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Saturday, June 7, 2014

EX-IM BANK SAYS U.S. EXPORTS REACHED $193.3 BILLION IN APRIL

FROM:  U.S. EXPORT-IMPORT BANK 
U.S. Exports Reach $193.3 Billion in April
 Export-Import Bank Financing Support Helps Create American Jobs

Washington, D.C. – The United States exported $193.3 billion of goods and services in April 2014, according to data released today by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) of the U.S. Commerce Department.

“The numbers show that the world’s consumers want U.S. goods and services for their quality and reliability,” said Export-Import Bank Chairman and President Fred P. Hochberg. “Made in America is still the best in the world, and the Ex-Im Bank is proud to play its part in boosting U.S. exporters abroad and supporting jobs here at home.”

Exports of goods and services over the last twelve months totaled $2.3 trillion, which is 45.1 percent above the level of exports in 2009, and have been growing at an annualized rate of 9.0 percent when compared to 2009.

During the same time period among the major export markets (i.e., markets with at least $6 billion in annual imports of U.S. goods), the countries with the largest annualized increase in U.S. goods purchases, when compared to 2009, were Panama (22.7 percent), Russia (18.9 percent), Peru (18.5 percent), Hong Kong (17.9 percent), Colombia (17.6 percent), Argentina (16.4 percent), Ecuador (16.1 percent), Chile (15.5 percent), Indonesia (14.6 percent) and China (14.5 percent).

U.S. CHARGES FORMER BERMUDA REGISTERED SECURITIES TRADER WITH CONSPIRACY

FROM:  U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT 
Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Conspiracy Charge Filed Against Former Convergex Trader

A former trader for ConvergEx Global Markets Limited (CGM Limited) — a former securities broker-dealer registered in Bermuda — has been charged in the District of New Jersey with conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Assistant Director in Charge Valerie Parlave of the FBI’s Washington Field Office and Inspector in Charge Philip R. Bartlett from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) made the announcement.

Craig Marshall, 47, of Bermuda, was charged under seal by criminal complaint on May 27, 2014, and he made his initial appearance this morning.

On Dec. 18, 2013, Jonathan Daspin, the head trader at CGM Limited, Thomas Lekargeren, a sales trader at a different ConvergEx subsidiary, and CGM Limited all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit securities and wire fraud before U.S. District Judge Jose Linares in the District of New Jersey.   On the same day, CGM Limited’s parent company, ConvergEx Group LLC, entered into a deferred prosecution agreement.   Collectively, the two ConvergEx entities paid $43.8 million in criminal penalties and restitution.

According to the charges, certain ConvergEx Group broker-dealers regularly routed securities orders to CGM Limited in Bermuda so that it could take a mark-up (an additional amount paid for the purchase of a security) or mark-down (a reduction of the amount received for the sale of a security) when executing the orders.   ConvergEx employees referred to such mark-ups and mark-downs as “spread,” “trading profits,” or “TP.”

Also according to charges, to hide the fact that spread had been taken on trades, Marshall, Daspin, Lekargeren, and other employees at ConvergEx Group subsidiaries in Bermuda, New York and London created and sent false transaction reports to clients with fabricated details regarding the execution of orders, including the number of shares involved in a trade, the time at which a trade was executed and the price at which shares were either purchased or sold.   After sending certain clients these false reports, the conspirators took a total of $5,171,394 in spread from them.

The charges allege that Marshall, along with Daspin and other conspirators, created and sent a false transaction report to a client on or around June 25, 2007, and created and sent an additional false transaction report to another client on Aug. 11, 2009.

The charges in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office and the Washington, D.C., and New York offices of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.   The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Justin Goodyear, Jason Linder and Patrick Pericak of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.  Fraud Section Assistant Chief Robert Zink and former Trial Attorney Charles Reed also assisted with the investigation.

The department appreciates the assistance of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey.

FACT SHEET ON U.S. ASSISTANCE TO UKRAINE

FROM:  THE WHITE HOUSE 
FACT SHEET: U.S. Security Assistance to Ukraine

The United States is working to bolster Ukraine’s ability to secure its borders and preserve its territorial integrity and sovereignty in the face of Russian occupation of Crimea and a concerted effort by Russian-backed separatists to destabilize eastern Ukraine.  President Obama has approved more than $23 million in additional defensive security assistance since early March.

This assistance includes:

A new tranche of $5 million for the provision of body armor, night vision goggles, and additional communications equipment.  This is in addition to the approximately 300,000 Meals Ready to Eat (delivered in March), as well as assistance for the provision of materiel using Foreign Military Financing to support Ukraine’s armed forces with medical supplies, service member equipment (e.g., helmets, sleeping mats, water purification units), explosive ordnance disposal equipment, and handheld radios.

The United States also has allocated Cooperative Threat Reduction funding to support Ukraine’s State Border Guard Service with supplies (e.g., clothing, shelters, small power generators and hand fuel pumps, engineering equipment, communications equipment, vehicles, and non-lethal individual tactical gear).
To date, Embassy Kyiv has purchased and delivered 20-person shelters, sleeping bags, fuel filter adapters, barbed wire, patrol flashlights, perimeter alarm systems, fuel pumps, concertina wire, vehicle batteries, spare tires, binoculars, excavators, trucks, generators, food storage freezers, field stoves, and communications gear to the Ukrainian State Border Guard Service, for use in monitoring and securing their borders.

Senior Leader Engagement

On April 1, senior U.S. defense officials met with their Ukrainian counterparts in Kyiv for bilateral defense consultations, during which they held substantive discussions on regional security, defense cooperation, and areas for growth in the U.S.-Ukraine defense relationship.

Senior defense officials met with Ukrainian counterparts in Kyiv in early June to discuss ongoing U.S.-Ukraine defense cooperation and U.S. support to Ukraine’s defense reform efforts.

In early June, U.S. European Command will hold a general/flag officer steering group meeting with Ukrainian counterparts in Kyiv to set the strategic direction for future military-to-military cooperation.

FTC TESTIFIES BEFORE CONGRESS ON GEOLOCATION PRIVACY AND SECURITY

FROM:  U.S. FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION
FTC Testifies on Geolocation Privacy
June 4, 2014
The Federal Trade Commission testified before Congress o
n the Commission's efforts to address the privacy concerns raised by the tracking of information about consumers’ location, as well as proposed legislation to protect the privacy of geolocation data.

Delivering testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee for Privacy, Technology and the Law, Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection, outlined the FTC’s ongoing efforts to protect the privacy of consumers’ geolocation information through enforcement, policymaking, and consumer and business education.

Precise geolocation data is sensitive personal information increasingly used in consumer products and services, the testimony states. These products and services make consumers’ lives easier and more efficient, but the use of geolocation information can raise concerns because it can reveal a consumer’s movements in real time and provide a detailed record of a consumer’s movements over time.

“Geolocation information can divulge intimately personal details about an individual. Did you visit an AIDS clinic last Tuesday? What place of worship do you attend? Were you at a psychiatrist's office last week? Did you meet with a prospective business customer?” the testimony states.

Geolocation information may be sold to companies to help build profiles about consumers without their knowledge or consent, or it could be accessed by cybercriminals, hackers or through surreptious means such as “stalking apps.”

The FTC has used its enforcement authority under Section 5 of the FTC Act to take action against companies engaged in unfair or deceptive practices involving geolocation information. Last month, for example, the Commission entered into a settlement with the mobile messaging app Snapchat, resolving FTC allegations that Snapchat made multiple misrepresentations to consumers about the disappearing nature of messages sent through its service, as well its transmission of users’ geolocation information. The FTC has raised similar allegations involving undisclosed collection and transmission of location data as part of  privacy complaints against a popular flashlight app, as well as a national rent-to-own retailer and one of its software vendors, the testimony states.

In addition to its enforcement activities involving geolocation information, the Commission has conducted studies, held workshops, and issued reports on mobile privacy disclosures, mobile apps directed to kids, and other topics that elucidate best practices for companies collecting, using, and sharing geolocation information, the testimony says.

The testimony also notes the FTC’s ongoing efforts to educate consumers and businesses about protecting the privacy of geolocation information. For instance, the Commission recently released an updated version of ''Net Cetera: Chatting with Kids About Being Online," and it has released guidance directed to businesses operating in the mobile arena to help educate them on best practices to handle sensitive information, such as geolocation information.

The testimony also provides the Commission’s initial views on the Location Privacy Protection Act of 2014, proposed legislation that seeks to improve the transparency of geolocation services and give consumers greater control over the collection of their geolocation information. The FTC supports the goals of the LPPA, and believes it is an important step forward in protecting consumers’ sensitive geolocation information, the testimony states.

In particular, the testimony highlights three important LPPA provisions that are consistent with the Commission’s views:

The bill defines “geolocation information” as information that is “sufficient to identify the street name and name of the city or town” in which a device is located. This definition is consistent in many respects with the definition of “geolocation information” in the Commission's COPPA Rule.

The LPPA requires that an entity collecting consumer geolocation information disclose its collection of such information. The Commission has recommended that companies make their data collection practices more transparent to consumers.
The LPPA requires affirmative express consent from consumers before a covered entity may knowingly collect or disclose geolocation information, and the Commission supports that approach.

In addition, the testimony notes that the LPPA gives the Department of Justice sole enforcement authority and rulemaking authority, in consultation with the FTC. As the federal government’s leading privacy enforcement agency, the testimony recommends that the Commission have rulemaking and enforcement authority with regard to the civil provisions of the LPPA, and that DOJ have enforcement authority for the criminal provisions.

The Commission vote approving the testimony and its inclusion in the formal record was 5-0.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them.

Friday, June 6, 2014

U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT CONTRACTS FOR JUNE 6, 2014

FROM:  THE DEFENSE DEPARTMENT 

CONTRACTS

NAVY

Hewlett Packard Enterprise Services (HPES), Herndon, Virginia, is being awarded a $138,000,000 modification to a previously awarded contract (N00039-10-D-0010) for the continuity of services contract (CoSC) for Navy Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI). The modification includes increasing the contract ceiling from $5,603,792,250 to $5,741,792,250, and adding an option to extend the period of performance by three months, from July 1, 2014, to Sept. 30, 2014. The NMCI services are currently provided under the CoSC, which was awarded to HPES in order to continue providing information technology (IT) services following the expiration of the original NMCI contract. The CoSC contract period of performance for IT services was due to expire on June 30, 2014; the contract ceiling would have been exceeded in June 2014 based on current requirements. The CoSC ensures that the scope of NMCI IT services and performance levels delivered are sustained until the Next Generation Enterprise Network contract is satisfactorily providing the replacement services. Work is performed at nearly 2,500 Navy and Marine Corps locations worldwide, and expected completion for this modification is Sept. 30, 2014. No funds will be obligated at the time of award. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, San Diego, California, is the contracting activity.

Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, is being awarded a $122,099,075 cost-plus-incentive-fee modification to a previously awarded advance acquisition contract (N00019-13-C-0008) for the procurement of initial aircraft spares for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter aircraft for the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, and international partners. Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas (35 percent); El Segundo, California (25 percent); Warton, United Kingdom (20 percent); Orlando, Florida (10 percent); Nashua, New Hampshire (5 percent); and Baltimore, Maryland (5 percent); and is expected to be completed in December 2016. Fiscal 2014 aircraft procurement (Navy and Air Force) and international partner funds in the amount of $122,099,075 are being obligated on this award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This modification combines purchases for the U.S. Marine Corps ($38,254,135; 31.3 percent); U.S. Air Force ($27,890,266; 22.9 percent); U.S. Navy ($10,837,918; 8.9 percent), and international partners ($45,116,756; 27.8 percent). The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting authority.

BAE Systems Norfolk Ship Repair, Norfolk, Virginia, is being awarded a $15,060,606 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-10-C-4308) for USS Ramage (DDG-61) fiscal 2014 Selected Restricted Availability (SRA). A SRA includes the planning and execution of depot-level maintenance, alterations, and modifications that will update and improve the ship's military and technical capabilities. Work will be performed in Norfolk, Virginia, and is expected to be completed by November 2014. Fiscal 2014 operations and maintenance (Navy) and fiscal 2014 other procurement (Navy) contract funds in the amount of $15,060,606 will be obligated at time of award. Contract funds in the amount of $13,821,384 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Norfolk Ship Support Activity, Norfolk, Virginia, is the contracting activity.

Raytheon Co., Tucson, Arizona, is being awarded a $13,296,203 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the development of the drawings and specifications for the Joint Standoff Weapon C Block III variant for the government of Saudi Arabia including qualification and validation under the Foreign Military Sales Program. Work will be performed in Tucson, Arizona (80 percent); Dallas, Texas (10 percent); and Cedar Rapids, Iowa (10 percent); and is expected to be completed in September 2015. FM S funds in the amount of $13,296,203 are being obligated at time of award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to 10 U.S.C. 2304(c)(1). The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity (N00019-14-C-0025).

ARMY

Weeks Marine, Inc. Covington, Louisiana, was awarded a $63,322,388 firm-fixed-price, multi-year contract with options for dredging and beach fill of the main channel of the Delaware River. Work will be performed in Lewes, Delaware, with an estimated completion date of April 15, 2016. Bids were solicited via the Internet with four received. Fiscal 2014 operations and maintenance (Army) funds in the amount of $7,000,000 and fiscal 2014 other procurement funds in the amount of $8,000,000 are being obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is the contracting activity (W912BU-14-C-0015).

Precon Marine, Inc.*, Chesapeake, Virginia, was awarded a $11,625,500 firm-fixed-price contract for Craney Island Northern Shoreline Revetment Phase III, Portsmouth, Virginia, with an estimated completion date of April 30, 2015. Bids were solicited via the Internet with six received. Fiscal 2014 operations and maintenance (Army) funds in the amount of $11,625,500 are being obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk, Virginia, is the contracting activity (W91236-14-C-0034).

Evergreen Helicopters, Inc., McMinnville, Oregon, was awarded a $10,672,126 modification (P00008) to contract W91CN-12-D-0002 to exercise option two for service and support for Medical Evacuation for the U.S. Army Garrison, Hawaii. Funding and work location will be determined with each order. Estimated completion date is June 22, 2015. Army Contracting Command, Fort Shafter, Hawaii, is the contracting activity.

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY

GlaxoSmithKline, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, has been awarded a maximum $17,616,339 firm-fixed-price contract for flu vaccines. This contract was a competitive acquisition with four offers received. This is a one-year base contract with no option periods. Location of performance is North Carolina with a Sept. 30, 2015, performance completion date. Using military service is Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and federal civilian agencies. Type of appropriation is fiscal 2014 through fiscal 2015 defense working capital funds. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (SPE2DP-14-D-0005).

Sanofi Pasteur, Swiftwater, Pennsylvania, has been awarded a maximum $8,969,432 firm-fixed-price contract for flu vaccines. This contract was a competitive acquisition with four offers received. This is a one-year base contract with no option periods. Location of performance is Pennsylvania with a Sept. 30, 2015, performance completion date. Using military service is Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and federal civilian agencies. Type of appropriation is fiscal 2014 through fiscal 2015 defense working capital funds. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (SPE2DP-14-D-0004).

AIR FORCE

SES Government Solutions, McLean Virginia, has been awarded an $8,245,160 firm-fixed-price contract for the purchase of commercial on-orbit transponders to support Ku-band communications for U.S. Africa Command and operations and sustainment support for a base year and four one-year options. Work will be performed at Ramstein Air Base, Germany and the western portion of Africa, and is expected to be complete by Aug. 5, 2019. This award is the result of a full and open competition, and two offers were received. Fiscal 2014 procurement funds in the amount of $8,000,000 are being obligated at time of award. The Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, California is the contracting activity (FA8808-14-C-0001).

*Small business


COMMANDER U.S. EUROPEAN COMMAND COMMEMORATES D-DAY

FROM:  U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT 

Right:  Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division, along with allied troops from multiple countries, participate in a parade through the streets of Carentan, France, June 4, 2014. The town is hosting several events commemorating the 70th anniversary of D-Day operations conducted during World War II. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. A.M. LaVey, 173rd Airborne Brigade 

Breedlove Pays Tribute to Sacrifices Made at D-Day
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

CARENTAN, France, June 5, 2014 – The sacrifice made by World War II veterans is reflected in the legacy of freedom they left following their success in the “greatest endeavor ever undertaken in the name of liberty,” NATO’S Supreme Allied Commander Europe said.

Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, also commander of U.S. European Command, traveled here to participate in a series of French-hosted commemorations of the 70th anniversary of the June 6, 1944, D-Day invasion of Normandy during World War II. Breedlove saluted the veterans for their courage in liberating Europe.

 “The French said ‘thank you’ today as they gave [veterans] the [French] Legion of Honor,” Breedlove told American Forces Network yesterday.

“Well, you just can’t buy this,” he said, referring to French gratitude for what the allies did by liberating France and Europe as part of the 70th anniversary of D-Day. “You can’t put it in a bottle. To see the nations -- all of them -- represented around this town, this country, this host nation, coming out like this in the hundreds and thousands to thank our soldiers and thank our veterans -- it’s amazing. It’s a great feeling.”

Breedlove added, “You don’t know what it’s like until you watch these little kids and their parents, and their grandparents waving American flags, waving French flags, waving [British] flags, all the nations represented.”

The French citizens’ emotions illustrate “what it means to these people [regarding] the sacrifices that our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines made for this country,” he added.

Breedlove reflected on the hard choices Army Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower -- the D-Day invasion commander -- had to make in order to carry out the operation.
“Can you imagine what he was thinking as he sent so many of our nation’s sons ashore knowing what was waiting for them?” Eisenhower knew what was going to be required to achieve success, Breedlove said, and he knew the sacrifice that would have to be made.

“It’s probably the most incredible decision of our military,” the general said. “And he stood up to it and sent these forces ashore, and they accomplished their mission.”

Breedlove said he learned, from talking to veterans, that none of them made the decision to fight based on what was in front of them.

“They made decisions about standing shoulder-to-shoulder with their fellow soldiers, sailors and airmen. “Shoulder-to-shoulder with those who cared. And their mission was to get the job done and take care of each other.”

It was the cohesion, camaraderie and esprit de corps, Breedlove said, that got them through some pretty tough times.

“They all gave so much. But what we owe all veterans is our freedom.”
Speaking about freedom as the legacy of those who fought in World War II, Breedlove referred to a speech from a young French woman during an earlier ceremony where veterans received the French Legion of Honor.

“She wrote about that freedom that was purchased by the bravery and the sacrifice of our soldiers,” he said. “So all we can do is just say, ‘We thank you and we’re lucky that you were there to stand for us.’”

Walking down Carentan’s streets, the general also lauded veterans serving in today’s formations, and the families who support them.

“I say thank you to the families,” Breedlove said, “and to those veterans who are marching right in front of them who also served in multiple wars and multiple places around the world.

“We have lots of veterans that we owe dearly,” he continued. “Thank you to all of them.”

WHITE HOUSE FACT SHEET ON U.S. CONTRIBUTIONS TO EUROPEAN PEACE SINCE WWII

FROM:  THE WHITE HOUSE 

FACT SHEET: Overview of U.S. Contributions to Peace and Security in Europe Since WWII

Europe is an indispensable partner with which the United States tackles key global security challenges, and advancing transatlantic peace and security has stood at the heart of U.S. foreign policy for more than a century.  The United States works hand-in-hand with our European allies and partners -- bilaterally and through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the European Union (EU), and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) -- to advance our shared goal of a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace.
As Europe emerged from the devastation of World War II, the United States implemented the Marshall Plan (officially called the European Recovery Program) in 1948 to provide $11 billion in economic support to rebuild European economies.  In April 1949, the United States joined 11 allies to create NATO.  NATO’s membership has since grown six times and now comprises 28 members.  NATO’s Article 5 guarantees the security of all NATO members, declaring that an attack on one of these allies will be considered as an attack on all.  U.S. contributions to NATO significantly enhance transatlantic stability and security, and since the end of the Cold War, the Alliance has transformed itself to meet the global security challenges of the 21st century.  NATO’s “Open Door” to new members has brought peace, stability, and security to Europe, contributing to the spread of democracy and prosperity across the continent.
The United States has also had a strong partnership with the European Union since the first U.S. observers went to the European Coal and Steel Community in 1953.  For decades, the United States and the EU have partnered together to promote peace and stability, sustain democracy and development around the world, respond to global challenges, contribute to the expansion of world trade and closer economic relations, and build bridges across the Atlantic.  The EU, which today includes 28 Member States and more than 500 million people, works to expand economic stability, prosperity, and security across Europe and beyond.  The United States and the EU are strengthening our economic ties through negotiations to form a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
Deriving from the historic 1975 Helsinki Accords and the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe is the world’s largest and most comprehensive regional security organization -- with 57 participating states spanning from Vancouver to Vladivostok and 11 partner countries.  The OSCE is a political forum in which the United States works with other participating states to build a Europe and Eurasia whole, free, and at peace; to promote good governance; to build confidence and security through arms control; to resolve protracted conflicts in the OSCE region; and to encourage democracy and respect for human rights.  The United States supports the contributions of the OSCE across all three dimensions of its comprehensive security mandate and values, in particular the work of the 15 OSCE field missions.
Throughout the Cold War, the United States stood firmly by our NATO allies in confronting the threats posed to their peace and security by the Soviet Union.  From the 1947 Truman Doctrine and 1948 Berlin Airlift to today, our policies are designed to promote freedom and democracy in Europe.  When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, the United States was quick to support German reunification within NATO.  The United States led the efforts to bring peace and security to the countries of the former Yugoslavia through the painful years of the Balkans crises, and we have supported the European and Euroatlantic aspirations of newly independent countries.

