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White Press Office Feed

Saturday, October 18, 2014






Remarks on the U.S. Response to Ebola for Members of the Diplomatic Corps
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Benjamin Franklin Room
Washington, DC
October 17, 2014

Thank you, Nancy. Good morning, everybody. Thank you very much for being here, and thank you, Ambassador Powell, for all you’re doing to lead on this effort.

I know that there’s no shortage of demands on all of your time, so we really do appreciate and I know President Obama appreciates your coming in here this morning for this very important briefing. And I’m particularly grateful to Nancy Powell, who’s leading our efforts against Ebola at the State Department, and you’ll hear from her and from others who are on the front lines of our efforts to respond to this challenge. We thought it was critically important to bring everybody here together so you could hear from the experts and really get a chance to understand and report back to your governments about our efforts and where we’re heading.

We are very privileged in Washington, in the United States, to have here one of the most distinguished diplomatic corps that is posted anywhere in the world. Few cities are home to so many ambassadors with so much experience, which is why you come here, and so much global expertise and influence, frankly. So that’s why coming together here this morning really does represent a special opportunity to deal with this moment. Meeting this crisis is going to require that we draw on each other’s collective experience and our collective capacities. No one country, no individual group of nations is going to resolve this problem by themselves. This is going to take a collective, global response – all hands on deck. That’s the only way to get it done. And we believe that coming together here this morning can be an important beginning in really creating the kind of global response necessary.

Now I know you don’t need me to tell you what we’re up against, and I’m sure you’ve heard it from your own capitals, and every time you turn on the television or the radio, you hear or see gripping scenes that tell us in real terms about this challenge. There’s no way to describe the scenes from West Africa other than just heart-wrenching, gut-wrenching. And the images of a pregnant woman being turned away from a hospital on the – and she’s on the verge of collapse, or of men and women dying on the streets, their children orphaned, and a lot of hopeful nations working to plant the seeds of prosperity and open societies now suddenly battling a brutal epidemic.

So it’s not just the suffering that we see or the potential risks that we face that make this a different kind of crisis for us as diplomats. We live in a world of a lot of close calls, tough decisions on a daily basis, difficult and contentious issues where you can have an honest disagreement about what the best course of action is or about what the facts are or the results of your decision may be.

Ebola is not one of them. It should not be contentious with respect to the facts or what is needed or how we proceed. We know the risks. We know the science. We know the medical certainties. We know what is required to beat back this epidemic. And right now, we know that this is a time for nothing less than brutal honesty with each other about what we need, in both the capabilities that we need in order to meet this crisis and the real ways on the ground and the kinds of cash contributions – yes, cash contributions – that we need to fund these efforts for the months to come. And the fact is we haven’t begun yet to fully meet the challenge at hand.

So there are specific needs that we can meet right now. We need 200 flatbed trucks and 350 of so-called soft-skinned vehicles for transport of aid and resources. We need more helicopters and capable crews who can get to work right away. We need more mobile laboratories, treatment centers and beds. We need more incinerators and more generators. Most of all, we need more of the courageous healthcare workers that we see making an incredible contribution right now on the ground, and we need to do everything that we can to provide these men and women the protective equipment and the treatment that they need.

Now, we know this – the things that we can do and that we need to do. We know even in the cases of Texas, for instance, know that protocols are perhaps not followed in some instance or another. So there are ways, because we have plenty of people working who are treating people who are not getting it, and plenty of people who have been surrounding and around it who don’t get it. So the fact is that you have to come in contact. And as long as you can make certain that that is not happening during those critical periods of incubation, there are ways to contain this.

As President Obama has said repeatedly, we approach this with humility and we approach this with a huge sense of purpose, but we know that no matter what we do, we’re not going to be able to do it alone. We’re proud of the fact that we’ve contributed $258 million most recently and we’re also delivering support in some very unique ways that only the U.S. military can provide, and that’s why we’re sending as many as 4,000 troops to the region. And that’s why we’re allocating up to one billion more for our armed forces for this purpose. And that’s why we’re creating 17 Ebola treatment units and providing support right now for the mobile laboratories and the communications infrastructure.

We are using every instrument of American power in order to try to get this job done, and as many of you know, I’ve been making a number of phone calls each day to my counterparts from your countries in order to encourage concrete steps. And we’ve been raising this issue in every single bilateral meeting that I have, but we know that nothing that one, two, three countries do together is going to solve it. We have to all be engaged in this. There is no country that is exempt from being able to do something to be able to contribute to this effort and help make a difference. And everything we do depends on how we coordinate our efforts as partners in how we contribute together.

Now already we are seeing nations large and small stepping up in impressive ways to make a contribution on the frontlines. Timor-Leste has donated $2 million. Cuba, a country of just 11 million people has sent 165 health professionals, and it plans to send nearly 300 more. We want to thank France for committing 70 million euro and for those response in Guinea, where they’ve taken on special responsibilities. And we want to thank the United Kingdom for the Ebola treatment units that they are building in Sierra Leone, and Germany has significantly stepped up its efforts, including offering their facilities to treat healthcare workers. The European Union is organizing medevac capacity and contributing 140 million euro, and the World Bank and IMF have committed more than $678 million. The African Union is moving to send trained emergency responders to West Africa.

But no matter what we have already committed, it is clear, every one of us, that we have to do more, and we have to do it quickly. So of the one billion in needs that are estimated by the UN, I regret to say we are barely a third of the way there. If we don’t adequately address this current outbreak now, then Ebola has the potential to become a scourge like HIV or polio, that we will end up fighting, all of us, for decades. And we shouldn’t kid ourselves. Winning this fight is going to be costly, it is going to take all of our efforts, and it is not risk-free. Nobody knows that better than the healthcare workers on the front lines right now. And whatever the differences there are between us in this room on one issue or another, on one attitude or another, the fact is everyone I know respects and admires the courage of any healthcare worker who is undertaking this challenge.

So let’s make sure that those healthcare workers aren’t hanging out there by themselves. Let’s make sure that we’re pulling together the resources, the equipment, the commitment, the cash to support their efforts. And let’s make sure that their courage is motivating us every step of the way. For these men and women to succeed, they need nothing less than our full commitment, which is why we’ve asked you to come forward here today. This is a matter of real people, real lives, in countries that were beginning to take off, countries that were beginning to see the future and feel it, and suddenly they’ve been hit by this. This engages all of us, and it is a real test of global citizenship. So today in this room, we have a unique opportunity to try to come together to make important contributions. I’ve touched on some of the urgent needs. There is nobody, frankly, who can more competently explain where we stand, who knows what is at stake better than Ambassador Nancy Powell.

A lot of you know her very, very well because she has served alongside you. She’s one of the very few five-time ambassadors at the State Department. And partly because of what she has already done once before to spread – to help prevent the spread of a pandemic, which she did – she’s already one of the most accomplished people to have to deal with this challenge and one of the best diplomats we could think of in order to help us all do what we need to do. So ladies and gentlemen, Nancy Powell. (Applause.)


Friday, October 17, 2014
Two Connecticut Men Plead Guilty to Bribery Scheme Involving FBI Agent in New York

Two Connecticut men pleaded guilty today to bribery charges, admitting that they participated in a scheme to obtain confidential, internal law enforcement documents and information from a former FBI Special Agent in White Plains, New York.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York, and Justice Department Inspector General Michael D. Horowitz made the announcement.

Johannes Thaler, 51, of Fairfield County, Connecticut, and Rizve Ahmed, aka “Caesar,” 35, of Danbury, Connecticut, pleaded guilty today in White Plains, New York, federal court to bribery and conspiracy to commit honest services and wire fraud before U.S. District Judge Vincent L. Briccetti of the Southern District of New York.  Both Thaler and Ahmed admitted to participating in a bribery scheme with Robert Lustyik, a former FBI Special Agent in White Plains who worked on the counterintelligence squad.

In pleading guilty, Thaler and Ahmed admitted that between September 2011 and March 2012, Thaler and Lustyik solicited bribes from Ahmed, in exchange for Lustyik’s agreement to provide internal, confidential documents and other confidential information to which Lustyik had access by virtue of his position as an FBI Special Agent.  Thaler was Lustyik’s friend, and Ahmed, a native of Bangladesh, was an acquaintance of Thaler.  Ahmed sought confidential law enforcement information, including a Suspicious Activity Report, pertaining to a Bangladeshi political figure who was affiliated with a political party opposing Ahmed’s views.  Thaler and Ahmed admitted that Ahmed requested the confidential information to help Ahmed locate and harm his intended victim and others associated with the victim.  Ahmed also sought assistance in having criminal charges against a different Bangladeshi political figure dismissed.

