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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Equipping Workers with Skills Employers Need Now and for the Future




Securities and Exchange Commission v. Christopher Plummer, Lex M. Cowsert, and CytoGenix, Inc., Civil Action No. 14-CV-5441 (LTS)

The Securities and Exchange Commission charged a serial con artist and a penny stock company CEO with misleading investors in a supposed vaccine development company by issuing false press releases portraying it as a successful venture when it was in fact a failing enterprise.

The SEC alleges that Christopher Plummer teamed up with the CEO of CytoGenix, Lex M. Cowsert, to defraud investors with extravagant claims about the microcap company's revenue and other benefits flowing from a "shared revenue agreement" with Franklin Power & Light, an electricity provider supposedly operated by Plummer. However, Plummer's entity was a complete sham, CytoGenix had actually lost all of its vaccine patents and other intellectual property in a lawsuit, and Plummer and Cowsert stole proceeds of CytoGenix stock offerings that they told investors would be used for energy production projects and other corporate purposes.

According to the SEC's complaint filed against CytoGenix, Cowsert, and Plummer in federal district court in Manhattan, Plummer also spearheaded a separate scheme around the same time in 2010 involving another microcap company that similarly issued a rapid-fire series of press releases with bogus information. Those press releases touted a purported partnership with Plummer's phony power company to own and operate solar energy farms across the country. In reality, the microcap issuer was in dire financial straits and lacked the financial or logistical capability to commercially produce a product of any kind let alone break ground on energy farms. The company continues to have no operations, customers, or revenues.

Trading in CytoGenix and the other microcap stock was suspended by the SEC as part of a mass trading suspension in 2011. The two companies are now either dormant or defunct. Plummer is currently serving a multi-year federal prison term for an unrelated fraud, and he also has two prior convictions for fraud offenses.

According to the SEC's complaint, CytoGenix was in dire financial straits when Plummer approached Cowsert and proposed a partnership with the sham company he created, Franklin Power & Light. Cowsert agreed and began issuing a series of false press releases, including one touting the formation of a new CytoGenix subsidiary to operate as a joint venture with Plummer's company to develop "biologically-based" technologies for energy production in untapped retail electrical markets. Cowsert had no basis for believing that Plummer's company had the means to generate the revenue needed to fund such energy production technologies, yet he nonetheless prepared and authorized the CytoGenix press releases with the materially false and misleading information about Franklin Power & Light that Plummer supplied.

The SEC's complaint further alleges that other CytoGenix press releases unrelated to the partnership with Plummer touted outdated test results and a non-existent new laboratory for testing the vaccine products that CytoGenix claimed to be developing. These materially false and misleading statements were made despite CytoGenix having lost its assets in litigation with two former employees, including the rights to various vaccine patents and other intellectual property featured in press releases. These CytoGenix press releases failed to disclose the loss of those critical assets.

According to the SEC's complaint, Cowsert and Plummer further defrauded CytoGenix shareholders by misappropriating the proceeds of purported private offerings. Cowsert obtained approximately $91,000 in funds directly from CytoGenix investors by falsely telling them that they were investing in a private placement of CytoGenix stock, but no shares were ever issued to the investors. Cowsert asked the investors to make their checks payable to him personally, deposited the checks into his personal bank account, and used the funds to pay personal expenses. Meanwhile, Plummer defrauded a shareholder out of more than 6.5 million free trading shares of CytoGenix stock.

The SEC's complaint charges Plummer, Cowsert, and CytoGenix with violating antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws. Plummer is additionally charged with violating Section 20(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The SEC seeks permanent injunctions along with disgorgement, prejudgment interest, financial penalties, and orders barring Plummer and Cowsert from acting as officers or directors of a public company and from participating in a penny stock offering.

The SEC's investigation, which is continuing, has been conducted by Justin P. Smith and George N. Stepaniuk of the New York office, and supervised by Sanjay Wadhwa. The SEC's litigation will be led by Paul G. Gizzi. The SEC appreciates the assistance of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Connecticut and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.



Friday, July 18, 2014

Illinois Man Pleads Guilty to Obstruction of Justice and Filing False Multi-Billion Dollar Liens Against Two Federal Judges and Other Government Employees
Tyree Davis Sr., 42, of Flossmoor, Illinois, pleaded guilty to two counts of obstruction of justice and two counts of filing false retaliatory liens against government officials, the Justice Department announced today.

Davis pleaded guilty earlier today before U.S. District Judge Michael M. Mihm of the Central District of Illinois.  Davis faces a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for each of the obstruction of justice charges as well as a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for each of the filing false retaliatory liens charges at his sentencing on Oct. 15.

A federal grand jury in Chicago returned an eight count federal indictment on July 24, 2013, charging Davis with obstruction of justice and filing fraudulent multi-billion dollar liens against government employees.  According to the court documents, Davis obstructed justice by sending correspondence threatening to arrest two federal judges, including the judge who presided over the 2010 criminal tax trial of LaShawn Littrice.  Littrice, whom Davis refers to as his wife, was convicted by a jury in June 2010 and sentenced to serve 42 months in prison in December 2010.  Davis also filed false liens, titled Notice of Maritime Liens, claiming that each judge owed Littrice $100 billion.  Davis then notified others, including credit bureaus, that he had filed the multi-billion dollar liens.  In addition, Davis filed false liens against the U.S. Attorney and Clerk of Court for the Northern District of Illinois, an Assistant U.S. Attorney and an Internal Revenue Service (IRS)-Criminal Investigation special agent.  The liens were all publicly filed with the Cook County Recorder’s Office and claimed that each individual owed Littrice $100 billion.  Each of the liens were re-recorded in order to add real property descriptions.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration and the FBI, and prosecuted by Senior Litigation Counsel Jen E. Ihlo and Trial Attorney Matthew J. Kluge of the Tax Division.



Notice from the President -- Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Transnational Criminal Organizations

- - - - - - -
On July 24, 2011, by Executive Order 13581, I declared a national emergency with respect to transnational criminal organizations pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701-1706) to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States constituted by the activities of significant transnational criminal organizations.
The activities of significant transnational criminal organizations have reached such scope and gravity that they threaten the stability of international political and economic systems. Such organizations are becoming increasingly sophisticated and dangerous to the United States; they are increasingly entrenched in the operations of foreign governments and the international financial system, thereby weakening democratic institutions, degrading the rule of law, and undermining economic markets. These organizations facilitate and aggravate violent civil conflicts and increasingly facilitate the activities of other dangerous persons.
The activities of significant transnational criminal organizations continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States. For this reason, the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13581 of July 24, 2011, and the measures adopted on that date to deal with that emergency, must continue in effect beyond July 24, 2014. Therefore, in accordance with section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am continuing for 1 year the national emergency with respect to transnational criminal organizations declared in Executive Order 13581.
This notice shall be published in the Federal Register and
transmitted to the Congress.



Extension of Iran Nuclear Talks

Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
July 18, 2014

As President Obama and our entire administration has made clear, we are committed to testing whether we can address one of the world’s most pressing priorities – ensuring that Iran does not obtain a nuclear weapon – through the diplomatic negotiations in which we and our international partners are currently engaged.

This effort remains as intense as it is important, and we have come a long way in a short period of time. Less than a year ago, President Obama and Iranian President Rouhani spoke for the first time to try to usher in a new diplomatic moment, and I held the first bilateral meeting between a Secretary of State and an Iranian Foreign Minister in more than three decades.
Since that time, we’ve been intensely engaged in a constant and comprehensive effort – the best chance we’ve ever had to resolve this issue peacefully. This effort has been made possible by the Joint Plan of Action, which stopped the progress of Iran’s nuclear program – and rolled parts of it back – for the first time in a decade.

The JPOA was a six-month understanding that went into effect on January 20, and it has been a clear success. Since its implementation, Iran has complied with its obligations to neutralize its stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium; cap its stockpile of 5 percent enriched uranium; not install advanced centrifuges; not install or test new components at its Arak reactor; and submit to far more frequent inspections of its facilities. The International Atomic Energy Agency has regularly verified that Iran has lived up to these commitments. Meanwhile, we and our P5+1 and EU partners have provided limited sanctions relief, as agreed to in the Joint Plan of Action, while vigorously enforcing the broader sanctions regime that remains in place.

