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White Press Office Feed

Saturday, May 16, 2015


Joint Press Availability With Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Beijing, China
May 16, 2015

‎MR LU: (Via interpreter) Friends from the press, good afternoon. Just now, the two foreign ministers have held their dialogues, and they are ready to meet with you and take up your questions. Now, I would like to give the floor to Foreign Minister Wang first.

FOREIGN MINISTER WANG: (Via interpreter) Friends from the press, good afternoon. Just now, I have held a constructive meeting with Secretary Kerry, where the two of us had candid and in-depth exchange of views on China-U.S. relationship and other issues of mutual interest, and we reached a lot of agreement.

Two years ago, when the two presidents met in the Sunnyland, they agreed to build a new model of major country relationship between China and the United States. Over the past two years, thanks to the concerted efforts of both sides – in particular, thanks to the personal commitment and promotion of the leaders of both countries – this new model of relationship has made much headway in terms of both conceptual development and of the actual practice. Last year, China-U.S. two-way trade reached 555.1 billion U.S. dollars, and the stock of our two-way investment exceeded 120 billion U.S. dollars. More than 4.3 million people traveled between the two countries last year. All these numbers have set record highs in history.

Our two countries have maintained frequent contacts at the top and all the other levels, and we have had productive cooperation in important fields ranging from economy, mil-to-mil exchanges, people-to-people exchanges, and also a contact between localities. The two sides have also carried out close communication and coordination on important international and regional issues.

In September this year, President Xi will be paying a state visit to the United States. The most important task for the meeting between Secretary Kerry and me today is to make preparations for the presidential visit and to compare notes with the other side. Just now, together with Secretary Kerry, we exchanged views concerning the arrangement of events, the agenda items, and the outcomes of this visit. Both of us are of the view that this visit by President Xi to the United States is the paramount priority for China-U.S. relationship this year, which will have far-reaching and major implications for China-U.S. relationship in the days ahead. The two sides will continue to work in close tandem with each other, make careful plans, accumulate outcomes, and build up the atmosphere to make sure that the visit is smooth-going and successful.

To achieve this, we have to work together to make sure that the seventh round of the China-U.S. S&ED – the Strategic and Economic Dialogue – and the sixth round of the High-Level People-to-People Consultation between China and the United States, to be held in the United States in the latter half of June this year, to be as productive as possible. We need to further deepen our economic and trade cooperation and speed up the BIT, the bilateral investment treaty negotiations. We hope the U.S. side will take concrete measures to ease civilian-use high-tech export control vis-a-vis China.

We need to continue to maintain the good momentum of the growth of our military-to-military relationship and follow through on the mechanism of notification of major military activities between the two sides, and reach an early agreement on military aircrafts covered by the code of safe conduct for maritime and air encounters.

We need to strengthen dialogue and cooperation in the legal and the law enforcement field, and try to make new progress in the pursuit of fugitives and the recovery of their criminal proceeds. We need to strengthen communication, coordination, and cooperation on international and regional issues, including the Iranian nuclear issue, the Korean nuclear issue, Afghanistan, and the prevention and control of the Ebola epidemic, so as to continue to add new strategic dimensions to this new model of relationship – major country relationship between China and the United States.

We need to strengthen communication on Asia Pacific affairs and jointly explore the prospect of harmonious coexistence and win-win cooperation between China and the United States in this region. We need to continue to strengthen our communication and coordination on climate change to jointly ensure the success of the upcoming climate conference in Paris later this year. Meanwhile, we need to also work together to advance our bilateral practical cooperation on climate change.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations and the end of the World Anti-Fascist War. As allies and victory parties during the Second World War, China and the United States have common interests in upholding the outcomes of the victory of the Second World War and also upholding the existing international order with the United Nations at its center.

Both sides are of the view that we have far more common interests than differences between us, and dialogue and cooperation always represent the theme of our bilateral relationship. Both sides need to act in a spirit of mutual respect, seeking common ground while shelving differences, and address the differences and sensitive issues between us in a constructive manner. China also expounds its principled stance on such issues related to Taiwan and Tibet.

China-U.S. relationship is one of the most important bilateral relationships in the world, and our two countries jointly shoulder the responsibility and obligation to uphold both peace and promote world development. As long as both sides continue to act in the principle of non-confrontation, non-conflict, mutual respect, and win-win cooperation, and stay committed to the path of building a new model of relationship – major country relationship between China and the United States, we will be able to usher in a bright prospect for China-U.S. relationship and bring more benefits to the people in both countries and enduring peace and prosperity for the world.

MR. LU: (Via interpreter) Thank you, Minister Wang. Now Secretary Kerry, the floor is yours.

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, thank you very much, Minister Wang. I’m really delighted to be back in China and I thank you very much for your generous welcome today. You and your colleagues have gotten our trip off to a very constructive beginning and I appreciate the comments you made about the importance of dialogue and the importance of working through disagreements, and mostly building on the areas where we agree that great progress can be made.

As Foreign Minister Wang said, we’ve just had a very productive meeting, and one of the reasons that we’re late is that it took longer and we dug into a number of issues in depth, and we’ll continue in a few moments over lunch.

This is my fifth visit to China as Secretary of State, and the reason for that is simple. As I’ve said previously, before President Obama and I traveled to Beijing last fall, the relationship between the United States and China is certainly one of the most consequential, if not the most consequential relationship in the world. In recognition of that and America’s commitment to Asia, Under Secretary Sherman traveled here a few months ago. Deputy Secretary of State Blinken was here about a month ago. I am now here about a month before we have our economic and security dialogue to take place in Washington. And other high-level visits are continually taking place, including military-to-military as well as the Secretary of Homeland Security Johnson was here recently, and Secretary of Energy Ernie Moniz was scheduled – had to delay, but will also be here soon.

And there are three key meetings that we are all working on together to prepare for in order to build success. One is the Security and Economic Dialogue that will take place in June in Washington. Two is the summit between President Xi and President Obama to take place in September. And three is the global meeting that we are working on together regarding climate change in Paris in December.

So thanks to focused diplomacy and the leadership that President Obama and President Xi have displayed, today our nations are collaborating to address not just bilateral and regional matters, but some of the most complex global challenges that the world has ever seen. That includes our work together on curbing the disease Ebola, it includes our work together regarding the DPRK – North Korea – and its nuclear program, and it also includes our work together with respect to the P5+1 nuclear negotiations with Iran.

Foreign Minister Wang and I have already spent time discussing some of that today, and I’m personally grateful for his personal commitment and hard work, the contributions they made – China made to Lausanne, to the discussions there and the negotiations, and now to the ongoing discussions. But from the moment those talks began, China has been playing an important key role as a P5 member. Our nations remain closely aligned in this effort. We are united along with the rest of our P5+1 and EU partners. We all understand that unity has been the key to getting where we are today, and it will be the key to completing a good deal and seeing it fully implemented.

We still have a long way to go. Many technical issues remain to be resolved. But we will continue to work hard as the June 30th deadline approaches. And we are all united and committed to do all we can to finalize an agreement that cuts off all of Iran’s pathways towards enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon, and gives the international community confidence that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively peaceful.

On another nonproliferation challenge, we have consistently agreed in all of our meetings since I became Secretary of State and we have met that North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs are a threat to regional stability, and we have consistently agreed to enhance cooperation to bring about North Korea’s denuclearization. As with Iran, Foreign Minister Wang and I have always agreed that a mix of negotiations and pressure are needed to address this challenge, and North Korea needs to live up to its international obligations and commitments. And it is obvious that North Korea needs to recognize that it will not succeed in developing its economy or breaking out of diplomatic isolation if it continues to reject denuclearization.

The United States and China are also cooperating more closely than ever to address climate change, one of the greatest threats facing our planet today. Last fall, our respective presidents came together to announce our countries’ greenhouse gas commitments, the reductions, and we continue to call on other nations around the world to set their own ambitious targets. And we agreed this morning that as we get closer to the UN Climate Conference in Paris later this year, the United States and China, the world’s two largest greenhouse gas emitters, will elevate our cooperation and coordination so that we can reach the kind of global agreement that we will need to ultimately address this threat.

We’re looking forward to building on our cooperation in other areas as well, including international development assistance and the fight against violent extremism. We welcome China’s increased engagement with Afghanistan and its support of an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace process. Together, the United States and China are committed to supporting political cohesiveness and ensuring Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for terrorists.

