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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Weekly Address: The World is United in the Fight Against ISIL

9/19/14: White House Press Briefing

U.S. CONDEMNS ATTACKS ON UN MISSION IN MALI

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 
Attack on MINUSMA
Press Statement
Jen Psaki
Department Spokesperson
Washington, DC
September 19, 2014

The United States strongly condemns yet another deadly attack against the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission (MINUSMA) yesterday in Mali which killed five Chadian peacekeepers and wounded three others. This is the third such attack this month alone. These continued attacks on UN peacekeepers must stop.

We express our condolences to the families of the peacekeepers killed and to the Government of Chad, and wish those wounded a full recovery. We call on all parties to cease hostilities and fully engage in the national peace and reconciliation process.

We reiterate our full support of MINUSMA and our commitment to Mali’s national reconciliation efforts including achieving a durable and comprehensive peace agreement through ongoing talks in Algiers.

NASA VIDEO: BOEING AND SPACEX COMPANIES TO TRANSPORT U.S. ASTRONAUTS TO ISS

HHS SPONSORS DEVELOPMENT OF NEXT-GEN PORTABLE VENTILATOR FOR PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCIES

FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES 
September 17, 2014

HHS spurs innovation to develop next-generation portable ventilator
Low-cost, user-friendly ventilators needed for pandemics, routine care
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will sponsor the advanced development of a next-generation portable ventilator to help fill the need for portable, low-cost, user-friendly and flexible ventilators in a pandemic or other public health emergency. The new ventilator will be developed under a three year, $13.8 million contract with Philips Respironics of Murrysville, Pennsylvania.

The project will be overseen by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) within the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response.

“In pandemics and other emergencies, doctors must have medicines, vaccines, diagnostics, and critical equipment such as mechanical ventilators at the ready in order to save lives,” said BARDA Director Robin Robinson, Ph.D.
In a severe influenza pandemic and potentially in other public health emergencies, a large number of severely ill patients would require mechanical ventilation. This number could overwhelm the capacity of the health care system to provide such care, both in the number of ventilators available and staff trained to operate them.

“An affordable portable ventilator will help us meet the needs of critically ill patients during a public health emergency, whether due to a naturally occurring pandemic or an act of bioterrorism.”

– BARDA Director Robin Robinson, Ph.D.

The innovative ventilator in development will leverage advanced technology to reduce the size and cost and will be designed in a way that doctors, nurses and other health professionals can operate without special training. The next-generation ventilator also will be designed to be manufactured quickly to meet a surge in the number of patients who need ventilators if more ventilators are needed than could be stockpiled.

Under today’s contract, the ventilator will be required to meet the needs of everyone from infants to the elderly. To make the new ventilator suitable for stockpiling, the portable equipment must be low-cost. Ventilators with all the required features currently cost from $6,000 to $30,000 per unit.

Under today’s agreement, Philips Healthcare will develop a next-generation ventilator that could be stockpiled by the federal government, including accessories for children and elderly patients. The contract includes an option to purchase 10,000 completely kitted, initial production ventilators for $32.8 million.

In addition to aiding in response to a public health emergency, the next-generation ventilator in development can have important implications for routine care. The modernized features, agility, and ease of use can improve patient care for triage in the field or advanced treatment in the hospital.

HHS is the principal federal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves.

The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) leads HHS in preparing the nation to respond to and recover from adverse health effects of emergencies, supporting communities’ ability to withstand adversity, strengthening health and response systems, and enhancing national health security.

Within ASPR, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) develops and procures medical countermeasures – vaccines, medicines, diagnostics and medical equipment – that address the public health and medical consequences of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) accidents, incidents and attacks, pandemic influenza, and emerging infectious diseases.

$1.79 MILLION IN THE MAIL TO CONSUMERS ALLEGEDLY DEFRAUDED BY AMERIDEBT

FROM:  U.S. FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION   
FTC Sends More Than $1.79 Million in Refunds to Consumers Defrauded by AmeriDebt Scam

The Federal Trade Commission is mailing $1,792,759 in refund checks to 60,813 consumers allegedly defrauded by a credit counseling/debt management scam run by Andris Pukke and his companies, AmeriDebt Inc. and DebtWorks, Inc. The defendants allegedly deceived consumers about their fees, misrepresented that AmeriDebt was a non-profit, and falsely promised to teach consumers how to handle their credit and finances.

The FTC previously returned about $15 million to AmeriDebt consumers. Consumers affected in today’s announcement will receive checks for between $12.70 and $725.10; the amount will vary based upon the amount of each consumer’s loss, less the previous refund received. Those who receive checks from the FTC’s refund administrator should cash them within 60 days of the mailing date. The FTC never requires consumers to pay money or to provide information before refund checks can be cashed.

STATE DEPARTMENT STATEMENT ON P5+1 TALKS

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 
Arms Control and International Security: Background Briefing on P5+1Talks
09/19/2014 06:39 AM EDT
Background Briefing on P5+1Talks
Special Briefing
Senior Administration Officials
Foreign Press Center
New York City
September 18, 2014

MODERATOR: Welcome. For those of you who I don't know, I’m [Moderator]. This will be all on background tonight with no embargo. So you know who’s up here – obviously not for reporting – this will be all be attributed to senior Administration officials, please no names and no titles. But to the left of me is [Senior Administration Official One and Senior Administration Official Two].

So in a moment, I’ll turn it over to [Senior Administration Official One] to make some opening remarks, and then we’ll go to your questions. Again, background, senior Administration officials. Please keep us all honest on this so we can keep doing this. And with that.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Thank you. Good evening. Thank you all for coming tonight, and those of you who don’t live here – I don’t – welcome to New York.

I want to begin tonight on a personal note, not just for me but for many in this room. Michael Adler was one of our most beloved colleagues – one of yours, and in many ways, I considered him a colleague as well. He was someone who had watched and reported on these negotiations as they progressed through many, many years. He was one of the sharpest minds on these issues and one of the kindest people any of us has ever had the pleasure of knowing. He was with us in Geneva when we finished the Joint Plan of Action, and I know how much he wanted to see where these comprehensive talks would take us. He was eager to see the end of the story he had been writing for so long. He was taken from us too soon, and his absence is felt acutely here. These issues were the work of his life, and in many ways, they are ours as well.

Turning now to the talks, the last time we all met at the political director level as the P5+1 led by the European Union group was in July, when, after several weeks of intense negotiations, we decided to extend the Joint Plan of Action until November 24th. We made that decision because there had been enough progress to see a path forward; because it’s important that Iran’s nuclear program not advance further under the terms of the JPOA while we work to negotiate a comprehensive joint plan of action; and because we all know that diplomacy is the best, most enduring way to solve this most pressing security challenge.

Since that time, members of the P5+1 and the European Union have held bilateral meetings with Iran, including the United States. We’ve had expert meetings and coordination sessions, as well as ongoing contact with the Iranians, even when we’re not meeting in person. Coming into New York, I think many of us were not very optimistic. But clearly, over meetings over the last two days both with Iran and with my P5+1 and EU colleagues, it is clear that everyone has come here to go to work.

As you know, the United States and Iran held bilateral consultations over the past two days here in New York. These meetings were constructive and a lot of hard technical work that will need to be part of a comprehensive agreement is being undertaken by all parties.

In terms of this next week and a half, we will begin the P5+1 round tomorrow morning with a plenary session at the United Nations led by High Representative Cathy Ashton and Foreign Minister Zarif. During the weekend and UNGA high-level week, we will continue meeting on the Iran nuclear issue in whatever format makes the most sense. There will be plenaries, expert meetings, bilaterals. There may be a ministerial-level P5+1 meeting. And it’s very likely that Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Zarif will meet bilaterally, as they’ve done throughout these talks.

Over the next week and a half, you’re also going to hear a lot from President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif about these nuclear negotiations, maybe about some other issues as well. It’s worth pointing out, particularly to those of you in this room, that at this moment, while senior Iranian officials have the benefit of the freedom of our press, a U.S. citizen sits in an Iranian prison, a journalist for one of our top newspapers, The Washington Post. Jason Rezaian should be freed immediately. The other American citizens being detained by Iran should also be freed as well. And additionally, we appeal again for Iran’s assistance in locating and bringing Robert Levinson home.

The Iranians have said over these many days and weeks how reasonable and flexible they are in these talks, and about how their current capacity should be acceptable. But the status quo is not doable for any of us. It is not doable for either side. The world will agree to suspend and then lift sanctions only if Iran takes convincing and verifiable steps to show that its nuclear program is and will remain exclusively peaceful.

Given Iran’s public statements that it does not seek a nuclear weapon, including the Supreme Leader’s fatwa, these practical steps should be doable. And we have consistently sought to pave a reasonable path forward in close coordination with our P5+1 partners and the European Union.

In our conversations with the Iranian negotiators, we’ve listened closely to their views about what Iran sees as their legitimate practical needs, and we’ve offered creative solutions to address them. There is a unique opportunity over this next week and a half when heads of state, foreign ministers, and many other world leaders are gathered in New York. There is an opportunity to make progress in these talks and to see whether the outlines, and more importantly, the details of a potential agreement begin to emerge in a fuller way than we’ve seen before.

And with that, I would be glad to take your questions.

