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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Feeling the Force of a 3-D Printed Rocket Engine Test

Sunday, September 20, 2015



On Sept. 17, 2015, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly captured images and video from the International Space Station during an early morning flyover of the United States. Sharing with his social media followers, Kelly wrote, "Clear skies over much of the USA today. #GoodMorning from @Space_Station! #YearInSpace."

Saturday, September 19, 2015



U.S. Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, second from left, and Estonian Lt. Gen. Riho Terras, commander of the Estonian Defense Forces, hold a news conference in Tallinn, Estonia, Sept. 14, 2015. DoD photo by D. Myles Cullen.

ABOARD A MILITARY AIRCRAFT, September 15, 2015 — The highest-ranking U.S. military officer today took part in his final official overseas troop event while visiting with U.S. rotational forces in Estonia.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff greeted soldiers and U.S. personnel during a visit to the headquarters of the Estonian 1st Brigade in Tapa, about 60 miles east of Estonia’s capital city of Tallinn.

"I was especially proud to see those young men and women I met out in Tapa wearing the uniform of our country with the flag on their right shoulder," said U.S. Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, who retires at the end of this month.

Dempsey said there's no "greater symbol of commitment" than the presence of U.S. troops, America's sons and daughters, on the ground in the region.

The U.S. soldiers are with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, based in Vicenza, Italy, and are on a six-month deployment to the Baltic nation to train alongside Estonian forces as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve.

The operation is a demonstration of continued U.S. commitment to the collective security of NATO and to enduring peace and stability in the region in light of Russia's illegal actions in Ukraine.. About 5,000 U.S. troops have rotated through Estonia since April 2014, with other rotations taking place in Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria.

In a talk with the U.S. troops, the chairman thanked them for their service and their commitment to the mission and peace and security in the region.

"The United States in particular, but also several other of our NATO allies, responded quickly and effectively to create a new baseline of activity in Estonia and some of the other nations in the Baltics and in Eastern Europe," he said.

U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Porter, who was manning a gun on a Humvee during Dempsey's visit, said he welcomed the joint training because it allows for the two nations to learn from each other.

"We get a lot of valuable feedback on the way we handle different situations," Porter said. "It's kind of nice to see the way they do things and then we can compare and change things up and make it better."

Sending U.S. troops to Estonia is a "strong gesture" in reassuring the people of the small Baltic nation, said Estonian Land Forces 1st Sgt. Pirger Laur, whose face was painted in camouflage and was manning a jeep disguised in leafy greens.

"One key factor I think [the training] brings here, if you do it on your own, sometimes you go in the wrong path," Laur said. "But if you exchange information, it improves the training."

Dempsey said he and his host nation partners, including Estonia, are assessing what worked and what needs improvement in the operation and looking at long-term strategy for the mission.

After his visit with the troops, Dempsey returned to Tallinn to meet with Estonian President, Toomas Hendrik Iles. He also held a press conference at the Tallinn airport with his counterpart in the Estonian defense forces before departing for Washington and bringing an end the weeklong tour that also took him to Germany and Turkey to close out his final foreign voyage as chairman.

Friday, September 11, 2015

New monument honors National Guard role since 9/11

New monument honors National Guard role since 9/11


09/11/2015 09:43 AM EDT
September 11 Anniversary
Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
September 11, 2015

September 11 is a date seared into the minds of all of us at the U.S. Department of State and of citizens across America.  Together, we honor the memory of the men, women, and children murdered in 2001.  And we will never forget those who died three years ago in Libya: Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, and Tyrone Woods.  Each was a brave and dedicated professional; each was deeply committed to service on our country’s behalf; and each sought nothing more nor less than to help people overseas to live in freedom, dignity, and peace.  Their example remains before us and – on this sad anniversary – our thoughts and prayers are with their families.

This week also marks the opening to the public of the Flight 93 National Memorial in Somerset, Pennsylvania.  The selfless heroism of the passengers on that flight saved many lives and serves as a permanent inspiration never to accept evil or to allow those driven by hate to achieve their goals.

For that reason, there is no better day than September 11 to continue fulfilling our responsibilities in the home, workplace, classroom, and community.  There is also no better time to move ahead with the business of American diplomacy – the unrelenting pursuit of peace, prosperity, human rights, and security in all its dimensions.  Friends and adversaries alike should understand: the United States will never be intimidated by terrorists.  Terrorists can cause tremendous suffering, but they can neither weaken our determination nor sway us from our purpose.   For Americans at home and overseas, shared tragedy brings us together, adds to our vigilance, and strengthens our resolve not only on September 11, but every day of the year.

Sunday, September 6, 2015


SEC Charges Seattle-Area Hedge Fund Adviser With Taking Unearned Management Fees
Two Accountants Charged With Performing Deficient Audit of Fund

Washington D.C., Sept. 4, 2015 — The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged a Bellevue, Wash.-based investment advisory firm and its CEO with fraudulently inflating the values of investments in the portfolio of a private fund they advised so they could attain unearned management fees.  The SEC also charged the fund’s outside auditors with performing a deficient audit that enabled the firm to send misleading financial statements to investors.
Chris Yoo and his firm Summit Asset Strategies Investment Management agreed to settle the fraud charges arising from Summit Stable Value Fund.  Yoo and another of his advisory firms Summit Asset Strategies Wealth Management agreed to settle fraud charges related to his failure to inform clients that Summit Asset Strategies Wealth Management received significant fees when referring them to invest in the fund.  

“Yoo manipulated the value of certain fund assets to manufacture millions of dollars in illusory profits that he used to line his pockets with fees he did not truly earn.  He also failed to disclose a conflict of interest involving his other firm,” said Marshall S. Sprung, Co-Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Asset Management Unit.  

According to the SEC’s complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington:

Yoo and Summit Asset Strategies Investment Management were entitled to withdraw as compensation Summit Stable Value Fund’s net profits, which were calculated by determining realized and unrealized gains and losses.  They also were required to return any excess net profits to the fund as determined in an annual audit.
Beginning in 2011, Yoo directed the firm to withdraw purported fees that were based on fraudulently inflated investment values or were otherwise disproportionate from the fund’s actual profits.
As part of the scheme, Yoo falsely claimed that the fund owned a specific bank asset that had appreciated to approximately $2 million in value.  In reality, the fund owned an entirely different asset that was worth less than $200,000.  As a result of Yoo’s false claim, the fund’s 2013 financial statements materially overstated the fund’s investment values.
In total, Yoo and Summit Asset Strategies Investment Management withdrew nearly $900,000 in purported fees to which they were not entitled.  
Without admitting or denying the allegations, Yoo and Summit Asset Strategies Investment Management agreed to pay disgorgement of $889,301 plus prejudgment interest of $104,632 and a penalty of $150,000; and Summit Asset Strategies Wealth Management agreed to pay disgorgement of $81,729.14 plus prejudgment interest of $6,611.75 and a penalty of $100,000.  Yoo also agreed to be barred from the securities industry.

According to the SEC’s order instituting a settled administrative proceeding against the Summit Stable Value Fund’s external auditors Raymon Holmdahl and Kanako Matsumoto:

They did not adhere to generally accepted auditing standards and performed a deficient audit of the fund’s 2013 financial statements, which materially overstated the fund’s valuation and ownership interest in certain assets.
Although the auditors recognized that Yoo’s valuations posed a significant risk to the proper presentation of the fund’s financial statements, they failed to obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence with respect to the existence of certain fund assets.  Therefore, they failed to discover that the fund did not own the assets claimed by Yoo.
“Holmdahl and Matsumoto did not uncover the fraudulent activity because they failed to properly verify the fund’s assets despite having reason to question Yoo’s valuations,” said Erin E. Schneider, Associate Director for Enforcement in the SEC’s San Francisco Regional Office.

Holmdahl and Matsumoto agreed to settle the charges without admitting or denying the findings by agreeing to be suspended for three years from practicing as an accountant on behalf of any publicly-traded company or other entity regulated by the SEC.  

The SEC’s investigation was conducted by Jennifer J. Lee of the Asset Management Unit in the San Francisco Regional Office with assistance from Michael Foley.  The SEC examination that led to the investigation was conducted by Kenneth Schneider and Christine Pelham of the San Francisco office’s investment adviser/investment company examination program.

Thursday, September 3, 2015


This view combines information from two instruments on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to map color-coded composition over the shape of the ground in a small portion of the Nili Fossae plains region of Mars' northern hemisphere.

This site is part of the largest known carbonate-rich deposit on Mars. In the color coding used for this map, green indicates a carbonate-rich composition, brown indicates olivine-rich sands, and purple indicates basaltic composition.

