force cyber components will continue to execute cyber defense on their networks.

"As we modernize the DOD network, the Army is committed to a joint solution that helps achieve the joint information environment," said Lt. Gen. Susan S. Lawrence, the Army's chief information officer.

Weekly Address: Commemorating Labor Day | The White House

Weekly Address: Commemorating Labor Day | The White House


Thursday, August 29, 2013
Army Soldier Pleads Guilty in Kentucky to Bribery Charges for Facilitating Thefts of Fuel in Afghanistan

U.S. Army Sergeant Kevin Bilal Abdullah pleaded guilty today to bribery charges for his role in the theft of fuel at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Fenty, near Jalalabad, Afghanistan.

The guilty plea was announced by Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky David J. Hale.

 Abdullah, 30, of Fort Campbell, Ky., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Thomas B. Russell in the Western District of Kentucky to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and one substantive count of bribery.

According to court documents, in approximately May and June 2010, Abdullah was involved in overseeing the delivery of fuel from FOB Fenty to other military bases.  As part of this process, documents generally described as “transportation movement requests” (TMRs or mission sheets) were created to authorize the movement of fuel.

According to court documents, Abdullah created fraudulent TMRs that purported to authorize the transport of fuel from FOB Fenty to other military bases, even though no legitimate fuel transportation was required.  After the trucks were filled with fuel, the fraudulent TMRs were used by the drivers of the fuel trucks at FOB Fenty’s departure checkpoint in order to justify the trucks’ departures from FOB Fenty.  In truth, the fuel was simply stolen.

Abdullah pleaded guilty to receiving payments from a representative of the trucking company in exchange for facilitating the theft of approximately 25 truckloads of fuel.  According to court documents, the loss to the United States as a result of the theft was in excess of $400,000.

Abdullah’s plea is the third guilty plea arising from this investigation of fuel thefts at FOB Fenty.  On Aug. 3, 2012, Jonathan Hightower, a civilian employee of a military contractor who had conspired with Abdullah, pleaded guilty to similar charges.  On Oct. 10, 2012, Christopher Weaver also pleaded guilty to fuel theft charges.  A fourth individual, Stephanie Charboneau, was indicted April 9, 2013, and is pending trial on fuel theft-related charges.  

This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Mark H. Dubester of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael A. Bennett of the Western District of Kentucky.  This case was investigated by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction; Department of the Army, Criminal Investigations Division; Defense Criminal Investigative Service; and FBI.

RPA Joins Wildfire Fight in California

RPA Joins Wildfire Fight in California


Statement on Syria
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
August 30, 2013

President Obama has spent many days now consulting with Congress and talking with leaders around the world about the situation in Syria. And last night, the President asked all of us on his national security team to consult with the leaders of Congress as well, including the leadership of the Congressional national security committees. And he asked us to consult about what we know regarding the horrific chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs last week. I will tell you that as someone who has spent nearly three decades in the United States Congress, I know that that consultation is the right way for a president to approach a decision of when and how and if to use military force. And it’s important to ask the tough questions and get the tough answers before taking action, not just afterwards.

And I believe, as President Obama does, that it is also important to discuss this directly with the American people. That’s our responsibility, to talk with the citizens who have entrusted all of us in the Administration and the Congress with the responsibility for their security. That’s why this morning’s release of our government’s unclassified estimate of what took place in Syria is so important. Its findings are as clear as they are compelling. I’m not asking you to take my word for it. Read for yourself, everyone, those listening. All of you, read for yourselves the evidence from thousands of sources, evidence that is already publicly available, and read for yourselves the verdict reached by our intelligence community about the chemical weapons attack the Assad regime inflicted on the opposition and on opposition-controlled or contested neighborhoods in the Damascus suburbs on the early morning of August 21st.

Our intelligence community has carefully reviewed and re-reviewed information regarding this attack, and I will tell you it has done so more than mindful of the Iraq experience. We will not repeat that moment. Accordingly, we have taken unprecedented steps to declassify and make facts available to people who can judge for themselves. But still, in order to protect sources and methods, some of what we know will only be released to members of Congress, the representatives of the American people. That means that some things we do know we can’t talk about publicly.

So what do we really know that we can talk about? Well, we know that the Assad regime has the largest chemical weapons program in the entire Middle East. We know that the regime has used those weapons multiple times this year and has used them on a smaller scale, but still it has used them against its own people, including not very far from where last Wednesday’s attack happened. We know that the regime was specifically determined to rid the Damascus suburbs of the opposition, and it was frustrated that it hadn’t succeeded in doing so.

We know that for three days before the attack the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons personnel were on the ground in the area making preparations. And we know that the Syrian regime elements were told to prepare for the attack by putting on gas masks and taking precautions associated with chemical weapons. We know that these were specific instructions. We know where the rockets were launched from and at what time. We know where they landed and when. We know rockets came only from regime-controlled areas and went only to opposition-controlled or contested neighborhoods.

And we know, as does the world, that just 90 minutes later all hell broke loose in the social media. With our own eyes we have seen the thousands of reports from 11 separate sites in the Damascus suburbs. All of them show and report victims with breathing difficulties, people twitching with spasms, coughing, rapid heartbeats, foaming at the mouth, unconsciousness and death.

And we know it was ordinary Syrian citizens who reported all of these horrors. And just as important, we know what the doctors and the nurses who treated them didn’t report – not a scratch, not a shrapnel wound, not a cut, not a gunshot wound. We saw rows of dead lined up in burial shrouds, the white linen unstained by a single drop of blood. Instead of being tucked safely in their beds at home, we saw rows of children lying side by side sprawled on a hospital floor, all of them dead from Assad’s gas and surrounded by parents and grandparents who had suffered the same fate.

The United States Government now knows that at least 1,429 Syrians were killed in this attack, including at least 426 children. Even the first responders, the doctors, nurses, and medics who tried to save them, they became victims themselves. We saw them gasping for air, terrified that their own lives were in danger.

This is the indiscriminate, inconceivable horror of chemical weapons. This is what Assad did to his own people.

We also know many disturbing details about the aftermath. We know that a senior regime official who knew about the attack confirmed that chemical weapons were used by the regime, reviewed the impact, and actually was afraid that they would be discovered. We know this.

And we know what they did next. I personally called the Foreign Minister of Syria and I said to him, “If, as you say, your nation has nothing to hide, then let the United Nations in immediately and give the inspectors the unfettered access so they have the opportunity to tell your story.” Instead, for four days they shelled the neighborhood in order to destroy evidence, bombarding block after block at a rate four times higher than they had over the previous 10 days. And when the UN inspectors finally gained access, that access, as we now know, was restricted and controlled.

In all of these things that I have listed, in all of these things that we know, all of them, the American intelligence community has high confidence, high confidence. This is common sense. This is evidence. These are facts.

So the primary question is really no longer: What do we know? The question is: What are we – we collectively – what are we in the world going to do about it?

As previous storms in history have gathered, when unspeakable crimes were within our power to stop them, we have been warned against the temptations of looking the other way. History is full of leaders who have warned against inaction, indifference, and especially against silence when it mattered most. Our choices then in history had great consequences and our choice today has great consequences. It matters that nearly a hundred years ago, in direct response to the utter horror and inhumanity of World War I, that the civilized world agreed that chemical weapons should never be used again.

That was the world’s resolve then, and that began nearly a century of effort to create a clear redline for the international community. It matters today that we are working as an international community to rid the world of the worst weapons. That’s why we signed agreements like the START Treaty, the New START Treaty, the Chemical Weapons Convention, which more than 180 countries, including Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon, have signed on to.

It matters to our security and the security of our allies. It matters to Israel. It matters to our close friends Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon – all of whom live just a stiff breeze away from Damascus. It matters to all of them where the Syrian chemical weapons are. And if unchecked, they can cause even greater death and destruction to those friends. And it matters deeply to the credibility and the future interests of the United States of America and our allies.