MODERATOR: So as always, I’ll call the questions, and I know we know most of you, but please identify yourself and your media outlet. Lou Charbonneau, kick us off.

QUESTION: Thanks for this, and I first wanted to ask – you said that Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Zarif might meet as they have before. Is it possible that the presidents will also meet during this time? They did speak on the phone during last year’s UNGA, and this was one of the issues that was discussed.

And when you had your bilateral meetings with the Iranians yesterday and today, did you get any sense that there’s a willingness on their part to push forward, given their public comments about keeping the status quo and what they’ve said are unreasonable conditions put forth by the U.S. and other members of the P5+1? Thanks.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Josh Earnest, the spokesperson for the White House, said that at this point there is no meeting scheduled between the President of the United States and President Rouhani. The President of the United States is well known for being open to such a meeting, but the choice is really Iran’s. We will continue to work and we think that there’s a lot of very important work that will go on this week, but that’s not dependent upon whether that meeting happens or not.

Secondly, in terms of the status quo and Iran saying that we are making unreasonable demands, I would make a couple points. First of all, let’s remember how we got here. We are in these talks because for years upon years, the international community – not just the United States, but through several UN Security Council resolutions – has said that Iran has not met its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, that they have taken many steps, some in secret, to undermine those obligations. And that is why we are at the table, and I do not think – and I don’t think the world thinks – that it is an unreasonable demand that says that Iran should not have a nuclear weapon. Indeed, the Supreme Leader has said Iran does not want a nuclear weapon, so showing that, in fact, in verifiable ways that they do not and will not is quite reasonable.

Secondly, I do not think it is an excessive demand to say that any agreement must, in a verifiable and transparent manner, show that Iran’s program today and into the future is exclusively peaceful.

So I don’t think either of those objectives – that Iran not acquire a nuclear weapon and that Iran’s program be exclusively peaceful, and that it be clear to everyone that it is – are unreasonable or excessive demands. I think they’re quite reasonable, and in fact is exactly what Iran has said is its intention. So showing that to the world in verifiable ways seems to me quite doable.

MODERATOR: Great. Let’s go in the middle here and wait for the microphone.

QUESTION: Thank you for doing this. BBC Persian, Bahman Kalbasi. [Senior Administration Official One], yesterday Foreign Minister Zarif in the Council on Foreign Relations talked about sanctions, and he specifically said are these sanctions worth risking not getting a deal and not having a new horizon in cooperation in the region; almost seems to be suggesting that this will open the door for other issues to be discussed, including what’s happening in Iraq.

But is there a sense – and this has been discussed on the Iranian press a lot – that America is not or has not offered a meaningful or reliable way to lift these sanctions? Or at least is the Administration really able to do so, given the situation in Congress? Is that one of the sticking points, that on the other side there is not meaningful sanction relief being discussed?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: I don’t think that’s the case at all. We’re well aware that sanctions relief is a critical part of any agreement. Iran has said so themselves, as you note. And indeed, we have done extensive work on what will be necessary to suspend and then ultimately lift those sanctions. The reason it is suspend first and lift later is because we all need to build confidence that this is a durable agreement, and so there will be many steps that Iran will take almost immediately if we get to an agreement. Some will take more time, and then one has to see whether it’s durable over a period of time, and the duration of that time is something that’s, of course, one of the things that we are discussing.

And we know how to do this. We believe we can offer very meaningful relief. We understand and have listened carefully to what Iran is looking for. We hope that Iran is listening very closely to what is necessary to obtain that relief, but I don’t have any questions that technically we can do what is necessary, and they know that.

MODERATOR: Michael Wilner. Wait, do you have the mike?

QUESTION: Thanks for doing this. Whenever I ask folks in the Administration to weigh or to measure Israeli Government concerns on this matter, they say Israel is rightly concerned with an Iranian nuclear weapon, first and foremost, and they say that the U.S. is working on an unprecedented level to bring the Israelis in, to brief them and the like. And they have expressed publicly that they appreciate that.

But here’s the thing: The Israelis that you are briefing on this unprecedented scale are now saying two months before your deadline that they are deeply, deeply concerned with what they are seeing. And given the relevance of Israel’s concerns, as you describe, it would appear that that is a significant problem. Is it a problem?

And secondly, if you’re in these negotiations to end the crisis, as you say, is it possible to do so without adopting Israel’s baseline for a good deal?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: It is not just Israel. It is the world that has said that Iran should not acquire a nuclear weapon, and the Supreme Leader’s fatwa also says that Iran does not have, does not intend to, and does not want to have a nuclear weapon. So that is the objective for everyone. We do indeed consult very closely with Israel, as we do with other partners around the world who are very, very concerned about whether we will be able to reach an agreement and whether that agreement will be a good one, which it must be.

So we appreciate that there are countries around the world that see things a little differently than we do. We have other partners around the world that have other concerns about an agreement and what it will mean in the geopolitics of the world, and what it will mean for nuclear – civilian nuclear energy. Lots of concerns are raised. We listen to all of those concerns, and of course, we listen to Israel’s concern. Israel’s security is very critical from an American point of view.

What I appreciate is that all of these countries – including Israel, with whom we closely consult – have shared their technical know-how, their understanding, their ideas, and that will create potentially a good solution to this very, very tough security challenge that we have in front of us.

At the end of the day, Israel will have to make its own judgment about an agreement, as will every other country in the world. And I understand that, but I also believe that the President of the United States will only sign off on an agreement that he believes is good for the world’s security, including Israel.

MODERATOR: Pam from Voice of America. Right here. It’s behind you.

QUESTION: Good evening. A little bit earlier you said that it was clear that everyone had come here to work and you described some of the initial bilaterals as constructive. A two-part question. First, can you shed more light, provide a little bit more insight on what you mean? And then secondly, specifically, was there any indication of movement on what’s been one of the key sticking points, and that’s the uranium enrichment?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: So, we’ve only had a few hours of talks over two days, and not even all day of those two days. We started last evening for a bit of time and then again this morning, and then we had coordination meetings with our partners in the P5+1, or as the Europeans call it the E3+3.

So this is just a beginning, so I don’t have any substantive things to report. Probably wouldn’t anyway in the middle of a negotiation. What I think is that we have – everyone has come here intent on taking whatever time it takes. This can become a very busy time here at the UN General Assembly when the high-level week starts next week. People have committed to canceling meetings if they need to if they are needed for meetings, though I think these meetings will happen in lots of different formats and lots of different ways. Some of our partners in the E3+3 will have meetings with President Rouhani, with Foreign Minister Zarif, as I believe Secretary Kerry will meet with Foreign Minister Zarif. We will have lots of different combinations and expert conversations.

It’s really the tone and the quality of the discussion. And I don’t want to overstate this either. We’re at the beginning of a very intense period here, and one never knows where it will go or whether you’ll get to an issue and hit a wall or whether you’ll break through. But everyone has come here – everyone, all parties – clearly intent on seeing if we can’t work through some of these very difficult issues.

MODERATOR: Laura Rozen, and then I’m coming to this side of the room, I promise.

QUESTION: Laura Rozen from Al-Monitor. Thank you for doing this. Back in May when the going-in bids were made in Vienna, we’ve heard from you all to not be alarmed if the going-in bids on each side were wide apart because that’s the nature of the negotiation. We heard that from you, I think, in Baghdad a few years ago, if I remember as well.

Can you give us a sense of between May, when those positions were put on the table, and I guess now in mid-September, have things narrowed, especially on the enrichment capacity issue (inaudible) from the opening bid?

And secondly, let me just say as you will hear the Iranians say many times over the next week, they kind of raise the prospect that no deal will very quickly result in their breakout time going down very quickly because they already have 20,000 centrifuges in store; they’ll flip back on at 20 percent and very quickly, all the things we’re worried about. So that the best is the enemy of the good, I think is their argument. So how do you respond to that? Thanks.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: As I said, we’ve just begun the talks here so I am not going to go into substance, and I probably wouldn’t under any circumstances. What I think has occurred is we probably understand each other a great deal better than we did back in May about the elements that are required, the parameters for how one could get there. We’ve had some creative technological thinking that’s gone on. We understand that there are different paths to the same objective. You all know the infamous Rubik’s cube comparison. So I would say there has been a deepening of understanding, and when that happens sometimes it opens some doors to some possibilities. But I can’t say anyone has walked through them to an answer, or we wouldn’t be here so intensely at work.

On the “no deal, they can break out,” we can all go through lots of escalatory talk about what they would do and what we would do if we don’t have any agreement. I don’t find that particularly productive. We each know what each other would do if things don’t work out. I’d rather be focused right now on what might be possible.

MODERATOR: We’re going to do a few from this side, and then wrap up with a few others. Go ahead, Laurence Norman of The Wall Street Journal.

QUESTION: Hey.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Hey.

QUESTION: How are you? Thanks for doing this. Good to see you again.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: (Laughter.) We’ve having a blast. How about you?

QUESTION: Good, thank you. Two questions, if I may. First of all, I think you said you weren’t very optimistic arriving in New York. Now, I’m assuming that’s because not very much progress was made over the summer in the bilaterals, but could you just say why? And it might link into the second question, which is: What is your current reading of this Russian deal with Iran, and do you think it’s making the Iranians feel like they need a deal less?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: What Russian deal are you referring to?

