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Saturday, September 21, 2013


Officials: Fort Hood Lessons May Have Saved Lives at Navy Yard
By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 20, 2013 - Of 89 recommendations that came from two reviews of the 2009 shooting that killed 13 people at Fort Hood in Texas, 52 are fully implemented, and some may have helped to save lives during the Navy Yard shooting here Sept. 16, senior defense officials said.

The officials, who briefed reporters here this week, were unable to discuss the ongoing investigation involving a civilian contractor, 34-year-old Aaron Alexis, who killed 12 people and wounded several others at the Naval Sea Systems Command headquarters building before being killed by police.

But they did discuss results of the Defense Department's 2010 independent review of events at Fort Hood and final recommendations from that review, and of a 2012 Defense Science Board review sought by DOD to look deeper into the motivations of Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan, a U.S. Army major and psychiatrist, and other potential violent actors.

"In the area of response, there are a few very specific things that I believe helped save lives as a result and led to a faster response time [and] greater cooperation between local law enforcement with the FBI and in terms of warning people ... on the Navy Yard at the time," a senior defense official said.

Specifically, he added, as a result of one of the DOD recommendations, the department is using a North American telephone network feature called enhanced 911, or E-911, to push out alert notices during emergencies on DOD installations.

Because of some of the recommendations, the official said, guards have received training for scenarios in which they must respond to emergencies involving an active shooter or shooters, and there are new information-sharing agreements between the FBI and local law enforcement agencies that allow military-civilian collaboration.

"There are two examples of how we've increased information sharing," the official said. First, "the Department of Defense and the FBI signed a memorandum of understanding by which if either organization has information about a threat to or from DOD personnel, we are obligated to share with each other."

The senior defense official said that's important because DOD persons and installations are a prime target of what's called homegrown violent extremism.

For those wanting to commit acts of violence, DOD people and facilities often are the target, he added, "so it matters to us when FBI has an operational case that they share information about threats that might be around a particular location or base."

Second, he said, the Defense Department now has people working in a significant number of FBI-led joint terrorism task forces, giving DOD personnel insight into and awareness of FBI cases and how they may be relevant to DOD safety and security.

"I think we're in a significantly better place," the official said. "Obviously we're not there fully, based on Monday's events, but there has been a lot of progress."

After the Fort Hood incident, he added, then-Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates established an independent review of events that produced an August 2010 report and 79 recommendations to improve the ability to identify patterns that might lead to violence and to safety and security on installations.

One of the recommendations was to ask the Defense Science Board to look for useful indicators of warning in individuals who might be prone to acts of violence, the official said, adding that the board's task force provided 10 recommendations of its own, for a total of 89 recommendations from reviews of the Fort Hood incident.

About 52 of the recommendations have been adopted and fully implemented, he said, and the vast majority of the remaining recommendations have been agreed to. Most are in various stages of implementation, he added.

The defense official said that some of the remaining tasks have to do with a Defense Science Board recommendation that the defense secretary direct a departmentwide requirement for the military departments and DOD agencies to establish a multidisciplinary threat management unit that identifies, assesses and responds to or manages threats of targeted violence.

"The kinds of things we're wrestling with right now [are], 'How tailored do they have to be? Should there be one unique to the Navy, one to the Army, one to the Marines, one to the Air Force? Do you have something at headquarters?" he said.

And DOD officials are still working through some of the privacy issues involved in sharing information, he said.

"When an individual is assigned to one base and events and incidents that might happen at a base don't rise to the level of criminality -- because for criminal cases there's a pre-existing system by which that information is captured permanently -- and here someone could be going through a difficult period of life, and it could be a one-time incident," he explained.

"We're trying to make sure we have a system by which we are appropriately protecting [people] but providing information to the experts who need to know it," the official said.

Such details, he added, "are difficult and important things for our military families."

In March, the official said, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel issued an instruction directing rapid completion of the remaining tasks. "So this is something that's been very much on his mind as well," he added.

This week, before a news conference with Pentagon reporters, Hagel and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, expressed condolences to the families and coworkers of the 12 Navy employees gunned down at the Navy Yard.

Hagel said he's asked Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter to lead two departmentwide reviews. The first will examine physical security and access procedures at all DOD installations.

In the second, Carter will look at DOD practices and procedures for granting and renewing security clearances, including those held by contractors. He will coordinate with officials at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Office of Management and Budget, Hagel said.

The secretary also has directed an independent panel to conduct its own assessment of security at DOD facilities and of the department's security clearance procedures and practices.

WEEKLY ADDRESS: Congress Must Act Now to Pass a Budget and Raise the Debt Ceiling | The White House

WEEKLY ADDRESS: Congress Must Act Now to Pass a Budget and Raise the Debt Ceiling | The White House


Remarks With Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud Before Their Meeting
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
September 20, 2013

SECRETARY KERRY: Good morning, everybody. It’s my privilege to welcome to Washington and to the State Department His Excellency, the President of Somalia Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. Actually, I’m welcoming him back to Washington, and we have met previously and I’m very pleased to be able to welcome him here.

The United States, obviously, has been engaged in helping Somalia fight back against tribal terror and the challenges to the cohesion of the state of Somalia. And the President and his allies have really done an amazing job of fighting back and building a state structure. There’s work yet to be done in Puntland and Somaliland, and we encourage you to continue the work of reaching out, of reconciliation and rebuilding the democracy, and I know he’s committed to that.

Also, I want to thank the President for his rapid support of the Joint Statement on Syria. We appreciate that kind of global recognition of what is at stake in Syria.

And finally, I’d just say that Somalia is working hard now to create its own ability to defend itself, to defend the state. We will continue to work. There is a United Nations mission there. We are committed to both – to the independent ability of the state of Somalia as well as the United Nations mission to help it in this transition. And we’re very happy to welcome the President here to talk today about issues of mutual interest.

Thank you, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT MOHAMUD: Thank you. Thank you, Secretary. And it’s – really, it was a pleasure and privilege to be here again this year in the State Department and the United States. And we – as the Secretary said rightly we’re working very hard together to establish the national institutions in all areas, particularly in security, where we are working very hard with the UNOSOM forces, and our national army is now taking shape and building up, of course, with the support of the United States Government that has always been with us. And this is a time we came here to share the ideas, the way forward we have, and particularly, the Vision 2016, where we want Somalia to go into the poll stations and make a voting for the first time in 40 years – more than 40 years, even.

And as you rightly said, we have been engaging with different stakeholders in Somalia. The federal government has the leadership, the parliament, all visiting different corners of Somalia to consult on this event. And the product of that consultation was the recent compact document signed in Brussels of the 16th of this month. I, myself, and the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the House, the parliamentarians, key ministers have been traveling all over Somalia. Although the situation in traveling locally is very difficult, but even then, you have to sit with the people, listen them, share with them the plans that we are intending, and asking them the type of Somalia they want to see in the future.

So based on that, we have signed agreements with Puntland State, and recently agreement with the Jubba regional administrations. And of course, we also did the same with Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama’a in the central region. So it takes some time. We have our own differences, but we are in a better shape than ever before now. We’re shaping for the first time a united and federal Somalia. The constitution is progressing and the federal system is working very hard. This federal government is working on all its capability to establish the federal unities in an orderly manner and with – in accordance and compliance with the federal constitution.

So there’s a huge progress that is going on in Somalia, and again, we are very much grateful with the support we received from the United States Government through bilateral and through multilateral. Thank you very much.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, Mr. President.


SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, sir, very much. Please come. Thank you.


Statement on SEC Enforcement Action Against JPMorgan
 George Canellos
Co-Director of the SEC's Division of Enforcement
Sept. 19, 2013

Today we are announcing that JPMorgan Chase & Co. has agreed to admit wrongdoing and pay a $200 million penalty for its conduct in connection with the trading losses suffered by JPMorgan’s chief investment office (CIO) in 2012.

Last month, when we filed fraud charges against JPMorgan’s former traders, Javier Martin-Artajo and Julien Grout, we said these traders exploited massive shortcomings in JPMorgan’s internal controls infrastructure.

Today’s action makes clear that JPMorgan’s control breakdowns went far beyond the CIO trading book.  In addition to failing to keep watch over how the traders valued a very complex portfolio, JPMorgan’s senior management broke a cardinal rule of corporate governance:  inform your board of directors of matters that call into question the truth of what the company is disclosing to investors.  Here, at the very moment JPMorgan’s management was grappling with how to fix its internal control breakdowns and disclose the full scope of its CIO trading disaster, the bank’s Audit Committee was in the dark about the extent of these problems.

By not sharing these troubling facts with its directors, JPMorgan deprived them of information they vitally needed to make proper judgments about how to address the company’s problems — including what information could be relied upon as accurate and what information needed to be disclosed to investors and regulators.

