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Saturday, June 6, 2015

WHITE HOUSE VIDEO: Weekly Address: Celebrating Immigrant Heritage Month

WHITE HOUSE VIDEO: 6/5/15: White House Press Briefing


Readout of the President's Call with President Poroshenko of Ukraine

President Obama spoke today with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko about the conflict in eastern Ukraine and the upcoming discussions about Ukraine at the G-7 Summit.  The President and President Poroshenko expressed their deep concern about the recent assault by combined Russian-separatist forces across the current line of contact near Donetsk, Ukraine, and once more called on Russia and the separatists it backs to abide strictly by the terms of the February Minsk Implementation Plan.  The President reaffirmed the strong support of the United States for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and reiterated his determination to continue working with international partners to provide the support Ukraine needs as it undertakes transformational reforms.  The President also underscored the commitment of the United States to supporting a diplomatic resolution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine and the need to maintain costs on  Russia and the separatists until they fulfill all provisions of the Minsk agreements.

NSF VIDEO: Interstellar, meet Large Hadron Collider (SPOILER ALERT!)


06/04/2015 05:30 PM EDT

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced an emergency asset freeze of two U.S. brokerage accounts connected to schemes to manipulate Avon and other stocks, thwarting any ability to cash in on ill-gotten proceeds.

According to an SEC complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan, the agency has tracked a filing on its EDGAR system last month about a false Avon tender offer to a foreign entity using an IP address located in Sofia, Bulgaria.  A Bulgarian trader named Nedko Nedev controlled at least one of the two now-frozen brokerage accounts, and his account held a substantial position in Avon contracts-for-difference (CFDs) that were losing value in recent months.  The SEC alleges that Nedev generated approximately $5,000 in excess profits by selling almost half of the account’s Avon CFDs at inflated prices after the EDGAR filing led to a 20-percent increase in the value of Avon stock on May 14.

The court issued an order at the SEC’s request freezing the two accounts, which contain approximately $2 million in assets.

“Only three weeks after the manipulation of Avon stock occurred, this emergency court order keeps not only the alleged illicit profits from being transferred offshore, but preserves the SEC’s ability to recover substantial penalties,” said Andrew Ceresney, Director of the SEC Enforcement Division.

In addition to Nedev, the SEC’s complaint charges Strategic Capital Partners Muster Ltd. and Strategic Wealth Investments Inc., which each own one of the brokerage accounts, and PTG Capital Partners LTD, which made the EDGAR filing containing the purported Avon tender offer.  Also charged is similarly named PST Capital Group LTD, which allegedly made a false EDGAR filing in a 2012 scheme involving the stock of Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.  The defendants also are charged with a similar scheme in 2014 involving Tower Group International Ltd., which involved a false press release instead of an EDGAR filing.  The schemes followed similar patterns where the accounts had substantial holdings in a company that had been losing value and the companies’ stock values substantially increased after a false filing or press release originating from Bulgaria.  The two accounts profited by more than $20,000 combined from the Tower Group alleged manipulation.

“We used parallel trading analysis to connect the dots and track down these defendants,” said Daniel M. Hawke, Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Market Abuse Unit.  “Even when traders attempt to hide behind proxy servers, false filings, and phony foreign entities, we are able to quickly identify patterns and relationships to focus our investigation and identify who is behind the manipulative trading.”

The SEC’s complaint charges the defendants with violating antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws, including Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, Sections 10(b) and 14(e) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rules 10b-5 and 14e-8.  The complaint also charges Nedev with control person and other secondary liability under Sections 20(a) and 20(b) of the Exchange Act.  The complaint seeks disgorgement, penalties, and other related relief.

The SEC’s investigation, which is continuing, is being conducted by David Snyder, Kelly Gibson, John Rymas, Patrick McCluskey, and Assunta Vivolo in the Market Abuse Unit.  The case is being supervised by Mr. Hawke and the unit’s co-deputy chiefs Robert Cohen and Joseph Sansone.  The litigation will be led by David Axelrod and John Donnelly of the SEC’s Philadelphia Regional Office.