U.S. MARINES PATROL IN HELMAND PROVINCE AFGHANISTAN

FROM:  U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT



U.S. Marines Corps 2nd Lt. Michael Bressler observes a row of small shops for any signs of danger during a security patrol before making contact with the local Afghans near the town of Boldak in Helmand province, Afghanistan, May 21, 2014. Bressler, a platoon commander, is assigned to 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Michael Dye.




U.S. Marines and sailors conduct a security patrol near Patrol Base Boldak in Helmand province, Afghanistan, May 21, 2014. The Marines and sailors, assigned to Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, conduct patrols to maintain trust and communication with the local Afghan population. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Michael Dye.

MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO IMPORTING,SALE OF COUNTERFEIT INTEGRATED CIRCUITS USED ON NUCLEAR SUBMARINES

FROM:  U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT   
Tuesday, June 3, 2014
Massachusetts Man Pleads Guilty to Importing and Selling Counterfeit Intergrated Circuits from China and Hong Kong

Peter Picone, 41, of Methuen, Massachusetts, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Hartford, Connecticut to importing thousands of counterfeit integrated circuits (ICs) from China and Hong Kong and then reselling them to U.S. customers, including contractors supplying them to the U.S. Navy for use in nuclear submarines.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Deirdre M. Daly for the District of Connecticut made the announcement.

Picone pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna Martinez of the District of Connecticut to an indictment charging him with conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit military goods.   As part of a plea agreement with the government, Picone agreed to a forfeiture money judgment of $70,050 and the forfeiture of 12,960 counterfeit ICs seized during the execution of a search warrant at his business and residence.   Sentencing was set for Aug. 22, 2014.

According to court filings, from 2007 through 2012, Picone conspired with his suppliers in China and Hong Kong to sell millions of dollars’ worth of ICs bearing the counterfeit marks of approximately 35 major electronics manufacturers, including Motorola, Xilinx and National Semiconductor.   Picone sold counterfeit ICs to contractors knowing that they would be supplied to the United States Navy for use in nuclear submarines.

Many of Picone’s customers specified in their orders that they would not accept anything but new ICs that were not from China, but Picone told them that the ICs were new and manufactured in Europe.   Testing by the Navy and one of its contractors revealed that in fact the ICs purchased from Picone had been resurfaced to change the date code and to affix counterfeit marks, all in order to hide their true pedigree.   Federal agents searched Picone’s business and residence on April 24, 2012, and recovered 12,960 counterfeit ICs.

This is the second conviction ever on a charge of trafficking in counterfeit military goods, a relatively new provision in the U.S. Criminal Code that was enacted as part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2011.

The case was investigated by the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and Homeland Security Investigations.   The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Kendra Ervin and Senior Counsel Evan Williams of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS), Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Carol Sipperly of the District of Connecticut, Trial Attorney Anna Kaminska of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, and Trial Attorney Kristen Warden of the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section.  Significant assistance was provided by the CCIPS Cybercrime Lab.

ASSISTANT AG JOCELYN SAMUELS MAKES REMARKS ON $169 MILLION LOAN DISCRIMINATION SETTLEMENT

FROM:  U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT 
Remarks by Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Jocelyn Samuels at GE Capital Retail Bank Press Conference
Washington, D.C. ~ Thursday, June 19, 2014

Good afternoon, it is an honor to be here today with Director Richard Cordray of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to discuss the Justice Department and CFPB’s $169 million settlement with GE Capital Retail Bank, now known as Synchrony Bank.  The settlement resolves claims that the bank discriminated against Hispanic borrowers by excluding them from two credit card debt-repayment programs.   It is the federal government’s largest credit card discrimination settlement in history.

Today’s settlement shows the deep partnership that the Justice Department and CFPB have built to enforce our nation’s fair lending laws.  I’d like to commend Director Cordray for his leadership and for all that the bureau has done to protect consumers from credit discrimination.

Lending discrimination in any form is unacceptable.  This settlement is part of the Justice Department’s continued work to ensure that all people have equal access to credit, regardless of national origin.

Credit cards are essential in our economy, and millions of Americans use them in their daily lives.   Here, the scope of the potential harm, as well as the blatant nature of the discrimination, is particularly troublesome.   GE Capital offered two debt-repayment programs, to help those who were behind on their credit card payments, and make the debt less burdensome and payments more manageable.

However, it excluded two categories of borrowers: those who had indicated they preferred to receive communications from the lender in Spanish rather than English and those who had a mailing address in Puerto Rico.  The department and the CFPB allege that from January 2009 to March 2012, the Bank excluded these borrowers from the “Statement Credit Offer,” a program offering eligible borrowers a credit to their account if they met certain criteria, and the “Settlement Offer,” a program offering eligible borrowers the chance to settle their credit card debt if they paid a percentage of their remaining account balance, ranging from 25 percent to 55 percent.   Hispanic borrowers were thus denied a significant financial benefit provided to other customers.

The settlement is a comprehensive response to these alleged violations.   The settlement, which was filed with a complaint and is subject to court approval, provides $169 million in relief to approximately 108,000 borrowers in the form of monetary payments and the reduction, or complete waiver, of borrowers’ credit card balances.   The bank will also eliminate negative payment histories for affected borrowers and will implement significant fair lending compliance and monitoring measures to ensure this type of discrimination does not occur again.   For accounts that the bank closed , the bank must ask the three major credit reporting agencies to which it furnishes information to delete any negative reporting for those customers who did not receive the offers.   The bank has already provided relief of over $131.8 million to victims of the discrimination, and has committed in the settlement to provide the balance of the relief to the remaining victims.

We commend GE Capital for identifying the discrimination and reporting it to its regulator, the CFPB, and we applaud the bank’s proactive steps toward providing relief to affected borrowers even before government intervention.   We also appreciate this lender’s efforts in working closely with the department and the CFPB to further identify and compensate affected borrowers.

We hope the detection of this issue by one of the nation’s major credit card issuers will prompt the rest of the industry to take a careful look at the way they structure and publicize offers with benefits to borrowers.

The Justice Department’s enforcement of fair lending laws is conducted by the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section in the Civil Right Division.  Since February 2010, it has filed or resolved 34 lending matters under the Fair Housing Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.  The settlements in these matters provide for more than $1 billion in monetary relief for individual borrowers and impacted communities.

I want to commend our dedicated team of attorneys as well as our partners at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for their work on this case.  The filing of this complaint and proposed consent order marks a significant step in our efforts to enforce fair lending laws.

The Justice Department remains committed to ensure that borrowers who suffer harm based on discriminatory lending practices receive compensation.  And we will continue to aggressively enforce the law to protect the rights of all who face discrimination, and to ensure fair and equal access to credit for all.

FRANK ROSE'S REMARKS ON MISSILE DEFENSE IN MAINZ, GERMANY

FROM:   U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 

Implementing Missile Defense in a Global Context

Remarks
Frank A. Rose
Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance
3AF Missile Defense Conference
Mainz, Germany
June 17, 2014


Thank you for that kind introduction. It’s great to be back in Germany and I am particularly honored to address the 3AF Missile Defense Conference again this year.
In my remarks this morning, I would like to discuss three key issues:
  • First, the Obama Administration’s commitment to ballistic missile defense (BMD) and the Fiscal Year 2015 missile defense budget request;
  • Second, the significant progress the United States and our NATO partners are making in implementing the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA); and;
  • Third, cooperation on missile defense with allies and partners outside of Europe.
The U.S. Missile Defense Budget
It is no secret that governments around the world, including the United States, are working very hard to do more with less. This, of course, includes our investments in our national security. Despite these challenges, you will see—and the proof is in the numbers—that the United States is continuing to ensure that our missile defense priorities are funded, on track and on budget.

In March of this year, President Obama released his Fiscal Year 2015 budget submission that aligns defense program priorities and resources with the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). I would like to highlight for you a few of the missile defense aspects of the President’s request.

Overall, the budget request provides $8.5 billion for our missile defense programs, including $7.5 billion for the Missile Defense Agency. With regard to U.S. homeland defense, the budget request provides funding to increase the number of long-range missile defense interceptors deployed in Alaska and California from 30 to 44 by 2017. The request also funds a number of other programs to enhance the long-range BMD system such as a new kill vehicle and a new long-range discrimination radar. With regard to regional missile defense, the budget continues to provide adequate funding to complete work on the missile defense base at Devesulu, Romania and provides additional funding of $225.7 million for the missile defense base at Slupsk in Poland. The request also includes $435.4 million for the procurement of SM-3 Block IB interceptors and $263.9 for continued development of the longer-range SM-3 Block IIA interceptor.

As you can see from these numbers, the United States continues to devote significant resources to our missile defense programs. These programs are an important part of ensuring the national security of the United States, as well as our allies and partners. With regard to the EPAA, this budget request clearly signals the importance the U.S. places on the program. We believe that the resources we are allocating to our missile defense programs demonstrate our commitment to establish ever more capable missile defenses, both in Europe and other regions, to address growing ballistic missile threats. As U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel noted in March 2013, the U.S. commitment to NATO missile defense and to the sites in Romania and Poland remains “ironclad.”

European Phased Adaptive Approach
Moving on, I would like to take a few moments to discuss the implementation of the President’s European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) to missile defense. In 2009, when the President announced the EPAA, he noted that the EPAA will “provide stronger, smarter, and swifter defenses of American forces and America's Allies,” while relying on “capabilities that are proven and cost-effective.” And since then, we have been working hard to implement his vision—and we have made great progress in doing so. Earlier this month, President Obama noted in Poland that we are “on track” with the EPAA.

