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Saturday, May 2, 2015


Breedlove: Russia Now Taking ‘Different Path’
By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, May 1, 2015 – The West assumed the best of Russia once the Cold War ended, but Russian President Vladimir Putin had other plans and NATO must remain strong in face of the threat from the East, Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove said here yesterday.

Breedlove, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe and commander of U.S. European Command, told the Atlantic Council that freedom is being challenged by “a revanchist Russia embarked on a reaching revision of what once were shared hopes for a stable and mutually beneficial partnership.”

Breedlove yesterday received the Distinguished Military Leadership award from the council.

The general said that when the Berlin Wall fell and the Cold War ended, the United States fundamentally changed the way it dealt with Russia. The United States believed there was a genuine hope for a new friendship, a new partnership and the prospect of a Europe whole, free, at peace and prosperous, he said.
“We broke with confrontation and pursued a policy of cooperation, and for a long time many of us believed Russia would also embrace that cooperation,” Breedlove said. “But as we look back, there were clear signs that Russia was on a different path.”

In the early 1990s, Russia stoked separatist tensions in Georgia and Moldova, Breedlove said. In 2007, Russia suspended observance of the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty. In 2008, Russian forces invaded Georgia. Through it all Russian leaders clamped down on freedoms the Russian people had only recently won, the general said.

‘Signals of a Changing Russia’

“All of these were signals of a changing Russia, breaking with the principles and the values of the West,” he said.

But the United States and its NATO allies remained optimistic and continued to treat Russia as a valued and trusted partner, Breedlove said.

But last year, with the illegal annexation of Crimea and movement into Eastern Ukraine the West’s optimism faded, the general said. Russia’s actions against Ukraine since last year have signaled “a clear end of what I see as two decades of clear Russian struggle over security policy,” Breedlove said.

Russia is now on a far different course, he said, one that shifts the relationship between Russia and the West from strategic cooperation to one of strategic competition. This is not a temporary aberration, but the new norm, Breedlove said.

“This is a Russia that recognizes strength and sees weakness as an opportunity,” he said.

Strategic Competition

This strategic competition requires a new mindset and a new approach, the general said.

“The U.S. and NATO must adapt,” he said. “And we are. The stakes are high but we must not shy away from that because, frankly, Russia is not.”

There still must be a dialogue with Russia, but conversations with the country must be done from a position of strength, the general said.

“We must embrace cooperation wherever our mutual interests align, but we must also ensure that we are ready to compete,” Breedlove said.
NATO is Strong

NATO is strong and it gives the West the ability to compete successfully against current and future challenges, he said.

Breedlove said NATO must challenge Russia’s current policies and demonstrate that Putin’s current approach will not be allowed to damage security.

The alliance also must deter Russia “by carefully shaping Moscow’s choices and managing Putin’s confidence,” the general said.

He added, “And it means continuing to lead courageously, as an alliance and as a nation.”

NATO is rock solid, Breedlove said.

“We are standing together,” he said.

Weekly Address: Ensuring Every Child Gets a Great Education

5/1/15: White House Press Briefing



Court Halts Mortgage Relief Operation that Targeted Homeowners Facing Foreclosure

Some People Lost Their Homes: Paid Defendants Instead of Making Mortgage Payments

At the Federal Trade Commission’s request, a federal court halted a sham operation that allegedly told financially distressed homeowners it would help get their mortgages modified, but instead effectively stole their mortgage payments, leading some to foreclosure and bankruptcy. The FTC seeks to permanently stop the scheme and its participants’ illegal practices. It also filed a contempt action against one of the scheme’s principals, Brian Pacios, who is under a previous court order that prohibited him from mortgage relief activities.

“These defendants stole mortgage payments from struggling homeowners, and they pretended to be a nonprofit working with the government,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “We’ll continue to shut down shameful mortgage frauds like this one.”

According to the FTC’s complaint, the defendants, sometimes doing business as HOPE Services, and more recently as HAMP Services, targeted consumers facing foreclosure, and especially those who had failed to get any relief from their lenders. Pretending to be “nonprofit” with government ties, they sent mail bearing what looked like an official government seal, and indicated that the recipients might be eligible for a “New 2014 Home Affordable Modification Program” (HAMP 2).

The defendants called the program “an aggressive update to Obama’s original modification program,” and stated that “[y]our bank is now incentivized by the government to lower your interest rate . . .”

The defendants falsely claimed they had a high success rate, special contacts who would help get loan terms modified, and an ability to succeed even when consumers had failed. After obtaining consumers’ financial information, they told them they were “preliminarily approved” and falsely claimed they would submit consumers’ loan modification applications to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, and the “Making Home Affordable” (MHA) program. The MHA application form they sent consumers excluded the page that warns, “BEWARE OF FORECLOSURE RESCUE SCAMS,” and “never make your mortgage payments to anyone other than your mortgage company without their approval.”

Later, the defendants falsely told consumers they were approved for a low interest rate and monthly payments significantly lower than their current payment, and that after making three monthly trial payments, and often a fee to reinstate a defaulted loan, they would get a loan modification and be safe from foreclosure. They also told consumers not to speak with their lender or an attorney.

In reality, homeowners who made the payments did not have their mortgages modified, and their lenders never received their trial payments, the FTC alleged. Instead, they were contacted by an “Advocacy Department” run by one of the defendants, Denny Lake, and told that the department would get them an even better loan modification than the one purportedly obtained through MHA, according to the FTC’s complaint.

But the “Advocacy Department” was just another trick designed to make sure consumers continued to make all of the monthly trial payments. When consumers raised concerns about continuing foreclosure warnings, sale date notices, and even court dates, they were told their loan modification was being processed or nearly completed.

By keeping consumers on the hook for months, the defendants doubled, tripled, or quadrupled consumers’ trial payments, the FTC alleged.  They told consumers they would put these payments in escrow accounts and eventually pay off consumers’ lenders. In fact, the defendants simply took the money for themselves. As a result, some consumers lost their homes, and most consumers incurred additional penalties and interest as they fell further behind on their mortgages.

The defendants include Chad Caldaronello, also known as Chad Carlson and Chad Johnson; C.C. Enterprises Inc., doing business as HOPE Services, Retention Divisions, and Trust Payment Center; Justin Moreira, a/k/a Justin Mason, Justin King and Justin Smith; Derek Nelson, a/k/a Dereck Wilson; D.N. Marketing Inc., d/b/a HAMP Services and Trial Payment Processing; and Brian Pacios, a/k/a Brian Berry and Brian Kelly. They are charged with violating the FTC Act, the FTC’s Mortgage Assistance Relief Services Rule (MARS), and its Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR).

Denny Lake, d/b/a JD United, Advocacy Department, Advocacy Division, and Advocacy Agency, is charged with knowing or consciously avoiding knowing the other defendants were violating the MARS and the TSR. A relief defendant, Cortney Gonsalves, is charged with holding money and assets she received from the scam.

To learn how to avoid mortgage and foreclosure rescue scams, see Home Loans.


Airstrikes Hit ISIL in Syria, Iraq

From a Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve News Release
SOUTHWEST ASIA, May 1, 2015 – U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.

Officials reported details of the latest strikes, which took place between 8 a.m. yesterday and 8 a.m. today, local time, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.

Airstrikes in Syria

Attack, bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 11 airstrikes in Syria:

-- Near Hasakah, four airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units, destroying two ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL excavator.

-- Near Dayr Az Zawr, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying an ISIL vehicle.

-- Near Kobani, six airstrikes struck an ISIL large and three small tactical units, destroying seven ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL vehicle.
Airstrikes in Iraq

Attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted seven airstrikes in Iraq, approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense:

-- Near Beiji, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying two ISIL fighting positions.

-- Near Fallujah, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying an ISIL fighting position.

-- Near Mosul, an airstrike struck an ISIL defensive position.

-- Near Ramadi, three airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units, destroying an ISIL fighting position, and an ISIL resupply cache.

-- Near Tal Afar, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying an ISIL vehicle.

Part of Operation Inherent Resolve

The strikes were conducted as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to eliminate the ISIL terrorist group and the threat they pose to Iraq, Syria, the region, and the wider international community. The destruction of ISIL targets in Syria and Iraq further limits the terrorist group's ability to project terror and conduct operations.

Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Iraq include the United States, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Jordan, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Syria include the United States, Bahrain, Canada, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.