It matters because a lot of other countries, whose polices challenges these international norms, are watching. They are watching. They want to see whether the United States and our friends mean what we say. It is directly related to our credibility and whether countries still believe the United States when it says something. They are watching to see if Syria can get away with it, because then maybe they too can put the world at greater risk.

And make no mistake, in an increasingly complicated world of sectarian and religious extremist violence, what we choose to do or not do matters in real ways to our own security. Some cite the risk of doing things, but we need to ask, what is the risk of doing nothing?

It matters because if we choose to live in a world where a thug and a murderer like Bashar al-Assad can gas thousands of his own people with impunity, even after the United States and our allies said no, and then the world does nothing about it, there will be no end to the test of our resolve and the dangers that will flow from those others who believe that they can do as they will.

This matters also beyond the limits of Syria’s borders. It is about whether Iran, which itself has been a victim of chemical weapons attacks, will now feel emboldened, in the absence of action, to obtain nuclear weapons. It is about Hezbollah, and North Korea, and every other terrorist group or dictator that might ever again contemplate the use of weapons of mass destruction. Will they remember that the Assad regime was stopped from those weapons’ current or future use, or will they remember that the world stood aside and created impunity?

So our concern is not just about some far off land oceans away. That’s not what this is about. Our concern with the cause of the defenseless people of Syria is about choices that will directly affect our role in the world and our interests in the world. It is also profoundly about who we are. We are the United States of America. We are the country that has tried, not always successfully, but always tried to honor a set of universal values around which we have organized our lives and our aspirations. This crime against conscience, this crime against humanity, this crime against the most fundamental principles of international community, against the norm of the international community, this matters to us. And it matters to who we are. And it matters to leadership and to our credibility in the world. My friends, it matters here if nothing is done. It matters if the world speaks out in condemnation and then nothing happens.

America should feel confident and gratified that we are not alone in our condemnation, and we are not alone in our will to do something about it and to act. The world is speaking out, and many friends stand ready to respond. The Arab League pledged, quote, “to hold the Syrian regime fully responsible for this crime.” The Organization for Islamic Cooperation condemned the regime and said we needed, quote, “to hold the Syrian Government legally and morally accountable for this heinous crime.” Turkey said there is no doubt that the regime is responsible. Our oldest ally, the French, said the regime, quote, “committed this vile action, and it is an outrage to use weapons that the community has banned for the last 90 years in all international conventions.” The Australian Prime Minister said he didn’t want history to record that we were, quote, “a party to turning such a blind eye.”

So now that we know what we know, the question we must all be asking is: What will we do? Let me emphasize – President Obama, we in the United States, we believe in the United Nations. And we have great respect for the brave inspectors who endured regime gunfire and obstructions to their investigation. But as Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary General, has said again and again, the UN investigation will not affirm who used these chemical weapons. That is not the mandate of the UN investigation. They will only affirm whether such weapons were used. By the definition of their own mandate, the UN can’t tell us anything that we haven’t shared with you this afternoon or that we don’t already know. And because of the guaranteed Russian obstructionism of any action through the UN Security Council, the UN cannot galvanize the world to act as it should.

So let me be clear. We will continue talking to the Congress, talking to our allies, and most importantly, talking to the American people. President Obama will ensure that the United States of America makes our own decisions on our own timelines based on our values and our interests.

Now, we know that after a decade of conflict, the American people are tired of war. Believe me, I am, too. But fatigue does not absolve us of our responsibility. Just longing for peace does not necessarily bring it about. And history would judge us all extraordinarily harshly if we turned a blind eye to a dictator’s wanton use of weapons of mass destruction against all warnings, against all common understanding of decency. These things we do know.

We also know that we have a President who does what he says that he will do. And he has said very clearly that whatever decision he makes in Syria, it will bear no resemblance to Afghanistan, Iraq, or even Libya. It will not involve any boots on the ground. It will not be open-ended. And it will not assume responsibility for a civil war that is already well underway. The President has been clear: Any action that he might decide to take will be a limited and tailored response to ensure that a despot’s brutal and flagrant use of chemical weapons is held accountable. And ultimately, ultimately, we are committed – we remain committed, we believe it’s the primary objective – is to have a diplomatic process that can resolve this through negotiation, because we know there is no ultimate military solution. It has to be political. It has to happen at the negotiating table, and we are deeply committed to getting there.

So that is what we know. That’s what the leaders of Congress now know. And that’s what the American people need to know. And that is at the core of the decisions that must now be made for the security of our country and for the promise of a planet where the world’s most heinous weapons must never again be used against the world’s most vulnerable people.

Thank you very much.


Hagel Praises 'Unbreakable' U.S.-Philippine Alliance
By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 30, 2013 - On the last stop of what he called a "very productive" trip to four countries in Southeast Asia, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met today with Philippine government and defense leaders and later paid his respects to U.S. troops laid to rest at the Manila American Cemetery.

The secretary left Washington, D.C., Aug. 22 and visited his counterparts in Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei before arriving today in Manila.

In Brunei on Aug. 28 he attended a meeting of defense ministers from 10 countries that belong to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN. The 10 member states are Burma, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Yesterday, he attended the second-ever meeting of the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting-Plus, a group made up of the 10 ASEAN defense ministers and eight dialogue partners: defense ministers from the United States, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, India, New Zealand and Russia.

Today in Manila, after meeting with President Benigno S. Aquino III at the Malacanang Palace, Hagel and National Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin held a press conference there.

"In my meeting with President Aquino I noted that the deep and unbreakable alliance between the United States and the Philippines is an anchor for peace and stability and prosperity in this region," Hagel said.

"Our close ties to the Philippines have been forged through a history of shared sacrifice and common purpose," he added, "and continuing to strengthen the close partnership between our nations is an important part of America's long-term strategy of rebalancing in the Asia-Pacific."

An important topic of discussion among the three men and Foreign Secretary Albert F. del Rosario involved ongoing negotiations for a Framework Agreement that would allow U.S. forces to operate on Philippine military bases and in Philippine territory and waters to help build Philippine armed forces capacity in maritime security and maritime domain awareness.

The last time the United States and the Philippines signed a mutual defense treaty was in 1951, and the new Framework Agreement would update the agreement for routine troop rotations and related activities, according to a senior defense official traveling with the secretary.

"The visit of U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to the Philippines coincides with an important date for Philippines-U.S. defense relations," Gazmin said at the press conference. "For it was on 30 Aug. 1951 that the mutual defense treaty was signed. Today is the 62nd anniversary."

"In the spirit of that [early] treaty and its continuing relevance today, President Aquino and I reaffirmed the progress being made in the ongoing discussions for our Framework Agreement," Hagel said.

Hagel said the Framework Agreement will strengthen cooperation between the two militaries and help them work together more effectively. He noted that the negotiating teams are working hard to finish the agreement.

"The United States does not seek permanent bases in the Philippines," Hagel said. "That would represent a return to an outdated Cold War mentality. Instead, we are using a new model of military-to-military cooperation befitting two great allies and friends."

Increasing the United States' rotational presence in the Philippines as it has done recently in Singapore and Australia will benefit the U.S. and Philippine militaries, Hagel said, by increasing their ability to train and operate together and support President Aquino's defense modernization agenda.

The United States has a great deal of experience in building a modern military, the secretary said.

"And we would like to share what we've learned with our Philippine allies," Hagel added.

The leaders also discussed the situation in the South China Sea, where many countries have overlapping claims on the area that could lead to tensions in the maritime domain.

Hagel called this "an issue the United States, our allies, partners and friends in this part of the world hope will be resolved peacefully and without coercion."