Hepatitis B Screening and Prevalence Among Resettled Refugees — United States, 2006‒2011

Refugees are a heterogeneous population and hepatitis B prevalence is associated with country of origin and individual lived experience. Ongoing health surveillance activities focused on refugees are essential to ensuring appropriate assessment and treatment following resettlement. Hepatitis B is a viral disease that can be acute or chronic and is a significant public health concern both globally and in the United States. Refugees frequently emigrate from countries with high prevalence of active hepatitis B infection (≥2 percent), and/or are at higher risk of hepatitis B infection due to their lived experiences as refugees. However, refugees are a heterogeneous group and recent data are not available regarding prevalence of hepatitis B in recently resettled refugee communities. States, local health departments, healthcare providers, resettlement agencies, refugees, and other stakeholders may better target education and screening programs based on the prevalence of hepatitis B among the three refugee groups to have resettled in the greatest numbers over the last several years: Iraqis, Bhutanese, and Burmese.


Passage of Implementing Legislation for Nuclear Security Treaties
Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
June 4, 2015

This week, President Obama signed into law implementing legislation for treaties that represent legal cornerstones of the global nuclear security architecture, the strengthening of which is a key goal of the Nuclear Security Summits. This legislation will also enhance protections against threats from nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.

The legislation amends the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM), the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (ICSANT), and two Protocols to the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Maritime Navigation (SUA). The Department of State is now preparing the instruments of ratification of these important treaties for the President’s signature.

I want to personally thank the U.S. Congress, particularly the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, for their efforts on this critically important legislation. It is a laudable example of the good we can accomplish when two branches of government and two parties come together to strengthen our nation’s security. It is also yet another indication that the United States is committed on a bipartisan basis to eliminating the greatest threat to global security: nuclear terrorism.

The CPPNM amendment establishes new international norms for the physical protection of nuclear materials and facilities, including protection from sabotage. It also provides for expanded cooperation among state parties and defines new criminal offenses that must be made punishable by state parties under their domestic law. Once our national ratification actions are completed, the United States will work with other countries to secure the 16 additional ratifications that are needed in order for the amendment to enter into force with the goal of achieving this by the end of the year.

The ICSANT provides a specific legal basis for international cooperation in the investigation, prosecution, and extradition of those who commit terrorist acts involving radioactive material or a nuclear device, or any device that may emit radiation or disperse radioactive material.

The SUA Protocols establish the first international treaty framework for criminalizing certain terrorist acts, including using a ship or fixed platform in a terrorist activity, transporting weapons of mass destruction or their delivery systems and related materials, and transporting terrorist fugitives.

U.S. ratification of these treaties will honor U.S. pledges made at the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit and at the Proliferation Security Initiative 10th Anniversary Meeting in 2013. We call on all countries who share our commitment to preventing nuclear terrorism to join and fully implement these treaties.


Thursday, June 4, 2015
Former FBI Special Agent Indicted for Theft of Drug Proceeds and Obstruction of Justice

A former special agent of the FBI was indicted yesterday for allegedly stealing over $100,000 of drug proceeds seized during the execution of search warrants and obstructing justice by taking steps to hide his alleged theft.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Special Agent in Charge Angel D. Gunn of the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General’s Los Angeles Field Office made the announcement.

“As alleged, former Agent Bowman put his own greed above the trust placed in him by the FBI and the American public,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “Corrupt law enforcement agents not only compromise those investigations in which they are involved, but also damage the reputations of fellow law enforcement officers who are dedicated to public service and the protection of all Americans.”

Scott M. Bowman, 44, of Moreno Valley, California, was charged in the Central District of California with three counts of conversion of property by a federal employee, three counts of obstruction of justice, two counts of money laundering, one count of falsification of records and one count of witness tampering.