As I said on Monday in Vienna, it is clear to me that we have made tangible progress in our comprehensive negotiations, but there are very real gaps in some areas. Today, we have a draft text that covers the main issues, but there are still a number of brackets and blank spaces in that text.

In terms of progress, we have been working together to find a long-term solution that would effectively close off the plutonium path to a bomb through the reactor at Arak. We have been working on a different purpose for Fordow that would ensure it cannot be used to build a nuclear weapon. We have been working to guarantee Iran’s stockpile of low enriched uranium can’t be turned into higher enriched uranium suitable for a bomb. And we have agreed that any long-term, comprehensive solution will involve enhanced monitoring and verification measures that go well beyond the status quo – measures that are absolutely critical in creating the confidence we need that Iran will not be able to build a weapon in secret. There are other areas where we’ve made progress; these are just some of the most important. Of course, on all these issues there is still work to do and differences to resolve, but we have made real progress.
Still, there are very real gaps on issues such as enrichment capacity at the Natanz enrichment facility. This issue is an absolutely critical component of any potential comprehensive agreement. We have much more work to do in this area, and in others as well.
Diplomacy takes time, and persistence is needed to determine whether we can achieve our objectives peacefully. To turn our back prematurely on diplomatic efforts when significant progress has been made would deny ourselves the ability to achieve our objectives peacefully, and to maintain the international unity that we have built. While we’ve made clear that no deal is better than a bad deal, the very real prospect of reaching a good agreement that achieves our objectives necessitates that we seek more time.

As a result, we have decided – along with the EU, our P5+1 partners, and Iran – to extend the Joint Plan of Action until November 24, exactly one year since we finalized the first step agreement in Geneva. This will give us a short amount of additional time to continue working to conclude a comprehensive agreement, which we believe is warranted by the progress we’ve made and the path forward we can envision.

Under this short extension, all parties have committed to upholding their obligations in the Joint Plan of Action. For the next four months, we will continue to halt the progress of Iran’s nuclear program in key areas. In addition, Iran has committed to take further nuclear-related steps in the next four months that are consistent with the types of steps that they committed to in the JPOA. These include a continued cap on the amount of 5 percent enriched uranium hexafluoride and a commitment to convert any material over that amount into oxide.

In the JPOA, Iran diluted half of its 20 percent enriched uranium hexafluoride and converted the rest to oxide. In this extension, Iran has committed to go one step further and make all of this 20 percent into fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor. Twenty-five kilograms of this material will be converted into fuel by the end of the extension. Once the 20 percent material is in fuel form, it will be very difficult for Iran to use this material for a weapon in a breakout scenario. Attempting to do so would be readily detected by the IAEA and would be an unambiguous sign of an intent to produce a weapon.

In return, we will continue to suspend the sanctions we agreed to under the JPOA and will allow Iran access to $2.8 billion dollars of its restricted assets, the four-month prorated amount of the original JPOA commitment. Let me be clear: Iran will not get any more money during these four months than it did during the last six months, and the vast majority of its frozen oil revenues will remain inaccessible. And, just as we have over the last six months, we will continue to vigorously enforce the sanctions that remain in place.

Ultimately, our goal in pursuing this brief extension is to capitalize on the progress we’ve already made, while giving us the best chance of success at the end of this process. Critically, Iran’s nuclear program will remain halted during the next four months. This is in our interest, and in the interest of our allies. And as we pursue this path, we will continue to consult with those allies and with the Congress about this critical issue.

We do so mindful not just of where we hope to arrive, but of how far we have come. One year ago, few would have predicted that Iran would have kept all its commitments under a first step nuclear agreement, and that we would be actively negotiating a long-term comprehensive agreement. Now we have four additional months to determine the next miles of this difficult diplomatic journey. Let’s all commit to seize this moment, and to use the additional time to make the fundamental choices necessary to conclude a comprehensive agreement that makes the entire world a safer place.

Friday, July 18, 2014





Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, Marietta, Georgia, has been awarded a not to exceed $564,700,000 modification (P00273) to FA8625-11-C-6597 to fund six India foreign military sales C-130J-30s, field service representatives and three years of post-delivery support after the first aircraft delivery. The total cumulative face value of the contract is $2,067,370,707. Work will be performed at Marietta, Georgia, and is expected to be completed by April 30, 2020. This contract is 100 percent FMS for India and $50,900,000 will be obligated at time of award. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center/WLNNC, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity.

Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., doing business as Northrop Grumman Information Systems, Chantilly, Virginia, has been awarded a $300,000,000 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for systems engineering, management, and sustainment (SEMS) III. Contractor will provide systems engineering, systems/program management, and sustainment services for the Air Force Weather Agency's enterprise information systems which produce and disseminate real-time weather services and products worldwide. Work will be performed primarily at the Headquarters Air Force Weather Agency, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, and is expected to be completed by July 31, 2019. This award is the result of a competitive acquisition, and one offer was received. Fiscal 2014 operations and maintenance, research and development and procurement funds will be obligated with each task order. The 55th Contracting Squadron at Offutt AFB, Nebraska, is the contracting activity (FA4600-14-D-0004).

University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI), Dayton Ohio, has been awarded an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract and one initial task order with an estimated ceiling of $9,900,000 to meet specific research objectives to bridge the gaps and accelerate the initial development of selected nondestructive technology to a level of full-feasibility demonstration, to conduct studies of the applicability of selected technologies to a wide variety of potential applications, or development of new technologies to address specific needs. Research is contemplated to address current operational or maintenance needs. Work will be performed primarily at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, and the ordering period will run through July 31, 2019. All effort is expected to be completed on July 30, 2021. The award to UDRI is the result from proposals submitted in response to research and development broad agency announcement BAA-RQKM-2014-0012. Three competitive offers were received. Fiscal 2014 research and development funds in the amount of $225,000 for task order 0001 will be obligated at time of award. Air Force Research Laboratory/RQKMC, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity (FA8650-14-D-5224, TO0001).

Raytheon Co., Tucson, Arizona, has been awarded a $8,527,198 modification (P00026) to a firm-fixed-price contract (FA8675-13-C-0003) for Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) Production Lot 27. The total cumulative face value of the contract is $564,772,594. The contract modification provides for integration and testing for AMRAAM contract line item numbers 0008, 0009, and 0010 being produced under the basic contract. Work will be performed at Tucson, Arizona, and is expected to be completed by June 30, 2016. Foreign military sales contract funds in the amount of $8,527,198 are being obligated at the time of the award for Australia. This Air Force Life Cycle Management Center/EBAK, Eglin AFB, Florida, is the contracting activity.


Donald L. Mooney Enterprises LLC, doing business as Nurses Etc Staffing,* San Antonio, Texas (N62645-14-D-5032); Loyal Source Government Services LLC,* Orlando, Florida (N62645-14-D-5033); Magnum Opus Technologies Inc.,* San Antonio, Texas (N62645-14-D-5034); and Vesa Health & Technology Inc.,* San Antonio, Texas (N62645-14-D-5035), are each being awarded a 36-month, firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, multiple award task order contract for various ancillary services that include the labor bands of Allied Health, Technologist, Technician and Assistant. The aggregate not-to-exceed amount for these multiple award contracts combined is $130,430,320. The four contractors will have the opportunity to bid on each individual task order. Work will be performed at the following military treatment facilities in the Pacific region of the U.S.: Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton, California (25 percent); Naval Hospital Lemoore, California (15 percent); Naval Hospital Twenty-Nine Palms, California (15 percent); Naval Medical Center, San Diego, California (10 percent); Naval Hospital Bremerton, Washington (10 percent); Naval Hospital Oak Harbor, Washington (10 percent); Naval Health Clinic Hawaii (10 percent); Naval Hospital Guam (2 percent) and any associated branch clinics (3 percent). Work is expected to be completed on Sept. 30, 2017. Availability of Fiscal 2015 Defense Health Program funds in the amount of $1,156,230 will be obligated at the time of award under initial task orders, and the funds will expire at the end of the Fiscal 2015. These contracts were solicited via a multiple award electronic request for proposals as a 100 percent service disabled veteran-owned small business set-aside, with 26 offers received. The Naval Medical Logistics Command, Fort Detrick, Maryland, is the contracting activity.