The United States supports ASEAN efforts to negotiate a South China Sea Code of Conduct, which Hagel said would help peacefully manage disagreements and disputes that arise from competing territorial and maritime claims.

"In the meantime," the secretary said, "we encourage nations to peacefully resolve their disputes through internationally accepted mechanisms in accordance with international law, including the Law of the Sea."

Later in the afternoon, Hagel took time from his schedule to honor 17,202 fallen troops from World War II, Americans and some Filipinos who fought shoulder to shoulder, buried at the Manila American Cemetery here on 152 acres of elegantly designed green space settled on gently rising ground.

On the rise is a simple tower that contains a small chapel and altar. On a regular schedule, a carillon plays the national songs of the Philippines and the United States, then Taps.

Flaring from each side like parentheses are two long narrow structures formed into a series of open rooms. Some rooms have stone benches but most have nothing except maps or names on the walls.

On some walls are drawn colorful maps that detail different World War II battles -- the defense of Luzon, 8 Dec. 1941 to 6 May 1942, for example, or the defense of Southeast Asia, December 1941 to May 1942.

Most walls contain the names and details of 36,286 of the missing. According to literature from the cemetery, 16,919 are from the U.S. Army and Army Air Force, 17,582 are from the U.S. Navy, 1,727 from the U.S. Marine Corps, and 58 are Coast Guard.

The Manila American Cemetery is located within the boundaries of the old U.S. Army reservation of Fort William McKinley.

Those resting forever in the cemetery here represent 40 percent of the burials made originally in temporary cemeteries in New Guinea, the Philippines and other islands of the Southwest Pacific, and in the Palau Islands of the Central Pacific, according to the cemetery booklet.

Most of these troops fell in the epic defense of the Philippines and East Indies in 1941 and 1942 or in the long but victorious return of the American forces through the vast island chain, the book said. The cemetery and memorial were finished in 1960. The cemetery was dedicated on Dec. 8, 1960.

At the cemetery, Hagel walked from the motorcade to an area across from the chapel and tower that was covered against the tropical sun. A large display of flowers filled the chapel doorway. He and a small group stood at attention while the carillon played through its songs to Taps.

The secretary approached the chapel and climbed the few steps. He stood for a moment before the display honoring the troops, then offered a quick salute and turned to walk down the stairs.

The graves area is divided into 11 curved lettered plots forming concentric bands around the high ground of the memorial. After examining the chapel, Hagel spent time walking among some of the cemetery's 17,097 white-cross headstones.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Laboratory Operator Sentenced to 40 Months for Fabricating Industrial Wastewater Results

Tennie White, the owner and operator of an environmental laboratory located in Jackson, Miss., was sentenced in federal court late yesterday to 40 months in prison in connection with her conviction for faking laboratory testing results and lying to federal investigators, announced Gregory K. Davis, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi, and Robert G. Dreher, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.

White also was sentenced to three years of supervised release to follow her prison sentence and was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and a $100 special assessment.  White was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate at the federal courthouse in Jackson, where he also presided over the May 2013 trial of the case.

“Independent laboratories play a critical role in assisting businesses to accurately monitor and report discharges of industrial pollutants that may adversely affect the environment,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Dreher.  “Businesses cannot fulfill this important responsibility if these laboratories are not honest brokers and falsify test results and monitoring reports.  This prosecution shows that fraudulent testing and reporting by laboratories will not be tolerated.”

“Americans expect their public water supply to be clean and safe to use,” said Maureen O’Mara, Special Agent in Charge of the Environmental Protection Agency’s criminal enforcement program in Mississippi.  “In order to safeguard public health it is absolutely essential that governments receive accurate test results and measurements.  This case demonstrates that individuals who falsify environmental records and try to mislead the government will be prosecuted and held accountable.”

White, owner, operator and manager of Mississippi Environmental Analytical Laboratories Inc., was found guilty in May 2013 of two false statement counts and one count of obstructing proceedings.  Evidence at trial established that White was hired to perform laboratory testing of a manufacturer’s industrial process waste water samples and then to use those results to complete monthly discharge monitoring reports for submission to the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.  However, for the months October  to December 2008, White created discharge monitoring reports (DMRs) that falsely represented that laboratory testing had been performed on samples when, in fact, such testing had not been done.  White further created a fictitious laboratory report and presented it to her client for use in preparing another DMR for January 2009.  White made false statements to a federal agent during a subsequent criminal investigation.

The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Richard J. Powers of the Environmental Crimes Section of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Gaines Cleveland of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi.


A Russian air force Su-27 Sukhois intercepts a simulated hijacked aircraft entering Russian airspace Aug. 27, 2013, at Exercise Vigilant Eagle 13. This exercise is the fifth in a series of cooperative exercises that provide an opportunity for Russia, Canada, and United States military personnel to enhance their international partnership and to cooperatively detect, track, identify, and follow a hijacked aircraft as it proceeds across international boundaries. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jason Robertson 
NORAD, Russia Hope to Build on Vigilant Eagle 13 Successes
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 29, 2013 - Just concluding the most ambitious Vigilant Eagle exercise yet, senior military officials from the North American Aerospace Defense Command and the Russian Federation told reporters today they're ready to take the lessons learned to make next year's exercise even more challenging.
Canadian Maj. Gen. Andre Viens, NORAD's operations director, and Russian Gen. Maj. Dmitry Gomenkov, commander of the Eastern Military District of Russia's Air and Space Defense Brigade, declared the Vigilant Eagle 13 exercise a major success.
The exercise kicked off Aug. 26, with scenarios that required the United States, Canada and Russia to respond to simulated terrorist hijackings of commercial aircraft. Both NORAD, a binational command that includes the United States and Canada, and Russia had to scramble fighter jets and track and intercept the "hijacked aircraft."

Throughout the exercise series, the participants have developed tactics, techniques and procedures to effectively notify, coordinate, and conduct positive handoff of a hijacked aircraft flying through Russian, Canadian and American airspace, Viens told reporters during a teleconference today.

Vigilant Eagle 13 offered the opportunity to take principles proven in a simulated environment during last year's command post exercise, and to validate them during the third "live-fly" exercise since the exercise series began in 2008, Viens and Gomenkov reported.

This year's Vigilant Eagle was the first time Canadian fighter jets participated, with Canadian CF-18 Hornets and Russian Federation Su-27 Sukhois aircraft following and intercepting the "hijacked" aircraft, Gomenkov noted.

But the exercise delivered another first, with a visual fighter-to-fighter handoff of escort responsibilities in a live-fly situation as the "track of interest" moved from one country's airspace to another's.

"During previous Vigilant Eagle events, Russian or NORAD fighters would escort the simulated aircraft to a point in the sky where airborne or ground sensors would take over the monitoring of the hijacked aircraft," Viens explained. "Later on the route, the fighters of the other nation would intercept the hijacked aircraft and assume escort responsibilities for that track of interest.

"So at no time in the past did we exercise having the Russian, Canadian or American fighters all joining up together to have a positive handoff of escort responsibility on a track of interest," he said. "This is what we did for the first time this year."

That crucial step forward in the Vigilant Eagle series required extensive planning and coordination to ensure a safe, successful transfer, he said.

"We have never done this together in the past, and it went off without a hitch," Viens said. "What this has enabled us to do is have 100 percent control over an aircraft in trouble that is flying between Russian, American and Canadian airspace. Working together as partners in the air and on the ground, we were able to ensure the safety of the civilians in the aircraft, our collective citizens and the safe landing of the aircraft at its destination."

Gomenkov praised the professionalism of all three countries' militaries throughout the exercise planning and said he looks forward to seeing the Vigilant Eagle series continue to build in complexity.

Viens said he, too, sees opportunities to refine the tactics, techniques and procedures being advanced through the exercise, hinting that some new "curve balls" could be introduced in the future.