Phase 1 of the EPAA gained its first operational elements in 2011 with the start of a sustained deployment of an Aegis BMD-capable multi-role ship to the Mediterranean and the deployment of an AN/TPY-2 radar in Turkey. With the declaration of Interim BMD Capability at the NATO Summit in Chicago in May 2012, this radar transitioned to NATO operational control. As part of Phase 1, Spain agreed in 2011 to host four U.S. Aegis BMD-capable ships at the existing naval facility at Rota as a Spanish contribution to NATO missile defense, demonstrating its commitment to NATO’s collective defense. In February 2014, the first of four of these ships, USS Donald Cook, arrived in Rota. The next ship, USS Ross, is on its way now. The remaining two will deploy to Rota next year. In addition to their roles in NATO BMD, these ships will conduct maritime security operations, humanitarian missions, bi-lateral and multi-lateral training exercises, and they will support U.S. and NATO operations. By stationing these naval assets in Spain, we are placing them in a position to maximize their operational flexibility for missions in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean.

With regard to Phase 2, we have an agreement in force with Romania to host a U.S. Aegis Ashore site beginning in 2015. Last October, I had the honor of attending the ground-breaking ceremony at Deveselu Air Base to commemorate the start of construction for this site. When this site is operational, and combined with BMD-capable ships in the Mediterranean, NATO will gain enhanced coverage from short- and medium-range ballistic missiles launched from the Middle East. I also had the opportunity last year to visit the Lockheed-Martin facility in Moorestown, New Jersey where they built the Aegis Ashore deck house and components destined for Romania. The deck house has been disassembled and is currently in transit to Romania.

In furtherance of Phase 2, on May 21, the United States successfully conducted the first flight test involving components of the Aegis Ashore system, including the SM-3 IB interceptor. During the test, a simulated ballistic missile target was acquired, tracked, and engaged by the Aegis Weapon System. A live target missile launch was not planned for this flight test.
Before moving on to Phase 3, I would like to stress that we remain on schedule for deploying the system to Romania, with the site becoming operational in 2015.

And finally there is Phase 3. Phase 3 includes an Aegis Ashore site in Poland equipped with the new SM-3 Block IIA interceptor, per the Ballistic Missile Defense agreement between the United States and Poland which entered into force in September 2011. This site is on schedule to be operational in 2018. The interceptor site in Poland is key to the EPAA. When combined with other EPAA assets, Phase 3, which begins in the 2018 timeframe, will provide the necessary capabilities to provide ballistic missile defense coverage of all NATO European territory. So, as you can see; we are continuing to successfully implement the President’s vision for stronger, smarter and swifter missile defenses going forward.

NATO Cooperation
In addition to the support and burden sharing as part of the EPAA undertaken by Spain, Turkey, Poland and Romania, NATO Heads of State and Government noted at the Chicago Summit that there were potential opportunities for using synergies in planning, development, procurement, and deployment of NATO missile defense.
In our view, with this in mind, there are three approaches Allies can take to make valuable contributions to NATO BMD.
  • First, Allies can acquire fully capable BMD systems possessing sensor, shooter and command and control capabilities.
  • Second, Allies can acquire new sensors or upgrade existing ones to provide a key BMD capability.
  • Third, Allies can contribute to NATO’s defense by providing air defense capability for U.S. BMD ships underway on a NATO mission.
In all of these approaches, however, the most critical requirement is NATO interoperability. While acquiring a BMD capability is, of course, good in and of itself, without interoperability, its value as a contribution to Alliance deterrence and defense is significantly diminished. It is only through interoperability that the Alliance can gain the synergistic effects from BMD cooperation that enhance the effectiveness of NATO BMD, as well as the security of all NATO members through shared battle-space awareness and reduced interceptor wastage. Given the budget challenges many allies face today, this becomes even more imperative. Looking ahead, we are hopeful that missile defense will be a key deliverable at the Alliance’s Summit later this year in Wales.

Missile Defense Developments in Other Regions
Outside the NATO context, the United States is continuing to increase and deepen its cooperation with partners and allies around the world to protect people, forces, and assets from the growing ballistic missile threats that we face. As in Europe, we are tailoring our approaches to the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific so that they reflect the unique deterrence and defense requirements of each region.

In the Middle East, we are already cooperating with our key partners bilaterally and multilaterally through venues such as the recently established U.S.-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Strategic Cooperation Forum. At the September 26, 2013, Strategic Cooperation Forum (SCF), Secretary Kerry and his Foreign Ministry counterparts reaffirmed their intent, first stated at the September 28, 2012 SCF, to “work towards enhanced U.S.-GCC coordination on Ballistic Missile Defense.”

As you know, this is a time of profound change in that region and we are acutely aware of the daily threats and anxieties felt throughout the Gulf. Security cooperation has long stood at the core of the U.S.-Gulf partnership. The United States is not only committed to enhancing U.S.-GCC missile defense cooperation – we see it as a strategic imperative.

As stated in the 2010 Ballistic Missile Defense Review, a key objective of U.S. strategy is to expand international efforts and cooperation on ballistic missile defense. BMD cooperation contributes to regional stability by deterring regional actors, principally by eliminating their confidence in the effectiveness of their ballistic missiles, and assuring allies and partners of U.S. defense commitments while enhancing their ability to defend against these threats.
Less than two months ago I travelled to the Gulf to work toward enhanced U.S.—GCC coordination on ballistic missile defense. The message I delivered in the region was clear: the United States remains firmly committed to developing and deploying advanced missile defense capabilities around the world to protect our homeland, our deployed forces, as well as our friends and allies.

Several of our partners in the region have already expressed an interest in buying missile defense systems, and some have already done so. For example, the UAE has contracted to buy two THAAD batteries that, when operational, will enhance the UAE’s security as well as regional stability. The UAE also has taken delivery of its Patriot PAC-3 batteries, which provide a lower-tier, point defense of critical national assets. We look forward to advancing cooperation and interoperability with our GCC partners in the years ahead.

Additionally and separately, we are continuing our long-standing and robust cooperation with Israel on missile defense on key systems such as Arrow 3, David’s Sling, and Iron Dome.

In the Asia-Pacific, we are continuing to cooperate through our bilateral alliances. For example, the United States and Japan already are working closely to develop jointly an advanced interceptor known as the SM-3 Block IIA along with deployment of a second AN/TPY-2 radar to Japan, while continuing to work on enhancing interoperability between U.S. and Japanese forces. With the Republic of Korea, we are continuing to consult closely as it develops the Korean Air and Missile Defense system, which is designed to defend the ROK against air and missile threats from North Korea.

No Constraints
Before I conclude, let me speak about missile defense and Russia. Russia continues to demand that the United States provide it with “legally-binding” guarantees that our missile defenses will not negatively impact its strategic nuclear deterrent. What the Russians really mean is that they want legally-binding limitations or constraints on U.S. missile defenses—defenses we and our partners and allies believe must be flexible and unconstrained in order to adequately protect ourselves from emerging ballistic missile threats. Such “legally binding guarantees” would create limitations on our ability to develop and deploy future missile defense systems against regional ballistic missile threats such as those we see evolving in the Middle East and North Korea. We have repeatedly made clear to the Russian government that the United States cannot and will not accept any obligations that limit our ability to defend ourselves, our allies, and our partners, including where we deploy our BMD-capable Aegis ships.

As far as where things stand today regarding our discussions with Russia on missile defense, Russia’s intervention into the crisis in Ukraine, in violation of international law, has led to the suspension of our military-to-military dialogue and we are not currently engaging Russia on the topic of missile defense.

Conclusion
Let me conclude by saying that we have made a great deal of progress on missile defense over the past several years.

Thanks to the important work of our NATO Allies, implementation of the EPAA and NATO missile defense is going well. We are continuing to engage productively with our partners and allies in the Middle East and East Asia. And, as I noted earlier, Congress has continued to provide sufficient funding for missile defense programs, even in these times of tight budgets.
For our part, we look forward to continuing these successes and working with our allies and friends around the world to deepen our cooperation, both diplomatic and military, in pursuit of ensuring that missile defense remains a key part of deterring and defending against ballistic missile threats.

Thank you very much, and I look forward to your questions.

CALIFORNIA-BASED BUSINESS CHARGED BY FTC WITH SELLING BOGUS DEBT RELIEF SERVICES

FROM:  FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION 
FTC Charges Operation with Selling Bogus Debt Relief Services
DebtPro 123 LLC Billed Consumers as Much as $10,000, But Did Little or Nothing to Settle Their Debts

The Federal Trade Commission charged an Irvine, California-based scheme with billing consumers as much as $10,000 after making deceptive claims that it would provide legal advice, settle consumers’ debts, and repair their credit in three years or less.  Instead, the scheme often left consumers in financial ruin, the agency charged.

The FTC alleged that the DebtPro 123 LLC defendants told consumers to stop paying and communicating with their creditors. As a result, although consumers hired the defendants in hopes of improving their financial situation, their debt often increased, causing them to lose their homes, have their wages garnished, lose their retirement savings, or file for bankruptcy, according to the complaint. Although the defendants promised to refund unsatisfied customers, they rarely did.

“These defendants said they would get consumers out of debt, but instead they bilked them out of thousands of dollars, often leaving them worse off than they were before,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

Ringleader Bryan Taylor and three other individuals, along with DebtPro 123 and five other companies marketed their bogus debt relief services through telemarketing calls, website ads, promotional videos and marketing companies that acted as lead generators, according to the complaint.  Promising that in as little as 18 months consumers could “become debt free and enjoy financial independence,” the defendants claimed their “Legal Department” would “leverage their existing relationships with all of the major creditors to negotiate the best possible resolution.” The defendants claimed that consumers could reduce the amount they owed by 30 to 70 percent.

The complaint alleges that the defendants violated the Federal Trade Commission Act,  the Telemarketing Sales Rule, and the Credit Repair Organizations Act, not only through their false promises, but also by providing their affiliate marketing companies with deceptive materials to deceive consumers and by collecting an advance fee for their bogus debt relief services.

For more information about how to handle robocalls and debt relief offers, see Robocalls, and Avoiding Debt Relief Scams.

The Commission vote to file the complaint against  Bryan Taylor; Kara Taylor; Ryan Foland; Stacey Frion; DebtPro 123, LLC; BET Companies Inc.; Redwave Management Group Inc.; Allstar Debt Relief LLC (California); Allstar Debt Relief LLC (Texas); and Allstar Processing Corp. was 4-0-1, with Commissioner McSweeny not participating. The FTC filed the complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on May 2, 2014.

NOTE:  The Commission files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The case will be decided by the court.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them.

THE BIG EARTH: KEPLER-10c

FROM:  NASA

Astronomers have discovered a rocky planet that weighs 17 times as much as Earth and is more than twice as large in size. This discovery has planet formation theorists challenged to explain how such a world could have formed.

“We were very surprised when we realized what we had found,” says astronomer Xavier Dumusque of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), who led the analysis using data originally collected by NASA’s Kepler space telescope.