And there are many other issues that we are working on together – trade, bilateral investment treaty, any number of different considerations on a global basis. But even as we work on these many, many issues, obviously, there are also areas where our nations have differences. And Foreign Minister Wang and I discussed those as well. We discussed our mutual interests and principles on how to handle maritime disputes in the East China Sea and the South China Sea. The United States has stated that we are concerned about the pace and scope of China’s land reclamation in the South China Sea. And I urged China, through Foreign Minister Wang, to take actions that will join with everybody in helping to reduce tensions and increase the prospect of a diplomatic solution. And I think we agree that the region needs smart diplomacy in order to conclude the ASEAN-China Code of Conduct and not outposts and military strips.

And I think one of the things that characterizes the strength of – or the growing strength of our relationship and the willingness to cooperate is the fact that on a maritime dispute or on other issues – cyber issues or human rights, other areas – where we may have differing opinions, we don’t simply agree to disagree and move on. Both of our nations recognize the importance of talking to each other candidly about those disagreements and trying to find a cooperative road ahead.

It’s only by talking through differences on a regular basis that you can actually work to narrow them over time. And that is the mark of an effective partnership. So I look forward to continuing my discussions with Foreign Minister Wang through the day, and also to the meetings that I’m going to have with State Councilor Yang Jiechi, with Premier Yi, with Vice Chairman Fan, and tomorrow with President Xi. These discussions will help us to build this cooperation and this relationship. And these conversations will set the stage for what we are confident will be a productive Strategic and Economic Dialogue in June, and certainly for President Xi’s trip to Washington this fall.

There is no question but that our nations share extraordinary opportunities that are looking at us as we build the history of this century. We have a lot to accomplish together in the coming years. As two of the world’s major powers and largest economies, we have a profound opportunity to set a constructive course on a wide range of issues that will affect everybody all across this planet. So the United States looks forward to continuing to build this relationship, to work with China, to build on our partnership of today, in order to create the most constructive future that we can, and not just for the people of our two countries but for millions of people around this planet who depend on great and powerful nations to help set high standards of behavior and of aspiration. Thank you.

MR LU: (Via interpreter) Well, thank you, Secretary Kerry. And now, Foreign Minister Wang and Secretary Kerry, though their time is very limited, they will be happy to take two questions from the floor. Firstly, I would like to ask one American journalist to ask one question to Secretary Kerry.

MS HARF: Great. The U.S. question is from David Brunnstrom of Reuters. The microphone is coming to you.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. I wonder if I could ask both sides about your different visions for Asia Pacific prosperity, namely the TPP and the AIIB, and what the prospects are of China joining the former and the United States the latter at some point in the future. And to follow on from that, one of the dangers in the future to bilateral cooperation and regional prosperity posed by tensions in the South China Sea, and particularly the possibility of U.S. patrols inside China’s 12-mile limit around the Spratly Islands.

And could I ask the Secretary to clarify, does the United States plan to carry out these patrols? And for the foreign minister to tell us how China would respond in the event of those patrols taking place?

I know this is a long question, but I wanted to also add on North Korea. I wondered if you could tell us if you share concerns about the latest missile test there and whether you see the prospects of a deal on Iran’s nuclear program opening the way for one on North Korea in the future. Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, let me try to address all four questions – (laughter) – as quickly as I can.

With respect to the AIIB, there’s an enormous amount of misunderstanding, but let me try to be clear. There is a pressing need to enhance infrastructure investment throughout Asia as well as around the world. And the United States welcomes new multilateral institutions, including the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, provided that they share the international community’s strong commitment to high-quality standards, including genuine multilateral decision making, ever-improving lending requirements, and environmental and social safeguards. Those are the high standards that apply to global financial institutions.

And we will continue to engage directly with China and with other countries in order to provide suggestions as to how the AIIB can best adopt and implement these particular standards. But with that, we welcome the AIIB, and we encourage it to co-finance some projects with existing institutions like the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. And we are confident that under those circumstances, it can make an enormous difference, and we would strongly encourage it, as we talk today, to embrace a percentage of its allocation to – a significant percentage to clean energy, alternative energy, renewable energy, to sustainable environmental and other kinds of projects. And because of climate change in the United States, we are ending any funding – public money – that funds coal-fired power projects because of their impact on the climate. And we encourage China and other countries to do the same.

Now on the TPP, we welcome any country – we have a group of countries now come together to negotiate, but we welcome any country to come in to meet the standards of the TPP, and ultimately account for a standardization of the way in which people will approach trade, development, and investment. And I want to emphasize this – the TPP is not in opposition to anyone, any region, or anything. It is a proactive effort to raise the trade standards and transparency accountability of doing business on a global basis. It will set high standards on issues like labor, the environment, state-owned enterprises, intellectual property protection, in a part of the world where we believe those standards are still in flux and being determined. And this will help to create the rules of the road in a way where everybody benefits.

You may ask, “Why is that?” Because in today’s knowledge economy, in the knowledge economy of a global marketplace, stronger intellectual property rights protection actually encourages greater industrial production and it encourages foreign direct investment because it provides accountability for people’s investments. And what we have found in the United States, where today, we’re blessed to have unemployment below 5 percent, and where – around 5 percent, excuse me – and where we have enormous growth and innovation and entrepreneurial activity taking place, we believe that these standards encourage foreign direct investment in technology-intensive industries; it supports higher wages; and it fosters technology transfer and innovation.

Now I’ve taken a little longer than I wanted, but let me come very quickly to Korea and Iran. China is a vital partner in the Six-Party process with a very unique role to play because of its economic, diplomatic, and historical ties with North Korea. We share the common goal of peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula, and we agree on the need for denuclearization in a peaceful manner. President Xi and President Obama affirmed their fundamental agreement and commitment to the denuclearization of Korea – North Korea in their public comments at the bilateral summit last November. So we intend to remain deeply engaged with China, which has unique leverage, and we appreciate many of the steps China has taken already over the past two years to implement the UN Security Council sanctions. But we will continue to work to make it absolutely clear to the DPRK that their actions, their destabilizing behavior, is unacceptable against any international standard.

And I’m sure that Foreign Minister Wang would join me in expressing the hope that if we can get an agreement with Iran, that that – excuse me – that if we can get an agreement with Iran, that that agreement would indeed have some impact or have a positive influence in describing how you can come to the realization that your economy can do better, your country can do better, and you can enter into a good standing with the rest of the global community by recognizing that there is a verifiable, irreversible denuclearization for weaponization, even as you could have a peaceful nuclear power program. And hopefully, that could be a message, but whether or not DPRK is capable of internalizing that kind of message or not, that’s still to be proven.

QUESTION: Sorry, can I just follow up?

MS HARF: I think we’re a little tight on time, sorry.

SECRETARY KERRY: Four is enough. (Laughter.)

MR. LU: (Via interpreter) Now I would like to ask one Chinese journalist to ask one question to Foreign Minister Wang from CRI.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) From China Radio International. My question is: Recently, some American experts, scholars, and media are of the view that Chinese proposals, including the Asia security concept, the AIIB, setting up the Silk Road Fund and the maritime and land Silk Road initiative are all geared to challenge the position and role of the U.S. in the Asia Pacific region and squeeze the United States outside of Asia. How do you look at this issue?

SECRETARY KERRY: We look – is that for me?

FOREIGN MINISTER WANG: That question for me. Okay. (Via interpreter) Well, such notion does crop up frequently, but I have to say that the fact we are seeing is there are more and more interaction between China and the United States in Asia, and our cooperation is becoming increasingly more close. And the Asia Pacific region has become the priority place for China and the United States in their effort to put in place a new model of major country relationship. And I talked about a whole range of cooperation items with Secretary Kerry just now, and many of them are issues in Asia.

China is a member in Asia, and very naturally, we need to contribute our share to Asia’s peace and development. To achieve this, China has framed a series of important and positive proposals, including the Asia security concept and the land and maritime Silk Road initiatives and so on, which testify fully to China’s readiness to work with all countries for Asia’s peace and stability. These, of course, have been very widely, warmly received and supported by countries in Asia. Asia, of course, in the first place, is the Asia of the Asian people.

Meanwhile, we always believe that Asia should be an open and inclusive Asia, because only inclusiveness and openness could make sure that Asia would always keep abreast with the rest of the world for enduring peace – for enduring development and prosperity. Take the AIIB as an example. Right now, it has got 57 founding member countries, and among them, 23 are from regions outside of Asia. This shows fully that when we talk about openness and inclusiveness, we are not simply talking the talk; we are actually walking the walk.