QUESTION: I’m not quite sure what to call it. The memorandum that they signed to cooperate (inaudible) economics. I’m not sure they even know exactly what it is.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: I don’t know all – I don’t know what it is either, so what I would say is that countries have relationships with other countries, and they are working on ways to relate to each other all of the time. What we care about is whether any country makes an agreement that would break the sanctions enforcement of all of the sanctions that are in place. I do not expect Russia to do that. Everyone here knows, and I’m sure someone would ask, “Have all of the tensions around Ukraine entered into this negotiation?” They have not to date. [Sergei Ryabkov] is a professional who understands the nonproliferation world extremely well, and we are all focused on solving this problem in this room.

In terms of over the summer, I wouldn’t say nothing happened over the summer. I think every conversation, even when they’re tough and they seem to not make progress, sometimes people have to hear messages many, many times before realizing that unless people start to open doors, you’re just going to keep having the same conversation. So I think that not only the United States, but all of my partners in the P5+1 in the bilaterals – and all of us have had bilaterals over the last few weeks with Iran – have delivered the same messages. And sometimes messages have to get delivered many times before people really come to believe them.

QUESTION: You said you weren’t very optimistic.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: No, because messages were delivered, they were heard, but there wasn’t something forthcoming in that immediate instance. But this is a process, so I don’t find it surprising either.

MODERATOR: Okay, we’re going to do a few more. George.

QUESTION: George Jahn, Associated Press. Hi. You said in your opening remarks that the status quo is not doable for either side. That could be interpreted to mean that you’re bringing, if not new proposals, modified proposals to the table. I don’t expect you to go into specifics, but --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: What I was referring to is the status quo of – Iran has said, as one of the rest of you said, that when Foreign Minister Zarif did some of his comments – I think it was Foreign Minister Zarif – you all said that he said that we have to maintain what we currently have. Well, that’s – if that were the case, then we wouldn’t be in a negotiation if that were something that everybody could agree to. Iran would say we can’t maintain our sanctions in place in the way that we have. And I would say that the only – as I said, if Iran takes the steps necessary to ensure that they will not acquire a nuclear weapon and that their program is exclusively peaceful, then we have a way to, in fact, suspend and ultimately lift sanctions.

MODERATOR: Okay, we’re going to do two very quick ones. Indira quick and Paul quick, and then we’ll --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Not that I don’t want to spend the evening here, but I know you all want to get to dinner. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Indira Lakshmanan from --

MODERATOR: There will be more opportunities as well.

QUESTION: -- from Bloomberg News. Thank you for doing this. I want to start out by asking you, I mean: What is going to be your goal at the end of this week-and-a-half period where you will be able to check a box and say, “Yes, we’ve made progress; we came in pessimistic, but this shows we’ve taken one step closer.” And then if we come to November 24th and we don’t have a comprehensive deal, are you guys prepared to extend once more?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: So I’m going to do the second part of your question first. Way too early to talk about hypotheticals. We are --

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Huh? Yeah, we – no. (Laughter.) We are not – good try. We are not going to talk about any Plan B because we’re focused on getting Plan A, and we hope Iran is as well. So that’s where I am on that.

On your first part, was – I’m sorry.

QUESTION: It was about what is it going to --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Oh, what’s success at the --

QUESTION: What’s your measure? What’s your metric that you will – that you don’t have to be negative, that the --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Progress, progress.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: There could be many ways. It could be in many ways. It’s hard to say because this is so complex. And would I like at the end of this week to have a broad understanding on all of the major issues, even if we have to use the next October, November writing all the details? Sure, I’d love to be there. Will we be there at the end of this week? I don’t know. It’s tough, very tough. We are discussing all of the issues. We are discussing all the parameters of all of the issues. And I think this is an opportunity because we have – everybody’s here. Any consultation you have to have with anybody about anything, everybody’s here. So we ought to make use of that to try to deal with some of these very tough issues. We’ll see.

QUESTION: But we’re further than we were in July?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Are we further than we are in July? The reason I have such a hard time answering this question is what I’ve said to you all so many times before: You can get 98 percent of the way there in this agreement and that last 2 percent means you don’t. It’s not a situation where you can say, ah, we’re 50 percent of the way there, we’re 75 percent of the way there, because that last percentage may be the crucial one and you don’t have the deal at all. That’s why this is so hard. It all fits together.

MODERATOR: I think we’re going to end tonight with Paul Richter of the L.A. Times. Wait for the mike. And there will be more opportunities, I promise, for us all to chat. Right here, Paul. Right here. Yeah.

QUESTION: As you know, a lot of people on the outside, other foreign governments, people in Congress and elsewhere, are really focused on the very concrete questions of number of Iranian centrifuges, enrichment capacity. Are those the right terms to be judging progress here?

And I’ve got a second question, too. Did the Iraq/ISIS issue come up at all in the talks with the Iranians?

MODERATOR: I’m surprised it took till the end.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Gosh, I’m surprised that it took till the end. (Laughter.) I was having the same thought.

MODERATOR: Yeah.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Okay. The measure of this agreement – I know you’re sick of hearing me say this. The measure of this agreement is Iran can’t acquire a nuclear weapon and we’re assured its program is exclusively peaceful. There are many components of that. So counting one thing is not going to answer that question. It’s a package of things. If you’re talking about enrichment capacity, you’re talking about infrastructure, you’re talking about centrifuges, you’re talking about SWU, you’re talking about stockpile, you’re talking about the types of equipment in centrifuges, you’re talking about duration, you’re talking about a whole bunch of elements if you’re worried about how long it’s going to take to get a weapon’s worth of fissile material, which is often the terminology used for breakthrough – breakout, sorry.

So it’s a lot of elements. So all of the things that outsiders have said to you or members of Congress are certainly elements, but they’re only elements. They have to come together in a way that gives us and the international community confidence that the program is exclusively peaceful and Iran will not acquire a nuclear weapon. That’s what we’re trying to do.

Now, as to your last question, I think you all know that tomorrow – I have to read it because I’m going to say it wrong – the Secretary of State is chairing a ministerial debate of the United Nations Security Council on the situation in Iraq at 2:00. Somebody’s phone is buzzing. Do you care?

QUESTION: I’m just going to --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Shall we answer? We can all say hello. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Put them on speaker phone.

MODERATOR: I don’t know what I just – I just think I --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Okay. Well, whosever phone that is --

MODERATOR: I hope it’s still recording, whoever’s phone that is.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Yeah. If it’s your mom, tell her I’m sorry. (Laughter.)

Any member can attend, and so the meeting was mentioned in our discussions today on the margins because it’s very present, but we are very clear and continue to be clear, as the Secretary said in his testimony, that we, of course, expect there will be time to time that we discuss this, as we discuss ISIS with everyone – ISIL. The world is focused – and I think this is what this ministerial tomorrow will show – that the world is focused on the mission that the President of the United States has set out, and that is to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL. And I think we will all see that in a very powerful way tomorrow at the ministerial, and I believe that Iran thinks that ISIL should not be doing what it is doing either.

MODERATOR: Thank you, everyone.

QUESTION: What (inaudible) Iran (inaudible) come back tomorrow?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Ask Iran.

MODERATOR: Thank you, everyone, for coming tonight. Again, this is on background as a senior Administration official. We will have more opportunities to do these things over the next week and a half, so email [us] with any questions. We will have a transcript done later tonight of this as well.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Thank you all.

WHITE HOUSE ANNOUNCES ACTION TO COMBAT ANTIBIOTIC-RESISTANT BACTERIA

FROM:   THE WHITE HOUSE 
September 18, 2014
FACT SHEET: Obama Administration Takes Actions to Combat Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

Today, President Obama signed an Executive Order directing key Federal departments and agencies to take action to combat the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.  The Administration also released its National Strategy on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria. In addition, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) is releasing a related report on Combating Antibiotic Resistance. The Administration also announced a $20 million prize, co-sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, to facilitate the development of rapid, point-of-care diagnostic tests for healthcare providers to identify highly resistant bacterial infections.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), antibiotic-resistant infections are associated with 23,000 deaths and 2 million illnesses in the United States each year.  Estimates of annual impact of antibiotic-resistant infections on the U.S. economy vary but have ranged as high as $20 billion in excess direct health care costs, and as much as $35 billion in lost productivity from hospitalizations and sick days.  And the problem is worsening.  Some bacterial infections are almost, or entirely, untreatable because the causal agents have acquired resistance to all of the antibiotics that can be deployed against them.  Without effective antibiotics, we will no longer be able to treat bacterial infections reliably and rapidly. Antibiotics are critically important for many modern medical interventions, including chemotherapy, complex surgery, and organ transplantation.

The Executive Order signed today by President Obama directs Federal departments and agencies to implement the National Strategy and address the PCAST report.  The National Strategy provides a five-year plan for enhancing domestic and international capacity to: prevent and contain outbreaks of antibiotic-resistant infections; maintain the efficacy of current and new antibiotics; and develop and deploy next-generation diagnostics, antibiotics, vaccines, and other therapeutics.  The PCAST report provides actionable recommendations from the President’s Council, in consultation with experts from the public and private sectors, for combating antibiotic resistance.

