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Saturday, November 1, 2014

NSC STATEMENT ON SEPARATIST ELECTIONS IN EASTERN UKRAINE

FROM:  THE WHITE HOUSE 
October 31, 2014
Statement by NSC Spokesperson Bernadette Meehan on Anticipated Separatist “Elections” in Eastern Ukraine

We deplore the intent of separatists in parts of eastern Ukraine to hold illegitimate so-called local “elections” on Sunday, November 2. If held, these “elections” would contravene Ukraine’s constitution and laws and the September 5 Minsk Protocol. As President Obama said on October 27, “the United States will not recognize any election held in separatist-held areas that does not comport with Ukrainian law and is not held with the express consent and under the authority of the Ukrainian government.” The only legitimate local election in eastern Ukraine will be held on December 7, as prescribed by the Special Status Law signed by President Poroshenko for parts of Donetsk and Luhansk, and in keeping with the Protocol that the separatists signed with Ukraine and Russia in Minsk, Belarus, on September 5.

As a signatory of the Minsk Protocol, we call on Russia to join the Secretary General of the United Nations, the European Union, the Council of Europe, and the international community in condemning the illegitimate vote planned for this weekend. The United States will not recognize any results announced from this so-called election, and we call on all members of the international community to do the same. We also caution Russia against using any such illegitimate vote as a pretext to insert additional troops and military equipment into Ukraine, particularly in light of recent indications that the Russian military is moving forces back to the border along separatist controlled areas of eastern Ukraine. We once more urge Russia and its separatist proxies to fulfill all of their commitments under the Minsk Protocol of September 5, and the Minsk Memorandum of September 19.

TIRCK-OR-TREAT WITH THE PRESIDENT AND FIRST LADY

WHITE HOUSE VIDEO: WEEKLY ADDRESS FOR NOVEMBER 1, 2014

WHITE HOUSE VIDEO: WEST WING WEEK 10/31/14

AUTOMOTIVE PARTS MANUFACTURER BASED IN JAPAN PLEADS GUILTY TO PRICE FIXING, RIGGING BIDS ON U.S. CAR PARTS

FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE 
Friday, October 31, 2014
Hitachi Metals Ltd. Agrees to Plead Guilty for Fixing Prices and Rigging Bids on Automobile Parts Installed in U.S. Cars

Hitachi Metals Ltd., an automotive parts manufacturer based in Tokyo, Japan, and successor in interest to Hitachi Cable Ltd. (collectively Hitachi), has agreed to plead guilty and to pay a $1.25 million criminal fine for its role in a conspiracy to fix prices and rig bids for automotive brake hose installed in cars sold in the United States and elsewhere, the Department of Justice announced today.

According to the one-count felony charge filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio in Toledo, Hitachi conspired to fix the prices of automotive brake hose sold to Toyota Motor Corporation and certain of its subsidiaries, affiliates and suppliers, in the United States and elsewhere (collectively Toyota).  In addition to the criminal fine, Hitachi has agreed to cooperate in the department’s ongoing investigation.  The plea agreement will be subject to court approval.

“Today’s guilty plea demonstrates the Antitrust Division’s commitment to hold companies accountable for engaging in illegal anticompetitive conduct,” said Brent Snyder, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division’s criminal enforcement program.  “The division is dedicated to its mission to protect U.S. consumers and businesses.”

According to the charge, Hitachi and its co–conspirators conspired through meetings and conversations in which they discussed and agreed upon bids and price quotations to be submitted to Toyota, and to allocate the supply of automotive brake hose to Toyota.  In furtherance of the agreement, Hitachi sold automotive brake hose at non–competitive prices to Toyota in the United States and elsewhere.  Hitachi’s involvement in the automotive brake hose conspiracy lasted from at least as early as November 2005 until at least September 2009.

Hitachi manufactures and sells a variety of automotive parts, including automotive brake hoses, which are flexible hoses that carry brake fluid through the hydraulic brake system of automobiles.  The charges against Hitachi are the latest in the department’s on-going investigation into anticompetitive conduct in the automotive parts industry.  These are the first charges filed relating to automotive brake hose sold to automobile manufacturers.

To date, 44 individuals have been charged in the government’s ongoing investigation into price fixing and bid rigging in the auto parts industry.  Including Hitachi, 30 companies have pleaded guilty or agreed to plead guilty and have agreed to pay a total of nearly $2.4 billion in fines.

Hitachi is charged with price fixing and bid rigging in violation of the Sherman Act, which carries a maximum penalty for corporations of a $100 million criminal fine for each violation.  The maximum fine may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine.

DOD LEADERS PRAISE PROGRESS MADE AGAINST ISIL

FROM:  U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT 
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel holds a press briefing with Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon, Oct. 30, 2014.  DoD photo by Army Staff Sgt. Sean K. Harp. 

Pentagon Leaders Laud Progress Against ISIL
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Oct. 30, 2014 – Defense Department leaders today praised the progress made against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in Iraq and Syria as implementation of the broader comprehensive strategy in the Middle East continues.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, discussed progress and strategy during a Pentagon news conference.

Hagel began the news conference by highlighting the recent transfer of two NATO bases – Camp Leatherneck and Camp Bastion -- to Afghan security forces as part of “significant progress” in Afghanistan. He praised U.S. forces for their service in Afghanistan, as well NATO partners, for their contributions.
“I also want to thank our [International Security Assistance Force] partners for what they’ve done,” he said, “and in particular, the Afghan national security forces as they have continued to make progress -- significant progress in defending their country.”

Turning to Iraq, the defense secretary said he spoke with Iraqi Defense Minister Khaled al-Obeidi last week about Iraqi force preparations to take the offensive against ISIL.

Gains in Northern and Central Iraq

“Over the past week, we’ve seen Iraqi and Kurdish forces begin to do that,” Hagel said. “And they’ve made some gains in both northern and central Iraq. Their initial progress is encouraging, but these are just first steps … in what we have said will be a long and difficult multiyear effort against ISIL by the local Iraqi forces on the ground [with] support from the U.S, as well as coalition partners.”

Tomorrow, Hagel said, the U.S. Army’s 1st Infantry Division headquarters will take command in Baghdad, coordinating all U.S. forces in Iraq.

“But our military campaign is only one part of the broader comprehensive strategy required to defeat ISIL,” he said, “choking off its resources and recruits, and supply lines and de-legitimizing its murderous ideology are just as important as [Iraqi] Prime Minister [Haider al] Abadi’s efforts to build an inclusive Iraqi government that must earn the trust and confidence of the Iraqi people.”

The Future of Syria

Hagel said the realities of ISIL controlling vast areas of Syria and Iraq are forcing a coalition of more than 60 countries to come together to deal with this “immediate threat.”

“The future of Syria,” he said, “which the nations of the Middle East have a significant investment in that stability, is going to require all elements, not only of our government, but all of the countries in the Middle East and others working together to find a solution to bring peace in Syria, to stabilize that region of the world.”

Officials constantly are assessing, adapting and working through different options, Hagel said, because the situation is complicated and long-term, and there are no short-term easy answers to it.

“That’s why we meet so often on this issue,” he said. “This is why we are building, and continue to build, an effective coalition in the Middle East to deal with these issues.”

Training and Equipping Moderate Opposition Update

The chairman was asked to provide an update on the status of the department’s program to train and equip the Syrian moderate opposition.

“The command-and-control apparatus is in place,” Dempsey said. “The sites have been selected, and the reconnaissance conducted to determine what infrastructure we’ll need to accomplish the mission.”

Coalition partners are beginning to contribute trainers to the efforts, he added, though the recruiting and vetting has not yet begun.

Expanding Mission Area in Iraq

Dempsey discussed the possibility of expanding the train-advise-assist mission of U.S. forces in Iraq, currently oriented around Irbil and Baghdad, to include Anbar province.

“There’s three components to the train-advise-assist mission,” he explained. “Initially, the Iraqi security forces, and I include in that the [Kurdish peshmerga forces], … mostly oriented around Baghdad and Irbil, and then there’s the issue of the tribes and trying to find a way to … enable them.”

Also, Dempsey said, a program is in place to begin to restore some offensive capability and mindset to Iraqi security forces. “We need to think about how to do that with the tribes,” he added. “We also need to make sure that the Iraqi security forces are not spread out in ways that prevent them from supporting each other.”

Dempsey pointed to areas such as al-Asad, and Iraqi units such as the 7th and 9th Iraqi army divisions, which he said are “somewhat isolated.”
The Iraqi security forces, he said, need help with planning and executing and with linking up groups that are isolated. “And then,” he said, “I think that becomes a platform for reaching out to the tribes.”

The third component, Dempsey said, is the national guard concept, which -- if the Iraqi government takes a decision to form it and passes a law -- probably would begin to be implemented in 2015.

“You need all three of those, eventually,” the chairman said. “Right now, we’re focused on the Iraqi security forces.

HOSPITAL SYSTEM WILL PAY $37 MILLION TO SETTLE FALSE CLAIMS ALLEGATIONS

FROM:  U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT 
Thursday, October 30, 2014
Dignity Health Agrees to Pay $37 Million to Settle False Claims Act Allegations

Dignity Health has agreed to pay the United States $37 million to settle allegations that 13 of its hospitals in California, Nevada and Arizona knowingly submitted false claims to Medicare and TRICARE by admitting patients who could have been treated on a less costly, outpatient basis, the Justice Department announced today.  Dignity, formerly known as Catholic Healthcare West, is based in San Francisco and is one of the five largest hospital systems in the nation with 39 hospitals in three states.