The United States is an important country in the Asia Pacific region, and we welcome a positive and constructive role of the U.S. in Asia Pacific affairs. And we stand ready to strengthen communication and cooperation with the U.S. side on this. As globalization continues to grow, today’s world is a world of cooperation instead of confrontation. It is a world of win-win outcomes instead of a zero-sum game. President Xi has proposed to build a new model of international relationship with win-win cooperation at the center. And I believe China and the United States are fully capable of continuing to strengthen strategic communication at both the bilateral and at the international levels, and carry out useful cooperation in all regions in the world, including the Asia Pacific, so as to continue to make our due contribution to world peace and prosperity.

Just now, the Secretary talked about maritime issues. Though the journalist violated the rule that one question only, but I respect your right to ask questions, so I would like to add a couple of words on this. Firstly, I would like to re-emphasize or reaffirm here that the determination of the Chinese side to safeguard our own sovereignty and territorial integrity is as firm as a rock, and it is unshakable. It is the request from our people and their government, as well as a legitimate right of ours.

Meanwhile, it has always been our view that we need to find appropriate solutions to the issues we have through consultations and negotiations among the parties directly concerned with peaceful means, in particular with the diplomatic means, as mentioned by the Secretary just now, on the basis of respecting historical facts and international law. This is our set policy, and this position will remain unchanged in the future.

And another thing I would like to let you know is that as a signatory party to the UNCLOS, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, China will of course honor our international obligations enshrined in this document. And on China’s development on some of the islands and reefs in Nansha, this is something that falls fully within the scope of China’s sovereignty. However, regarding the concerns from the parties on this matter, we hope to continue to have dialogues to better our mutual understanding. We are having such dialogues with the United States, and we are also continuing the talks with the ASEAN countries. And we will continue with this practice of conducting dialogues on this matter.

China and the United States do have differences on the South China Sea issue, but we also have a lot of agreement. For instance, we both hope to maintain peace and stability of the South China Sea, and we are both committed to the international freedom of navigation enshrined by international law. And we are both for settlement of the disputes through dialogues and consultation in a peaceful way. And as for the differences, our attitude is it is okay to have differences as long as we could avoid misunderstanding, and even more importantly, avoid miscalculation.

We welcome the positive remarks made by the Secretary on the AIIB. The AIIB is a multilateral institution, so naturally, its operation will be observing international rules. And the AIIB is also ready to carry out cooperation with other multilateral institutions, including the World Bank and the Asia Development Bank. You also raised the question on the relationship between the AIIB and the TPP.

And I wish to tell you here on this is that the defining feature of the AIIB is its openness. And for TPP, we’ll hope, as the Secretary has said just now, will be an open institution so that it will dovetail with the existing multilateral trading regime for the promotion of free trade in the world.

You also asked questions on the Iranian and nuclear – Korean nuclear issues. Secretary Kerry has said a lot on them already. What I would like to add is that as members – permanent members of the UN Security Council and as key members of the nonproliferation regime, China and the United States have the responsibility to work together with the rest of the international community to uphold the sanctity of the international nonproliferation regime, and use diplomatic means to find appropriate solutions to those nuclear issues to achieve lasting peace and stability in the regions concerned. We stand ready to work together with all countries in the world on those issues. Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: I just have one question for the foreign minister. I want to know if “Talk and talk and walk the walk” rhymes as well in Chinese. (Laughter.)


MR LU: (Via interpreter) That’s the end of the press conference. Thank you for coming.


May 16, 2015
Statement by NSC Spokesperson Bernadette Meehan on Counter-ISIL Operation in Syria

Last night, at the President’s direction, U.S. personnel based out of Iraq conducted an operation in al-Amr in eastern Syria to capture an ISIL senior leader known as Abu Sayyaf and his wife Umm Sayyaf.  During the course of the operation, Abu Sayyaf was killed when he engaged U.S. forces.

Umm Sayyaf was captured and is currently in U.S. military detention in Iraq.  The operation also led to the freeing of a young Yezidi woman who appears to have been held as a slave by the couple.  We intend to reunite her with her family as soon as feasible.

No U.S. personnel were killed or injured during this operation.

Abu Sayyaf was a senior ISIL leader who, among other things, had a senior role in overseeing ISIL’s illicit oil and gas operations – a key source of revenue that enables the terrorist organization to carry out their brutal tactics and oppress thousands of innocent civilians.  He was also involved with the group’s military operations.  We suspect that Umm Sayyaf is a member of ISIL, played an important role in ISIL’s terrorist activities, and may have been complicit in the enslavement of the young woman rescued last night.

The President authorized this operation upon the unanimous recommendation of his national security team and as soon as we had developed sufficient intelligence and were confident the mission could be carried out successfully and consistent with the requirements for undertaking such operations.  This operation was conducted with the full consent of Iraqi authorities and, like our existing airstrikes against ISIL in Syria, consistent with domestic and international law.

We are working to determine an ultimate disposition for the detainee that best supports the national security of the United States and of our allies and partners, consistent with domestic and international law.  We will follow our usual practice with respect to giving the ICRC notification and access to the detainee.

As Commander-in-Chief, the President is grateful to the brave U.S. personnel who carried out this complex mission as well as the Iraqi authorities for their support of the operation and for the use of their facilities, which contributed to its success.  The United States will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our Iraqi partners in our effort to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL.

Weekly Address: Creating Opportunity for All

WHITE HOUSE VIDEO: Press Briefing by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz



Friday, May 15, 2015

High-Ranking al Qaeda Terrorist Sentenced for Conspiring to Kill Americans and Other Terrorism Offenses

Khalid al Fawwaz, 52, a citizen of Saudi Arabia, was sentenced to life in prison for multiple terrorism offenses relating to his participation in al Qaeda’s conspiracy to kill Americans.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin and U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York made the announcement.  U.S. District Court Judge Lewis A. Kaplan of the Southern District of New York imposed the sentence in a proceeding attended by victims of the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.  Fawwaz’s sentencing follows a six-week jury trial in January and February of this year, at which Fawwaz was convicted of all four counts with which he was charged.

“Fawwaz is a terrorist who for years served Usama bin Laden and held many positions within al Qaeda,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin.  “With this sentence, he is being held accountable for his role in al-Qaeda's conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals worldwide during the 1990s.  This case is a testament to our commitment to bringing to justice those who threaten the United States and our interests around in the world, no matter how long it may take.”

“Khalid al Fawwaz, who played a critical role for al Qaeda in its murderous conspiracy against America, will now spend the rest of his life in a federal prison,” said U.S. Attorney Bharara.  “As one of Osama bin Laden's original and most trusted lieutenants, Fawwaz led an al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan and a terrorist cell in Kenya before serving as bin Laden’s media adviser in London.  Fawwaz was bin Laden's bridge to the West, facilitating interviews of bin Laden in Afghanistan by Western media and disseminating bin Laden's 1996 declaration of jihad against America and his 1998 fatwah directing followers to kill Americans anywhere in the world.  To that end, on Aug. 7, 1998, al Qaeda operatives bombed our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, murdering 224 innocent people and wounding thousands more.  Fawwaz conspired with a murderous regime, and the result was a horrific toll of terror and death.  The price he will pay, appropriately severe as it is, cannot possibly compensate his victims and their families.”

According to the evidence presented at trial:

During the early 1990s, Fawwaz trained at al Qaeda’s Jawar military training camp in Afghanistan and then became the emir, or head, of al Qaeda’s al Siddiq military training camp in Afghanistan.  In approximately 1993, Fawwaz moved to Nairobi, where he served as one of the leaders of the al Qaeda members there, during a time that al Qaeda was sending fighters through Nairobi to Somalia to fight, and to train Somalis to fight, U.S. and U.N. forces in Somalia.  Fawwaz was also a leader of al Qaeda in Nairobi when al Qaeda began its preparations to attack the U.S. Embassy there.

The evidence further showed that, in 1994, Fawwaz began to act as Osama bin Laden’s media representative in London.  Fawwaz served as bin Laden’s conduit to Western media, screening requests for interviews of bin Laden and facilitating travel to Afghanistan for journalists who were permitted interviews.  Fawwaz also publicized bin Laden’s threats of violence against the United States.  Among other things, Fawwaz delivered bin Laden’s August 1996 Declaration of Jihad against the United States to a journalist for publication and helped arrange for the publication of a February 1998 fatwa, signed by bin Laden and others, that claimed it was the individual duty of every Muslim to kill Americans, civilian and military, in any country where it was possible to do so.  In addition, Fawwaz provided al Qaeda with advice about how best to disseminate its message of terror to the West, and helped obtain items that were difficult to obtain in Afghanistan, such as generators, vehicles and communications equipment, for al Qaeda.  In addition, a list of al Qaeda members recovered in Kandahar, Afghanistan, by the U.S. military in late 2001 contained Fawwaz’s alias and had him numbered ninth on the list.