According to allegations in the indictment, which was unsealed today, Bowman misappropriated over $100,000 of drug proceeds seized in June and August 2014 during the execution of three search warrants.  The defendant allegedly misappropriated these funds after they were transferred to his custody in his official capacity as a federal law enforcement officer.

The indictment alleges that Bowman used the stolen money for his own purposes, including spending $43,850 in cash to purchase a 2012 Dodge Challenger coupe, $27,500 in cash to purchase a 2013 Toyota Scion FR-S coupe and approximately $26,612 in cash to outfit these vehicles with new equipment including speakers, rims and tires.  According to the allegations in the indictment, the defendant also used approximately $15,000 of the misappropriated cash to pay for cosmetic surgery for his spouse, and opened a checking account into which he deposited approximately $10,665 of the stolen funds, a portion of which he used to pay for a weekend stay at a luxury hotel, casino and resort in Las Vegas, Nevada.

According to the indictment, to conceal his misappropriation of the drug proceeds, Bowman allegedly falsified official FBI reports and other records.  Specifically, in connection with one of the seizures, Bowman allegedly endorsed an evidence receipt knowing that it did not accurately reflect the amount of cash seized and altered the same receipt by forging the signature of a police detective next to his own.

The indictment further alleges that Bowman made false representations to his colleagues regarding the disposition of certain seized drug proceeds.  In addition, Bowman allegedly sent an email to the detective whose signature Bowman had forged setting forth a detailed cover story that the detective should offer if asked about Bowman’s activities with respect to the seized drug proceeds.  According to the indictment, Bowman also allegedly provided the detective with a copy of the forged receipt so that the detective falsely could claim the forged signature as his own, if asked.

The charges contained in an indictment are merely accusations, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

This case was investigated by the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General and is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Robert J. Heberle and Lauren Bell of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section.

Friday, June 5, 2015


Coalition Air Power Leads Fight Against ISIL, General Says
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, June 5, 2015 – Despite facing one of the most complex operational environments in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, coalition air power has enabled nearly every victory on the battlefield, a senior U.S. Central Command official said today.

During a telephonic call with Pentagon reporters, Air Force Lt. Gen. John W. Hesterman III, Combined Forces Air Component commander for Centcom, discussed the complexity and effectiveness of the air campaign against ISIL.

True Coalition Effort

Hesterman expressed pride in the multinational air coalition that formed “very quickly” demonstrating international commitment to defeating ISIL.

“The interoperability between our nations’ airmen validates years of combined training and multi-lateral exercises between our coalition partners,” he said.

Each nation brings capabilities, the general said, such as command and control, airlift, fire support and aerial refueling to a very complex operational environment creating a coalition greater than the sum of its parts.

“Our planning is a true coalition effort in the Combined Air Operations Center here,” Hesterman said, “and we’re flying side-by-side across the region in this fight against [ISIL].”

Airpower: Precise and Disciplined

The general said the air coalition is having a “profound” effect on the enemy.

“Our coalition airstrikes are the most precise and disciplined in the history of aerial warfare,” he said.

“We’ve been able to impact the enemy in a significant way, and we do it in a way that minimizes civilian casualties which our coalition nations, rightly, are very proud of,” Hesterman said.

Targeting ISIL, he said, is perhaps more challenging than ever before, but the coalition goes out of its way to protect innocent civilians, “because it’s the right thing to do, and it’s one of the things that separates us from the terrorists we’re fighting who kill anyone who isn’t them.”

ISIL can be targeted while still protecting civilians, Hesterman said.

Air Power’s Effectiveness

Hesterman noted coalition air power has not only been effective, but also has enabled “virtually every victory on the battlefield.”

It’s helped ground forces regain territory, he said, while removing more than 1,000 enemy fighters a month from the battlefield and eliminating the majority of ISIL’s oil refining capability.

More importantly, Hesterman said coalition air power is giving the Iraqi government and security forces the time necessary to prepare and execute sustained counter-ISIL offensives.