“Charging the government for higher cost inpatient services that patients do not need wastes the country’s vital health care dollars,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Joyce R. Branda for the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “This department will continue its work to stop abuses of the nation’s health care resources and to ensure patients receive the most appropriate care.”

The settlement resolves allegations that 13 Dignity Health hospitals knowingly overcharged Medicare and TRICARE, part of the military health care program, for inpatient services for patients who should have been treated on a less costly, outpatient basis.  Because hospitals generally receive significantly higher payments from federal health care programs for inpatient admissions as opposed to outpatient treatment, the admission of numerous patients who do not need inpatient care, as alleged here, can result in substantial financial harm to federal health care programs.

The United States alleged that from 2006 through 2010, 13 Dignity hospitals billed Medicare and TRICARE for inpatient care for certain patients who underwent elective cardiovascular procedures (e.g., stents, pacemakers) in scheduled surgeries when the claims should have been billed as outpatient surgeries.  In addition, the government alleged that from 2000 through 2008, four of the hospitals billed Medicare for beneficiaries undergoing elective kyphoplasty procedures, which are minimally-invasive and performed to treat certain spinal compression fractures that should have been billed as less costly outpatient procedures.  Lastly, the government alleged that from 2006 through 2010, 13 hospitals admitted patients for certain common medical diagnoses where admission as an inpatient was medically unnecessary and appropriate care could have been provided in a less costly outpatient or observation setting.  

“This settlement demonstrates this office’s commitment to protecting our federal health care programs,” said U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag for the Northern District of California.  “We will continue to aggressively and appropriately pursue False Claims Act allegations of wrongdoing in the health care industry.”

As part of today’s agreement, Dignity entered into a corporate integrity agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) requiring the company to engage in significant compliance efforts over the next five years.  Under the agreement, Dignity is required to retain independent review organizations to review the accuracy of the company’s claims for services furnished to federal health care program beneficiaries.

“Hospitals that attempt to boost profits by admitting patients for expensive and unnecessary inpatient hospital stays will be held accountable,” said Special Agent in Charge Ivan Negroni of HHS-OIG’s San Francisco Office.  “Both patients and taxpayers deserve to have medical decisions made solely on what is best for the patient based on medical necessity.”

This settlement resolves a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California by Kathleen Hawkins, a former employee of Dignity, under the qui tam or whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act, which permit private citizens to bring lawsuits on behalf of the United States and obtain a portion of the government’s recovery.  Hawkins will receive approximately $6.25 million.

This settlement illustrates the government’s emphasis on combating health care fraud and marks another achievement for the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) initiative, which was announced in May 2009 by the Attorney General and the Secretary of Health and Human Services.  The partnership between the two departments has focused efforts to reduce and prevent Medicare and Medicaid financial fraud through enhanced cooperation.  One of the most powerful tools in this effort is the False Claims Act.  Since January 2009, the Justice Department has recovered a total of more than $23 billion through False Claims Act cases, with more than $14.8 billion of that amount recovered in cases involving fraud against federal health care programs.

The settlement was a result of a coordinated effort by the Civil Division, the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices for the Northern District of California and the Western District of New York and the HHS-OIG.

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE TO UN MAKES REMARKS IN ACCRA, GHANA ON EBOLA

FROM:  THE STATE DEPARTMENT 
Samantha Power
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations 
Accra, Ghana
October 29, 2014
AS DELIVERED

Special Representative Banbury: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, my name is Tony Banbury and I am the Head of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response. Myself and all of my colleagues are delighted to welcome Ambassador Samantha Power, United States Ambassador to the United Nations, to our headquarters here in Accra. I’d like to just make a couple of brief comments and then hand it over to her. First of all, the picture we are seeing now on Ebola in the three most infected countries is a very mixed one. We still have a very serious crisis on our hands; there are people dying every day; there are people who are becoming newly infected every day; and there are still some serious requirements to put in place the necessary capabilities to bring the crisis to an end. On the other hand, we are seeing a lot of progress. Work by national governments, NGOs, UN Agencies, bilateral partners like the United States and UNMEER as well, and we are starting to see the impact of all these efforts. There has been a very significant mobilization of international personnel, resources, capabilities, to work side-by-side with the governments and those efforts are starting to pay off.

What we need are three basic things to get this crisis under control. To add to the effort we need people, especially trained medical personnel, people who can operate clinics, Ebola treatment clinics, community care centers. We need material and we need money.

The United Nations, UNMEER , myself, we’re very grateful to the United States who has been a leader in providing all of those things. They are putting their people on the ground; civilian and military, USAID civilian teams, DART teams; they are providing a lot of supplies; and they are proving a lot of money. So we hope that others will also, like the United States, contribute in such a generous way.

UNMEER – we are doing everything possible working side by side with the United States and other partners, national governments, to achieve the results that have been set for – the objectives that have been set of 70% of new cases under treatment, and 70% of burials being done safely. If we can do that, we can turn this crisis around. That’s our objective and we are working very, very hard to achieve it, and I am confident that all of the international community working with the national governments will make it. So with that I’d like to hand it over please to Ambassador Power.

Ambassador Power Thank you, Tony; and thank you to all the people who work with you, both here in Accra and in the broader region, in Ebola-affected countries away from their families. They are doing God’s work. It is the most important work anybody can be doing on Earth today. The second thank you I would like to offer is to Ghana, to the people of Ghana, to the generosity of the leadership of Ghana and the communities here. Ebola is a virus that has generated a lot of fear and a fair amount of misinformation and misunderstanding; and it is extremely important that Ghana has recognized that this is a virus that does not see borders, that is an equal opportunity demon. If we cannot stop it at its source, it will spread. And UNMEER, which has set up its headquarters here in Ghana –again thanks to the Ghanaian people and the government here – is a critical weapon in the battle to stop Ebola at its source so it doesn’t come to Ghana, so it doesn’t spread further on the continent of Africa, and so it is contained and defeated.

The curve of infections in the three affected countries is something that has alarmed people near and far, including here in this country, and Tony and I and others in the international community have been speaking now for many months about the need to bend the curve of infections. There is a need for far more commitments and far more deliveries upon commitments in order to bend the curve. There is a need for more beds; there is a need for more bleach, more cash in order to pay community mobilizers or people who pick up bodies so as to do safe burial. The list goes on and on, and UNMEER, and each of the three affected countries, are the keepers of those lists, and we in the United States and in the broader international community need to be responsive to those demands and to the specifics of what is on those lists, and that is what we are trying to do.

I will say that out of my trip to the region and having visited all three affected countries and now having toured the UNMEER response headquarters, I think we need to be very clear that our goal is not simply to bend the curve; it is to end the curve. And this is something, because of the commitments that have been made, because of the mobilization that is being done, that we are confident will result – because it must result – in the outstanding gaps being filled. We can see the day when those gaps are filled and when the curve is not simply bent, but is ended. And when that day is achieved, people will thank the people of Ghana and the government of Ghana for your role in being part of ending the stigma of Ebola, ending the fear, and focusing on the most important thing, which is the response.

There are – one of the things one experiences here in this warehouse is a recognition that there are a lot of supplies out there in the world. This is just one example of a place where you’re surrounded by supplies. What we need to do is to get quicker in moving supplies in warehouses like this into the affected countries. And warehouses like this don’t just exist here in UNMEER headquarters; they exist all around world.

We have the capabilities in all of our countries to end the curve, and the question is how do we take supplies that exist in warehouses like this around the world and get them where they’re needed, where people are desperate for our help, and when doing so will protect not only the people in the affected countries, but also people in our own countries.

So that is the enterprise that we are part of. I am very, very encouraged by some of the steps that have been taken, particularly in the last couple of weeks, in terms of the governments’ leadership in the affected countries and in terms of the international community’s ability to get supplies into places of need. But the main message, again, for the world is: fill the gaps so we can bend and end the curve. Thanks.

Moderator: Thank you, Ambassador. Folks, the Ambassador has a plane to catch very shortly, so time is short. A reminder: one question per person. Also, wait for the microphone to come to you. We have time for, maybe, four questions. To begin with, Metro TV, please.

And please let us know who the question is for: the Ambassador or for Mr. Banbury.

Reporter: I want to find out what you’re doing to make sure that countries who have not contracted the disease do not contract it? Thank you.

Ambassador Power: Thank you for the question. I know it is a question on the minds of many here in Ghana but also in places like the United States where we have seen several cases come into the United States from the region, and so screening procedures are extremely important. I came this morning from the country of Liberia, from the airport in Monrovia, and I and my delegation had our temperatures taken three times between the time we arrived at the airport and the time that we boarded the plane. While we were in the affected countries, we internalized the habits, now, of people in those countries, which is to avoid physical contact as much as possible. Every place we entered in the three countries involved washing our hands with bleach, washing our shoes. These are precautions taken out of an abundance of caution, and out of a recognition that in order to be able to concentrate our efforts on the places that are most affected, we need to ensure that in so doing we don’t bring the virus to other countries and we contain it where it is, and then slay it where it is.