Carbon dioxide from the atmosphere on early Mars reacted with surface rocks to form carbonate, thinning the atmosphere by sequestering the carbon in the rocks.

An analysis of the amount of carbon contained in Nili Fossae plains estimated the total at no more than twice the amount of carbon in the modern atmosphere of Mars, which is mostly carbon dioxide. That is much more than in all other known carbonate on Mars, but far short of enough to explain how Mars could have had a thick enough atmosphere to keep surface water from freezing during a period when rivers were cutting extensive valley networks on the Red Planet. Other possible explanations for the change from an era with rivers to dry modern Mars are being investigated.

This image covers an area approximately 1.4 miles (2.3 kilometers) wide.  A scale bar indicates 500 meters (1,640 feet).  The full extent of the carbonate-containing deposit in the region is at least as large as Delaware and perhaps as large as Arizona.

The color coding is from data acquired by the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM), in observation FRT0000C968 made on Sept. 19, 2008.  The base map showing land shapes is from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera. It is one product from HiRISE observation ESP_010351_2020, made July 20, 2013. Other products from that observation are online at

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been using CRISM, HiRISE and four other instruments to investigate Mars since 2006. The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland, led the work to build the CRISM instrument and operates CRISM in coordination with an international team of researchers from universities, government and the private sector. HiRISE is operated by the University of Arizona, Tucson, and was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colorado.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the orbiter and collaborates with JPL to operate it.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/JHUAPL/Univ. of Arizona

Wednesday, September 2, 2015


On the 70th Anniversary of the End of World War II in the Pacific
Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
September 2, 2015

I join President Obama and the American people in reflecting on today’s 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in the Pacific theater.

As we recall the war’s devastating toll and mourn those lost on all sides, we also remember the gallantry of our American men and women in uniform who, alongside their allied partners, courageously served in combat across the Pacific Ocean and Asian continent. We are humbled by their heroism, and we owe them our unending gratitude. We also honor and respect the sacrifices made by the citizens of so many nations during the war.

Last year I visited two sites of great significance to today’s anniversary. The first was the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, where I had an opportunity to scatter rose petals into the water and recall the moment that brought the United States into the Pacific theater. The second was the American Guadalcanal Memorial in the Solomon Islands, where we remembered the storied deeds of the U.S. Marines’ First Division. Both locations stand to this day as silent witnesses to the bravery that imbued the conflict.

Over the past seven decades, the United States has been a proud partner in the Asia-Pacific region’s astonishing rise from the devastation of war. The “Asian miracle” has lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty and created an engine for global economic growth. Meanwhile, the expansion of democracy has enabled people to exercise fundamental freedoms and the right to shape their political destinies.

Today we also reflect on the remarkable transformation of our relationship with Japan, from wartime adversaries to stalwart friends and allies. Our enduring partnership testifies to the power of reconciliation and draws strength from a shared commitment to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.

The United States will continue to deepen its active engagement in the region as a resident Pacific nation, working with allies and partners to strengthen the institutions, networks, rules, and good practices that promote stability and prosperity.

The memory of World War II will continue to inspire us as we seek to build for future generations a lasting architecture of peace.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


Concluding Remarks at the Global Leadership in the Arctic: Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement, and Resilience (GLACIER) Conference

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Anchorage, Alaska
August 31, 2015

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very, very much. Thank you all, Governor Walker, Lieutenant Governor Mallott, and Senator Murkowski, Senator Sullivan. We are so appreciative to all of you, to Alaska, for an absolutely spectacular welcome here. And I think it is fair to say on behalf of all of my colleagues who have been part of this daylong discussion that this has been a tremendous reception in Alaska but importantly a very constructive and substantive day. I think every delegation here would agree that we have covered an enormous amount of territory, and we reinforced here today that every nation that cares about the future of the Arctic has a responsibility to be a leader in taking action and in urging others to take bold action in order to deal with this challenge. It is immediate and it requires ambitious steps to curb the emission of greenhouse gasses and to deal with methane, coastal erosion, fisheries – a host of challenges that Alaska particularly faces.

There is no mystery, as we saw reinforced in very dramatic presentations by a number of scientists – no mystery at all about what a failure to act would mean. We can already see it. We can already measure it. And Alaskans are living it every single day.

We confirmed today that we cannot afford to wait until someone else moves to implement solutions to the challenges that confront us in the Arctic. I’m very pleased that through today’s GLACIER meeting we made progress in a host of areas – and our communique will summarize that – including addressing the issues of climate change, the impacts of it, enhancing resilience, strengthening emergency response, improving air quality, and promoting renewable energy and household innovations that will increase efficiency and community health at the same time.

Everyone in this room, those here at the circular table and those in the audience, are connected to the Arctic in some way. And so are all of the citizens that we represent. The fate of the region is not just the responsibility of the Arctic, the Arctic states even themselves. We agreed today it is everyone’s responsibility.

And it is with that purpose in mind that I turn now to the next speaker, who understands all of this, all of what is at stake. The threat posed by a changing Arctic has long been a top priority for President Barack Obama. He has repeatedly defined climate change as one of the great challenges that we face in this century. And the President has stated clearly that what’s happening in Alaska “isn’t just a preview of what will happen to the rest of us if we don’t take action. It’s our wake-up call. The alarm bells are ringing,” to quote the President.

Since 2009 President Obama has demonstrated repeatedly that he is committed to meeting this challenge before it’s too late – not with words but with actions. That’s why he put forward a National Strategy for the Arctic Region that establishes a comprehensive and long-term vision for our Arctic engagement. That’s why he created the Arctic Executive Steering Committee to prepare for a changing Arctic and to enhance coordination of national efforts here.

That’s why today, thanks the President’s Climate Action Plan, the United States is well on its way to meeting our international commitments to seriously cut our greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and beyond while bolstering our nation’s resilience to ensure communities thrive and that economies flourish. And that’s why he has prioritized so many other things, including I might add not a small symbolic step of renaming a big, famous mountain, and I think we could say that Denali never looked better than it does today. (Cheers and applause.)

That is why also the President has prioritized working with so many partners, because he knows that all of us together have to do so much more to beat this threat. We have to do it now, and it will not be done without our concerted global commitment.

Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States, Barack Obama. (Cheers and applause.)

Monday, August 31, 2015


Remarks at the Global Leadership in the Arctic: Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement, and Resilience (GLACIER) Conference Opening Plenary
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Anchorage, Alaska
August 31, 2015

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, good morning, everybody. Thank you very, very much, Admiral Papp, for a very generous introduction. I have to tell you that I’m surprised that on an Irish ship in St. Petersburg any sailors were able to talk at all. (Laughter.) I mean, sailors are sailors, and when you get to port, you don’t talk.

But I really want to thank Admiral Papp. I have to tell you, he’s been a blessing to this enterprise. And over the last year as the U.S. Special Representative to the Arctic, he has already seized the reins and done a rather remarkable job of helping us to set, yes, an ambitious agenda, but one that is, after listening to each of the speakers thus far, I think everybody here would agree is necessary to the challenge. And the challenge is real.

Admiral Papp was literally one night away from retirement as commandant of the United States Coast Guard after a brilliant career in the Coast Guard when I telephoned him and I said – I’d met him in the course of our work, me in the Senate and work we did on fisheries and narcotics trafficking and other things. And I knew this was the man for the job, and I asked him to continue his service to our country and indeed to mankind. And believe me, without hesitancy, the next day he was in the office, we met, and he picked up this baton and he has been running with it ever since. And he has a deep, deep commitment to the Arctic, to the challenge of climate change, and I think we are all blessed to have somebody who is prepared to give up the emoluments of the private sector and of retirement to continue in this role. And I’m very grateful to you, Admiral, for being willing to do that. And maybe someday I can make up to you the thwarting of your retirement plans. (Laughter.)

I want to congratulate each of the other speakers that we heard her today. I sat there, as I think most of you I’m sure did, and when I listened to Chief Stephan talk about 10,000 years, and I think of the Industrial Revolution since the late 1800s, which is, after all, at the heart of sort of how we produce things and how we live and how we travel that is creating this challenge of climate change. You see the contrast pretty starkly. And it struck me that this is the right place to be. This was the right site to come and discuss this issue. Because just by being here, just by listening to Mayor Berkowitz, to Mayor Joule, to the Lieutenant Governor and his tunic and his tribute to his mother, we all have a better sense of the human dimension and of the history, and indeed, even the moral challenge that we face as leaders in our countries and as leaders in the world with respect to this challenge of climate change.