Planning for Vigilant Eagle 14 is scheduled to begin in November, Gomenkov said, noting that both Russia and NORAD will offer suggestions on how to build on this year's exercise.

Exercising together builds confidence and understanding that enables the United States, Canada and Russia to operate together more effectively, Viens said. "So clearly from a NORAD perspective, there is a great deal of interest to continue this tradition of Vigilant Eagle exercises to further promote cooperation – especially when it comes to air-space activities that require the attention of both Russia and NORAD," he said.

Friday, August 30, 2013


Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System 
Department of Housing and Urban Development 
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation 
Federal Housing Finance Agency 
Office of Comptroller of the Currency 
Securities and Exchange Commission 

Six federal agencies issued a notice revising a proposed rule requiring sponsors of securitization transactions to retain risk in those transactions.  The new proposal revises a proposed rule the agencies issued in 2011 to implement the risk retention requirement in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

This proposal is being issued jointly by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Securities and Exchange Commission. As provided under the statute, the Secretary of the Treasury, as Chairperson of the Financial Stability Oversight Council, played a coordinating role in the rulemaking. The rule would provide asset-backed securities (ABS) sponsors with several options to satisfy the risk retention requirements. The original proposal generally measured compliance with the risk retention requirements based on the par value of securities issued in a securitization transaction and included a so-called premium capture provision.  The agencies are now proposing that risk retention generally be based on fair value measurements without a premium capture provision.

As required by the Dodd-Frank Act, the proposal would define “qualified residential mortgage” (QRM) and exempt securitizations of QRMs from risk retention.  The new proposal would define QRMs to have the same meaning as the term qualified mortgages as defined by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  The new proposal also requests comment on an alternative definition of QRM that would include certain underwriting standards in addition to the qualified mortgage criteria.

Similar to the original proposal, under the new proposal, securitizations of commercial loans, commercial mortgages, or automobile loans of low credit risk would not be subject to risk retention.  Further, the rule would recognize the full guarantee on payments of principal and interest provided by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for their residential mortgage-backed securities as meeting the risk retention requirements while Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are in conservatorship or receivership and have capital support from the U.S. government.  This provision also is unchanged from the original proposal.

The agencies are requesting comment on the revised proposed rule by Oct. 30, 2013.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

MRI Diagnostic Testing Company, Imagimed LLC, and Its Former Owners and Chief Radiologist to Pay $3.57 Million to Resolve False Claims Act Allegations
New York-based Imagimed LLC, the company’s former owners, William B. Wolf III and Dr. Timothy J. Greenan, and the company’s former chief radiologist, Dr. Steven Winter, will pay $3.57 million to resolve allegations that they submitted to federal healthcare programs false claims for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) services, the Justice Department announced today.  Imagimed owns and operates fifteen MRI facilities, located primarily in New York state, under the name “Open MRI.”

 Allegedly, from July 1, 2001, through April 23, 2008, Imagimed, Greenan, Wolf and Winter submitted claims to Medicare, Medicaid and TRICARE for MRI scans performed with a contrast dye without the direct supervision of a qualified physician.  Since a potential adverse side effect of contrast dye is anaphylactic shock, federal regulations require that a physician supervise the administration of contrast dye when it is used for an MRI.  Also, allegedly, from July 1, 2005, to April 23, 2008, Imagimed, Greenan, Wolf and Winter submitted claims for services referred to Imagimed by physicians with whom Imagimed had improper financial relationships.  In exchange for these referrals, Imagimed entered into sham on-call arrangements, provided pre-authorization services without charge and provided various gifts to certain referring physicians, in violation of the Stark Law and the Anti-Kickback Statute.

 “The Department of Justice is committed to guarding against abuse of federal healthcare programs,” said Stuart F. Delery, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division.  “We will help protect patients’ health by ensuring doctors who submit claims to federal healthcare programs follow proper safety precautions at all times.”

U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of New York, Richard S. Hartunian said: “This case is an example of our commitment to using all of the remedies available, including civil actions under the False Claims Act, to ensure patient safety and combat health care fraud.  Stripping away the profit motive for circumventing physician supervision requirements has both a remedial and a deterrent effect.  The settlement announced today advances our critical interest in both the integrity of our health care system and the safe delivery of medical services.”

The allegations resolved by the settlement were brought in a lawsuit filed under the False Claims Act’s whistleblower provisions, which permit private parties to sue for false claims on behalf of the government and to share in any recovery.  The whistleblower in this case, Dr. Patrick Lynch, was a local radiologist and will receive $565,500.

This settlement illustrates the government’s emphasis on combating health care fraud and marks another achievement for the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) initiative, which was announced in May 2009 by Attorney General Eric Holder and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.  The partnership between the two departments has focused efforts to reduce and prevent Medicare and Medicaid financial fraud through enhanced cooperation.  One of the most powerful tools in this effort is the False Claims Act.  Since January 2009, the Justice Department has recovered a total of more than $14.8 billion through False Claims Act cases, with more than $10.8 billion of that amount recovered in cases involving fraud against federal health care programs.

The investigation and settlement were the result of a coordinated effort among the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York; the Justice Department’s Civil Division, Commercial Litigation Branch and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General.

The case is United States of America ex rel. Lynch v. Imagimed LLC, et al. (N.D. N.Y.).  The claims released by the settlement are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.

Government Assessment of the Syrian Government’s Use of Chemical Weapons on August 21, 2013 | The White House

Government Assessment of the Syrian Government’s Use of Chemical Weapons on August 21, 2013 | The White House

West Wing Week 8/30/13 or, "Because They Marched" | The White House

West Wing Week 8/30/13 or, "Because They Marched" | The White House

Cos'è l'ESA

Cos'è l'ESA

Andreas Mogensen to ISS

Andreas Mogensen to ISS


DoD Announces Recruiting and Retention Numbers for Fiscal 2013, Through July 2013

           The Department of Defense announced today recruiting and retention statistics for the active and reserve components for fiscal 2013, through July.

           Active Component.

            Recruiting. All four active services met or exceeded their numerical accession goals for fiscal 2013, through July.

 Army – 56,437 accessions, with a goal of 55,760; 101 percent
Navy – 32,692 accessions, with a goal of 32,692; 100 percent
Marine Corps – 24,785 accessions, with a goal of 24,743; 100 percent
Air Force – 21,969 accessions, with a goal of 21,969; 100 percent
           Retention. The Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps exhibited strong retention numbers for the 10th month of fiscal 2013. The Navy exhibited strong retention numbers in the mid-career and career categories. However, the Navy's achievement of 87 percent in the initial category is a result of reduced accessions from four to six years ago.

           Reserve Component.

           Recruiting. Five of the six reserve components met or exceeded their fiscal-year-to-date 2013 numerical accession goals. While the Army Reserve met its July goals, it remains 3,241 accessions short of its fiscal goal.

Army National Guard – 41,539 accessions, with a goal of 41,236; 101 percent
Army Reserve – 21,681 accessions, with a goal of 24,922; 87 percent
Navy Reserve – 4,667 accessions, with a goal of 4,656; 100 percent
Marine Corps Reserve – 8,050 accessions, with a goal of 7,950; 101 percent
Air National Guard – 8,605 accessions, with a goal of 8,605; 100 percent
Air Force Reserve – 6,307 accessions, with a goal of 5,201; 121 percent

           Attrition – All reserve components have met their attrition goals. Current trends are expected to continue. (This indicator lags due to data availability.)


Defense Ministers End Brunei Meeting with Joint Declaration
By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Brunei, Aug. 29, 2013 - Eighteen defense ministers from nations throughout the Asia-Pacific region sat together after their meeting here today, each in turn signing a joint declaration that reaffirms their commitment to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and to working together peacefully and cooperatively for a better future.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was among them, having traveled here as part of an Asian trip -- his second in three months -- that also includes stops in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Yesterday, Hagel attended a meeting here of defense ministers from the 10 ASEAN member states of Burma, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. He also held bilateral meetings with counterparts from several other nations.