Coalition air power, he said, is giving all of the coalition nations the space and time to execute international lines of effort countering the flow of foreign fighters, ISIL financing and messaging, providing humanitarian assistance, and stabilizing liberated areas -- all necessary to defeat ISIL.

Different Type of Air Campaign

Hesterman emphasized the current air campaign is “a lot” different from previous campaigns.

“We’ve provided [an around-the-clock] presence over the battlefield to get after this enemy whenever we have the opportunity,” he said. “We go after this enemy wherever we find them.”

Hesterman added, “The comparisons being made to conflicts against field armies and nation-states don’t apply in this case, and the folks making them, frankly, haven’t been in a fight like the one that we’re in now.”

This enemy wrapped itself around a friendly population before the campaign even started, he said.

“There is no, and never has been, a well-developed target set for that which is necessary to do what we’ve done in the past,” Hesterman said. “It’s an order of magnitude more difficult than what we’ve done before. I can say that with a little bit of authority because I either participated in, or was well familiar with this, for about the last 32 years.”

Proud Coalition

The general lauded the “young men and women” of the multinational coalition risking their lives in the daily pursuit of ISIL “to give the world the time it needs” to galvanize the multiple lines of effort needed to ultimately defeat the terrorist group.

“They’re exceptionally proud of what they’re doing and their impact on the enemy,” he said. “I will tell you their superb ability to do it and the exceptionally limited civilian casualties are historic and [the operation] deserves the deep respect of every one of us.”

Hesterman said he’s proud of the coalition’s air team for what they’re accomplishing but noted this will be a “long fight.”

“There will be tactical setbacks that we should not give [ISIL] strategic victory credit for,” he said. “Be sure -- we in the coalition are fully committed to a strategic defeat of the … terrorists.”

NASA VIDEO: What's Up for June 2015



Right:  U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter arrives for a meeting with India's Minister of Defense Manohar Parrikar on the final day of his visit to New Delhi, India, June 3, 2015.  DoD photo by Glenn Fawcett.  

 U.S., India Sign 10-Year Defense Framework Agreement
By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, June 4, 2015 – In India, Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar signed a 10-year defense framework agreement yesterday, highlighting the growth of defense cooperation between the two countries.

Carter is on a 10-day trip focused on the U.S. rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region.

The agreement signed in India yesterday is an outgrowth of a meeting that was held between President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in January.

Working Together

Out of that meeting grew the Defense Trade and Technology Initiative. The idea is for India and the United States to work closely together to develop military capabilities both can use.

Yesterday’s agreement included plans to cooperate in developing a mobile solar energy power source that could be used in remote areas and in developing a lightweight protective suit effective in chemical and biological hazard environments.

In India, Carter also met with Prime Minister Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval. Carter also became the first U.S. defense secretary to visit an Indian operational military command -- the Eastern Naval Command in Visakhapatnam.

“This is just one more of many signs of what a positive trajectory we continue to be on with the defense community here in India,” Carter said during a media availability in New Delhi.

The secretary’s visit capitalizes on the convergence of India’s Act East policy and the U.S. rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region. Under the Act East policy, India will focus on improving relations with Association of Southeast Asian Nations and other East Asian countries. And the U.S. rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region recognizes the increasing importance of Asian nations to the global economy.

“These two things come together when it comes to maritime security, maritime domain awareness,” Carter said.

He also spoke of the convergence between Prime Minister Modi’s “Make In India” policy and the Defense Trade and Technology Initiative.

Cooperative Technology, Industrial Relationships

“The heart of that is to create cooperative technology and industrial relationships that are not just the buyer-seller kind,” the secretary said. “Both we and the Indians want to move beyond that, and there’s no reason why that can’t occur in the sense that industry wants to do it. We’re very willing to be flexible, creative. We are being that with a number of pathfinder projects.”

The agreement requires both countries to cut through the “historical burden of bureaucracy,” he said.