At its core, today’s case is about transparency and accountability, and JPMorgan’s admissions are a key component in that message.  While not every case will be appropriate for admissions of wrongdoing, the SEC required JPMorgan to admit the facts in the SEC’s order – and acknowledge that it broke the law – because JPMorgan’s egregious breakdowns in controls and governance put its millions of shareholders at risk and resulted in inaccurate public filings.

The facts described in the SEC’s action called for a substantial penalty in addition to admissions of wrongdoing.  The $200 million penalty against JPMorgan is unprecedented for an internal controls case and is one of the largest penalties in the history of the SEC.  The penalty reflects the SEC’s assessment of the gravity of the control failures and the risks to which they exposed the firm and investors.  The $200 million will be placed in a fund for compensation of investors harmed by JPMorgan’s inaccurate financial reports.

Although today’s settlement resolves claims against JPMorgan relating to this matter, our investigation is continuing as to individuals.      

I would like to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, the FBI, the Federal Reserve, and the Office of the Controller of the Currency for their assistance in this investigation.

I also thank the United Kingdom Financial Conduct Authority for its tremendous collaboration with the SEC in this matter.  The securities markets are global, and many of the leading participants in those markets operate all over the world.  Complex cases like this one — involving cross-border conduct in New York and London — cannot be effectively investigated and prosecuted without close cooperation of financial regulators in different countries.  Such cooperation is vital not only in developing the evidence of wrongdoing but in determining the appropriate regulatory response, including assessment of sanctions that reflect JPMorgan’s violation of the distinct laws in both countries but avoid duplication of punishment for the same conduct.

Last, I want to recognize the hard work and dedication of the SEC staff from the New York Regional Office that conducted this investigation, and that continue to aggressively investigate the facts surrounding this case:  Michael Osnato, Steven Rawlings, Daniel Michael, Peter Altenbach, Joshua Brodsky, and Joseph Boryshansky.

Just as last month’s trader mismarking case was the product of the SEC staff’s expertise and determination, the staff propelled today’s action forward by analyzing millions of documents, questioning dozens of witnesses, and ultimately discovering the facts that led to JPMorgan’s acknowledgement of wrongdoing. Using e-mail inboxes, calendars, and witness statements, the staff was able to reconstruct in vivid detail and as they unfolded the events in the first half of 2012, exposing both control weaknesses at CIO and the deficiencies in corporate governance at the highest level of the bank that JPMorgan has admitted in today’s action.


Obama administration announces $474.5 million in grants to expand demand-driven skills training and strengthen employer partnerships

Grants are third installment of nearly $2 billion community college initiative
WASHINGTON — Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez today announced $474.5 million in grants to community colleges and universities around the country for the development and expansion of innovative training programs in partnership with local employers. The grants are part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant program, a multiyear, nearly $2 billion initiative to expand targeted training programs for unemployed workers, especially those impacted by foreign trade.

The 57 grants announced today will support 190 projects in at least 183 schools in every state plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The grants will expand programs in growing industries,  such as advanced manufacturing, transportation and health care, and encourage geographic and industry sector collaboration through the development of both statewide and multistate college consortia. The U.S. Department of Labor is implementing and administering the program in coordination with the U.S. Department of Education.  All course materials developed using these public funds will be available through the Open Educational Resources initiative so that others can access and build on successful training models. The U.S. Department of Commerce is also encouraging employers to collaborate with local colleges eligible for funding through this program.
This latest round of funding is fostering deeper partnerships between community colleges, employers and other community partners. This year's grantees have more employer partners than in the past, and many of those employer partners will offer work-based learning opportunities. At least 10 of the individual grants will be focused on these work-based training opportunities and many consortia grants will incorporate similar strategies into their programs. Strong partnerships and work-based training will help ensure that curricula and training are aligned with the practical skills and competencies industries seek from workers.

Speaking in Colorado at Front Range Community College — the lead college in a $25 million grant to a consortium of nine schools across the state focused on developing a pipeline of skilled advanced manufacturing workers — Secretary Perez said: "These investments in demand-driven skills training bring together education, labor, business and community leaders to meet the real-world needs of the changing global marketplace. These partnerships strengthen not only the American workforce, but the American economy as well."

The initiative complements President Obama's broader goals of ensuring that every American has at least one year of postsecondary education, and that the U.S. has the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020. The program is designed to have a lasting impact on higher education, emphasizing the use of evidence-based program design, collection of student outcome data and evaluation to add to the growing body of knowledge about which strategies best develop skills that lead to good jobs. This year's grants also build on the administration's goal of providing individuals with the information they need
to choose education and training programs that fits their needs. The 11 single-state consortia grantees will be required to use graduate employment and earnings data to improve their programming and to create employment results scorecards that will help prospective students make informed choices about training programs.
"Community colleges play a vital role in training Americans to meet the needs of employers today," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "As our economy continues to rebuild, businesses are looking for employees with the skills their company needs to stay competitive, and America's students and adult workers want to be equipped to fill those roles. These grants help to meet those demands, providing critical investments in education and supporting key partnerships."
The grants include 20 awards to community college and university consortia totaling $377,452,319 and 23 awards to individual institutions totaling $61,943,218. Fourteen states and territories, which were not funded through the competitive award process, will develop a qualifying project and receive an approximately $2.5 million grant.

"For America's workforce to be competitive in the 21st century, our workers must possess the skills employers need for their businesses to succeed. That is why employers should partner with educational institutions and government to help develop curriculum and credentialing programs at the local level," said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. "This round of grants has an increased emphasis on creating the types of training programs that will prepare community college students for the jobs in which they are needed, which is good for employees, employers and the strength of our economy."

Grantees will use these funds to transform the way they schedule, sequence and deliver education and training programs that can be completed in two years or less. A variety of activities will be made possible, including: hiring or training instructors to expand capacity to offer in-demand courses or certifications, leveraging online learning to accelerate skills attainment, developing new curricula and training models to add additional classes and certifications, purchasing new equipment to ensure students train on what employers actually use, designing new programs based on the input and needs of local employers, and expanding career pathways in which stackable credentials are linked to industry skills and lead participants to higher-skill jobs.

Grantees in this round were also required to demonstrate: local labor market need for enhanced training in specific industries; strong engagement with employers in the design and delivery of training activities and work-based learning; a commitment to evidence-based program design and rigorous third-party evaluation; the use of stacked and latticed credentials; a clear plan for the transferability and articulation of course credit, application of advanced online and technology-enabled learning; strategic alignment with the workforce system, philanthropic organizations and other community partners; and the ability to leverage previously funded TAACCCT projects.


Budget-minded Travelers Take Flight With 'Space-A'
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 17, 2013 - Fantasizing about an exotic getaway but finding yourself strapped for cash? A "Space-A" seat aboard a military aircraft might be just your ticket to that vacation of your dreams.

Military-owned or -contracted aircraft fly to more places than many people realize, even to areas without U.S. military installations. When all mission-related passengers and cargo are accommodated, empty seats are offered up to eligible passengers on a space-available basis.

Last year, almost 215,000 service members, military family members and retirees took advantage of these "Space-A" flights all over the world, Air Force Master Sgt. Chris Alexander of Air Mobility Command's passenger policy and fleet management branch told American Forces Press Service.

They flew stateside at no cost on military planes and paid just $3.90 for a seat on a commercially chartered flight, Alexander reported. Those on international flights paid $17.20 or less to cover the cost of head taxes and federal inspection fees.

The travelers didn't require high-placed contacts or insider information -- just a basic understanding of how the system works.

In general, active-duty members and retirees and their families can fly Space-A between Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard facilities around the world. Flights also are available from the Seattle-Tacoma and Baltimore-Washington international airports.

Seats are offered to Space-A passengers only after all official-duty passengers and cargo have been accommodated, Alexander emphasized. Once those requirements are met, empty seats are offered to any qualified Space-A traveler. They may get a standard seat on a contracted commercial aircraft. But in other cases, it might be a backward-facing seat on a C-5 Galaxy aircraft or a jump seat on a C-130 Hercules cargo plane or KC-135 Stratotanker, or anything in between, Alexander said.

Passengers with a sense of adventure willing to try Space-A travel can sign up at the terminal they plan to fly from in person, online or by email or phone and stay on the roster for up to 60 days or, if applicable, until their military leave expires. It's possible to sign up for more than one destination, and at more than one terminal to improve the chances of getting a seat.

When passengers register, they get assigned to a passenger category that designates their place in "line" for a seat.

Space-A may be the one instance in which rank doesn't have its privilege. Seats are offered on a first-come, first-served basis, depending on a Space-A passenger's travel category and date and time they registered.

First priority, Category 1, goes to active-duty service members and their accompanying family members on unfunded emergency leave. Category 2 is assigned to those on environmental morale leave. Category 3 is for members and their families on ordinary leave or in a house-hunting status in conjunction with a permanent-change-of-station move. Category 4 goes to unaccompanied active-duty family members on environmental and morale leave. Category 5 is assigned to unaccompanied family members and service members on permissive temporary duty. Category 6 goes to military retirees, reservists, National Guard members and ROTC cadets.