So I’m particularly grateful to all of them and I’m grateful to John Holdren, a resident of my state, somebody I worked with for years as a senator, who helped me early on to come to understand the science of climate change. And we very much look forward – all of you here – to participating today and building, we hope, a record, an agenda, a roadmap, if you will, for how we go out of here to lead into Paris, where we have a critical negotiation in December, but which is not, as the video said, the end of the road. It’s really the beginning of the most important part of our responsibility to meet this challenge.

I particularly want to thank my coterie of colleagues, my counterparts who have come here from each of their countries, my distinguished colleagues who work so brilliantly on this issue and on others to help us to find common ground. The foreign minister of Iceland, Gunnar Sveinsson; the foreign minister of Norway, Borge Brende, who has been a great partner in so many efforts. Margot Wallstrom, the foreign minister of Sweden. Bert Koenders, the foreign minister of The Netherlands. Timo Soini, the foreign minister of Finland. Kristian Jensen, the foreign minister of Denmark. And finally, Yun Byung-se, the foreign minister of South Korea. And we’re very grateful to each of them for having traveled so far at a time that is particularly busy leading into September and the United Nations General Assembly meeting.

I’m grateful to the other heads of delegations, all of you sitting here around this table. The European Union, the United Kingdom, Spain, Singapore, Russia, Poland, Japan, Italy, India, Germany, France, China – all of you who are part of this – Canada. Canada is part, obviously, of the Arctic Council, and the foreign minister is not here, but we’re grateful for all of your participation here and for all of the other delegations. Many of you have traveled very, very far to the largest state in our country, as you heard, and certainly one of the most beautiful states in our country, as you can see for yourselves.

The motto of Alaska is “North to the Future.” So I think it’s particularly fitting today that men and women from every corner of the globe have come north for the future. Because what we can decide here – and not just here but what we make real in Paris and beyond – will profoundly impact the future of life on this planet.

I have struggled for years, as I’m sure many of you have, with how you adequately take an issue of this magnitude, this kind of challenge, and put it in terms that average folks can really grab onto, where it isn’t so intimidating that people walk away and say, “Well, there’s no way I can deal with that.” Where people somehow feel that there are individual steps you can take even as countries, states decide to come together and stake – and take the larger steps.

But what we discuss here today is important not just for the Arctic, it is important for the rest of this planet. Everywhere I travel, leaders and average folks talk to me about the impacts of climate change and what they feel and see is happening to their lives in one particular part of the world or another. And the Arctic is so important for us to visit and understand because the Arctic is in many ways a thermostat, a computerized system, if you will, where we don’t even understand fully what the algorithm is, and yet we already see is having a profound impact on the rest of the planet. The temperature patterns, the weather patterns, what happens in the ocean in the Arctic can, in fact, we know – though we don’t completely understand the ways in which it will happen – but we know it has this profound impact on habitat everywhere, on breeding grounds everywhere, on the ecosystem itself.

And one of the beauties of what we heard today from each of the speakers who spoke a few minutes ago is this notion of balance. The balance between our activities – we, having the power of reasoning and choice over all of these other living species, what we choose has this profound downstream impact. Dr. Holdren just painted a very straightforward, purely scientific, actually absolutely factual picture. And it’s hard for people to digest that fully. Some people just want to write it off as a natural change, notwithstanding that at the end of the 19th century a Swedish scientist actually first described the impact of global heating and of the greenhouse effect itself. And we all know that were it not for the existence of the greenhouse itself, life itself would not exist on this planet because it is the greenhouse effect that has held the temperature at a steady average of about 57 degrees for life to be able to exist.

Now we know the Arctic is warming at this pace that was described today, twice as fast, four times in certain places, glaciers now melting three times faster than the rate observed in the last century, and as they melt into the seas the level of sea level rises. But in the figures that we saw regarding Greenland there is cause for greater concern, because the ice sheet on Greenland sits on rock, not in the ocean. Therefore it doesn’t displace water, it only adds to it. And as that level of ice melts, that is a magnitude greater of increase in the rate of sea level rise. And as we saw from Dr. Holdren’s presentation, in the most recent days the gigatonnage, billions of level of meltdown, is significantly greater than it has been at any time in the past, giving greater cause for concern.

We see the permafrost melting, which is releasing methane, and methane we all know is anywhere from – it’s about 30 times on average more damaging than CO2. And sometimes, in the short term it’s 86 times more damaging, but over an average of about a hundred years 30 times more damaging. But 30 times more damaging than something that we’re already having trouble getting control of is a threat to everybody.

We’ve seen 5 million acres of fires in Alaska alone, equal to the size of my state of Massachusetts, in this last year. And on top of that, we see significant challenges to life itself as it invades the communities that have been built, not just in Alaska, but in other parts of the world – low-lying nation-states in the Pacific and others that are increasingly facing this challenge.

The bottom line is that climate is not a distant threat for our children and their children to worry about. It is now. It is happening now. And I think anybody running for any high office in any nation in the word should come to Alaska or to any other place where it is happening and inform themselves about this. It is a seismic challenge that is affecting millions of people today.

Villages in Alaska are already being battered by the storms and some have had to move, or will. As the permafrost continues to thaw, the infrastructure is beginning to be challenged. Houses and other buildings are literally collapsing into rubble. Already this is happening.

There’s a village a few hours northwest of Anchorage called Galena. In 2013, Galena and a number of other villages in the state faced terrible hardships after an ice jam caused the Yukon River to flood. And because natural defenses had melted away, 90 percent of Galena’s buildings were completely destroyed.

The Arctic has never been, we know, an easy place to survive let alone to raise a family or make a living. The story of Arctic communities is inherently one of resilience, adaptation, and survival from one generation to the next. But global climate change now threatens life in this region in a way that it hasn’t been threatened for all of those 10,000 years that Chief Stephan talked about. And unless the global community comes together to address this challenge, the dramatic climate impacts that we’re seeing in this part of the world will be a harbinger for every part of the world.

And we as leaders of countries will begin to witness what we call climate refugees moving – you think migration is a challenge to Europe today because of extremism, wait until you see what happens when there’s an absence of water, an absence of food, or one tribe fighting against another for mere survival.

So over the course of this conference, we will discuss all of this. And the many opportunities that are actually staring us in the face right now to be able to respond to this challenge and, ironically, respond to it in a way that creates millions of jobs, improves our economy, improves health, improves our ability to respond to the environment, does all of the plus-ups that you search for in public policy without the long-term damage and costs that we’re witnessing by not taking those actions.

The energy market, because energy policy is the solution to climate change – and the energy market, if people make the right choices, is the largest market the world has ever seen. The market that drove the great wealth creation in the United States of the 1990s was a $1 trillion market with 1 billion users: technology, computers, personal computers, et cetera. The market that’s staring at us today is already a $6 trillion market with 4 to 5 billion users, and it will grow to 9 billion users as the population of the planet increases in the next 30, 40 years. It is the biggest market ever, and it’s waiting to be grabbed.

So we need to move to reducing carbon pollution, including emissions of short-lived climate drivers like soot and methane, and begin to factor carbon dioxide and its cost into the actual accounting of business and of our economies. We need to explore the need for greater collaboration to develop affordable and reliable renewable energy options in the Arctic communities. And let me underscore we have a number of impressive case studies from which to draw inspiration.

For instance, a small Alaskan village, Igiugig, men and women are using clean energy now, wind turbines in particular, that helps to feed their community. And through a partnership with the Ocean Renewable Energy Company they’re generating a third of their energy needs using a river-based hydrokinetic power technology.

These are the kinds of creative solutions that will enable Arctic communities to endure and to thrive in the future without having to rely on dirtier and ultimately destructive sources of power. And more broadly, today we can discuss what we can pull off in Paris, looking ahead to December when we’ll try to come up with a truly ambitious and truly global climate agreement.

Now our hope is that everyone can leave this conference today with a heightened sense of urgency and a better understanding of our collective responsibility to do everything we can to deal with the harmful impacts of climate change.

Over the course of the day we’re going to discuss efforts to expand resiliency in the region and to provide effective stewardship of wildlife and ecosystems that make the Arctic such an extraordinary place. We’re going to talk through ways that we can better prepare for the spike in human activity that is taking place in the increasingly open Arctic seas that were described earlier. Commercial fishing operations, which are not yet taking place in the central Arctic Ocean but they may begin to ramp up soon, and we’re not going to be able to manage fishing in that area effectively unless we gather more scientific information.

That’s why the United States is proposing an international agreement to prevent unregulated fishing for the time being. In addition, as more and more people begin to take advantage of the new shipping lanes and the potential of exploration of resources, there is obviously a heightened need to be able to expand open water search and rescue responsibilities and capabilities and also to define the rules of the road.