This morning, he attended the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting-Plus, made up of the 10 ASEAN defense ministers and eight dialogue partners: defense ministers from the United States, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, India, New Zealand and Russia.

This year, Russia's deputy defense minister, Anatoly Antonov, participated in the ADMM-Plus meeting.

"I see this second ministerial of the ADMM-Plus as a landmark event," Hagel said in remarks prepared for delivery during the meeting.

"In 2010, when then-Secretary [Robert M.] Gates joined you, our countries committed to making the ADMM-Plus action-oriented," Hagel said. "Under ASEAN leadership, we are well on our way, with three multinational field exercises this year -– a major accomplishment. I am proud that the United States has been a partner and participant all along the way."

After the signing of the Bandar Seri Begawan Joint Declaration, Mohammad Yasmin Bin Umar, chairman of this second meeting of the ADMM-Plus, discussed key outcomes. He said the group was pleased with its substantial achievement this year, especially the five ADMM-Plus expert working groups that have forged political cooperation among defense forces.

"This is evident with the first-of-its-kind ADMM-Plus humanitarian assistance/disaster relief and military medicine exercise held in Brunei Darussalam last June," he said. An upcoming exercise will be held on maritime security, counterterrorism and peacekeeping operations, he added, and the group decided last year that ADMM-Plus would begin meeting every two years rather than every three years.

Yasmin said the group reaffirmed the principle of ASEAN centrality, where ASEAN is the primary driving force in the ADMM-Plus processes.

"We also reaffirmed our relation to be guided by the fundamental principle enshrined in the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation," he said, "especially reunification of the threat of the use of force and exercise of self-restraint."

The group recommitted to strengthen defense cooperation in promoting peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, he added, based on the enduring principle of equality, mutual respect, mutual benefit, and respect for international law.

"In doing so," Yasmin said, "we agreed to promote capacity building through greater engagement and interaction, enhance interoperability through training and joint exercises, and establish mechanisms for effective response."

He said the defense ministers also agreed to establish practical measures for reducing vulnerability to miscalculation and avoid misunderstanding and undesirable incidents at sea.

"We also agreed on the establishment of the ADMM-Plus Expert Working Group on Humanitarian Mine Action and on the transition process of the ADMM-Plus Expert Working Group on Co-chairmanship," Yasmin said. "Our senior official will develop a work plan and key milestones for the next cycle that begins in April 2014."

A new ADMM-Plus initiative will promote capacity building through a humanitarian aid/disaster relief tabletop exercise and mine action workshop, he said. And the group will reaffirm the direction of the ASEAN leader during the association's summit in May to promote synergy among regional mechanisms, including those of ADMM-Plus and the ASEAN Regional Forum.

The group also extensively discussed international and regional security and defense issues, and plans to meet again in Malaysia in 2015, he said.

In his remarks, Hagel said the ADMM-Plus is setting the right example with coordinated approaches to transnational and nontraditional threats.

"Pirates and terrorists, proliferators, diseases, natural disasters, and cyber criminals are not contained by national borders, and they will jeopardize all of our futures if we fail to act together," the secretary said.

"Working together develops regional capacity and the habits of cooperation we need to solve today's complex problems," he said. "Exercising together builds trust and understanding, and reduces the risk of conflict when disputes arise."


Ex-Im Bank Approves $1.5 Billion to Finance Energy Equipment and Services to Mexico 
Financing Supports 6,800 U.S. Jobs

Washington, D.C. – The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) has authorized $1.5 billion of export financing in a pair of transactions to support the export of U.S. goods and services to Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), Mexico's national oil and gas company.

For the second time, Pemex will issue Ex-Im Bank-guaranteed bonds in the capital markets to fund the transactions. In the event the funding cost is prohibitive, Pemex may exercise an option to seek Ex-Im Bank direct loans priced at Commercial Interest Reference Rates.

Ex-Im Bank’s financing will support approximately 6,800 U.S. jobs spread across about 10 states, according to bank estimates derived from Departments of Commerce and Labor data and methodology. The procurement includes oil and gas field drilling services, drilling platforms, equipment rentals, pumps, well-completion services, associated spare parts and chemicals, geophysical services and safety equipment.

“These two transactions will increase the flow of American exports to one of our neighbors and in the process support large- and small-business jobs across America,” said Ex-Im Bank Chairman and President Fred P. Hochberg. “It is clear that the ‘Made in America’ brand is valued now more than ever.”

Detcon Inc., a small-business that will benefit from the transaction, designs and manufactures a wide range of industrial grade fixed gas detectors, control systems, pipeline analyzers, and wireless technology. The company, which is headquartered in The Woodlands, Texas, employs about 90 people.

“Detcon is proud of its association with Pemex,” said Adam Markin, Detcon’s CEO. “Ex-Im Bank’s support of Pemex in this transaction is a large help to smaller U.S.-based companies like Detcon and to their jobs.”

Since 1998, Ex-Im Bank has approved approximately $13.5 billion in financing to support Pemex’s activities.


Magnetic charge crystals imaged in artificial spin ice

Potential data storage and computational advances could follow

LOS ALAMOS, N.M., August 28, 2013—A team of scientists has reported direct visualization of magnetic charge crystallization in an artificial spin ice material, a first in the study of a relatively new class of frustrated artificial magnetic materials-by-design known as “Artificial Spin Ice.” These charges are analogs to electrical charges with possible applications in magnetic memories and devices; in describing this class of materials, the new work demonstrates their utility.

Los Alamos National Laboratory staff scientist Cristiano Nisoli explained, “Magnetic technology generally concerns itself with manipulation of localized dipolar degrees of freedom,” he said. “The ability of building materials containing delocalized monopolar charges is very exciting with possible technological implications in data storage and computation.”

Honeycomb configuration helps disassemble magnetic islands

“The emergence of magnetic monopoles in spin ice systems is a particular case of what physicists call fractionalization, or deconfinement of quasi-particles that together are seen as comprising the fundamental unit of the system, in this case the north and south poles of a nanomagnet,” Nisoli said. “We have seen how arranging magnets in a honeycomb configuration allows for these charges to be sort of ‘stripped’ from the magnetic islands to which they belong and become relevant degrees of freedom.”

Nanoscale magnets prevent freezing

The unique properties of spin ice materials have fascinated scientists since they were first discovered in the late 1990s in naturally occurring rare earth titanites. The material is aptly named: the highly complex ordering of nanoscale magnets in spin ice obey the same rules that determine the positional ordering of hydrogen and oxygen atoms in frozen water ice. Both have “spin”—degrees of freedom—with frustrated interactions that prevent complete freezing, even at absolute zero.

In 2006, an interdisciplinary team of physicists and materials scientists designed the first artificial spin ice, a two-dimensional array of magnetic nanoislands that are fabricated to interact in complex ways, depending on the chosen design of the array. The islands were lithographically printed onto a substrate, arranged in a square-lattice pattern, with the north and south poles of each nanomagnet meeting and interacting at their four-pronged vertices.

New annealing process allows polarity flip

Now the same research team has developed a new annealing protocol that allows the artificial material’s full potential for highly complex magnetic interactions to be realized. The new protocol was applied to two artificial spin ice materials, one configured in a square-lattice pattern, the other in a hexagonal-honeycomb pattern with three-pronged vertices.

In the honeycomb pattern, where three magnetic poles intersect, a net charge of north or south is forced at each vertex. The magnetic “monopole charge” at each vertex influences the magnetic “charge” of the surrounding vertices. The team was able to image the crystalline structure of the magnetic charges using magnetic force microscopy.