“It’s the burden that we carry forward from the fact that we were two separated industrial systems for so long during the Cold War,” Carter said. “It just takes time to get the two of them together.”

‘Everybody Wins, Everybody Rises’

The secretary reemphasized his message delivered at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore earlier in the week -- the “everybody wins and everybody rises” approach to the Asian security architecture.

“That's what the United States believes in and is championing -- a vibrant Vietnam, it’s eager to do more, and we’re doing more with them,” the secretary said, “and India, an India that’s not only rising economically and militarily but is also a regional security provider now and in the future.”

The secretary expects the cooperation under the 10-year framework to increase. The nations are talking about cooperating on jet engines and aircraft carrier technology, he said.

“Some of the projects that we’re launching just now are, in part, intended to blaze a trail for things to come,” he said. “And the other thing to keep in mind is that the whole point is to make these industrially and economically successful projects. So they are not things that can be dictated by the governments; we try to involve industry.”


World Environment Day
Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
June 4, 2015

Every person on Earth has a role to play in protecting the environment we share—on World Environment Day, June 5, and every day. Every one of us has a responsibility to ensure that future generations are able to enjoy the same safe and healthy planet that we inherited.

This is a pivotal moment when it comes to environmental protection, and how we respond—or don’t—may come to define our generation. Today, our ocean is overfished, polluted, and acidifying by the day. And the science is clear: we must take action on climate change, which poses a threat to the entire planet. We just lived through the hottest year on record. The Arctic is melting faster than previously predicted. Islands and coastal regions face the threat of catastrophic flooding. Countries around the world suffer from historic droughts. Unless we take immediate global action to lower the harmful emissions that are linked to climate change and transition to clean energy sources that also help to grow our economies, we can expect to see these threats multiply.

The good news is we still have time to slow or even reverse some of the troubling trends we’re seeing. And over the course of this year, we’ll have some important opportunities to do so. In October, Chile will host the second-ever Our Ocean conference in Valparaíso, building on the remarkable progress we made at the first Our Ocean conference in Washington last June. And this December, world leaders will come together in Paris to try and reach an ambitious and comprehensive global climate change agreement.

But this isn’t just about what world leaders can do. We can all commit to making changes, small and large. For example, we can choose energy efficient products. We can recycle more. And we can choose to buy our food from sustainable sources. As nations and as individuals, we need to unite to protect our planet. We know what needs to be done; now we need to take action.


PTSD and Vietnam Veterans: A Lasting Issue 40 Years Later -

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is defined as having flashbacks, upsetting memories, and anxiety following a traumatic event. It was first officially recognized as a mental health condition in 1980, only five years after the end of the Vietnam War. For hundreds of years, these symptoms have been described under different names in soldiers from many wars. However, Vietnam Veterans with these symptoms were the first to have the term ‘PTSD’ applied to them. Despite the passage of 50 years since the war, for some Vietnam Veterans, PTSD remains a chronic reality of everyday life. In 1983, Congress requested that VA conduct a study on the prevalence of PTSD and other postwar psychological problems among Vietnam Veterans. This was the first study to evaluate the prevalence of PTSD among Veterans, and became known as the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study (NVVRS). The NVVRS brought greater attention to the issue of PTSD as it found that as many as 15 percent of Veterans had PTSD.


Influenza Activity — United States, 2014–15 Season and Composition of the 2015–16 Influenza Vaccine

While the influenza vaccine varies in how well it works, vaccination remains the best way to prevent influenza illness and its associated complications. Ongoing, timely influenza surveillance is needed to inform the selection of influenza vaccine viruses used for vaccine production. Although vaccine effectiveness was reduced this season against most H3N2 viruses, vaccination was still protective against vaccine-like influenza A (H3N2) viruses, influenza A (H1N1) viruses and influenza B viruses. The 2014-15 influenza season was an H3N2 predominant, moderately severe season overall, and especially severe for people 65 and older. Adults 65 and older had the highest hospitalization rates. Antigenic and genetic characterization showed that most of the circulating influenza A (H3N2) viruses were different from the influenza A (H3N2) component of the 2014–15 Northern Hemisphere vaccines, resulting in reduced vaccine effectiveness against circulating H3N2 viruses.