Thaler and Ahmed admitted that they exchanged various text messages in furtherance of the scheme, including text messages about a “contract” that would require Ahmed to pay a $40,000 “retainer” and $30,000 “monthly.”  In return, Lustyik and Thaler agreed to “give [Ahmed] everything [they] ha[d] plus set up [the victim] and get the inside from the party.”

Thaler and Lustyik also exchanged text messages about how to pressure Ahmed to pay them additional money in exchange for confidential information.  For example, in text messages, Lustyik told Thaler, “we need to push [Ahmed] for this meeting and get that 40 gs quick . . . . I will talk us into getting the cash . . . . I will work my magic . . . . We r sooooooo close.”  Thaler responded, “I know.  It’s all right there in front of us.  Pretty soon we’ll be having lunch in our oceanfront restaurant . . . .”

Additionally, in late January 2012, Lustyik learned that Ahmed was considering using a different source to obtain confidential information.  As a result, Lustyik sent a text message to Thaler stating, “I want to kill [Ahmed] . . . . I hung my ass out the window n we got nothing? . . . . Tell [Ahmed], I’ve got [the victim’s] number and I’m pissed. . . . I will put a wire on n get [Ahmed and his associates] to admit they want [a Bangladeshi political figure] offed n we sell it to the victim].”  Lustyik further stated, “So bottom line.  I need ten gs asap.  We gotta squeeze C.”

Sentencing hearings for Thaler and Ahmed are scheduled for Jan. 23, 2015.

Lustyik is scheduled for trial on Nov. 17, 2014.  The charges contained in an indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

This case was investigated by the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General and is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Emily Rae Woods of the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Allee of the White Plains Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.


Ex-Im Bank Signs Credit Agreement to Finance Export of American-made Locomotives to Indonesia
Deal Supports 700 U.S. Jobs 

Washington, D.C. – Today Export-Import Bank of the U.S. (Ex-Im Bank) Chairman and President Fred P. Hochberg, GE Transportation President and CEO Russell Stokes, and Indonesia’s PT Kereta Api (PTKAI) of Jakarta President and CEO Ignasius Jonan signed a credit agreement totaling $94.3 million to finance the export of 50 General Electric Company locomotives to Indonesia.

Ex-Im Bank’s credit will support approximately 700 U.S. jobs up and down the supply chain, primarily in Erie, Pa. These estimates are derived from Department of Commerce and Department of Labor data and methodology.

“This is a perfect example of the sort of win-win situation that happens when countries buy American,” said Hochberg. “Ex-Im is proud to facilitate transactions like this one, which will support 700 quality jobs here in America even as it empowers Indonesia to build an enduring, reliable transportation infrastructure on the foundation of quality U.S. products.”

PTKAI is the national railway of Indonesia and operates a fleet of more than 300 locomotives that provide both freight and passenger services on the islands of Java and Sumatra. The company plans to upgrade and modernize the nation’s rail infrastructure to better serve Indonesia’s growing economy.

“Ex-Im Bank's financing of this transaction demonstrates the importance of public and private sector leadership,” said Stokes. “The Bank's financial support is a critical part of GE's ability to win foreign sales and deliver for our global customers like PTKAI. With $94.3 million in financing to PTKAI now secured, GE will build 50 locomotives in Pennsylvania and deliver them next year to Indonesia, sustaining good jobs in the U.S. and abroad.”

Industrial Sales and Manufacturing Inc. (ISM), a small business headquartered in Erie, will supply numerous machined, fabricated and assembled components for the GE locomotives. ISM fabricates, assembles, tests, and finishes products found around the world in applications ranging from transportation, mining, agriculture, and recreation to medical devices and renewable energy.

“As a contract manufacturer supplying original equipment manufacturers, Ex-Im Bank's support of global customers of companies like GE is vital to our own company, our community, and the stability and growth of the broader economy in the United States,” said Jim Rutkowski, Jr. of Industrial Sales & Manufacturing, Inc. of ISM.   “Industrial Sales & Manufacturing, Inc. sees Ex-Im Bank's financial support for international sales as a vital component in our continued success in getting long-term American-made assets in place around the world."


Ex-Im Bank is an independent federal agency that supports 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 and export credit insurance, to promote the sale of U.S. goods and services abroad.  Ninety percent of its transactions directly serve American small businesses.

In fiscal year 2013, Ex-Im Bank generated more than $1 billion for U.S. taxpayers while approving more than $27 billion in total authorizations.  These authorizations supported an estimated $37.4 billion in U.S. export sales, as well as approximately 205,000 American jobs in communities across the country.


October 17, 2014
Readout of the President’s Call with President Hadi of Yemen

President Obama called President Abdo Rabu Mansour Hadi of Yemen today to reaffirm the United States’ strong support for his government and for the people of Yemen as they work to achieve meaningful change through the country’s political transition and economic reform process.  They discussed the efforts of the Yemeni Government and people to move forward from the recent violence across Yemen that is jeopardizing a peaceful transition.  President Obama recognized the importance of President Hadi continuing his leadership in pursuit of Yemen’s political and economic reform process, including drafting a new constitution, launching the voter registration effort, and holding elections.  The President congratulated President Hadi on the nomination of a new Prime Minister, in line with the September 21 Peace and National Partnership Agreement, and expressed support for President Hadi’s efforts to lead implementation of the agreement, the recommendations of the National Dialogue, and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Initiative.  The Presidents agreed all parties should come together to deescalate the conflict, form a government that represents Yemen’s diverse communities, and implement the transition.  The Presidents also reiterated their commitment to the bilateral partnership to counter the shared threat posed by al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).


Friday, October 17, 2014



World Food Day
Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
October 16, 2014

On World Food Day, the United States reaffirms our commitment to the fight against poverty, hunger, and under-nutrition – and to addressing one of the greatest threats to food security: climate change.

Today more than 800 million people around the world are chronically undernourished. By 2050, the global population is expected to increase by 2 to 3 billion people. That means agricultural production will need to increase by sixty percent if there’s any hope of meeting the increased demand.

And at the same time, the impacts of climate change to both land and ocean resources could slow global food production for the rest of the century.

The nexus between climate change and food security is undeniable. And it’s nothing new. I remember discussing this intersection more than two decades ago, when I attended the Earth Summit in Rio as a U.S. Senator. So today, as the threat of climate change continues to grow – and as more and more regions around the world are experiencing historic droughts, extreme weather, and, consequently, serious food shortages – addressing this nexus, staving off the worst impacts of climate change, and improving food security around the world must be a global priority.

As Secretary of State, I want these issues front and center in our foreign policy. That’s why I brought my longtime colleague, Dr. Nancy Stetson, to the State Department – to make sure we’re doing everything we can to combat hunger and advance global food security. I’ve seen firsthand her ability to break down global challenges like malaria and AIDS that are very complex and multi-layered, and find new ways to tackle them. With her on board, and with the help of her terrific team at State and throughout the U.S. government, I’m confident we’ll be able to improve food security in every corner of the globe.

We’re already making progress. Last year, our Feed the Future initiative helped nourish more than 12.5 million children and brought improved technologies to nearly seven million food producers. In June, I hosted the Our Ocean conference to prompt urgent actions to confront the threats to global ocean resources. Last month, we also helped launch the Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture to bring governments, businesses, civil society, and others together to empower farmers and fishers to adapt to climate change and mitigate greenhouse gases – all while sustainably increasing agricultural production.

There’s no question that the challenges to global food security are significant, but so is our capacity to meet them. The United States will continue to advance creative solutions to food insecurity, under-nutrition, and climate change, so that people everywhere can develop to their fullest potential and live the strong, healthy lives they deserve – and so their countries can be prosperous and peaceful.




Designing tomorrow's air traffic control systems

MIT researcher explores algorithmic solutions to make flying more efficient
On a good day, flying can be a comfortable and efficient way to travel. But all too often, weather or overcbooking can cause delays that ripple through the system, inducing missed flights, anxiety, discomfort and lots of lost time and money.

Things had gotten so out of whack that in 2003, Congress enacted a law designed to bring online a Next Generation--or NextGen--air traffic control system by January 2020. The Department of Transportation would require the majority of aircraft operating within U.S. airspace to be equipped with new technology to track and coordinate aircraft and would institute many other programs to improve air travel.