Advanced Crane Technologies LLC,* Reading, Pennsylvania, is being awarded a maximum amount $31,184,365 requirements contract for the service life extension program to modernize 14 60-ton portal cranes at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Norfolk, Virginia; Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Washington; and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Kittery, Maine. The work to be performed is for the modernization for all cranes and will include replacing the existing drives, modifying the operator’s controls, replacing/modifying the electric control system, replacing the crane’s diesel engine generator set, adding a rail lubrication system (as an option), adding new limit switches, replacing whip hoist wire rope and replacing outdoor conduit. Additionally, the addition of a caliper disc brake mounted on the drum and associated caliper disc brake control system will be required on the whip hoist on seven of the fourteen cranes. Task order 0001 is being awarded at $2,485,769 for modernization of crane P-82 in the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Washington, and task order 0002 at $1,992,626 for modernization of crane DC-41 in the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Norfolk, Virginia. Work for these task orders is expected to be completed by April 2016. Work on this contract will be performed in Portsmouth, Virginia (72 percent); Bremerton, Washington (21 percent); and Kittery, Maine (7 percent), and the term of the contract is not to exceed 60 months with an expected completion date of July 2019. Fiscal 2014 other procurement (Navy) contract funds in the amount of $4,478,395 are obligated on this award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Federal Business Opportunities website, with two proposals received. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Norfolk, Virginia, is the contracting activity (N62470-14-D-5001).
Communications & Power Industries LLC, Palo Alto, California, is being awarded an $18,841,200 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for the repair and remanufacture of AN/SLQ-32 output, driver and sidekick output traveling wave tubes (TWTs) to support the repair and refurbishment of Navy ships. The AN/SLQ-32 output, driver, and sidekick output TWTs are an integral part of the AN/SLQ-32 electronic countermeasures system and are used to amplify radiofrequency energy to defeat anti-ship missile systems. Work will be performed in Palo Alto, California, and is expected to be completed by July 2019. Fiscal 2014 working capital funds in the amount of $390,252 will be obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Federal Business Opportunities website, with one offer received. The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division, Crane, Indiana, is the contracting activity (N00164-14-D-GR37).
Detyens Shipyards Inc.,* North Charleston, South Carolina, is being awarded an $11,631,622 firm-fixed-price contract for a 75-calendar day regular overhaul and dry-docking of USNS Arctic (T-AOE 8). Work will include opening, cleaning and purging gas from tanks, voids and cofferdams; repairing and replacing various sections of weather deck handrails on the forward main mast, replenishment-at-sea and fueling-at-sea kingposts and access ladders; modifying the main reduction gear lube oil purifier; inspecting the auxiliary boiler; inspecting and weight testing the accommodation ladder; performing maintenance on gallery/scullery equipment; dry-docking and undocking; refurbishing sea valves; cleaning and painting the underwater hull; and blasting and coating tanks. Arctic’s primary mission is to deliver petroleum products, ammunition, food and other cargo to ships at sea. The contract includes options, which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $15,240,367. Work will be performed in North Charleston, South Carolina, and is expected to be completed by October 2014. Navy working capital funds in the amount of $11,631,622 are being obligated at the time of award and will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was procured as a 100% small business set-aside with proposals solicited via the Federal Business Opportunities website, with two proposals received. The U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command, Washington, District of Columbia, is the contracting activity (N32205-14-C-2003).

Watts Constructors LLC, Honolulu, Hawaii, is being awarded a $9,395,000 firm-fixed-price contract for construction of an integrated water treatment system at Puget Sound Naval Shipyardand Intermediate Maintenance Facility, Bremerton, Washington. The work to be performed provides for infrastructure improvement to the existing system that collects and treats industrial process water at Drydock 3 and Drydock 4. This project will integrate the existing oily water treatment system with the existing process water collection system to provide increased capability and capacity for on-site collection, containment, and treatment of process water from the drydock floor. Work will be performed in Bremerton, Washington, and is expected to be completed by February 2016. Fiscal 2014 military construction (Navy) contract funds in the amount of $9,395,000 are obligated on this award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Federal Business Opportunities website, with six proposals received. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Northwest, Silverdale, Washington, is the contracting activity (N44255-14-C-5000).


BAE Systems Land & Armaments, York, Pennsylvania, was awarded an $88,330,859 modification (P00081) to contract W56HZV-09-C-0550 to extend the existing M109A7 and M992A3 engineering and manufacturing development contract to incorporate low rate initial production test support. Research, development, testing, and evaluation funds for fiscal 2014 ($12,295,000) and fiscal 2013 ($1,805,000) were obligated at the time of the award. Estimated completion date is March 31, 2017. Work will be performed in York, Pennsylvania. Army Contracting Command, Warren, Michigan, is the contracting activity.

UPDATE: Global Engineering LLC, Renton, Washington, has been added as an awardee to the multiple-award contract announced June 24, 2014 for construction services supporting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Southwestern Division. (W91278-14-R-0030)


The Hariford Provision Company,** South Windsor, Connecticut, has been awarded a maximum $83,000,000 fixed-price with economic-price-adjustment, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for prime vendor subsistence support. This contract was a competitive acquisition, and three offers were received. Location of performance is Connecticut with a July 18, 2016, performance completion date. This is a two-year base contract with one two-year option period. Using military services are the Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Type of appropriation is Fiscal year 2014 defense working capital funds. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (SPE300-14-D-3025).

Sysco Baraboo, Baraboo, Wisconsin, has been awarded a maximum $16,500,000 fixed-price with economic-price-adjustment contract for prime vendor food and beverage support. This contract was a competitive acquisition and two offers were received. Location of performance is Wisconsin with a July 13, 2019 performance completion date. This is a two-year base contract with one one-year and one two-year option periods. Using military services are Army and Air Force. Type of appropriation is fiscal year 2014 defense working capital funds. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (SPE300-14-D-3029).

URS Federal Services Inc., Germantown, Maryland, has been awarded a maximum $11,767,117 modification (P00029) exercising the second option period on a one-year base contract (SP3300-12-C-5003) with three one-year option periods. This is a fixed-price, incentive-firm-target contract for material distribution services to include receipt, storage and issue of material. Locations of performance are Maryland and Utah with a July 31, 2015 performance completion date. Using service is Defense Logistics Agency. Type of appropriation is fiscal year 2014 defense working capital funds. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Distribution, New Cumberland, Pennsylvania.


Bluewater Communications Group, Hauppauge, New York (HQ0516-12-D-0001); Globecomm Systems, Hauppauge, New York (HQ0516-12-D-0002); and TVC Communications LLC, Annville, Pennsylvania (HQ0516-12-D-0003) are each being awarded $15,000,000 modifications to multiple-award, firm-fixed-price contracts to exercise the second option year to provide Cisco satellite decoders and HD encryption systems for the Defense Media Activity. Funding and work location will be determined with each order. The Defense Media Activity, Fort Meade, Maryland is the contracting activity.

*Disabled veteran-owned small business

**Small business


Friday, July 18, 2014
Statement by Attorney General Holder on Sentencing Commission Vote Approving Retroactivity of Sentence Reductions for Drug Offenses

WASHINGTON—Attorney General Eric Holder today released the following statement regarding the U.S. Sentencing Commission vote approving retroactivity of sentence reductions for drug offenses:

“The department looks forward to implementing this plan to reduce sentences for certain incarcerated individuals. We have been in ongoing discussions with the Commission during its deliberations on this issue, and conveyed the department's support for this balanced approach. In the interest of fairness, it makes sense to apply changes to the sentencing guidelines retroactively, and the idea of a one-year implementation delay will adequately address public safety concerns by ensuring that judges have adequate time to consider whether an eligible individual is an appropriate candidate for a reduced sentence. At my direction, the Bureau of Prisons will begin notifying federal inmates of the opportunity to apply for a reduction in sentence immediately. This is a milestone in the effort to make more efficient use of our law enforcement resources and to ease the burden on our overcrowded prison system.”