The three affected countries have been extremely aggressive in recent weeks and months in stepping up those screening procedures. And the country of Ghana, when we arrived, also was extremely vigilant in taking our temperature, asking us questions about whether we had had contact with Ebola-infected patients, and so forth. And they will take measures accordingly on the basis of whether someone has come to the country has had contact or not. I want to stress that the vast majority of people in the affected countries who are contributing to the Ebola response are not themselves in physical contact with people who have Ebola. So, for instance, most of the people who comprise the UN Mission here –maybe even all – all, I am told—are people who do not have that kind of contact and are not wearing PPEs and then taking them off when they come back to Ghana. That’s not what this is. This is a logistic operation and so, again, the likelihood of Ebola being brought into one of the neighboring countries by the international support network is extremely, extremely narrow. These individuals do everything in their power to eliminate that risk all together again by these precautions.

Moderator: Next question – Reuters in the front row.

Reporter: Hi, Michelle Nichols from Reuters. You both mentioned the need for more beds, and yet we’re seeing in Liberia that there are empty beds. What’s the explanation for that? Is this a sign of progress or are there concerns that people are staying away from treatment centers?

Special Representative Banbury: The need for beds – we’re estimating under worst case scenario planning that we need a total of, for instance, 53 Ebola Treatment Units. And in terms of the ones that are now built, or in process, we have a gap of about 20. For community care centers, which are absolutely critical to all this, we are planning about 329 and we have a gap of about 300. So there is a very serious need for beds.

We have to make sure, though, that the beds are placed at the right locations, and that depends on good information on exactly where the disease is. And it’s very hard to get accurate epidemiological information of what exactly are the new cases, where are they, what are the causes of transmission. And to properly fight this disease, that information is critical so that we can allocate scarce resources, whether they’re beds or burial teams or community mobilizers, against those critical needs.

Reporter: Are you trying to suggest, then, there’s more than enough beds (inaudible)?

Special Representative Banbury: No, no, I’m definitely not saying there are more than enough ETUs, because we don’t know where we’re going to be in four weeks’ time. And we’re not just worried about what the situation is today; we’re planning for the worst. We’re hoping for much better; were planning for the worst. And by planning for it we will avoid it. By bringing in all this capability, it means we’ll bend the curve earlier and, as Ambassador Power said, we will end the curve earlier. All this extra capability means saved lives. And for the United Nations, for UNMEER – I’m sure for all our partners – it’s all about saving lives. Empty beds is a great sign, but right now we know that there are people dying in all three countries outside of Ebola Treatment Units who should not be dying. Just about two weeks ago, I was – after I traveled to all three countries – I was able to brief the Security Council and Ambassador Power was there and I said we’re in a race against Ebola and Ebola is winning the race. Well, we’re starting to catch up – the international community, all of us – by putting everything we have into this – we are accelerating, we’re starting to catch up. But, we’re not there yet; and every day we’re not there means people are dying unnecessarily. So we have to build more beds, get more foreign medical teams in place, build more community care centers, have more safe burial teams, more community mobilization. We need to do all of it, and the faster we do it the more lives we’ll save.

Moderator: Folks, we have time for two more questions. That man in the third row. Wait for the microphone.

Reporter: I am (inaudible) TV3. I want to find out what is the major prevailing challenge between facing and reducing the threat of Ebola?

Ambassador Power: It’s hard to choose one prevailing challenge as Tony just indicated, and I’d ask him also to respond.

The challenge you think you had yesterday is something that may be a different form of that challenge tomorrow. And so, just to give you one example in light of the previous discussion about beds: at the start of this crisis, when the presence of epidemiologists out in the countryside – particularly the very remote areas that are very hard to get to, or there are very bad roads, or no paved roads – the knowledge of what was happening in some of those communities was not so great, but the knowledge in certain communities was very great and we were able – working with the CDC and the WHO and with the affected country governments – to come up with some projections about where the virus was going and how many beds you would need, as Tony has described.

As the international presence has ramped up, and as some road repair has occurred, and as people have been given mobile phones with SIM cards and are able to call in sort of what they are experiencing, we are learning about pockets of need that we may not have been aware of before. And as a result, in addition to the question of the number of beds, a core question now is the geographic distribution of beds. And so you know you need a ton of beds because you know you need to isolate 70% of the patients in order to bend and then end the curve. But, the more we know, the more we will adapt where those beds go, accordingly.

In addition, to give you two bright spots, in both Freetown and Monrovia in the last, really, week, we have seen extraordinary improvements in the rate of safe burial within 24 hours. In Sierra Leone, in Freetown, the estimate is that the safe burial rate has gone from somewhere between 30 and 40 percent being safe to around 98 percent. If fewer infections are occurring by virtue of unsafe burial, that over time is going to change the number of beds that are needed in a particular community or in a particular part of the country.

And so these kinds of adaptations, because Sierra Leone and Liberia did such a great job, the people of those countries – comprising these burial teams, you know, donning the PPE, taking the risk, going out into the communities, managing that risk – they’re not getting infected now that they’ve been trained in the protocols. They performed a critical intervention that then has implications for how UNMEER and the governments in question think about allocating resources. So that is just in terms of how the challenge has evolved.

But I guess I would still say the number one – I’d say there are two core challenges that remain. The first is the gaps that are still profound, whether it’s something as basic as soap or whether it’s the underfunded UN appeals, whether it’s the number of helicopters that can get people into the remote areas, there are huge gaps. And countries that have not stepped up at this point have to step up. They can be part of a winning enterprise. They can be part of ending Ebola, or not. And so that is an opportunity, you might say, in the face of this tragedy.

The second prevailing challenge, and arguably the most important, particularly in the long term, is fear. Fear that causes people to stigmatize people who’ve survived the epidemic, who have a huge amount to offer in actually being a part of treatment and care. Fear and confusion about how the epidemic has spread and will spread, that causes countries to take measures that ultimately will deter the infusion of health workers, potentially, and others who can be part of the solution. And so, as President Obama said yesterday in his remarks, we need to conquer our fear so that we can conquer this epidemic.

Moderator: Guys, we have time for one more question, please. I think, Chris Stein. Chris Stein, AFP.

Reporter: For Ambassador Power: Given the enormity of the outbreak in West Africa, how do you see the U.S. reaction – given the enormity of the outbreak in West Africa, how do you see the reaction at home to the relatively few cases that have occurred in the U.S.?

Ambassador Power: I’m going to give Tony the last word because I think he’d have a very important response to the prior question, but, I would say first of all that the part of the U.S. response that is getting attention now is the fear that recent infections have generated in the broader public. And as people in Africa know, when Ebola comes to your country or your region it is frightening and it’s going to take people time to get educated about how the virus is spread. And so we are in a phase of self-education, understanding how this works.

The fact that certainly the nurses who were infected in Dallas have now both been released from their treatment and have survived and indeed are thriving – they’re great messengers for the nobility of the health workers who are part of the overall solution to this crisis. So when people talk about the response in the United States – I believe in your question you are talking about, again, some of the concerns that have been generated – but I think the most important feature of the American response to this epidemic is that we are not running away from the epidemic. We as a nation, under President Obama’s leadership and thanks to the selflessness of our aid workers, our military, and health workers who have no official affiliation with the U.S. government – we are running toward it, deploying our men and women in uniform, infusing the region with all kinds of supplies and resources that are urgently needed, and embracing both the challenge and the responsibility of helping this region come out of, you know, a terrible time. And we do so because we have a humanitarian solidarity and great empathy for people who are going through something this trying and this horrific, particularly the countries that are affected – particularly Liberia and Sierra Leone, that have made such strides and have come so far. We want to stand with the people in those countries and help them get through this. But we also recognize, in coming toward the epidemic, running into the burning building as it were, that it is in our national security interest to do this. And so the United States is with the people of Africa, it’s with the people of Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, and it is in this for the long haul until we bend and end the curve.

Tony, last word?

Special Representative Banbury: Thank you, Ambassador Power. Just a remark on the earlier question about the most significant challenge. For UNMEER, from an operational perspective, the most difficult thing is that we have to put in place every part of the response; we have to put it in place everywhere; and we need to do it super fast. If there is a gap anywhere in the operational response, it leaves a place for this virus to continue to spread, infect people, kill people, destroy families and communities. And that’s a big responsibility. But we are working very, very hard together with partners, such as the United States, all the UN Family, NGOs, and national governments, to make sure we put that response capability in place everywhere so that there are no gaps in the response and so we can bring this crisis to a close, and it’s thanks to partnerships like – with the United States, who is running into the burning building, as well as the presidents of the three most affected countries, other partners who are contributing in very serious ways, as well as President Mahama and his leadership, to show that working together as an international community, focusing on the very serious challenges, that we can bring this crisis to a close. And we will, we’ll get it done. The only question is how long does it take and how many people are going to die. We’re going to try to make it as fast as possible and save as many lives as possible.

I’d just like to close by, again, thanking Ambassador Power and her delegation for visiting us and for all the fantastic support from the United States Government and the people of the United States for our efforts. Together we’ll make it happen. Thank you.

U.S. OFFICIAL'S REMARKS AT DOING BUSINESS IN ALGERIA ROADSHOW

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 
Remarks at the Doing Business in Algeria Roadshow
Remarks
Charles H. Rivkin
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs
Washington, DC
October 29, 2014

Thank you, Mr. Ambassador.

Monsieur le Ministre, et vos collègues et ministers du Gouvernement algérien … Monsieur L’Ambassadeur …. Les capitaines d'industries et les dirigeants d'entreprise …. Mesdames and messieurs ….Bienvenue et As-Salaam-Alaikum.

I’d like to welcome Algerian Minister Abdeslam Bouchouareb, his delegation of governmental and business leaders from Algeria, and Ambassador Abdallah Baali to Washington.