"It's hard to argue that delays don't occur in the system," said Hamsa Balakrishnan, an associate professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). "The delays have not just economic costs--which are significant--they have environmental costs as well."

Balakrishnan began her career as an aerospace engineer. Over time, her research migrated from the nuts-and-bolts of how aircraft fly, to the details of how air traffic systems operate overall. Today, she studies air traffic control and management and works to come up with the analytic tools and algorithms required to keep flights safe and runways moving efficiently.

"We know that demand is projected to increase," she said. "How do you build algorithms that don't let your delays explode, while at the same time meeting the increased demand?"

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) estimates, increasing congestion in the air transportation system of the United States, if unaddressed, will cost the American economy $22 billion annually in lost economic activity by 2022. Balakrishnan and her colleagues believe they can address major inefficiencies in the system through a combination of better models of air traffic control systems and new embedded technologies.

Even small changes in air traffic management can have a large impact on the overall air travel system. For instance: pushback, the rate at which aircraft should be leaving their gate.

"Aircraft are allowed to push back whenever they're ready to, and the problem with this is, the runway capacity is constrained," Balakrishnan explained. "Planes can only take off one at a time from a single runway, so it doesn't make sense for fifteen or twenty aircraft to be waiting there at the same time."

Aircraft taxiing on the surface contributes significantly to emissions at airports. The quantities of fuel burned, as well as different pollutants, are proportional to the taxi times of aircraft (as well as airline decisions on whether engines shut down during delays). As planes idle, unsure when they'll be called to release and unwilling to lose their departure slot due to delay, they use fuel and emit exhaust into the atmosphere.

Balakrishnan imagined a better way.

"If we can use data to predict the rate at which aircraft are going to be taking off from the airport," she continued, "then we can figure out the rate at which aircraft should be leaving their gates and starting their engines."

Over the course of years, she developed computer models that used reams of historical data to analyze and create realistic models of how airports (and the people who run them) operate under a wide range of conditions. She used these models to test ways of more efficiently releasing airplanes from airports.

When Balakrishnan had run enough virtual experiments to trust her models and the improved pushback algorithms they'd helped shape, she took her results to the FAA and to all of the major air carriers and asked for a chance to test her methods under real airport conditions. Amazingly, they said yes.

After developing algorithms that recommend the rate at which aircraft should leave their gate, Balakrishnan and her team--including Ioannis Simaiakis, Harshad Khadilkar, T.G. Reynolds and R.J. Hansman, from MIT--went in and figured out the best form of the solution that controllers could actually implement.

"The controllers told us they'd like to be told the rate that aircraft needed to be released from their gates in 15-minute increments," she recalled. "We just used color coded cards to tell them what the suggested rate was, and we found that they went along with the suggestions and implemented them and that there was a lot of benefit to be had."

But that wasn't the end of the experiment. In 2011, Balakrishnan and her team had a much better handle on the model of the system. So they ran the experiment again using even more advanced algorithms to predict the optimal pushback rates. They also developed an interface with an Android tablet computer that would communicate the pushback rate to the controllers and that the controller could use that to implement the rate for aircraft preparing to take off.

The researchers showed that, without adding any delays to the system, they were able to limit idling times and save fuel.

"In Boston, we did about 15 days of metering and anecdotally, the traffic managers believed that the surface flows during certain times were smoother when we were implementing our solution," Balakrishnan said. "We also showed that, just holding aircraft back for about 4.4 minutes, we saved between 50-60 kilograms [100 pounds] of fuel for each aircraft. Those are significant savings."

The results of the work were reported in several journal papers, most recently Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice in August 2014. The work also won the inaugural CNA (formerly the Center for Naval Analysis) Award for Operational Analysis in 2012, which "recognizes work that is judged as having provided the most creative, empirically based support for a real-world decision or solution to a real-world problem."

Balakrishnan and her collaborators are now planning to "pilot" a new study at LaGuardia Airport in New York City, testing their algorithms and implementation strategy at another airport, under different conditions.

Balakrishnan research is unique in the degree to which it takes into account conditions in the field. For instance: How do air traffic controllers react in the face of crowded conditions or inclement weather? How often do pilots diverge from the instructions given by controllers? And to what degree are air carriers willing to change their practices for the good of the system?

"There's this chance to actually use algorithms--the kind of control algorithms that I like developing--in a practical setting," she said. "How do you design algorithms that are practical and that can account for the fact that different people have different agendas? Just in terms of understanding the system, it's important, because it's a system that influences a couple billion people a year."

In 2007, Balakrishnan was awarded a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to begin studying these questions. Her research continued as part of the NSF-funded ActionWeb project (2009-2015), whose goal is to develop networked, embedded, sensor-rich systems that can coordinate among multiple decision-makers. Her work is part of a growing effort to design better Cyber-Physical Systems--systems where humans and computers work together to accomplish a task: in this case the efficient landing and take-off of aircraft.

"Air traffic management marries the physical world, including the airplanes and the environment in which they reside, with the control algorithms and the pilots and traffic control managers," said David Corman, a program director in the Computer and Information Science and Engineering directorate at NSF. "The algorithms that Dr. Balakrishnan and her team are developing can have huge societal impact through intelligent reduction of traffic delays and fuel consumption. We look forward to working with Dr. Balakrishnan and team to rapidly mature and transition these exciting capabilities into practice."

Not only are Balakrishnan's algorithms useful, the fundamental research that underlies them extends beyond air traffic control to many areas of research.

One of Balakrishnan's colleagues, Claire Tomlin of the University of California, Berkeley, is using related algorithms to study energy usage in a home, while another collaborator is working with Uber, the popular ridesharing service, to improve their queuing system.

Because of its fundamental nature, the work will have far reaching benefits.

"There are many cases where we can improve the performance of systems that billions of people interact with," Balakrishnan said. "And it all begins with fundamental research to develop better algorithms that incorporate data from the real world."

-- Aaron Dubrow, NSF
Edward Lee
David Culler
Saurabh Amin
Claire Tomlin
Asuman Ozdaglar
S. Shankar Sastry
Hamsa Balakrishnan
Related Institutions/Organizations
University of California-Berkeley
Massachusetts Institute of Technology



FTC Settlement Bans Bogus Trade Association from Selling Healthcare-Related Products
Alleged Fraudsters Stole Millions of Dollars from Consumers Seeking Health Insurance

A group of marketers who allegedly tricked consumers into buying phony health insurance are permanently banned from selling healthcare-related products under a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.

The settlement resolves claims that the defendants, who operated as the bogus trade association Independent Association of Businesses (IAB), preyed on consumers who sought health insurance. Consumers submitted their contact information to websites purportedly offering quotes from health insurance companies. They paid an initial fee ranging from $50 to several hundred dollars, and a monthly fee ranging from $40 to $1,000 purportedly for comprehensive health insurance coverage, but instead they were enrolled in an IAB membership. The program included purported discounts on services such as identify-theft protection, travel, and roadside assistance, as well as certain purported healthcare related benefits, including limited discounts and reimbursements on visits to certain doctors or hospitals, subject to broad exclusions and limitations.

In 2012, the FTC charged the IAB defendants and those who ran IAB’s largest telemarketing operation with violating the FTC Act and the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR). A federal court halted the operation until the case was resolved. A settlement order announced in 2013 bans the telemarketing defendants from selling healthcare-related products.

The settlement order announced today permanently bans the remaining defendants from selling healthcare-related products. They are IAB Marketing Associates LP, Independent Association of Businesses, HealthCorp International Inc., JW Marketing Designs LLC, International Marketing Agencies LP, International Marketing Management LLC, Wood LLC, James C. Wood, his sons, James J. Wood and Michael J. Wood, and his brother, Gary D. Wood. It also resolves the FTC’s claims against relief defendant Tressa K. Wood, James C. Wood’s wife, who benefitted from but did not participate in the alleged scheme.

The order also prohibits the defendants from violating the TSR, misrepresenting material facts about any goods or services, and selling or otherwise benefitting from consumers’ personal information.

The order imposes a $125 million judgment that will be partially suspended once the defendants surrender assets valued at almost $2 million, including $502,000 in IRA funds and personal property that includes five luxury cars (a Lamborghini, two Mercedes, a Porsche, and an MG Roadster). A separate settlement order requires relief defendant Avis. K. Wood to pay $60,000 from an IRA account that was funded by the defendants’ allegedly unlawful activities.