Right:  Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James. DoD photo  

AF Secretary Describes Space Flight Milestones, Challenges
By Amaani Lyle
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, June 4, 2015 – Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James yesterday outlined the Air Force’s contributions to human space flight advancement and discussed projected milestones and investments in space.

James delivered the keynote address at the Center for American Progress at an event marking the 50th anniversary of Air Force Maj. Ed White leaving his Gemini 4 spacecraft to become the first American to walk in space.

“Space-based capabilities and effects are vital today to U.S. warfighting, homeland security and, indeed, to our way of life,” James said. “Space provides us with position, navigation and timing … [and] helps us with communications used in international banking, global commerce and remote sensing to deter against nuclear war.”

And space is not only an enabler for other domains, the secretary said, but also directly affects the calculus of national security. Though for many years people largely perceived the space environment as peaceful, James warned that is no longer necessarily so.

“Today our satellites … are threated by a proliferation of man-made space debris and by those who would deliberately seek to counter some of our advantages or capabilities in space,” the secretary said.

New Threats Require Different Thinking

The United States needs to think differently about strategies to buffer against increasing threats in space, James said, and posturing for defense and situational awareness in the domain are good starts. “We need to … prepare for the day when a conflict on Earth could translate to effects in space,” she added.

She cited success with the Air Force’s launch provider, United Launch Alliance.

“The Air Force [Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle] program has had an unprecedented 100 percent launch success rate for almost 13 years,” James said. “We also have been encouraging newer launch providers … like SpaceX, to help us re-energize the industrial base and to reintroduce competition into the launch service arena.”

Recently, SpaceX and its Falcon 9 rocket were certified as the national security space launch service provider, which James said enables the Air Force to compete launch services for the first time in almost a decade. Leveraging competition will help the Air Force drive down taxpayer costs and boost space resiliency, she added.

Humans Will Soon Go to Mars

James said President Barack Obama’s national space transportation policy calls on NASA to develop the necessary capabilities to support human exploration of Mars.

During a recent speech at the Kennedy Space Center, Obama proclaimed that by the mid-2030s, he believes the United States can safely send humans to orbit Mars and return to Earth, and that landing on Mars will follow.

“The day we land on Mars -- and I, for one, hope that an airman will be on that mission … who will do so in the spirit of Ed White, this will be huge,” James said.

The Air Force’s support of the evolving space enterprise that will continue the exploration and development of space is equally important, the secretary said.

“The U.S. space infrastructure will grow to include capabilities such as on-orbit servicing, assembly of large orbiting structures and routine use of extraterrestrial resources,” she said, adding that returning to manned missions from U.S. soil will also be among the Air Force’s significant developments.

Innovation With Industry

Innovation and collaboration with industry keep the Air Force at the forefront of space capabilities nationally and globally, James said, and pays dividends for national space programs.

“The Gemini IV launch and Ed’s spacewalk … serve as shining examples of what our government can do when we work in close collaboration with industry,” she said. “So much of what we do depends on that innovation that comes to us from industry.”

With last year’s announcement that NASA selected SpaceX and Boeing to develop the commercial crew capsule, the secretary said she believes it’s “very likely” that airmen will return to space by way of Air Force launch facilities before the decade’s end. “That will mean the days of relying on Russians in this way will be numbered,” she added.

As the Defense Department’s executive agent for space, James said, she looks broadly across the enterprise at its strategy, budgets and threats. This, she told the audience, calls for greater investments in training, doctrine and tactics, just in the air and cyber domains.