Statement by the President on Ukraine

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
11:52 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning, everybody. 
Yesterday, Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 took off from Amsterdam and was shot down over Ukraine near the Russian border.  Nearly 300 innocent lives were taken -- men, women, children, infants -- who had nothing to do with the crisis in Ukraine.  Their deaths are an outrage of unspeakable proportions.
We know at least one American citizen, Quinn Lucas Schansman, was killed.  Our thoughts and prayers are with his family for this terrible loss.
Yesterday, I spoke with the leaders of Ukraine, Malaysia, and the Netherlands.  I told them that our thoughts and prayers are with all the families and that the American people stand with them during this difficult time.  Later today, I’ll be speaking to Prime Minister Abbott of Australia, which also suffered a terrible loss.
By far, the country that lost the most people on board the plane was the Netherlands.  From the days of our founding, the Dutch have been close friends and stalwart allies of the United States of America.  And today, I want the Dutch people to know that we stand with you, shoulder to shoulder, in our grief and in our absolute determination to get to the bottom of what happened.
Here’s what we know so far.  Evidence indicates that the plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile that was launched from an area that is controlled by Russian-backed separatists inside of Ukraine.  We also know that this is not the first time a plane has been shot down in eastern Ukraine.  Over the last several weeks, Russian-backed separatists have shot down a Ukrainian transport plane and a Ukrainian helicopter, and they claimed responsibility for shooting down a Ukrainian fighter jet. Moreover, we know that these separatists have received a steady flow of support from Russia.  This includes arms and training.  It includes heavy weapons, and it includes anti-aircraft weapons. 
Here’s what must happen now.  This was a global tragedy.  An Asian airliner was destroyed in European skies, filled with citizens from many countries.  So there has to be a credible international investigation into what happened.  The U.N. Security Council has endorsed this investigation, and we will hold all its members -- including Russia -- to their word.  In order to facilitate that investigation, Russia, pro-Russian separatists, and Ukraine must adhere to an immediate cease-fire.  Evidence must not be tampered with.  Investigators need to access the crash site.  And the solemn task of returning those who were lost on board the plane to their loved ones needs to go forward immediately.
The United States stands ready to provide any assistance that is necessary.  We’ve already offered the support of the FBI and the National Transportation Safety Board, which has experience in working with international partners on these types of investigations.  They are on their way, personnel from the FBI and the National Transportation Safety Board. 
In the coming hours and days, I’ll continue to be in close contact with leaders from around the world as we respond to this catastrophe.  Our immediate focus will be on recovering those who were lost, investigating exactly what happened, and putting forward the facts. 
I want to point out there will likely be misinformation as well.  I think it's very important for folks to sift through what is factually based and what is simply speculation.  No one can deny the truth that is revealed in the awful images that we all have seen.  And the eyes of the world are on eastern Ukraine, and we are going to make sure that the truth is out.
More broadly, I think it's important for us to recognize that this outrageous event underscores that it is time for peace and security to be restored in Ukraine.  For months, we’ve supported a pathway to peace, and the Ukrainian government has reached out to all Ukrainians, put forward a peace plan, and lived up to a cease-fire, despite repeated violations by the separatists -- violations that took the lives of Ukrainian soldiers and personnel.
Moreover, time and again, Russia has refused to take the concrete steps necessary to deescalate the situation.  I spoke to President Putin yesterday in the wake of additional sanctions that we had imposed.  He said he wasn’t happy with them, and I told him that we have been very clear from the outset that we want Russia to take the path that would result in peace in Ukraine, but so far at least, Russia has failed to take that path.  Instead, it has continued to violate Ukrainian sovereignty and to support violent separatists.  It has also failed to use its influence to press the separatists to abide by a cease-fire.  That’s why, together with our allies, we’ve imposed growing costs on Russia.
So now is, I think, a somber and appropriate time for all of us to step back and take a hard look at what has happened.  Violence and conflict inevitably lead to unforeseen consequences.  Russia, these separatists, and Ukraine all have the capacity to put an end to the fighting.  Meanwhile, the United States is going to continue to lead efforts within the world community to de-escalate the situation; to stand up for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine; and to support the people of Ukraine as they courageously work to strengthen their democracy and make their own decisions about how they should move forward.
Before I take just a couple of questions let me remark on one other issue.  This morning, I spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel about the situation in Gaza.  We discussed Israel’s military operation in Gaza, including its efforts to stop the threat of terrorist infiltration through tunnels into Israel.  I reaffirmed my strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself.  No nation should accept rockets being fired into its borders, or terrorists tunneling into its territory.  In fact, while I was having the conversation with Prime Minister Netanyahu, sirens went off in Tel Aviv.
I also made clear that the United States, and our friends and allies, are deeply concerned about the risks of further escalation and the loss of more innocent life.  And that’s why we’ve indicated, although we support military efforts by the Israelis to make sure that rockets are not being fired into their territory, we also have said that our understanding is the current military ground operations are designed to deal with the tunnels, and we are hopeful that Israel will continue to approach this process in a way that minimizes civilian casualties and that all of us are working hard to return to the cease-fire that was reached in November of 2012. 
Secretary Kerry is working to support Egypt’s initiative to pursue that outcome.  I told Prime Minister Netanyahu that John is prepared to travel to the region following additional consultations.
Let me close by making one additional comment.  On board Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17, there were apparently nearly 100 researchers and advocates traveling to an international conference in Australia dedicated to combating AIDS/HIV.  These were men and women who had dedicated their own lives to saving the lives of others and they were taken from us in a senseless act of violence.
In this world today, we shouldn’t forget that in the midst of conflict and killing, there are people like these -- people who are focused on what can be built rather than what can be destroyed; people who are focused on how they can help people that they’ve never met; people who define themselves not by what makes them different from other people but by the humanity that we hold in common.  It’s important for us to lift them up and to affirm their lives.  And it’s time for us to heed their example. 
The United States of America is going to continue to stand for the basic principle that people have the right to live as they choose; that nations have the right to determine their own destiny; and that when terrible events like this occur, the international community stands on the side of justice and on the side of truth. 
So with that, let me take just a couple questions.  I’ll start with you, Julie.
Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Just on a technical matter, does the U.S. believe that this passenger jet was targeted, or that those people who shot it down may have been going after a military -- thought they were going after a military aircraft?  And more broadly, this incident does seem to escalate the crisis in Ukraine to a level we haven’t seen before.  Does that change your calculus in terms of what the U.S. and perhaps Europe should be doing in terms of a response?
THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I think it’s too early for us to be able to guess what the intentions of those who might have launched this surface-to-air missile might have had.  The investigation is going to be ongoing, and I think what we’ll see is additional information surfacing over the next 24 hours, 72 hours, the next week, the next month.
What we know right now, what we have confidence in saying right now is that a surface-to-air missile was fired and that's what brought the jet down.  We know -- or we have confidence in saying that that shot was taken within a territory that is controlled by the Russian separatists. 
But I think it’s very important for us to make sure that we don't get out ahead of the facts.  And at this point, in terms of identifying specifically what individual or group of individuals or personnel ordered the strike, how it came about, those are things that I think are still going to be subject to additional information that we’re going to be gathering.  And we’re working with the entire international community to make sure that the focus is on getting to the bottom of this thing and being truthful.
And my concern is obviously that there’s been a lot of misinformation generated in eastern Ukraine generally.  This should snap everybody’s heads to attention and make sure that we don't have time for propaganda, we don't have time for games.  We need to know exactly what happened.  And everybody needs to make sure that we’re holding accountable those who committed this outrage.
With respect to the second question, as you’re aware, before this terrible incident happened we had already ratcheted up sanctions against Russia.  And I think the concern not just of Russian officials but of the markets about the impact that this could have on the Russian economy is there for all to see.
I made clear to President Putin that our preferred path is to resolve this diplomatically.  But that means that he and the Russian government have to make a strategic decision:  Are they going to continue to support violent separatists whose intent is to undermine the government of Ukraine?  Or are they prepared to work with the government of Ukraine to arrive at a cease-fire and a peace that takes into account the interests of all Ukrainians?
There has been some improved language at times over the last month coming from the Kremlin and coming from President Putin, but what we have not seen is an actual transition and different actions that would give us confidence that that's the direction that they want to take.
And we will continue to make clear that as Russia engages in efforts that are supporting the separatists, that we have the capacity to increase the costs that we impose on them.  And we will do so.  Not because we’re interested in hurting Russia for the sake of hurting Russia, but because we believe in standing up for the basic principle that a country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity has to be respected, and it is not the United States or Russia or Germany or any other country that should be deciding what happens in that country.
Q    At this point do you see any U.S. military role that could be effective?
THE PRESIDENT:  We don't see a U.S. military role beyond what we’ve already been doing in working with our NATO partners and some of the Baltic States, giving them reassurances that we are prepared to do whatever is required to meet our alliance obligations.
Steve Holland.
Q    Sir, thank you.  How much blame for this do you put on President Putin?  And will you use this incident now to push the Europeans for stronger action?
THE PRESIDENT:  We don't exactly know what happened yet, and I don't want to, as I said before, get out ahead of the facts.  But what I do know is, is that we have seen a ticking up of violence in eastern Ukraine that, despite the efforts of the Ukrainian government to abide by a cease-fire and to reach out and agree to negotiations, including with the separatists, that has been rebuffed by these separatists.  We know that they are heavily armed and that they are trained.  And we know that that’s not an accident.  That is happening because of Russian support.
So it is not possible for these separatists to function the way they’re functioning, to have the equipment that they have -- set aside what’s happened with respect to the Malaysian Airlines -- a group of separatists can’t shoot down military transport planes or, they claim, shoot down fighter jets without sophisticated equipment and sophisticated training.  And that is coming from Russia.
So we don’t yet know exactly what happened with respect to the Malaysian Airlines, although obviously we’re beginning to draw some conclusions given the nature of the shot that was fired.  There are only certain types of anti-aircraft missiles that can reach up 30,000 feet and shoot down a passenger jet.  We have increasing confidence that it came from areas controlled by the separatists.  But without having a definitive judgment on those issues yet, what we do know is, is that the violence that’s taking place there is facilitated in part -- in large part -- because of Russian support.  And they have the ability to move those separatists in a different direction.
If Mr. Putin makes a decision that we are not going to allow heavy armaments and the flow of fighters into Ukraine across the Ukrainian-Russian border, then it will stop.  And if it stops, then the separatists will still have the capacity to enter into negotiations and try to arrive at the sort of political accommodations that Mr. Putin himself says he wants to see.  He has the most control over that situation, and so far, at least, he has not exercised it.
Q    Tougher sanctions in Europe -- will you push for them?
THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I think that this certainly will be a wake-up call for Europe and the world that there are consequences to an escalating conflict in eastern Ukraine; that it is not going to be localized, it is not going to be contained.  What we’ve seen here is -- just in one country alone, our great allies, the Dutch, 150 or more of their citizens being killed.  And that, I think, sadly brings home the degree to which the stakes are high for Europe, not simply for the Ukrainian people, and that we have to be firm in our resolve in making sure that we are supporting Ukraine in its efforts to bring about a just cease-fire and that we can move towards a political solution to this.
I’m going to make this the last question.  Lisa Lerer, Bloomberg.
Q    Do we know yet if there were other Americans on board beyond the person you mentioned?  And how do you prevent stricter restrictions, economic sanctions from shocking the global economy and -- 
THE PRESIDENT:  We have been pretty methodical over the last 24 hours in working through the flight manifest and identifying which passengers might have had a U.S. passport.  At this point, the individual that I mentioned is the sole person that we can definitively say was a U.S. or dual citizen. 
Because events are moving so quickly, I don’t want to say with absolute certainty that there might not be additional Americans, but at this stage, having worked through the list, been in contact with the Malaysian government, which processed the passports as folks were boarding, this is our best assessment of the number of Americans that were killed.  Obviously that does nothing to lessen our outrage about all those families.  Regardless of nationality, it is a heartbreaking event.
With respect to the effect of sanctions on the economy, we have consistently tried to tailor these sanctions in ways that would have an impact on Russia, on their economy, on their institutions or individuals that are aiding and abetting in the activities that are taking place in eastern Ukraine, while minimizing the impacts on not only the U.S. economy but the global economy. 
It is a relevant consideration that we have to keep in mind.  The world economy is integrated; Russia is a large economy; there’s a lot of financial flows between Russia and the rest of the world.  But we feel confident that at this point the sanctions that we’ve put in place are imposing a cost on Russia, that their overall impact on the global economy is minimal.  It is something that we have to obviously pay close attention to, but I think Treasury, in consultation with our European partners, have done a good job so far on that issue.
Thank you very much, everybody.
12:15 P.M. EDT