The Commission vote approving the proposed stipulated final order was 5-0. The order was entered by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division on October 10, 2014. The Commission vote approving the proposed stipulated final order against Avis S. Wood was 5-0, and it was entered by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas on August 8, 2014.

Thursday, October 16, 2014



DOD Caption:  141014-N-CZ979-001 ARABIAN GULF (Oct. 14, 2014) Sailors launch aircraft from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). George H.W. Bush is supporting maritime security operations, strike operations in Iraq and Syria as directed, and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Joshua Card/Released.)

Inherent Resolve Airstrikes Continue in Syria
From a U.S. Central Command News Release

TAMPA, Fla., Oct. 16, 2014 – U.S. military forces continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria yesterday and today, using bomber and fighter aircraft deployed to the U.S. Central Command area of operations to conduct 14 airstrikes, Centcom officials reported.

All 14 airstrikes took place near Kobani. Initial reports indicate the strikes successfully struck 19 ISIL buildings, two ISIL command posts, three ISIL fighting positions, three ISIL sniper positions, one ISIL staging location, and one ISIL heavy machine gun, Centcom officials said, adding that all aircraft departed the strike areas safely.

Interdicting reinforcement and resupply

These airstrikes are designed to interdict ISIL reinforcements and resupply and prevent ISIL from massing combat power on the Kurdish-held portions of Kobani, officials explained. Indications are that airstrikes have continued to slow ISIL advances, they added, but they acknowledged that that the security situation in Kobani remains tenuous.

The U.S. strikes were conducted as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to eliminate ISIL and the threat the terrorist group poses to Iraq, the region and the wider international community, officials said.


Detention of Human Rights Defender Leyla Yunus
Press Statement
Jen Psaki
Department Spokesperson
Washington, DC
October 15, 2014

The United States is alarmed that human rights defender Leyla Yunus remains in pre-trial detention in Azerbaijan, without access to necessary medical care, despite her deteriorating health. We are also especially concerned about continued threats to Leyla Yunus’ physical security. On humanitarian grounds, we urge the Government of Azerbaijan to immediately grant Leyla Yunus access to independent medical evaluation and care, security, and improved conditions. We also urge the Government of Azerbaijan to respect the rule of law and to release those incarcerated for exercising fundamental freedoms, starting with those with serious medical conditions. This would include Leyla and her husband Arif, whose deteriorating health make their release particularly urgent. It is in Azerbaijan’s interest to ensure that its citizens are afforded the dignity, human rights, and fundamental freedoms to which all citizens are entitled under Azerbaijan’s international obligations.





Remarks to the Press on Countering ISIL
Special Briefing
John Allen
Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL 
Washington, DC
October 15, 2014

GEN. ALLEN: Good afternoon, everyone. It’s good to see you all. Many familiar faces. What I’d like to do today is to discuss my trip of last week, which was the first trip I took in my capacity as the President’s Special Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL. But before I do that, what I’d like to do is to re-articulate my specific role in the strategy.
Now, this is a robust coalition. It’s made up of many diverse actors, all seized with the reality of degrading and defeating ISIL as a global challenge. And as the President’s special envoy in this capacity, my task is to consolidate and integrate and coordinate the coalition activities across multiple lines of shared effort.

This first trip and many of my early travels will be about the consolidation of the membership and the integration of what partners and potential members can contribute and how we integrate and harmonize those efforts to the accomplishment of the strategy.

We’ve heard a lot about the five lines of effort to this point: supporting military operations and training; stopping foreign fighters; cutting off access to financing; humanitarian relief; and de-legitimizing ISIL and degrading its messaging. And a key and a main takeaway from this trip was that we all agreed that while the military side is important to the outcome, it’s not in – it is not sufficient in and of itself. And there’s a strong consensus across this coalition about our shared goals and the objectives on all the lines of effort and a strong commitment to work together closely.

Now, you’ve all had daily readouts from Jen on our meetings of last week, and so I’d like to talk about the key themes that we saw emerge from our conversations with the partners and the coalition members about how we can take the fight to ISIL where it operates. And where it operates, as we see it, is in the physical space, in the financial space, and in the information space.

In the context of the physical space, or the battle space if you prefer, naturally it’s getting a lot of attention. And we had a number of very productive conversations about coalition efforts to defeat ISIL on the battlefield. A number of the partners have expressed their desire to participate in advising and assisting and building partner capacity and working in security sector reform.

In Iraq, we met with a broad cross-section of government and security officials, tribal leaders, and sheikhs. And in all of those meetings, we not only discussed the transformation of the Iraqi Security Forces but also the formation of the Iraqi National Guard which will seek to connect volunteers and tribal fighters into a formal structure at the provincial and national level.

In Amman, we expressed our support for the targeted airstrikes by the Jordanian Air Force in Syria. And as you’ve already heard, our Turkish partners have voiced their support for training and equipping the moderate Syrian opposition, and there is a DOD team on the ground, a joint team from the European Command and the Central Command on the ground in Ankara today, working out operational details.

I can’t stress enough how much we discussed confronting and contesting ISIL’s messaging in the information space and disrupting their recruitment and their radicalization of foreign fighters. Every country and partner we met with has a unique and vital role to play in this within the context of their particular cultural, religious, or national norms. And indeed, this diversity is turning out to be a real strength for the coalition. We’ve already seen many countries take action on particular issues associated with foreign fighters. For example, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain have declared it illegal for its citizens to fight abroad. And Bahrain and Kuwait both announced that it would monitor ISIL sympathizers. Saudi Arabia arrested and convicted several Saudi nationals on terrorism charges, including an arrest of multiple individuals with alleged ties to al-Qaida in September.

For many partners there was a very sharp and often troubling intersection of the susceptibility of the citizenry of their countries to extremist messaging and the ISIL narrative, and a willingness to become a foreign fighter as a result of that narrative. So we discussed this nexus extensively with Egyptian and Turkish leadership. We also discussed it with Arab League leadership in Cairo as well, and how they can support and strengthen moderate voices across the region. And already, influential political or religious leaders from the region and around the world have issued statements rejecting ISIL’s violent and divisive ideology. I’d particularly note the 22-page letter issued in late September by 120 Islamic scholars to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his fighters denouncing ISIL militants and refuting its religious underpinnings.

And finally, in the financial space, we had productive conversations about disrupting ISIL’s finances and cutting off ISIL from the global financial network. The EU and NATO partners have already made great strides on this area, and on my trip next week to the Gulf region, we’ll look to build even more important progress into disrupting financing and foreign fighter lines of effort.

Several Gulf states have taken steps to enforce their counterterrorism laws more effectively, including Kuwait’s newly created financial intelligence unit, Qatar’s new law regulating charities that includes the establishment of a broad – of a board, pardon me – to oversee all charity work and contributions, and the UAE’s new CT law in August that tightens counterterrorism financing restrictions and clearly defines terror-related crimes and penalties. And in the coming weeks, Bahrain will host an international conference focused on identifying counterterrorism-financed best practices and developing an implementation plan.

So finally, I want to reiterate that this was, while a long trip, it was a very important trip. And we learned that this is a very complex and long-term undertaking, and this global coalition has literally existed for less than 40 days. We have a lot of work to do and we’ve been at it a short time. But the good news is that there is a common vision for the future, and we look forward to working together closely with the members of the coalition, ultimately, to achieve our objectives.

So thank you for your attention, and we’ll take some questions.

MS. PSAKI: So we have a limited amount of time for questions. I’m just giving you a heads-up. Lara.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: And I’ll do an entire briefing after this (inaudible).

QUESTION: Great. General, Secretary Kerry has said several times that your job – that you could speak about how the ball was moved forward. Specifically, can you talk about how the ball was moved forward with regard to Incirlik and the use of the base there? And also, can you explain why the U.S. has increased its airstrikes in and around Kobani so dramatically recently if Kobani is not a strategic importance to – military goal for the U.S.?

GEN. ALLEN: With regard to not just Incirlik, but other potential resources, we had, I think, very detailed and very constructive conversations with the Turks. They’re old friends and they’re NATO partners, and we talked about a variety of areas where we could work together.

The conversation with respect to how those kinds of details will ultimately be resolved is underway right now. The CENTCOM-EUCOM team that is on the ground is talking about operational details. We have also committed to continued political consultation on the variety of ways that the Turks can contribute to the coalition. And there have already been – as you probably saw on the readout from my trip, there have already been some commitments by the Turks at this point in areas where they will be of assistance to us with the idea that additional details will come from further consultation later.