Following Fawwaz’s arrest in England in September 1998, Fawwaz challenged his extradition to the United States for more than a decade.  He arrived in the Southern District of New York in October 2012.

* * *

Fawwaz’s sentencing follows convictions for conspiring to kill U.S. nationals, conspiring to murder officers and employees of the United States and conspiring to destroy buildings and property of the United States, each of which carried a maximum term of life in prison.  Fawwaz was also convicted of conspiring to attack national defense utilities, which carried a maximum term of 10 years in prison.

Assistant Attorney General Carlin joined U.S. Attorney Bharara in praising the outstanding efforts of the FBI’s New York Joint Terrorism Task Force – which principally consists of agents from the FBI and detectives from the New York City Police Department.  Carlin and Bharara also thanked the U.S. Marshals Service and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs for their efforts, as well as the New Scotland Yard for its cooperation in the investigation and prosecution.

The case is being prosecuted by the Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sean S. Buckley, Adam Fee, Nicholas J. Lewin and Stephen J. Ritchin of the Southern District of New York, with assistance from Trial Attorney Joseph N. Kaster of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.


Employee Union Official Sentenced for Providing False Statements

The former treasurer of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 709 in Colorado and an employee of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons was sentenced on May 11 for embezzling more than $59,000 in union dues. Aide Spade, 49, was ordered to pay restitution of $14,234.18 plus an additional $5,000 fine for creating and submitting a false document she knew contained fraudulent statements and entries. She was also sentenced to three years of probation. Funds were diverted for personal use, which was uncovered in April 2012 in a union audit. She resigned from her job in November 2012. At that time, she paid nearly $45,000 in restitution. The case was investigated by the Office of Labor-Management Standards and the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General.


Navy Research Lab Develops New Body Armor for 2016
By Terri Moon Cronk
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, May 15, 2015 – New lightweight, flexible and buoyant body armor developed at the Naval Research Laboratory could be in field use by 2016, the lead scientist who has overseen the armor’s two-year development said yesterday.

Research physicist Raymond M. Gamache of the lab’s chemistry division was one of dozens of exhibitors in the Defense Department’s first “Lab Day” at the Pentagon to display the latest innovations that will advance DoD’s Force of the Future, DOD officials said.

Gamache said his new armor will replace the existing enhanced small-arms protective insert to mitigate the impact from bullets and fragmentation.

Armor Protects Torso, Spine

He displayed two forms of his flexible armor: a fabric for the torso that resembles dimpled foam rubber, and an insert of interlocking pieces that lock up into a solid piece upon impact.

Using both, he noted, would provide torso protection, while the insert could be used in a warfighter’s back to shield the spine from damage.

“It’s a great solution for [spinal injury],” Gamache said. And while the insert can’t stop blunt-force trauma, “you’ll still be alive,” he said.

While Gamache’s armor is intended for protection from bullet fire and fragmentation, it would only offer some degree of protection in improvised explosive device blasts, he said.

Armor is Like Fabric

“You hear stories about troops who won’t wear their armor because it’s both heavy and it is very restrictive,” Gamache said. “This is like wearing a fabric, [and] it’s loose,” he said of the material that resembled dimpled foam rubber, noting that the new material is about 2 pounds lighter than existing body armor.

“The beauty of it is no matter what your body contorts into, you’ll always have the same amount of protection,” Gamache said.

The proximity of the tiny spheres of boron carbide and silicon carbide is what protects service members from the vulnerability of bullet impact and fragments, he explained.

“You can twist and turn, but you’re always going to maintain the same protection against bullets,” he said.

The armor can be used all around the globe in any environment from the Middle East to the Asia-Pacific region, Gamache said.

There is no temperature variance with his armor, he added, although ventilation can be added for greater air flow in warm climates.

“With this technology, we’re trying to essentially make lighter, more compliant materials that people will be willing to wear [that] still gives equivalent protection,” Gamache said. “And that’s the bottom line.”


CDC data show progress in reducing some foodborne infections in 2014

n 2014, rates of infection from a serious form of E. coli and one of the more common Salmonella serotypes decreased compared with the baseline period of 2006-2008. Meanwhile, some other less common types of Salmonella increased. Campylobacter and Vibrio rose again in 2014, continuing the increase observed during the past few years, according to data published today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Today’s report summarizes the rates of infection per 100,000 population and tracks illness trends for key foodborne illnesses.

Infection with Shiga-toxin producing E. coli O157, which can sometimes lead to kidney failure, decreased 32 percent when compared with 2006-2008 and 19 percent when compared with the most recent three years. These infections are often linked to consumption of undercooked ground beef and raw leafy vegetables. Salmonella Typhimurium, which has been linked to poultry, beef, and other foods, was 27 percent lower than it was in 2006-2008, continuing a downward trend begun in the mid-1980s. Two other less common types of Salmonella, Javiana and Infantis, more than doubled for reasons that are unclear. Salmonella Javiana is concentrated in the southeastern United States, but has been spreading within the Southeast and to other areas of the country. However, when all Salmonella serotypes are combined, there was no change in 2014. Campylobacter increased 13 percent and Vibrio increased 52 percent compared with 2006-2008. Yersinia has declined enough to meet the Healthy People 2020 goal.

The data are from FoodNet, CDC’s active surveillance system that tracks nine common foodborne pathogens in 10 states and monitors trends in foodborne illness in about 15 percent of the U.S. population. Today’s report compares the 2014 frequency of infection with the frequency in the baseline period 2006-2008 and in the three most recent years. Overall in 2014, FoodNet logged just over 19,000 infections, about 4,400 hospitalizations, and 71 deaths from the nine foodborne germs it tracks. Salmonella and Campylobacter were by far the most common– accounting for about 14,000 of the 19,000 infections reported.

“We’re cautiously optimistic that changes in food safety practice are having an impact in decreasing E.coli and we know that without all the food safety work to fight Salmonella that more people would be getting sick with Salmonella than we are seeing now,,” said Robert Tauxe, M.D., deputy director of CDC’s Division of Foodborne Waterborne and Environmental Diseases. “The increasing use of whole genome sequencing to track foodborne illness cases will also help; however, much more needs to be done to protect people from foodborne illness.”

The recent decline in the incidence of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) O157 follows several years of increasing scrutiny for beef products. Since 1994, the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture has taken STEC O157:H7 extremely seriously and made a number of changes in its regulatory oversight of the beef industry to protect public health.

"We are encouraged by the reduction of STEC O157:H7 illnesses, which reflects our science-based approach to beef inspection, and we look forward to seeing further reductions in Salmonella and Campylobacter infections as our improved standards for poultry take effect later this year, " said Al Almanza, Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety at USDA. "Data sources like FoodNet allow us to be strategic in developing our food safety policies, and we will do everything within our power to keep reducing cases of foodborne illness from all meat and poultry products."

Under the provisions of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is planning to publish major new regulations in 2015. The regulations are geared toward ensuring produce safety, implementing preventive controls on processed foods, and improving the safety of imported foods.

“Prevention of illness is the fundamental goal of our new rules under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act,” said Michael Taylor, deputy commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine at FDA.  “We have worked with a wide range of stakeholders to devise rules that will be effective for food safety and practical for the many diverse elements of our food system. Once the rules are fully implemented, FoodNet will help us evaluate their impact.”

The FoodNet report also includes results of culture-independent diagnostic tests (a new method for diagnosing intestinal illnesses without needing to grow the bacteria) done in the many hospital laboratories in the FoodNet sites. In 2014, the results of more than 1,500 such tests were reported. More than two-thirds of the tests were for Campylobacter. Other tests performed were for STEC, Salmonella, Shigella and Vibrio. Some of the tests had a positive result. However, the infections were not confirmed by culture, and so CDC experts did not include them in the overall FoodNet results for 2014.

For more information on avoiding illnesses from food, please visit

About FoodNet

FoodNet collects information to track rates and determine trends in laboratory-confirmed illnesses caused by nine pathogens transmitted commonly by food: Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, Cyclospora, Listeria, Salmonella, STEC O157 and non-O157, Shigella, Vibrio and Yersinia. CDC compares annual data with data from a baseline period (2006-2008) and a recent period (2010-2012) to measure progress. Since 2010, FoodNet has been tracking the increasing use of culture‐independent diagnostic tests used by clinical laboratories for diagnosis of bacterial enteric infection. Because these tests are replacing culture-based tests, their use is creating challenges to the ability to identify cases, monitor trends, detect outbreaks, and characterize pathogens.

FoodNet is a collaboration among CDC, ten state health departments, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, and the FDA. FoodNet covers 48 million people, encompassing about 15 percent of the United States population. The sites are the states of Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, and Tennessee, and selected counties in California, Colorado, and New York.