Controlling the development and spread of antibiotic resistance is a top national security and public health priority for the Obama Administration.  Taken together, the Executive Order, National Strategy, and PCAST report will significantly help the Federal government curb the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, potentially saving thousands of lives.

President Obama’s Executive Order

The Executive Order signed by President Obama:

Establishes a New Task Force for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

The Executive Order directs establishment of the Task Force for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, co-chaired by the Secretaries of Defense, Agriculture, and Health and Human Services (HHS).  It also instructs the Task Force to submit a National Action Plan to the President outlining specific Federal actions to implement the Strategy and address the recommendations made by the PCAST.
Establishes the Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

The Executive Order directs the Secretary of HHS, in consultation with the Secretary of Agriculture, to establish a Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, to be composed of leading non-governmental experts.
The Presidential Advisory Council will provide advice, information, and recommendations regarding programs and policies intended to: preserve antibiotic effectiveness; strengthen surveillance of antibiotic-resistant infections; advance the development of rapid, point-of-care diagnostics for use in human healthcare and agriculture; advance research on new treatments for bacterial infections; develop alternatives to the use of antibiotics for some agricultural purposes; and improve international coordination of efforts to combat antibiotic resistance.
Improves Antibiotic Stewardship

The Executive Order directs the Departments of HHS, Defense, and Veterans Affairs to review existing regulations governing antibiotic stewardship in hospitals and other inpatient healthcare delivery facilities and to propose new regulations and other actions to improve antibiotic stewardship programs in accordance with the best practices, including those defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Executive Order requires Federal departments and agencies to lead by example through defining, communicating, and implementing stewardship programs in office-based practices, outpatient settings, emergency departments, and institutional and long-term care facilities such as nursing homes, pharmacies, and correctional facilities.
The Food and Drug Administration is directed to continue taking steps to eliminate agricultural use of medically important antibiotics for growth-promotion purposes. These and other improvements in antibiotic use will be tracked through the National Healthcare Safety Network.
Strengthens National-Surveillance Efforts for Resistant Bacteria

The Executive Order requires the Task Force to develop procedures for creating and integrating surveillance systems and laboratory networks to provide timely, high-quality data in healthcare and agricultural settings, including detailed genomic data to adequately track resistant bacteria across diverse settings.
It further directs Task Force agencies to, as appropriate, link data from Federal repositories for bacterial strains to an integrated surveillance system. Where feasible, the repositories shall integrate their sample collections and further interoperable data systems with national surveillance efforts.
Promotes the Development of New and Next-Generation Antibiotics and Diagnostics

The Executive Order requires the Task Force to describe steps that departments and agencies should take to encourage the development of new and next-generation antibiotics, diagnostics, and alternatives to traditional antibiotics. This includes steps to strengthen infrastructure for clinical trials, such as the Antibacterial Resistance Leadership Group (ARLG), to reduce obstacles faced by drug companies who are developing new antibiotics as well as develop options for attracting greater private investment in the development of new antibiotics and rapid, point-of-care diagnostics.
The Executive Order also directs the Biomedical Advanced Research Development Authority in HHS to develop new and next generation countermeasures to antibiotic resistant bacteria that present a serious or urgent threat to public health.
Strengthens International Cooperation

The Executive Order directs the Secretaries of HHS and State to designate representatives to engage with the World Health Organization (WHO) and member states on the development of the WHO Global Action Plan for Antimicrobial Resistance.
The Executive Order complements the Global Health Security Agenda, which was launched to accelerate action to prevent, detect, and respond to threats posed by antibiotic-resistant bacteria and other disease threats.
National Strategy on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

The National Strategy provides detailed actions for five interrelated national goals to be achieved by 2020 in collaboration with partners in healthcare, public health, veterinary medicine, agriculture, and food safety, as well as in academic, Federal, and industrial research and development.  The goals are:

Slow the emergence and prevent the spread of resistant bacteria.
Strengthen National efforts to identify and report cases of antibiotic resistance.
Advance the development and use of rapid diagnostic tests for the identification and characterization of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Accelerate basic and applied research and development for new antibiotics as well as other therapeutics and vaccines.
Improve international collaboration, capacities for antibiotic-resistance prevention, surveillance, control, and antibiotic research and development.
Collectively, the actions outlined in the National Strategy will enhance antibiotic stewardship; strengthen national-surveillance capabilities; and expand the arsenal of diagnostics, antibiotics, and other countermeasures available to combat resistant bacteria.

PCAST Report on Combating Antibiotic Resistance

At the request of the President, the PCAST, working with U.S. government and non-government experts, developed a set of practical and actionable steps that the Federal government could take to address the rise of antibiotic resistance through focused efforts in three areas:

Improved surveillance of antibiotic-resistant bacteria to enable effective response, stop outbreaks, and limit the spread of antibiotic-resistant organisms.
Increased longevity of current and new antibiotics, by promoting appropriate use, preventing the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and scaling up proven interventions to decrease the rate at which microbes develop resistance.
Increased rates of discovery and development of new antibiotics.
Launch of a $20 Million Prize for New Rapid, Point-of-Care Diagnostic Tests

The National Institutes of Health and Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority will co-sponsor a prize for the development of a rapid, point-of-care diagnostic test for healthcare providers to use to identify highly resistant bacterial infections. In the near future, HHS agencies will host a public meeting that will engage stakeholders to ensure that this competition focuses on the type of diagnostic most needed by the medical and public health communities for recognizing and treating antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections.

A MEASURE OF OCEAN PROTEINS MAY REVEAL HOW OCEAN SYSTEMS OPERATE

FROM:  THE NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION 

Scientists apply biomedical technique to reveal changes in body of the ocean
Researchers look at biochemical reactions happening inside ocean organisms
For decades, doctors have developed methods to diagnose how different types of cells and systems in the body are functioning. Now scientists have adapted an emerging biomedical technique to study the vast body of the ocean.

In a paper published in the journal Science, scientists demonstrate that they can identify and measure proteins in the ocean, revealing how single-celled marine organisms and ocean ecosystems operate.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation funded the research.

"Proteins are the molecules that catalyze the biochemical reactions happening in organisms," says Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) biogeochemist Mak Saito, the paper's lead author.

"Instead of just measuring what species are in the ocean, now we can look inside those organisms and see what biochemical reactions they're performing in the face of various ocean conditions.

"It's a potentially powerful tool we can use to reveal the inner biochemical workings of organisms in ocean ecosystems--and to start diagnosing how the oceans are responding to pollution, climate change and other shifts."

The emerging biomedical technique of measuring proteins--a field called proteomics--builds on the more familiar field of genomics that has allowed scientists to detect and identify genes in cells.

"Proteomics is an advanced diagnostic tool that allows us to take the pulse of, for example, phytoplankton cells while they respond to environmental cues," says paper co-author Anton Post, currently on leave from the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass., and a program officer in NSF's Division of Ocean Sciences.

The new study is an initial demonstration that proteomic techniques can be applied to marine species not only to identify the presence of proteins, but for the first time, to precisely count their numbers.

"We're leveraging that biomedical technology and translating it for use in the oceans," Saito says.

"Just as you'd analyze proteins in a blood test to get information on what's happening inside your body, proteomics gives us a new way to learn what's happening in ocean ecosystems, especially under multiple stresses and over large regions.

"With that information, we can identify changes, assess their effects on society and devise strategies to adapt."

For their study, the scientists collected water samples during a research cruise along a 2,500-mile stretch of the Pacific Ocean from Hawaii to Samoa.

The transect cut across regions with widely different concentrations of nutrients, from areas rich in iron to the north to areas near the equator that are rich in phosphorus and nitrogen but devoid of iron.

Back in the lab, the scientists analyzed the samples, focusing on proteins produced by one of the ocean's most abundant microbes, Prochlorococcus.

They used mass spectrometers to separate individual proteins in the samples, identifying them by their peptide sequences.

In subsequent steps, the scientists demonstrated for the first time that they could precisely measure the amounts of specific proteins in individual species at various locations in the ocean.

The results painted a picture of what factors were controlling microbial photosynthesis and growth and how the microbes were responding to different conditions over a large geographic region of the sea.

For example, in areas where nitrogen was limited, the scientists found high levels of a protein that transports urea, a form of nitrogen, which the microbes used to maximize their ability to obtain the essential nutrient.

In areas where iron was deficient, they found an abundance of proteins that help grab and transport iron.

"The microbes have biochemical systems that are ready to turn on to deal with low-nutrient situations," Saito says.

In areas in-between, where the microbes were starved for both nutrients, proteins indicated which biochemical machinery the microbes used to negotiate multiple environmental stresses.

The protein measurements enabled the scientists to map when, where, and how ecosystem changes occurred over broad areas of the ocean.

"We measured about 20 biomarkers that indicate metabolism, but we can scale up that capacity to measure many more simultaneously," Saito says.

"We're building an oceanic proteomic capability, which includes sampling with ocean-going robots, to allow us to diagnose the inner workings of ocean ecosystems and understand how they respond to global change."

Along with Saito and Post, the research team included Matthew McIlvin, Dawn Moran, Tyler Goepfert and Carl Lamborg of WHOI and Giacomo DiTullio of the College of Charleston in South Carolina.