And so there is a ongoing dialogue with the Turks, and we look forward to that dialogue continuing in context of a political consultation, and we expect that more details will be forthcoming. But at this point, I don’t want to get into the specifics of Incirlik or any particular other base other than what we’ve already announced.

QUESTION: And Kobani?

GEN. ALLEN: Well, Kobani – obviously, we’re striking the targets around Kobani for humanitarian purposes. I’d be very reluctant to attempt to assign something, a term like a “strategic target” or a “strategic outcome” for the strategy. Clearly, there was a need given the circumstances associated with the defense of that town. There was a need for additional fire support to go in to try to relieve the defenders and to buy some white space ultimately for the reorganization of the ground. And so we have picked up the tempo and the intensity of the airstrikes in order to provide that white space.

MS. PSAKI: Margaret.

QUESTION: Thank you. General, thank you.

GEN. ALLEN: Hi, how are you? Good morning – or good afternoon.

QUESTION: Good afternoon. You talked a bit about the approach to Iraq. I’m wondering if you can explain more specifically what the approach is in the Syria portion of this given that it is so strategically and operationally important, it’s a base of operations for ISIS. So can tell us what the point – what the timeline is, perhaps, for some of these ground forces, whether there would be any kind of protection afforded to them through air support either through a buffer zone or any kind of protection once we put them on the ground, and if there is any coordination with the FSA?

GEN. ALLEN: At this point there is not formal coordination with the FSA, so hit that point first. Obviously, information comes in from all different sources associated with providing local information or potentially targeting information. And we’ll take it all when it comes in and ultimately evaluate it for its value.

The Syrian portion of this strategy is very important. At this point, the intent of the coalition is to build a coherence to the Free Syrian Army elements that will give it the capacity and the credibility over time to be able to make its weight felt in the battlefield against ISIL. It’s going to require a build phase; it’s going to require a training and equipping phase. I think you have probably seen that there are countries in the region that have announced – Turkey being one of them – that has announced a willingness to host those centers for our trainers to begin to build that capability. But it’s really – it’s a holistic approach. It’s not just building the additional forces that will go into the Free Syrian Army; it’s also an emphasis that I made when I met with the political echelons of the free – of the moderate Syrian opposition that they need to begin to build and work together to create a coherent political superstructure within which they will ultimately have a political role to play in the outcome of our strategy overall with regard to Syria, which is a political resolution of this conflict.

And so when you have a strong political superstructure and it’s tied to a credible field force, which is our hope to build, a field force which ultimately deals with ISIL but in the context of the holistic approach – the political portion and the military portion – creates the moderate Syrian opposition as the force to be dealt with in the long term in the political outcome of Syria. And so that’s the intent. It’s not going to happen immediately. We’re working to establish the training sites now, and we’ll ultimately go through a vetting process and begin to bring the trainers and the fighters in to begin to build that force out.

QUESTION: And could you address the – whether there would be any air support, either through a buffer zone or through some of the planes we have in the sky already?

GEN. ALLEN: I think we’re going to consider all means necessary to provide for that force, and what particular measures we may take to do that, I think it’s too early to tell specifically with regard to a term or an effect. But we’ll certainly consider how that force ultimately will be employed overall on the ground and how the political entity will achieve its – our objective and its objective, ultimately, which is to represent a broad spectrum of the Syrian people and to make its voice be felt at the negotiating table eventually for the political outcome.

MS. PSAKI: Lesley?

QUESTION: General, thank you. One – one and a half questions. One is: How much --

GEN. ALLEN: One and a half.

QUESTION: How much is Turkey’s issue really about wanting to get rid of Assad and not necessarily focused on ISIL? Can you come to some kind of agreement on that one?

Number two, the Islamic State has also just put out a video, a number of images on where it’s making advantage – advances. Are the airstrikes having an impact? Are you pushing them back? Is this going to be won?

GEN. ALLEN: You said there was just something that came out a moment ago.


GEN. ALLEN: Give me that again, please.

QUESTION: The Islamic State has released a number of images on – about a base in Anbar that they’ve taken over.

GEN. ALLEN: Ah. Mm-hmm. I think we would say that the Turkish objective, and our objective in the end with respect to the regime in Syria, is the same. It’s a political outcome. In our case, it’s without Assad being a participant in that political outcome. I’ll let the Turks talk for themselves, speak for themselves in terms of their view on the matter. So I believe that in that regard, we’re lined up very closely.

They are focused with laser-like quality on the issue associated with ISIL. They’re very concerned about ISIL for a whole variety of reasons, not the least of which is the enormous humanitarian crisis that has been created by ISIS in – just to the south of the border, but also that has generated a stream, an enormous stream of humanitarian – of refugees and a humanitarian requirement by the Turks. And the numbers vary depending on the reporting, but there’s well over a million and probably approaching a million and a half refugees in Turkey. And Turkey has been dealing with that humanitarian crisis now for some period of time. So it’s twofold. It’s obviously being concerned about the humanitarian signature that they have inside their country – the refugees – but it’s also a concern about ISIL’s presence on their southern border and the ability to generate even more of that.

MS. PSAKI: Elise. Sorry.

QUESTION: And on the issue of the strikes, I mean, are you – do you feel you’re making inroads on – are you pushing them back, or is the battle still – the outcome – who’s winning this at the moment?

GEN. ALLEN: Well, I’d be careful about assigning a winner or a loser. We had come in early along with the intention that the airstrikes were to buy white space to impede the tactical momentum of ISIL. And that in fact has occurred in some areas. They still retain some tactical momentum in other areas, and that’s to be expected. They – we’re only new into this strategy. We’re only new into the use of airstrikes. As I said, in some areas – Amirli, Mosul Dam, Haditha – those airstrikes were very helpful. We’re actually focusing, obviously, around Kobani, providing airstrikes to provide humanitarian assistance and relief there, obviously to give some time to the fighters to organize on the ground. But in the Anbar province, our hope is to stop or halt that tactical initiative and momentum that they have there.

MS. PSAKI: Elise.

QUESTION: Thank you, General Allen. Just a quick follow on Turkey, and I have another question.

On Turkey, I mean, there are few – as you noted, there are few countries that are facing a threat or the impact as much as Turkey, and it does seem as if while other coalition members have kind of eagerly come to the table, it does seem like it’s a lot more of a harder sell with Turkey. And if you could lay out what the reluctance is here – is that an issue of their dealings with the Kurds, is that also Assad, is it a combination of such, and how much longer do you think this will take?

We’ve also heard a lot about – you laid out this policy on training the opposition in Syria to a capable fighting force and acknowledged that it would take a long time. It seems as if there’s a kind of “Iraq first” strategy while that fighting force is built up and capable and dealing with leaders on the ground on Syria, but really focusing and concentrating on the battle space in Iraq. Could you kind of lay out a blueprint of how you think that will go?

GEN. ALLEN: Sure. Clearly, the emergency in Iraq right now is foremost in our thinking: stabilizing the government, giving Prime Minister Abadi the opportunity to build a stable government that is inclusive. He has – I’ve met with him several times now just recently on the trip. He was very clear that it is his intention to be the prime minister of a government that is inclusive of all the elements of the population in Iraq.

But obviously, ISIL has made some substantial gains in Iraq, and the intent at this juncture is to take those steps that are necessary with the forces that we have available and the air power that we have at our fingertips to buy the white space necessary for what comes next, which is the training program for those elements of the Iraqi national security forces that will have to be refurbished and then put back into the field, ultimately for the Iraqis to pursue the campaign plan, which they’re developing, to restore the tactical integrity of Iraq and the sovereignty of Iraq. And it’s going to take a while.

Now, this isn’t sequential, because while that’s occurring, we’re going to also be undertaking the training and equipping program for the free Syrian elements at the same time. We have the capacity to do both, and there is significant coalition interest in participating in both. And as I said a few minutes ago, we have some partners that will be interested in providing what we call building partner capacity – so helping to refurbish the Iraqi Security Forces – and we’ll have some partners that will be interested in security sector reform, which will be to assist the ministries in becoming more effective in supporting their operating forces in the field. But we’ll also have partners that are interested in participating in the development of the free Syrian echelons that are going to be trained in the training camps also in the region.

So much of this can occur simultaneously or concurrently. It doesn’t have to be sequential.

QUESTION: And Turkey?

GEN. ALLEN: With what regard?

QUESTION: With regards to, like, why is this such a hard sell with Turkey?