About 137 million individuals with private insurance are guaranteed access to free preventive services

Nationwide, about 137 million individuals, including 55 million women and 28 million children, have private health insurance that covers recommended preventive services without cost sharing, according to a new ASPE Data Point from the Department of Health and Human Services. Under the Affordable Care Act, most health plans are required to provide coverage for recommended preventive health care services without copays. Increased access to preventive services can reduce and prevent costly chronic diseases and help Americans live healthier lives. These services include but are not limited to:

* Blood pressure screening * Well-baby and well-child visits
* Obesity screening and counseling * Flu vaccination and other immunizations
* Well-woman visits * Tobacco cessation interventions
* Domestic violence screening and counseling * Vision screening for children
* Breastfeeding support and supplies * HIV screening
* FDA-approved contraceptive methods * Depression screening

“Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, millions more Americans have access to preventive services, including vaccinations, well-baby visits, and diabetes and blood pressure screenings," said Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell. “These services can substantially improve the health of families, and in some cases even save lives. We urge all individuals with health care coverage to take advantage of these services. This can make a tremendous difference in the health of Americans.”

The data released today are broken down by state, age, gender, and race and ethnicity.  Of the about 137 million individuals with access to recommended preventive services without cost sharing:

28.5 million are children, who have access to free preventive service coverage for flu vaccinations and other immunizations, vision screening, and well-baby and well-child visits.

55.6 million are women, who have access to free preventive services such as well-women visits, breastfeeding support and supplies, and recommended cancer screenings.

53.5 million are men, who have access to annual wellness visits, blood pressure screening, and cancer screenings.

And an estimated 15 million are Black, 17 million are Latino, and 8 million are Asian-Americans who have access to recommended preventive services without cost sharing.

Some of the estimated 137 million individuals that are guaranteed access to preventive services without cost sharing today may have had access to one or more of those services without cost sharing prior to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Employer Health Benefits Survey in 2012, 41 percent of all workers were covered by employer-sponsored group health plans that expanded their list of covered preventive services due to the Affordable Care Act. Based on this and available Health Insurance Marketplace data at the time, HHS previously estimated that approximately 76 million Americans – and 30 million women – received expanded coverage of one or more preventive services because of the Affordable Care Act.

Friday, May 15, 2015


May 15, 2015
Message --Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Burma


Section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)) provides for the automatic termination of a national emergency unless, within 90 days prior to the anniversary date of its declaration, the President publishes in the Federal Register and transmits to the Congress a notice stating that the emergency is to continue in effect beyond the anniversary date. In accordance with this provision, I have sent to the Federal Register for publication the enclosed notice stating that the national emergency with respect to Burma that was declared on May 20, 1997, is to continue in effect beyond May 20, 2015. The Government of Burma has made significant progress across a number of important areas, including the release of over 1,300 political prisoners, continued progress toward a nationwide cease-fire, the discharge of hundreds of child soldiers from the military, steps to improve labor standards, and expanding political space for civil society to have a greater voice in shaping issues critical to Burma's future. In addition, Burma has become a signatory of the International Atomic Energy Agency's Additional Protocol and ratified the Biological Weapons Convention, significant steps towards supporting global nonproliferation. Despite these strides, the situation in the country continues to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.

Concerns persist regarding the ongoing conflict and human rights abuses in the country, particularly in ethnic minority areas and Rakhine State. In addition, Burma's military operates with little oversight from the civilian government and often acts with impunity. For these reasons, I have determined that it is necessary to continue the national emergency with respect to Burma.

Despite this action, the United States remains committed to supporting and strengthening Burma's reform efforts and to continue working both with the Burmese government and people to ensure that the democratic transition is sustained and irreversible.




Friday, May 15, 2015

Statement by Attorney General Lynch on the Sentencing of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev
 Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch released the following statement on the sentencing of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev:

“Dzhokhar Tsarnaev coldly and callously perpetrated a terrorist attack that injured hundreds of Americans and ultimately took the lives of three individuals: Krystle Marie Campbell, a 29-year-old native of Medford; Lingzi Lu, a 23-year-old Boston University graduate student from China; and Martin Richard, an 8-year-old boy from Dorchester who was watching the marathon with his family just a few feet from the second bomb.  In the aftermath of the attack, Tsarnaev and his brother murdered Sean Collier, a 27-year-old patrol officer on the MIT campus, extinguishing a life dedicated to family and service.

“We know all too well that no verdict can heal the souls of those who lost loved ones, nor the minds and bodies of those who suffered life-changing injuries from this cowardly attack.  But the ultimate penalty is a fitting punishment for this horrific crime and we hope that the completion of this prosecution will bring some measure of closure to the victims and their families.  We thank the jurors for their service, the people of Boston for their vigilance, resilience and support and the law enforcement community in Boston and throughout the country for their important work.”

WHITE HOUSE VIDEO: The President Holds a Press Conference at Camp David

WHITE HOUSE VIDEO: 5/14/15: White House Press Briefing


Above:  Admiral James A. Winnefeld, Jr. 
Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff 

Winnefeld: DoD Must Strengthen Public, Private Ties
By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, May 14, 2015 – The military has two jobs for America: to fight today’s wars and to prepare to fight the wars of the future, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in West Point, New York, today.

More than ever, the military is going to have to harness the power of all aspects of America’s economy -- including private industry -- to field the pre-eminent force of the future, Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr. told an audience of military, industry and government officials attending the Joint Service Academy Cyber Security Summit at the U.S. Military Academy.

Driving the shift is a movement of money from public or government research and development to private sources, Winnefeld said.

“All of you here today from industry are part of a revolution in commercial technology that is changing our world,” he said. “You are also part of a post-Cold War shift in innovation from an R&D economy driven primarily by federal investment to an innovation economy driven by private investment.”

Research and Development

Although research and development is the seed corn for tomorrow’s capabilities, DoD’s investment in it has fallen precipitously, the admiral noted. The department’s fiscal year 2016 science and technology budget request is about $12.3 billion. Meanwhile, Winnefeld said, Google today has more than twice the capitalization of General Dynamics, Northrup Grumman, Lockheed and Raytheon combined. “Tim Cook could pay cash for the entire defense industry,” he added.

Comparing federal to nonfederal R&D over the last 20 years, the admiral said, illustrates how dramatically innovation has shifted toward the commercial sector since the Cold War.

And while U.S. investment has declined, potential adversaries have begun erasing the advantage the United States once held, the vice chairman said.

Closing the Technology Gap

“They’ve either watched what we’ve done, or have read about what we’ve done, or have just gone about stealing what we’ve done from our own defense-contractor and, in some cases, military networks,” Winnefeld said. “We’re hemorrhaging information at a dizzying rate, evidenced by the uncanny similarity of some of our potential adversaries’ new platforms to those we’ve been developing. In your business, industrial espionage is illegal. In mine, it can be fatal.”

The U.S. military strategy depends on overmatching capabilities to deter enemies or, if deterrence fails, to quickly overwhelm adversaries, he said.

Access to Technology

Adversaries have also tapped into the global technology market for microelectronics, which gives them access to some of the same technology as the United States, the admiral said.

“Today, 96 percent of our most advanced electronic warfare systems are assembled with commercially available components,” Winnefeld said. “We only add 4 percent worth of ‘special sauce.’” That means adversaries can quickly copy advanced U.S. systems with globally sourced components, he added.

“Our pacing threats are now only a step or two away from technological parity,” he said. “Our margins are thinner in many places than they’ve ever been.”

Cooperation is Foundational

Maintaining U.S. technological superiority will require a robust and enduring relationship between the department and the innovators in the commercial technology economy, the admiral said. This cooperation “is foundational” to the American military, he added. Through interaction, “the department can better harness the fruits emerging from it,” Winnefeld said.

Doing this is one of the goals of Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s Defense Innovation Initiative, the vice chairman said, adding that it’s no surprise that people are the heart of the solution.

Regaining the Margin Over Adversaries

“By concentrating on getting the most qualified people we can find into our business, becoming more efficient from a business perspective, and integrating new kinds of technology and adopting new operational concepts, we intend to regain our margin over our near-peer adversaries,” Winnefeld said.

Cyber is a significant part of the Defense Innovation Initiative, the admiral said, a domain that influences all other domains of warfare. The department must draw closer to these companies to exploit emerging technologies, he told the audience.

Defense Innovation Unit X

“We’re creating a first-of-its-kind unit in Silicon Valley called Defense Innovation Unit X,” Winnefeld said. “It will be staffed by some of our brightest active duty and civilian personnel and augmented by a new reserve unit custom-designed for those who work as technologists in their civilian life.”