National News
Honoring the Fallen on Workers' Memorial Day

Kathy Pierce was texting with her son Chad just hours before he died at work on a Maryland cellphone tower in Pasadena. She shared the wrenching story of his 2014 death at a Workers' Memorial Day observance April 28 at department headquarters in Washington, D.C. Jordan Barab, deputy assistant secretary for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, reminded all of the extensive physical, personal and social costs of occupational injuries. He also unveiled an updated version of the legally required workplace safety poster. Joseph Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health, and Leonard J. Howie III, director for the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs, talked about progress their respective agencies have made to keep workers safe. AFL-CIO's Peg Seminario reflected on recent achievements in worker health and safety, and Deputy Secretary of Labor Chris Lu told those gathered: "On this day, we mourn not just for the lives lost, but also for the opportunity that is lost, the American dreams that are extinguished."


Statement at Open Meeting on Pay versus Performance
Commissioner Michael S. Piwowar
April 29, 2015

Thank you, Chair White, and a special thank you to Mike Walker of the San Francisco Regional Office for getting in early to set up the video conference.

It has been nearly five years since the enactment of the Dodd-Frank Act, which required the Commission to promulgate nearly a hundred different rules, some of which were actually related to the causes of the financial crisis.  I do not question the fact that we will ultimately need to implement all of our obligations under that law.  I do question, however, the order in which we are considering them.  Instead of prioritizing those rules related to the causes of the financial crisis, we have repeatedly seen the agenda for Dodd-Frank Act implementation filled with rulemakings not related to the financial crisis, such as conflict minerals, mine safety, and resource extraction.  Unfortunately, this proposal represents another questionable and imprudent use of agency resources, which I cannot support while other important rulemakings remain outstanding.

That being said, I had indicated my willingness to consider supporting, at an appropriate time, the implementation of Section 953(a) of the Dodd-Frank Act using a principles-based approach requiring a clear description of the relationship between executive compensation actually paid and the financial performance of the issuer.  Indeed, the approach initially circulated by the staff to the Commissioners, after obtaining approval from the Chair’s office, was one that I might have been able to support.  I thank the staff in the Division of Corporation Finance, the Division of Economic and Risk Analysis, and the Office of the General Counsel for their efforts on crafting that principles-based approach.

Unfortunately, the revised document being considered today has been changed to be a highly prescriptive measure.  It focuses particular attention on a single metric of financial performance – one-year total shareholder return (TSR).  This one-size-fits-all approach assumes that, for all companies and all shareholders, one-year TSR is the only metric that matters.  Although the proposal points out that issuers may include additional disclosures and different metrics, the proposal would only provide specific tags for one-year TSR.  Other metrics and disclosures would be relegated to block-tagging in a form not conducive to comparative analysis.

As one paper from the National Association of Corporate Directors observed, “an isolated emphasis on TSR can result in excessive focus on quarterly financial numbers and encourage short-term thinking.”[1]  To the extent that the prescribed measure of TSR may be less meaningful at particular companies, a principles-based approach could reduce shareholder confusion in understanding the relationship between pay and performance.

The majority of the Commission is pushing forward with the focus on one-year TSR, despite the economic analysis performed by our economists in the Division of Economic and Risk Analysis.  The analysis observes that which performance metrics should be considered, and how much compensation should vary with these metrics, is difficult to ascertain and will vary with a company’s individual circumstances.  Our economic analysis further notes that the available performance statistics may not adequately measure a given executive’s contribution to a registrant’s performance, such as when registrant performance is strongly related to market moves, sector opportunities, commodity prices, or other factors unrelated to managerial effort or skill.

I am greatly disappointed that the proposal does not exclude smaller reporting companies from the disclosure requirement.  Shares of smaller reporting companies are generally less liquid than shares of larger reporting companies.  Thus, estimates of one-year TSR for smaller reporting companies may be less precise and less readily available, potentially making pay-versus-performance comparisons based on this metric less meaningful.

Trying to limit executive compensation through regulation has a habit of backfiring; one need only look at Section 162(m) of the Internal Revenue Code and its attempt to limit executive compensation that, some have argued, had the unintended consequence of increasing executive pay.[2]

Finally, the singular focus on one-year TSR may make corporate executives more likely to engage in efforts such as increasing debt, cutting research and development, and engaging in stock buy-backs to increase stock prices in the short-term to the detriment of long-term performance.  On the other hand, a principles-based approach would reduce the risk that the disclosure requirements could lead registrants to game their compensation structures.

For these reasons, I cannot support the current proposal to implement pay-versus-performance disclosure.

I have no questions.

[1] NACD Perspectives Paper: Pay for Performance and Supplemental Pay Definitions (Dec. 2013) at 3, available at

[2] See, e.g., Max Ehrenfreund, “Why Elizabeth Warren thinks Bill Clinton made CEO pay even worse,” The Washington Post (Apr. 27, 2015); “Speech by SEC Staff: Financial Regulation: Economic Margins and Unintended Consequences,” by Chester S. Spatt (Mar. 17, 2006),


Remarks With Syrian Opposition Council President Khaled Khoja
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
April 30, 2015

SECRETARY KERRY: Good morning, everybody. I’m very pleased to welcome the president of the Syrian Opposition Coalition, President Khoja. And we’re very happy to be able to talk today about, obviously, a very compelling and tragic situation.

The situation on the ground in Syria and in the communities around it is simply unsustainable, catastrophic. It has a profound impact – negative – on each of the surrounding communities, particularly Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan, but especially on the people of Syria. Three quarters of the population of Syria is now displaced people – and many of them, at least half, internally within Syria itself. Whole communities have been destroyed. Children, innocent medical personnel, women have barrel bombs dropped on them from the sky. This is a regime that has lost all sense of any kind of responsibility to its own people, and that is why there must be a transition from the Assad regime towards a government that represents all the people and can repair this extraordinary damage to Syria, unite the country, protect all minorities, and provide a legitimate future.

The other part of the problem is that as Assad is busy destroying the country in his own interests, he is enabling and attracting terrorists to the country who are having a further negative impact on the region. That’s why he has lost all legitimacy with respect to his ability to be able to be a part of the long-term future of the country.

So we will talk about this today. The Syrian opposition continues to fight difficult odds. They have agreed to be part of UN talks that will take place over the course of the next weeks and month. And we very much hope that in the immediate days ahead, that people will be able to find a new path by which to create an outcome that will restore the secular, united nature of Syria and be able to prevent this extraordinary humanitarian catastrophe that is unfolding before the world’s eyes.

So, Mr. President, I welcome you here, delighted to have you, and I look forward to our conversation.

PRESIDENT KHOJA: (Via interpreter) I am here to thank the United States for its continued support to the Syrian people in its endeavor to achieve its – to realize its goals to freedom, democracy, and pluralism. The U.S. has given the Syrian people an excess of $3 billion in assistance and it has stood by the Syrian coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people. I will be discussing with the Secretary of State the latest developments in Syria with regards to – on the political and military levels, and we are here also to ask the assistance of the U.S. in establishing safe havens in liberated areas. As Mr. Secretary has pointed out, President Assad has no legitimacy and he is not part of the future of Syria. And for that reason he needs to be prosecuted and subjected to fair trial for the crimes he has committed against the Syrian people.

Once again, I would like to thank the Secretary for this opportunity. Thank you.


04/29/2015 09:58 PM EDT
Remarks at the 10th Annual Fortune/U.S. State Department Global Women's Mentoring Partnership
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Benjamin Franklin Room
Washington, DC
April 29, 2015

Thank you very, very much, Evan. Thank you very, very much, Pattie. Thanks so much for doing this and for Fortune’s commitment to all of this. And thank you, all of you, good evening. And I apologize profusely; I gather you’ve been sitting here waiting to eat, right? Anyway, I am sorry. I was held up in the place where Tina works, called the White House – (laughter) – where we were having a long discussion about one of our trouble spots in the world. And I’m really happy to be here. This is not a trouble spot. (Laughter.)

I want to thank the members of Congress who are here. I guess they’re spread around. I don’t see them all sitting at one table. I see Nita over here. But Representatives Debbie Dingell, Nita Lowey who’s here, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Maxine Walters, I want to thank – Waters – I want to thank them for their tremendous contribution. They are powerful women, let me tell you, especially Nita’s got my budget. (Laughter and applause.)

But thank you for the hard work that you do every single day. Honestly, we really appreciate it. And thank you to the Treasurer of the United States Rosie Rios. I mentioned to her she’s got her name on every dollar around the country. She said, “I’m watching that money really carefully.”

And Tina Tchen, what a great job you do. Thank you, you’re a delight to work with and we really appreciate everything that you and the First Lady are accomplishing. Thank you very much. We’re excited to have all of you with us on this extraordinary floor of the State Department. This is, I think you know, the Ben Franklin Room. It’s a special room. That’s Ben over there above the fireplace, and the other Ben, my dog, who is the diplo-mutt, is downstairs waiting for me to take him home so he can eat, too. So I’ve held everybody up tonight. (Laughter.) He’s not talking to me.