-NSF-

Friday, September 19, 2014

PRESIDENT OBAMA MAKES STATEMENT ON SCOTTISH ELECTION RESULTS

FROM:  THE WHITE HOUSE 

Statement by the President on the Results of the Scottish Referendum
We welcome the result of yesterday’s referendum on Scottish independence and congratulate the people of Scotland for their full and energetic exercise of democracy. Through debate, discussion, and passionate yet peaceful deliberations, they reminded the world of Scotland's enormous contributions to the UK and the world, and have spoken in favor of keeping Scotland within the United Kingdom.  We have no closer ally than the United Kingdom, and we look forward to continuing our strong and special relationship with all the people of Great Britain and Northern Ireland as we address the challenges facing the world today.

PRESIDENT'S STATEMENT ON AUTHORIZATION TO TRAIN SYRIAN OPPOSITION

FROM: THE WHITE HOUSE 
September 18, 2014
Statement By the President on Congressional Authorization to Train Syrian Opposition
State Dining Room

THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. Today, the United States continues to build a broad international coalition to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL. As part of the air campaign, France will join in strikes against ISIL targets in Iraq. And as one of our oldest and closest allies, France is a strong partner in our efforts against terrorism, and we’re pleased that French and American servicemembers will once again work together on behalf of our shared security and our shared values.

More broadly, more than 40 countries -- including Arab nations -- have now offered assistance as part of this coalition. This includes support for Iraqi forces, strengthening the Iraqi government, providing humanitarian aid to Iraqi civilians, and doing their part in the fight against ISIL.

Here at home, I’m pleased that Congress -- a majority of Democrats and a majority of Republicans, in both the House and the Senate -- have now voted to support a key element of our strategy: our plan to train and equip the opposition in Syria so they can help push back these terrorists. As I said last week, I believe that we’re strongest as a nation when the President and Congress work together. And I want to thank leaders in Congress for the speed and seriousness with which they approached this urgent issue -- in keeping with the bipartisanship that is the hallmark of American foreign policy at its best.

These Syrian opposition forces are fighting both the brutality of ISIL terrorists and the tyranny of the Assad regime. We had already ramped up our assistance, including military assistance, to the Syrian opposition. With this new effort, we’ll provide training and equipment to help them grow stronger and take on ISIL terrorists inside Syria. This program will be hosted outside of Syria, in partnership with Arab countries, and it will be matched by our increasing support for Iraqi government and Kurdish forces in Iraq.

This is in keeping with a key principle of our strategy: The American forces that have been deployed to Iraq do not and will not have a combat mission; their mission is to advise and assist our partners on the ground. As I told our troops yesterday, we can join with allies and partners to destroy ISIL without American troops fighting another ground war in the Middle East.

The strong bipartisan support in Congress for this new training effort shows the world that Americans are united in confronting the threat from ISIL, which has slaughtered so many innocent civilians. With their barbaric murder of two Americans, these terrorists thought they could frighten us, or intimidate us, or cause us to shrink from the world, but today they’re learning the same hard lesson of petty tyrants and terrorists who have gone before.

As Americans, we do not give in to fear. And when you harm our citizens, when you threaten the United States, when you threaten our allies -- it doesn’t divide us, it unites us. We pull together, we stand together -- to defend this country that we love and to make sure justice is done, as well as to join with those who seek a better future of dignity and opportunity for all people.

Today, our strikes against these terrorists continue. We’re taking out their terrorists. We’re destroying their vehicles and equipment and stockpiles. And we salute our dedicated pilots and crews who are carrying out these missions with great courage and skill.

As Commander-in-Chief, I could not be more proud of their service. As I told some of our troops yesterday, the American people are united in our support for them and for their families. And as we go forward, as one nation, I’d ask all Americans to keep our forces and their families in their thoughts and prayers. Thanks very much.

NASA VIDEOS: SCIENCECASTS: COLLIDING ATMOSPHERES - MARS VS COMET SIDING SPRING

PRESIDENTIAL DETERMINATION ON FOREIGN GOVERNMENTS' EFFORTS REGARDING TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS

FROM:  THE WHITE HOUSE 
Presidential Determination -- Foreign Governments' Efforts Regarding Trafficking in Persons
MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF STATE

SUBJECT:     Presidential Determination with Respect to
                       Foreign Governments' Efforts Regarding
                       Trafficking in Persons


Consistent with section 110 of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (Division A of Public Law 106-386) (the "Act"), I hereby:

Make the determination provided in section 110(d)(1)(A)(i) of the Act, with respect to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Equatorial Guinea, Iran, Russia, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe, not to provide certain funding for those countries' governments for Fiscal Year (FY) 2015, until such governments comply with the minimum standards or make significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance, as may be determined by the Secretary of State in a report to the Congress pursuant to section 110(b) of the Act;

Make the determination provided in section 110(d)(1)(A)(ii) of the Act, with respect to Cuba, Eritrea, and Syria, not to provide certain funding for those countries' governments for FY 2015, until such governments comply with the minimum standards or make significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance, as may be determined by the Secretary of State in a report to the Congress pursuant to section 110(b) of the Act;

Determine, consistent with section 110(d)(4) of the Act, with respect to Algeria, the Central African Republic, the Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, Mauritania, Papua New Guinea, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Uzbekistan, and Yemen, that provision to these countries' governments of all programs, projects, or activities described in sections 110(d)(1)(A)(i)-(ii) and 110(d)(1)(B) of the Act would promote the purposes of the Act or is otherwise in the national interest of the United States;

Determine, consistent with section 110(d)(4) of the Act, with respect to the DRC, that provision of assistance and programs described in section 110(d)(1)(A)(i) and 110(d)(1)(B) of the

Act, with the exception of Foreign Military Sales and Foreign Military Financing for the army of the DRC, would promote the purposes of the Act or is otherwise in the national interest of the United States;

Determine, consistent with section 110(d)(4) of the Act, with respect to the DRC, that a partial waiver to allow funding for programs to be provided pursuant to section 1208 of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2014 (Public Law 113-66), to the extent that such programs would otherwise be restricted by the Act, would promote the purposes of the Act or is otherwise in the national interest of the United States;

Determine, consistent with section 110(d)(4) of the Act, with respect to Venezuela, that a partial waiver to allow funding for programs described in section 110(d)(1)(A)(i) of the Act designed to strengthen the democratic process in Venezuela would promote the purposes of the Act or is otherwise in the national interest of the United States;

Determine, consistent with section 110(d)(4) of the Act, with respect to Cuba, Syria, and Eritrea, that a partial waiver to allow funding for educational and cultural exchange programs described in section 110(d)(1)(A)(ii) of the Act would promote the purposes of the Act or is otherwise in the national interest of the United States;

Determine, consistent with section 110(d)(4) of the Act, with respect to Equatorial Guinea, that a partial waiver to allow funding described in section 110(d)(1)(A)(i) of the Act to advance sustainable natural resource management and biodiversity and to support the participation of government employees or officials in young leader programming would promote the purposes of the Act or is otherwise in the national interest of the United States; Determine, consistent with section 110(d)(4) of the Act, with respect to Syria and Equatorial Guinea, that assistance described in section 110(d)(1)(B) of the Act would promote the purposes of the Act or is otherwise in the national interest of the United States;

Determine, consistent with section 110(d)(4) of the Act, with respect to Zimbabwe, that a partial waiver to allow funding for programs described in section 110(d)(1)(A)(i) of the Act for assistance for victims of trafficking in persons or to combat such trafficking, programs to support the promotion of health, good governance, education, leadership, agriculture and food security, poverty reduction, livelihoods, family planning, macroeconomic growth including anti-corruption, biodiversity and wildlife protection, and programs that would have a significant adverse effect on vulnerable populations if suspended, would promote the purposes of the Act or is otherwise in the national interest of the United States;

And determine, consistent with section 110(d)(4) of the Act, with respect to Zimbabwe, that assistance described in section 110(d)(1)(B) of the Act, which:

is a regional program, project, or activity under which the total benefit to Zimbabwe does not exceed 10 percent of the total value of such program, project, or activity;

has as its primary objective the addressing of basic human needs, as defined by the Department of the Treasury with respect to other, existing legislative provision concerning U.S. participation in the multilateral development banks;

is complementary to or has similar policy objectives to programs being implemented bilaterally by the

United States Government;

has as its primary objective the improvement of

Zimbabwe's legal system, including in areas that impact

Zimbabwe's ability to investigate and prosecute trafficking cases or otherwise improve implementation of its antitrafficking policy, regulations, or legislation;

is engaging a government, international organization, or civil society organization, and seeks as its primary objective(s) to:  (a) increase efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking in persons crimes; (b) increase protection for victims of trafficking through better screening, identification, rescue/removal, aftercare

(shelter, counseling), training, and reintegration; or (c) expand prevention efforts through education and awareness campaigns highlighting the dangers of trafficking in persons or training and economic empowerment of populations clearly at risk of falling victim to trafficking; or

is targeted macroeconomic assistance from the International Monetary Fund that strengthens the macroeconomic management capacity of Zimbabwe, would promote the purposes of the Act, or is otherwise in the national interest of the United States.

The certification required by section 110(e) of the Act is provided herewith.