Once official mission requirements are met, the likelihood that any would-be traveler gets a Space-A seat depends on a multitude of factors, Alexander said. Some air terminals have more flights than others, and larger commercially contracted aircraft tend to have more seats than cargo planes.

Timing is an important factor, too, he said. During the summer months, when many military families are making PCS moves or vacationing, Space-A seats fill up quickly. In Germany, for example, an aircraft with 100 or more available seats may fill up with travelers in Categories 1 to 3 alone, Alexander said.

Yet, Alexander said, retirees, who are in the lowest-priority group for Space-A seats, are big fans of the program and frequently get seat assignments. Many make a point of learning how the system works and avoid the busiest travel times so they are more likely to get a seat, he said.

AMC, which enforces the policies for the Space-A program, spells out the details of Space-A travel on its website. The site, including a downloadable Space-A handbook, is updated regularly.

The command's Facebook page provides travelers the most current information possible to help them plan better than ever before and to answer any questions they might have, Alexander said. The site offers 72-hour flight schedules that are updated daily.

One of its newest features is a Space A "roll call report." It provides information about seats provided to Space-A passengers within the previous 24 hours, including the latest date and time they signed up and which travel category they had been assigned.

AMC introduced the feature as part of its efforts to give travelers more predictability, but works closely with its operational security team to make sure it's not divulging too much information that could tip off potential adversaries, Alexander said.

Admittedly, Space-A travel can be a gamble. Many people have heard horror stories about seemingly endless waits for empty seats on outgoing flights, wasted leave days and destinations never reached. Passengers are cautioned to be prepared to buy a return flight on a commercial aircraft, as well as meals and lodging, if they find themselves unable to secure a Space-A flight home.

But trends show that many travelers are willing to sacrifice some of their leave for a free or almost-free seat on an unfilled military contract aircraft. Alexander attributes it to higher ticket prices on commercial aircraft and more awareness across the military about Space-A travel opportunities.

"People say, 'Wow, this is a great service, and I am going to use this, because it is one of my benefits,'" Alexander said. "As long as you have an open mind and you are educated on the processes and you have some time available, Space-A can definitely work well in your favor."


Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System Completes Successful Intercept Flight Test

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA), U.S. Pacific Command, and U.S. Navy sailors aboard the USS Lake Erie (CG 70) successfully conducted a flight test today of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system, resulting in the intercept of a complex separating short-range ballistic missile target over the Pacific Ocean by the Aegis BMD 4.0 Weapon System and a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IB guided missile.

At approximately 2:30 p.m. Hawaii Standard Time (8:30 p.m. EDT), a complex separating short-range ballistic missile target was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii. The target flew northwest towards a broad ocean area of the Pacific Ocean. Following target launch, the USS Lake Erie detected and tracked the missile with its onboard AN/SPY-1 radar. The ship, equipped with the second-generation Aegis BMD weapon system, developed a fire control solution and launched two SM-3 Block IB guided missiles to engage the target. The first SM-3 that was launched successfully intercepted the target warhead. This was the first salvo mission of two SM-3 Block IB guided missiles launched against a single separating target.

Program officials will assess and evaluate system performance based upon telemetry and other data obtained during the test.

This test exercised the latest version of the second-generation Aegis BMD Weapon System, capable of engaging longer range and more sophisticated ballistic missiles. This was an operationally realistic test, in which the target's launch time and bearing are not known in advance, and the target complex was the most difficult target engaged to date.

Today's event, designated Flight Test-Standard Missile-21 (FTM-21), was the fourth consecutive successful intercept test of the SM-3 Block IB guided missile with the Aegis BMD 4.0 Weapon System.

FTM-21 is the 27th successful intercept in 33 flight test attempts for the Aegis BMD program since flight testing began in 2002. Across all Ballistic Missile Defense System programs, this is the 63rd successful hit-to-kill intercept in 79 flight test attempts since 2001.

Aegis BMD is the naval component of the MDA's Ballistic Missile Defense System. The Aegis BMD engagement capability defeats short- to intermediate-range, unitary and separating, midcourse-phase ballistic missile threats with the SM-3, as well as short-range ballistic missiles in the terminal phase with the Standard Missile-2 (SM-2) Block IV missile. The MDA and the U.S. Navy cooperatively manage the Aegis BMD program.

Friday, September 20, 2013



In the week ending September 14, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 309,000, an increase of 15,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 294,000. The 4-week moving average was 314,750, a decrease of 7,000 from the previous week's revised average of 321,750.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.1 percent for the week ending September 7, a decrease of 0.1 percentage point from the prior week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending September 7 was 2,787,000, a decrease of 28,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 2,815,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,885,000, a decrease of 54,000 from the preceding week's revised average of 2,939,000.


The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 271,747 in the week ending September 14, an increase of 42,262 from the previous week. There were 330,454 initial claims in the comparable week in 2012.

The advance unadjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.9 percent during the week ending September 7, unchanged from the prior week's revised rate. The advance unadjusted number for persons claiming UI benefits in state programs totaled 2,505,514, a decrease of 13,496 from the preceding week's revised level of 2,519,010. A year earlier, the rate was 2.3 percent and the volume was 2,927,923.

The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending August 31 was 4,037,491, a decrease of 235,250 from the previous week. There were 5,173,597 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 31.

Initial claims for UI benefits filed by former Federal civilian employees totaled 927 in the week ending September 7, a decrease of 519 from the prior week. There were 2,073 initial claims filed by newly discharged veterans, a decrease of 124 from the preceding week.

There were 18,651 former Federal civilian employees claiming UI benefits for the week ending August 31, a decrease of 1,301 from the previous week. Newly discharged veterans claiming benefits totaled 31,296, a decrease of 1,989 from the prior week.

States reported 1,454,824 persons claiming Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) benefits for the week ending August 31, unchanged from the prior week. There were 2,162,532 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 September 7 were in Puerto Rico (4.0), New Jersey (3.5), Alaska (3.1), Connecticut (3.0), Pennsylvania (3.0), New Mexico (2.9), New York (2.7), Virgin Islands (2.7), Illinois (2.5), Oregon (2.4), and Rhode Island (2.4).

The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending September 7 were in Tennessee (+681), Oklahoma (+601), Mississippi (+298), Maine (+219), and South Carolina (+192), while the largest decreases were in California (-25,412), New York (-2,260), Florida (-1,808), Oregon (-1,738), and Pennsylvania (-1,295).

Readout of Secretary Hagel's call with Libya's Minister of Defense Abdullah al-Thani

Readout of Secretary Hagel's call with Libya's Minister of Defense Abdullah al-Thani

DOD Contracts for September 20, 2013

Contracts for September 20, 2013


Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Justice Department Awards $90 Million to Enhance, Support Tribal Justice and Safety

Streamlined Grant Program Offers Financial Assistance with Indian Tribes’ Prevention and Law Enforcement Efforts, Victim Services and Youth Programs
The Department of Justice today announced the awarding of 192 grants to 110 American Indian tribes, Alaska Native villages, tribal consortia and tribal designated non-profits.  The grants will provide more than $90 million to enhance law enforcement practices and sustain crime prevention and intervention efforts in nine purpose areas including public safety and community policing; justice systems planning; alcohol and substance abuse; corrections and correctional alternatives; violence against women; juvenile justice; and tribal youth programs.  The awards are made through the department’s Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation (CTAS), a single application for tribal-specific grant programs.

Associate Attorney General Tony West and Office of Justice Programs Assistant Attorney General Karol V. Mason made the announcement during a meeting of northwest tribal leaders with the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee’s Native American Issues Subcommittee (NAIS) in Celilo Village, Ore.

“These programs take a community-based and comprehensive approach to the root causes and consequences of crime, as well as target areas of possible intervention and treatment,” said Associate Attorney General West.  “The CTAS programs are critical tools to help reverse unacceptably high rates of crime in Indian country, and they are a product of the shared commitment by the Department of Justice and tribal nations to strengthen and sustain healthy communities today and for future generations.”

“The Department of Justice has a responsibility to make sure its resources are not only available but accessible to tribes in a manner that they have defined and envisioned to meet the needs of their communities,” said Assistant Attorney General Mason.  “As we have shown over the last four years, the Department of Justice takes this responsibility very seriously.”

 The department developed CTAS through its Office of Community Oriented Policing, Office of Justice Programs and Office on Violence against Women, and administered the first round of consolidated grants in September 2010.  Over the past four years, it has awarded 989 grants totaling more than $437 million.  Information about the consolidated solicitation is available at  A fact sheet on CTAS is available at

Thirty U.S. Attorneys from districts that include Indian country or one or more federally recognized tribes serve on the NAIS.  The NAIS focuses exclusively on Indian country issues, both criminal and civil, and is responsible for making policy recommendations to the Attorney General regarding public safety and legal issues.