Kepler-10c, as it had been named, had a previously measured size of 2.3 times larger than Earth but its mass was not known until now.  The team used the HARPS-North instrument on the Telescopio Nazionale Galileo in the Canary Islands to conduct follow-up observations to obtain a mass measurement of the rocky behemoth.

Worlds such as this were not thought possible to exist. The enormous gravitational force of such a massive body would accrete a gas envelope during formation, ballooning the planet to a gas giant the size of Neptune or even Jupiter. However, this planet is thought to be solid, composed primarily of rock.

"Just when you think you've got it all figured out, nature gives you a huge surprise – in this case, literally," said Natalie Batalha, Kepler mission scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. "Isn't science marvelous?"
Kepler-10c orbits a sun-like star every 45 days, making it too hot to sustain life as we know it. It is located about 560 light-years from Earth in the constellation Draco. The system also hosts Kepler-10b, the first rocky planet discovered in the Kepler data.

The finding was presented today at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Boston. Read more about the discovery in the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics press release.

NASA’s Ames Research Center manages Kepler's ground system development, mission operations and science data analysis. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, managed the Kepler mission's development.

Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colorado, developed the Kepler flight system and supports mission operations with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder.
The Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore archives, hosts and distributes Kepler science data. Kepler is NASA's 10th Discovery Mission and is funded by NASA's Science Mission Directorate at the agency's headquarters in Washington.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

U.S. MARK'S WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 

World Environment Day

Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
June 5, 2014




The United States is proud to mark World Environment Day and this year we are especially focused on the unique challenges facing Small Island Developing States and the health of our oceans.

With vast marine areas and limited land, island nations feel environmental challenges very acutely. Marine pollution, overfishing, ocean acidification, and the changing climate threaten countries from Tonga to Tuvalu to Trinidad and Tobago.

The ocean itself is vital to life – not just for island nations, but for people around the world. Here in the United States, the ocean sustains the livelihoods of millions, stabilizes our climate, and provides a critical source of food.

The challenges facing island nations demand urgency and focus from all of us. The United States took a major step forward this week, releasing a proposed rule under the Clean Air Act to limit greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants, and as we work hard to reduce our emissions and mitigate climate change at home, we will continue to help small island states and other vulnerable countries adapt.

We are especially looking forward to the “Our Ocean” Conference, June 16–17, with a focus on sustainable fisheries, marine pollution, and ocean acidification, and to our participation in the Third UN International Conference on Small Island Developing States this September in Samoa. Protecting our ocean is a common challenge that demands common resolve, and we can meet this challenge with leadership that unites nations.

A.G. HOLDER SPEAKS AT 4TH ANNUAL TRIBAL CONSULTATION CONFERENCE

A.G. HOLDER  Credit:  DOJ
FROM:  U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT 

Attorney General Eric Holder Speaks at the Fourth Annual Tribal Consultation Conference Hosted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of North Dakota

Bismarck, North Dakota ~ Thursday, June 5, 2014

Thank you, Tim [Purdon], for those kind words – and thank you all for such a warm welcome.  It’s a pleasure to be in Bismarck this afternoon.  And it’s a great privilege to join so many distinguished tribal leaders, dedicated law enforcement colleagues, passionate advocates, and other critical Indian Country partners for this fourth annual Tribal Consultation and Conference – as we reinforce the ties that bind us together and strive to address the crime and public safety challenges we share.

I know many of us are mindful – as we convene today – of the tragic and untimely loss of the Justice Department’s own Gaye Tenoso, who passed away this week at the age of just 60.  Gaye had served the Department in a number of important roles for more than two and a half decades, most recently as Deputy Director of our Office of Tribal Justice.  She was a passionate advocate for civil rights, an enrolled member of the Citizen Band Potawatomi Nation, and one of the most senior American Indians ever to serve the Justice Department.  She was an inspiration to many and a lifelong champion of federal-tribal cooperation through important gatherings like this one.  As we carry on her work this afternoon, and in the months and years ahead, I want to express my condolences to her family, her colleagues, and all who knew her.  She will be sorely missed.

Since its inception, this regular consultation has provided an important forum for constructive dialogue; a meeting ground where federal, state, tribal, and local leaders can gather to confront emerging threats; and a unique platform for unprecedented engagement and action.  Through the comprehensive Anti-Violence Strategy you’re helping to refine – alongside U.S. Attorney Purdon and his colleagues, who have set the standard for federal cooperation on tribal lands – you’re demonstrating the power of strong relationships and the value of frank discussion.  From prosecutions of dangerous criminals like Valentino Bagola – and law enforcement actions like Operation Winter’s End, which has resulted in the arrests of 40 alleged members of a major drug trafficking organization – we’re taking a stand to improve public safety.  Through efforts that are underway right here at United Tribes Technical College to combat sexual assault, you’re protecting our young people and supporting those at risk and in need.  And as a result of the shared trust and mutual respect that federal and tribal leaders have built in recent years – from Fort Berthold to Spirit Lake; from Standing Rock to Turtle Mountain – together, we are having a tremendous, positive impact on the lives of Indian people across this great state.

Throughout the country, similar efforts are being led by dedicated members of all 566 federally-recognized tribes.  They’re being implemented – on the ground – by FBI agents and victims specialists who work full-time on tribal lands.  And they’re being driven by leaders like Tim; his outstanding predecessor as Chair of the Native American Issues Subcommittee, Brendan Johnson; and 46 other U.S. Attorneys whose districts include Indian Country.  There’s no question, as we come together today, that we can all be proud of the work that’s taking place – and the steps we’re taking together – to improve public safety, to ensure tribal sovereignty, and to advance the cause of self-determination.

Yet there’s also no denying that our recent progress has come in the shadow of decades of conflict and injustice – when great wrongs were committed against Indian peoples, all too often in the name of the United States government.  When the fundamental rights of American Indian and Alaska Native communities – to shape their own destinies – were far from assured.  When hostility, mistrust, and outright discrimination characterized the relationships between federal officials and tribal leaders.  And when misguided actions – and broken promise after broken promise – denied or abrogated the lands, languages, religions, and unique cultures that constitute the heritage and the birthright of every American Indian.

We gather in a spirit of partnership this afternoon.  But we cannot deny this painful past.  We must both acknowledge and confront the lingering impacts – and the deep scars – inflicted by centuries of violence and deprivation.  And especially as we come together to build on the remarkable, once-unimaginable steps forward that have characterized the last few decades – and especially the last few years – we should also be mindful of the historic shift that took place right here in Bismarck just over half a century ago: when my predecessor as Attorney General, Robert Kennedy, stood before the National Congress of American Indians and described his vision for “a nation in which neither Indians nor any other racial or religious minority will live in underprivilege.”

In that landmark speech – delivered 51 years ago this September – Attorney General Kennedy marked what he called a “turning in the tide” with respect to the federal government’s relationships with sovereign tribes.  He and the NCAI leaders who stood with him helped bring a long-overdue end to a dark period in our shared history.  And together, despite setbacks and false starts, they ushered in a new era that would come to be defined by trust, respect, and tribal self-determination.

In the years after that historic address, Robert Kennedy frequently returned to Indian Country to see through the commitment he’d made.  He visited desperate communities on the Pine Ridge Reservation and, like me, sacred memorials like Wounded Knee – consecrated by the blood of the innocent dead – meeting men and women in the grips of terrible poverty and grave neglect.  On what was to be one of his last trips – among the many that took place during his “last campaign,” for the presidency, in 1968 – he famously spent hours getting to know a young orphan named Christopher Pretty Boy, even inviting him to spend the summer with the Kennedy family in Massachusetts.

Tragically, it was an offer that would never be fulfilled.  Less than two months later – exactly 46 years ago on this date, June 5th – Robert Kennedy’s life was cut short by an act of senseless violence.  And within the year, Christopher Pretty Boy also passed away – a victim of the high youth mortality rate that Robert Kennedy had worked to bring to light.

In the decades since then, countless citizens have rallied to ensure that Robert Kennedy’s good words were backed up by good deeds.  Legions of men, women, and principled young people have stood together to call for civil rights, public safety, and self-government.  And today, a new generation returns to Bismarck to reclaim the vision that our predecessors left for us.  To reach, once again, for the more just and more inclusive future they imagined.  And to rededicate ourselves to the considerable work that remains before us – and the continuation of the progress with which we’ve been entrusted.

For President Obama – and for me – this work has been a top priority since the moment we took office.  Shortly after I returned to the Justice Department as Attorney General in 2009, I held an extensive listening session in Indian Country – so I could hear directly from tribal leaders.  My colleagues and I worked hard to translate everything we learned into a blueprint for action.  And as a result, over the last five years, we’ve convened a Tribal Nations Leadership Council to advise me, and future Attorneys General, on areas of concern.  We’ve secured legislation making the Office of Tribal Justice a permanent component of the Department, and worked to institutionalize our commitment to cooperation so that future Administrations can build on the progress that we make today.

This commitment is yielding positive results.  Since January 2009, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and our U.S. Attorneys’ Offices have significantly increased prosecutions against those who victimize American Indians.  Further, U.S. Attorneys’ Offices across Indian Country have seen their prosecution numbers increase since 2009 as a result of closer working relationships with tribal law enforcement partners.  This means safer reservations.  And we’ve exercised critical enforcement tools to safeguard the voting rights of Indians across the country – including at Spirit Lake in 2010 – as well as the right, in some jurisdictions, to access voter information in Native languages.

Alongside other agencies throughout the Administration, the Justice Department has fought to protect natural resources and water rights on tribal lands.  We’ve prioritized the resolution of longstanding legal disputes.  And we’ve vastly expanded our outreach to tribes across the continent – by expanding avenues for engagement and discussion; by soliciting constructive tribal input on new policies; and by targeting scarce federal resources to the areas where they can have the greatest impact.

From the Tribal Law and Order Act to last year’s landmark reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act – which, for the first time ever, included critical provisions helping tribal authorities combat violence against Native women, regardless of whether the perpetrators are Indian or non-Indian – this Justice Department has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with men and women in Indian Country to help fight for historic change.  As many of you have heard, the President will be visiting North Dakota soon – fulfilling his pledge to visit a Reservation this year.  We’re proving that this is an Administration that keeps its promises.  We will not shrink from even the toughest challenges.  We will honor our obligations to sovereign tribes.  And all of this is only the beginning.

Last November, I stood before the White House Tribal Nations Conference in Washington to announce a series of significant actions to improve the Justice Department’s ability to address challenges throughout Indian Country.  Half a century after Robert Kennedy stood before a similar group of leaders, I announced that the Justice Department would adopt a new Statement of Principles to guide our interactions with Indian tribes; to institutionalize our commitment to serving tribal populations; and to reinforce our efforts to make the criminal justice system work for every citizen.