You are hereby authorized and directed to submit this determination to the Congress, and to publish it in the Federal Register.

BARACK OBAMA

TWO COMPANIES SETTLE FTC CHARGES OF IMPROPERLY COLLECTING PERSONAL INFORMATION ON CHILDREN

FROM:  U.S. FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION 
Yelp, TinyCo Settle FTC Charges Their Apps Improperly Collected Children’s Personal Information

Online review site Yelp, Inc., and mobile app developer TinyCo, Inc., agreed to settle separate Federal Trade Commission charges that they improperly collected children’s information in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA, Rule. Under the terms of the settlements, Yelp will pay a $450,000 civil penalty, while TinyCo will pay a $300,000 civil penalty.

“As people – especially children – move more of their lives onto mobile devices, it’s important that they have the same consumer protections when they’re using an app that they have when they’re on a website,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Companies should take steps as they build and test their apps to make sure that children’s information won’t be collected without a parent’s consent.”

COPPA requires that companies collecting information about children under 13 online follow a number of steps to ensure that children’s information is protected, including clearly disclosing how the information is used directly to parents and seeking verifiable parental consent before collecting any information from a child.

Yelp, Inc.

The FTC’s complaint against Yelp alleges that, from 2009 to 2013, the company collected personal information from children through the Yelp app without first notifying parents and obtaining their consent. When consumers registered for Yelp through the app on their mobile device, according to the complaint, they were asked to provide their date of birth during the registration process.

According to the complaint, several thousand registrants provided a date of birth showing they were under 13 years old, and Yelp collected information from them including, for example, their name, e-mail address, and location, as well as any information that they posted on Yelp.

The FTC’s complaint alleges that Yelp failed to follow the COPPA Rule’s requirements, even though it knew – based on registrants’ birth dates – that children were registering for Yelp through the mobile app. According to the complaint, Yelp failed to implement a functional age-screen in its apps, thereby allowing children under 13 to register for the service, despite having an age-screen mechanism on its website. In addition, the complaint alleges that Yelp did not adequately test its apps to ensure that users under the age of 13 were prohibited from registering.

In addition to the $450,000 civil penalty, under the terms of its settlement with the FTC, Yelp must delete information it collected from consumers who stated they were 13 years of age or younger at the time they registered for the service, except in cases where the company can prove to the FTC that the consumers were actually older than 13.

The settlement will also require the company to comply with COPPA requirements in the future and submit a compliance report to the FTC in one year outlining its COPPA compliance program.

TinyCo, Inc.

The FTC’s complaint against TinyCo alleges that many of the company’s popular apps, which were downloaded more than 34 million times across the major mobile app stores, targeted children. Among the apps named in the complaint are Tiny Pets, Tiny Zoo, Tiny Monsters, Tiny Village and Mermaid Resort. The complaint alleges that the apps, through their use of themes appealing to children, brightly colored animated characters and simple language, were directed at children under 13 and thus, TinyCo was subject to the COPPA Rule.

Many of TinyCo’s apps included an optional feature that collected e-mail addresses from users, including children younger than age 13. In some of the company’s apps, by providing an e-mail address, users obtained extra in-game currency that could be used to buy items within the game or speed up gameplay. The FTC’s complaint alleges that the company failed to follow the steps required under the Rule related to the collection of children’s personal information.

In addition to the $300,000 civil penalty, under the terms of its settlement with the FTC, TinyCo is required to delete the information it collected from children under 13. The settlement will also require the company to comply with COPPA requirements in the future and submit a compliance report to the FTC in one year outlining its compliance with the order.

The Commission vote to authorize the staff to refer the complaints to the Department of Justice, and to approve the proposed stipulated orders, was 5-0. The DOJ filed the complaints and proposed stipulated orders on behalf of the Commission in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Sept. 16, 2014. The proposed stipulated orders are subject to court approval.

NOTE: The Commission authorizes the filing of 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. Stipulated orders have the force of law when signed by the District Court judge.

WHITE HOUSE VIDEO: AT THE INVICTUS GAMES WITH DR. JILL BIDEN & THE U.S. TEAM

MIMAS, THE "DEATH STAR" MOON

FROM:  NASA

A thin sliver of Mimas is illuminated, the long shadows showing off its many craters, indicators of the moon's violent history. The most famous evidence of a collision on Mimas (246 miles, or 396 kilometers across) is the crater Herschel that gives Mimas its Death Star-like appearance.  North on Mimas is up and rotated 40 degrees to the right. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on May 20, 2013. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 100,000 miles (200,000 kilometers) from Mimas and at a Sun-Mimas-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 130 degrees. Image scale is 4,000 feet (1 kilometer) per pixel. The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.  Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute.

FRANK ROSE SPEAKS ABOUT OUTER SPACE AND AFRICA'S FUTURE

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 
Arms Control and International Security: The Benefits of Space Security for Development in Africa
The Benefits of Space Security for Development in Africa

Remarks
Frank A. Rose
Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance
Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH)
Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
September 8, 2014

Thank you so much for having me here today.

It is an honor to be here at COSTECH and to have the opportunity to speak with you. This is my first time visiting Tanzania, so it is a real pleasure to be with you today.

I’m also particularly pleased to be here in following the conclusion of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. As you know, last month, President Obama welcomed leaders from across this continent to Washington for a three-day U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, the first such event of its kind. The President also welcomed outstanding young African leaders who had been participating in the Young African Leaders Initiatives.

These meetings built on the President’s visit to Africa in the summer of 2013 and helped strengthen ties between the United States and one of the world’s most dynamic and fastest-growing regions.

The theme of the Summit was “Investing in the Next Generation.” I’m here today to continue to discuss that theme and to once again underscore the importance of U.S.-Africa cooperation.

Specifically, I would like to talk to you about the importance of space to African nations and our work of ensuring the long-term sustainability of the outer space environment.

It is critical that we work together to preserve and protect outer space for the next generation so countries like Tanzania can continue to utilize space applications for sustainable development on Earth.

Why Space Matters to Africa

Outer space and space assets – like satellites – provide value to countries and peoples around the world. Space systems provide tremendous benefits to the health and development of African nations, even those without space programs or satellites. As you know, space has real benefits for countries like Tanzania as well as all of Africa.

First, space is about connecting people.

Navigation satellite systems and satellite communications help us navigate the globe and connect and communicate with people around the world. Mobile phones, GPS, and television broadcasts all rely on space systems to connect us to distant places and people. For example, if you’ve ever used a cell phone in a remote area, you may have used a satellite to connect your call.

Second, space is about health.

Many countries in Africa and around the world suffer shortages of doctors, nurses, healthcare professionals, and facilities. Recently, many nations have been turning to space systems to help deal with this issue. For example, the European Space Agency, through the “Satellite African eHealth validation” program, is providing telemedicine services through satellite technology. This program connects remote regions in Sub-Saharan Africa with hospitals in larger cities for medical services and education.

Third, space is about education.

Space assets can be utilized to provide access to all levels of education to students that might not otherwise have access. African nations are working with other nations around the world to provide a variety of tele-education services by connecting leading African and foreign universities to remote classrooms.

Fourth, space is about collecting critical information.

African nations utilize Earth observation data for a variety of activities, including disaster monitoring and resource management. For example, Kenya hosts a UN Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) which utilizes data from American Earth observation satellites to respond to requests from member States for crop monitoring, water conditions, and disaster warning. The RCMRD also hosts the East Africa node of the SERVIR program, a joint venture between NASA and USAID which provides satellite-based Earth observation data and science applications to help developing nations improve their environmental decision making.

Fifth, like the goal of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit said, space is about investing in the next generation.

Active space sciences and astronomy programs also can encourage students to pursue science, technology, engineering, and math studies. As a part of the NASA Asteroid Grand Challenge, the Agency is currently discussing opportunities for the government of South Africa to contribute to the global search for hazardous Near-Earth Objects as a means of boosting South Africa’s focus on human capital development.

Sixth, space is about growth and development here on Earth.

Space technology and its applications, such as Earth observation systems, meteorological satellites, communication satellites and global navigation systems make significant contributions to achieving sustainable development in Africa.

In fact, during the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil in June 2012, delegations from around the world specifically recognized the importance of space-technology-based data and reliable geospatial information for sustainable development and recognized the need to support developing countries in their efforts to collect environmental data.

Space technology can be useful for nations with rapidly growing populations. In India, the government uses satellite imagery to help with city planning, especially those cities undergoing massive demographic changes.

Many people around the world are also using space assets to help with forest management. Satellite companies and foreign governments are making satellite imagery available to other governments and NGOs so that they can more effectively track changes and monitor land use.

Additionally, commercial ventures, relying on emerging small and microsatellite technologies, offer the potential for even wider access to critical earth observation information.

The use of space technology benefits Africa and its peoples in various ways. Space applications offer effective tools for connecting people around the world, monitoring and conducting assessments of the environment, managing the use of natural resources, managing responses to natural disasters and providing education and health services in remote areas.

How Africa Can Work Together on Space

These and countless other examples make clear that space is critical to the developing countries, including those in Africa. The number of African nations with their own space agencies and/or satellites continues to grow. African nations are more reliant on space applications than ever before to ensure their sustainable development. However, in order to continue utilizing these essential space applications, we need to preserve the outer space environment.