University of Illinois physicist Peter Schiffer, who led the team, explained, “Nanomagnets are so small that their behavior becomes relatively simple. We can arrange the magnets in a particular lattice pattern—square or honeycomb—and they interact in a way that we can predict and control.”

Schiffer added, “The challenge—you have to get the nanomagnets to flip their north and south poles to show how they interact. It’s hard to force them to show the effects of interaction, since they get stuck in one particular arrangement.”

The research team’s new annealing protocol—heating the material to a high temperature where their magnetic polarity is suppressed (here, about 550 degrees Celsius) —allows the nanomagnets to flip their polarity and freely interact. As the material cools, the nanomagnets are ordered according to the interactions of their poles at the vertices.

Engineered material allows study that’s impossible in natural crystals

The collective thermal behavior of the arrays is studied through statistical mechanics, a branch of fundamental physics. As theorized, the monopole charge of each vertex was found to contribute to the order of the entire system in a manner analogous to the interactions of electric charges at the atomic scale during water ice crystal growth.

An advantage of artificial spin ice is that it can be designed in different topologies, and examined subsequently to see the effects of those topologies. That allows physicists to explore a wide range of possible behaviors that are not accessible in natural crystals.

“This work demonstrates a direction in condensed matter physics that is quite opposite to what has been done in the last six decades or so,” said Nisoli. “Instead of imagining an emergent theoretical description to model the behavior of a nature-given material and validating it indirectly, we engineer materials of desired emergent properties that can be visualized directly.”

The team’s research, led by Schiffer, also of the University of Illinois’ Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory, has published its findings in the Aug. 29 issue of the journal Nature. The theoretical work for this research was performed at Los Alamos National Laboratory under Nisoli and LANL Oppenheimer Fellow Gia-Wei Chern, and at Penn State University under Vincent Crespi and Paul Lammert. The synthesis of the magnetic materials and the high temperature treatment was performed at the University of Minnesota’s Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science under Chris Leighton. The magnetic measurements and lithography were performed at Penn State University and the Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory by graduate students Sheng Zhang and Ian Gilbert under the direction of Schiffer.

This research was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation.

Thursday, August 29, 2013




In the week ending August 24, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 331,000, a decrease of 6,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 337,000. The 4-week moving average was 331,250, an increase of 750 from the previous week's unrevised average of 330,500.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.3 percent for the week ending August 17, unchanged from the prior week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending August 17 was 2,989,000, a decrease of 14,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 3,003,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,996,250, an increase of 9,500 from the preceding week's revised average of 2,986,750.


The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 277,359 in the week ending August 24, a decrease of 2,959 from the previous week. There were 312,542 initial claims in the comparable week in 2012.

The advance unadjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.2 percent during the week ending August 17, unchanged from the prior week's unrevised rate. The advance unadjusted number for persons claiming UI benefits in state programs totaled 2,821,658, a decrease of 58,419 from the preceding week's revised level of 2,880,077. A year earlier, the rate was 2.4 percent and the volume was 3,117,558.

The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending August 10 was 4,467,574, an increase of 28,918 from the previous week. There were 5,530,828 persons claiming benefits in all programs in the comparable week in 2012.

No state was triggered "on" the Extended Benefits program during the week ending August 10.

Initial claims for UI benefits filed by former Federal civilian employees totaled 1,104 in the week ending August 17, a decrease of 333 from the prior week. There were 2,164 initial claims filed by newly discharged veterans, a decrease of 197 from the preceding week.

There were 21,083 former Federal civilian employees claiming UI benefits for the week ending August 10, a decrease of 125 from the previous week. Newly discharged veterans claiming benefits totaled 33,778, an increase of 543 from the prior week.

States reported 1,511,619 persons claiming Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) benefits for the week ending August 10, an increase of 10,551 from the prior week. There were 2,273,317 persons claiming EUC in the comparable week in 2012. EUC weekly claims include first, second, third, and fourth tier activity.

The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending August 17 were in Puerto Rico (4.7), New Jersey (3.6), Alaska (3.4), Connecticut (3.4), California (3.3), Pennsylvania (3.2), New Mexico (3.1), Virgin Islands (3.1), Nevada (2.8), and Rhode Island (2.8).

The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending August 17 were in California (+5,867), Missouri (+1,757), New Jersey (+677), Kansas (+460), and New York (+445), while the largest decreases were in North Carolina (-1,017), Pennsylvania (-899), Maryland (-722), Washington (-720), and Florida (-601).


Hagel Discusses Syria With German Defense Minister
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 28, 2013 - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke by phone with German Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere to discuss the ongoing violence in Syria, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said.

Hagel is in Brunei, where he is attending a meeting of Association of Southeast Asian Nations defense ministers.

In a statement summarizing the call, Little said Hagel pledged to continue consultations with de Maiziere on the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

"They discussed the need for the international community to consider responses to this tragic development in Syria," the press secretary said, "and noted that the use of chemical weapons violates core tenets of international law."

In an interview yesterday with "BBC World News," Hagel said most U.S. allies, most U.S. partners and most of the international community have little doubt that the most basic international humanitarian standard was violated by the Syrian regime in using chemical weapons against its own people.

"The deeper we get into this, it seems to me it's clearer and clearer that the government of Syria was responsible," he added.

The secretary also said the Defense Department has complied with President Barack Obama's request for options.

"We have moved assets in place to be able to fulfill and comply with whatever option the president wishes to take," he said. "We are ready to go."

(Cheryl Pellerin of American Forces Press Service contributed to this report.)




NLRB and National Labor Rights Week: Working to Fulfill the Promise of the National Labor Relations Act

August 25 through August 31 is National Labor Rights Week.  Throughout the country, staff members working in regional offices of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) are meeting with immigrant workers, community groups, employees and employers to discuss the rights guaranteed by the National Labor Relations Act.

“We are placing a particular emphasis on educating Mexican workers employed in the United States by partnering with Mexican consulates in many communities,” said NLRB Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce.  “Along with other federal labor agencies, including the Department of Labor and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, we are participating in events designed to ensure that Mexican employers and workers in the United States understand their rights and obligations under American law.”

“Since its passage in 1935, the National Labor Relations Act has promised generations of workers the right to join together, with or without a union, to seek improvements and a voice in their working lives,” notes Acting NLRB General Counsel Lafe Solomon.  “But that promise can only be fulfilled if individuals understand and are able to exercise their rights under the law.”

Among the events taking place this week:

In California, NLRB Regional Directors will attend the Los Angeles and San Francisco Mexican Consulates’ opening celebration for Labor Rights Week, representatives will hold briefings on the NLRB for the Los Angeles consulate’s professional staff, and attorneys will participate in a telethon designed to provide callers with information on their rights and the agencies best suited for assisting them; in San Francisco, staff will participate in outreach programs hosted by the consulate.

In Illinois,  the Regional Director signed a Local Agreement with the Consul General of Mexico in Chicago as part of the opening ceremonies for Labor Rights Week, while Regional staff will participate in numerous events throughout the week at the consulate and throughout the community;

In New Jersey, the Regional office is participating in the Mexican Consulate’s New Brunswick Labor Week events, scheduled for August 27 and 29;

In Raleigh, North Carolina, attorneys from the Regional office will participate in a presentation at the Mexican Consulate, including an overview of the rights of employers and employees under the NLRA;

In Oregon, NLRB staff will pass out literature and meet with the public at booths in The Dalles, Portland and Woodburn;

In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, attorneys from the Regional office will participate in a briefing sponsored by the Mexican Consulate, highlighting the work of the NLRB and responding to questions;

In Texas, Regional staff are participating in events planned in Dallas, Houston and San Antonio;

In Washington State, representatives from the NLRB Seattle office will discuss employee and employer rights and obligations at a booth located in Centro de la Raza.