Since I delivered that speech, we have made our draft statement available to the public.  We’ve shared it directly with the leaders of all 566 federally-recognized tribes.  And we have solicited feedback and guidance on every point – because we understand that this statement will be meaningful only if it bears the input and approval of tribal officials.

Today, I am pleased to report that we concluded the consultation process in March.  We received the last written input from tribal leaders in April.  And we are working as we speak to finalize this Statement of Principles – so it can be published and put into full effect this summer.

In November, I also announced that the Department had created a new Task Force on American Indian and Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence.  This Task Force is comprised of two parts: an advisory committee of experts, who have been asked to take a deep look at the impact that violence has on children in Native communities, and a federal working group that is positioned to take immediate, concrete steps to make lasting improvements for our young people.

I’m proud to say that the working group – which includes representatives from the Justice Department, the Department of the Interior, and the Indian Health Service – has been meeting regularly.  And they’re currently hard at work to improve educational opportunities for juveniles who are detained by law enforcement, to bolster training opportunities for federal employees working in Indian Country; and to seek new ways to integrate existing services to better assist children on tribal lands.

Our advisory committee has also been extremely active.  They’ve held three public hearings to date – including one right here in Bismarck.  And their fourth and final hearing is scheduled to convene in Alaska next Wednesday.

Finally, in November, I also announced the creation of a new Indian Country Fellowship program – which will provide highly-qualified law school graduates with the chance to spend three years working on Indian Country cases, primarily in U.S. Attorneys’ Offices.  This will create a pipeline of top-flight legal talent with expertise – and extensive real-world experience – in federal Indian law, tribal law, and Indian Country issues.  I am pleased to report that we recently made public the list of participating U.S. Attorneys’ Offices for 2014.  And we will begin accepting the first round of fellowship applications at the end of next month.

Programs like this one – and efforts like our Task Force and the new Statement of Principles – are predicated on the notion that America’s future will be defined, and our progress determined, by much more than the sum total of our actions, our intentions, and even the values that guide us.  Our future lies squarely with young people like those who choose to get an education here at United Tribes Technical College.  Our course will be charted by generations of leaders and public servants who have the courage to serve their communities and stand up for their convictions.  And our destiny will be decided by passionate, idealistic men and women who remember and honor the victims of past injustice by working to inspire, to train, and to cultivate the leaders of tomorrow – allowing our young people to learn, to grow, and to thrive – here in North Dakota and far beyond.

Earlier today, I had the chance to meet with a group of ambitious, highly-driven students from across this area – many of whom have overcome tremendous adversity to be here.  This meeting was held as part of the President’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative – a call-to-action that’s bringing together federal agencies, foundations, corporations, and community leaders to help keep our young people on the right path; to knock down the barriers they face; and to ensure that every American’s ability to get ahead is determined by his or her work ethic, goals, and potential – not by the circumstances of their birth.

This, at its core, is the promise we’re striving to fulfill through My Brother’s Keeper.  It’s the vision we’re moving toward in all of our efforts to partner with Indian Country leaders.  And it’s the aim that drives our continuing work to support and empower Indian people.

In the months and years ahead – as we carry this work into the future and continue the fight for sovereignty and self-government – I want you to know how proud I am to stand alongside you.  I am both honored and humbled to count you as partners.  And as I look around this crowd – of colleagues, friends, and distinguished tribal leaders – despite the wrongs and injustices of our troubled past and the obstacles that undoubtedly lie ahead, I can’t help but feel confident in our ability to move forward together – speaking with one voice, standing as one people, and building on the legacies of those who have gone before.

May their examples continue to inspire us.  May their efforts continue to guide us.  And may we continue to honor their lives, and their sacrifices, in all of our daily work.

Thank you.

U.S. CONGRATULATES PEOPLE OF SWEDEN ON THEIR NATIONAL DAY

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 

On the Occasion of Sweden's National Day

Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
June 5, 2014


On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Sweden on the 205th anniversary of the adoption of your constitution.

Sweden’s June 6, 1809, constitution set forth principles of democracy and freedom to which all nations should aspire. Those shared values continue to form the bedrock of the close friendship between Sweden and the United States today.

My visits last year to Kiruna for the Arctic Council Ministerial and Stockholm were an opportunity to highlight and advance our shared interests. On the Arctic Council, we are working together to find ways to address the effects of climate change on that precious part of our planet. We also welcome Sweden’s efforts to increase our joint trade and investment, including through support for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. As a NATO partner, we are especially grateful for Sweden’s contributions to our shared security.
The powerful bond between our nations is strengthened every day by the contributions of Americans of Swedish heritage. As President Obama and Prime Minister Reinfeldt noted during President Obama’s September 2013 visit to Stockholm, “Sweden and the United States are very special friends.”

As you celebrate your national day with family and friends, the United States stands with you as a steadfast partner and special friend. I wish all Swedish people continued peace and prosperity in the coming year.

PRESIDENT OBAMA, U.K. PRIME MINISTER CAMERON MAKE REMARKS AT PRESS CONFERENCE

FROM:  THE WHITE HOUSE 
Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom in Joint Press Conference
Justus Lipsius Building
Headquarters of the Council of the European Union
Brussels, Belgium

3:35 P.M. CET

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Good afternoon, everybody.  It is good to be here with my great friend and partner, Prime Minister David Cameron.  Earlier this afternoon we concluded our summit with our fellow G7 leaders.  And I want to thank His Majesty King Philippe, the Prime Minister, as well as the Belgian people for welcoming us back to Brussels.

David and I also just had the opportunity to meet and discuss some pressing challenges -- including Syria, Libya and Iran, as well as the process of ending our combat mission in Afghanistan.  We spoke about the deepening partnership that we have on issues like Nigeria, in support of our shared goal of safely returning the kidnapped girls to their families.  But what I want to focus on briefly before we take questions are two issues that dominated our discussion over the last two days, and that’s the situation in Ukraine and energy security.

Originally, of course, our summit was supposed to be in Sochi.  But after Russia’s actions in Ukraine, our nations united quickly around a common strategy.  We suspended Russia from the G8 and we cancelled the Sochi meeting, making this the first G7 held without Russia in some 20 years.  All seven of our nations have taken steps to impose costs on Russia for its behavior.  Today, in contrast to a growing global economy, a sluggish Russian economy is even weaker because of the choices made by the Russia’s leadership.  Meanwhile, our nations continue to stand united in our support and assistance to the Ukrainian people.  And the G7 Summit was an occasion for me, David and our fellow leaders to ensure that we’re in lockstep going forward.

On Ukraine, I shared the results of my meeting yesterday with President-elect Poroshenko.  Like so many Ukrainians, he wants to forge closer ties with Europe and the United States, but also recognizes that Ukraine will benefit from a constructive relationship with Russia.  So I believe his inauguration provides an opportunity, particularly since he has demonstrated a commitment to reach out to the east, and pursue reforms.  Russia needs to seize that opportunity.  Russia needs to recognize that President-elect Poroshenko is the legitimately elected leader of Ukraine and engage the government in Kyiv.

Given its influence over the militants in Ukraine, Russia continues to have a responsibility to convince them to end their violence, lay down their weapons, and enter into a dialogue with the Ukrainian government.  On the other hand, if Russia’s provocations continue, it’s clear from our discussions here that the G7 nations are ready to impose additional costs on Russia.

I also briefed David on the new initiative I announced in Warsaw to bolster the security of our NATO allies, especially in Central and Eastern Europe, as well as our focus on building counterterrorism capabilities across the Middle East and North Africa.  David will be hosting the next NATO Summit in Wales in September, and I appreciated him updating me on the preparations for that summit.  We agree that it’s going to be an opportunity for every ally to make sure they’re carrying their share and investing in the capabilities our alliance needs for the future.

The situation in Ukraine has also highlighted the need for greater energy security.  At the G7, we agreed to help Ukraine reduce its energy risks to include diversifying its supplies.  We’re going to help countries in Central and Eastern Europe strengthen their energy security as well.  And following the review I called for in the United States earlier this year, every G7 country will conduct an energy assessment to identify the possible impact of any potential disruptions and to offer ways we can better prevent disruptions and recover from them more quickly.

Related to this, we agreed at the G7 to continue to lead by example in the fight against climate change, which poses a danger to our environment, our economies, and our national security.  I made it clear that the United States will continue to do our part.  Earlier this week, we took a major step -- proposing new standards that, for the first time, would limit carbon pollution from our existing power plants.  This is one of the most ambitious steps that any nation has taken to combat climate change.  It would reduce carbon emissions from our electricity sector by 30 percent.  It will help us meet the commitments that we made when I first came into office, at Copenhagen.  And it will improve our public health.  It’s also going to be good for our economy -- by helping to create more clean energy jobs and ultimately lower electricity bills for Americans.  So it’s the right thing to do.

This builds on the steps we’ve taken over the past five years to invest more in renewables like solar and wind, raise fuel standards for our cars and trucks, and make our homes and businesses more energy efficient.  And today we’re holding our carbon emissions to levels not seen in nearly 20 years.  So we’re making important progress, but my Climate Action Plan for climate change indicates that we’ve got to keep at it and do more.

I know this is a cause that David is also passionate about.  We agree that every nation has to do its share.  All the major economies, including the G7 and emerging markets like China, need to show leadership as we work on a new global climate agreement.  And that includes putting forward by March of next year ambitious long-term targets for reducing emissions.

So, again, I want to thank Prime Minister Cameron and our fellow leaders for our work here together in Brussels.  David, I believe that whenever our two nations stand together it can lead to a world that is more secure and more prosperous and more just.  And we’ll be reminded of that again tomorrow in Normandy as we mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

On that day, like so many others, American and British troops stood together and fought valiantly alongside our allies.  It didn’t just help to win the war; they helped to turn the tide of human history and are the reason that we can stand here today in a free Europe and with the freedoms our nations enjoy.  So theirs is the legacy that our two nations and our great alliance continue to uphold.  And I’m grateful to have a fine partner in David in making that happen.

Thank you, David.

PRIME MINISTER CAMERON:  Thank you.  And good afternoon.  And I’m delighted to be here with you today, Barack.  As we stand together in Europe on the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings, we should remind the world of the strength and steadfastness of the bond between the United Kingdom and the United States.

Seventy years ago, as you just said, our countries stood like two rocks of freedom and democracy in the face of Nazi tyranny.  Seventy years ago tonight, thousands of young British and American soldiers, with their Canadian and free French counterparts, were preparing to cross the channel in the greatest liberation force that the world has ever known.  Those young men were united in purpose:  to restore democracy and freedom to continental Europe; to free by force of arms ancient European nations; and to allow the nations and peoples of Europe to chart their destiny in the world.