GEN. ALLEN: I don’t know that it’s a hard sell. I think what they want to be sure of is if they’re going to embark and commit the national resources that will ultimately be committed to this that they want to understand how they’ll fit into the program and how ultimately the coalition would operate out of Turkey, and those are valid questions. And the point of the planning team being on the ground and the point of our continued political consultation is to answer those questions for them and to go through a detailed planning process so they understand exactly what it is that they as a frontline state which faces, frankly, an awful lot of the many lines or faces participation in many of the lines of effort that we’ve talked about in terms of foreign fighters and disrupting finances and hosting coalition forces and potentially conducting military operations. They want to understand that, and they’re owed that as a friend and as a NATO partner.

MS. PSAKI: Roz. And unfortunately, this is going to have to be the last question due to our time constraint.


QUESTION: Thank you, General. I wanted to come back to something you talked about particularly in your conversations with leaders who say that they’re concerned about the vulnerability of their populations and the seeming attractiveness of ISIL’s ideology, that people would be willing to leave their countries and take up arms for ISIL. How do you win hearts and minds, to use the phrase? Is it a simple matter of a PR campaign? What do you do, for example, about some of the anti-Muslim bigotry here in the United States, in Europe for example, that might make people feel as if their faith is under attack and they need to take up arms? It seems like it’s a very complicated, long-term problem.

GEN. ALLEN: It is a complicated – it’s a complicated subject. Each one of the countries that we spoke to were very concerned about doing just what you said, and that is outreaching to their populations and helping them – the populations themselves, the tribal structures within those populations, the elders, the clerics, the mothers, the teachers, all of the folks who are enormously important and influencing the direction of their youth – to reach out into those communities to assist them in dealing with the radicalization that occurs through social media and the internet and so on.

And so they voiced not only their concerns in reaching out to those communities, but they also in most cases voiced the concerns of the communities themselves and how they sought a partnership with the leadership in those countries to try to get after this growth and explosion, horizontal explosion through the social media, of access to extremist messages and radicalization.

So the foreign fighter piece of this, which ultimately is the result, was very closely paired with the conversation about attacking and contesting the ISIL message in the information sphere, the information space. And what was important was each of those countries saw the populations themselves as the first line of defense. And as they conducted their community outreach to those population groups and the influencers who I mentioned before, their hope was to try to have that first line of defense be the mechanism by which we can start to defeat the ISIL message as it is poured into the ears or into the eyes of those young children who sit in front of a computer or who listen to social media of some form or another.

And then, of course, it branches out across a whole process of border control and governing activities associated with transit from the source country by the various means necessary and ultimately into the battle space where they become often the suicide bombers, the unwitting suicide bombers in some cases, in many cases for ISIL.

So the national leadership was concerned; but importantly, they conveyed the message that the populations themselves were also concerned, and they saw here opportunities for partnership if they really exploit this an opportunity – opportunities for partnership they might not have had otherwise.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Thank you, everyone.

QUESTION: I just have a quick --

MS. PSAKI: We’ll hopefully do this again, but I’ll be right back, Said, and I’m happy to take your question when I come back. We’ll be right back. Okay, thanks, everyone.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Ahmed Abu Khatallah Indicted on Additional Charges for September 2012 Attack in Benghazi, Libya

A federal grand jury in the District of Columbia returned a superseding indictment today charging Ahmed Abu Khatallah, aka Ahmed Mukatallah, with numerous additional offenses arising from his alleged participation in the Sept. 11 through 12, 2012, terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, which resulted in the deaths of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and U.S. government personnel Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.

Khatallah, 43, a Libyan national, was initially indicted on June 26, 2014, on the charge of conspiracy to provide material support and resources to terrorists resulting in death.  That charge, which is included in the superseding indictment, carries a potential life sentence.  The superseding indictment includes a total of 17 new charges, including some that could be punishable by death.

“These additional charges reflect Ahmed Abu Khattalah’s integral role in the attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, which led to the deaths of four brave Americans,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “We will never relent in pursuing justice against those who commit heinous acts of terrorism against the United States. Those who would do harm to our citizens—no matter how far away—should understand that our nation’s memory is long and our reach is far.”

“This superseding indictment charges Ahmed Abu Khatallah for his role in the attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya that resulted in the deaths of four U.S. government personnel,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin.  “This case reminds us of the continued threat the United States faces abroad from terrorism, but it also highlights our resolve to find and hold terrorists accountable wherever they may hide.”

“We have no higher priority than bringing to justice terrorists who kill U.S. citizens serving our country on foreign soil,” said U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. for the District of Columbia.  “With this 18-count indictment, a grand jury in our nation’s capital has charged Ahmed Abu Khatallah with the murders of four brave Americans in Benghazi.  We will press forward with our efforts to hold accountable all those who are responsible for this cowardly act.”

“With additional charges being announced today, Ahmed Abu Khatallah’s role in the Benghazi attack is even clearer,” said Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos of the FBI’s New York Field Office.  “As the charges allege, he was the leader of an extremist militia group who carried out this brutal act of violence that took the lives of four honorable Americans.  The Benghazi investigation remains one of the FBI’s top priorities and we will work tirelessly until all of those responsible are brought to justice.”

The superseding indictment describes Khatallah’s alleged role in the attacks at a U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi and a second U.S. facility there, known as the annex.  According to the superseding indictment, Khatallah was a leader of an extremist militia group and he conspired with others to attack the facilities, kill U.S. citizens, destroy buildings and other property, and plunder materials, including documents, maps and computers containing sensitive information.

The offenses that could carry death sentences include one count of murder of an internationally protected person; three counts of murder of an officer and employee of the United States; four counts of killing a person in the course of an attack on a federal facility involving the use of a firearm and a dangerous weapon; and two counts of maliciously damaging and destroying U.S. property by means of fire and an explosive causing death.

The seven other new charges in the superseding indictment include one count of providing material support and resources to terrorists resulting in death; three counts of attempted murder of an officer and employee of the United States; two counts of maliciously destroying and injuring dwellings and property, and placing lives in jeopardy within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, and attempting to do the same; and one count of using, carrying, brandishing and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years in prison.

Khatallah will be arraigned on the new charges at a hearing Oct. 20, 2014, before the Honorable Christopher R. Cooper in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.  At an earlier hearing, he pleaded not guilty to the terrorism conspiracy charge.

The investigation is continuing.

According to the superseding indictment, Khatallah was the commander of Ubaydah Bin Jarrah (UBJ), an Islamist extremist militia in Benghazi, which had the goal of establishing Sharia law in Libya.  In approximately 2011, UBJ merged with Ansar al-Sharia (AAS), another Islamist extremist group in Libya with the same goal of establishing Sharia law in the country.  Khatallah was a Benghazi-based leader of AAS.

The attack at the diplomatic mission, which took place on the night of Sept. 11, 2012, led to the deaths of Ambassador Stevens and Smith, who was an Information Management Officer for the U.S. Department of State; a second State Department employee was injured in this violence.  The attack at the annex took place early Sept. 12, 2012.  Woods and Doherty, who were security officers working on the U.S. government’s behalf, were killed in the attack at the annex, and another security officer and a State Department employee were wounded in the violence there.

In June 2014, Khatallah was taken into custody, and he initially was charged in a criminal complaint that was filed under seal on July 15, 2013, which became public on June 17, 2014.  The earlier indictment became public on June 28, 2014, the date of his first court appearance.

An indictment is merely a formal allegation that a defendant has committed a violation of criminal laws and every defendant is presumed innocent until, and unless, proven guilty.

The case is being investigated by the FBI New York Field Office's Joint Terrorism Task Force with substantial assistance from various other government agencies.  The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the Counterterrorism Section of the National Security Division.



The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced insider trading charges against a Massachusetts man who allegedly tipped his friend with nonpublic information about potential acquisition targets of the pharmaceutical company where he worked.

The SEC alleges that Zachary Zwerko was tasked with evaluating potential acquisitions, and he repeatedly accessed confidential files about his employer’s acquisition targets and passed details onto a friend from business school so he could purchase securities prior to public announcements.  Zwerko accessed and shared information about a deal he was assigned to work on as well as a potential acquisition tasked to others.  The illegal tips enabled his friend to make approximately $683,000 in illicit profits.

In a parallel action, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York today announced criminal charges against Zwerko.

“Zwerko’s employer entrusted him with confidential information about possible acquisitions, and he was brazen enough to steal that information for his own benefit,” said Sanjay Wadhwa, Senior Associate Director of the SEC’s New York Regional Office.  “The SEC’s swift enforcement action shows that Zwerko miscalculated the true consequences of his actions.”