So we have a lot to cover today, and there is no question that the stakes could frankly not be much higher. And that’s why I’m so grateful for such a display of interest by so many countries coming here today to be part of this discussion. I know that when you consider the enormity of what we’re up against and the serious risks and overwhelming uncertainty that people are already experiencing, this seems like a pretty high mountain to climb. Well, I can assure you, as I have described, in fact, if you step back and look at it, it is not.

We are hardly the first generation in human history to face uncertainty about the future. Seventy-five years ago, our predecessors faced a world that was literally engulfed by strife, where seemingly all of Europe was overrun by evil, and civilization itself seemed to be in peril. We had leaders then who rose to that occasion, and we have all seen a world that is better for what came out of it with the United Nations and multilateralism and commitments to humanitarian and other missions.

The threat posed by climate change is obviously entirely different in character. But it is not different in its global reach or its potential to do harm. And the urgent need for global cooperation, for global commitment, for global choices is exactly the same as it was in the 1930s and ’40s and ’50s. If only we fully grasp that, if we commit ourselves to climbing this mountain together, then I am absolutely convinced that we will meet the obligation that we have to future generations, we will meet it here in the Arctic, and we will meet it for the rest of the world.

So I thank you very, very much for being part of this. I hope we have an extremely productive and rewarding day here at GLACIER, and I hope that GLACIER is a stepping stone to our meetings in New York around UNGA, and then afterwards in Paris, and afterwards to getting the job done. Thank you all. (Applause.)

Sunday, August 30, 2015


DoD Announces Award of New Flexible Hybrid Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Hub in Silicon Valley
Press Operations
Release No: NR-342-15
August 28, 2015

As part of the Department of Defense effort to partner with the private sector and academia to ensure the United States continues to lead in the new frontiers of manufacturing, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter will announce today that the Obama administration will award a Manufacturing Innovation Institute for Flexible Hybrid Electronics to a consortium of 162 companies, universities, and non-profits led by the  FlexTech Alliance.

The announcement follows a highly competitive nationwide bid process for the seventh of nine such manufacturing institutes launched by the administration, and the fifth of six manufacturing institutes led by the Department of Defense. Part of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation announced by President Obama in 2012, this newest institute will bring the best minds from government, industry and academia together to advance U.S. leadership in manufacturing flexible hybrid electronics. The emerging flexible hybrid electronics sector promises to revolutionize the electronics industry, and the Silicon Valley-based FlexTech Alliance consortium, backed by companies as diverse as Apple and Lockheed Martin and major research universities including Stanford and MIT, represents the next chapter in the long-standing public-private partnerships between the Pentagon and tech community.        

A truly collaborative consortium, the FlexTech team includes more than 160 companies, nonprofits, independent research organizations and universities. The cooperative agreement will be managed by the U.S. Air Force Research laboratory (AFRL) and will receive $75 million in DoD funding over five years matched with more than $90 million from  industry, academia, and local governments. In total, the institute will receive $171 million to invest in strengthening U.S. manufacturing.

Flexible hybrid electronics manufacturing describes the innovative production of electronics and sensors packaging through new techniques in electronic device handling and high precision printing on flexible, stretchable substrates. The potential array of products range from wearable devices to improved medical health monitoring technologies, and will certainly increase the variety and capability of sensors that already interconnect the world. The technologies promise dual use applications in both the consumer economy and the development of military solutions for the warfighter.

After a decade of decline in the 2000s, when 40 percent of all large factories closed their doors, American manufacturing is adding jobs at its fastest rate in decades, with nearly 900,000 new manufacturing jobs created since February 2010. Today’s announcement represents the kind of investment needed to build on this progress, broadening the foundation for American manufacturing capability and accelerating growth for years to come.

Immediately following Secretary Carter’s announcement of the FlexTech Alliance award, he will hold the first ever roundtable of Silicon Valley leaders at Defense Innovation Unit – Experimental (DIUx). Secretary Carter announced his plans to launch this outpost at Moffett Federal Airfield for the department to work with a variety of corporations and entrepreneurs at a speech at Stanford University in April 2015. The innovative culture of Silicon Valley, in collaboration with these Department of Defense initiatives and the department’s world-class laboratories, will accelerate military technology development cycles and focus on critical Department of Defense needs while also creating new commercial opportunities.

For more information on Flexible Hybrid Electronics and the Manufacturing Institute please visit

For background on DIUx please see Secretary Carter’s April 2015 speech here

For information on DIUx leadership please visit here:

Monday, August 24, 2015


United States Senator Debbie Stabenow - Michigan
Dear Leigh,

I wanted you to get a copy of my statement on the Iran nuclear agreement as soon as I released it.  This has been a complicated and very serious issue to resolve in my own mind.  I greatly appreciate your thoughts and views.

I have repeatedly supported strong sanctions, backed by the international community, to pressure Iran to give up its nuclear weapons program. Those sanctions have succeeded in isolating the Iranian regime, crippling their economy, and forcing them to the negotiating table. But sanctions by themselves have not stopped Iran's nuclear program. In 2003, Iran had just 164 centrifuges for a nuclear weapon. Today, they have over 19,000 and have the capacity to acquire enough nuclear material to build a nuclear weapon by the end of this year.

This is a dangerous regime that kidnaps Americans such as Michigan's Amir Hekmati, who needs to be released immediately, and sends weapons and other support to Hezbollah and other terrorists who seek to destroy the United States, Israel, and our other allies.

The only thing worse than Iran being the largest state sponsor of terrorism would be Iran as the largest state sponsor of terrorism with a nuclear weapon.  That's why getting this right is essential for the security of America, Israel and the entire Middle East.

I have had extensive classified and unclassified briefings, extensive discussions with our U.S. negotiators and leaders from every country involved in negotiating this agreement. I have met with leaders representing the current Israeli government as well as former military and civilian Israeli leaders. And, I have heard from so many people in Michigan, with passionate feelings on both sides of this critical issue.

I have determined that the imminent threat of Iran having a nuclear weapon outweighs any flaws I see in the international agreement. For this reason, I must support the agreement.

For me, the decision comes down to this: without this international agreement, Iran will have enough nuclear material for a weapon in three months. With this agreement, and the international coalition committed to it, we have the opportunity to stop Iran from ever getting a nuclear weapon, certainly for at least 25 years.

I completely understand the deep fear and emotion involved in this debate.  When Iranian extremist leaders chant 'death to America' and 'death to Israel,' the first question we have is 'how in the world can we trust them to live up to an agreement?' The answer is: we cannot. That is why this agreement is not based on trust in any way. It's based on strict inspections and verification coupled with the fact that America keeps all of our current options, including military action, if Iran in any way continues down the path of creating a nuclear weapon.

Under the agreement, Iran must reduce their stockpile of low enriched uranium by 98 percent and the number of centrifuges from over 19,000 to 6,104 with those centrifuges only being allowed to be used for medical research or other peaceful purposes. Iran will be subject to an intrusive inspections regime under continuous monitoring. If Iran violates this agreement in any way, America will know about it and be able to snap sanctions back into place.

And critically important to me, we will have additional information about the movement of uranium and component parts needed to make nuclear weapons for at least 25 years.

Again, most importantly, if Iran tries to develop a nuclear weapon, the United States continues to have every option on the table, including military action.

I do share concerns about parts of the agreement, including how Iran could use funds from sanctions relief to continue funding Hezbollah and other terrorists around the world.  It is clear that they have been funding these activities despite the crippling sanctions.  And we are right to be concerned that additional funds from sanctions relief, or any other sources from other countries if this agreement is not approved, could be used to continue these outrageous activities.

That is why it is critical that the White House and Congress redouble our efforts to stop Iran's support for terrorism in addition to this crucial and essential effort to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.   I strongly support strengthening our sanctions on terrorism and human rights violations, with more aggressive targeting and enforcement; tracking any new spending on Iran's non-nuclear activities from new sources; and ensuring that Israel maintains its qualitative military edge.

This agreement is not perfect, but I have personally spoken to leaders representing the P5+1 countries and the European Union who have said quite clearly that if the United States rejects this agreement, they will not join in new negotiations for a better deal. Instead, I believe that other countries will lift their sanctions on Iran, and the United States will be isolated in the international community.

And, regrettably, it is clear to me that other countries will no longer trust our great country to negotiate and work with them in good faith.

So America must choose between the following: an international coalition working together to stop a nuclear Iran while increasing our joint efforts to stop their non-nuclear terrorist activities, or no international effort, no surveillance, no accountability and a nuclear Iran within a few months.

By agreeing to this deal, the international community will continue to be united against Iranian aggression. And if they violate the agreement and we need to use military force, the international community will be with us, rather than against us.

A final note: I am deeply concerned that national security decisions and foreign policy have become highly-charged partisan issues, including our relationship with our long-time friend and democratic ally, Israel.