The long-term sustainability of space activities is at serious risk from space debris and from irresponsible actors and their actions. This summer, that risk became even clearer. On July 23, the Chinese Government conducted a non-destructive test of a missile designed to destroy satellites in low Earth orbit. Despite China’s claims that this was not an anti-satellite weapon, or ASAT, test, let me assure you the United States has high confidence in its assessment. That event was indeed an ASAT test.

Irresponsible acts against space systems do not just harm the space environment, but they also disrupt services that the citizens, companies, and governments around the world depend on. Ensuring the long-term sustainability, stability, safety, and security of the space environment is in the vital interests of the United States, African nations, and the entire global community.

As African nations benefit more and more from space, and many begin to own satellites, it’s our hope that African nations will play an active role in developing international “best practices” of responsible behavior, such as discussions on the draft International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities.

Threats to Outer Space

The utilization of space for sustainable development is not unique to Africa; nations and peoples around the globe now recognize the benefits that space applications have to offer. Today, approximately 60 nations, international organizations, and government consortia operate satellites. There are also numerous commercial and academic satellite operators.

This evolution in the use of outer space has greatly benefited society and has brought people around the world closer together, but it also presents challenges. As more countries and people benefit from space applications and the demand for satellite use has grown, the orbital environment has become increasingly congested.

Today, the orbits close to Earth, where most of our operations are conducted, are increasingly littered with debris. The U.S. is currently tracking tens of thousands of pieces of space debris 10 centimeters or larger in various Earth orbits. Experts warn that the current quantity and density of man-made debris significantly increases the odds of future damaging collisions. I strongly believe it is in our individual and collective interest that all spacefaring nations work to maintain the sustainability of the space environment, so that we can continue to reap the developmental benefits that space provides here on Earth.

Code of Conduct

Perhaps one of the most beneficial actions we can take for ensuring sustainability and security in space would be adopting of an International Code of Conduct. The United States is working with the European Union and other nations to develop an International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities.

An International Code of Conduct, if adopted, would help prevent mishaps, misperceptions, and mistrust in space by establishing guidelines to reduce the risks of debris-generating events, including collisions. As more countries field space capabilities, it is in all of our interests to work together to establish internationally accepted “rules of the road” to ensure that the safety and sustainability of space is protected. We strongly encourage all African nations to participate in the development of the International Code of Conduct and rules of responsible behavior in space.

Conclusion

When President Obama addressed the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, he said this:

“I do not see the countries and peoples of Africa as a world apart; I see Africa as a fundamental part of our interconnected world – partners with America on behalf of the future we want for all of our children.”

Space plays a major role in facilitating those connections, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to be with you today to discuss the benefits of space and how we can utilize its power to strengthen the future for generations to come.

Thank you very much.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

CHAIRMAN EXPORT-IMPORT BANK MAKES STATEMENT ON CHARTER EXTENSION

FROM:  U.S. EXPORT-IMPORT BANK 
Statement of Fred P. Hochberg on Ex-Im’s Extension

 Washington, DC – Ex-Im Bank Chairman and President Fred P. Hochberg issued the following statement regarding Senate passage of a nine-month extension of the Export-Import Bank’s charter:

“I look forward to working with Congress on the passage of a long-term reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank in order to bring certainty to the hundreds of thousands of Americans whose jobs depend on a level playing field for U.S. goods and services. Businesses don’t pursue overseas sales, invest in their operations, or hire new employees on a month-to-month basis. Similarly, quality American goods shouldn’t lose out to aggressive foreign competitors because of the Export-Import Bank’s still-uncertain future. Overwhelmingly bipartisan majorities in Congress have extended our charter 16 times, and I’m confident that together we can again find a long-term solution. Small businesses and workers in communities across America are counting on it.”

ABOUT EX-IM BANK:

Ex-Im Bank is an independent federal agency that creates and maintains U.S. jobs by filling gaps in private export financing at no cost to American taxpayers. The Bank provides a variety of financing mechanisms, including working-capital guarantees, export-credit insurance and financing to help foreign buyers purchase U.S. goods and services. In the past fiscal year alone, Ex-Im Bank earned for U.S. taxpayers more than $1 billion above the cost of operations.

In FY 2013, Ex-Im Bank approved more than $27 billion in total authorizations to support an estimated $37.4 billion in U.S. export sales and approximately 205,000 American jobs in communities across the country. For the year, the Bank approved a record 3,413 transactions-- or 89 percent--for small-businesses.

SECRETARY KERRY'S REMARKS WITH ALGERIAN FOREIGN MINISTER RAMTANE LAMAMRA

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 
Remarks With Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra Before Their Meeting
Remarks
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
September 18, 2014

SECRETARY KERRY: Good evening, everybody. Thank you very much. I’m sorry to keep you waiting. I apologize for running a little late. But it’s a great pleasure for me to be able to welcome the foreign minister of Algeria here to Washington. Foreign Minister Lamamra and I are getting to be old friends, if not a little older, and I’m enormously appreciative of the wonderful visit that I had to Algeria where we talked about a great many of the regional issues.

Today I want to particularly thank the Government of Algeria for their very prompt and strong support for the coalition to deal with the problem of ISIL. We’re appreciative of their efforts in counterterrorism particularly.

And also in the course of the next days in New York I will be hosting a small meeting of key nations that have an interest in Libya. We all know that Libya is challenged right now. A near neighbor, Algeria has critical relationships, and together with Egypt the region is working very hard to help deal with this issue. We want to be supportive and we want to work cooperatively, and I look forward to not just the discussion we have today but to furthering our efforts in this small group meeting that takes place in New York.

So these are important days; there’s a lot happening. All of us need to rely on each other and work together cooperatively, and I’m glad we have a friend and a partner in Algeria. Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER LAMAMRA: Thank you very much. Well, back in the month of April President Bouteflika and I were very much pleased to receive John Kerry. It was his first official visit to Algeria, building on the solid foundations that our predecessors did put for our strategic partnership. I believe that the meeting was fruitful; it has opened very, very numerous avenues for us to work closely together. Our bilateral partnership is promising; it encompasses so many areas of business. It is not anymore limited to energy; it covers so many areas, and it is really a good terrain and good ground for American companies to come and to contribute in the development of Algeria.

In the political area, I believe that we have been developing the strategic partnership which covers so many areas. We work closely together. We share values and interests, and I believe that our consultations have always the impact of moving forward issues in a way that contributes to ensuring the blessings of a normal life to our people in our region and beyond our region.

Algeria and the U.S. have been developing a very effective and action-oriented counterterrorism partnership. I think it has proven to be very serious. Algeria, as you know, can be counted among the few countries that have effectively defeated terrorism. We have paid the very high price for that, but we enjoy today security, a very reasonable level of security and a quietness in our country. And we do contribute; as I say, we are a security and stability exporting countries. We work with our neighbors, we develop very good relations and partnership, and as the Secretary said, Libya as well as Mali, immediate neighboring countries to Algeria, where as you know, terrorism and instability prevail. They are the focus of our immediate diplomatic action, while of course contributing our share to resolving other issues beyond our borders.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, my friend. Very important.

FOREIGN MINISTER LAMAMRA: Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you all.

U.S. OFFER BEST WISHES TO PEOPLE OF FEDERATION OF SAINT CHRISTOPHER AND NEVIS ON THEIR INDEPENDENCE DAY

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 
St. Kitts and Nevis' Independence Day
Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
September 18, 2014

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I offer best wishes to the people of the Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis as you celebrate the 31st anniversary of your independence on September 19.

Our two countries are bound by a long history: Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, traced his family to St. Kitts. The first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, was born on Nevis. American astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, has familial roots on your shores.

The peoples of the United States and St. Kitts and Nevis are committed to universal human rights, rule of law, and support for democracy. The United States will continue to work with your government to ensure the security of our region, economic growth, and support for a vibrant civil society through such programs as the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative.

The United States stands with the people of St. Kitts and Nevis as you celebrate this special day.

GOES VIDEO: ODILE MAKING LANDFALL IN BAJA

WHITE HOUSE VIDEO: PRESIDENT OBAMA SPEAKS AT CONGRESSIONAL PICNIC

NSF VIDEO: JELLYFISH SWARMS AND ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE

DOD VIDEO: HAGEL, DEMPSEY TESTIFY ON ISIL STRATEGY

video



AG HOLDER CHAMPIONS PROGRAM TO COUNTER VIOLENT EXTREMISTS

FROM:  U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT 
Monday, September 15, 2014
Attorney General Holder Announces Pilot Program to Counter Violent Extremists

Attorney General Eric Holder announced Monday that the Justice Department will launch a new series of pilot programs in cities across the country to bring together community representatives, public safety officials and religious leaders to counter violent extremism. The new programs will be run in partnership with the White House, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Counterterrorism Center.

“Today, few threats are more urgent than the threat posed by violent extremism,” Attorney General said in a video message posted on the Justice Department’s website. “And with the emergence of groups like ISIL, and the knowledge that some Americans are attempting to travel to countries like Syria and Iraq to take part in ongoing conflicts, the Justice Department is responding appropriately.”