The most powerful women. We’re in the Ben Franklin Room, as I mentioned. All these rooms are named after men. They didn’t listen to Abigail Adams, who told her husband, “If particular attention is not paid to the ladies, we will mount a rebellion.” (Laughter.) Well, there’s been a number of rebellions since that period of time. One of them is that Ben Franklin led a pretty interesting life and he particularly led an interesting life when he was the ambassador to Paris with Jefferson, and John Adams was there – a period of time when they were all there together. If you’ve read about him, you would all know that when he said wine is constant proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy, he knew what he was talking about. (Laughter.) And you also would understand that he would clearly not get confirmed by the United States Senate today. (Laughter.)

This is supposed to be a fun evening and it is a fun evening. Evan Ryan is, as you know, our assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs. And she has it all, as you see. She’s got energy, creativity, eloquence, dynamic, and I am very, very grateful to have her on our team. She’s doing a great job of reaching out across all the international boundaries to bring us closer together, and I appreciate enormously what she is doing.

And Pattie Sellers has been a champion for women for many, many years, a driving force behind Fortune’s Most Powerful Women’s partnership with the State Department. And so I’m happy to celebrate the fact that this partnership is now in its 10th year and frankly is generating more energy and more excitement than ever. So Pattie, thank you for tremendous leadership. We appreciate it. (Applause.)

Now sadly, there was a time – and it was not so long ago – when U.S. foreign policy was pretty much a male-only club, like a lot of places in our country and in the world. Until the early 1970s, a woman Foreign Service officer had to literally choose between keeping her job and getting married because she wasn’t allowed to do both. It wasn’t until 1997, more than two centuries after our nation’s birth that we celebrate here in this building so much, that a woman was finally permitted to take the oath of office as secretary of state.

And today, I am proud to say the President’s national security advisor is a woman, our ambassador to the United Nations is a woman. My predecessor was a woman, and so was her predecessor. We have one woman out of two positions as deputy secretary a woman – that’s 50 percent. And we have four under secretaries of state out of six who are women. And I believe that is what happens when brains and talent determine who does what instead of bigotry bringing down the ceiling. (Applause.)

And literally preventing half the population of a nation from taking part – I will tell you, in the course of my travels I am thunderstruck all the time. Cathy Russell knows this. She’s helping to build on this – the amount of energy in country after country today that is embracing this notion that you cannot survive, you can’t make it, you can’t build in today’s world with half your population on the bench. It’s impossible. No team in anything can survive that way. And I think we’ve broken through here; there’s no question in my mind about that. It’s forever. And the levels of – we have some things we can still do better. We all know that, and we’re working at it constantly. But I’m proud to say that I had, I think, more women serve as my chief of staff in the Senate, my campaign for President, any number of major efforts – Stephanie Cutter’s over here. She was my spokesperson in the campaign. (Applause.) And countless numbers of people have made the difference.

But whether it’s in the United States or in any country – and you all know this. I know I’m obviously stating the obvious, but it’s important to say it, and again and again and again, because we have a lot of places which haven’t broken through. But pushing women back, shoving them aside, holding them down, beating them up are simply not parts of an argument of any kind. Those actions are always wrong, they’re always dumb, and in some cases they’re actually criminal.

So if we’re going to sit down and compose an agenda, all of us; if you were to say, “Here are the things we need to do to try to move forward globally, country after country,” whether it’s five years from now or 25 years from now, I think you’d probably end up with a list that looks something like this. You’d talk about an economy that generates opportunity for all. You’d talk about better access to quality education from pre-K all the way up. You’d talk about urgent action on saving the planet and having enough food and having enough security, being able to avoid refugee challenges and lack of water and children dying and disease being spread, and we’d avoid it by taking action on clean energy and climate change. You’d talk for sure about healthier babies and improved child nutrition and less maternal mortality in the course of childbirth. And you would talk about lower rates of disease, crime, violence, and civil strife, and finally, a stronger sense of community, of belonging, of sharing.

So if you wanted to save time, you could just draw a line on a page and write underneath it, “Empower women,” because every single one of those things sees progress if women are in fact empowered and able to address those concerns. They’re all part of it. It’s why the State/Fortune magazine partnership actually is so meaningful, and it’s why it is helping to bring about a larger transformation that is so vital to our future.

One of my predecessors, Madeleine Albright, said there is a special place in Hell reserved for women who don’t help other women. (Applause.) But let me just build on that for a minute. The actual – the truth is we all need to help each other. And a mentoring program in which one generation gives a hand up to the next is a vital way to be able to expand leadership networks. And what we know today is that in today’s world – Rick and a group of young Foreign Service officers articulately brought this to my attention when we met to just talk about the changes in the world that we’re living in today – and they commented on how today power is not served up so much in hierarchies as it is served up in networks. Think about that: everybody connected all the time, 24/7, everywhere, but many of them powerless to be able to do anything about those connections, to be able to move on them.

So something like the Fortune Most Powerful Women Network is a critical way to pay homage to that notion of how power is in fact created. And so far, this women’s network has helped 250 emerging leaders from more than 50 countries – leaders such as Sarika Bhattacharyya, who went through the program in 2012 and is now running a nonprofit mentoring initiative for women entrepreneurs in her home country of India; or leaders such as one of last year’s participants, Florence Ozor, who returned to Nigeria to join a flourishing civil society movement to advocate for voting rights and for the safe return of girls kidnapped by terrorists.

As for the emerging women leaders who are gathered here tonight, all I can say is this is an amazingly impressive group – and I’m not sure that “emerging” is quite the right word. I think you’ve already emerged, taken off. (Laughter.) From as near as Mexico to as far away as East Asia and Africa, every single one of you are making a mark in just about every sector: trade, investment, engineering, fashion, finance, travel, human resources, the selling of cars and trucks, and the use of advanced technology to prevent that scourge of the modern world – cattle rustling. (Laughter.) That’s actually happening.

Now I don’t have to tell any of you here that – in this audience – we got a lot of work still to do to eliminate those barriers completely. I can remember when I first started in politics after I came back from Vietnam, early 1970s, one of the things we threw ourselves into was the Equal Rights Amendment. And it was pre-Roe v. Wade and pre-other things that advanced the interests of women, and we learned then how difficult it was to eliminate the barriers of bigotry and condescension and tokenism, and let’s be honest, in some cases just jealousy, that unjustly impeded the progress of women. And it look a lot of folks ready to break down those barriers and stand up and take risks – sometimes risks of livelihood – to be able to bring about those changes. We’d have to be pretty dim, though, not to recognize a trend. With us tonight are 19 very good reasons to be optimistic in a world that may at times seem broken and hurting, but which is also full – amazingly full – of exciting new opportunities and grounds for hope.

So my concluding note to you tonight is a very a simple and indeed even a personal one. As the father of two daughters, both very independent and out there in the world carving out their own careers – one a doctor and one a filmmaker; as the husband of a wife who is a powerhouse in her own right and defined her own course, I want to say thank you to every advocate, every person who is an activist, all of you, and those who are here in spirit tonight. I thank you for not accepting injustice. I thank you for not waiting when people suggested you should. I thank you for not settling for half-measures. I thank you for working so hard and for so long with such determination to bring about the day that will surely come, the day when we are able to say with confidence to any girl anywhere that she can truly expect to rise as high and go as far as her energy and her skills will take her.

Because when that day comes, there’s no question in my mind – I’ve seen it in community after community – women help make peace. Women help resolve conflict. Women usually are picking up the pieces. And if we will simply give more power in places where it should’ve been put a long time ago, then we are going to make this world reach a place it has dreamed of and needs to. Thank you. God bless. (Applause.) It’s time to eat. Thank you. (Applause.)

Friday, May 1, 2015




Breedlove: Violent Extremism In Europe Can Threaten U.S. Homeland
Washington, DC, United States

℠2015 - Commander, U.S. European Command Gen Phillip Breedlove briefed reporters at the Pentagon on the threats facing Europe.


Samantha Power
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
New York, NY
April 30, 2015

The United States strongly condemns the Syrian regime’s April 28 shelling and bombing of Yarmouk, a Palestinian refugee camp in southern Damascus, and expresses concern over today’s reports of ongoing violent clashes in the camp. The regime’s latest aerial bombardment further threatens the thousands of trapped civilians who have struggled under horrendous siege conditions for nearly two years. The military strikes also imperil humanitarian relief agencies’ ability to provide life-saving assistance to people in Yarmouk and the surrounding neighborhoods to which many Yarmouk residents have reportedly recently fled.