Associate Attorney General Tony West Outlines Justice Department’s Approach to Toxic Mortgage Cases
~ Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Two days after the historic Citigroup settlement, Associate Attorney General Tony West outlined the Justice Department’s approach to resolving the remaining cases related to Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities (RMBS) misconduct that contributed to the financial crisis.  West declared that the department would not hesitate to bring litigation against these firms if these principles were not met.

Associate Attorney General West detailed three general principles that will continue to guide the Justice Department’s approach in all future RMBS cases: accountability, transparency and redress.  These principles will comprise of civil penalties, a robust statement of facts and consumer relief for the American people.

“If an institution is unwilling to admit its wrongful conduct in a statement of facts; or balks at paying a substantial penalty that reflects that conduct; or refuses to do right by those affected, then we will not shrink from litigating as long as we must to fulfill our law enforcement mandate,” said Associate Attorney General West.

Please see below for the Associate Attorney General’s prepared remarks:

Thank you, Mike [Bresnick] for the generous introduction.  We miss your wise counsel at the department.

I am quite pleased to be with you here this afternoon at the Exchequer Club.  For more than 50 years, this club has served as an important forum for the frank exchange of ideas on the most pressing economic and financial issues in the country.  And, having spent more than two years as the nation's Associate Attorney General and more than five years as a member of this administration's Department of Justice, I particularly appreciate the opportunity to be with all of you -- an impressive group of leaders from the public and private sectors.

The people in this room are making important contributions that enrich our nation ’s economic life.  You are grappling with the challenge of improving the financial health of this country -- in the work you do, the words you write, the ideas you debate and put forward.  And in the wake of the Great Recession, I believe we share a common goal of ensuring that our nation is economically strong, fiscally sound and financially fair.

Today, I thought I would share some thoughts on the last of those three elements -- financial fairness -- and the Justice Department's role in helping to achieve that goal by targeting fraud in our financial system.  First, I'll talk about some of our recent financial fraud efforts, and particularly the work of the Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group.  Next, I'll share a couple of brief observations about how we approach these RMBS cases.  And finally, I'll discuss some of the factors we consider when determining whether to sue or settle these large, often multi-billion dollar RMBS-related fraud matters.

Let me begin with the observation that much of my tenure as Associate Attorney General has been focused on executing the department's financial fraud priorities, particularly through the use of civil enforcement tools, as my office manages the civil litigation side of the Justice Department.

Part of this focus grows out of the precedent set by my predecessor, Tom Perrelli.  He, along with HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan and several state attorneys general, negotiated a landmark $25 billion National Mortgage Servicer settlement with several financial institutions that was designed to bring some relief to consumers hurt by unfair and, in some cases, illegal loan servicing tactics.

And part of it comes from my own experience: I grew up professionally in the Justice Department, serving first as young lawyer on then-Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick's staff in the early '90s, then for several years as a federal prosecutor in the Northern District of California where my caseload included white-collar crime.

When the president nominated and the Senate confirmed me as the Civil Division's Assistant Attorney General in 2009, I returned to the department and made, as one of my primary priorities, the aggressive use of the civil statutory authority Congress provided us to fight fraud in the pharmaceutical and health care industries.  During that time, I also launched an investigation of Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services for allegedly issuing RMBS ratings that were not objective and independent.

And during 2009, that first year of the Obama Administration, you'll recall we were all preoccupied with addressing the wreckage left by the financial crisis.  As part of that response, in November 2009, President Obama created the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, or FFETF, on which I serve as a co-chair and which Mike Bresnick led as Executive Director before returning to private practice.  And since its inception, the FFETF has brought together a broad coalition of agencies, enforcement tools and resources to fight fraud.

A critical component of the FFETF's efforts is a targeted group formed, as the president said in his 2011 State of the Union Address, to “hold accountable those who broke the law, speed assistance to homeowners, and help turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many Americans.”  That group – the Residential Mortgage Backed Securities Working Group -- comprised of several state agencies and state attorneys general -- is charged with investigating fraud in the packaging, marketing, sale and issuance of these securities -- conduct that was a major contributing factor to the financial crisis.

To date, the efforts of the RMBS Working Group have secured $20 billion in penalties, compensation and consumer relief to investors, victims and the American people.  Those results include the $13 billion resolution with J.P. Morgan last November -- the largest settlement against a single defendant in the Justice Department's history -- and a $7 billion resolution with Citibank announced just two days ago, which made history by including a record-breaking civil penalty of $4 billion.