Thousands of those young men paid the ultimate price, and we honor their memory today and tomorrow.  Shortly after D-Day, my own grandfather was wounded and came home.  We will never forget what they did, and the debt that we owe them for the peace and the freedom that we enjoy on this continent.

Today, in a new century, our two democracies continue to stand for and to uphold the same values in the world:  democracy, liberty, the rule of law.  And day in, day out, our people work together to uphold those values right across the globe.  And that approach has been at the heart of what we’ve discussed here at the G7 and in our bilateral meeting today.

We’ve talked about one of the greatest opportunities we have to turbocharge the global economy by concluding trade deals, including the EU-U.S. deal, which would be the biggest of them all -- the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership that would create growth and jobs.  A deal that could be worth up to 10 billion pounds a year for Britain alone.  It would help to secure our long-term economic success and generate a better future for hardworking families back at home.  That is why I was so determined to launch those negotiations a year ago in Lough Erne.  And since then, we’ve made steady progress but we’ve got to keep our eyes on the huge prize on offer and not get bogged down.

We also discussed what I believe is the greatest threat that we face:  How we counter extremism and the threat that terrorist groups operating elsewhere pose to the safety of our people, both at home and abroad.  This year we will bring our troops home from Afghanistan.  They can be proud of what they’ve achieved over the last decade -- denying terrorists the safe haven from which to plot attacks against Britain or the United States.  But at the same time as we’ve reduced the threat from that region, so al Qaeda franchises have grown in other parts of the world.  Many of these groups are focused on the countries where they operate, but they still pose a risk to our people, our businesses, and our interests.

Barack and I share the same view of how we tackle this threat in the fragile regions of the world where terrorist networks seek a foothold.  As I’ve said before, our approach must be tough, patient, intelligent, and based on strong international partnerships.  So when it comes to Syria, now the number-one destination for jihadists anywhere in the world, we’ve agreed to intensify our efforts to address the threat of foreign fighters traveling to and from Syria.  We’ll be introducing new measures in the UK to prosecute those who plan and train for terrorism abroad.

And here at the G7, we’ve agreed to do more to work with Syria’s neighbors to strengthen border security and to disrupt the terrorist financing that funds these jihadist training camps.

In Libya, we want to help the government as it struggles to overcome the disastrous legacy of Qaddafi’s misrule and to build a stable, peaceful and prosperous future.  Barack and I have both recently appointed envoys who will be working together to support efforts to reach a much-needed political settlement.  And we are fulfilling our commitment to train the Libyan security forces with the first tranche of recruits due to begin their training in the UK this month.

In Nigeria, we’re both committed to supporting the Nigerian government and its neighbors as they confront the scourge of Boko Haram.  The kidnap of the Chobok girls was an act of pure evil, and Britain and the United States have provided immediate assistance in the search.  In the longer term, we stand ready to provide more practical assistance to help the Nigerians and the region to strengthen their defense and security institutions, and to develop the expertise needed to counter these barbaric extremists.

And finally, as Barack said, we had an important discussion on Ukraine and relations with Russia.  From the outset of this crisis, the G7 nations have stood united, clear in our support for the Ukrainian people and their right to choose their own future, and firm in our message to President Putin that Russia’s actions are completely unacceptable and totally at odds with the values of this group of democracies.  That is why Russia no longer has a seat at the table here with us.

At this summit, we were clear about three things.  First, the status quo is unacceptable; the continuing destabilization of eastern Ukraine must stop.  Second, there are a set of things that need to happen.  President Putin must recognize the legitimate election of President Poroshenko.  He must stop arms crossing the border into Ukraine.  He must cease Russian support for separatist groups.  And third, if these things don’t happen, then sectoral sanctions will follow.  The next month will be vital in judging if President Putin has taken these steps, and that is what I will urge President Putin to do when I meet him later today.

Finally, we discussed the cancer eating away at the world’s economic and political systems:  corruption.  Corruption is the archenemy of democracy and development.  The best way to fight corruption and to drive growth is through what I call the three T’s:  greater transparency, fair tax systems, and freer trade.  That was at the heart of our G8 agenda in Lough Erne, and today we agreed to push for more action on fair tax systems, freer trade, and greater transparency -- things that are now hardwired into these international gatherings this year and for many years to come.

Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  All right.  We’ve got a couple questions from each press delegation.  We’ll start with Jeff Mason at Reuters.

Jeff.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  You’re going to France later this evening.  Since you last had French President Hollande’s visit in a state visit earlier this year, a lot of tensions have arisen in the relationship, including on BNP Paribas.  The French say that a potential multibillion-dollar fine on that bank could affect the global economy and could affect trade talks.  Do you believe those concerns are valid? And how do you expect to address them with him tonight and also U.S. concerns about the French selling Mistral warships to Russia?

And to the Prime Minister, do you feel isolated, sir, among your EU leaders about your position on Jean-Claude Juncker as the European Commission President?  And who would you like to see get the job?  And separately, do you feel any pressure from President Obama about your position on keeping the UK in the EU?  Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  First of all, the relationship between the United States and France has never been stronger.  On a whole range of issues we’re seeing intense cooperation.  And I’m looking forward to seeing President Hollande this evening to talk about a range of issues and continue some of the work that was done here in Brussels.

My answer on the banking case is short and simple.  The tradition of the United States is that the President does not meddle in prosecutions.  We don't call the Attorney General -- I do not pick up the phone and tell the Attorney General how to prosecute cases that have been brought.  I do not push for settlements of cases that have been brought.  Those are decisions that are made by an independent Department of Justice.

I've communicated that to President Hollande.  This is not a unique position on my part.  Perhaps it is a different tradition than exists in other countries, but it is designed to make sure that the rule of law is not in any way impacted by political expediency.  And so this will be determined by U.S. attorneys in discussion with representatives of the bank, and I'll read about it in the newspapers just like everybody else.

Q    He said he’s going to confront you about it tonight.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  He’ll hear the same answer from me tonight as he just heard at this podium.

Q    And Mistral?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I have expressed some concerns -- and I don't think I'm alone in this -- about continuing significant defense deals with Russia at a time when they have violated basic international law and the territorial integrity and sovereignty of their neighbors.  So President Hollande understands my position.  I recognize that this is a big deal.  I recognize that the jobs in France are important.  I think it would have been preferable to press the pause button.  President Hollande so far has made a different decision.

And that does not negate the broader cooperation that we've had with France with respect to its willingness to work with us on sanctions to discourage President Putin from engaging in further destabilizing actions and hopefully to encourage him to move in a more constructive direction.

We are at a point where Mr. Putin has the chance to get back into a lane of international law.  He has a President in Poroshenko who he can negotiate directly with.  Having spoken to President Poroshenko this morning -- or yesterday morning, it's clear that he recognizes that Ukraine needs to have a good relationship with Russia, but also, rightly, affirms the right of Ukraine to engage with the rest of the world.

And the steps that David outlined earlier and that the G7 unanimously agrees with, which is for Mr. Putin to take -- seize this moment, recognize Poroshenko is the legitimate leader of Ukraine, cease the support of separatists and the flow of arms, work with Ukraine to engage those in the east during this process of constitutional and economic reform -- if Mr. Putin takes those steps, then it is possible for us to begin to rebuild trust between Russia and its neighbors and Europe.  Should he fail to do so, though, there are going to be additional consequences.

And one of the important things that came out of this meeting today was the recognition on the part of all of us that we can't simply allow drift.  The mere fact that some of the Russian soldiers have moved back off the border and that Russia is now destabilizing Ukraine through surrogates, rather than overtly and explicitly, does not mean that we can afford three months, or four months, or six months of continued violence and conflict in eastern Ukraine.

We will have a chance to see what Mr. Putin does over the next two, three, four weeks.  And if he remains on the current course, then we've already indicated the kinds of actions that we're prepared to take.

PRIME MINISTER CAMERON:  You asked a couple of questions about Europe.  It’s worth setting the context.  We've just had a set of European elections where -- to take two countries at random, France and Britain -- in France, the Front National, an openly anti-European party, won; and an anti-European party in my country won.  And when these things happen you can stick your head in the sand and wish these results would go away, or you can have a strategy for addressing the concerns of the people that you represent in your country.  I have a strategy to represent and understand and reflect those concerns.

And that's why I think it's important that we have people running the institutions of Europe who understand the need for change, the need for reform.  And I would argue that that is a view that is quite widely shared amongst other heads of government and heads of state in the European Union.

As for Britain’s future, I'm very clear what I want to achieve -- is to secure Britain’s place in a reformed European Union.  And I have a strategy for delivering that.  It’s about renegotiating our position.  It’s about recovering some important powers.  It's about making some significant changes, and then putting that decision in a referendum to the British people but very much recommending that we stay in a reformed European Union.

Again, it's a strategy for dealing with an issue which I think if we just walked away from it we’d see Britain drift towards the exits, and I don't want that to happen.

Q    Do you feel any pressure from the United States about that?

PRIME MINISTER CAMERON:  No.  We have good discussions about these issues as we discuss everything else.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Absolutely.

PRIME MINISTER CAMERON:  Let’s have a question from the BBC.

Q    Mr. President, even if you don't have a meeting scheduled face-to-face with Vladimir Putin yourself, are you going to end up talking with him face-to-face in France?  And do you see real possibilities of opening up a path away from the crisis by you engaging with him?

And Britain is potentially facing, Mr. President, two major decisions -- whether or not Scotland stays part of the United Kingdom, and whether the United Kingdom stays a part of the European Union.  What do those decisions mean to you and to the people of the United States?

Prime Minister, you’ll be the first leader I think after this summit to engage with Vladimir Putin face-to-face.  Despite everything you’ve said, is there something of an olive branch in your hand?  After all, Mr. Putin has not actually denounced the electoral process which brought the new President to power in Ukraine.  Is there a way out, and is that what you're really going to be exploring with him this evening?

And do you accept that Germany may not come to your aid and stop Jean-Claude Juncker becoming Commission President?  Will that actually potentially blow your entire strategy off course?  You think you may be able to negotiate a brilliant reform of the European Union, but if Jean-Claude Juncker becomes President of the European Commission, will your credibility be so damaged in Britain that people may simply vote to leave the Union?

Finally, who are you more afraid of -- Angela Merkel or Theresa May?  (Laughter.)

PRIME MINISTER CAMERON:  Great question.  Do you want to go?  Let me take those.