The reservists will strengthen the connection between the Defense Department and the firms and startups of Silicon Valley and to help scour for new technologies, he explained.

“We are also starting a DoD branch of the U.S. Digital Service, an elite group of programmers who helped fix, beginning a partnership with In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture capital arm and reorienting the Secretary’s Fellows Program, which allows some of our best uniformed personnel to gain experience in companies like Oracle, Cisco and FedEx,” he said.

Force of the Future

The Force of the Future -- another Carter initiative -- will chip away at the wall between the military and industry, Winnefeld said, and will capitalize on new National Guard and reserve units.

“Let’s say you’re one of the dynamo cyber warriors at [U.S. Cyber Command], who after several years of service is itching to found a startup or join a company out in the Bay Area,” Winnefeld said. “By the time the secretary’s future of the force initiative is complete, that cyber dynamo may no longer face a ‘stay or leave’ binary choice. He or she will be able to leave but then join a reserve unit based right at Moffett Field, in the heart of Silicon Valley, or come back to the department for a year as a civilian [information technology] expert.”

“The whole point is to make the department more permeable to talent,” the vice chairman added.


Paraguay's Independence Day
Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
May 14, 2015

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Paraguay on the anniversary of your independence on May 15.

The partnership between the United States and Paraguay is built on our work to promote stability and prosperity throughout the region. Paraguay’s commitment to a strong Inter-American System was on display last year at the OAS General Assembly held in Asunción. You are making enormous progress on reducing poverty and consolidating democracy. We support your efforts to strengthen civil society, develop infrastructure, and promote economic growth.

On this joyous occasion, I wish all Paraguayans peace and prosperity in the year ahead.

Feliz Día de la Patria!


Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Owner of ‘Polygraph.Com’ Pleads Guilty to Training Customers to Lie During Federally Administered Polygraph Examinations

A former Oklahoma City law enforcement officer and owner of “” pleaded guilty today to obstruction of justice and mail fraud for training customers to lie and conceal crimes during polygraph examinations.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting Assistant Commissioner Anthony Triplett of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Internal Affairs and Special Agent in Charge James E. Finch of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Oklahoma City Field Office made the announcement.

“Lying, deception and fraud cannot be allowed to influence the hiring of national security and law enforcement officials, particularly when it might affect the security of our borders,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “Today’s conviction sends a message that we pursue those who attempt to corrupt law enforcement wherever and however they may try to do so.”

Douglas Williams, 69, of Norman, Oklahoma, pleaded guilty to a five-count indictment charging him with mail fraud and obstruction.  Williams was indicted on Nov. 14, 2014, in the Western District of Oklahoma.

According to admissions made in connection with his plea, Williams, the owner and operator of “,” marketed his training services to people appearing for polygraph examinations before federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and federal intelligence agencies, as well as people required to take polygraph examinations under the terms of their parole or probation.

Williams further admitted that he trained an individual posing as a federal law enforcement officer to lie and conceal involvement in criminal activity from an internal agency investigation.  Williams also admitted to having trained a second individual posing as an applicant seeking federal employment to lie and conceal crimes in a pre-employment polygraph examination.  Williams, who was paid for both training sessions, admitted to having instructed the individuals to deny having received his polygraph training.

The investigation is being investigated by U.S. Custom and Border Protection’s Office of Internal Affairs and the FBI’s Oklahoma City Field Office.  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Heidi Boutros Gesch and Brian K. Kidd of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section.


Study Highlights Risk of Norovirus from Swimming
Simple tips can help swimmers stay safe in various swimming venues.

When most people think of norovirus, they think of people marooned on a cruise ship with raging stomach and intestinal illness, unable to leave their cabins. However, an outbreak at an Oregon lake underscores that swimming can also put the public at risk of catching the ugly bug. Fortunately, following a few easy and effective steps can help maximize the health benefits of swimming while minimizing the risk of getting sick.

In honor of Healthy and Safe Swimming week, experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local and state health officials in Oregon report today on a summer 2014 outbreak that spread via swimming in a contaminated lake.

The norovirus outbreak in July 2014 linked to a lake near Portland, Oregon sickened 70 people. Those who swam in the lake were 2.3 times more likely to develop vomiting or diarrhea than those who visited the park but didn’t go in the water. More than half of those who got ill were children between 4–10 years old. Experts believe the outbreak began after a swimmer infected with norovirus had diarrhea or vomited in the water and other swimmers swallowed the contaminated water. To prevent other people from getting sick, park officials closed the lake to swimmers for 10 days.

“Children are prime targets for norovirus and other germs that can live in lakes and swimming pools because they’re so much more likely to get the water in their mouths,” said Michael Beach, Ph.D, CDC’s associate director for healthy water. “Keeping germs out of the water in the first place is key to keeping everyone healthy and helping to keep the places we swim open all summer.”

Swimmers can help protect themselves, their families and friends by following a few easy and effective steps:

Keep the pee, poop, sweat, and dirt out of the water!

Don’t swim if you have diarrhea or have been vomiting
Shower before you get in the water
Don’t pee or poop in the water
Don’t swallow lake or pool water
Every hour—everyone out!

Take kids on bathroom breaks
Check diapers, and change them in a bathroom or diaper-changing area–to keep germs away from the water.

Norovirus was the second-leading cause of outbreaks in untreated recreational water, such as lakes, from 1978-2010. Norovirus can live in water for several months or possibly even years. Swimming venues that are not treated with chlorine can pose a particular risk since there are no chemicals to kill the stomach virus.  

May 18–24, 2015, marks the 11th annual Healthy and Safe Swimming Week (formerly known as Recreational Water Illness and Injury Prevention Week). This observance highlights ways in which swimmers, parents, pool owners and operators, beach managers, and public health can maximize the health benefits of water-based physical activity, while minimizing the risk of recreational water–associated illness and injury.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Justice Department Settles Claims Against Leflore County, Mississippi, to Address Security and Facility Conditions at the Leflore County Juvenile Detention Center

Today, the Justice Department announced that it has reached an agreement with Leflore County, Mississippi, to improve security and facility conditions at the Leflore County Juvenile Detention Center in Greenwood, Mississippi.  Leflore County committed to numerous reforms to protect children in its care from abuse and self-harm, to improve its security and emergency preparedness and to improve its medical and mental health care.  Leflore County also pledged to end the use of solitary confinement as a form of discipline and to limit solitary confinement to a cool-down period not to exceed one hour.

The department investigated conditions at Leflore County Juvenile Detention Center and in March 2011 found deficiencies in numerous areas, including the use of force and restraints, abuse investigations, suicide prevention and use of solitary confinement.

The agreement was filed today in the federal district court of the Northern District of Mississippi.  Upon court approval, it will require significant reforms that will enhance safety and security for children held at the detention center.  The reforms concern intake and classification, use of force and restraints, behavior management, solitary confinement, suicide prevention and mental health care, medical care, due process, incident reporting, sanitation, fire safety and security staffing.  In addition, the agreement contains provisions governing data gathering, quality assurance and policy revision.  The agreement requires Leflore County to obtain expert assistance to meet its reform obligations.  The agreement will terminate once Leflore County has achieved 12 consecutive months of substantial compliance with all of the agreement’s provisions.

“This agreement will help protect children who are in custody and ensure that they are detained under conditions that are secure, safe and appropriate,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Civil Rights Division.  “Leflore County should be credited for embracing reform, particularly in the use of solitary confinement.”

“Leflore County and the detention center administrators are to be commended for their commitment to reforming Leflore County’s juvenile detention facility and protecting children in custody,” said U.S. Attorney Felicia C. Adams of the Northern District of Mississippi.  “The agreement will put in place reforms that will keep at-risk children safe as they prepare to return to their communities.”

The department also found violations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in the detention center school.  Because the state of Mississippi took control of the Leflore County schools in 2013, the county no longer has a role in providing education services.  As a result, the agreement between the United States and Leflore does not resolve the United States’ findings of violations of children’s educational rights at the detention center.  The department is working separately with the state of Mississippi to resolve the department’s concerns about education.

The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 authorizes the department to seek a remedy for a pattern or practice of conduct that violates the constitutional or federal statutory rights of youth in juvenile justice institutions.  Please visit the division’s website to learn more about this act and other laws the Civil Rights Division enforces.

This agreement is due to the efforts of the Special Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Mississippi.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

WHITE HOUSE VIDEO: The President Welcomes the Gulf Cooperation Council



JTF 505 Partners With Nepalese Soldiers
Kathmandu, Kathmandu, Nepal
2015 – Nepalese soldiers and U.S. service members with Joint Task Force 505 are working together to deliver aid and relief supplies to remote villages after the country was rocked by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake and multiple aftershocks.