I’d also like to welcome our guests from the U.S. Government and business representatives. And many thanks to the U.S.-Algeria Business Council for organizing the Roadshow.

It’s always exciting to me to speak with business people. I spent 20 years as a businessman in the entertainment industry. After that, I was honored to represent my country as an Ambassador of the United States. And I learned that being a businessman and being a diplomat were not so very different.

As a businessman, I learned the importance of not only measuring profitability in terms of dollars and cents; it was equally important to measure value in the difference my companies could make in people’s lives – or the changes in someone’s understanding about the world.

As Ambassador, a key element of success was understanding how to listen; how to find common ground between countries, to maximize the effectiveness of our policies. For me, it was important for success to flow in many directions.

So when Secretary Kerry asked me to join his economic team and help lead what he called his “shared prosperity agenda,” I knew exactly what he had in mind.

I lead a Bureau that works every day to do precisely that. So I am delighted to have this opportunity to speak to you about ways our business ties can change futures, and deliver jobs to the people of both our nations.

Some may ask: What are the opportunities in Algeria? The answer is simple. As we meet, Algeria is at a key moment in its history.

It is evolving from a country rich in oil resources – to a country that recognizes the importance of moving away from dependence on fossil fuels.

It understands that to become a prosperous nation, it must evolve towards a more diversified and sustainable economy. And that is good news for both the Algerian people and the U.S. firms prepared to become partners in that future.

The signs are promising. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and his government have committed to building the country’s infrastructure, and bringing reforms that can spur job creation for Algerians and expand Algeria’s trade and investment.

As we speak, foreign investors, the Algerian business community, and the U.S. Embassy in Algiers are engaging the Algerian government on ways to improve the investment environment and attract more investment to Algeria.

We also recognize there is a long road still ahead, if Algeria is to realize its enormous potential.

Many U.S. investors and businesses with interests in Algeria have identified challenges that they continue to face. And forums like this provide an excellent platform to discuss them forthrightly and ask the important but sometimes difficult questions.

For example, the regulatory environment – according to many businesses and investors – is often opaque, which may create the perception of commercial risk for foreign investors.

Decision-making can be slow and there are often barriers to trade.

Another challenge is Algeria’s 51/49 rule, which prohibits foreign companies from having a majority ownership stake.

But as I look around me, I see Algeria’s political and economic leadership. I see representatives of some of Algeria’s largest agricultural, health care, hydrocarbon, construction, and manufacturing companies.

And on the American side, I see many of the companies with interests in Algeria, including senior management from GE, Anadarko, Varian, and AGCO.

You are precisely the right people to address these challenges in granular and tangible ways.

One major question to address would be Algeria’s accession to the World Trade Organization. We recognize that accession is a challenging process. But we strongly encourage Algeria to work through the many issues and make economic reforms in line with WTO obligations.

We are encouraged by the progress we see.

Alberto d’Alotto, president of the working group in charge of Algeria’s accession to the WTO, recently visited Algiers and had fruitful discussions with several ministers.

And it’s clear that your government fully recognizes the importance of Algeria’s WTO accession to jobs and economic diversification.

WTO accession will not only create greater trade between our countries, it will send a strong signal to investors that Algeria is committed to a rules-based trading system.

That certainty will encourage them to build business and support projects that will create employment opportunities for young Algerians.

This will support and build on other important successes – like Algeria’s decision to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S. Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association earlier this year. That’s a promising step to building a vital economic partnership.

I look forward to hearing many more success stories like Boeing’s recent contract with Air Algérie to provide eight 737-800 aircraft, a contract estimated to be worth $724 million ... or General Electric’s three contracts – worth almost $3 billion – with SPE, which would create nine power plants to meet Algeria’s power sector needs.

With our shared interest in further improving the business climate, we can realize more contracts like GE’s with the Government of Algeria to construct five new hospitals that will strengthen its healthcare sector … or Varian Medical Systems’ $51 million contract with the Algerian Ministry of Health, which will help build the country’s cancer treatment infrastructure with three medical linear accelerators.

Algeria has a history that goes back longer than the United States. But the future stretches even longer in front of us – and the book is not yet written.

As long as the people of our two nations have aspirations and hopes for economic opportunity, it is our duty to honor them.

These and other business initiatives are some of the ways that we can write our own stories, create our own prosperity, and change the trajectories of our future.

All we need is the political will to support business-friendly environments, to continue the good faith that has endured between our two countries, and our collective imaginations. The seeds for all those things can start right here, and right now, in Washington.

Thank you.

Friday, October 31, 2014

U.S. CONGRATULATES PEOPLE OF MICRONESIA ON THEIR INDEPENDENCE DAY

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 
Federated States of Micronesia Independence Day
Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
October 31, 2014

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I would like to congratulate the people of the Federated States of Micronesia as you celebrate your nation’s independence this November 3.

Our two countries enjoy a warm friendship, strengthened by our cooperation in advancing our shared values and interests. The importance of these interests spans the range of environmental, economic, and security realms, and includes the protection of fragile marine habitats, economic development, and growing stability and prosperity in the region.

Now more than ever, I would also like to thank the citizens of your country who serve in the U.S. Armed Forces for the sacrifices they and their families make.

We wish you and all of your fellow citizens around the world a joyous celebration and peace and prosperity over the coming year.

10/29/14: White House Press Briefing

U.S. CONGRATULATES PEOPLE OF ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA ON THEIR INDEPENDENCE DAY

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 
Antigua and Barbuda's Independence Day
Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
October 31, 2014

I congratulate the people of Antigua and Barbuda on your Independence Day on November 1.

For 33 years since your independence, the United States has been a close partner to Antigua and Barbuda.

Through the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, we work together on maritime capacity building, military training and exercises, and counter-narcotics operations.

The United States also engages with Antigua and Barbuda through the Caribbean Community and Common Market, and the U.S. Caribbean Basin Initiative, which allows trade to flow between our two countries.

On behalf of the people of the United States, I wish all Antiguans and Barbudans peace and prosperity in the year to come.

BONE GROWTH STIMULATOR COMPANIES TO PAY $6 MILLION RELATED TO ALLEGED KICKBACKS

FROM:  U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT 
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Biomet Companies to Pay Over $6 Million to Resolve False Claims Act Allegations Concerning Bone Growth Stimulators

EBI LLC, doing business as Biomet Spine and Bone Healing Technologies and Biomet Inc. have agreed to pay $6.07 million to resolve allegations that EBI violated the False Claims Act by paying kickbacks to induce use of its bone growth stimulators and billing federal health care programs for refurbished stimulators, the Department of Justice announced today.  EBI is a medical device company located in Parsippany, New Jersey, that sells bone growth stimulators, which are used to repair fractures that are slow to heal.  It is a subsidiary of Biomet, which is based in Warsaw, Indiana.  

“Medical device companies must not use improper financial incentives to influence the decision to use their products,” said Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General August Flentje of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “This settlement demonstrates the department’s commitment to protect patients, and the taxpayers who fund their care, by ensuring that medical decisions are based on the patients’ medical needs rather than the financial interests of others.”

The United States alleged that, from 2001 to 2008, EBI paid staff at doctors’ offices to influence doctors to order its bone growth stimulators.  These payments were allegedly provided pursuant to personal service agreements with staff members. The United States concluded that these payments violated the Anti-Kickback Act and resulted in false billings to various federal health care programs, including Medicare.  The settlement also resolves EBI’s disclosure that it received federal reimbursements for bone growth stimulators that had been refurbished.  

“This settlement demonstrates our resolve in ensuring that patients receive, and the government pays for, health care that is based on sound medical judgment, and not compromised by kickbacks,” said U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz of the District of Massachusetts.

“Kickbacks taint medical decision-making, cause overutilization of services, and lead to increased taxpayer and patient costs,” said Special Agent in Charge Phillip Coyne of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG).  “These improper inducements have no place in government health programs relied on by millions of Americans.”

The settlement resolves in part an allegation filed in a lawsuit by Yu Yue, a former product manager for EBI, in federal court in New Jersey.  The lawsuit was filed under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act, which permit private individuals to sue on behalf of the government for false claims and to share in any recovery.  Yu’s share has not yet been determined.

This settlement illustrates the government’s emphasis on combating health care fraud and marks another achievement for the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) initiative, which was announced in May 2009 by the Attorney General and the Secretary of Health and Human Services.  The partnership between the two departments has focused efforts to reduce and prevent Medicare and Medicaid financial fraud through enhanced cooperation.  One of the most powerful tools in this effort is the False Claims Act.  Since January 2009, the Justice Department has recovered a total of more than $23 billion through False Claims Act cases, with more than $14.8 billion of that amount recovered in cases involving fraud against federal health care programs.

The settlement was the result of a coordinated effort by the Commercial Litigation Branch of the Civil Division; the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts; HHS-OIG; the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General; the Defense Criminal Investigative Service; the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations.  

REMEMBRANCE OF THE LOST ANTARES ROCKET

FROM:  NASA 
NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman posted this image of a sunrise, captured from the International Space Station, to social media on Oct. 29, 2014. Wiseman wrote, "Not every day is easy. Today was a tough one." Wiseman was referring to the loss on Oct. 28 of the Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft, moments after launch at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The Cygnus spacecraft was filled with about 5,000 pounds of supplies slated for the International Space Station, including science experiments, experiment hardware, spare parts, and crew provisions. The station crew is in no danger of running out of food or other critical supplies. Image Credit: NASA/Reid Wiseman.