I'm reminded of a very distinguished and highly-honored Republican U.S. Senator from Michigan, Arthur Vandenberg, who once said, 'politics stops at the water's edge.'  He was Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the 1940s and an ardent opponent of President Franklin Roosevelt's domestic policies.  Senator Vandenberg set the Congressional standard of patriotism and statesmanship for over 70 years in our country.  I am committed to continuing his legacy on behalf of the people of our great State.

As always, please continue to share your views on issues of concern to you and your family.

Debbie Stabenow
Debbie Stabenow
United States Senator

Thursday, July 23, 2015



Right:  Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Saudi Arabian Defense Minister Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud say their mutual farewells in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, July 22, 2015. The two leaders met and spoke about issues of mutual importance. DoD photo by Army Sgt. 1st Class Clydell Kinchen.  

Carter, Saudi Leaders Discuss Security, New Challenges
By Cheryl Pellerin
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, July 23, 2015 – Defense Secretary Ash Carter had “exceptionally substantive” meetings with Saudi Arabia’s king and defense minister on regional security issues and new challenges, he said yesterday in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia.

The secretary is in the Middle East on a weeklong trip to Israel, Jordan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

Carter met in Jeddah with King and Prime Minister Salman bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud, Defense Minister Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud and others. He later briefed reporters about the discussions.

Closer Relations

“We really rolled up our sleeves on the topics … discussed at the [U.S.-Gulf Cooperation Council] Camp David summit in May,” Carter said, adding that the reason for his visit was to follow up on commitments by all countries at the summit to build closer relations in fields that include defense and security cooperation.

Carter characterized the U.S.-Saudi relationship as one that is longstanding and faces new challenges in the region.

“The two new challenges that preoccupy both the United States and Saudi Arabia today are, first of all, Iran and its malign activities in the region and potential for aggression. And No. 2, [the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant] and other forms of violent extremism in the region,” the secretary said.

Iran, ISIL

The leaders discussed Iran and ISIL along with regional issues of concern involving Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and others, Carter said. They also talked about several capabilities the United States and Saudi Arabia work on together “to bolster our joint deterrent and response capabilities in the Gulf region,” he added, including special operations and other ground forces, maritime and air forces, cyber forces, ballistic missile defense forces and others.

“We'll have an opportunity to follow up on many of these issues, both with President Obama with the king, when the king visits the United States in the fall,” Carter said, adding that he invited the defense minister to the United States in association with the king's visit or at another time.

Regional Security

The secretary said both the king and the defense minister reiterated their support for the Iranian nuclear deal.

Carter said the leaders also discussed strengthening training and other kinds of planning.

On Yemen, the secretary said they talked about the need that both the Saudis and the U.S. shares for a political settlement to the problem. "That's the way to keep the peace," he said. "That's the way to restore the humanitarian situation there. They see that as we see that: as the key.”

President Obama on Reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank

Friday, July 10, 2015



Right:  Flaring, active regions of our sun are highlighted in this new image combining observations from several telescopes. High-energy X-rays from NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) are shown in blue; low-energy X-rays from Japan's Hinode spacecraft are green; and extreme ultraviolet light from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) is yellow and red.

All three telescopes captured their solar images around the same time on April 29, 2015. The NuSTAR image is a mosaic made from combining smaller images.

The active regions across the sun’s surface contain material heated to several millions of degrees. The blue-white areas showing the NuSTAR data pinpoint the most energetic spots. During the observations, microflares went off, which are smaller versions of the larger flares that also erupt from the sun's surface. The microflares rapidly release energy and heat the material in the active regions.

NuSTAR typically stares deeper into the cosmos to observe X-rays from supernovas, black holes and other extreme objects. But it can also look safely at the sun and capture images of its high-energy X-rays with more sensitivity than before. Scientists plan to continue to study the sun with NuSTAR to learn more about microflares, as well as hypothesized nanoflares, which are even smaller.

In this image, the NuSTAR data shows X-rays with energies between 2 and 6 kiloelectron volts; the Hinode data, which is from the X-ray Telescope instrument, has energies of 0.2 to 2.4 kiloelectron volts; and the Solar Dynamics Observatory data, taken using the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly instrument, shows extreme ultraviolet light with wavelengths of 171 and 193 Angstroms.

Note the green Hinode image frame edge does not extend as far as the SDO ultraviolet image, resulting in the green portion of the image being truncated on the right and left sides.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSFC/JAXA

Last Updated: July 9, 2015
Editor: Tony Greicius


Statement by National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice on South Sudan Independence Day

I want to convey my greetings and that of President Obama and the United States of America to you, the people of South Sudan, on the occasion of the fourth anniversary of your hard-won independence.

I remember so vividly the joy the world felt four years ago welcoming South Sudan into the community of nations.  I remember the pride I personally felt standing in that huge crowd in Juba with my thirteen year-old son and the people of South Sudan to celebrate the end of a decades-long civil war and the birth of the world’s newest nation. I remember the hope and unity of that day—the promise of a new beginning for you, who had suffered so much and persevered for so long.  Four years later, those happy memories are a horrifying reminder of all that has been lost.

It breaks my heart to see what South Sudan has become today.

Massive and widespread violence has returned.  Human rights abuses are rampant.  The Government and rebels are committing appalling crimes against innocent women, children, and the elderly.  President Kiir and Riek Machar and their cronies are personally responsible for this new war and self-inflicted disaster.  And only leaders on both sides can end this violence.

Yet, President Kiir and Riek Machar would rather haggle over personal power and wealth than agree on solutions.  Meanwhile, you, the people of South Sudan, continue to suffer.  Almost half of South Sudan’s population is now dependent on the international community for its very survival, and more than two million people have been displaced from their homes.

Over the past 19 months, the government has abdicated its responsibilities, failed to protect its citizens, and squandered its legitimacy.  Instead of negotiating a resolution to the conflict, it has subverted democracy and unilaterally extended its mandate.  As the violence drags on, the conflict not only scars the lives of innocent South Sudanese, it threatens to destabilize the wider region.

Through all these challenges, your neighbors, our regional partners, have gone to great lengths to try to bring the warring parties together and forge an end to this conflict.  The United States continues to support these efforts.  The path ahead is clear.  Violence will not bring about a solution.  The South Sudanese parties must establish immediately a transitional government that can serve with legitimacy and represent the needs of the people of South Sudan.

Before independence, when the war was at its height, I visited with people across the country.  In Marial Bai, in Rumbek, in Lui—I heard people describe how war was devastating their lives and tearing their families apart.  Ordinary people had endured years of suffering and uncertainty, but they still strove to forge a brighter future for their children.  That is the choice the leaders of South Sudan must make now.  The United States will not abandon the people of South Sudan and their right to live freely and at peace in their own country. We will continue to stand with all those who dream of a better tomorrow.  The United States will continue to work hard to help you to achieve lasting peace and justice.  We will hold accountable those who abuse the people of South Sudan.  And, the United States along with the international community, will punish those determined to drive South Sudan into the abyss.

May God Bless your young country and the people of South Sudan.


Thursday, July 9, 2015
Attorney General Lynch Announces Federal Marriage Benefits Available to Same-Sex Couples Nationwide

Attorney General Lynch announced today that federal marriage benefits will be available to same-sex couples nationwide following the Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges:

 “Following the Supreme Court’s historic decision in Obergefell that every couple has the same right to participate in the institution of marriage, whether the partners are of the same-sex or opposite sexes, I directed Justice Department staff to work with the agencies to ensure that the ruling be given full effect across the federal government.  Thanks to their leadership and the quick work of the Social Security Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs, today I am proud to announce that the critical programs for veterans and elderly and disabled Americans, which previously could not give effect to the marriages of couples living in states that did not recognize those marriages, will now provide federal recognition for all marriages nationwide.  The agencies are currently working towards providing guidance to implement this change in law.  Just over a year ago, Attorney General Holder announced that agencies across the federal government had implemented the Supreme Court’s Windsor decision by treating married same-sex couples the same as married opposite-sex couples to the greatest extent possible under the law as it then stood.  With the Supreme Court’s new ruling that the Constitution requires marriage equality, we have now taken the further step of ensuring that all federal benefits will be available equally to married couples in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the US Territories.  The department will continue to work across the administration to fulfill our commitment to equal treatment for all Americans, including equal access to the benefits of marriage that the Obergefell decision guarantees.”

Thursday, July 9, 2015

7/8/15: White House Press Briefing


Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates Delivers Oral Testimony Before the Senate Judiciary Committee
Washington, DC United States ~ Wednesday, July 8, 2015
Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Good morning, Chairman [Chuck] Grassley, Ranking Member [Patrick] Leahy and members of the Judiciary Committee.  Thank you for the opportunity to testify today about the information and evidence-collection problem we commonly describe as “going dark.”