Next month, the Justice Department will hold its annual consultation on violence against native women on Oct. 31st, 2013, in Bismarck, N.D. In addition, an Interdepartmental Tribal Justice, Safety and Wellness Session will be held in Bismarck on Oct. 29-30, 2013.   It will include an important listening session with tribal leaders to obtain their views on the Department grants, as well as valuable training and technical assistance.


IG Finds Pharmacy Home Delivery Cost-Efficient, Safe
From a TRICARE Management Activity News Release

FALLS CHURCH, Va., Sept. 16, 2013 - Following an almost year-long study of the TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery program requested by members of Congress, the Defense Department inspector general's office has determined it is a cost-efficient way for beneficiaries to get their prescription medications, TRICARE Management Activity officials reported.

The inspector general's study found that the Home Delivery mail-order program saved the government 16.7 percent -- nearly $67 million -- in the third quarter of fiscal year 2012, officials said.

The audit compared what the government spent on prescription drugs through Home Delivery and what the cost would have been at retail pharmacies. Additionally, the TRICARE pharmacy contractor, Express Scripts, reported to the inspector general that Home Delivery offers a 99.99 percent prescription fill accuracy rate, high beneficiary satisfaction and improved patient outcomes.

"Although not surprised, we are certainly pleased at the results of the report," said Navy Rear Adm. Thomas J. McGinnis, chief of TRICARE pharmaceutical operations. "Home Delivery saves beneficiaries and the Department of Defense millions of dollars every year, and gives beneficiaries a safe and secure way to receive their prescription medications."

In June 2013, the 1.64 million prescriptions filled through Home Delivery represented a 17 percent increase in volume compared to the previous year, while retail prescription volume fell 10 percent, officials said.

When TRICARE beneficiaries use the Home Delivery pharmacy to fill maintenance medication prescriptions, they receive a 90-day supply through the mail and have no copayment for generic formulary medications and a $13 copay for brand-name formulary medications. At retail network pharmacies, beneficiaries pay $5 for a 30-day supply of generic formulary medications and $17 for brand name formulary medications.

TRICARE beneficiaries can sign up for Home Delivery online, by mail or by phone.

Ontdek ESTEC

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Afghan Air Force Flourishing, ISAF Official Says
By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md., Sept. 19, 2013 - The mission: build an independent, self-sustaining air force from the inside out, from the ground up. The commander leading that effort calls it the most complex undertaking NATO and the U.S. Air Force have ever tackled.

Air Force Brig. Gen. John Michel leads NATO Air Training Command Afghanistan, the organization charged with training the Afghan air force. He is here this week attending an Air Force conference, and spoke to American Forces Press Service about the Afghan air capability that he maintains no longer is fledgling, but rather is flourishing.

Not only are Afghan pilots now carrying out combat, resupply and medevac missions, he said, the humanitarian capability they bring to their government is helping to legitimize their nation. In a country largely inaccessible by road, the general noted, air reach equals government reach. And Afghan aviation dates to 1919, he said.

"It's a source of national pride," Michel said. About a month ago, he said, the Afghan air force was called to respond to a flood that had left citizens stranded, "and they saved over 300 men, women and children."

The force is critical to the Afghan army as well, he said. Close air support, evacuating the wounded, and in many cases, even basic resupply are only possible in Afghanistan with aircraft, Michel noted.

The Afghan air force, he said, "is really the foundational element for legitimacy locally, nationally and internationally." For example, he said, the core of trained air traffic controllers that will grow up around the air force and ultimately transfer to the civilian world will form part of the infrastructure backbone Afghanistan will need to attract long-term foreign investment.

The air training command's staff includes some 600 people from 14 coalition nations. They work with their Afghan counterparts on Afghan bases at six locations within the country, training and advising every member of the Afghan air force, from the highest-level leaders down to the newest junior recruits.

Michel pointed out the timeline that makes 2014 the handoff year for combat operations doesn't apply to his command. The Afghan air force is on a separate timeline from the army and police forces, and is not set for full operational autonomy until 2017, he said. The NATO air training command is set to grow during that time to 1,114 military and defense contractors, plus 530 base support personnel.

Meanwhile, coalition aircrews fly alongside their Afghan counterparts during training missions, combat missions, and joint missions conducting resupply, infiltration, exfiltration, passenger movements and casualty evacuation for the Afghan army. Coalition advisors also train in all the support roles including maintenance, logistics, finance and communications. About 200 Afghan students are now in various phases of the pilot training pipeline, Michel said.

The Afghan air force is divided into three wings, located respectively in Kabul, Kandahar and Shindand, in western Afghanistan's Herat province. The command center is in Kabul, and the Shindand Air Base is the main training area. The Afghan force currently has a fleet of 92 fixed-wing and rotary aircraft, with 12 more Mi-17 transport helicopters being delivered starting this month. Ultimately, the force's fleet will include 58 Mi-17s, six Mi-35 attack helicopters, 20 C-208 turboprop airliners, four C-130 transport aircraft and 20 A-29 light attack aircraft.

Michel noted the Soviet influence in Afghanistan dating to the 1920s but dominant from the 1950s to the 1990s extended to the air force, which followed the Soviet model of essentially a client force trained to fly but reliant on its patrons for equipment, maintenance, support and administration.

Command and control will be the essence of the "small, but mighty" air capability Afghanistan plans to grow to a force of 8,000, Michel said. "That was not present in the dependency model," he added. And while the model encouraged brilliant flying, it omitted "disciplined execution," the general said, "which is what makes [the U.S.] Air Force the best in the history of mankind."

Disciplined execution includes doctrine and an emphasis on safety, Michel said, which his command is training or developing in the growing Afghan force, along with English, military science and a host of other subjects and resources.

"Among those 8,000 people, there are seven specific capabilities and 60 [military occupational specialties]," he noted. The mission set for the Afghan air force rests on core capabilities of air movement, aerial fires, aerial reconnaissance, force protection, sustainment and intelligence, Michel said. That integration of capabilities is crucial to the self-sustaining force that Afghanistan needs, he said.

"The maintainer number that we're going to is sub-1,400," he said. "And then we'll have some number less than that for pilots." The A-29 "Super Takano" program aims at 30 pilots for 20 aircraft, he said, but those 30 will over time "grow out of the cockpit."

"We're growing a profession," he said. Establishing a military education network that will produce professional officers and noncommissioned officers -- Michel called the NCO corps "the secret sauce" of the U.S. military -- recruiting and marketing are all part of the mission, he said.

"Is it hard?" the general said of his mission. "Let's see; we're building it from the inside out, the ground up. The more capability we start to garner, the more they want to employ. The more they employ, the less we can train. ... And, as of a week from today, we're adding the first two of four C-130s."

As capabilities grow, so do costs and complications, Michel acknowledged. The Afghan government may choose to adjust its timeline for some capabilities as its contributors' budgets tighten, he said, and his command is prepared with a range of options to scale capability to cost as needed.

"I have 39 months from today to finish this mission," he said. "We're not building capabilities they don't need to have."



The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged JPMorgan Chase & Co. with misstating financial results and lacking effective internal controls to detect and prevent its traders from fraudulently overvaluing investments to conceal hundreds of millions of dollars in trading losses.

The SEC previously charged two former JPMorgan traders with committing fraud to hide the massive losses in one of the trading portfolios in the firm’s chief investment office (CIO).  The SEC’s subsequent action against JPMorgan faults its internal controls for failing to ensure that the traders were properly valuing the portfolio, and its senior management for failing to inform the firm’s audit committee about the severe breakdowns in CIO’s internal controls.

JPMorgan has agreed to settle the SEC’s charges by paying a $200 million penalty, admitting the facts underlying the SEC’s charges, and publicly acknowledging that it violated the federal securities laws.

“JPMorgan failed to keep watch over its traders as they overvalued a very complex portfolio to hide massive losses,” said George S. Canellos, Co-Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement.  “While grappling with how to fix its internal control breakdowns, JPMorgan’s senior management broke a cardinal rule of corporate governance and deprived its board of critical information it needed to fully assess the company’s problems and determine whether accurate and reliable information was being disclosed to investors and regulators.”

As part of a coordinated global settlement, three other agencies also announced settlements with JPMorgan today: the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority, the Federal Reserve, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.  JPMorgan will pay a total of approximately $920 million in penalties in these actions by the SEC and the other agencies.

According to the SEC’s order instituting a settled administrative proceeding against JPMorgan, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 established important requirements for public companies and their management regarding corporate governance and disclosure.  Public companies such as JPMorgan are required to create and maintain internal controls that provide investors with reasonable assurances that their financial statements are reliable, and ensure that senior management shares important information with key internal decision makers such as the board of directors.  JPMorgan failed to adhere to these requirements, and consequently misstated its financial results in public filings for the first quarter of 2012.