WHITE HOUSE VIDEO: PRESIDENT'S REMARKS ON HEALTH CARE WORKERS FIGHTING EBOLA

USING COMPUTERS CAN MAKE EASIER COMPLICATED WATER RIGHTS TRADING

FROM:  NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION 
Selling and buying water rights
NSF Innovation Corps awardees founded the company Mammoth Trading to provide a neutral, centralized resource

Trying to sell or buy water rights can be a complicated exercise. First, it takes time and effort for buyers and sellers to find each other, a process that often relies on word-of-mouth, local bulletin boards, even calling friends and neighbors to get the word out. Then they must deal with the maze of rules and regulations involved. Finally, they must reach a fair price.

It would be much easier if a computer could do it. Now, one can.

Scientists at the University of Nebraska and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed an algorithm that can match potential buyers and sellers, sift through the complexity of local physical and regulatory systems, and reach a fair deal designed especially for them. It also allows the negotiating parties to provide information confidentially during the process.

"It's a different way of matching buyers and sellers in places where there aren't established markets," says Nicholas Brozoviæ, director of policy at the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute and associate professor of agricultural economics at the University of Nebraska. "It's a different way of building a market for potential buyers and sellers of natural resources. It maintains confidentiality and it is structured in a way that is neutral and fair."

The National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded Brozoviæ's research focuses on using economic analysis to understand natural resource systems, with a special emphasis on water resources. He designs and evaluates management policies that can maintain or improve the condition of natural resources. Much involves collaborations with engineers, urban planners and others.

Mammoth Trading, a new company that grew out of his research, hopes to provide a neutral centralized place for both buyers and sellers interesting in trading water rights and other resource use rights. The goal is to craft each transaction by taking local community needs into account, as well as factors unique to the individuals involved.

There is a transaction fee associated with the market and any benefits from trading are split between buyer and seller, "which is not typically how brokerage works," Brozoviæ says. But "we view ours as a fairer system."

The company currently is developing a certified irrigated acreage market for groundwater rights in the Twin Platte Natural Resources District in Nebraska, as well as working on developing other systems, mostly in water quantity and quality, as well as other natural resources.

"Before we started, it was really difficult to identify those interested in buying or selling their rights," says Richael Young, company president, and an expert in environmental engineering and agricultural economics. "We provide a central hub for people. Right now, they spend a lot of time either calling up people, seeing if someone is interested in trading, or hiring a realtor, which can take months, and still may not tell you whether or not a person is eligible to trade."

Although the company is just getting started, the researchers see a future where the system will expand to other areas and natural resources.

"Part of our thinking is how we can scale this idea and broaden this scope to other environmental markets," Brozoviæ says. "Beyond this relatively narrow market of trading groundwater rights, there are many other natural resources that have the same features where a similar system could work, such as habitat markets or wetland mitigation markets, storm water management in urban areas, water quality in waste water treatment plants.

"There is a broader move within environmental regulations to move to market based systems," he adds. "If done correctly, it may be a cheaper way to achieve a better environmental outcome."

However, there can be considerable complexity in implementing environmental and resource use regulations using markets.

"For carbon, it's a pretty simple process, since the atmosphere is well mixed so it doesn't matter where carbon emissions occur," Young says. "But when you think about ground or surface water, those are highly localized resources. You can't have a trading scheme that allows people to trade wherever they are located, since there are physical laws that govern the movement of groundwater and surface water.

"So those are the kinds of rules we incorporate into the system to allow people to trade more effectively," she adds. "Our goal is to help businesses operate more efficiently within existing regulations. For now, we are focusing on groundwater. In the future, we hope to enter into markets for surface water and air pollutants."

One incentive for expansion to other areas is the fact that the market for trading groundwater permits is highly seasonal. "Once you've planted your seeds and made those decisions, you may not be interested in trading for more water rights," Young says.

NSF has supported their efforts with a $50,000 Innovation Corps (I-Corps) grant, awarded in 2013, which provides a set of activities and programs that prepare scientists and engineers to extend their focus beyond the laboratory into the commercial world.

The goal of the I-Corps program is to help researchers translate their discoveries into technologies with near-term benefits for the economy and society. It is a public-private partnership program that teaches grantees to identify valuable product opportunities that can emerge from academic research, and offers entrepreneurship training to student participants.

Mammoth Trading recently completed its first deal, and is working on others. "We expected it would take time for people to become familiar with our system, and how it works," Young says. "It surprised us how quickly people did hear about us. We got some trades earlier than expected, and we were able to get them through."

Brozoviæ agrees. "We now have the first trades in our system, which is exciting," he says. "Eventually we could do this nationwide, and potentially internationally."

-- Marlene Cimons, National Science Foundation
Investigators
Nicholas Brozovic
Ximing Cai
John Braden
Albert Valocchi
Stephen Gasteyer

EXPORT-IMPORT BANK GUARANTEES LOAN FOR EXPORTING TRANSMISSION TOWERS TO CANADA

FROM:  U.S. EXPORT-IMPORT BANK 
Ex-Im Bank Guarantees $21 Million Export Loan
Transaction Supports Hundreds of U.S. Jobs in Texas

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) today announced its guarantee of a $21 million revolving loan facility by Cadence Bank to Jyoti Americas LLC for the export to Canada of lattice transmission towers to be constructed by U.S. workers in Conroe, Texas.

The 220,000 square-foot Jyoti Americas manufacturing plant already employs about 159 workers. As a result of this transaction, an additional shift of skilled workers will be added to the present workforce for this export production.

“We’re pleased to support both Jyoti’s direct investment in America, and the jobs that open up when U.S. manufacturers export,” said Ex-Im Bank Chairman and President Fred P. Hochberg. “This transaction also illustrates how exporters like Jyoti Americas can get fast export credit through one of Ex-Im’s delegated-authority lenders, Cadence Bank. Ex-Im’s guarantee helped clinch the sale, and paved the way for more business and U.S. jobs.”

Jyoti Americas LLC is wholly-owned subsidiary of Jyoti Structures, Ltd., India, which directly invested $41 million to establish a state-of-the-art manufacturing plant in Conroe. The Texas employees will source U.S.-produced steel to fabricate up to 54,000 metric tons annually. Jyoti Americas’ customer in Canada requires electric transmission towers for the Labrador-Island Link LP, an element of the Lower Churchill Project which generates and distributes hydroelectric power to Canada’s Atlantic provinces. Jyoti Americas will design, manufacture, and test eleven different types of high-voltage towers weighing a total 34,000 metric tons.

“We are delighted to receive this support from Ex-Im Bank which paved the way for us to secure and smoothly execute this prestigious export to Canada,” said Ashok Goyal, Joint Managing Director at Jyoti. “With Ex-Im Bank’s guarantee support along with Cadence Bank’s working capital facilities, we look forward to many more such successes globally.”

GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES FINAL RULES MAKING CAREER COLLEGE PROGRAMS ACCOUNTABLE

FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION 

Obama Administration Announces Final Rules to Protect Students from Poor-Performing Career College Programs

New regulations put tough standards in place for career training programs to help protect students from being saddled with debt they cannot repay
OCTOBER 30, 2014

To protect students at career colleges from becoming burdened by student loan debt they cannot repay, today the U.S. Department of Education is announcing regulations to ensure that these institutions improve their outcomes for students—or risk losing access to federal student aid. These regulations will hold career training programs accountable for putting their students on the path to success, and they complement action across the Administration to protect consumers and prevent and investigate fraud, waste and abuse, particularly at for-profit colleges.

"Career colleges must be a stepping stone to the middle class. But too many hard-working students find themselves buried in debt with little to show for it. That is simply unacceptable," U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. "These regulations are a necessary step to ensure that colleges accepting federal funds protect students, cut costs and improve outcomes. We will continue to take action as needed."

To qualify for federal student aid, the law requires that most for-profit programs and certificate programs at private non-profit and public institutions prepare students for "gainful employment in a recognized occupation." Under the regulations finalized today, a program would be considered to lead to gainful employment if the estimated annual loan payment of a typical graduate does not exceed 20 percent of his or her discretionary income or 8 percent of his or her total earnings. Programs that exceed these levels would be at risk of losing their ability to participate in taxpayer-funded federal student aid programs.

The final gainful employment regulations follow an extensive rulemaking process involving public hearings, negotiations and about 95,000 public comments. The regulations, which will go into effect on July 1, 2015, reflect the feedback the Department received, and aim to protect Americans from poor career training programs by targeting those programs that leave students buried in debt with few opportunities to repay it. Highlights of the rule include:

Preventing students from being buried in debt: Based on available data, the Department estimates that about 1,400 programs serving 840,000 students—of whom 99 percent are at for-profit institutions—would not pass the accountability standards. All programs will have the opportunity to make immediate changes that could help them avoid sanctions, but if these programs do not improve, they will ultimately become ineligible for federal student aid—which often makes up nearly 90 percent of the revenue at for-profit institutions.

More rigorous accountability than previous regulations: The new regulations are tougher than the Department's 2011 rules because they set a higher passing requirement and lay out a shorter path to ineligibility for the poorest-performing programs. In 2012, the Department estimated that 193 programs would not have passed the previous regulations; with respect to these new regulations, based on available data, the Department estimates that about 1,400 programs would not pass the accountability metric.

Providing transparency about student success: The rule also provides useful information for all students and consumers by requiring institutions to provide important information about their programs, like what their former students are earning, their success at graduating, and the amount of debt they accumulated.
Improving student outcomes: The regulations build on momentum toward increased accountability in higher education by setting standards for career training programs, including programs offered by for-profit institutions, to ensure they are serving students well. While the Department has seen encouraging changes in the past five years, it believes all career training programs can and should meet higher expectations.