Now, resolutions like these -- notwithstanding their record-breaking size or historic significance -- always seem to spark a debate between those who say we're being too easy on the big banks and those who say we're being too tough.  To some, no penalty is high or harsh enough; to others, we insist on settlement terms that are unfairly punitive.

I welcome this debate because it is part of a long, democratic tradition of questioning the activities our government takes in the name of the people it serves.  And while I am quite certain there is little I can say to persuade the most ardent partisans on either side of this debate, let me offer the following observations:

First, the RMBS Working Group settlements we have announced to date are civil resolutions; they do not preclude the possibility of criminal prosecutions.  Importantly, neither the J.P. Morgan nor the Citibank settlement agreements absolve either institution or its employees from possible criminal charges.  And as the recent criminal pleas of BNP and Credit Suisse –  as well as the more than 37,000 individual white collar criminals we have prosecuted over the last five years – demonstrate, we do not hesitate to aggressively investigate allegations of financial wrongdoing, and, if the evidence warrants, to demand accountability.  Because, as the Attorney General has said before, no institution, no matter how large, and no individual, no matter how powerful, is above the law.

Second, while most of the attention has been focused on these multi-billion dollar settlements, let me be clear: we do not investigate these matters intending to settle them.  Through the RMBS Working Group, we have assembled an enforcement apparatus to vindicate those who fell victim to the financial crisis, and that apparatus continues to grow.  Resolving these cases will require more than simply seeking a meeting with the Attorney General.  It will require taking true responsibility for misconduct that contributed to the Great Recession, which I will discuss more in a moment.  If an institution is unwilling to admit its wrongful conduct in a statement of facts; or balks at paying a substantial penalty that reflects that conduct; or refuses to do right by those affected, then we will not shrink from litigating as long as we must to fulfill our law enforcement mandate.  Our RMBS-related cases against S&P in California and Bank of America in North Carolina demonstrate this, and I would not be surprised if we were to see additional RMBS lawsuits in the future.

And that observation leads me to the next topic I wanted to discuss today: those factors we consider when determining how and whether we will sue or settle a RMBS fraud case.  And let me note here: I'm talking about whether we will pursue or settle a civil RMBS case against an institution, not a financial fraud case that's being considered for criminal prosecution against an institution or individual, so my comments are limited to that context.

Now, as a general matter, it should be no surprise that the primary drivers in any RMBS fraud case will be the facts and evidence of that particular case.  The conduct at issue; the egregiousness of that conduct and who was involved; the quality of the evidence and what we can prove in court given the applicable law -- those are the scene-setters for any discussion about how we will resolve any given case.

And long before discussions get to my level, there have usually been months of back-and-forth conversations between the investigators and Assistant U.S.  Attorneys who will try the case and the potential bank defendant to make sure our facts are right and our theory of the case is sound.

So by the time I am sitting across the table from a financial institution to discuss whether we will settle or sue, there aren't generally many facts that remain in dispute.  The main question on the table is whether we will be able to satisfy three general principles that guide us in all of these cases: accountability, transparency and redress.

Let me discuss each one in turn.

First, accountability.  The main question here, of course, is whether the financial institution is willing to be held accountable for the harmful conduct our investigation has uncovered.  In other words, now that we have developed an evidentiary record of wrongdoing, is the institution willing to step up and accept responsibility for the unlawful activity, be it the conduct of the parent or a subsidiary?

In the RMBS-related cases we pursue, the only remedy under FIRREA (Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989) that the government can seek, besides injunctive relief, is a civil penalty.  As many of you know, FIRREA was passed in response to the savings and loan crisis 30 years ago, and under that statute, civil penalties are our only recourse.

So it follows that in many of these cases, accountability has taken the form of record-breaking civil penalties.  And our approach to calculating the appropriate penalty in any given case involves taking into account a number of factors, including but not limited to:  the egregiousness and pervasiveness of the conduct, and amount of harm caused by that conduct; the strength of the evidence; whether the penalty is of such a level that it could be regarded by shareholders and management as merely the “cost of doing business”; whether the institution has failed to fully cooperate with our investigation; and whether any steps have been taken to remediate meaningfully the harm caused by the harmful conduct.

Now, some have argued that other considerations, such as a firm’s market share, should outweigh the facts and evidence in a given case.  We disagree.  While a firm's market share footprint may be among the informational data points we consider, it is not determinative.  The facts and evidence of a particular case -- they are what will ultimately matter the most.

Let me turn to the second principle, transparency.  In every RMBS Working Group case where there is a negotiated resolution short of trial, we will demand a statement of facts in which the institution admits the conduct at issue.

Attorney General Holder has made this a non-negotiable term of every RMBS Working Group settlement for two reasons:  First, it's an important component of accountability.  It requires the institution to articulate to its own employees, its shareholders and to the public that it engaged in conduct that is both unacceptable and wrong.  Second, it explains to the American people what our investigation uncovered and allows them to see for themselves the building blocks of our case against the institution.

In both JPMorgan and Citibank, the Attorney General and I believed it was imperative for each institution to acknowledge publicly its conduct, and we believe that obtaining a statement of facts in any negotiated resolution is as important as any monetary penalty.

Finally, let's talk about redress. 

As we all know, the packaging up of defective loans into mortgage backed securities, and the misrepresentations made to investors about the quality of those securities not only caused financial losses to investors; it contributed to the near-collapse of our entire economy.  Millions of Americans who had no idea what an RMBS was felt the pain of this conduct.  Families lost homes.  Communities were ravaged by foreclosures.  You had neighborhood streets that had vacant house after vacant house, like a mouthful of missing teeth.  This debacle hurt everybody.

So when the president announced the formation of the RMBS Working Group, he gave it two main objectives: seek accountability where the facts warrant, and pursue efforts to remediate the harm where possible.

That is why the pre-trial resolutions of these cases to date have contained, as a major element, relief for consumers.  In the J.P. Morgan resolution, we insisted on the bank providing $4 billion of relief to underwater homeowners and potential homebuyers, including those in distressed areas of the country.  Half of that total will go towards forgiveness and forbearance of principal for qualifying homeowners who are currently paying a mortgage.  The other half will go towards rate reductions or refinancing, low-to-moderate income and disaster area lending, and neighborhood stabilization programs.

In the Citibank settlement , we have required $2.5 billion in consumer relief.  In addition to loan modifications and refinancing assistance, as we did in J.P.  Morgan, we worked with Citibank and our colleagues at the Department of Housing and Urban Development to include innovative measures that will create affordable rental housing for families who were pushed into the rental market by the financial crisis; significant investments in community development and neighborhood stabilization efforts around the country; and interest rate reductions for those responsible borrowers who have responsibly kept current on their mortgages but for whom it's been a struggle because their rates are so high.

Now, we know these measures won't cure every ill or solve every problem created by the financial crisis; but they are significant steps, and we are optimistic that they will bring some much-needed relief to those who are still feeling the ill effects of what the president called "an era of recklessness" in our financial markets.

So let me close by saying that I believe we have achieved a great deal in fighting financial fraud since the formation of the RMBS Working Group: record civil penalties; factual statements that evidence an unprecedented level of accountability from the financial institutions and transparency to the marketplace; and consumer relief for the American people.

But equally important is the fact that we are not done yet.  As I said on Monday, we're not letting up, and we're not going away.  We will continue to pursue these cases and follow the facts wherever they lead and enforce the law fairly but aggressively should we uncover evidence of unlawful conduct.  Because a level financial playing field requires that type of oversight and the American people deserve no less.

Thank you.


Contingency Funds Support Operations, Recovery, New Missions
By Claudette Roulo
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, July 16, 2014 – The Defense Department’s request for $58.6 billion in fiscal year 2015 overseas contingency operations funds is nearly one-third less than it received the previous year and is part of a continued downward trend in war-related spending, Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work told Congress today.

But even as the war in Afghanistan ends, the department will continue to seek OCO funding for the repair and replacement of worn-out and damaged equipment, a process that will continue well beyond 2015, Work said at a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee.

The funds also support the costs associated with the broader presence in Southwest Asia and the Middle East, and with responses to unforeseen contingencies, he said.