The Syrian regime must lift the siege of Yarmouk and allow UNRWA and other humanitarian partners immediate and unfettered access to vulnerable populations in need, both in Yarmouk and in the surrounding regime-besieged neighborhoods. All parties, including the regime, ISIL, al Nusrah and Aknaf Bait Al-Maqdis should afford safe passage to those civilians who choose to relocate temporarily; families must not be separated; and departing civilians must not be detained. The United States continues to call for independent, international monitoring of civilians’ passage to ensure it is safe and in line with international law.

Yarmouk is only one example of the conflict’s devastating impact on civilian populations. The Syrian regime’s continued siege, combined with the recent incursions by ISIL, has decimated entire neighborhoods in the camp and reflects more broadly the death, destruction and despair to which innocent Syrians have been subjected for more than four years. The international community must come together with a heightened sense of urgency to find a political solution that can end the terrible conflict.

To that end, the United States welcomes the United Nations’ efforts, under the leadership of Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura, to foster dialogue between all parties to advance conditions for a genuine political solution in line with the Geneva Communique. We also urge the United Nations to work intensively to facilitate the safe relocation of civilians who wish to leave Yarmouk.


April 30, 2015
Remarks by the President Before Signing The Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015
Oval Office
3:06 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  It is a great pleasure to welcome some outstanding legislators and advocates on behalf of an issue that should always be bipartisan, and that is making sure that we have the most energy-efficient economy in the world.

We’ve made great strides since the beginning of my administration on everything from doubling fuel-efficiency standards on cars to incentivizing smarter policies when we build buildings so that they’re not wasting as much energy.  And thanks to the leadership of folks like Senators Shaheen and Portman and Bennet, and Representative Welch, and other folks who are here, what we’ve seen is a coming together of Republicans and Democrats who are going to facilitate us being much smarter in terms of building buildings, how we use energy and, as a consequence, we’re going to save money for consumers, we’re going to save money for businesses, and we’re going to deal with issues like climate change that have an enormous economic and health impact on Americans as a whole.

So I very much appreciate the efforts of all the organizations involved here.  Senator Franken, I should have mentioned him.  He stands out.  (Laughter.)  And I just want to say how much I appreciate the outstanding efforts that have been made in both chambers and by both parties.  I hope that we can use this to build even more progress in the future, because we’ve got a lot more work to do.  There’s a lot of low-hanging fruit -- this is the area where we can have the greatest environmental impact while making sure that we’re creating good jobs and saving businesses and consumers money.  So it’s a win-win, and I very much appreciate the strong efforts that were made by everybody behind me here today.

With that, I’m going to sign this legislation.



Airstrikes Continue Against ISIL in Syria, Iraq
From a Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve News Release

SOUTHWEST ASIA, April 29, 2015 – U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.

Officials reported details of the latest strikes, which took place between 8 a.m. yesterday and 8 a.m. today, local time, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.

Airstrikes in Syria

Attack, bomber and fighter aircraft conducted five airstrikes in Syria:
-- Near Hasakah, an airstrike struck two ISIL fighting positions.

-- Near Kobani, four airstrikes struck an ISIL large and two small tactical units, destroying five ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL vehicle.

Airstrikes in Iraq

Attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 16 airstrikes in Iraq, approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense:

-- Near Asad, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL heavy machine gun.

-- Near Huwayjah, five airstrikes struck three ISIL staging areas and an ISIL tactical unit, destroying two ISIL vehicle-borne bombs and an ISIL vehicle.

-- Near Beiji, five airstrikes struck five ISIL tactical units, destroying four ISIL vehicles, an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL warehouse.

-- Near Fallujah, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL trench complex.

-- Near Mosul, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL excavator.

-- Near Ramadi, an airstrike destroyed three ISIL tanker trucks.

-- Near Tal Afar, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying an ISIL crane, an ISIL weapons cache and an ISIL vehicle.

Part of Operation Inherent Resolve

The strikes were conducted as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to eliminate the ISIL terrorist group and the threat they pose to Iraq, Syria, the region, and the wider international community. The destruction of ISIL targets in Syria and Iraq further limits the terrorist group's ability to project terror and conduct operations.

Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Iraq include the United States, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Jordan, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Syria include the United States, Bahrain, Canada, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.


Scientists map sustainability challenges in Baja California Sur fisheries

Conduct review of ecological and social data for 12 regions around Baja
The waters surrounding Baja California Sur are teeming with fish. They're also favorite locales for fishers in pursuit of a living.

But like cross-currents in the ocean, the needs of humans and fish meet--and often clash--in this deep blue sea.

In results published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), scientists assessed marine sustainability in the Baja California Sur region by applying a framework that accounts for both ecological and human dimensions of environmental stewardship.

The resulting maps, the researchers say, are mosaics of regional sustainability outlooks with the potential to guide environmental policy.

The maps, according to lead PNAS paper author Heather Leslie of Brown University in Providence, R.I., show regional strengths and weaknesses that can help guide fishers, conservationists and other decision-makers as they consider steps to preserve the peninsula's coastal marine ecosystems.

"This framework enabled us to integrate many different types of data related to coupled human-environment systems," says Leslie.

"We were able to be more comprehensive in our analysis than we would have otherwise--for example, if we had focused solely on the data closest to our individual disciplines."

Dozen regions near Baja California Sur profiled

Leslie and the team--which included anthropologists, economists, ecologists, fisheries scientists, geographers and other social scientists--gathered data on 13 ecological and social variables for each of 12 regions around Baja California Sur.

They developed a profile of sustainability potential for each region in four "dimensions": social governance systems and actors, and ecological resource units and resource systems.

What became clear, says Leslie, is that each region's profile is different, suggesting that the most effective policies to achieve sustainability will be those tailored to shore up each area's weaknesses without undermining its strengths.

"More than one billion people worldwide rely on fish and other seafood as their primary source of nutrition, yet coastal resources are often poorly understood and at risk of long-term decline," says Sarah Ruth, a program director for the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems (CNH) Program, which funded the research.

"Fisheries involve people and coastal ecosystems interacting with one another in myriad ways," says Ruth. "This work increases our understanding of these complex systems, and ultimately will help us manage marine resources in a more sustainable way."

Magdalena Bay and Todos Santos: A tale of two regions

Take, for example, stories the researchers' maps illustrate about the Pacific coast regions of Magadalena Bay and Todos Santos. If Baja California Sur is a leg, then Magdalena Bay would be the knee and Todos Santos the front of the ankle.

In Magdalena Bay, fisheries are diverse and productive. But the area is also crowded with fishers who use different kinds of gear and don't necessarily all follow the same locally developed rules, Leslie says.

While the ecological foundation there for sustainability looks good, the social dimensions are considerably less promising, the scientists found.

"Depending on which type of data one musters regarding the potential for sustainable fisheries, Magdalena Bay could be scored as either well-endowed or quite weak," write the paper authors, which also include Xavier Basurto of Duke University and Octavio Aburto-Ooropeza of the University of California, San Diego.

In Todos Santos, local-scale fisheries institutions are strong. There is cooperation and compliance among fishers, based on the social science surveys the researchers conducted.

But the nearshore ocean is less productive and yields fewer fish species than Magdalena Bay, just 150 miles to the north.

While not far geographically, the regions are opposites in their social and ecological profiles, says Leslie.

In Magdalena Bay, the most productive strategy might be to cultivate stronger local institutions, Leslie says. In Todos Santos, maintaining existing local institutional strength might make more sense.

Are there fundamental trade-offs?

The diversity of regional strengths and weaknesses shown in the maps is borne out statistically.

The researchers looked for correlations among the four dimensions across Baja California Sur, but found few.

"Does something like this represent fundamental trade-offs?" Leslie asks. "What we found suggests that it does. There's nowhere that does well in every dimension."

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Brown University's Environmental Change Initiative and Voss Environmental Fellowship Program, and other organizations also funded the research.

-- Cheryl Dybas, NSF
-- David Orenstein, Brown University
Heather Leslie
Sriniketh Nagavarapu
Related Institutions/Organizations
Brown University



Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
U.S. Citizen Pleads Guilty in Connection with Internationally Based Business Opportunity Fraud Ventures

A U.S. citizen charged in connection with the operation of a series of fraudulent business opportunities based in Costa Rica pleaded guilty today in Miami, the Justice Department announced.

John White was charged in a Nov. 29, 2011, indictment in the Southern District of Florida with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud as well as mail fraud and wire fraud counts.  White was arrested on Feb. 9, 2012, in Costa Rica pursuant to the indictment, and extradited to the United States on Feb. 11.  As part of his guilty plea to the conspiracy charge, White, also known as Gregory Garrett, admitted that he and his co-conspirators fraudulently sold beverage and greeting card business opportunities to victims in the United States.

The case against White is part of the government’s continued nationwide crackdown on business opportunity fraud.  In addition to White, 11 other defendants have been charged in connection with related business opportunity fraud ventures that operated in Costa Rica.  Nine of those other defendants have been convicted in the United States with sentences ranging from three to 16 years in prison.  Two remaining defendants are not yet in the custody of the United States.