“These activities around the country build on the letter of agreement I signed last month with Mexican Ambassador Eduardo Medina-Mora Icaza,” Acting General Counsel Solomon said.  “We are committed to working together to provide outreach, education, and training on the rights of workers under the National Labor Relations Act.”

“All of this week’s activities will help to guarantee the right of workers to engage in protected-concerted activity to improve their working conditions without fear of discrimination, harassment or retaliation,” Chairman Pearce said.


U.S. Citizens Detained or Missing in Iran
Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
August 28, 2013

The United States respectfully asks the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to work cooperatively with us in our efforts to help U.S. citizens Robert Levinson, Amir Hekmati, and Saeed Abedini to return to their families after lengthy detentions.

Mr. Levinson went missing from Kish Island, Iran, in March 2007. Mr. Levinson is not only a husband, but a caring father to seven children. His family has endured with courage and quiet dignity the pain of spending so many important family milestones without him there. They shouldn’t have to endure additional worry about his whereabouts and well being. We call again on the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to uphold its offer to help find Mr. Levinson and return him safely to his family.

The United States is also deeply concerned about the fate of dual U.S. citizens Amir Hekmati and Saeed Abedini. Tomorrow marks the two-year anniversary of Mr. Hekmati’s detention in Iran on false espionage charges. On September 26, Mr. Abedini will have spent a year in detention in Iran. He was sentenced to eight years in prison on charges related to his religious beliefs.

President Rouhani has shared in his speeches and interviews over the past few months his hope and vision to improve the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s relationship with the world.

We urge the Iranian Government to release Mr. Hekmati and Mr. Abedini and to help us locate Mr. Levinson so that they may be reunited with their families as safely and as soon as possible.

These men belong at home with those who love them and miss them.


By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 27, 2013 - Senior military leaders from 22 nations, most in the Asia-Pacific region, are gathered in Mongolia this week to learn about nonlethal weapons and how their forces can more effectively use them, when circumstances require, such as to maintain order during low-intensity conflict or civil unrest.

The two-day leadership seminar, sponsored by U.S. Marine Forces Pacific, began yesterday with demonstrations of nonlethal tactics, techniques and procedures at a training area about 30 miles west of Ulaanbaatar, the Mongolian capital, Marine Corps Col. Brad Bartelt, the senior U.S. seminar representative, told American Forces Press Service.

The session continues through tomorrow in the capital city, with participants discussing how they might apply the principles demonstrated.

The leadership seminar is the second phase of a two-part program conducted to promote awareness of nonlethal weapons and increase interoperability among those that use them, Bartelt said.

The training kicked off Aug. 17 with a bilateral field training exercise between U.S. and Mongolian forces at Mongolia's Five Hills Training Area. Fifteen 15 nonlethal weapons instructors from the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force's 3rd Law Enforcement Battalion conducted hands-on training for more than 150 members of the Mongolian armed forces and general police, Bartelt reported.

Together, they rehearsed nonlethal tactics and procedures such as control holds and pressure-point techniques. They also got hands-on training with various nonlethal weapons systems, including oleoresin capsicum, or "pepper spray," the X26 Taser, 40-millimeter sponge and "stingball" grenades and nonlethal shotgun rounds.

"The extensive, tactical-level training that took place during the FTX greatly increased the nonlethal proficiency of both the U.S. Marines who led the training, as well as the Mongolian personnel who might have been exposed to these nonlethal procedures for the first time," Bartelt said.

Marine Corps Sgt. Ben Eberle, a combat correspondent who witnessed the training, said he was impressed how quickly the Mongolians absorbed on the information covered. "Show them once, and they had it," he said. "And it's all even more impressive since everyone communicated with each other through interpreters."

Each experienced firsthand how it feels to be hit with a nonlethal weapon, designed to intimidate or inflict pain or discomfort rather than to kill. "No matter what language we speak, everyone runs through the [observer-controller] course in pain, and everyone takes a stun from a Taser the same way," Eberle said. "Just because it's nonlethal doesn't mean it's pain-free. I think whoever said friends are made through hardship hit the nail right on the head."

The training could prove valuable for the Mongolian armed forces, a major contributor to peacekeeping operations around the world, Bartelt said. The Mongolians have deployed in support of U.N. peacekeeping missions in South Sudan, Sierra Leon and the Balkans, and continue to augment the coalition in Afghanistan, he noted.

In many instances during these missions, nonlethal weapons can be valuable additions to ground commanders, he said.

"There are times when lethal force is not the best option," Bartelt said. "For example, the effective use of nonlethal weapons can prove extremely valuable during rescue missions, situations in which civilians are used to mask a military attack, as well as riots and cases of civil disturbance during humanitarian assistance-disaster relief operations."

Nonlethal weapons are designed to incapacitate equipment and people, minimizing fatalities and permanent injury and collateral property damage, Bartelt said. "Being able to use them effectively greatly increases the options a commander has while operating in the full spectrum of conflict," he said.

As the Defense Department's executive agent for nonlethal weapons and devices, the Marine Corps frequently leads related training, not only within the U.S. military, but also with partner nations.

Since 2002, Marine Corps Forces Pacific has sponsored the executive seminar series 12 times with partners throughout the region. This year's exercise is the third to be hosted by Mongolia, and New Zealand, Australia, Thailand, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Malaysia have hosted previous sessions.

The training, Bartelt said, promotes closer partnership across the region, a pillar of the U.S. military rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific as nations work together to confront common challenges.

Recognizing that nonlethal capabilities and procedures vary significantly across nations, Bartelt called the exercise an opportunity to increase interoperability with partners "in the event we ever find ourselves side by side in a situation where we need to put this training to use."


Monday, August 26, 2013
Man Who Threatened Synagogue in Fargo, North Dakota, Charged with Civil Rights Violation

Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Jocelyn Samuels and U.S. Attorney for the District of North Dakota Timothy Q. Purdon announced that Dominique Jason Flanigan was arraigned today on civil rights and threats charges.

Flanigan was indicted under seal by a grand jury on Dec. 12, 2012, for threatening a synagogue in Fargo, N.D.   The two-count indictment charges Flanigan with issuing a threatening interstate communication and with interfering with a federally protected activity.   The indictment was unsealed prior to his arraignment.

The indictment alleges that, on Jan. 4, 2011, Flanigan called Temple Beth El in Fargo, and left a voice mail message threatening the employees of the synagogue.   The indictment charges that this threat intimidated and interfered with Temple Beth El employees because of their religion.

An indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

This case is being investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lynn C. Jordheim and Megan A. Healy of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of North Dakota and Trial Attorney Dana Mulhauser of the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division



Is it a bird, a plane, a UFO? It's sprite
Strange lights in the sky studied by atmospheric scientists
Is it a bird, is it a plane, is it a UFO? Strange lights in the sky are being closely watched by atmospheric scientists.

Dubbed red sprites by researchers, these dancing fairies-of-the-clouds are sometimes glimpsed as blood-red bursts of light in the shape of jellyfish.

At other times, they appear as trumpet-shaped blue emissions, called blue jets. Like the most elusive of nymphs, however, red sprites and blue jets come out on only one occasion: during severe thunderstorms.

Although sporadically reported for years by airline pilots, only in the past decade or two has there been enough evidence to convince atmospheric scientists to investigate the phenomenon.

What's that in the skies?

Now baffled researchers asking "What in the world is this?" may have found answers.

Above a thunderstorm's black clouds, sprites appear as bursts of red light flashing far into Earth's atmosphere, according to scientist Hans Nielsen of the University of Alaska at Fairbanks.

The brief flashes look like glowing jellyfish, with red bells and purple tentacles. In a single night, a large thunderstorm system can emit up to one hundred sprites.