The requested OCO funds will support troops who already are serving in harm’s way in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the U.S. Central Command area of operations and “who every day are conducting operations on behalf of our nation’s security in what is becoming a very volatile, complex and dangerous world,” he said.
“The requested funds for 2015 would provide $53.4 billion for Operation Enduring Freedom,” the deputy secretary said. “This funding will support the responsible drawdown of forces in Afghanistan as announced by the president.
“It will pay for the retrograde of equipment and personnel and the continued reset of forces,” he continued. “And it will enable a really vast range of support activities in theater, including logistics and intelligence. And it will support a portion of the temporary Army and Marine Corps end strength that supports OEF.”
The costs in Afghanistan and the greater Middle East region remain substantial, Work said. In Afghanistan, the U.S. military is transitioning from a combat role to a support and counterterrorism mission, the deputy secretary told committee members.
“This will require high-end intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets, close air support, force protection, and logistics into next year,” he explained. “We also must return thousands of pieces of equipment from Afghanistan to our home stations and close down hundreds of combat facilities there.”

The OCO request also provides continued support and assistance to Afghan security forces, the deputy secretary said.

“Over the last year, these forces have demonstrated tactical superiority over the Taliban, and have prevented the Taliban from gaining momentum, as demonstrated by their professionalism in the most recent national elections,” he said. “We believe it is critically important that we maintain sufficient financial support for these forces so they can sustain those gains and continue to assume full responsibility across Afghanistan.”

The 2015 request also includes funding for two new presidential initiatives, Work said.

The $5 billion requested for the counterterrorism partnerships fund is intended to underwrite training, capacity-building and facilitation of partner nations battling terrorism.

About $4 billion from the counterterrorism partnerships fund will go to the Defense Department, he said. “The overall goal is, one, to increase the ability of our partner countries … to conduct counterterrorism operations, and, two, prevent the proliferation of terrorist threats from neighboring states, and, three, participate in multinational counterterrorism operations, including countering [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] and other terrorist groups in the region.”

A separate $1 billion request for the European reassurance initiative will fund increased exercises and training, as well as a beefed-up rotational presence across Europe, particularly in the territory of newer allies.

“We believe that a more temporary increase in rotational U.S. air, land and sea presence in Europe, especially in Central and Eastern Europe, along with more extensive bilateral and multilateral exercises and training, are necessary and appropriate demonstrations of support to our NATO allies and partners who are deeply concerned by Russia’s occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea and other provocative actions in Ukraine,” Work said.



FACT SHEET: Building a 21st Century Infrastructure: Increasing Public and Private Collaboration with the Build America Investment Initiative

Today, the President will deliver remarks at the Port of Wilmington in front of the I-495 Bridge in Delaware. With 90,000 cars moving over it per day before repairs began, this bridge is a key example of the importance of infrastructure, which keeps the economy moving, spurs innovation, and bolsters our national competitiveness. At the port – and in this Year of Action – the President will announce a new executive action to create the Build America Investment Initiative, a government-wide initiative to increase infrastructure investment and economic growth. As part of the Initiative, the Administration is launching the Build America Transportation Investment Center – housed at the Department of Transportation – to serve as a one-stop shop for cities and states seeking to use innovative financing and partnerships with the private sector to support transportation infrastructure.

The President’s visit and announcement today are a part of the Administration’s continued push to highlight the importance of investing in our nation’s infrastructure so that we can build on the progress our economy is making by creating jobs and expanding opportunity for all hardworking Americans. The steps announced today continue the momentum the President has made using his executive authority – his pen and phone – to invest in modernizing our infrastructure, including speeding up the permitting process for major infrastructure projects to create more jobs.

The President supports the steps that Congress is taking in the short-term to avoid a lapse in the Highway Trust Fund, and he will continue to push for long-term solutions for our nation’s infrastructure and the American economy.


Investing in a 21st century American infrastructure is an important part of the President’s plan to build on the progress our economy is making by creating jobs and expanding opportunity for all hardworking Americans.  Modern and efficient infrastructure – whether moving goods to our harbors and ports or connecting people to services or gigabits to our offices and homes – helps small businesses to expand, manufacturers to export, investors to bring jobs to our shores, and lowers prices for goods and services for American families.

The President has been very clear that we need to do more to improve our infrastructure in order to create jobs, provide certainty to states and communities, help American businesses, and grow our economy.  He has put forth a long-term proposal that would do just that and pay for it by closing unfair tax loopholes and making commonsense reforms to our business tax system, while providing the certainty of reliable federal funding to states and communities.

And while the President is encouraged that Congress is heeding these calls by taking action in the short-term to prevent transportation projects across the country from grinding to a halt, the President will continue to act on his own to promote American economic growth where there is need or opportunity.  And right now, there is a real opportunity to put private capital to work in revitalizing U.S. infrastructure.

That is why today, the President will sign a Presidential Memorandum to launch the Build America Investment Initiative, a government-wide initiative to increase infrastructure investment and economic growth by engaging with state and local governments and private sector investors to encourage collaboration, expand the market for public-private partnerships (PPPs) and put federal credit programs to greater use.  Starting with the transportation sector, this initiative will harness the potential of private capital to complement government funding.

Ø  As part of the Initiative, the Administration is launching the Build America Transportation Investment Center:  Housed at the Department of Transportation, this center will serve as a one-stop shop for state and local governments, public and private developers and investors seeking to utilize innovative financing strategies for transportation infrastructure projects.  Additional details are below.
Build America Interagency Working Group: To expand and increase private investment and collaboration in infrastructure beyond the transportation sector, a federal inter-agency working group, co-chaired by Cabinet Secretaries Lew and Foxx, will do a focused review with the best and the brightest from the public and private sector.  This group will work with state and local governments, project developers, investors and others to address barriers to private investments and partnerships in areas including municipal water, ports, harbors, broadband, and the electrical grid. The effort will include a particular focus on improving coordination to accelerate financing and completion of projects of regional and national significance, particularly those that cross state boundaries.
Infrastructure Investment Summit:  As part of the drive toward innovative infrastructure solutions and to highlight the opportunities for infrastructure investment, the Treasury Department will host a summit on Infrastructure Investment in the U.S. on September 9, 2014.  This session will bring together leading project developers and institutional investors with state and local officials and their Federal counterparts, and will focus on innovative financing approaches to infrastructure, and highlight other resources that support project development.

Build America Transportation Investment Center: Housed at the Department of Transportation, this center will serve as a one-stop shop for state and local governments, public and private developers and investors seeking to utilize innovative financing strategies for transportation infrastructure projects. This center will provide:

‘Navigator Service’ for the Public and Private Sector: Through hands-on support, advice and expertise, the center will make DOT credit programs more understandable and accessible to states and local governments and leverage both public and private funding to support ambitious projects.  The center will also provide private sector developers and infrastructure investors with tools and resources to identify and execute successful PPPs.

Improved Access to DOT Credit Programs: The center will encourage awareness and efficient use of existing resources at the Department, including the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program.  TIFIA provides long-term, flexible financing to highway and transit projects that feature dedicated revenue sources.  Each dollar of Federal TIFIA funding can support about $10 in loans, loan guarantees or lines of credit.  In many cases, the lower cost of capital and flexible terms offered by TIFIA are critical factors in determining whether a PPP is a viable and cost-effective option for a project. The center will also focus on the use of key DOT programs including the Private Activity Bond program (PABs), and the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing Program (RRIF).

Technical Assistance: The center will share best practices from states that are leading the way on private investment to states that have not yet adopted innovative financing strategies, encouraging a more robust national market. Today, the top six states for PPPs have nearly two-thirds the value of all U.S. PPP projects. Twenty states have no PPPs in transportation at all. The center will provide technical assistance to help remove barriers to ensure the public and private sector can come together to complete projects that make sense. Through a website and on-demand technical assistance, the center will provide information about DOT credit programs, case studies of successful projects and examples of deal structures, standard operating procedures for PPP projects and analytical toolkits. It will also help interested investors better understand how DOT credit and grant programs can be used together to support project development.
Information to Reduce Uncertainty and Delays: The center will work in partnership with the interagency Infrastructure Permitting Improvement center to provide visibility for local and state governments, project sponsors and investors on the permitting process.

Case Studies and Additional Background

The Build America Investment Initiative taps into the opportunity to increase the pipeline of effective public-private-partnerships and other innovative financing mechanisms:

High Demand: Institutional investors, both domestic and international, recognize the strength of our economy and want to invest in America. In 2013, the U.S. was the top destination for foreign direct investment with over $230 billion.  The global investment community has over $83 trillion dollars with a growing appetite for infrastructure. That is potentially hundreds of billions of dollars to fund the building of U.S. public-private infrastructure.