The SEC’s complaint was filed after hours on October 10 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.  The complaint charges Zwerko, who lives in Cambridge Mass., with violating Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5.

The SEC’s investigation, which is continuing, has been conducted by Dominick D. Barbieri, Neil Hendelman, and Charles D. Riely.  The case has been supervised by Mr. Wadhwa.  The SEC appreciates the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Department of Justice Reaches Settlement Agreement with Colorado School District to Address Racial Harassment and Discrimination

The Justice Department announced that it has entered into a comprehensive settlement agreement with the Falcon School District 49 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to resolve complaints about the district’s response to racial harassment and discrimination in its schools.  

The agreement will continue for at least three years and replaces a settlement agreement reached by the parties in 2010 which addressed similar issues. The agreement requires the district to take affirmative steps to eliminate and prevent racial harassment and discrimination in schools.  Specifically, the district agrees to:

revise its policies and procedures on harassment and discrimination;
maintain adequate records of all incidents of racial harassment and discrimination;
analyze incidents of racial harassment and discrimination to ensure that all incidents are properly identified, investigated, and resolved;
train staff in preventing and responding to harassment and discrimination;
provide training to students to prevent and address harassment and discrimination;
include restorative justice techniques and positive behavior interventions and supports in the district’s disciplinary responses to incidents of harassment and discrimination; and
hire a consultant to identify any additional measures the district should take to effectively address, prevent, and respond to harassment and discrimination.
“We applaud the Falcon School District 49 for working cooperatively with the Department of Justice to resolve this matter and ensure that all students can attend school without fear of harassment or discrimination from their peers,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Molly Moran for the Civil Rights Division.


Ten things to know about the flowers of fall: Sunflowers
Scientists unfurl common flowers' genetic secrets

As fall fields turn bright with color, what might we learn from roadside rows of sunflowers--and the sunflower seeds widely used to feed birds in colder weather?

Scientists are finding that answers to biological and environmental questions large and small may be hidden in the petals of common sunflowers.

For example, how frequently and under what conditions does evolution take the same path? When independent populations evolve the same characteristics, are the underlying genetic changes similar or different?

To peer into the world of speciation--how one species branches into another--the National Science Foundation (NSF) spoke with George Gilchrist, a program director in the agency's Division of Environmental Biology and with Ken Whitney, a plant biologist at the University of New Mexico who studies populations of experimental sunflowers in Texas.

With funding from NSF, Whitney and botanist Loren Rieseberg of Indiana University Bloomington and the University of British Columbia are learning whether sunflowers are converging or diverging in their traits.

1) Why do scientists study sunflowers?

Whitney (KW): Sunflowers represent a "recent" success story. In the past three million years, this group has diverged (or branched into new species) in some 50 species in North America. Sunflowers live in a variety of habitats, from forests to deserts to salt marshes.

Sunflowers also contain examples of many important processes, including the evolution of both annual and perennial lifestyles, hybridization (mating between species) and the phenomena of polyploidy (the doubling of chromosome sets in a lineage). All this combines in an "evolutionary cauldron."

2) Where did sunflowers originate?

(KW): The genus Helianthus, true sunflowers, is native to North America. The common sunflower, H. annuus, and its seeds are one of only three crops that were domesticated north of Mexico. The second, sumpweed, was a favorite of Native Americans, but is no longer in use; the third, Jerusalem artichoke, is actually the root of another sunflower species, H. tuberosus.

3) What are the major commercial uses of sunflowers?

(KW): Oilseed sunflower varieties are used to produce oil used in cooking. A separate set of varieties, called confectionary varieties, has been developed to produce the large seeds we eat directly--such as those that are roasted and salted.

4) How do sunflowers link North America and Russia?

(KW): Although the crop sunflower originated in North America, it had to travel to Europe to achieve its current form. Much of the breeding for large seed size and high oil content was done in Russia in the 1800s, a legacy that is still with us in the sunflower variety called "Russian Mammoth." Many of us grow this plant in home gardens.

Sunflower varieties from Russia made it back to the U.S. in the late 1880s, but it was not until the 1930s and 1940s that crop sunflowers were grown on a large commercial scale in the United States.

5) What's the difference between wild sunflowers and those that are domesticated and grown as crops?

(KW): Both wild and crop sunflowers are the same species, H. annuus. Wild sunflowers have many flowering heads on each plant, and have small seeds. A major event in the domestication of the sunflower was the creation of a "monocephalic" plant with a single large flowering head and large seeds.

6) How much diversity is there in wild sunflowers?

(KW): The 50 or so species of wild sunflowers are both ecologically and genetically diverse. The U.S. Department of Agriculture maintains seed stocks of most wild sunflower species, in part because they contain genetic material that can be used to improve cultivated sunflower varieties. For example, a pest-resistant species might provide genes that could decrease pest damage in cultivated sunflowers.

7) What ecological factors drive sunflowers' diversity?

(KW): Sunflowers live in a wide range of habitats, and are widespread across the North American continent. That geographic range means that sunflowers have adapted to very different environmental conditions during the course of their radiation.

8) Are there medical treatments derived from sunflower products?

(KW): Sunflower products, especially the oil from the seeds, have long been used in folk medicine, but I'm not aware of any uses in modern medicine.

9) Do wild sunflowers hybridize? What role has hybridization played in speciation?

(KW): Sunflowers are notorious for hybridizing: mating across species boundaries and exchanging genetic material between species. Sometimes this genetic exchange leads to improved performance, for example in the Texas sunflower our team has been studying.

We have evidence that when wild H. annuus captured genes from another species, H. debilis, it was able to expand its range southward and become a new subspecies, H. annuus texanus. In other sunflowers, hybridization may lead to entirely new species. The sunflowers H. annuus and H. petiolaris have hybridized repeatedly and have produced three new sunflower species that live on the desert floor, on sand dunes, and in salt marshes.

Gilchrist (GG): This research has been critical to understanding how hybridization can lead to rapid speciation. While many hybrids are sterile, some genetic changes create hybrids with extra sets of chromosomes that are fully fertile, but reproductively isolated from their parents.

These new hybrid sunflowers often are uniquely adapted to new habitats that neither of the parent species occupies. Speciation by hybridization is very common in plants and may play a major role in plant diversification.

10) Do insects and pathogens attack sunflowers?

(KW): Sunflowers are indeed attacked by insects, especially grasshoppers, caterpillars, aphids and their relatives, as well as by fungal and bacterial pathogens.

A sunflower's life, scientists say, is no bed of roses.

-- Cheryl Dybas,


Terri Robl
U.S. Deputy Representative to the UN Economic and Social Council 
New York, NY
October 14, 2014

Mr. Chairman, the United States welcomes this opportunity to discuss the important work of the UN General Assembly in promoting and enabling information and communications technologies as a driver for sustainable economic and social development. The benefits of ICTs and the internet to development are well-known and their economic and social contributions continue to grow. ICTs have been one of the most effective and promising tools to help people and communities realize the objectives set out in the Millennium Development Goals.

As we continue the processes towards a follow-up to the MDGs, the ten-year review of World Summit on the Information Society, and the Post-2015 development agenda, all of which culminate next year, it is critical that we adequately recognize and promote the contribution of ICTs to our shared sustainable development goals, and continue to support the open and inclusive multi-stakeholder approach that maximizes the vibrancy and potential of ICTs to help people and communities all over the world improve their quality of life.

We must all be involved in this endeavor – governments, private sector, the technical community, and civil society – to ensure that all people have access to ICTs and information online; that costs for these technologies continue to decrease; that we redouble investments in networks and technologies; and that our efforts promote innovation, growth, and universal values of freedom of speech and expression. These goals will not be realized by erecting new barriers, fragmenting the global internet, or restricting the free flow of information.

In July, the General Assembly finalized the modalities for the conclusion of an important ten-year review of the WSIS in 2015. We strongly support this process and believe that this review of the implementation of WSIS outcomes that have helped foster ICT development for the past decade is crucial for ensuring and enhancing the contribution of WSIS outcomes to development for years to come.

From the beginning, the United States has been committed to a WSIS review that reaffirms our commitment to the Tunis Agenda and includes comprehensive and objective analyses of WSIS outcomes, as well as practical measures to realize the WSIS goals. The review should not be an attempt to renegotiate WSIS outcomes.