“Business opportunity schemes target innocent victims who simply want to work for the American dream,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “We will continue to prosecute those who commit fraud and take advantage of those seeking to start a new business.”

As part of his guilty plea, White admitted that from 2005 to 2008, he and his co-conspirators fraudulently induced purchasers in the United States to buy business opportunities in USA Beverages Inc., Twin Peaks Gourmet Coffee Inc., Cards-R-Us Inc., Premier Cards Inc. and The Coffee Man Inc.  White and his co-conspirators claimed that these opportunities would allow purchasers to sell coffee and greeting cards from display racks located at other retail establishments.  The business opportunities cost thousands of dollars each and most purchasers paid at least $10,000.  Each company operated for several months and after one company closed, the next opened.

White admitted that the conspiracy used various means to make it appear to potential purchasers that the businesses were located entirely in the United States.  The companies used bank accounts, office space and other services in the Southern District of Florida and elsewhere.  In reality, White and his co-conspirators operated out of call centers in Costa Rica.

White admitted that he and his co-conspirators made numerous false statements to potential purchasers of the business opportunities, including that purchasers likely would earn substantial profits; that prior purchasers of the business opportunities were earning substantial profits; that purchasers would sell a guaranteed minimum amount of merchandise, such as greeting cards and beverages; and that the business opportunity worked with locators familiar with the potential purchaser’s area who would secure or had already secured high-traffic locations for the potential purchaser’s merchandise stands.  Potential purchasers also were falsely told that the profits of the companies were based in part on the profits of the business opportunity purchasers, thus creating the false impression that the companies had a stake in the purchasers’ success and in finding good locations.

As alleged in the indictment against White and others, the companies employed various types of sales representatives, including fronters, closers and references.  A fronter spoke to potential purchasers when the prospective purchasers initially contacted the company in response to an advertisement.  A closer subsequently spoke to potential purchasers to close deals.  References spoke to potential purchasers about the financial success they purportedly had experienced since purchasing one of the business opportunities.  The companies also employed locators, who were typically characterized by the sales representatives as third parties who worked with the companies to find high-traffic locations for the prospective purchaser’s merchandise display racks.  White admitted that he worked as a fronter and reference using assumed names.

White faces a statutory maximum sentence of 25 years in prison, a fine and mandatory restitution on the conspiracy count.  U.S. District Court Judge Patricia A. Seitz set a sentencing hearing for Aug. 5 at 10 a.m., at the federal courthouse in Miami.

“This international and domestic investigation shows the Postal Inspection Service’s resolve to protect Americans from business opportunity scams,” said Postal Inspector in Charge Ronald J. Verrochio of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) Miami Division.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Mizer commended the investigative efforts of USPIS.  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Alan Phelps of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch.

Thursday, April 30, 2015


Outbreak of Human Pneumonic Plague with Dog-to-Human and Possible Human-to-Human Transmission — Colorado, June–July 2014

This outbreak highlights 1) the need to consider plague in the differential diagnosis of sick domestic animals from plague endemic areas, including dogs, 2) the limitations of automated diagnostic systems for identifying rare bacteria such as Yersinia pestis, and 3) the potential for milder forms of illness in patients taking antimicrobial agents. Hospital laboratories in plague-endemic areas should be aware of the limitations of current diagnostic methodologies in diagnosing rare diseases such as plague. In July 2014, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Laboratory identified Yersinia pestis in a blood sample collected from a middle-aged man hospitalized with pneumonia. An investigation led by Tri-County Health Department revealed that the man’s dog had been ill and was euthanized. The dog later tested positive for Y. pestis. Three additional persons with contact with the dog and/or patient were ill and tested positive for Y. pestis. One of the cases may have resulted through person-to-person transmission from the index patient, potentially the first such event in North America since 1924. Human illness due to plague remains an ongoing risk in endemic areas. Early recognition of plague, especially the pneumonic form, is critical to clinical management and a timely public health response.


National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice
Remarks at the Arab American Institute’s Annual Kahlil Gibran Gala
Washington, D.C.
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
As Prepared

Good evening everyone. It’s wonderful to be back at the Kahlil Gibran Gala. I had the honor of attending five years ago, when I wished the Arab American Institute a happy 25th anniversary. Tonight, I’m proud to extend my best wishes in honor of your 30th year. Should I look forward to seeing you again in 2020?

Thank you, Jim, for that wonderful introduction. Jim is a dear friend, and I have always admired your commitment to our founding ideals—that everyone is equal, that every voice matters. You and I share the belief that America’s limitless diversity is a source of profound national strength.

That’s the ethos behind AAI. We need to hear Arab-American voices and concerns just as we need to hear from every American—regardless of heritage or faith; gender, race, or sexual orientation. And, it’s up to all of us to push back against the hatred and ignorance that are so damaging to our country and our world. So, thank you, AAI, for your leadership representing this proud and vital community. Let me also add my congratulations to tonight’s honorees for the enormous good you do as advocates and educators.

Arab Americans have been at the forefront of advancing our national security and our shared domestic interests for more than a century. They serve with dedication across our armed forces, many making the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Leading diplomats and politicians and public servants of Arab descent, including many here tonight, work tirelessly to make our world a more peaceful place. Thank you for what you do.

As a country, in the 30 years since AAI was founded we’ve come a long way. You’ve led the way to overcome barriers of exclusion and intolerance, and to make sure Arab Americans are full participants in our democracy. You’ve helped shape our government’s response on a range of civil rights and civil liberties issues, leading coalitions to ensure all ethnic and religious minorities receive equal protection under the law. And, I’m so proud that AAI is supporting the next generation of Arab-American leaders who will continue to strengthen our country.

Leaders like Sherin Nassar. Sherin’s double majoring in International Affairs and Economics at George Washington University with a plan to join the Foreign Service after college. Ever since high school, she’s dedicated herself to helping others—volunteering hundreds of hours with Habitat for Humanity. This year, she used her winter break to help build a school in Nicaragua. This summer, she’s heading to China to help rural children learn English. And, at GW, she’s worked in student government to expand accessibility for her classmates with disabilities. Thank you, Sherin, for your commitment to others.

Leaders like Ahmad Abuznaid. Ahmad was born in East Jerusalem, and his Arab-American heritage sparked in him a lifelong passion for social justice. After graduating from law school, rather than pursuing a corporate job, he co-founded The Dream Defenders, a group dedicated to changing the culture that marginalizes minority communities and to training young people of color to be our future leaders. He’s helped lead non-violent protests and advocated for important policy changes.  He’s even testified before the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights. So thank you, Ahmad, for taking on big challenges.

Sherin and Ahmad—like all of this year’s award winners—capture the spirit of humanity we celebrate tonight. Unfortunately, as we know too well, there are those in the world who choose violence over working for peaceful change, and many of today’s biggest challenges come together in the Middle East. So, let me briefly touch on some of the ways we are responding to current crises and working to improve security in the region.

First, we continue to believe that a comprehensive peace between Israelis and Palestinians is necessary, just, and possible. The United States remains firmly committed to an independent, viable, and contiguous Palestinian state living alongside a democratic, Jewish State of Israel in peace and security. President Obama has made clear that we need to take a hard look at our approach to the conflict, and that resolving it is in the national security interest of the United States. We look to the next Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority to demonstrate—through policies and actions—a genuine commitment to a two-state solution.

We know what a peace agreement should look like—Israel and an independent Palestine both need secure and recognized borders, based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps. There must be robust provisions for Israel’s security. The occupation must end, and the Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves in their own sovereign state. That’s why, like every U.S. administration since 1967, we have opposed Israeli settlement activity and efforts to change facts on the ground. It only makes it harder to negotiate peace in good faith.

We’re also working to address the lasting impact and human toll of last summer’s conflict in Gaza. Incremental progress has been made, but we must accelerate reconstruction efforts and address core challenges to Gaza’s future, including reinvigorating Gaza’s connection with the West Bank and reestablishing strong commercial links with Israel and the global economy.

Second, we’ve assembled a coalition of more than 60 partners to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL. Together, we’ve conducted more than 3,500 airstrikes in both Iraq and Syria, damaging or destroying upwards of 5,700 ISIL targets. ISIL has lost control of 25 to 30 percent of the populated areas it had seized in Iraq. We are also working closely with our Iraqi partners to stabilize and rebuild the country, making sure that local populations can return and live safely in areas liberated from ISIL.