Today, the Department is also taking new steps to formalize partnerships with several federal agencies to enhance cooperation and ensure proper oversight of for-profit institutions of higher education through an interagency task force.

Background on the Administration's efforts to protect students from poor-performing career colleges

Too often, students at career colleges—including thousands of veterans—are charged excessive costs, but don't get the education they paid for. Instead, students in such programs are provided with poor quality training, often for low-wage jobs or in occupations where there are simply no job opportunities. They find themselves with large amounts of debt and, too often, end up in default. In many cases, students are drawn into these programs with confusing or misleading information.

The situation for students at for-profit institutions is particularly troubling. On average, attending a two-year for-profit institution costs a student four times as much as attending a community college. More than 80 percent of students at for-profits borrow, while less than half of students at public institutions do. Ultimately, students at for-profit colleges represent only about 11 percent of the total higher education population but 44 percent of all federal student loan defaults.

In response to these concerns, in 2009, the Department began extensive conversations with the higher education community about the role of career colleges, particularly on how they could be held accountable for the outcomes of their students. Following a 2012 court decision, which affirmed the U.S. Department of Education's authority to regulate in this area in order to protect students and taxpayers, the Department undertook new efforts to make sure career training programs provide affordable pathways to good jobs.

The Department believes many institutions have already started to take steps to improve. Some of the largest institutions have instituted trial periods for programs before students have to commit, so students can decide if that program is right for them. There are reports that institutions have decreased program lengths. Some are reducing costs. And a few institutions have closed some locations and programs they judge to be performing poorly.

But the Department also believes there is still potential for improvement in many of these programs—public, private non-profit and for-profit—so it is taking action to spur more change.

The gainful employment regulations are a central part of the Administration's work to ensure that student debt is affordable and that for-profit colleges serve students well. These regulations complement other efforts taken by the Administration to protect students by addressing problems at poor performing institutions, particularly in the for-profit sector. These efforts include:

Formalizing an interagency oversight task force

The Department will lead an effort to formalize an interagency task force to help ensure proper oversight of for-profit institutions of higher education. In particular, the Department and other federal and state agencies will coordinate their activities and promote information sharing to protect students from unfair, deceptive, and abusive policies and practices. The task force will build on efforts already underway among various federal agencies, and include the Departments of Justice, Treasury and Veterans Affairs, as well as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Federal Trade Commission, and the Securities and Exchange Commission. In addition, state attorneys general will also be invited to continue their participation in this collaboration. Given the important responsibilities each of these federal agencies has, and the vital role that states play, the agencies will leverage their resources and expertise to assist one another, thereby making the best use of scarce resources and better protecting the interests of students and taxpayers. This task force will formalize and strengthen a working group that has been working together over the past year and that has coordinated efforts in several reviews and investigatory work. The task force will meet as needed, but at least once each quarter.

Keeping student debt affordable

The Department is helping more students manage their student debt through flexible repayment options like the Pay As You Earn plan, which caps student loan payments at 10 percent of a borrower's discretionary income. In addition, the Administration continues targeted outreach to help borrowers who may be struggling to repay their loans, ensuring that they have the information they need to select the best repayment option for them and avoid future default.

Developing a college ratings system

The Department is also working on a new college ratings system, which will showcase colleges and universities that are effective in improving student success; incentivize institutions to work toward the most important goals, like graduating low-income students and holding down costs; and help students and families choose their school based on the value it provides for their investment.

Strengthening oversight of the programs on which our nation's service members and veterans rely

Through Executive Order 13607, the Principles of Excellence for Educational Institutions Serving Service Members, Veterans, Spouses, and Other Family Members, the Administration has worked to protect our nation's military families by ensuring that federal military and veterans educational benefits programs are providing service members, veterans, spouses, and other family members with the information, support, and protections they deserve. This includes: establishing a centralized complaint system; new, risk-based program reviews informed by students complaints to focus enforcement efforts at the Departments of Veterans Affairs, Defense, Education and Justice, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the Federal Trade Commission; and key tools and resources like the online GI Bill ® Comparison Tool, which has made it easier for over 450,000 veterans, service members and their dependents to select education and training programs that provide a good value and meet their needs.

U.S. AMBASSADOR PRESSMAN'S REMARKS TO UN ON SITUATION IN JERUSALEM

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 
Remarks by Ambassador David Pressman, U. S . Alternate Representative to the United Nations for Special Political Affairs, at a Security Council Open Debate on the Middle East, October 29, 2014
Ambassador David Pressman
Alternate Representative to the UN for Special Political Affairs 
New York, NY
October 29, 2014
AS DELIVERED

Thank you, Madam President, and thank you, Under-Secretary-General Feltman for your briefing.

We are deeply concerned by the deteriorating situation in Jerusalem, especially over the last two weeks. We are living in a time of tremendous turmoil in the Middle East. It is a time that requires brave leadership. A time that requires hard choices – choices that advance peace; choices that advance stability; choices that advance security.

This is a time that calls for responsible decisions by leaders and people of both sides, as well as the international community, to advance the goals of security and peace.

The current situation is only made more difficult by actions that pollute the atmosphere for peace and further undermine trust on both sides. We continue to urge all to refrain from actions, including settlement activity and unhelpful rhetoric by either side, that will only further escalate tensions.

The deterioration of the situation in Jerusalem, at a time when so many are eager for signs of progress towards peace, is deeply troubling.

It’s hard to imagine sites more sensitive than those in Jerusalem and, today, we are very concerned by recent tensions surrounding the Temple Mount / Haram al-Sharif. It is absolutely critical that all sides exercise restraint, refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric, and preserve the historical status quo on the Temple Mount / Haram al-Sharif – in word and in practice.

That’s why Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s recent statements expressing his commitment to maintain the status quo there and not to make any changes at the site are so important. We welcome the Prime Minister’s comments.

The continued commitment by Israelis, Palestinians, and Jordanians to preserve the historic status quo at the holy site is critical. Any decisions or actions to change it would be both provocative and dangerous. We urge the leaders of all three parties to exercise decisive leadership and work cooperatively together to lower tensions and discourage violence, alleviate restrictions on Muslim worshipers, and reinvigorate long-standing coordination mechanisms and relationships that have served over the decades to preserve the historic status quo as it pertains to religious observance and access to the site. These arrangements are essential for maintaining calm at this important and holy site.

Israel’s recently announced plans to advance a project to construct more than 1,000 housing units in East Jerusalem are deeply concerning. Beyond these recent developments, we have also seen reports that Israeli authorities met today and discussed the approval of dozens of projects aimed to expand settlement infrastructure in the West Bank – including water projects, electricity grid expansion, and road construction – along with so-called “legalization” of outposts the Israeli government itself considers illegal. The United States is deeply concerned by these developments. We urge all parties to refrain from provocative actions, including settlement activity by Israeli authorities. Settlement activity will only further escalate tensions at a time that is already tense enough.

The United States views settlement activity as illegitimate. And we have made unambiguously clear our opposition to unilateral steps that may prejudge the future of Jerusalem, just as we have made clear our opposition to any unilateral attempts to make end-runs around the hard work of negotiations.

Against this backdrop, the cycle of violence continues. The unconscionable attack at the Jerusalem tram stop last week that killed a young baby who was a United States citizen is unconscionable. We condemn it in the strongest possible terms. We express our deepest condolences to the family of the child who was killed and the second victim, who succumbed to her wounds. We also express our sympathies to those injured in the attack and hope for their full recovery.

The United States also expresses its deepest condolences to the family of the 14 year-old American citizen who was killed by Israeli Defense Forces during the clashes in Silwad on October 24th. We have called on the Israeli authorities to conduct an expeditious and transparent investigation into this incident and we expect them to do so.

In this especially fraught environment, it is critical that all parties restore calm and that hard choices are made to de-escalate tensions and re-engage in the hard work of negotiations. Unilateral actions and short-cuts are no substitute for the difficult work that peace will require.

Our goal must be to lay the groundwork for a negotiated agreement that will lead to two states living side-by-side in peace and security. As we have said before, the two-state solution is the only viable way forward and negotiations are the means by which this conflict will ultimately be resolved. If the parties are willing and committed to go down this path – in both words and in deeds – then we stand ready to support them every step of the way.

Thank you, Madam President.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

SECRETARY KERRY CONDEMNS SHOOTING OF U.S. CITIZEN IN JERUSALEM

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 
Situation in Jerusalem
Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
October 30, 2014

I strongly condemn yesterday’s shooting of a U.S. citizen outside the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem. My thoughts and prayers are with the family. The State Department is in touch with authorities as we seek more information.

I am extremely concerned by escalating tensions across Jerusalem and particularly surrounding the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount. It is absolutely critical that all sides exercise restraint, refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric, and preserve the historic status quo on the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount – in word and in practice. The continued commitment by Israelis, Palestinians, and Jordanians to preserve the historic status quo at this holy site is critical; any decisions or actions to change it would be both provocative and dangerous. The Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount must be re-opened to Muslim worshipers and I support the long-standing practices regarding non-Muslim visitors to the site, consistent with respect for the status quo arrangements governing religious observance there.

I am in close touch with senior Israeli, Jordanian, and Palestinian leaders to try to deescalate the situation. I urge the leaders of all three parties to exercise decisive leadership and work cooperatively together to lower tensions and discourage violence, alleviate restrictions on Muslim worshipers, and reinvigorate long-standing coordination mechanisms and relationships that have served over the decades to preserve the historic status quo as it pertains to religious observance and access to the site.