Into the wild blue--or red--yonder

Nielsen, Jason Ahrns, also of the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, Matthew McHarg of the U.S. Air Force Academy and researchers from Fort Lewis College teamed up this summer to study sprites.

They used the National Science Foundation (NSF)/National Center for Atmospheric Research Gulfstream-V aircraft, a high-flying plane capable of reaching altitudes of 50,000 feet, to conduct their research. Their project is funded by NSF.

Sprites are similar to lightning, say Nielsen and McHarg, in that they are electrical discharges from the atmosphere.

But while sprites mimic lightning "in some ways," says McHarg, "they're different in others. Lightning happens below and within clouds, at altitudes of two to five miles. Sprites occur far above the clouds, at about 50 miles up--10 times higher than lightning."

They're also huge, he says, reaching 30 miles high.

"Red sprites don't last very long, though, about one-one thousandth of a second. That's 300 times quicker than the time it takes us to blink!"

Blue jets, which weren't directly part of the scientists' study, stick around longer than red sprites, originate at the tops of storm clouds, and shoot up to an altitude less than half that of red sprites. Blue jets are narrower than red sprites, and fan out like trumpet-shaped flowers in blue or purple hues.

"This field of research is fast evolving, and is important for understanding the global electric circuit," says Anne-Marie Schmoltner, program director in NSF's Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences, which supports the research. "The red sprite airborne field campaign this summer provided observations at unprecedented time resolutions."

What makes thunderstorms' celestial lights

Atmospheric researchers have developed theories to try to explain these celestial lights.

Red sprites may happen at the time of positively charged cloud-to-ground lightning strikes, which make up about ten percent of all lightning and are many times more powerful than more common, negatively charged lightning.

The flashes may be akin to giant electric sparks.

After a powerful ground strike, the electric field above a thunderstorm may become strengthened to the point that it causes an "electrical breakdown," an overload that weakens the atmosphere's resistance to electric current flow. The result is an immense red spark, or sprite, in the atmosphere.

Although still something of a mystery, red sprites have helped solve other long-standing questions.

Scientists have found that red sprites create some of the low-frequency radio bursts picked up for years by instruments around the world, but whose source was unknown.

Large bursts of gamma rays, emanating from Earth rather than space, originate during thunderstorms, although their exact relationship to red sprites remains unclear.

Researchers now wonder whether red sprites (and blue jets) might affect the atmosphere in important ways.

For example, sprites and jets might alter the chemical composition of the upper atmosphere. Though brief, they could set off lasting charges.

Sprites' deep red color is caused by the light emitted from nitrogen molecules in the atmosphere, says McHarg. Red sprites may turn out to be important to atmospheric chemistry and global climate by changing concentrations of nitric oxides high in the atmosphere.

The researchers are using a technique called high-speed spectroscopy to study sprites' different colors to determine the amount of energy the sprites carry, and to find out more about their chemical composition.

How to see a sprite

Can thunderstorm-watchers on the ground glimpse red sprites and blue jets with the naked eye? Yes, if they know where to look.

Viewers must be able to see a distant thunderstorm with no clouds in the way, in an area without city lights. Then they must look above the storm, not at the lightning within the clouds.

It's likely, say the scientists, that if watchers wait long enough, they'll see a red sprite. Blue jets are more elusive. The best viewing would probably come from a plane flying very high, and located miles and miles away from a thunderstorm.

With its rubber tires, a car may be the safest vehicle from which to hunt for ephemeral sprites of the thunderclouds.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013



Readout of Secretary Hagel's Meeting with ASEAN Defense Ministers in Brunei

           Pentagon Press Secretary George Little provided the following readout:

           "Today in Brunei, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel met with his counterparts from the 10 ASEAN nations and the ASEAN secretary general. The group discussed the need to advance practical cooperation to build trust and lower tensions throughout the region.

           The ASEAN defense ministers accepted Secretary Hagel's invitation for a first-ever meeting in the U.S. with all ten ASEAN defense ministers in Hawaii next year. The meeting provides an additional opportunity to deepen regional cooperation.

           Secretary Hagel noted the need to continue progress toward peaceful resolution of territorial disputes, and committed to continued U.S. support for ASEAN, including its defense ministers' meeting, as a strong organization for achieving shared goals and upholding common good."


Reliability Technology earns prestigious Los Alamos award

Technology transferred to Procter & Gamble basis for first-ever Feynman Prize

LOS ALAMOS, N.M., Aug. 27, 2013—Los Alamos National Laboratory has honored Michael Hamada, Harold Martz and a team of LANL researchers with its first Richard Feynman Prize for Innovation Achievement for the team’s long and successful collaboration with Procter & Gamble.

Hamada, Martz and their colleagues worked with Procter & Gamble for years developing a concept known as Reliability Technology—a statistical method that P&G has used to streamline its manufacturing processes and save more than a billion dollars a year in costs by increasing uptime in their plants worldwide.

“Now that the Reliability Technology system has been fully developed by Procter & Gamble, they are bringing the system back to Los Alamos to help us improve our manufacturing operations related to our national security mission,” said Terry Wallace, Principal Associate Director for Global Security at Los Alamos, who awarded the Feynman Prize to Martz and Hamada. “This is an example of ‘full-cycle’ innovation: We bring mission-essential tools to bear on an important complementary problem for industry; it helps us perform our primary mission job, and the innovation comes back to help the Laboratory in another area.”

The team was honored last week during the Laboratory’s 15th-annual outStanding innOvation Awards Reception—an event honoring Laboratory staff members who contribute to the development and transfer of LANL technology for commercialization. Other Los Alamos members of the Reliability Technology team are: Joanne Wendelberger, Ben Sims, Dave Higdon, Brian Williams, Christine Anderson-Cook, Earl Lawrence, Brian Weaver, Leslie Moore, and Richard Picard.

“Los Alamos has a long history of providing solutions to some of our nation's most challenging problems,” said Wallace. “Turning science and engineering into solutions is ‘innovation’ in the truest sense of the word, and the Technology Transfer awards are a celebration of our scientists' and engineers' creativity and success in making a difference, not only to our national security mission, but to society as well.”

The Feynman Prize is named after the iconic physicist who came to Los Alamos during the Manhattan project. Feynman was one of the Laboratory’s first patent holders and Wallace noted that Feynman is also regarded as one of the greatest science communicators of the 20th Century.

“Once a scientific concept is successfully translated into something that can be widely used, understood and accepted, it suddenly becomes something extraordinary,” Wallace said. “Therefore, the Feynman connection is highly relevant to the concept of true innovation.”

“Harry and I are deeply honored to have received the first Richard Feynman Prize for Innovation Achievement,” Hamada said. “We are delighted that LANL provides a work environment that encourages innovation and collaboration. We especially wish to thank our LANL and Procter & Gamble colleagues and management who made this work possible.”

This year’s outStanding innOvation Awards Reception included a keynote speech by Pete Tseronis, Chief Technology Officer for the U.S. Department of Energy. Tseronis was introduced by Duncan McBranch, who is Los Alamos’ CTO. McBranch spoke about the role that innovation and technology transfer play in improving the quality and security of the outside world.

Los Alamos National Security LLC, sponsored the celebration, which was held at the Pajarito Mountain ski lodge.

Readout of Secretary Hagel's Meeting with Japan Defense Minister Onodera

Readout of Secretary Hagel's Meeting with Japan Defense Minister Onodera

Entrega do instrumento NIRSPEC, do telescópio James Webb, à NASA

Entrega do instrumento NIRSPEC, do telescópio James Webb, à NASA

Appel aux médias : Livraison à la NASA de l’instrument NIRSpec du télescope spatial James Webb

Appel aux médias : Livraison à la NASA de l’instrument NIRSpec du télescope spatial James Webb