Twenty-five years ago, I started my Justice Department career as a line prosecutor in Atlanta.  I worked every kind of case you can imagine—from guns and drugs to financial fraud and terrorism.

During that time, the world has changed in remarkable ways.  Technological innovations have revolutionized the ways we communicate with colleagues and loved ones.  And increasingly sophisticated means of encryption have helped to ensure that these communications remain private.  For many reasons, these have been good developments—and ones that the Department of Justice embraces.

But it’s important that we do not let these technological innovations undermine our ability to protect the community from significant national security and public safety challenges.  The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution and our criminal justice system provides a well-developed framework for a careful balance between privacy rights and public safety by adhering to the basic principle of judicial authorization established by probable cause and determined by a neutral judge.  that framework governs searches of all our communications, regardless of whether they are by private letters or smartphone [messages], and regardless of whether we are wiretapping a landline or intercepting instant messages sent over the latest applications.  This framework has protected the interests that we all have in safety and privacy for many years.

But recent technological innovations threaten that careful balance.  Although we still have the statutory authorities that congress provided to protect the community, like the Wiretap Act and FISA (the Foreign Intelligence Service Act of 1978)—increasingly, we’re finding that even when we have the authority to search certain types of digital communications, we can’t get the information we need because the encryption has been designed so that the information is only available to the user and the providers are unable to comply with the court order or warrant.  The need and justification for the evidence has been established—and yet that evidence cannot be accessed.  Crucial information becomes, in effect, “warrant proof.”

Because of this, we are creating safe zones where dangerous criminals and terrorists can operate and avoid detection.  And it impacts us in two ways: we can’t get access to information that is stored on someone’s smartphone, like a child pornographer’s photographs or a gang member’s saved text messages, known as data at rest.  And we also can no longer effectuate wiretap orders to intercept certain communications as they happen, like ISIL members plotting to carry out an attack in the U.S., or a kidnapper communicating with a coconspirator.  This is known as data in motion.  These technological changes come with real national security and public safety costs.

In the six short months that I’ve served as Deputy Attorney General, I’ve seen the threat picture from ISIL change.  ISIL currently communicates on Twitter, sending communications to thousands of would-be followers right here in our country.  When someone responds and the conversations begin, they are then directed to encrypted platforms for further communication.  And even with a court order, we can’t see those communications.  This is a serious threat and our inability to access these communications, with valid court orders, is a real national security and public safety problem.

The current public debate about how to strike the careful balance between privacy rights and public safety has at times been a challenging and highly charged discussion.  I believe that we have to protect the privacy of our citizens and the safety of the Internet.  But those interests are not absolute.  And they have to be balanced against the risks we face from creating warrant-proof zones of communication.

There are no easy answers to this dilemma, and reasonable people can disagree on where that balance should be struck.  I don’t think that we advance the analysis to vilify those who prioritize privacy for their customers.  But from where I sit, as the Deputy Attorney General, I believe that the balance must be struck in such a way that allows us to continue to enforce court orders to obtain the critical information we need to combat crime and national security threats.  But regardless of how one believes the balance should be struck, we can all agree that we will need ongoing honest and informed public debate about how best to protect both our liberty and our security.

Thank you again for giving us an opportunity to highlight this growing threat to public safety.  We must find a solution to this pressing problem and soon.  The government’s ability to protect our nation from our most pressing threats—both foreign and domestic—depends on it.

I look forward to answering your questions.


Tuesday, July 7, 2015
Justice Department Announces Settlement Agreement with Longview, Washington, Car Dealership to Protect Employment Rights of Military Applicants

The Department of Justice announced today that it has reached a settlement with Bud Clary Chevrolet of Longview, Washington, to resolve a lawsuit it filed on behalf of Darrel Forney, a U.S. Navy Airman from Kelso, Washington.  The lawsuit alleged that the company violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) when it terminated Forney in January 2014, after learning of his intention to join the armed services.  If approved by the court, the settlement will resolve the allegations that the defendant violated the employment rights of Forney.

Bud Clary Chevrolet is a multiple-location car dealership and service center based out of Longview.  According to the department’s complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in Seattle, the dealership violated USERRA by terminating Forney from his position as a lube technician in its service department after learning that he intended to join the armed services.  Forney initially intended to join the Navy Reserves, but after being terminated and unable to find other employment, he enlisted as an active duty Naval Airman.  Forney is currently stationed in Pensacola, Florida.  His family continues to reside in Kelso.

“The brave men and women who volunteer for our Armed Forces should never have to fear losing their job for signing up to protect our country,” said Acting Associate Attorney General Stuart F. Delery.  “This settlement demonstrates the Department of Justice’s commitment to protecting service members from unlawful employment discrimination and we will continue to devote time and resources to these efforts.”

“No service member should have to make a choice between keeping his civilian job and serving his country,” said Vanita Gupta, Head of the Civil Rights Division.  “The Civil Rights Division is committed to preserving the rights and privileges of those who, through their bravery and dedication, secure the rights and liberties of all Americans.”

“While our dedicated men and women of the military protect our freedoms overseas, we must protect their interests here at home,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes of the Western District of Washington.  “The men and women who serve in our military cannot be penalized for that decision.  This case is another example of the United States Attorney’s Office’s commitment to enforcing the laws that protect the employment rights of those who serve our country.”

Under the terms of the settlement, embodied in a consent decree that has been submitted for approval to the federal district court in Seattle, the defendants must pay Forney $15,500 to compensate him for lost wages.  Among other things, the settlement also requires the defendants to provide training to Bud Clary Chevrolet’s management and human resources staff on the USERRA rights and obligations of employers and covered employees, including USERRA’s prohibition on terminating employees based upon their application to the military.

The case was litigated by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christina Fogg of the Western District of Washington, in collaboration with Andrew Braniff, Special Counsel and USERRA/U.S. Attorney’s Office Program Coordinator, in the Civil Rights Division’s Employment Litigation Section.


FACT SHEET: New Patient-Focused Commitments to Advance the President’s Precision Medicine Initiative

“Doctors have always recognized that every patient is unique, and doctors have always tried to tailor their treatments as best they can to individuals. You can match a blood transfusion to a blood type — that was an important discovery. What if matching a cancer cure to our genetic code was just as easy, just as standard? What if figuring out the right dose of medicine was as simple as taking our temperature?” -- President Barack Obama, January 30, 2015

In January 2015, President Obama launched the Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI), a bold new research effort to revolutionize how we improve health and treat disease, empowering health care providers to tailor treatment and prevention strategies to individuals’ unique characteristics. In launching PMI, the President acknowledged that success in this effort will require all hands on deck – including the active participation of care providers, health professionals, researchers, innovators, patients, and research participants.

Today, marking six months of progress to advance PMI, the White House is hosting a Champions of Change event honoring extraordinary individuals from across the country who are making a difference in the lives of patients and driving precision medicine forward. In addition to celebrating these Champions, Federal agencies and private-sector groups are stepping up to the President’s call to action to advance the PMI by making important commitments to:

Make health data more portable;
Ensure patients can easily access and share their own health information, including contributing it for research;
Rigorously protect patient privacy, security and choice; and
Support new research platforms connecting researcher and participants as partners.
Administration commitments launching today include:

Guiding Principles for Protecting Privacy and Building Trust: Today, the White House is unveiling draft PMI guiding principles that seek to build privacy into the design of the PMI research cohort, which will include one million or more Americans who agree to share data about their health.   An interagency working group convened by the White House developed these principles out of a series of expert roundtables, review of the bioethics literature, analysis of existing privacy and trust frameworks, and working group discussions. The principles articulate a set of core values and responsible strategies for building public trust and maximizing the benefits of a large national research cohort, while minimizing the risks inherent in large-scale data collection, analysis and sharing.  The White House is seeking public feedback on the Privacy and Trust Principles online through August 7, 2015.

New Tools for Patients: In collaboration with federal partners, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) and Office for Civil Rights (OCR) will work to address barriers that prevent patients from accessing their health data. OCR will develop additional guidance materials to educate the public and health care providers about a patient’s right to access his or her health information under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).  In collaboration with the White House Social and Behavioral Sciences Team, ONC will publish sample communications tools to encourage patients to access their digital health information and workflow diagrams for providers. These resources draw on extensive user research and proven practices to encourage patients to view, download, and transmit their health information. ONC is also developing an open-source prototype that will allow individuals to combine their medical records with patient-generated data and connect these data with the apps of their choice.