WHITE HOUSE VIDEO: 10/29/14 WHITE HOUSE PRESS BRIEFING

TERRA SATELLITE'S IMAGE OF TROPICAL CYCLONE NILOFAR

FROM:   NASA

NASA's Terra satellite captured this image on Oct. 30 at 06:35 UTC (2:35 a.m. EDT) as Tropical Cyclone Nilofar was approaching the Pakistan/India border.  Image Credit: NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team.   Image Credit-NASA Goddard.

Tropical Cyclone Nilofar was closing in on the border between Pakistan and northwestern India on Oct. 30 when NASA's Terra satellite passed overhead from space. Wind shear continued to affect the storm making it appear more like a comet with a tail, than a tropical cyclone.

The MODIS or Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer instrument that flies aboard NASA's Terra satellite captured a visible image of Nilofar on Oct. 30 at 06:35 UTC (2:35 a.m. EDT). Nilofar was still being affected by southwesterly wind shear, which was blowing the clouds and showers to the northeast. In the MODIS image, thunderstorms surrounded the center of the storm making it look like the core of a comet. Wind shear was stretching out clouds and showers to the northeast of the center, making it look like a comet's tail. Those clouds over northwestern India were already bringing rain along with gusty winds to the region. Nilofar was already causing rough surf to coastlines from India and Pakistan west to Oman.

The Joint Typhoon Warning Center noted that microwave satellite imagery showed a ragged eye, but the low-level center of circulation appears to be "unraveling."

The wind shear has been weakening Nilofar, and by Thursday, Oct. 30 at 900 UTC (5 a.m. EDT) maximum sustained winds had dropped below hurricane-strength to 50 knots (57.5 mph/92.6 kph) and are expected to weaken the storm to a depression by November 1. Nilofar was located near 20.2 north latitude and 64.3 east longitude, about 294 nautical miles east of Masirah Island. It was moving to the northeast at 5 knots (5.7 mph/9.2 kph).

On Oct. 30, the India Meteorological Department's Regionalized Specialized Meteorological Centre (RSMC) forecast called for Nilofar to move northeastward and weaken into a depression over northeast Arabian Sea off the north Gujarat coast late (local time) on Oct. 31.

NASA VIDEO: TASKS FOR THIRD SPACEWALK OF EXPEDITION 41

SECRETARY HAGEL PROVIDES INSIGHT INTO HIS APPROACH TO NATIONAL SECURITY

FROM:  U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT 
Hagel Offers Perspective on ‘Historic, Defining Times’
By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jake Richmond
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Oct. 29, 2014 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel today provided perspectives on his approach to national security issues during an interview at the Washington Ideas Forum here.

“I think we are living through one of these historic, defining times,” Hagel told James Fallows, national correspondent for The Atlantic. “I think we are seeing a new world order.”

Hagel said the multitude of issues confronting the nation “affects us now, [and] will continue to affect us into the future,” especially the conflicts involving the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

“What we’re seeing in the Middle East with ISIL is going to require a steady, long-term effort,” Hagel said. “It’s going to require coalitions of common interests, which we are forming.”

The secretary also cited pandemic disease, relationships with China and Russia and climate change as major issues affecting national defense.

Emphasis on relationships

Navigating those issues, Hagel said, requires not only large-scale cooperation, but also a greater emphasis on individual, personal relationships.

“We all know that nations always respond in their own self interests. That’s predictable. That’s good,” he said. “But personal relationships are the lubricant. It doesn’t change a policy, but it makes it better.”

The secretary said his approach is heavily influenced by his experience as an enlisted veteran of the Vietnam War. Nothing else has made him more aware of being careful of unintended consequences and good intentions, he added.
“It’s made me cautious,” Hagel said. “[I] always think through the whole sequence of questions. What happens? Where’s this going? What’s the end result? And what could go wrong?”

And caution is good up to a point, he said, “but then you’ve got to make decisions.”

POLICE OFFICERS WHO REPEATEDLY TASED MENTALLY DISABLED WOMAN PLEAD GUILTY TO USING EXCESSIVE FORCE

FROM:  U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT 
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Two Former Police Officers Plead Guilty to Using Excessive Force When Tasing a Woman

Eric Walters, 39, and Franklin Brown, 35, formerly police officers with the City of Marion Police Department, in South Carolina, pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court to using excessive force against a woman with mental disabilities on April 2, 2013, the Justice Department announced today.

Walters and Brown each pleaded guilty to one count of deprivation of rights under color of law for using unreasonable force for their role in repeatedly tasing the victim when she posed no threat to either officer.  Walters and Brown pleaded before U.S. District Court Judge Bryan Harwell in federal court in Florence, South Carolina.

According to the information and facts presented in court, in the course of detaining the victim, Walters tased the victim causing her to fall to the ground and injure her head.  Once on the ground, Walters continued to tase the victim multiple times.  Brown, subsequently, arrived on scene and proceeded to tase the victim as she was seated on the curb, restrained in handcuffs, and surrounded by law enforcement.  In court, Walters and Brown admitted there was no legitimate law enforcement purpose for repeatedly tasing the victim as she did not pose a threat to the officers.

“The defendants abused their authority as law enforcement officers by repeatedly tasing a defenseless, compliant victim,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta for the Civil Rights Division.  “The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute those who cross the line to engage in acts of criminal misconduct.”

“Law enforcement officers are entrusted with the state’s police powers to maintain and restore order,” said U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles for the District of South Carolina.  “In this case, the officers abused that authority, and purposefully hurt the victim who at the time posed no threat to these officers or anyone else.  No just society can tolerate this sort of abuse by those who wear the badge.  I’d like to thank the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and the team in my office who worked together to ensure that these officers were held accountable for their misdeeds.”

Sentencing will be scheduled at a later date.  Walters and Brown face statutory maximum penalties of 10 year sentences in prison and $250,000 fines.

The case was investigated by the Columbia Division of the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Potterfield of the District of South Carolina and Trial Attorneys Nicholas Murphy and Henry Leventis of the Civil Rights Division.

TWO TAX PREPARERS INDICTED FOR ROLES IN STOLEN IDENTITY REFUND SCHEME

FROM:  U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT 
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Alabama Tax Preparers Indicted for Stolen Identity Refund Fraud

Two women from Phenix City, Alabama, were indicted yesterday for their involvement in a stolen identity refund fraud scheme (SIRF), Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Larry J. Wszalek for the Justice Department's Tax Division and U.S. Attorney George L. Beck Jr. for the Middle District of Alabama announced today following the unsealing of the indictment.

Teresa Floyd and her daughter, Lasondra Davis Miles, were charged with conspiracy to submit false claims, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.  Floyd was also charged with theft of public money.

According to the superseding indictment, Floyd and Davis operated several tax preparation businesses in the Phenix City area, including T & L Tax Service and T & C Used Cars & Tax Service.  Floyd and Davis obtained stolen identities and used those identities to file more than 900 federal income tax returns that claimed more than $2.5 million in tax refunds.  To obtain the money from the scheme, the defendants applied for bank products from various financial institutions, which provided to the defendants blank check stock.  The bank products allow a tax preparer to deduct their fees directly from a tax refund and then print out the remainder of the refund as a check.  Floyd and Davis created fictitious identification documents and bills to provide to the financial institutions in an attempt to verify that the returns were filed in the names of legitimate customers.  The defendants caused the fraudulent checks to be cashed at several businesses in Alabama and Georgia.  Floyd also deposited fraudulent income tax refund checks into her bank account.

If convicted, the defendants face a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for the conspiracy to file false claims count, a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for each wire fraud count, a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for each theft of public money count and a mandatory sentence of two years in prison for the aggravated identity theft counts.  The defendants are also subject to fines, forfeiture and mandatory restitution if convicted.

The case was investigated by special agents of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation.  Trial Attorney Michael Boteler of the Tax Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Brown for the Middle District of Alabama are prosecuting the case.

An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

ASSISTANT AG CARLIN MAKES REMARKS AT U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE CYBERSECURITY SUMMIT

FROM:  U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT 
Remarks by Assistant Attorney General John Carlin at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Third Annual Cybersecurity Summit
Washington, DCUnited States ~ Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Thank you, Ann [Beauchesne], for your warm introduction and for inviting me to your annual Cybersecurity Summit.  We all benefit greatly from your leadership, especially in promoting the Chamber of Commerce’s role in national security.

In establishing an annual gathering focused on cybersecurity challenges, the Chamber of Commerce continues to demonstrate its commitment to keeping our nation secure, and to lowering barriers for American businesses to compete fairly in our global economy.  The fact that this is your third annual cybersecurity summit is a testament to the growing magnitude of these threats and your commitment to make cybersecurity central to your business plans.

This is an important issue, and one I know the Chamber has emphasized as part of its National Cybersecurity Awareness Campaign, which kicked off in May.  In the campaign roundtable events leading up to today’s summit, the Chamber stressed the importance of cyber risk management and reporting cyber incidents to law enforcement.  I couldn’t agree with these two recommendations more.  Today’s event is our opportunity to discuss how we can take these steps and others to best protect ourselves and our nation.

Cybersecurity threats affect us all – and they affect our privacy, our safety, and our economic vitality.  They present collective risk; disrupting them is our collective responsibility. The attackers we face range in sophistication.  And when it comes to nation states and terrorists, it is not fair to let the private sector face these threats alone.  The government ought to help, and we do.