Space situational awareness, or “the eyes in the sky,” underpins the domain’s programs, specifically related to launching humans and national security payloads into orbit, the secretary said. In July 2014 for example, the Air Force launched two geosynchronous space situational awareness program vehicles that are currently progressing with on-orbit research, development, testing and evaluation.

“This program is going to provide us with unprecedented awareness of the activities of other satellites and geosynchronous and geostationary orbits,” James said, adding that it will be “one of our key neighborhood watch programs.”

Pending an approved budgetary request, the Air Force is on track for the 2019 introduction of the Space Fence, which the secretary said can track smaller objects in low-Earth orbit, adapting capabilities to the trend of smaller and more capable satellites. “Even very small pieces of debris can do enormous damage to these precious satellites,” she said.

People are Greatest Factor in Space

Airmen, James said, have been seminal contributors to space advancement over the decades, including pioneers such as Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who became the second moonwalker as part of the Apollo 11 mission and set a spacewalk record with five and a half hours outside the spacecraft during the Gemini 12 mission.

More recent examples, she said, include retired Air Force Gen. Kevin Chilton, who logged more than 704 hours in space before serving as commander of U.S. Strategic Command, and retired Air Force Col. Eileen Collins, who logged 872 hours in space and was the first woman to pilot a shuttle and command a shuttle mission.

James also noted Air Force Col. Terry Virts’ service as commander of the International Space Station, which, over the past 15 years, has been inhabited by astronauts from around the globe to advance space goals for humanity.

Orbiting 250 miles above the Earth, Virts and his team are responsible for “the most comprehensive study of year-long effects of space on the human body,” James said. The study, she added, will yield “absolutely essential information and insight … that will be pivotal in determining how humans will ultimately survive a mission to Mars.”

But in considering how to inspire and motivate future airmen in space, James noted that the Air Force’s contributions don’t begin and end with astronauts. Thousands of engineers, scientists, maintainers and other dedicated professionals also work toward sustaining America’s leadership in space, and launch infrastructure rockets such as the Atlas and Delta have been “workhorses” for space exploration, she said.

Defense Department investments include billions of dollars in the space industrial base and James said she predicted a budget uptick in that area due to the program’s significance.

Encouraging Future Airmen, Astronauts

But capabilities alone will not suffice in keeping an advantage in space, James said.

“Our airmen … must continue and become even more well versed in space, its application and its defense,” the secretary said. “Our airmen have to enhance their knowledge of how information … permeates all military systems and contributes to critical information and vital intelligence.”

Nurturing greater interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers focused on space will ensure future airmen have a sustained zeal and curiosity for the field, James said. The Air Force and the Air Force Association partnered with industry to develop a program, Stellar Explorers, a STEM-themed group encouraging friendly competition in innovation and this year, coincided with the Space Symposium in Colorado, she noted.

“I’m hopeful … that programs like Stellar Explorers will inspire our youth and put them on a path toward careers involving space that is enriching, rewarding and fun. … Let’s face it -- space is fun,” James said.


Growing the Trans-Atlantic Digital Economy
Catherine A. Novelli
Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment
Lisbon Council
Brussels, Belgium
June 2, 2015

I. Introduction

Good afternoon. It is a great pleasure to be here in Brussels. I want to thank the Lisbon Council for bringing us together to discuss the important topic of growing the transatlantic digital economy.

Digital economy issues have been in the news a lot lately, especially with the release of the European Union’s Digital Single Market initiative. Some of that press attention has centered on the huge importance of a dynamic transatlantic digital economy and its implications for the rest of the world.

II. The Digital Single Market and EU History

Having worked on U.S.–European trade issues for 30 years, I am struck by how similar today’s debate over the Digital Single Market is to previous efforts to integrate and unify Europe’s national markets. As far back as the establishment of the European Steel and Coal Community in 1951, European leaders have negotiated agreements to capture the economic benefits of larger, better integrated markets, and made sure those benefits flowed to ordinary people. This process took a huge step forward in 1992, when European leaders first established a single EU market with four freedoms: the free movement of goods, services, people, and capital.