In Syria, we’ve made some progress slowing, and in some cases reversing, ISIL’s advance. But, we won’t be able to fully root out ISIL—and the Syrian people will continue to suffer—as long as the war in Syria persists. As we have long said, there is no military solution to this conflict. Secretary Kerry and his team all throughout the Administration have tirelessly pursued a negotiated political transition, and we will continue to do so. But, the Syrian people need help now. That’s why the United States has committed more than $3.5 billion in humanitarian funding—more than any other country—to help ease the terrible suffering of the Syrian people.

We’re also supporting the surrounding countries who are confronting massive challenges hosting Syrian refugees. There are more than 1.2 million Syrians just in Lebanon. To date, we’ve provided nearly $800 million in humanitarian assistance to aid Syrians living in Lebanon and to support Lebanese host communities with essential services such as emergency food supplies, clean water, and health care.

As in Syria, there is no military solution to the crisis in Yemen, and the humanitarian situation will only worsen if the conflict continues. We’re working with all parties to end the violence so that U.N.-led political negotiations can resume promptly and humanitarian access can be restored. We’re also closely monitoring the safety of U.S. citizens in Yemen, including offering opportunities for evacuation.

Finally, even as we’re facing difficult challenges, we’re strengthening our vital relationships in the region. In a few weeks, President Obama will welcome the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries to Camp David to reaffirm our strong partnership, improve our security cooperation, and discuss how we can work together to end the region’s conflicts.

And, as you know, together with our P5+1 partners, we recently reached a political framework for Iran’s nuclear program. This is a good deal that, if finalized and implemented, will address a serious threat to the United States, the region, and the entire world.  But, I want to be clear that, if there is a deal, it does not mean we will cease to confront Iran’s destabilizing role in the region. Rather, we would be ensuring that Iran cannot become an even more destructive force by gaining a nuclear weapon.

There are no quick fixes. But, the United States is committed to working with our partners to do everything we can to promote greater security, prosperity, and dignity throughout the Middle East.

In the past year, I’ve had the privilege to meet with college students getting a world-class education at NYU’s campus in Abu Dhabi. I met with Palestinian youth in Ramallah, eager to build a more hopeful future for their people. And, I hosted the Peace Players, a group of Israeli and Palestinian teens, boys and girls, who use basketball to bridge political differences for a pickup game on the White House court. These young people are no different from Sherin and Ahmad. They have big dreams and bold ideas. They are a powerful testament to our common humanity. And, for their sake—for all the children of the region who deserve a bright future—we will continue to push forward. As we do, we ask for your continued partnership, support, and friendship.

Thank you so much.





Company Agrees to Pay $2.5 Million Criminal Fine

WASHINGTON — Yamada Manufacturing Co. Ltd. has agreed to plead guilty and to pay a $2.5 million criminal fine for its role in a conspiracy to fix prices and rig bids for manual (non-electric or non-hydraulic-powered) steering columns installed in cars sold in the United States and elsewhere, the Department of Justice announced today.

According to a one-count felony charge filed today in U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Ohio in Cincinnati, Yamada Manufacturing, based in Kiryu City, Gunma Prefecture, Japan, conspired to rig bids and fix prices of steering columns sold to certain subsidiaries of Honda Motor Co. Ltd. in the United States and elsewhere.  According to the charge, Yamada carried out the conspiracy from at least as early as the fall of 2007 and continuing until as late as September 2012.  Yamada Manufacturing has agreed to cooperate in the department’s ongoing investigation. The plea agreement is subject to court approval.

“Yamada’s collusion deprived Honda and its U.S. customers the benefits of freely set prices for manual steering columns, a simple but necessary auto part,” said Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.  “Companies that conspire to undermine competition and harm U.S. consumers will continue to be held accountable for their crimes.”

According to the charge, Yamada Manufacturing, and others participating in the scheme, conspired through a meeting and conversations in which they discussed and agreed upon bids and price quotations to be submitted to Honda.  Based on those discussions, Yamada Manufacturing and its co-conspirators sold steering columns to Honda at collusive and non-competitive prices and employed measures to keep their conduct secret.

Including Yamada Manufacturing, 35 companies and 29 executives have pleaded guilty or agreed to plead guilty in the division’s ongoing investigation into price fixing and bid rigging in the auto parts industry and have agreed to pay a total of more than $2.5 billion in criminal fines.

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

The charges are the result of an ongoing federal antitrust investigation into price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct in the automotive parts industry, which is being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s criminal enforcement sections and the FBI.  Today’s charges were brought by the Antitrust Division’s Chicago Office and the FBI’s Cincinnati Field Office with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio.


Microneedle Patch for Measles Vaccination Could Be a Game Changer
Promises to Increase Reach of Immunization Coverage Globally

A new microneedle patch being developed by the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) could make it easier to vaccinate people against measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases.

The microneedle patch is designed to be administered by minimally trained workers and to simplify storage, distribution, and disposal compared with conventional vaccines.
The microneedle patch under development measures about a square centimeter and is administered with the press of a thumb. The underside of the patch is lined with 100 solid, conical microneedles made of polymer, sugar, and vaccine that are a fraction of a millimeter long. When the patch is applied, the microneedles press into the upper layers of the skin; they dissolve within a few minutes, releasing the vaccine. The patch can then be discarded.
“Each day, 400 children are killed by measles complications worldwide. With no needles, syringes, sterile water or sharps disposals needed, the microneedle patch offers great hope of a new tool to reach the world’s children faster, even in the most remote areas,” said James Goodson, Ph.D., epidemiologist from the CDC’s Global Immunization Division. “This advancement would be a major boost in our efforts to eliminate this disease, with more vaccines administered and more lives saved at less cost.

Getting the measles vaccine to remote areas is expected to be easier because the patch is more stable at varying temperatures than the currently available vaccines and takes up less space than the standard vaccine. Because microneedles dissolve in the skin, there is no disposal of needles, reducing the risk of accidental needlesticks. The measles patch is expected be manufactured at a cost comparable to the currently available needle and syringe vaccine.

Twenty million people are affected by measles each year. Unfortunately, global coverage with the measles vaccine has been stagnant for the last few years at around 85 percent, which is well below the coverage of up to 95 percent needed to interrupt transmission of the disease.

Because measles is vaccine-preventable and the measles virus survives only in human hosts, the world’s health officials are aiming for measles elimination. Having a simple patch administered by minimally trained vaccinators could help increase vaccination coverage and achieve the goal of measles elimination.



Right:  A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter from the U.S. Army Europe's 12th Combat Aviation Brigade cruises over Budapest, Hungary, during Exercise Saker Falcon in April 2014. Defense Department officials have announced a restructuring of the brigade and subordinate units in Germany as part of the Army's Aviation Restructuring Initiative in Europe. U.S. Embassy Budapest photo by A. Reategui.  

DoD to Restructure U.S. Aviation Brigade in Germany
By Cheryl Pellerin
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, April 29, 2015 – The Defense Department will restructure the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade and subordinate units in Germany as part of the Army's Aviation Restructuring Initiative in Europe, defense officials said today in a statement.

The 12th CAB restructuring will reduce the U.S. presence in Germany by about 1,900 military positions and an estimated 2,850 family members, officials said.
The department will maintain aviation capabilities in Germany using a continuous rotation to augment the remaining aviation assets and personnel, officials said, and will augment aviation assets further if surge capabilities are needed.

The Army will provide a rotational presence of an aviation battalion task force, two medevac teams and an air traffic service company to complement the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, they added.

Operation Atlantic Resolve

The units rotating to Europe will support Operation Atlantic Resolve and major training exercises in central and eastern Europe and in Germany.

In the near term, the defense officials said, three local national employee positions will be reduced. Long-term impacts on local national employment won’t be clear until the restructuring is complete, they added.
Carter and von der Leyen

In a telephone call with German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen today, Defense Secretary Ash Carter outlined the restructure as part of the Army's Aviation Restructuring Initiative in Europe and discussed the Army's plan for rotational forces to complement the brigade, officials said in a separate statement summarizing the call.

Carter and von der Leyen vowed to remain closely connected throughout the restructure process, the statement said, and they expressed mutual appreciation for the strong military relationship between the United States and Germany.
Both leaders said they look forward to meeting again in Europe, officials said.


SEC Proposes Rules to Require Companies to Disclose the Relationship Between Executive Pay and a Company’s Financial Performance
04/29/2015 03:46 PM EDT

The Securities and Exchange Commission today voted to propose rules to require companies to disclose the relationship between executive compensation and the financial performance of a company.  The proposed rules, which would implement a requirement mandated by the Dodd-Frank Act, would provide greater transparency and allow shareholders to be better informed when they vote to elect directors and in connection with advisory votes on executive compensation.

“These proposed rules would better inform shareholders and give them a new metric for assessing a company’s executive compensation relative to its financial performance,” said SEC Chair Mary Jo White.  “The proposal would require enhanced disclosure that can be compared across companies.”