At the National Security Division, we focus on tackling cyber threats to the national security – in other words, those posed by terrorists and state-sponsored actors.  As I will talk about a bit later, we have restructured our division to focus on bringing all tools to bear against these threats.      

Likewise, Chamber members have a particularly important role to play in our strategy.

You are living through these consequences with alarming frequency: according to Brookings, 97 percent of Fortune 500 companies have been hacked.  PwC released a report this week finding that the number of detected cyberattacks in 2014 increased 48 percent over 2013.  As FBI Director James Comey said, “there are two kinds of big companies in America: those who have been hacked . . . and those who don't know they've been hacked.”

We are on notice.  We are all targets.  I would venture to say everyone in this room has, in their professional or private life, been affected by a cybersecurity breach.  At best – a minor inconvenience.  A re-issued credit card.  At worst – devastation to your company’s reputation, loss of customer trust, and injury to your bottom line.

Without taking proper steps – it is a question of when, not if, a major public breach will happen to you.  And with that will come questions about whether you did enough to protect your company, your customers, and your information.

Have you thought ahead to the day when you will have to face your customers, your employees, your board, and your shareholders.  When you will have to notify them that someone has infiltrated your company and stolen your most valuable or private information?  If that day was today, could you tell them that you’ve done everything in your power to protect your company’s future?  Had you warned them of the risks?  Would you be able to say that you minimized the damage?

Do you have a plan?

It’s a pretty daunting scenario.  So it is no surprise that surveys of general counsels identify cybersecurity as the number one issue on their minds today.  But surveys show that over a quarter of Fortune 500 companies still don’t have an established response to cyber intrusions.

This is risky business.  We know that we will never achieve impenetrable defenses.  That we will remain vulnerable.  But you can take steps to mitigate the risk, protect yourselves and your companies, and ultimately, the cybersecurity of the United States.

We have identified four essential components of corporate cyber risk management.

First – equip and educate yourself.  Make sure you have a comprehensive—and comprehensible— cyber incident response plan.

And review it.  I have spoken with many CEOs and general counsels who have said they have not reviewed, or cannot decipher, their company’s plan.  We must do better.  These are C-suite decisions.  You cannot manage your corporate risk if you do not understand it.

Make sure it addresses the “who,” the “what,” and the “when.”

Who is involved and who needs to be notified?

What will you disclose?

When will you notify clients, law enforcement, and the general public?

Second – know that your business contacts create risk.  Malicious actors can exploit your outside vendors—no matter how resilient you think your defenses may be.  Consider guidelines to govern third-party access to your network and ensure that your contracts require vendors to adopt appropriate cybersecurity practices.

Third – protect your bottom line.  Companies are increasingly considering cyber insurance, and you should consider how this may fit into your risk management strategy.  Cyber insurance may offer financial protection, and may also incentivize companies to audit their system’s defenses.

Finally – do not go it alone.  Some of our attackers are linked to deep state military budgets.  And when they are, it’s not a fair fight for you to take on alone. We must work together.

So working with us can be one more component of your risk-management strategy.  As more breaches are publicly acknowledged, the public will ask how quickly and effectively you responded.

As leaders, you will have to answer to your shareholders, board members, customers, the media and the public.  You will want to say you did everything you could to mitigate your financial loss.  Your company’s bottom line, and your financial reputation, will depend on it.  And we can help.  We can provide you with information to protect your networks, and we may be able to take actions to disrupt and deter the attackers that you cannot take by yourself.  So you are on the front lines of these battles, but we are with you.  We are committed to working with you to protect your networks, identify perpetrators, disrupt their efforts, and hold them accountable.  At the Department of Justice, this is among our top priorities.

At the National Security Division, we recently appointed new senior leadership to strengthen our capacity to protect national assets from cyberattacks and economic espionage. We created and trained the nation-wide National Security Cyber Specialists’ – or NSCS – Network to focus on combating cyber threats to the national security.

At DOJ, we follow the facts and evidence where they lead – whether to a disgruntled employee or lone hacker working in obscurity; to an organized crime syndicate in Russia; or even to a uniformed member of the Chinese military.

And indictments and prosecutions are a public and powerful way in which we the people, governed by the rule of law, legitimize and prove our allegations.  As Attorney General Holder said in May, “enough is enough.”  We are aware of no nation that publicly states that theft of information for commercial gain is acceptable.  And that’s because it’s not.  Nevertheless, in the shadows of their flags, some may encourage and support corporate theft for the profit of state-owned enterprises.  We will continue to denounce these actions, including by bringing criminal charges.  And we won’t stop until the crimes stop.  A core part of the government’s response must be disruption and deterrence, in order to raise the costs to people who commit these thefts and to deter others from emulating their actions.

Of course, we recognize that the criminal justice system is just one tool in our toolbox.  In addition to prosecutions, we are working in conjunction with key government partners to explore how to apply designations, sanctions, trade pressure, and other options, to confront new cyber challenges.

These changes will help us fulfill our collective responsibility.  And they will help us work with you.

Which is important because we rely on cooperation from the private sector to bring many of these cases, from identifying the malware and its functions, to pinpointing the location of servers commanding botnets, to assisting victims in removing the malicious software from their computers.

Take as one example the take-down of Gameover Zeus and disruption of the Cryptolocker ransomware – a big success for our colleagues in the Criminal Division’s Computer Crimes and Intellectual Property Section and the Western District of Pennsylvania.  This take-down would not have been possible without close cooperation.  The FBI’s Robert Anderson called it the “the largest fusion of law enforcement and industry partner cooperation ever undertaken in support of an FBI cyber operation.”

We recognize that one of the best ways to protect the nation is to support you in your own efforts.  In 2013, federal agents informed over 3,000 companies that their computer systems were hacked.  And every day, the FBI works with companies targeted by malicious activity, ranging from low-tech denial of service attacks to sophisticated intrusions by elite, state-supported military hacking units.

But, we’re not limited to helping you solely in the aftermath of an intrusion.

Nor do we see our role as only a collector of information.

We also share sensitive information with you so you can defend against attacks in real time, and engage in disruption efforts.  In the past year alone, the FBI presented over three dozen classified, sector-specific threat briefings to companies like yours.

The information we share with you may enhance your ability to deter future intrusions.  And your engagement with law enforcement can help us connect the dots between your breach and a broader threat.

We may be able to help identify what was stolen from you, locate the perpetrator of the attack, and in certain cases, be able to disrupt planned attacks or mitigate the effects of past intrusions.

Given the importance of this cooperation, the Department of Justice is committed to lowering the barriers to sharing information.  Through extensive one-on-one meetings with in-house legal teams, we learned what you perceive to be the legal hurdles to cooperation, and are addressing them.  

We’ve clarified that certain laws - such as the Stored Communications Act and antitrust statutes – are not impediments to sharing information with the government in certain situations.

We understand that trust is an essential predicate to voluntary reporting.  And in our work with you, we strive to protect your sensitive data – including trade secrets, details of network architecture, and PII.

Bottom line, we can help you manage your risk, and you can help us keep our nation safe.

The 9/11 Commission recently concluded that “we are at September 10th levels in terms of cyber preparedness,” and warned that “history may be repeating itself in the cyber realm.”  We must band together to keep that from happening.

At the department, we want to arm ourselves for the threats of today, but prepare ourselves for those that are just over the horizon.

Think about the tools that cyber criminals use – intrusion software, ransomware, and botnets.  When used by cyber criminals, these tools are generally used for financial gain.  But these tools can also be used to disrupt and destroy.  Terrorists have stated they want to exploit cybersecurity vulnerabilities to harm our way of life.  Al Qaeda announced its intent to conduct cyberattacks against civilian targets such as the electric grid and financial system.

The Department of Homeland Security recently confirmed it is investigating two dozen cybersecurity flaws in medical devices and hospital equipment that could be exploited to injure or kill a patient with a few strokes on a keyboard.  The threats are real.

We must acknowledge that terrorists want to acquire these cyber capabilities and, if they succeed, will not hesitate to deploy them.  It is a race against time, and one with high-stakes consequences.

At the department, we are also looking at the gaps that may exist in our authorities.  Many of our laws – long on the books – were not written with cyberspace in mind.  They don’t necessarily contemplate remote access or extraterritorial crimes, they don’t facilitate multi-jurisdictional investigation, and they don’t always empower us to bring our authorities to bear swiftly and effectively.  But we are committed to working with the relevant law- and rule-makers who support modernizing these laws.  New cyber legislation, in several different areas, is needed.

I want to conclude my remarks by discussing the changing perceptions of being hacked.  Among consumers and industry, there is a growing understanding that companies are going to get breached.  But that doesn’t mean you should turn the other way.  There is an enormous downside to taking an “ostrich approach” to cyber threats.  Consumers expect that companies will adopt industry standards for cybersecurity.  And when intrusions happen, consumers expect companies to respond promptly, acknowledge the intrusion publicly, and cooperate with law enforcement to mitigate the damage.

The Chamber of Commerce and its members are uniquely positioned to drive corporate change; to ensure that your companies and your partners treat cyber breaches as more than mere technical problems; to recognize that security operations are not insulated from business operations; and to discuss with your boards, your employees, and your industries the importance of cybersecurity risk management.

As we face ever more threats in cyberspace, let’s incorporate public-private cooperation into our cyber tool kit.  The threats aren’t letting up, and neither will we.  Thank you very much for inviting me.