According to the SEC’s order, in late April 2012 after the portfolio began to significantly decline in value, JPMorgan commissioned several internal reviews to assess, among other matters, the effectiveness of the CIO’s internal controls.  From these reviews, senior management learned that the valuation control group within the CIO – whose function was to detect and prevent trader mismarking – was woefully ineffective and insufficiently independent from the traders it was supposed to police.  As JPMorgan senior management learned additional troubling facts about the state of affairs in the CIO, they failed to timely escalate and share that information with the firm’s audit committee.

Among the facts that JPMorgan has admitted in settling the SEC’s enforcement action:

The trading losses occurred against a backdrop of woefully deficient accounting controls in the CIO, including spreadsheet miscalculations that caused large valuation errors and the use of subjective valuation techniques that made it easier for the traders to mismark the CIO portfolio.

JPMorgan senior management personally rewrote the CIO’s valuation control policies before the firm filed with the SEC its first quarter report for 2012 in order to address the many deficiencies in existing policies.

By late April 2012, JPMorgan senior management knew that the firm’s Investment Banking unit used far more conservative prices when valuing the same kind of derivatives held in the CIO portfolio, and that applying the Investment Bank valuations would have led to approximately $750 million in additional losses for the CIO in the first quarter of 2012.

External counterparties who traded with CIO had valued certain positions in the CIO book at $500 million less than the CIO traders did, precipitating large collateral calls against JPMorgan.

As a result of the findings of certain internal reviews of the CIO, some executives expressed reservations about signing sub-certifications supporting the CEO and CFO certifications required under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
Senior management failed to adequately update the audit committee on these and other important facts concerning the CIO before the firm filed its first quarter report for 2012.

Deprived of access to these facts, the audit committee was hindered in its ability to discharge its obligations to oversee management on behalf of shareholders and to ensure the accuracy of the firm’s financial statements.
The SEC’s order requires JPMorgan to cease and desist from causing any violations and any future violations of Sections 13(a), 13(b)(2)(A), and 13(b)(2)(B) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rules 13a-11, 13a-13, and 13a-15.  The order also requires JPMorgan to pay a $200 million penalty that may be distributed to harmed investors in a Fair Fund distribution.

The SEC’s investigation, which is continuing, has been conducted by Michael Osnato, Steven Rawlings, Peter Altenbach, Joshua Brodsky, Joseph Boryshansky, Daniel Michael, Kapil Agrawal, Eli Bass, Sharon Bryant, Daniel Nigro, and Christopher Mele.  The SEC appreciates the coordination of the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority, Federal Reserve, and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency as well as the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and Public Company Accounting Oversight Board.


Official: DOD Readiness Depends on Workforce Diversity
By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 16, 2013 - The Defense Department's commitment to equity and inclusion is rooted in the belief that diversity is a readiness imperative that gives a strategic advantage, a senior DOD official said recently during the 10th annual National Latina Style symposium.

Nearing the eve of National Hispanic Heritage Month, observed from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, Army Lt. Gen. Michael S. Linnington, military deputy to the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, addressed a largely Latina audience of about 300 people at the symposium and a DOD Distinguished Military Service Awards luncheon.

"Your military remains the most effective fighting force on the globe," Linnington said. "We recognize that diversity goes well beyond race and gender and we rely on the diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and expertise of our people to successfully respond to the many complex challenges of the 21st century national security landscape."

The Defense Department appreciates that its total force stems from a rich tapestry of America, the general said. "And we believe our all-volunteer force is better when it reflects the nation it serves," he added.

Linnington said diversity progress continues, and women and minorities in the military make "tremendous contributions" in roles critical to national defense.

"But actions speak louder than words," he said, citing DOD's January rescinding of the policy that excluded women from serving in direct combat roles.

"This is a huge step for our armed forces," the general said. "Today, nearly 200,000 women serve ... and make up nearly 15 percent of the force. Under the new policy, DOD will ensure the mission is met with the best qualified and most capable people, regardless of gender."

For Latinas and other women in uniform, the opening of combat roles to women is a chance to continue meeting and exceeding new challenges and paving the way for future leadership success, Linnington said.

"Our military workforce has grown to about 35 percent minorities and 15 percent women, with minorities comprising about 29 percent of our civilian workforce and women over a third of our civilians," he said. The number of Latina officers has more than doubled in the last decade, he noted, with more than 2,000 serving across the armed forces.

Yet, while DOD celebrates its progress and the great strides it's made, work remains to be done, Linnington said, stressing the need to increase diversity in DOD's civilian positions and in senior leadership.

"For this and other efforts, we look toward partner organizations, like Latina Style, to work with us to continue progress and improvement," he said of increasing minority representation in the civilian workforce.

An important factor that affects advancement and retention of top talent is mentorship, Linnington said.

"When groups of diverse talent gather together, we learn a great deal from one another and build relationships that carry us into the future," the general explained. "We must continue to look toward the future. Let's take a moment to ask ourselves, 'Where do we go from here?' In the audience today are key influencers from our society. ... Each of you is a mentor, and I call on you to help increase awareness of what DOD has to offer by sharing with young people the value of public service, ... either in the military ranks or as civil servants."

The Defense Department gives people the opportunities to develop leadership skills that cannot be found anywhere else and offers a full range of choices and opportunities for Latinas to fulfill great potential, Linnington added.

"Every individual here is in a unique position to help us address many of our challenges and ... help us build a more diverse and inclusive total force ... that not only possesses the diverse backgrounds and experiences to conquer global challenges, but also reflect the changing face of our nation," he said.

This month provides an excellent opportunity for DOD and other organizations to take time to recognize the immeasurable contributions made by the nation's Hispanic-Americans and reflect on diversity and inclusiveness, Linnington noted.

"We are not going to solve our challenges overnight, but together, we can continue our progress," he said.


Remarks to the Press on Syria
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Press Briefing Room
Washington, DC
September 19, 2013

SECRETARY KERRY: Good afternoon, everybody.
QUESTION: Good afternoon.

SECRETARY KERRY: Sorry to keep you waiting. We ran over with our friends from China.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

SECRETARY KERRY: Beg your pardon?

QUESTION: Was lunch good?

SECRETARY KERRY: Lunch was good. Thank you, Matt.

As you all know, before I became Secretary, I spent 28 years in the United States Senate and I witnessed some great debates and some of the best senators there produced some of the best debates that I’ve seen – sometimes. And some of the senators, I learned, liked to debate about just about anything. As my pal John McCain was fond of saying, a fight not joined is a fight not enjoyed. But it was also in the Senate where I personally heard former Ambassador of the United Nations-turned-Senator from New York Daniel Patrick Moynihan end more than a few debates with his own bottom-line reminder: “You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.” And those words are really worth using and focusing on as we head into next week’s General Assembly meeting in New York of the United Nations.

We really don’t have time today to pretend that anyone can have their own set of facts approaching the issue of chemical weapons in Syria. This fight about Syria’s chemical weapons is not a game. It’s real. It’s important. It’s important to the lives of people in Syria, it’s important to the region, it’s important to the world that this be enforced – this agreement that we came out of Geneva with. And for many weeks, we heard from Russia and from others, “Wait for the UN report. Those are the outside experts.” That’s a quote. “That is the independent gold standard.” That’s a quote.

Well, despite the efforts of some to suggest otherwise, thanks to this week’s long-awaited UN report, the facts in Syria only grew clearer and the case only grew more compelling. The findings in the Sellstrom report were as categorical as they were convincing. Every single data point – the types of munitions and launchers that were used, their origins, their trajectory, their markings, and the confirmation of sarin – every single bit of it confirms what we already knew and what we told America and the world. It confirms what we have brought to the attention of our Congress, the American people, and the rest of the world. The UN report confirms unequivocally that chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin, were used in Syria. And despite the regime’s best efforts to shell the area and destroy the evidence, the UN interviewed more than 50 survivors – patients, victims, health workers, first responders. They documented munitions and subcomponents. They assessed symptoms of survivors, analyzed hair, urine, blood samples. And they analyzed 30 soil and environmental samples.

And what did they learn? They returned with several crucial details that confirmed that the Assad regime is guilty of carrying out that attack, even though that was not the mandate of the UN report. But anybody who reads the facts and puts the dots together, which is easy to do – and they made it easy to do – understands what those facts mean.

We, the United States, have associated one of the munitions identified in the UN report, the 122-millimeter improvised rocket, with previous Assad regime attacks. There’s no indication – none – that the opposition is in possession or has launched a CW variant of these rockets such as the kind that was used in the 21st of August attack.

Equally significant, the environmental, chemical, and medical samples that the UN investigators collected provide clear and compelling evidence that the surface-to-surface rockets used in this attack contained the nerve agent sarin. We know the Assad regime possesses sarin and there’s not a shred of evidence, however, that the opposition does.