WHITE HOUSE VIDEO: 5/13/15: White House Press Briefing

WHITE HOUSE VIDEO: The President Speaks to the Lake Area Tech Class of 2015


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

SOUTHWEST ASIA, May 13, 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 five airstrikes in Syria:

-- Near Hasakah, three airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units and an ISIL trench system, destroying six ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL vehicles and an ISIL tank.

-- Near Raqqah, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit.

-- Near Kobani, one airstrike destroyed an ISIL fighting position.
Airstrikes in Iraq

Attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 11 airstrikes in Iraq, approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense:

-- Near Qaim, one airstrike destroyed an ISIL excavator.

-- Near Beiji, four airstrikes struck one large and two small ISIL tactical units, destroying 10 ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL vehicle bomb.

-- Near Fallujah, one airstrike struck an ISIL large tactical unit.

-- Near Mosul, three airstrikes struck an ISIL staging area, destroying an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL mortar position.

-- Near Sinjar, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying six ISIL heavy machine guns and five ISIL buildings.

-- Near Tal Afar, one airstrike destroyed an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL heavy machine gun.

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.


Statement to Press at NATO Ministerial
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Antalya, Turkey
May 13, 2015

Thank you. Just very quickly (inaudible). Let me just say quickly that I’m very appreciative to my colleagues for their courtesy in recognizing that because I have to be back in Washington for the GCC meeting tonight we would speed up some of the topics that we needed to discuss.

And I was privileged to brief all of our NATO colleagues on the meetings held yesterday in Sochi with President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov. I think there was strong agreement among all of the NATO members that this is a critical moment for action by Russia, by the separatists, to live up to the Minsk agreement. And that it is critical to be able to get the OSCE into areas of conflict, it is important to end the conflict in those areas, particularly Shyrokyne. They need to try to come to an agreement on a ceasefire. We need to see the full implementation of Minsk, and I think everybody here is united in the notion that our preference is not to have sanctions, but the sanctions will be there in an effort to try to secure the peace that everybody wants in Ukraine.

There’s unanimity among all of the members here in the urgency of the Minsk agreement being fully implemented, and that means that the reforms, the election process, the working groups, this is an enormous moment of opportunity for the conflict there to find a path of certainty and resolution. And we hope very, very much that President Putin, Russia, the separatists, will come together to work with the Government of Ukraine in order to fully implement it and make progress.

We also talked today about Syria, about Libya, about terrorism in general, and the responsibility of NATO to be able to come together to work on each of those challenges. And in addition we talked about the Iran nuclear talks and the unanimity between the P5+1 that we will move into these last six weeks of negotiations with a view to securing the good agreement that we have talked about, in which we will have adequate access, and in which the four pathways to a nuclear weapons will, in fact, be shut down. We’re very hopeful, everybody here is, that that can be a successful negotiation and bring about a transformation within the region.

Obviously, key to everybody is the question of the GCC meeting that we are having tonight and tomorrow at Camp David, and I think all of the member states feel very strongly that defining a more – a clearer defense arrangement between the GCC and other friendly countries and the United States is going to be critical to helping to push back against the terrorism, as well as some of the other activities that take place in that region that are unsettling to all of those countries. So we’re very hopeful – I think we had a very – though quick – lengthy exchange and in depth exchange.

One other thing: The United States stands very firmly behind the Wales commitments, with respect to NATO. We believe very strongly in NATO’s role, particularly on the southern flank in dealing with Libya, in dealing with some of the problems of migrants. And I hope that out of this will come a recommitment to the future mission over these next few years of a new headquarters, of a clearer definition of the mutuality of the role, and that countries will move towards the 2 percent financial commitments that reflect the shared responsibility of support for NATO.

So I apologize that I’m not able to take questions. I have to have another meeting, but I’m very grateful to everybody, and I’m particularly grateful – I want to thank my colleagues for recognizing the need for me to be in Washington for the GCC. Thank you very much.

WHITE HOUSE VIDEO: The President Joins a Conversation on Poverty


Litigation Release No. 23255 / May 8, 2015

Securities and Exchange Commission v. ClearPath Wealth Management, LLC, Patrick Evans Churchville, as Defendants, and ClearPath Multi-Strategy Fund I, L.P., ClearPath Multi-Strategy Fund II, L.P., ClearPath Multi-Strategy Fund III, L.P., and HCR Value Fund, L.P., as Relief Defendants, Civil Action No. 15-cv-00191 (D.R.I. May 7, 2015)

SEC Charges Rhode Island Investment Advisory Company and Company Owner with Misusing and Stealing Investor's Money

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced fraud charges against a Rhode Island investment adviser, ClearPath Wealth Management, LLC, and its president and owner, Patrick Evans Churchville, for operating a fraudulent scheme that resulted in at least $11 million in losses to investors.

According to the SEC's complaint, from at least December 2010, ClearPath and Churchville diverted deposits from new investors to pay prior investors, used proceeds from selling particular investments to pay unrelated investors, used investors' funds as collateral for loans to make investments for their own benefit, used other investors' money to repay the loans, converted investor funds into investments for ClearPath's own benefit, and stole $2.5 million of investor funds to purchase Churchville's waterfront home in Barrington, Rhode Island. The complaint alleges that Churchville and ClearPath used a variety of deceptive acts and misleading accounting tricks to conceal their fraud from auditors, accountants, fund administrators, and their own staff.

The SEC's complaint alleges that, when many of ClearPath's investors requested distributions of their investments in September 2013, Churchville prolonged the scheme by lying to investors about the status, worth, and disposition of those investments.

ClearPath and Churchville allegedly misappropriated and misused investors' cash and assets through a years-long scheme that lulled investors into believing that their assets were safe, according to the complaint filed today.

The SEC's complaint charges ClearPath and Churchville with violating Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, Sections 206(1), 206(2), and 206(4) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 ("Advisers Act") and Rule 206(4)-8 thereunder. The complaint further charges ClearPath with violating Rules 206(4)-2 and 206(4)-7 under the Advisers Act, and charges Churchville with aiding and abetting ClearPath's violations of those rules. The SEC seeks to require ClearPath and Churchville to return their allegedly ill-gotten gains with interest and to pay civil monetary penalties. The SEC also seeks preliminary and permanent injunctions against both defendants.

Four other entities - ClearPath Multi-Strategy Fund I, L.P., ClearPath Multi-Strategy Fund II, L.P., ClearPath Multi-Strategy Fund III, L.P., and HCR Value Fund, L.P. - are named in the Commission's complaint as relief defendants based on their receipt of investor funds. The SEC is seeking an order requiring that these entities disgorge their ill-gotten gains.

The Commission has also sought leave to intervene in a state court action in order to preserve funds allegedly misappropriated by ClearPath and Churchville and to promote the equitable distribution of funds to harmed ClearPath investors.

The SEC's investigation, which is continuing, has been conducted by Cynthia Storer Baran and Robert B. Baker of the Asset Management Unit, and Emily R. Holness, Trevor T. Donelan, Marie Hagelstein, H. Norman Knickle, and Marc J. Jones of the Boston Regional Office.



05/12/2015 10:20 AM EDT

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced fraud charges against ITT Educational Services Inc., its chief executive officer Kevin Modany, and its chief financial officer Daniel Fitzpatrick.

The SEC alleges that the national operator of for-profit colleges and the two executives fraudulently concealed from ITT’s investors the poor performance and looming financial impact of two student loan programs that ITT financially guaranteed.  ITT formed both of these student loan programs, known as the “PEAKS” and “CUSO” programs, to provide off-balance sheet loans for ITT’s students following the collapse of the private student loan market.  To induce others to finance these risky loans, ITT provided a guarantee that limited any risk of loss from the student loan pools.

According to the SEC’s complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, the underlying loan pools had performed so abysmally by 2012 that ITT’s guarantee obligations were triggered and began to balloon.  Rather than disclosing to its investors that it projected paying hundreds of millions of dollars on its guarantees, ITT and its management took a variety of actions to create the appearance that ITT’s exposure to these programs was much more limited.  Over the course of 2014 as ITT began to disclose the consequences of its practices and the magnitude of payments that ITT would need to make on the guarantees, ITT’s stock price declined dramatically, falling by approximately two-thirds.

“Our complaint alleges that ITT’s senior-most executives made numerous material misstatements and omissions in its disclosures to cover up the subpar performance of student loans programs that ITT created and guaranteed,” said Andrew J. Ceresney, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement.  “Modany and Fitzpatrick should have been responsible stewards for investors but instead, according to our complaint, they engineered a campaign of deception and half-truths that left ITT’s auditors and investors in the dark concerning the company’s mushrooming obligations.”