Research Awards to Unlock Data Insights: Today the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) is announcing awards to support four research projects on key questions relevant to precision medicine using the rich data from the Million Veterans Program (MVP), the largest US repository of genetic, clinical, lifestyle and military exposure data. The projects, which focus on the genetic contributions of heart disease, kidney disease, and substance abuse, are designed to assess the utility and accessibility of the data captured in MVP, in addition to answering important scientific questions. These studies will also help inform plans for PMI’s national research cohort, including the types of data that should be included and the design of the data platform. To date, over 390,000 Veterans have enrolled in MVP, and have provided a blood sample, answered a health questionnaire, and authorized access to their electronic health records (EHRs). Understanding how these data, when combined, can help uncover new insights into factors that affect disease onset and progression will be an important test for all precision medicine focused cohorts.

Private-sector commitments launching today include:

Duke Center for Applied Genomics and Precision Medicine: Duke has developed a platform called MeTree that helps individuals have challenging but necessary conversations with loved ones and care providers about family health histories, so that physicians can tailor care to patients’ unique risk profiles. Duke is announcing that, leveraging emerging standards, MeTree will now connect with the information in patients’ electronic health records, allowing patients and providers to seamlessly access information in EHRs through application programming interfaces (APIs).  This effort aims to enrich communication between patients and their clinicians and to help them make the best possible care decisions as a team.

Flip the Clinic: Flip the Clinic, a project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is announcing a collaboration with more than 160,000 clinicians and staff practicing at sites across the United States, who have pledged to inform patients about their right to get digital copies of their medical records. Flip the Clinic will work hand-in-hand with clinicians at these sites to redesign how clinicians respond to patients’ requests for their own records, with the goal of making health-information access, sharing, downloading, and use a more seamless experience for both patients and clinicians. Flip the Clinic is further committing to educate patients about the President’s Precision Medicine Initiative and how to get involved. Collaborators in this effort include a wide range of delivery systems, clinics, organizations, and technology partners.

Genetic Alliance: Along with collaborators, Genetic Alliance is launching new capabilities for Platform for Engaging Everyone Responsibly (PEER), a data registry that empowers participants to share their data with medical researchers, advocacy groups, and others. With assistance from Cerner and NATE, going forward, PEER will accept coded, clinical data from participants’ electronic health records (EHRs). Participants will be able to send this information to PEER directly from their provider-supplied portals, leveraging national standards, or ask that their providers send it. PEER is a free-to-the-participant user service that is provided through condition-specific advocacy and support groups. Each participant is provided with tools to dynamically control how much of their information they wish to share, and with whom. Currently there are about 20 provider-supplied portals that work with PEER. Through a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, this number will more than double by the end of 2015. Additional collaborators on this effort include: Private Access, Cerner Corporation, National Association of Trusted Identities (NATE).

GetMyHealthData: The GetMyHealthData campaign is pledging to help thousands of consumers over the next 12 months access and download their own clinical health data, so they can use it to understand and improve their health, their care, and the system as a whole -- including donating their data for research. The campaign is a collaboration of consumer organizations, health care experts, former policy makers and technology organizations.  GetMyHealthData will guide consumers through the often complex process by providing a tool to automate the request for their data and to troubleshoot any problems that occur. The initiative will also offer basic guidance on apps that can safely and securely store patient data, including those that enable data donation for research while protecting privacy. Finally, the campaign will provide resources for clinicians and consumers that explain consumers’ rights and best practices to get copies of their structured electronic clinical data. Collaborators include: National Partnership for Women & Families, Amida, Code for America, Genetic Alliance, Health Data Consortium and NATE.

Sage Bionetworks: Recognizing the importance of health-data liberation, and the role of data in driving research studies, Sage Bionetworks is announcing that it will support clinical studies that import electronic health-record information to its open source research platform and that it will release open-source informed-consent prototypes to support these studies. Sage’s goal is to catalyze new clinical studies that are native to mobile phones, vastly expanding the ability of citizens to voluntarily participate and engage as partners in research. Sage Bionetworks leverages the power of open networks of contributors to solve complex scientific problems, including the Cancer Genome Atlas and NIH’s Alzheimer’s Accelerating Medicine Partnership.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Benefits for Humanity: Hope Crystallizes



President Barack Obama addresses reporters at the Pentagon, July 6, 2015, after meeting with Defense Secretary Ash Carter, left. Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the joint Chiefs of Staff, stands at right. DoD photo by Glenn Fawcett. 

Obama Discusses Anti-ISIL Strategy With National Security Team at Pentagon
By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, July 6, 2015 – President Barack Obama discussed the strategy to degrade and ultimately destroy the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant with civilian and military leaders of his national security team at the Pentagon.

The president spoke to the press following the meeting. He stressed that the strategy will take time to work, and that there is no substitute to working through indigenous forces in the region.

The strategy harnesses all elements of American power including military, intelligence, diplomatic, economic development, “and perhaps most importantly the power of our values,” Obama said.

Long-Term Campaign

The strategy envisions a long-term campaign, he said.

“ISIL is opportunistic, and it is nimble,” the president said. “In many places in Syria and Iraq, including urban areas, it’s dug in among innocent civilian populations. It will take time to root them out.”

American and coalition partners will help out with training and air support, but it must be local fighters who take the fight to the terrorists, he said.

“As with any military effort, there will be periods of progress but there are also going to be some setbacks, as we’ve seen with ISIL’s gains in Ramadi in Iraq and in Central and Southern Syria,” Obama said.

There Has Been Progress

Still there has been progress, he noted, with more than 5,000 airstrikes that have taken out thousands of fighting positions, tanks, vehicles, bomb factories and training camps.

“We’ve eliminated thousands of fighters, including senior ISIL commanders,” the president said. “Over the past year we've seen that, when we have an effective partner on the ground, ISIL can be pushed back.”

ISIL lost the Mosul Dam, Mount Sinjar and Tikrit.

“Altogether, ISIL has lost more than a quarter of the populated areas that it had seized in Iraq,” he said. “In Syria, ISIL lost at Kobani. It's recently endured losses across Northern Syria, including the key city of Tal Abyad, denying ISIL a vital supply route to Raqqa, its base of operations in Syria.”

The terror group is vulnerable and with help local forces can push back the extremists, Obama said.

Intensifying Efforts

“ISIL’s recent losses in both Syria and Iraq prove that ISIL can and will be defeated,” he said. “Indeed, we're intensifying our efforts against ISIL’s base in Syria. Our airstrikes will continue to target the oil and gas facilities that fund so much of their operations.”

The coalition – including many local nations – will continue to go after ISIL’s leadership and infrastructure in Syria, he said.

“Partnering with other countries, sharing more information, strengthening laws and border security allows us to work to stem the flow of foreign fighters to Syria as well as Iraq and to stem, obviously, the flow of those fighters back into our own countries,” the president said. “This continues to be a challenge. And working together, all nations are going to need to do more. But we’re starting to see some progress.”

Ramping Up Training

The United States is ramping up training and support of local forces, he said. “As I’ve said before, this aspect of our strategy was moving too slowly, but the fall of Ramadi has galvanized the Iraqi government,” Obama said.

In Anbar province, Iraq, more Sunni fighters are coming forward and they are being supplied. The president told his team to do more to train and equip anti-ISIL forces in Syria, too.

Again, the president called for a broader political effort in the region.

“Now all this said, our strategy recognizes that no amount of military force will end the terror that is ISIL unless it’s matched by a broader effort, political and economic, that addresses the underlying conditions that have allowed ISIL to gain traction,” he said.

“So as Iraqi cities and towns are liberated from ISIL, we’re working with Iraq and the United Nations to help communities rebuild the security, services and governance that they need, and we continue to support the efforts of Prime Minister (Haydar) Abadi to forge an inclusive and effective Iraqi government that unites all the people of Iraq, Shia, Sunni, Kurds and all minority communities,” the president said.

In Syria, Obama called for the Syrian people to unite against ISIL and begin the “political transition to a new government without Bashar al-Assad, a government that serves all Syrians.”

Security Team Members

The national security team met in Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s conference room. Meeting with Obama and Carter were: Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work; Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Navy Adm. James Winnefeld, the vice chairman; Marcel Lettre, the acting undersecretary of defense for intelligence; Gen. Ray Odierno, Army chief of staff; Gen. Joseph Dunford, Commandant of the Marine Corps; Army Gen. Frank Grass, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, the commander of U.S. Central Command; Army Gen. David Rodriguez, the commander of U.S. Africa Command; Army Gen. Joe Votel, the commander of U.S. Special Operations Command; Adm. Michelle Howard, the vice chief of naval operations; Gen. Larry Spencer, the Air Force vice chief of staff.