The proposed rule would require a company to disclose executive pay and performance information for itself and companies in a peer group in a table and to tag the information in an interactive data format.  A company would be required to disclose executive compensation actually paid for its principal executive officer using the amount already disclosed in the summary compensation table required in the proxy statement, making adjustments to the amounts included for pensions and equity awards.  The amount disclosed for the remaining executive officers would be the average compensation actually paid to those executives.  As the measure of performance, a company would also be required to report its total shareholder return (TSR) and the TSR of companies in a peer group.

All companies would be required to disclose the information for the last five fiscal years, except for smaller reporting companies, which would only be required to provide disclosure for the last three fiscal years.  The proposed rules provide phase-in periods for these requirements.

The comment period for the proposed rules will be 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.


State Department Partners With California Highway Patrol To Provide Expertise to Ukraine's
New Patrol Police Force
Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
April 28, 2015

Marking the first overseas deployment by the California Highway Patrol (CHP) under formal partnership with the U.S. Department of State, the CHP recently collaborated with the Ukrainian Ministry of Interior Affairs (MOI) on a four-week training session for 30 Ukrainian law enforcement officers. The Ukrainian officers will be responsible for training cadets for Ukraine’s brand new Patrol Police, a key component of Ukraine’s ongoing reform efforts. This CHP training program was sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL).

During the training in Kyiv, CHP’s four officers provided tactical patrol training, technical expertise, and mentoring, covering a wide variety of subjects, including car stops, handcuffing, and defending against attacks. The Ukrainian course graduates are now certified to instruct incoming classes of recruits for the newly established Ukrainian Patrol Police. More than 11,000 Ukrainians have applied to join the Patrol Police, and nearly 30% of the applicants are women. The first Patrol Police force of approximately 2,000 officers will report for duty in Kyiv in June.

Through this project, INL supports the Ukrainian MOI’s effort to transform the relationship between citizens and police by creating a meritocratic police force focused on protecting and serving the public. The Patrol Police, which is being launched first in Kyiv and then rolled out nationwide, will replace the unpopular traffic police and is seen as a step towards combating police corruption. This is the MOI’s top reform priority and is a direct response to the demands of the people of Ukraine.


April 29, 2015
Statement by the President on the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Dachau

On this day, we remember when American forces liberated Dachau 70 years ago, dismantling the first concentration camp established by the Nazi regime.  Dachau is a lesson in the evolution of darkness, how unchecked intolerance and hatred spiral out of control.

From its sinister inception in 1933, Dachau held political prisoners – opponents of the Third Reich.  It became the prototype for Nazi concentration camps and the training ground for Schutzstaffel (SS) camp guards.  As the seed of Nazi evil grew, the camp swelled with thousands of others across Europe targeted by the Nazis, including Jews, other religious sects, Sinti, Roma, LGBT persons, the disabled, and those deemed asocial.

Our hearts are heavy in remembrance of the more than 40,000 individuals from every walk of life who died, and the more than 200,000 who suffered at Dachau.  As we reflect on the anniversary of Dachau’s liberation, we draw inspiration from, and recall with gratitude, the sacrifices of so many Americans – in particular our brave soldiers – to win victory over oppression.  Drawing from the words of Captain Timothy Brennan, who wrote to his wife and child after liberating the camp - “You cannot imagine that such things exist in a civilized world” – we fervently vow that such atrocities will never happen again.  History will not repeat itself.


Making Progress: US Prevention of Mass Atrocities
Sarah Sewall
Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights
Chicago Council on Global Affairs
Chicago, IL
April 24, 2015

Thank you very much, Ambassador Daalder, for your warm welcome to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. You are certainly missed at the State Department. I join you this afternoon to mark the third anniversary of the Atrocities Prevention Board, but first I have to applaud you and your team for the Council’s commitment to educating the public about the important global challenges that we face and strengthening the public discourse about U.S. foreign policy. Thank you.

Three years ago yesterday, President Obama announced that mass atrocities prevention is both a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility. The President committed the United States to becoming a global leader in preventing large-scale violence against civilians worldwide, but he made clear that the U.S. cannot and should not intervene militarily every time there is an injustice or an imminent atrocities threat. Instead he called for the U.S. government to use its full arsenal of tools - diplomatic, political, financial, intelligence, and law enforcement - to prevent these terrible crimes.

As one such tool, the President established the Atrocities Prevention Board, referred to in government-speak as the APB, to put this prevention approach into practice. This interagency forum serves a horizon-scanning function by identifying atrocity risks by looking at early warning indicators and bringing together senior officials from across the executive branch to develop coordinated, whole-of-government responses to mitigate them.

The Atrocities Prevention Board speeds up the cogs of our government’s bureaucracy by bringing attention to at-risk cases within the interagency policy process. To be clear, the APB was never envisioned as the singular solution to mass killings, nor is it meant to replace the work we are already engaged in to address atrocities. Rather, its role is to prompt coordination among the larger U.S. national security apparatus to better address these problems early on by recognizing warning signs. The APB’s comparative advantage, then, is focusing on potential or ongoing violence that might escape attention in existing policy fora rather than expending its energy focusing on cases where threats to civilians – such as Assad’s brutalities against the Syrian people – are well-recognized and are the subject of extensive work in regionally-focused policy discussions. This early warning, preventive approach gives the U.S. government additional reaction time to plan and implement appropriate de-escalation interventions. Another benefit of this whole-of-government approach is that when threats emerge, the APB can marshal attention, technical expertise, and occasionally financial resources from across the government to better support our embassy-led responses on the ground.

On this third anniversary of the APB, we are invigorated by the U.S. government’s progress in further highlighting atrocities prevention into the foreign policy process and institutionalizing the capabilities, analysis, and expertise that is needed to do prevention work.

Since becoming Under Secretary for Civilian Security, I’ve worked to strengthen the State Department’s internal response to the threat of mass atrocities and to build a closer relationship with our prevention partner, the U.S. Agency for International Development. I have also redirected the focus of State’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO), to provide dedicated expertise and a formal analysis, planning, and coordinating role in support of APB priorities. As the new hub for State’s atrocities prevention work, the bureau works with USAID to produce assessments of the drivers of conflict in a targeted set of countries as well as corresponding risk assessments. This new analytical atrocities assessment framework allows CSO to work with the Department’s regional bureaus to develop evidence-based, civilian-focused intervention options, including diplomatic, programmatic, multilateral, and economic efforts. CSO is also developing a growing collection of best practices that are informing more targeted, effective government responses.

The APB has also formalized and increased our coordination efforts. At the State Department, we’ve established an Anti-Atrocities Coordination Group to help facilitate State’s work in at-risk countries, engage with regional experts who know the political, regional, and sub-national dynamics best, and help chart the course for institutionalizing the necessary atrocity prevention tools within the normal State processes. Finally, we continue to coordinate with our embassies on atrocity prevention work. Frontline officers are often the first to detect and report on emerging atrocity risks, and chiefs of mission can request that the APB conduct risk analysis of their host countries as well as identify appropriate interventions to mitigate the risk.

Let me provide some examples to illustrate how the U.S. Government identifies and responds to risks of extreme violence. When the Department’s atrocities watchers grew concerned about escalating tensions in Burundi, they sounded the alarm. This concern immediately initiated the APB process, elevating the level of attention on the threat. The State Department and USAID put together an interagency team from both the regional and functional parts of the government to conduct a thorough analysis of risks for violence, which led to a broad diplomatic engagement and programmatic strategy that was operationalized by our embassy in Bujumbura. The APB process also galvanized over $7 million in State and USAID funds to address the risks identified in the assessment through creative programming. For instance, the USG-financed projects provide conflict resolution training for community leaders, support a saving and lending program to improve economic opportunities for vulnerable youth, and empower civil society partners to monitor hate speech. With this additional funding, the Department was also able to deploy a prevention advisor to support the embassy in advance of Burundi’s upcoming national elections beginning in May. By sounding the alarm early and laying the groundwork two years ago, we are now in a much better position to monitor and respond to the worrying signs of political tension that are coming to the surface in Burundi. Let me be clear, we remain deeply concerned about the rising tensions, and the international community and the region must be vigilant as we urge President Nkurunziza to respect of the two term limit provision the Arusha Accords and continue to press for credible, peaceful elections. We continue to call on all parties in Burundi to play a peaceful role in this electoral process and refrain from violence. We have warned anyone who might be considering violence that they will not be welcome in the United States and that, as appropriate, we will deny visas to anyone who orders, plans, or participates in acts of violence. We will continue to monitor the situation in Burundi closely in the coming days and weeks and take steps to prevent, mitigate, and address violence.