The SEC’s complaint alleges that ITT, Modany, and Fitzpatrick engaged in a fraudulent scheme and made a number of false and misleading statements to hide the magnitude of ITT’s guarantee obligations for the PEAKS and CUSO programs.  For example, ITT regularly made payments on delinquent student borrower accounts to temporarily keep PEAKS loans from defaulting and triggering tens of millions of dollars of guarantee payments, without disclosing this practice.  ITT also netted its anticipated guarantee payments against recoveries it projected for many years later, without disclosing this approach or its near-term cash impact.  ITT further failed to consolidate the PEAKS program in ITT’s financial statements despite ITT’s control over the economic performance of the program.  ITT and the executives also misled and withheld significant information from ITT’s auditor.

The SEC’s investigation has been conducted by Zachary Carlyle, Jason Casey, and Anne Romero with assistance from Judy Bizu.  The case has been supervised by Laura Metcalfe, Reid Muoio, and Michael Osnato of the Complex Financial Instruments Unit.  The litigation will be led by Nicholas Heinke, Polly Atkinson, and Mr. Carlyle.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


May 13, 2015
Statement by the President

Along with Americans across our country, Michelle and I were shocked and deeply saddened to hear of the derailment aboard Amtrak Train 188. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of those we lost last night, and to the many passengers who today begin their long road to recovery. Along the Northeast Corridor, Amtrak is a way of life for many. From Washington, DC and Philadelphia to New York City and Boston, this is a tragedy that touches us all. As we work to determine exactly what happened, I commend the fire, police and medical personnel working tirelessly and professionally to save lives. Philadelphia is known as the city of brotherly love – a city of neighborhoods and neighbors – and that spirit of loving-kindness was reaffirmed last night, as hundreds of first responders and passengers lent a hand to their fellow human beings in need.



Right:  Nepali soldiers unload aid and relief supplies delivered by a U.S. Marine Corps UH-1Y Venom helicopter assigned to Joint Task Force 505 in Nepal’s Kavrepalanchowk district May, 11, 2015, during Operation Sahayogi Haat. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Jeffrey D. Anderson.  

DoD Continues Humanitarian Efforts in Nepal Following Aftershock
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, May 12, 2015 – Despite the magnitude-7.3 earthquake aftershock today, the Defense Department continues to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster response to the people of Nepal, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren told Pentagon reporters.

“Today, a magnitude-7.3 earthquake struck the Dolahka district in the central region of Nepal, approximately 50 miles northeast of Kathmandu,” he said.
The U.S. Geological Survey considers this to be the largest of more than 100 aftershocks that followed the magnitude-7.8 earthquake on April 25, Warren said.

‘Helping Hand’

The colonel said members of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s disaster assistance response team, including urban search and rescue personnel, in coordination with the U.S. military’s Joint Task Force 505, are conducting aerial assessments of Dolahka and the surrounding areas to view the extent of recent damage.

The department has committed approximately $7.5 million to this effort of the $10 million Defense Secretary Ash Carter approved in Overseas Humanitarian Disaster and Civic Aid funds, Warren said.

He also confirmed the international airport in Nepal’s capital of Kathmandu remains open and that all DoD personnel who are present in the region “have been accounted for and are safe.”

Warren provided an update to reporters on Operation Sahayogi Haat -- Nepalese for “helping hand,” –- the name given to U.S. military efforts in the region.
More than 300 U.S. military personnel are now in Kathmandu supporting the operation, he said.

500-plus Flight Hours

Warren noted that in addition to the personnel response, there have been more than 515 hours of flight time logged, 480 tons of aid delivered and 993 civilians transported during the operation.

“This is all headquartered at III [Marine Expeditionary Force],” he added.
“We’ve got three [UH-1Y] Huey’s, four Marine Corps MV-22B Ospreys, two Marine Corps KC-130 Hercules, and four Air Force C-17 Globemasters.”

“We have established an intermediate staging base in Utapao, Thailand,” Warren said. “We’ve got approximately 270 personnel there, so that is how we’re flowing these heavy-lift ‘birds’ through.”

At this point there are no plans for additional personnel, but the situation is under constant assessment, he said.


May 12, 2015
Statement by National Security Council Spokesperson Bernadette Meehan on Austin Tice

This week, it is with a heavy heart that we mark American journalist Austin Tice’s 1,000th day in captivity.  Austin was abducted in August 2012 while reporting from a suburb of Damascus in Syria.  An award-winning journalist and Marine Corps veteran, Austin entered Syria in May 2012 with a desire to report on the impact of the war on ordinary Syrians and an eagerness to help others – values that were instilled in him by his loving family and close friends.

The United States government will continue to work tirelessly to bring Austin home to his parents, Debra and Marc, and his brothers and sisters, who have endured anguish and suffering since Austin’s abduction.  We greatly appreciate the efforts of the Czech government, which acts as the U.S. protecting power in Syria, on behalf of our citizens, including Austin.

We strongly urge Austin’s captors to release him so that he can be safely reunited with his family.  We call on all those who may have information about Austin’s whereabouts – governments and individuals – to work cooperatively with us to help bring him home.

WHITE HOUSE VIDEO: 5/12/15: White House Press Briefing



Joint Statement on Libya by the Governments of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States
Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
May 11, 2015

The Governments of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States of America reaffirm their strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Libya, and to ensuring that Libyan economic, financial, and energy resources are used for the benefit of all Libyan people.

At a time when the UN-sponsored political process is making progress towards a lasting resolution of the conflict in Libya, we express our concern at attempts to divert Libyan resources to the narrow benefit of any side in the conflict and to disrupt financial and economic institutions that belong to all Libyans. We reiterate our expectation that those on all sides representing Libya’s independent institutions, namely the Central Bank of Libya (CBL), the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), the National Oil Corporation (NOC) and the Libyan Post Telecommunications and Information technology company (LPTIC) will continue to act in the long term interests of the Libyan people pending clarification of unified governance structures under a Government of National Accord.

We reiterate that Libya’s challenges can only be addressed by a government that can effectively oversee and protect Libya’s independent institutions, whose role is to safeguard Libya’s resources for the benefit of all Libyans. Terrorists are exploiting this conflict to establish a presence in Libya and will take advantage of Libya's national wealth to advance their appalling transnational agenda.

Libya is fortunate to have the resources to enable it to become a peaceful and prosperous nation, with a powerful and positive impact on the wider region. We urge all Libyans to support the continued independence of its financial and economic institutions.

WHITE HOUSE VIDEO: Teacher of the Year Finalists Reflect on President Obama's Free Communit...


05/11/2015 02:25 PM EDT

The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged a self-described retirement planning firm and its principals with falsely telling customers that interests in life settlements they offered and sold were “guaranteed,” “safe as CDs,” and “federally insured.”

The SEC also alleges that they used a bogus “net worth calculator” that improperly qualified some prospective investors for purchases by including income that investors hadn’t received, such as future pension and Social Security benefits.

The SEC charges were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas against Novers Financial and its principals Christopher A. Novinger and Brady J. Speers, who live in Mansfield, Texas, and host a financial radio show.  The SEC’s complaint alleges that from 2012 to 2014, they sold approximately $4.3 million in life settlement interests to 26 investors.

“We allege that Novinger and Speers described speculative investments as safe and secure and were willing to manipulate investors’ financial information to make a sale,” said David Peavler, Associate Director of the SEC’s Fort Worth Regional Office.  “No matter what a salesperson tells you, interests in life settlements are never guaranteed, risk-free, or federally insured.”

Interests in life settlements are investments based on potential payouts on insurance policies held by others.  Typically they can only be sold to investors who meet certain income or net worth levels.  The SEC alleges that, to get around those limits, Novinger and Speers provided prospective investors with a net worth calculator on that factored in future income to artificially inflate client assets.  For example, according to the SEC complaint, one couple’s non-homestead assets falsely “ballooned” from $263,000 to nearly $1.5 million when the calculator improperly included 20 years’ worth of Social Security and retirement payments the couple anticipates receiving in the future.

In addition to the charges against Novers Financial and the two principals, the SEC charged ICAN Investment Group LLC and Speers Financial Group LLC for acting as unregistered broker-dealers.  The SEC seeks injunctive relief, return of allegedly ill-gotten gains with interest, and financial penalties.

The SEC investigation was conducted by Ronda Blair and Barbara Gunn of the SEC’s Fort Worth Regional Office.  B. David Fraser will handle the litigation.