And rocket components identified in the ground photos taken at the alleged chemical weapons impact location areas are associated with the unique type of rocket launcher that we know the Assad regime has. We have observed these exact type of rocket launchers at the Assad regime facilities in Damascus and in the area around the 21st of August.

So there you have it. Sarin was used. Sarin killed. The world can decide whether it was used by the regime, which has used chemical weapons before, the regime which had the rockets and the weapons, or whether the opposition secretly went unnoticed into territory they don’t control to fire rockets they don’t have containing sarin that they don’t possess to kill their own people. And then without even being noticed, they just disassembled it all and packed up and got out of the center of Damascus, controlled by Assad.

Please. This isn’t complicated. When we said we know what is true, we meant it. And now, before I head to New York for the UN General Assembly, we have a definitive UN report strengthening the case and solidifying our resolve. Now the test comes. The Security Council must be prepared to act next week. It is vital for the international community to stand up and speak out in the strongest possible terms about the importance of enforceable action to rid the world of Syria’s chemical weapons.

So I would say to the community of nations: Time is short. Let’s not spend time debating what we already know. Instead, we have to recognize that the world is watching to see whether we can avert military action and achieve, through peaceful means, even more than what those military strikes promised. The complete removal of Syria’s chemical weapons is possible here, through peaceful means. And that will be determined by the resolve of the United Nations to follow through on the agreement that Russia and the United States reached in Geneva, an agreement that clearly said this must be enforceable, it must be done as soon as possible, it must be real.

We need everyone’s help in order to see that the Security Council lives up to its founding values and passes a binding resolution that codifies the strongest possible mechanism to achieve the goal and to achieve it rapidly. We need to make the Geneva agreement meaningful and to make it meaningful in order to eliminate Syria’s CW program and to do it with transparency and with the accountability, the full accountability that is demanded here. It is important that we accomplish the goal in New York and accomplish it as rapidly as possible.

Thank you all.

QUESTION: Could you --

QUESTION: Secretary, on a related subject --

SECRETARY KERRY: If you have any questions – Marie’s going to answer some questions.

QUESTION: On a related subject, can we just ask you whether you think the President might meet with President Rouhani to test the seriousness of what Iran has said?

SECRETARY KERRY: I think the White House needs to speak to that at the appropriate time.

QUESTION: Is it a positive sign, coming from Rouhani in these – in this interview?

SECRETARY KERRY: I think Rouhani’s comments have been very positive, but everything needs to be put to the test and we’ll see where we go. And at the right moment, I think the White House and the State Department will make clear where we’re heading.


Understanding how our genes help us develop

Hox genes are the master regulators of embryonic development for all animals, including humans, flies and worms. They decide what body parts go where. Not surprisingly, if something goes wrong with these genes, the results can be disastrous.

In Drosophila, the fruit fly, a Hox mutation can produce profound changes--an extra pair of wings, for example, or a set of legs, instead of antennae, growing from the fly's head.

"The job of the Hox genes is to tell cells early on in embryonic development what to become--whether to make an eye, an antenna or wings," says Robert Drewell, associate professor of biology at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, Calif. "Just a single mutation in the Hox gene can produce these dramatic anomalies."

Humans have Hox genes too. For this reason, Drewell is trying to understand the molecular function of Hox genes in the fruit fly, including what happens when they work properly and what happens when they don't, in order to learn more about their behavior in humans.

Genetically, humans and fruit flies are very much alike; in fact, many known human disease genes have a recognizable match in the genetic code of the fruit fly. Thus, the information researchers gain from studying flies could provide insights into certain birth defects, such as extra ribs and extra digits, and potentially serious diseases.

"We have exactly the same genes, and use them in exactly the same way," he says. "By understanding them in Drosophila, we can understand them in humans."

Drewell is conducting his research under a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award, which he received in 2009. The award supports junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education, and research within the context of the mission of their organization. He is receiving about $600,000 over five years.

Hox genes have been entirely conserved throughout animal evolution, meaning "since around 530 million years ago, when many complex animal life forms appeared, they had Hox genes," Drewell says.

Fruit flies are model organisms for studying genetics since they have a short lifespan--several generations can be studied in a matter of weeks--and are small and easy to grow. More importantly, they can provide a wealth of information for computational analysis because scientists have deciphered their entire genetic blueprint.

"We live in this post-genomic era, so we can do comparisons across species to look at exactly how the regulatory regions at Hox genes are changing over time," Drewell says.

Drewell's lab uses several different approaches, applying biology, genetics and computational methods to learn more about the behavior of Hox genes.

"We make what are called 'reporter' genes," he says. "We construct these artificial genes in the lab, then reintroduce them back into Drosophila. This allows us to measure what is happening to those genes. The genes we are putting in are combinations of fragments from Hox genes--different DNA regions--and we are testing if these different regions are responsible for regulating when and where the Hox gene is turned on and off."

Through their experiments, "We can look at what genes are turned on and off, and can detect exactly which DNA elements regulate the process, and how they regulate it."

Because the fruit fly's genome is available, "we are able to do comparisons across species to look at exactly how these regulatory regions are changing over time," using computational biology methods, he says. Moreover, "through that process, we can essentially start to get a handle on the role that Hox genes play in controlling cell identify in the developing embryo. We can do this in all animals, including humans."

The educational component of his CAREER grant has allowed Drewell to incorporate new elements to the curriculum, including mathematical and computational approaches, and provides undergraduate students the opportunity to conduct research that typically would not be available to them.

"Harvey Mudd doesn't have a graduate program, so all the research, essentially, is done by undergraduates," Drewell says. "They get an opportunity to do something they might not otherwise get to do. Each student is fully encouraged to take ownership of his or her own project. In this way, this often exposes them to a research field for the very first time and establishes a great foundation for their future endeavors in research."

-- Marlene Cimons, National Science Foundation

Thursday, September 19, 2013


Remarks With Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi Before Their Meeting
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Benjamin Franklin Room
Washington, DC
September 19, 2013

SECRETARY KERRY: Good morning, everybody, thank you very much for joining us. And it’s my great privilege to welcome His Excellency, the Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi.
He was here 15 years ago as a visiting scholar at Georgetown, and I know that he remembers well this kind of weather, this kind of a beautiful day along the Potomac. And we’re very happy to have him back in Washington.

I met with Foreign Minister Wang in April in Beijing where he gave us a very generous and warm welcome, and we had excellent conversation, and then in Brunei this summer. And I’m very pleased that he has taken the time to strengthen our relationship by visiting here ahead of our very busy week in New York.

As President Obama has frequently stated, the United States welcomes the continued peaceful rise of China, and we have a vested interest in China’s growing prosperity and partnership, not only in the Asia-Pacific region, but also around the world.

President Obama has also made what I believe is a strategic and appropriate commitment to rebalance our interests and our investments in Asia. A stronger partnership with China is very much a part of that effort. The United States is a Pacific nation, and we take our Pacific partnerships very seriously, and we will continue to build our enduring presence in that area, working with our partners to promote peace and prosperity.

China and the United States have also agreed to a new model of relations, and that was worked on and announced at the Sunnylands summit with our presidents. It is based on practical cooperation and constructive management of differences. We recognized the need to avoid falling into a trap of seeing one another as strategic rivals, and that recognition is now driving our partnership on issues from climate change to wildlife trafficking to military consultations and the promotion of balanced growth around the world.

Importantly, part of our new relationship is a commitment to engage in frank discussions on sensitive issues, particularly where we disagree, where misunderstanding could lead to a miscalculation.

We plan to discuss Syria today, and while we appreciate China’s support for a political solution, the only solution we believe is ultimately available and possible, we do have differences between our nations and have disagreed sharply over how the international community should respond to the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons. With negotiations ongoing at the Security Council, we look forward to China playing a positive, constructive, important role.

We will also engage in very important conversation about North Korea today. China plays a very special role in addressing the North Korean nuclear challenge and in achieving our shared goal: the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

China and the United States also have a shared interest in preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and our close cooperation will be critical to that effort, and the Foreign Minister and I will discuss this further today.

From our dialogue on intellectual property to maritime security and human rights, we are committed to working through difficult issues, and, as you can tell, we have a very big agenda. And it’s through the process of working through these difficulties that we can actually forge a stronger friendship, a stronger partnership, and a stronger future for both of our nations.

So, Foreign Minister Wang, thank you again for your visit. I welcome you here. I hope you feel at home during your time in Washington. It’s good to see you again.

FOREIGN MINISTER WANG: (Via interpreter) Secretary Kerry has on several occasions asked me to visit the United States, and I’m very happy that finally I have come to visit this country.

This year is an important year for China-U.S. relationship to build on past achievements and make new progress. Since the change of government in both countries, China-U.S. relationship has had a smooth transition, got off to a good start, and now enjoys strong momentum. President Xi Jinping and President Barack Obama met successfully twice in less than three months. They reached important agreement on our two countries working together to build a new model of major country relationship, charting the future course for China-U.S. ties.