We support and applaud the critical work of all stakeholders who have already contributed to the review process, including the important work of the International Telecommunications Union and UNESCO for hosting numerous review events, and the Commission on Science and Technology for Development for coordinating the results of this process as the focal point in the system-wide follow-up to WSIS. The CSTD is very well-placed to provide an objective, evidence-based, and data-driven review, and we look forward to its report after its 18th session in 2015.

Likewise, the United States is committed to the continued success of the Internet Governance Forum. We would like to thank the government of Turkey for hosting a very successful 9th IGF this year in Istanbul. The IGF continues to be the premier and most dynamic venue for discussions regarding the Internet. We believe that the multi-stakeholder nature of the IGF underpins its unique ability to have open and candid conversations about difficult issues and provide timely direction on best practices, without the need for negotiated outcome documents. This multi-stakeholder process presents some challenges, but these are small relative to the opportunities it provides for dealing effectively with the dynamic nature of the internet.

These characteristics have led the United States to support the IGF through financial contributions and we encourage other stakeholders to do the same. We support the renewal of the IGF mandate as soon as possible in order to plan properly for future IGFs and encourage potential donors to the IGF Trust Fund.

We believe that 2015 offers an important opportunity to promote the use of ICTs in development and the multi-stakeholder model that makes them so dynamic and accessible. We look forward to working with all delegations, in this Committee and in the important review and agenda-setting exercises during 2015, for which the recognition and elevation of ICTs as an important enabler of economic and social development will be so vital to our success in the years ahead. Thank you.



Right:  Stuck on the Rings
Like a drop of dew hanging on a leaf, Tethys appears to be stuck to the A and F rings from this perspective.

Tethys (660 miles, or 1,062 kilometers across), like the ring particles, is composed primarily of ice. The gap in the A ring through which Tethys is visible is the Keeler gap, which is kept clear by the small moon Daphnis (not visible here).
This view looks toward the Saturn-facing hemisphere of Tethys. North on Tethys is up and rotated 43 degrees to the right. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on July 14, 2014.

The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 1.1 million miles (1.8 million kilometers) from Tethys and at a Sun-Tethys-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 22 degrees. Image scale is 7 miles (11 kilometers) 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

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


October 15, 2014
Readout of the President’s Call with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

President Obama spoke yesterday evening with Prime Minister Abe of Japan to discuss cooperation in confronting the Ebola epidemic, their shared vision for the Trans Pacific Partnership, and the security situation in Northeast Asia. President Obama thanked Prime Minister Abe for the important contributions Japan has made to the Ebola response effort and encouraged him to consider additional commitments.  The two leaders agreed that the international community urgently needs to do more to address this health security emergency, by providing personnel, supplies, and funds in support of the effort.  President Obama and Prime Minister Abe agreed on the economic and strategic importance of the Trans Pacific Partnership, and the President stressed the need to be bold in order to achieve their shared vision of a more prosperous and integrated Asia-Pacific region.  The two leaders discussed regional dynamics in Northeast Asia. The President reaffirmed that our alliances remain the cornerstone of our engagement with the region, and underscored the importance of enhancing communication and cooperation among U.S. allies in Northeast Asia in order to ensure stable relations over the long-term.

October 15, 2014
Readout of the President's Video Conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President François Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi

Today, the President participated in a video conference with his counterparts Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom, President François Hollande of France, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi of Italy.  The group discussed the international response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, including steps that are being taken to counter the spread of the disease.  The President stressed the need for a faster and more robust international response to the Ebola epidemic, and underscored the need to increase assistance and international contributions for Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.  The leaders agreed to work together to enlist greater support from more countries and to coordinate their efforts on the ground.  President Obama made clear that the world must marshal the finances as well as the international personnel required to bend the curve of the epidemic, noting that it constitutes a human tragedy as well as a threat to international security.

On ISIL, the group reviewed coalition efforts to date in the campaign to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL in Iraq and Syria, including stemming the flow of foreign fighters and building the capabilities of the Iraqi Security Forces and the moderate Syrian opposition.  The President stressed that the military dimension of the campaign is just one aspect of the broader effort to counter ISIL.  He noted the importance of countering ISIL propaganda, and our ongoing efforts to put forward an affirmative vision that contrasts with ISIL’s violent and hateful ideology. The leaders also agreed that the coalition will continue to coordinate in order to counter sources of ISIL funding.

On Ukraine, the leaders discussed the need for Russia to fulfill all of its obligations under the Minsk agreements.  Additionally, they discussed efforts to work alongside international financial institutions to support Ukraine’s economy.

The President looks forward to continuing his conversations with his counterparts.


CDC and Frontier Airlines Announce Passenger Notification Underway

On the morning of Oct. 14, the second healthcare worker reported to the hospital with a low-grade fever and was isolated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms that the second healthcare worker who tested positive last night for Ebola traveled by air Oct. 13, the day before she reported symptoms.

Because of the proximity in time between the evening flight and first report of illness the following morning, CDC is reaching out to passengers who flew on Frontier Airlines flight 1143 Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth Oct. 13.

CDC is asking all 132 passengers on Frontier Airlines flight 1143 Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth on October 13 (the flight route was Cleveland to Dallas Fort Worth and landed at 8:16 p.m. CT) to call 1 800-CDC INFO (1 800 232-4636). After 1 p.m. ET, public health professionals will begin interviewing passengers about the flight, answering their questions, and arranging follow up. Individuals who are determined to be at any potential risk will be actively monitored.

The healthcare worker exhibited no signs or symptoms of illness while on flight 1143, according to the crew. Frontier is working closely with CDC to identify and notify passengers who may have traveled on flight 1143 on Oct. 13.  Passengers who may have traveled on flight 1143 should contact CDC at 1 800-CDC INFO (1 800 232-4636).

 Frontier Airlines Statement

 “At approximately 1:00 a.m. MT on October 15, Frontier was notified by the CDC that a customer traveling on Frontier Airlines flight 1143 Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth on Oct. 13 has since tested positive for the Ebola virus. The flight landed in Dallas/Fort Worth at 8:16 p.m. local and remained overnight at the airport having completed its flying for the day at which point the aircraft received a thorough cleaning per our normal procedures which is consistent with CDC guidelines prior to returning to service the next day. It was also cleaned again in Cleveland last night. Previously the customer had traveled from Dallas Fort Worth to Cleveland on Frontier flight 1142 on October 10.

Customer exhibited no symptoms or sign of illness while on flight 1143, according to the crew. Frontier responded immediately upon notification from the CDC by removing the aircraft from service and is working closely with CDC to identify and contact customers who may traveled on flight 1143.

Customers who may have traveled on either flight should contact CDC at 1 800 CDC-INFO.

The safety and security of our customers and employees is our primary concern. Frontier will continue to work closely with CDC and other governmental agencies to ensure proper protocols and procedures are being followed.”


10/14/14: White House Press Briefing


ISIL's Dehumanization of Women and Girls
Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
October 14, 2014

Just days after we saw the best of humanity when Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, we again confront the worst of inhumanity in ISIL. No one needed a reminder of ISIL’s depravity and evil. But now we have the latest example.

ISIL now proudly takes credit for the abduction, enslavement, rape, forced marriage, and sale of several thousand Yezidi and other minority women and girls—some as young as 12 years old. Just as despicably, ISIL rationalizes its abhorrent treatment of these women and girls by claiming it is somehow sanctioned by religion. Wrong. Dead wrong.

ISIL does not represent Islam and Islam does not condone or honor such depravity. In fact, these actions are a reminder that ISIL is an enemy of Islam. The international community and religious leaders of all faiths have strongly and repeatedly condemned ISIL’s horrific acts; we urge them to reiterate their commitment by condemning in the strongest possible terms the commodification of women and children as spoils of war, including through their subjection to horrific physical and sexual violence, intimidation, and deprivation of liberty.

These acts transgress all definitions of human dignity and those individuals responsible must be identified and held fully accountable. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Cathy Russell said it best: “Such viciousness against innocents exposes ISIL's blatant rejection of the most basic progress we have made as a community of nations and the universal values that bind civilization.” The United States will not stand by as ISIL uses fear, violence and oppression to achieve its goals.

To stop ISIL’s campaign of terror and horror against the Syrian and Iraqi people, we remain steadfast in our efforts to lead the international coalition to degrade and defeat ISIL. The United States will keep tracking ISIL’s abduction, enslavement, sale, rape, forced marriage, and abuse of women and girls. We will keep working with the new Government of Iraq to respond to ISIL’s brutality against women and girls from all communities in Iraq, including vulnerable minority populations.