Proven Approaches: Some states and communities have established successful PPPs and have developed strong institutional knowledge of how these projects are best structured and managed.  Expanding that know-how to other states has the potential to increase the flow of capital by tens of billions of dollars over the next few years. Today, for example, the top five states in PPPs have nearly twice the per-capita value of projects as the next 20 best states – and if those states caught up, it could mean up to $30 billion worth of infrastructure projects.

Building on Models of Success: Some states and localities across the country have developed successful track records utilizing PPPs and other innovative financing approaches for infrastructure projects.  The Build America Transportation Investment center will use the lessons-learned from these leaders to help other communities and private project sponsors understand and better use federal financing programs and to structure deals that incorporate best practices and avoid pitfalls.

Case Study: Colorado FasTracks Project

Denver, Colorado is a community that has shown how transformative, multi-modal public infrastructure projects can be brought to fruition by integrating multiple financing sources.  Denver was able to utilize a PPP as part of the FasTracks development – combining light rail, bus rapid transit, development of Denver Union Station, parking, and other improvements – alongside state and federal funding.

The FasTracks Eagle project in Denver is a $2.2 billion public-private partnership to construct two new commuter rail lines.  The project combined several DOT funding and financing mechanisms – Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts, Private Activity Bonds, and a TIFIA loan – in addition to other Federal, State, and local resources and private investment.

The Eagle project is using a “design-build-finance-operate-maintain” contract under a 34-year concession.  Denver will retain ownership of the assets, set fares and fare policies, and keep all project revenues.  Denver will make payments to the private investor and operator (“concessionaire”) based on performance metrics.

Case Study: Florida

Florida has been leading the way on PPPs since 2001. In 2007, the State of Florida established the Office of Public-Private Partnerships; since then the state has completed over $6 billion in innovative projects.

Florida is now using a public-private partnership to complete the $1.1 billion Port of Miami Tunnel Project that will link the Port of Miami with the MacArthur Causeway and I-395 on the mainland. The project, like many PPPs around the country, took advantage of DOT’s TIFIA loan program for a $340 million loan, which in turn leveraged private dollars – a great example of the kinds of partnerships that the new Build America Transportation Investment center will bolster.


The Highway Trust Fund – which funds a significant portion of the construction and capital repairs of our surface transportation system – is projected to be insolvent by the end of the summer barring Congressional action.  In addition to preventing the Trust Fund from expiring in the short term, the President has clear that we need long-term action and predictable funding to provide certainty to states and communities, help American businesses, and grow our economy.

In spring 2014, President Obama transmitted to Congress his vision for a long-term solution.  The GROW AMERICA Act, a $302 billion, four-year transportation reauthorization proposal provides increased and stable funding for our nation’s highways, bridges, transit, and rail systems, ends the cycle of short-term, manufactured funding crises and builds confidence in the public and private sector.

The Administration’s proposal is funded by supplementing current revenues with $150 billion in one-time transition revenue from pro-growth business tax reform.  In other words, the President’s proposal is fully paid for without increasing the deficit. The President’s proposal will also keep the Trust Fund solvent for four years and increase investments to meet the transportation priorities and economic needs of communities across the country.

The proposal also contains a series of legislative proposals to improve the return on transportation spending and improve safety, including a title on improving project delivery, and the federal permitting and regulatory review process.


New answer to MRSA, other 'superbug' infections: clay minerals?
Researchers discover natural clay deposits with antibacterial properties

Superbugs, they're called: Pathogens, or disease-causing microorganisms, resistant to multiple antibiotics.

Such antibiotic resistance is now a major public health concern.

"This serious threat is no longer a prediction for the future," states a 2014 World Health Organization report, "it's happening right now in every region of the world and has the potential to affect anyone, of any age, in any country."

Could the answer to this threat be hidden in clays formed in minerals deep in the Earth?

Biomedicine meets geochemistry

"As antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains emerge and pose increasing health risks," says Lynda Williams, a biogeochemist at Arizona State University (ASU), "new antibacterial agents are urgently needed."

To find answers, Williams and colleague Keith Morrison of ASU set out to identify naturally-occurring antibacterial clays effective at killing antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

The scientists headed to the field--the rock field. In a volcanic deposit near Crater Lake, Oregon, they hit pay dirt.

Back in the lab, the researchers incubated the pathogens Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus epidermidis, which breeds skin infections, with clays from different zones of the Oregon deposit.

They found that the clays' rapid uptake of iron impaired bacterial metabolism. Cells were flooded with excess iron, which overwhelmed iron storage proteins and killed the bacteria.

"The ability of antibacterial clays to buffer pH also appears key to their healing potential and viability as alternatives to conventional antibiotics," state the scientists in a paper recently published in the journal Environmental Geochemistry and Health.

"Minerals have long had a role in non-traditional medicine," says Enriqueta Barrera, a program director in the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Division of Earth Sciences, which funded the research.

"Yet there is often no understanding of the reaction between the minerals and the human body or agents that cause illness. This research explains the mechanism by which clay minerals interfere with the functioning of pathogenic bacteria. The results have the potential to lead to the wide use of clays in the pharmaceutical industry."

Ancient remedies new again

Clay minerals, says Williams, have been sought for medicinal purposes for millennia.

Studies of French clays--green clays historically used in France in mineral baths--show that the clays have antibacterial properties. French green clays have been used to treat Mycobacterium ulcerans, the pathogen that causes Buruli ulcers.

Common in Africa, Buruli ulcers start as painful skin swellings. Then infection leads to the destruction of skin and large, open ulcers on arms or legs.

Delayed treatment--or treatment that doesn't work--may cause irreversible deformities, restriction of joint movement, widespread skin lesions, and sometimes life-threatening secondary infections.

Treatment with daily applications of green clay poultices healed the infections. "These clays," says Williams, "demonstrated a unique ability to kill bacteria while promoting skin cell growth."

Unfortunately, the original French green clays were depleted. Later testing of newer samples didn't show the same results.

Research on French green clays, however, spurred testing of other clays with likely antibacterial properties.

"To date," says Williams, "the most effective antibacterial clays are those from the Oregon deposit."

Samples from an area mined by Oregon Mineral Technologies (OMT) proved active against a broad spectrum of bacteria, including methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) and extended-spectrum beta-lactamase-resistant E. coli (ESBL).

What's in those rocks?

Understanding the geologic environment that produces antibacterial minerals is important for identifying other promising locations, says Williams, "and for evaluating specific deposits with bactericidal activity."

The OMT deposit was formed near volcanoes active over tens to hundreds of thousands of years. The Crater Lake region is blanketed with ash deposits from such volcanoes.

OMT clays may be 20 to 30 million years old. They were "born" eons before deposits from volcanoes such as Mt. Mazama, which erupted 7,700 years ago to form the Crater Lake caldera.

Volcanic eruptions over the past 70,000 or so years produced silica-rich magmas and hydrothermal waters that may have contributed to the Oregon deposit's antibacterial properties.

To find out, Williams and Morrison took samples from the main OMT open pit. Four types of rocks were collected: two blue clays, and one white and one red "alteration zone" rock from the upper part of the deposit.

Blue clay to the rescue

The OMT blue samples were strongly bactericidal against E. coli and S. epidermidis. The OMT white sample reduced the population of E. coli and S. epidermidis by 56 percent and 29 percent, respectively, but the red sample didn't show an antibacterial effect.

"We can use this information to propose the medicinal application of certain natural clays, especially in wound healing," says Williams.

Chronic, non-healing wounds, adds Morrison, are usually more alkaline (vs. acidic) than healthy skin. The pH of normal skin is slightly acidic, which keeps numbers of bacteria low.

"Antibacterial clays can buffer wounds to a low [more acidic] pH," says Williams, like other accepted chronic wound treatments, such as acidified nitrate. "The clays may shift the wound environment to a pH range that favors healing, while killing invading bacteria."

The Oregon clays could lead to the discovery of new antibacterial mechanisms, she says, "which would benefit the health care industry and people in developing nations. A low-cost topical antibacterial agent is quickly needed."

Answers to Buruli ulcers, MRSA and other antibiotic-resistant infections may lie not in a high-tech lab, but in ancient rocks forged in a hot zone: Oregon's once--and perhaps future--volcanoes.

-- Cheryl Dybas, NSF
Lynda Williams
Related Institutions/Organizations
Arizona State University