  First of all, my meeting with Vladimir Putin -- I think it's just important to have this communication about some very important messages about what’s happening now is not acceptable; about the changes that need to take place.  I think as the President said, there is an opportunity for diplomacy to play a role and to chart a path, because we've had these elections, the Ukrainian people have chosen a President; he’s a capable man and it's quite possible that he could have a proper relationship with Putin and there could be a proper relationship between Ukraine and Russia.  But change is needed in order for that to happen, and that's the message that I will be delivering this evening.

In terms of your other questions, look, on this issue of who runs the European Commission, the European institutions, what matters is people who understand the need for change, who understand the need for reform, who realize that if things go on as they have this Union is not going to work for its citizens.  And that was the message that I think was loudly received in these European elections.

As for who -- as you put it, Angela Merkel or Theresa May  -- look, I'm very fortunate in my life to work with some extremely strong and capable women, of which they are undoubtedly two.  (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I have no doubt that I'll see Mr. Putin. And he and I have always had a businesslike relationship, and it is entirely appropriate that he is there to commemorate D-Day, given the extraordinary sacrifices that were made by the people of the Soviet Union during World War II.

And should we have the opportunity to talk, I will be repeating the same message that I've been delivering to him throughout this crisis.  Keep in mind that although we haven't had formal meetings, I've spoken to him by phone repeatedly from the outset of the protests in the Maidan.  And my message has been very consistent, and that is that Russia has a legitimate interest in what happens in Ukraine, given that it's on its border and given its historical ties, but ultimately it is up to the people of Ukraine to make their own decisions -- that Russian armed forces annexing pieces of a neighbor is illegal and violates international law, and the kinds of destabilizing activities that we now see, funded and encouraged by Russia, are illegal and are not constructive; and that there is a path in which Russia has the capacity to engage directly with President Poroshenko now -- he should take it.  If he does not, if he continues a strategy of undermining the sovereignty of Ukraine, then we have no choice but to respond.

And perhaps he’s been surprised by the degree of unity that's been displayed.  I do think the fact that he did not immediately denounce the outcome of the May 25th election perhaps offers the prospect that he’s moving in a new direction.  But I think we have to see what he does and not what he says.

With respect to the future of the United Kingdom, obviously ultimately this is up to the people of Great Britain.  In the case of Scotland, there’s a referendum process in place and it's up to the people of Scotland.

I would say that the United Kingdom has been an extraordinary partner to us.  From the outside, at least, it looks like things have worked pretty well.  And we obviously have a deep interest in making sure that one of the closest allies that we will ever have remains strong, robust, united, and an effective partner.  But ultimately these are decisions that are to be made by the folks there.

With respect to the EU, we share a strategic vision with Great Britain on a whole range of international issues, and so it's always encouraging for us to know that Great Britain has a seat at the table in the larger European project.  I think in light of the events that we're going to be commemorating tomorrow, it's important to recall that it was the steadfastness of Great Britain that, in part, allows us to be here in Brussels, in the seat of a unified and extraordinarily prosperous Europe.  And it's hard for me to imagine that project going well in the absence of Great Britain.  And I think it's also hard for me to imagine that it would be advantageous for Great Britain to be excluded from political decisions that have an enormous impact on its economic and political life.

So this is why we have elections, and we'll see the arguments made and I'm sure the people of Great Britain will make the right decision.

Stephen Collinson.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Have you been surprised by the backlash that's been whipped up by your decision to do a deal to free Bowe Bergdahl?  And what do you think is motivating that?  In retrospect, do you think you could have done more to consult with Congress or announce the deal in a way that might have spared him and his family being caught up in a political crossfire?

And, Prime Minister, how do you respond to criticism that your decision to meet Vladimir Putin and his meetings with other key European leaders are actually devaluing the punishment that was meted out to Russia by throwing it out of the G8?  And finally, should Qatar be deprived of the right to host the World Cup?  And if so, is England willing to host it?  (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I'm never surprised by controversies that are whipped up in Washington.  (Laughter.)  Right?  That's par for the course.  But I'll repeat what I said two days ago.  We have a basic principle:  We do not leave anybody wearing the American uniform behind.

We had a prisoner of war whose health had deteriorated and we were deeply concerned about, and we saw an opportunity and we seized it.  And I make no apologies for that.

We had discussed with Congress the possibility that something like this might occur.  But because of the nature of the folks that we were dealing with and the fragile nature of these negotiations, we felt it was important to go ahead and do what we did.  And we're now explaining to Congress the details of how we moved forward.  But this basic principle that we don’t leave anybody behind and this basic recognition that that often means prisoner exchanges with enemies is not unique to my administration -- it dates back to the beginning of our Republic.

And with respect to how we announced it, I think it was important for people to understand that this is not some abstraction, this is not a political football.  You have a couple of parents whose kid volunteered to fight in a distant land, who they hadn’t seen in five years and weren’t sure whether they’d ever see again.  And as Commander-in-Chief of the United States Armed Forces, I am responsible for those kids.  And I get letters from parents who say, if you are in fact sending my child into war, make sure that that child is being taken care of.  And I write too many letters to folks who unfortunately don’t see their children again after fighting the war.

I make absolutely no apologies for making sure that we get back a young man to his parents and that the American people understand that this is somebody’s child and that we don’t condition whether or not we make the effort to try to get them back.

Did you have a second question?

Q    For the Prime Minister.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Oh, okay.  You can ask him about football.

PRIME MINISTER CAMERON:  First of all, on the issue of meeting President Putin, I think it’s right to have this dialogue, particularly if you have a clear message and a clear point to make.  And I think there’s a world of difference between having a dialogue with President Putin and excluding someone from an institution as significant as the G8, now the G7.  I think it was absolutely right to exclude Russia.  I think I was one of the first G8 leaders to make that point.  It was totally the right decision and there’s a world of difference between the meeting we’ve just held, which did not include Russia, and having a bilateral meeting where we discuss these issues about Ukraine.

On the issue of football, we should let the investigation run its course but, of course, England is the home of football as it’s the home and inventor of many sports -- tennis, rugby, golf, skiing, table tennis, cricket.  I don’t think we can lay claim to --

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Baseball, basketball.  (Laughter.)

PRIME MINISTER CAMERON:  Well, I’m not sure that it goes all the way --

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I just want to be clear here.

PRIME MINISTER CAMERON:  So we’re always happy to provide a home for these sports.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  You did invent the English language, though.

PRIME MINISTER CAMERON:  We did.  (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  We appreciate it.

PRIME MINSTER CAMERON:  You’ve made a few changes.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  We have.  (Laughter.)

PRIME MINISTER CAMERON.  You’ve made a few changes to it but they don’t hold us back.  (Laughter.)  Final question from Rageh Omaar of ITV, I think.

Q    Mr. President, Rageh Omaar, ITV News.  You spoke about the importance for you and your allies to be in complete lockstep on the crisis in Ukraine.  If this crisis shows no sign of deescalating, you say that the next step will be to add sectoral sanctions.  Are you confident that you will be in lockstep with all of the European allies and G7 allies?  Because there will be costs and consequences for them and their economies as sanctions get widened.

Prime Minister, my question to you is you spoke forcefully about the threat of extremist ideology at home and abroad, described it as the greatest threat to Britain and its allies.  And even by your own government’s estimate, there are several hundred British citizens learning to fight and kill in Syria.  With regard to extremist ideology at home, particularly in schools where there has been a lot of concern, don’t you think it’s not only unseemly but wrong for members of your own government to engage in an argument about whether the priority should be protecting British children against extremist ideology?  Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER CAMERON:  First of all, let me just say on the issue of sectoral sanctions and this issue of lockstep between the U.S. and countries of the European Union, I think it has been very striking, actually, over the last few months how we’ve been able to stay as unified as we have.  And I pay tribute to Barack for his understanding of how important it is for us to try and work together and deliver these messages together.  And I think it has surprised people.  And I hope it has surprised President Putin.

In terms of tackling extremism, I mean, I set up the UK Extremism Task Force, which I chaired after the appalling murder of Lee Rigby, because I wanted to make sure that government was doing everything that it could to drive extremism out of our schools, out of our colleges, off campuses, out of prisons -- in every part of national life.  And I think it’s very important that we recognize that you’ve got to deal not only with violent extremism but also the sink of extremism, of tolerating extremist views from which violence can grow.  And the whole government is signed up to that agenda and is driving through changes to deliver that agenda.

As for these issues for the last day or so, I will get to the bottom of who said what and what has happened, and I’ll sort it all out once I’ve finished these important meetings I’m having here.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I think what has been striking is the degree of solidarity between the United States and Europe in dealing with the Ukraine crisis.  I think a lot of people anticipated very early on that immediately the two sides would fly apart.  And, in fact, there has been consistency in affirming the core values that had been at the heart of a united and prosperous Europe.  And that’s despite the very real economic consequences that can arise by applying sanctions against Russia.

I think Europeans understand that the reason we’ve seen such extraordinary growth and peace on this continent has to do with certain values and certain principles that have to be upheld.  And when they are so blatantly disregarded, the choice is clear:  Europeans have to stand up for those ideals and principles even if it creates some economic inconvenience.

Now, having said that, sectoral sanctions are broader; they’d be more significant.  Our technical teams have been consulting with the European Commission to identify sanctions that would maximize impact on Russia and minimize adverse impacts on European countries.  And that work is ongoing.  My hope is, is that we don’t have to exercise them because Mr. Putin has made some better decisions.  I think, by the way, it would also be better for Russia because the Russian economy is not in good shape right now.  We’ve seen significant capital flight just from the sanctions that we’ve already applied; that could easily worsen.  And if we have sectoral sanctions, I think it will inevitably hit Russia a lot worse than it hits Europe, which have much more diversified and resilient economies.

Do I expect unanimity among the 28 EU members?  I have now been President for five and a half years, and I’ve learned a thing or two about the European Union, the European Commission, the European Council.  Sometimes I get them mixed up --

PRIME MINISTER CAMERON:  Welcome to the club.  (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  -- but the basic principle that if you’ve got 28 people sitting around a table, that not everybody is going to agree, I think we take that for granted.  And I also think that if, in fact, we have to move to sectoral sanctions, it’s important to take individual country sensitivities in mind and make sure that everybody is ponying up, that everybody is bearing their fair share.  Some people are going to be more concerned about defense relations, some people are going to be more concerned about the financial sector, others might be more concerned about trade and basic goods and services.  And so that’s the technical work that is being done.

Again, my hope is, is that we don’t have to use it.  But I’ve been heartened by the steadfastness of Europe thus far.  I think that people underestimate the degree to which, given the history of this continent -- certainly in the 20th century -- that people are not interested in seeing any chinks in the armor, and they recognize that that’s worth working for.

Thank you very much, everybody.  Thank you, David.

END
4:15 P.M. CET