I have come to the United States to work with the U.S. side to push forward the building of this new model of major country relationship between our two countries with concrete actions and enrich its (inaudible) with our specific cooperation. I look forward to having in-depth and candid discussion with Secretary Kerry on all these issues of mutual interest, to which that Mr. Secretary just referred. And the Chinese side is ready to work with the United States to make good preparations for our upcoming high-level engagement, and for pushing forward our mutually beneficial cooperation. At the same time, we are also ready to have in-depth communication with the United States with an open mind on those issues, including Syria, issues on the Korean Peninsula, climate change, and cyber security. We also want to discuss with the United States the relevant issues in the Asia-Pacific region, to work with the U.S. side for sound interaction in the Asia-Pacific between our two countries.

I have come to the United States to implement the agreement reached between our top leaders to strengthen the mutually beneficial cooperation between our two countries and to enhance the China-U.S. friendship. We look forward to working with the United States to ensure that we will be able to translate the defining feature of this new model of major country relationship, namely non-conflict and confrontation, mutual respect, and win-win cooperation into all aspects of China-U.S. relationship to bring benefits to our both countries and beyond. And it is my belief that there is tremendous potential for us working together to further expand and deepen our cooperation.

Just now, Secretary Kerry referred to the two important issues of Syria and the DPRK. Let me make a few brief comments here.

On Syria, China welcomes the framework agreement reached not long ago by the United States and Russia. We believe that there needs to be early agreement on the decision to be taken by the OPCW, and at the same time, the Security Council of the United Nations also needs to recognize and support this decision. Ultimately, the issue of Syria needs to be resolved through political means. The Chinese side will continue to play its positive and constructive role in that direction.

Addressing issues on the Korean Peninsula have been an important area for China-U.S. cooperation. Today marks the 8th anniversary of the issuance of September 19th

Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks. I believe it is an important time for the Six Parties to review the past, summarize the good experience, and open up brighter prospects for the future. To achieve the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and maintain peace and stability in Northeast Asia serves the common interests of China and the United States. I look forward to having a deep discussion with Secretary on how we can work together to re-launch the Six-Party Talks and effectively push forward the denuclearization process. And I am confident that we will be able to reach new, important agreement.

Well, today is also the Chinese traditional festival, a mid-Autumn day for family reunion. And the moon tonight will be the fullest in this whole year, which augurs well, I suppose, for a brighter future. And let me use this opportunity to convey the festive greetings to all of you and through all of you to the American people. Thank you.

(In English) Thank you.



SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very, very much.


Little kids and sweet drinks
From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, I’m Nicholas Garlow with HHS HealthBeat.

Starting off as a little kid with lots of sweet drinks may lead to weight problems later. At the University of Virginia, Mark DeBoer saw evidence in national survey data on 9,600 children who were followed at ages 9 months, and 2, 4 and 5 years.

“Children who consumed sugary drinks regularly were more likely to be overweight and obese at age 5.”

DeBoer says weight went up over time with the amount of sugar, and was quite noticeable at 4 and 5.

DeBoer recommends kids get water and milk, but not sugar-sweetened drinks. He also notes that keeping kids active helps to control weight.

The study in the journal Pediatrics was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

Learn more at

HHS HealthBeat is a production of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. I’m Nicholas Garlow.


Statement from the Department of Veterans Affairs On Aaron Alexis
September 18, 2013

WASHINGTON -- The Department of Veterans Affairs issued the following statement:
Health care treatment
Aaron Alexis received treatment on August 23, 2013, when he visited the emergency room at the VA Medical Center in Providence, R.I., complaining of insomnia. After a medical examination, he was given a small amount of medication to help him sleep and was instructed to follow up with a primary care provider.
On August 28, he went to the emergency room at the VA Medical Center in Washington, D.C., to request a medication refill and attributed his insomnia to his work schedule.  He was given a small refill and was instructed to follow up with a primary care provider.  On both occasions, Mr. Alexis was alert and oriented, and was asked by VA doctors if he was struggling with anxiety or depression, or had thoughts about harming himself or others, all of which he denied.

Alexis enrolled in VA health care in February 2011.  According to VA records, he never sought an appointment from a mental health specialist, and had previously either canceled or failed to show up for primary care appointments and claims evaluations examinations he had scheduled at VA medical centers.

Alexis filed a disability compensation claim with the VA and was granted a 20 percent disability rating by VA for orthopedic issues on December 12, 2011, which was increased to 30 percent on December 19, 2012, when he was awarded an additional 10 percent for tinnitus.  Alexis received benefits in the amount of $395 monthly.  The 30 percent was retroactive to his separation from service.

Controlling norovirus

Controlling norovirus


Strategy, Threats, Resources Must Balance, Winnefeld Says
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 18, 2013 - The tough fiscal environment means the Air Force must make investment choices that protect America and its interests today, but also in the future, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said at the Air Force Association's annual Air and Space Conference today.

Navy Adm. James A. "Sandy" Winnefeld Jr. said that with less money, it is even more important to make the correct operational and investment decisions.

The threats are out there, the admiral said. In the past, he added, there was enough money to fund responses to those threats to the nation and its interests and allies. But with fewer dollars, he said, it is imperative to prioritize the competing claims on a shrinking defense budget.

Threats run the gamut, "beginning with major nation-states, who have watched the U.S. military's impressive capability -- with some anxiety -- and who are working hard to catch up," Winnefeld said. These states cannot challenge American military superiority head to head, he added, but they will try to do so asymmetrically.

The threats include highly insecure authoritarian states such as Iran, North Korea and Syria. Such nations, the vice chairman explained, conclude that obtaining deliverable nuclear weapons is the best insurance policy for their regimes.

"This also has huge implications, ranging from the importance of limited missile defense to how we might handle a conflict on the Korean Peninsula," Winnefeld said.

And the threat from violent extremists hasn't disappeared, the admiral said. These terrorists have "morphed from a centrally controlled apparatus within a supportive host nation, to a group of highly diversified, feisty and independent yet weakened franchises living mostly in poorly governed or ungoverned spaces," he told the audience.

These groups are learning and have become "operationally wiser" over time, and they still threaten American citizens and interests across the globe, he said.

"There are other threats, including transnational criminal organizations and cyber-empowered individuals," Winnefeld said. "Even the threat of disasters is changing along with the Earth's climate."

The Pentagon's strategy prioritizes these threats, the vice chairman said. But Congress, he added, must provide the Defense Department with the flexibility to manage whatever funds it gets to meet those missions.

Congress should give the department "as much freedom to maneuver as possible within our budgets, and by removing restrictions on our ability to become more efficient," Winnefeld added. Congress needs to remove limitations on the "downsizing glideslopes," the vice chairman said, "where we need to get our old stuff out of the system so we can buy and sustain new stuff."

Congress also needs to authorize a new round of base closures and realignments so the Defense Department can get rid of the 20 percent excess infrastructure it is carrying, Winnefeld said, adding that Congress and DOD officials need to look at personnel accounts as well.

"While everyone here would agree that our magnificent men and women in uniform deserve more than the average bear, we simply cannot sustain our recent growth trajectory in pay and benefits and expect to preserve a properly sized, trained and equipped force," he said.

"Some will fight some of these needed changes, but I would ask you to stand up and understand that the most important benefit we can provide for our people is to train and equip them to fly, fight and win and come home safely to their families," Winnefeld said.


U.S. Foreign Military Sales Promote Security Cooperation
By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 18, 2013 - Though 2012 was a banner fiscal year with $69.1 billion in foreign military sales, that program and others like it are not in the business of selling equipment, but rather are promoting military-to-military relationships with international partners, a Defense Security Cooperation Agency official said here yesterday.

Speaking at a ground robotics symposium hosted by the National Defense Industrial Association, Derek Gilman, DSCA's general counsel, said his agency promotes relationships by facilitating the purchase of defense equipment and services, financing, defense education and training and more.

"The idea," Gilman said, "is if partners have U.S. equipment and U.S. training and are following U.S. doctrine, our interoperability is greater with them."

Interoperability also can be leveraged through international acquisition and cross-servicing agreements for sharing such things as ammunition and spare parts, he added.

"That can lead, if you're sharing joint doctrine, to joint exercises and other types of military-to-military cooperation and ... to decades-long relationships -- core relationships -- with partners around the world," Gilman said.

The Foreign Military Sales program is a form of security assistance authorized by the Arms Export Control Act through which the United States may sell defense articles and services to foreign countries and international organizations. Under the program, the U.S. government and a foreign government enter into a sales agreement called a letter of offer and acceptance. The State Department determines which countries will have programs, and the Defense Department executes the program.

DSCA is the central agency that synchronizes global security cooperation programs, funding and efforts across the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the State Department, the combatant commands, the services and U.S. industry. The agency is responsible for the policy, processes, training and financial management needed to execute security cooperation within DOD.