The complete text of the Attorney General’s video message is below:

“Last week, millions of Americans paused to mark the 13th anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001 – the deadliest acts of terror ever carried out on American soil.  For my colleagues at every level of our nation’s Department of Justice, and for me, this anniversary was also a solemn reminder of our most important obligation: to ensure America’s national security and protect the American people from a range of evolving threats.

“Today, few threats are more urgent than the threat posed by violent extremism.  And with the emergence of groups like ISIL, and the knowledge that some Americans are attempting to travel to countries like Syria and Iraq to take part in ongoing conflicts, the Justice Department is responding appropriately.

“Through law enforcement agencies like the FBI, American authorities are working with our international partners and Interpol to disseminate information on foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq, including individuals who have traveled from the United States.  We have established processes for detecting American extremists who attempt to join terror groups abroad.  And we have engaged in extensive outreach to communities here in the U.S. – so we can work with them to identify threats before they emerge, to disrupt homegrown terrorists, and to apprehend would-be violent extremists.  But we can – and we must – do even more.

“Today, I am announcing that the Department of Justice is partnering with the White House, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Counterterrorism Center to launch a new series of pilot programs in cities across the nation.  These programs will bring together community representatives, public safety officials, religious leaders, and United States Attorneys to  improve local engagement; to counter violent extremism; and – ultimately – to build a broad network of community partnerships to keep our nation safe.  Under President Obama’s leadership, along with our interagency affiliates, we will work closely with community representatives to develop comprehensive local strategies, to raise awareness about important issues, to share information on best practices, and to expand and improve training in every area of the country.

“Already, since 2012, our U.S. Attorneys have held or attended more than 1,700 engagement-related events or meetings to enhance trust and facilitate communication in their neighborhoods and districts.  This innovative new pilot initiative will build on that important work.  And the White House will be hosting a Countering Violent Extremism summit in October to highlight these and other domestic and international efforts.  Ultimately, the pilot programs will enable us to develop more effective – and more inclusive – ways to help build the more just, secure, and free society that all Americans deserve.

“As we move forward together, our work must continue to be guided by the core democratic values – and the ideals of freedom, openness, and inclusion – that have always set this nation apart on the world stage.  We must be both innovative and aggressive in countering violent extremism and combating those who would sow intolerance, division, and hate – not just within our borders, but with our international partners on a global scale.  And we must never lose sight of what violent extremists fear the most: the strength of our communities; our unwavering respect for equality, civil rights, and civil liberties; and our enduring commitment to justice, democracy, and the rule of law.”

STATE DEPARTMENT UNDER SECRETARY ROSE GOTTEMOELLER'S REMARKS ON NUCLEAR WEAPONS TESTING

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 
Nuclear Weapons Testing: History, Progress, Challenges: Verification and Entry Into Force of the CTBT
Remarks
Rose Gottemoeller
Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security 
Washington, DC
September 15, 2014

As Prepared

Thank you, Daryl. Thank you also to my esteemed colleague, General Klotz. I think this might be the first time we have been on a panel together in our current positions, but I hope it won’t be the last. On this subject in particular, it is great to have the opportunity for us to communicate why the entire Administration sees this Treaty as effective, verifiable and absolutely beneficial to our national security.

Thank you also to the Embassy of Kazakhstan, Deputy Chief of Mission Yerkin Akhinzhanov, the Embassy of Canada, the Arms Control Association, Global Green and partners for hosting us here at USIP. Finally, thank you to my former boss, Secretary Moniz for his remarks earlier.

Secretary Kerry was actually right here just a year ago, speaking about nuclear security and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). He quoted a line from President Kennedy’s American University speech that talked about a total ban on nuclear explosive test being “so near and yet so far.” We remain somewhat in this place today, fifty years later – “so near and yet so far.” We know the goal remains worthy and we know that it is still the right one for American national security. The difference today is that we know we have the tools to make it a reality.

General Klotz has just covered some stockpile and verification issues, so I would like to focus on the national security benefits of the Treaty and the process of moving the United States towards entry into force. I will also give you a little readout on how I’ve used my time this year to advance the case for the Treaty.

First and foremost, it is clear that CTBT is a key part of leading nuclear weapons states toward a world of diminished reliance on nuclear weapons, reduced nuclear competition, and eventual nuclear disarmament.

An in-force CTBT will hinder states that do not have nuclear weapons from developing advanced nuclear weapons capabilities.

States interested in pursuing or advancing a nuclear weapons program would have to either risk deploying weapons without the confidence that they would work properly, or accept the international condemnation and reprisals that would follow a nuclear explosive test.

An in-force Treaty would also impede states with more established nuclear weapon capabilities from confirming the performance of advanced nuclear weapon designs that they have not tested successfully in the past.

Because of this, an in-force CTBT will also constrain regional arms races. These constraints will be particularly important in Asia, where states are building up and modernizing nuclear forces.

For our part, ratification will help enhance our leadership role in nonproliferation and strengthen our hand in pursuing tough actions against suspected proliferators. That is more important than ever, in our current global environment. Nuclear security is a preeminent goal for President Obama and this Administration.

All told, it is in our interest to close the door on nuclear explosive testing forever.

As many of you know, I was invited to speak in the Marshall Islands on the 60th anniversary of the Castle Bravo nuclear test. It was quite an honor and while there, I was able to meet with government and community leaders, as well as displaced communities. I told them that it is the United States’ deep understanding of the consequences of nuclear weapons – including the devastating health effects– that has guided and motivated our efforts to reduce and ultimately eliminate these most hazardous of weapons.

About a month after visiting the Marshall Islands, I travelled to Hiroshima. Upon arriving, I visited the Cenotaph and the Peace Museum and spoke with an atomic survivor. The day was a somber, but critically important reminder that all nations should avoid the horrors of nuclear war.

We have made great strides over the past forty years, achieving an 85 percent reduction in the U.S. nuclear stockpile since 1967 and creating agreements such as the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, START, New START and more. But, we still have far to go.

It was President Ronald Reagan who, speaking before the Japanese Diet, pronounced clearly and with conviction that “there can be only one policy for preserving our precious civilization in this modern age. A nuclear war can never be won and must never be fought.”

Those words had great resonance for the students that I spoke with at Hiroshima University last April. My conversation with them focused on the CTBT and how it could contribute to reducing global nuclear threats.

Bright, engaged and motivated, the students were eager to know what they could do to help in the push towards entry into force. I told them, as I tell all the students I meet, that the most important thing that supporters of the Treaty can do is to educate their friends, their family and their communities.

That is something that I will be continuing to do throughout the year, with trips to various U.S. states to speak with students, faith and community groups, as well as expert audiences. In fact, I will be at Stanford on Wednesday to do just that.

Now, I will pivot to the question that is asked each and every time this Treaty is discussed: “What is the plan for Senate ratification?”

The answer is simple. First comes education, and then comes discussion and last and most importantly, comes debate. It is only through that process that you get to a place where a vote could happen.

We are reintroducing this Treaty to the American public, since it has been quite some time it has been discussed outside the Capital Beltway. We are and will continue to outline the clear and convincing facts about our ability to maintain the nuclear stockpile without explosive testing and our ability to effectively monitor and verify Treaty compliance. Both Secretary Moniz and General Klotz have spoken about these two issues this afternoon and they are strong allies in this effort.

We are and will continue to make it clear that a global ban on nuclear explosive testing will hinder regional arms races and impede advancements in nuclear stockpiles around the world.

With an emphasis on a healthy, open dialogue, rather than a timeline, we are working with the Senate to re-familiarize Members with the Treaty. A lot of CTBT-related issues have changed since 1999, but the Senate has changed a lot since then, too. It is up to us, as policymakers and experts before the American people, to practice due diligence in consideration of this Treaty – that means briefings, hearings at the appropriate time, more briefings, trips to Labs, trips to Vienna and the CTBTO, more briefings, etc., etc.. The Senators should have every opportunity to ask questions, many questions, until they are satisfied.

I want to make one thing very clear: this Administration has no intention of rushing this or demanding premature action before we have had a thorough and rigorous discussion and debate.

I know that it is the official sport of Washington, but I would ask people to refrain from counting votes right now. Our first priority is education and our focus should be on the hard work that goes into any Senate consideration of a Treaty. The New START process can serve as our touchstone. I realize that is less fun than reading tea leaves. I realize that it’s unglamorous and deliberate, but that is how good policy is made and that is how treaties get across the finish line.

Of course, as we have said many times, there is no reason for the remaining Annex 2 states to wait for the United States before completing their own ratification processes. We have been pleased to hear some positive statements coming from Annex 2 states in recent months, and we hope that positive vibe turns into action. I would also like to congratulate Congo, which very recently ratified the CTBT.

Finally, we urge States to provide adequate financial and political support for the completion of the CTBT verification regime and its provisional operations between now and the entry into force of the treaty. The CTBTO, now under the able guidance of Dr. Zerbo, has and will continue to do a fantastic job of readying the Treaty’s verification regime for eventual entry into force. For those of you who have the chance to visit the CTBTO headquarters in Vienna, I recommend the tour of the radionuclide detection equipment on the roof. It’s really impressive!

In closing, I will reiterate that we have a lot of work to do, but the goal is worthy. An in-force CTBT will benefit the United States and indeed, the whole world.

Let’s get to work on it together. Thank you.