Let’s also look at the Central African Republic. When violence quickly escalated in that African nation in December 2013, the Board’s atrocity prevention experts worked hand in hand with our regional bureaus as senior leaders from across government identified key interventions, including from DOD, USAID, and State. Together, over the last two years, we provided over $100 million in peacekeeping and security assistance and over $30 million in funding for conflict mitigation, reconciliation, justice and accountability, and governance. This has funded everything from community and grassroots peace and reconciliation programs to the purchase of vehicles and other equipment desperately needed by peace keeping forces. This is in addition to the $452 million we have provided in assessed funds to the UN for the UN peacekeeping mission (MINUSCA). With 2.5 million people – over half the country’s population – in dire need of humanitarian assistance, we have also provided almost $200 million in critical aid, saving thousands of lives. And we have married funding with increased diplomatic and public engagement, including naming a Special Representative and transmitting a peace message recorded by President Obama on local radio stations throughout the country at the height of the crisis.

Another example of this Administration’s commitment to atrocity prevention is US support for the counter-Lord’s Resistance Army mission in the central Africa region that has led to dramatic results in protecting civilians from LRA atrocities. Over the past three years, the Ugandan-led African Union Regional Task Force – with Defense Department logistics and support from US Special Operations Forces and State civilian liaisons – has removed three of the LRA’s top five most senior and notorious commanders from the battlefield. The United States worked with leaders from the Task Force’s member countries to ensure that LRA number-two commander Dominic Ongwen, who was transferred to the International Criminal Court in January, faced justice, and we continue to offer up to $5 million in rewards for information leading to the arrest, transfer, or conviction of LRA leader Joseph Kony. During that time, defections and releases from the LRA have significantly increased, with more than 250 individuals putting down their arms and leaving the LRA, and the number of people killed by the LRA has dropped by over 75 percent. According to the U.N., the number of people displaced by the LRA decreased from approximately 400,000 one year ago to roughly 160,000 in 2014, the lowest number in a decade.

Obviously, the USG has been focused on countering the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) by building a strong multilateral coalition to address the spreading threat as it grew in Syria and then Iraq. In this case, the APB did not need to play a role in raising awareness of ISIL’s atrocities; instead, it was able to play a value-added role by focusing attention on particular cases, helping to prompt swift action. For example, when ISIL drove tens of thousands of members of the Iraqi Yazidi religious minority from their homes last year, the APB again helped ensure a swift USG response by working with our Embassy and consulates in Iraq along with the State Department’s Religious Freedom Office to collect credible information. This information helped inform the U.S. decision to launch strikes that degraded ISIL’s capabilities and gave the local Kurdish military forces enough momentum to break the siege and free the Yazidis from Mount Sinjar.

We recently registered another achievement in advancing a preventive approach to mass atrocities - this time in Nigeria, which conducted a largely peaceful election last month. The US government has long been focused on preventing violence in Nigeria, and the APB worked to complement that focus by spurring contingency planning and advocating for more of an atrocity prevention focus into the normal interagency policy processes. To prevent the violence that left over 800 dead after the 2011 national vote, the APB provided support for the implementation of the USG’s election assistance strategy for Nigeria, contributing to and enhancing multiple USG agencies’ efforts to prevent violence and ensure transparency and credibility more than a year in advance of the election. And while there were dozens killed during this election, which is too many still, there was a dramatic decrease in violence – a decrease many attribute to increased transparency, credibility, and a democratic transfer of power. The APB also helped galvanize the interagency to more effectively address the horrific atrocities being committed by the violent extremist group, Boko Haram, identifying gaps in the regional governments’ security approach, finding some new resources, and developing programs to strengthen the region’s and local communities’ capacity to respond. For example, the APB has contributed to ongoing efforts by the USG to work with the governments of Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Benin to support their cooperative efforts to take on Boko Haram, which may eventually include a Multinational Joint Task Force to better coordinate these efforts, while at the same time supporting local communities and law enforcement efforts that address the root causes of the insurgency. In northeast Nigeria, USAID has launched an initiative to improve stability and strengthen democratic institutions. The program focuses on strengthening links between local government, civil society, and communities to mitigate and prevent conflict, increasing access to credible information, and reducing youth vulnerability to violent extremist influences. We are encouraged by the commitment of Nigeria’s President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, to tackle the Boko Haram threat.

In addition to amplify our prevention efforts, we are also seeking to encourage like-minded partners to adopt a similar approach. I recently led a group of State and USAID officials to meet with UN interlocutors who oversee issues of atrocity prevention, which resulted in a collaborative dialogue that I intend to regularize. We are also further highlighting mass atrocities prevention in ongoing bilateral and multilateral diplomatic discussions, such as the U.S.-EU Civilian Security and Development Dialogue.

Despite its important achievements and the President’s commitment to elevating atrocity prevention as a U.S. foreign policy priority, challenges remain. Chief among these are resource constraints. While APB meetings do not require funding, effective prevention tools do depend on resources, particularly sources of funding that can be accessed and mobilized swiftly. While we have sometimes succeeded in marshaling funding to respond to an escalating crisis, in this constrained budget environment, we often see prevention needs that we are unable to meet before the crisis escalates. In a world of proliferating crises and limited resources, prevention work is more critical than ever.

Some observers have expressed dissatisfaction with the Obama Administration’s commitment to preventing mass atrocities across the globe. I understand their perspective. The APB has not halted violence worldwide; in its three years of existence, it has not protected every civilian from governments, insurgents and terrorists. As imperfect as our current efforts are, they represent undeniable progress – both in further prioritizing atrocity prevention and in delivering concrete results. On the APB’s third anniversary, we are certainly closer to realizing the President’s intent that the United States government embraces the mission of preventing mass atrocities. It is my hope that three years from now, the United States will have made its tools, resources, and actions even more effective in preventing mass violence against civilians.

President Obama took a bold step by elevating concern about mass atrocities as a foreign policy priority. Atrocity prevention, he said, is not just a matter of values and a moral responsibility but also a core national security interest. The President acknowledged that “It can be tempting to throw up our hands and resign ourselves to man’s endless capacity for cruelty,” but he reminded us that Elie Wiesel and other holocaust survivors chose never to give up. Nor can the United States of America.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


Remarks With EU High Representative Federica Mogherini
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
April 29, 2015

SECRETARY KERRY: Good morning, everybody. I am pleased to welcome the EU High Representative, Federica Mogherini, who is a key player in any number of priorities that we are engaged in right now, and a good friend. And I’m very, very appreciative for her contributions on any number of things that we’re working on. First of all, she is facilitating on behalf of the EU and the UN our meetings when we gather to try to work through the Iran nuclear negotiations. Perhaps more importantly immediately in terms of the challenges that we face, we are working together on Libya, which is at a critical moment where we believe that diplomacy is really being put to the test. And the EU, with the migrant situation, is particularly seized of this issue. And I appreciate Federica’s leadership and efforts to try to help galvanize some kind of diplomatic conference/meeting that can create a government under the UN mandate and begin to provide the stability that the people of Libya deserve and that the region needs in significant ways right now.

In addition, we are coordinating on the Mideast; we are coordinating with respect to Syria, humanitarian issues. We have the challenges, of course, of Ukraine. And here the EU is again critical to the sanctions regime that is essential to helping to impress on Russia the need to fully implement the Minsk agreements. There are some very important choices coming up in the next months regarding the continuation of the sanctions regime. It’s a critical moment for Russia to help implement that agreement fully. Right now there appear to be different views as to what the interpretation of the political requirements are. So we will be very engaged with the EU in working going forward with respect to the Minsk implementation.

So as you can see, with Yemen, with other issues, there is no end to the need for major EU-U.S. and other country coordination, and we’re very grateful to Federica for her leadership and for her willingness to be a key partner in helping to provide some solutions to these very thorny, tricky, complicated issues. So thank you for being here.

HIGH REPRESENTATIVE MOGHERINI: Thank you very much. It’s great to be back. It’s great to meet again and continue our work on all the issues you mentioned that are top priorities for the United States, as they are top priorities for the European Union. It is essential to us to work on this last mile of negotiations with Iran, and I am honored to facilitate to get an agreement that can improve the security of the region and of the entire world. And I would like to thank you personally for your leadership in this. It is essential in these times for the European Union to work together on saving lives of desperate people that are looking for a better future, fighting against the trafficking and smuggling of people, especially across the Mediterranean, in partnership with the UN, with the African Union, with the Arab countries, and also on the root causes of this, that in the end of the day are the many crises and wars we have around the region. We know as Europeans we live in one of the most complicated and dangerous places in the world today. We know we have a special responsibility in trying to prevent and face this crisis. We count on our cooperation, our strong friendship to do it more and more together as we’ve been doing in these months and years. And I thank you very much for welcoming here again.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, Federica.


SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much. Thank you all.