The agency's mission areas cover a lot of ground, ranging from foreign military sales and foreign military financing to humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and mine action. DSCA also has programs for international military education and training and partnership capacity building.

DSCA has 12,881 active foreign military sales cases valued at $394 billion, 443 humanitarian projects worldwide, 768 security cooperation officers in 148 countries, 7,344 international students from 141 countries, and 7,090 participants in five regional centers around the world. DSCA does business with 227 countries and international organizations.

Foreign military sales represent the largest percentage of DSCA funds, with $69.1 billion in fiscal 2012, Gilman said, "but $29 billion of that is from the sale of 84 F-15s to Saudi Arabia, along with weapons and training and basing." He said that going forward, the agency expects about $30 billion a year, with about $25 billion in 2013 sales.

"But that's a significant increase over what we've had historically," he added.

Before fiscal 2006, DSCA foreign military sales hovered between $10 billion and $13 billion, Gilman said, adding that the agency has been doing more than twice that amount each year and expects that trend to continue because of an increased emphasis on foreign sales, interoperability and fighting in a coalition environment.

Other DSCA programs include:

-- Foreign Military Financing, $1.1 billion in fiscal 2012-2013: The bulk of this funding goes to Israel and Egypt, with the rest divided among several other countries. Funding amounts go out in grant letters so it is considered a conditional grant to the foreign country. "The money, however, does not go to the foreign country," Gilman said. "It stays in the FMF trust fund in the account for those countries and becomes new-year money. It's obligated upon apportionment, so it continues to be available for the purposes set forth in the current-year congressional budget justification."

-- International Military Education and Training program, $105.8 million in fiscal 2012: "IMET is a significant program whereby we provide education and training to folks from foreign militaries," Gilman said. "It has been a significant aid to the United States over the last 30 years in terms of helping build relationships with those who later go on to be senior members of partner militaries."

-- Special Defense Acquisition: "[This program] allows us to anticipate what the sales are going to be to foreign partners to buy defense articles in advance of those sales of high-demand sorts of items," Gilman explained, "and then to provide those items to our partners."

-- Excess Defense Articles: A major effort is going on now in this longstanding program with regard to Afghanistan, Gilman said, "and how we provide what we anticipate will be a large number of defense articles [there] to our foreign partners. It's a way to make sure we reduce the possibility of waste in terms of demilitarization on the ground in Afghanistan."

Looking ahead for DSCA, Gilman said building interoperability and sustainability and staying ahead of the competition are among the agency's key opportunities and challenges.

DSCA differs from what a customer might see in a direct commercial sale, such as in the Foreign Military Sales program, because the agency provides what Gilman described as a total-package approach. A partner in a direct commercial sale would have to go to several commercial vendors to determine its own commercial requirements, he explained.

"But DSCA will work with partners to say, 'This is the equipment you want to meet a certain need, these are the weapons you'll need to go with that equipment, this is the training you will need [and] these are the requirements you will need on your base,'" Gilman said. "And we can provide all that through letters of offer and acceptance as to an estimate of how much it will cost."

The agency also offers the advantage of the U.S. contracting process, he added, "so we can leverage our ability, especially if they're contracting for something that's already in the U.S. system, because we have an existing contract."

DSCA can leverage the fact that the agency is buying the item to keep the price down for the customer, Gilman said.

"Some customers have a less-than-transparent acquisition system [at home], and they like the transparency the U.S. acquisition system offers them, so there are a number of benefits," he added.

Other countries have had experience with foreign military sales, he said, and they prefer the DSCA approach.

"At the end of the day, we don't care whether they use FMS or DSCA, but what we do care about is that they buy U.S. products in whatever way is most effective for them," he said.

The agency also is seeing more pressure from traditional competitors such as the United Kingdom, France and Russia, and emerging competitors in China, India, Brazil, the European Union and elsewhere, Gilman said.

"China is becoming more and more of a player in the international armaments sales arena, and South Korea is becoming a significant competitor in the international armaments sales arena," he said. "The United States wants to maintain its role as the preeminent competitor for the reasons of building relationships with our partners."


CPA Disbarred for Stealing from Daughter’s Trust Fund

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today announced that its Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) has prevailed in seeking the disbarment of David O. Christensen after he was convicted of theft for misappropriating funds as the conservator of his daughter’s trust account. Christensen’s CPA licenses in Washington and Oregon were revoked previously as a result of his conviction.

In a Final Agency Decision the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) declined to carve out a request by Christensen for limited practice as a tax return preparer, and instead, disbarred him from all practice before the IRS finding that Christensen’s conviction for theft, and the revocation of his CPA licenses, constituted disreputable conduct under Circular 230.  Christensen had argued that he should be permitted to continue to prepare tax returns because his theft conviction resulted from a family matter that had nothing to do with his tax return preparation practice before the IRS.

"OPR strives to protect the integrity of the tax system from unscrupulous and incompetent practitioners regardless of how those traits become known,” said Karen L. Hawkins, Director of OPR.

Agreeing with OPR’s proposed sanction, the ALJ held the seriousness of Christensen’s offense warranted disbarment from practicing before the IRS finding that the “Respondent has displayed a lack of integrity, including in his testimony at trial, in attempting to distinguish his professional actions from his ‘father-daughter’ relationship.”

Christensen is prohibited from any practice (including tax return preparation) before the IRS for a five year period.


FDA approves first generic capecitabine to treat colorectal and breast cancers

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved the first generic version of Xeloda (capecitabine), an oral chemotherapy pill used to treat cancer of the colon or rectum (colorectal cancer) that has spread to other parts of the body (metastatic), and metastatic breast cancer.

Teva Pharmaceuticals USA has gained FDA approval to market generic capecitabine in 150 and 500 milligram strengths.

“Generic drugs are important options that allow greater access to health care for all Americans,” said Kathleen Uhl, M.D., acting director of the Office of Generic Drugs in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “This medication is widely used by people living with cancer, so it is important to have access to affordable treatment options.”

According to the National Cancer Institute, it is estimated that 1.6 million people in the United States will be diagnosed with and 580,000 will die of cancer in 2013. It is estimated that 142,820 people will be diagnosed with and 50,830 will die of cancer of the colon and rectum in 2013. An estimated 232,340 women will be diagnosed with and 39,620 women will die of cancer of the breast in 2013.

In the clinical trials for Xeloda, the most commonly observed adverse reactions included: diarrhea; vomiting; nausea; pain, redness, swelling, or sores in the mouth; hand-and-foot syndrome (pain, swelling, or redness of hands or feet that prevents normal activity); and fever or infection.

It is important that the prescriber know if the patient is also taking a medicine used to thin the blood, such as warfarin. Capecitabine could increase the effect of this medicine, possibly leading to serious side effects. Capecitabine has a boxed warning to alert health care professionals and patients about this risk.

Generic drugs approved by the FDA have the same high quality and strength as brand-name drugs. Generic drug manufacturing and packaging sites must pass the same quality standards as those of brand-name drugs.

Information about the availability of generic capecitabine can be obtained from Teva.


Government Sells Boston Harbor Lighthouse for Nearly $1 Million
September 16, 2013

BOSTON - Today, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) announced it has found a new owner for the historic Graves Light in Boston Harbor. David Waller was officially awarded the lighthouse today and will take ownership within sixty days. GSA received an unprecedented $933,888 bid for the lighthouse, which is a record amount for any lighthouse ever sold in the United States.

As part of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act (NHLPA) program, GSA offered the lighthouse to the public through an online auction. So far, more than 100 lighthouses have been sold or transferred out of federal ownership. Through this innovative program, proceeds from the public sales go back into the Coast Guard’s aid to navigation fund, a fund that pays for the equipment, maintenance, and resources (fog horns, lights, battery cells, solar panels, etc.) to continue preservation and maintenance of lighthouses that are still active and federal ownership. .”

"Lighthouses are an important part of our maritime history, both in New England and national heritage. Enthusiastic new owners like David Waller, help us ensure that these architectural treasures will be preserved without burdening taxpayers," said Robert Zarnetske, GSA Regional Administrator for New England.

The open and competitive public auction lasted 25 days between 10 different parties before bidding closed last Saturday. The property boasts 360-degree million dollar views that include the Boston skyline, the harbor, and the Atlantic Ocean. The new owner now possesses a truly historic maritime treasure and iconic property in Boston Harbor.

Graves Light, constructed in 1905 and designed by Royal Luther, is located on The Graves, the outermost island of the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area, nine miles offshore from Boston. At 113 feet, it is the tallest lighthouse in the Port of Boston. The light is a striking conical structure with granite blocks on a granite foundation and includes interior keeper’s quarters.

Since 2000, in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Park Service, GSA administers the federal program that transfers ownership of historic lighthouses to caretakers through the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act program. GSA also offers lighthouses for public sale at