Also included were U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken, CIA Director John Brennan, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, National Security Advisor Susan Rice and Lisa Monaco, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism.



Readout of the President’s Call with Prime Minister Tsipras of Greece

President Obama spoke this morning with Prime Minister Tsipras of Greece.  The President received an update from Prime Minister Tsipras on his ideas for a path forward between Greece and its creditors.  The President reiterated that it is in everyone’s interest that Greece and its creditors reach a mutually-acceptable agreement.

Readout of the President’s Call with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany

The President and German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke by phone this morning about Greece.  The leaders agreed it is in everyone’s interest to reach a durable agreement that will allow Greece to resume reforms, return to growth, and achieve debt sustainability within the Eurozone.  The leaders noted that their economic teams are monitoring the situation in Greece and remain in close contact.


The challenge of building a better atomic clock and why it matters

Prior to the mid-18th century, it was tough to be a sailor. If your voyage required east-west travel, you couldn't set out to a specific destination and have any real hope of finding it efficiently.

At the time sailors had no reliable method for measuring longitude, the coordinates that measure a point's east-west position on the globe. To find longitude, you need to know the time in two places--the ship you're on, and the port you departed from. By calculating the difference between those times, sailors got a rough estimate of their position. The problem: The clocks back then just couldn't keep time that well. They lost their home port's time almost immediately after departing.

Today, time is just as important to navigation, only instead of calculating positioning with margins of errors measured in miles and leagues, we have GPS systems that are accurate within meters. And instead of springs and gears, our best timepieces rely on cesium atoms and lasers.

But given the history, it's fitting that scientists like Clayton Simien, a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded physicist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham who works on atomic clocks, was inspired by the story of John Harrison, an English watchmaker who toiled in the 1700s to come up with the first compact marine chronometer. This device marked the beginning of the end for the "longitude problem" that had plagued sailors for centuries.

"If you want to measure distances well, you really need an accurate clock," Simien said.

Despite the massive leaps navigation technology has made since Harrison's time, scientists--many NSF-funded--are looking for new ways to make clocks more accurate, diminishing any variables that might distort precise timekeeping. Some, for example, are looking for ways to better synchronize atomic clocks on earth with GPS satellites in orbit, where atmospheric distortion can limit signal accuracy to degrees that seem minute, but are profound for the precise computer systems that govern modern navigation.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology, Department of Defense, join NSF in the search for even better atomic clocks. But today's research isn't just about building a more accurate timepiece. It's about foundational science that has other ramifications.

'One Mississippi,' or ~9 billion atom oscillations

Atomic clocks precisely measure the ticks of atoms, essentially tossing cesium atoms upward, much like a fountain. Laser-beam photons "cool down" the atoms to very low temperatures, so the atoms can transfer back and forth between a ground state and an excited state.

The trick to this process is finding just the right frequency to move directly between the two states and overcome Doppler shifts that distort rhythm. (Doppler shifts are increases or decreases in wave frequency as the waves move closer or further away -- much like the way a siren's sound changes depending on its distance.)

Laser improvements have helped scientists control atoms better and address the Doppler issue. In fact, lasers helped to facilitate something known as an optical lattice, which can layer atoms into "egg cartons" to immobilize them, helping to eliminate Doppler shifts altogether.

That shift between ground state and excited state (better known as the atomic transition frequency) yields something equivalent to the official definition of a second: 9,192,631,770 cycles of the radiation that gets a cesium atom to vibrate between those two energy states. Today's atomic clocks mostly still use cesium.

NSF-funded physicist Kurt Gibble, of Pennsylvania State University, has an international reputation for assessing accuracy and improving atomic clocks, including some of the most accurate ones in the world: the cesium clocks at the United Kingdom's National Physical Laboratory and the Observatory of Paris in France.

But accurate as those are, Gibble says the biggest advance in atomic clocks will be a move from current-generation microwave frequency clocks -- the only kind currently in operation -- to optical frequency clocks.

The difference between the two types of clocks lies in the frequencies they use to measure the signals their atoms' electrons emit when they change energy levels. The microwave technology keeps reliable time, but optical clocks offer significant improvements. According to Gibble, they're so accurate they would lose less than a second over the lifetime of the universe, or 13.8 billion years.

Despite that promise of more accurate performance, the optical frequency clocks don't currently keep time.

"So far, optical standards don't run for long enough to keep time," Gibble said. "But they will soon."

Optical frequency clocks operate on a significantly higher frequency than the microwave ones, which is why many researchers are exploring their potential with new alkaline rare earth elements, such as ytterbium, strontium and gadolinium.

"The higher frequency makes it a lot easier to be more accurate," Gibble said.

Gibble is starting work on another promising elemental candidate: cadmium. Simien, whose research employs gadolinium, has focused on minimizing--or eliminating if possible--key issues that limit accuracy.

"Nowadays, the biggest obstacle, in my opinion is the black body radiation shift," Simien said. "The black body radiation shift is a symptomatic effect. We live in a thermal environment, meaning its temperature fluctuates. Even back in the day, a mechanical clock had pieces that would heat up and expand or cool down and contract.

"A clock's accuracy varied with its environment. Today's system is no longer mechanical and has better technology, but it is still susceptible to a thermal environment's effects. Gadolinium is predicted to have a significantly reduced black body relationship compared to other elements implemented and being proposed as new frequency standards."

While Simien and Gibble agree that optical frequency research represents the next generation of atomic clocks, they recognize that most people don't really care if the Big Bang happened 13 billion years ago or 13 billion years ago plus one second.

"It's important to understand that one more digit of accuracy is not always just fine tuning something that is probably already good enough," said John Gillaspy, an NSF program director who reviews funding for atomic clock research for the agency's physics division. "Extremely high accuracy can sometimes mean a qualitative breakthrough which provides the first insight into an entirely new realm of understanding--a revolution in science."

Gillaspy cited the example of American physicist Willis Lamb, who in the middle of the last century measured a tiny frequency shift that led theorists to reformulate physics as we know it, and earned him a Nobel Prize. While research to improve atomic clocks is sometimes dismissed as trying to make ultra-precise clocks even more precise, the scientists working in the field know their work could potentially change the world in profound, unexpected ways.

"Who knows when the next breakthrough will come, and whether it will be in the first digit or the 10th?" Gillaspy continued. "Unfortunately, most people cannot appreciate why more accuracy matters."

From Wall Street to 'Interstellar'

Atomic clock researchers point to GPS as the most visible application of the basic science they study, but it's only one of this foundational work's potential benefits.

Many physicists expect it to provide insight that will illuminate our understanding of fundamental physics and general relativity. They say new discoveries will also advance quantum computing, sensor development and other sensitive instrumentation that requires clever design to resist natural forces like gravity, magnetic and electrical fields, temperature and motion.

The research also has implications beyond the scientific world. Financial analysts worry that worldwide markets could lose millions due to ill-synchronized clocks.

On June 30 th at 7:59:59 p.m. EDT, the world adds what is known as a "leap second" to keep solar time within 1 second of atomic time. History has shown, however, that this adjustment to clocks around the world is often done incorrectly. Many major financial markets are taking steps ranging from advising firms on how to deal with the adjustment to curtailing after-hours trading that would occur when the change takes place.

Gibble says the goal of moving to ever more accurate clocks isn't to more precisely measure time over a long period.

"It's the importance of being able to measure small time differences."

GPS technology, for example, looks at the difference of the propagation of light from multiple satellites. To provide location information, several GPS satellites send out signals at the speed of light--or one foot per nanosecond--saying where they are and what time they made their transmissions.

"Your GPS receiver gets the signals and looks at the time differences of the signals--when they arrive compared to when they said they left," Gibble said. "If you want to know where you are to a couple of feet, you need to have timing to a nanosecond--a billionth of a second."

In fact, he said, if you want that system to continue to accurately operate for a day, or for weeks, you need timing significantly better than that. Getting a GPS to guide us in deserts, tropical forests, oceans and other areas where roads aren't around to help as markers along the way--one needs clocks with nanosecond precision in GPS satellites to keep us from getting lost.

And if you're not traveling to those locales, then there's still the future to think about.

"Remember the movie, 'Interstellar,'" Simien said. "There is someone on a spaceship far away, and Matthew McConaughey is on a planet in a strong gravitational field. He experiences reality in terms of hours, but the other individual back on the space craft experiences years. That's general relativity. Atomic clocks can test this kind of fundamental theory and its various applications that make for fascinating science, and as you can see, they also expand our lives."

-- Ivy F. Kupec,
Kurt Gibble
Clayton Simien
Related Institutions/Organizations
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Pennsylvania State Univ University Park