In America, the excitement and promise of a European single market was tempered by the concern that “1992” would result in a “Fortress Europe”. Fueled by the statements of some EU policymakers, there were fears that the post 1992 EU would focus on creating European champions and using discriminatory regulations and standards to close off markets to non-EU companies. Happily for the world, EU policymakers saw the real promise in the twin values of openness and integration. After energetic debate, the single market dismantled barriers, more deeply integrated the EU, and made Europe both more competitive as well as a global force for open, rules-based trade and investment.

Everyone, including U.S. firms, cheered – and invested. They cheered again two years later, when with strong impetus from the U.S. and EU, we concluded the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations and created the World Trade Organization. The combination of these two powerful liberalizing events had a transformative effect not just on the U.S. and Europe, but on the global economy. Twenty years later, the United States and the EU account for one-third of world trade in goods and services and nearly half of global economic output. U.S. companies have invested more than $2.4 trillion in Europe, nearly half of total U.S. foreign direct investment, while EU companies have invested more than $1.7 trillion in the United States. Thirteen million jobs for our citizens depend on our trade and investment flows.

There is analogous promise for Europe’s single digital market. Tearing down regulatory walls and moving from 28 national markets to a single digital market could contribute 415 billion Euros per year to the European economy and 3.8 million EU jobs in the digital economy alone.

There are some that say that Europe is behind America in the digital space and the EU therefore needs to promulgate policies that hold back U.S. companies so European ones can catch up. But the truth is that Internet related companies are already one of the most dynamic areas of the European economy.

According to a study published in 2014, Europe has produced 30 technology companies worth more than $1 billion since 2000, comparing well with the United States, which produced 39 billion-dollar companies between 2003 and 2013. Some of these are becoming household names, like Sweden’s Spotify, the UK’s King Digital, and Germany’s Zalando.

The growth of the EU’s digital economy is impressive and, with the right policies on both sides of the Atlantic, our digital economies can grow even more. We believe that achieving this goal requires four, key policies: flexible, interoperable standards; efficient cross-border data flows; expanded high-speed Internet access; and Internet-friendly trade agreements.

III. The Importance of Standards for Innovation and Growth

Our digital economies rely upon flexible and interoperable standards. With 4.9 billion connected devices on the planet and many billions more being added over the next decade, we need commonly-agreed technical solutions and standards that ensure the interoperability, security, and portability of digital devices. One of the strengths of the digital economy is that these standards have largely been developed not by governments but voluntarily by the engineers who know innovation best, outside of formal government channels.

Technical experts in major standards-setting organizations, like the World Wide Web Consortium, IEEE or the Internet Engineering Task Force, develop standards through open, participatory processes. They have proven more than capable of addressing issues with the speed and flexibility required in a rapidly changing Internet environment. We believe supporting these processes is fundamentally in the interest of both the United States and Europe.

IV. The Importance of Information Flows for Innovation and Growth

Policies that allow for the free flow of data are just as important as flexible, interoperable standards, and are absolutely critical to the functioning of our economies.

Cross-border data flows between the United States and Europe are already the highest in the world—50 percent higher than data flows between the United States and Asia and almost double the data flows between the United States and Latin America. Nearly 40 percent of data flows between the United States and Europe are over business and research networks.

Combined with the Internet backbone, these data flows enable us to deliver a huge range of activity we have all come to depend on including email, social networking platforms, online shopping sites, and e-banking. The U.S. and the EU are the two largest net exporters of digital goods and services to the rest of the world. In 2012, the United States’ $151 billion trade surplus in digital services was surpassed only by the EU’s $168 billion surplus. What is even more interesting, is the link between digital services and the bricks-and-mortar economy. In the EU, a full 53 percent of digital services imported from the U.S. (including consulting, engineering, design, and financial services) were used in the production of EU physical goods exports. A similar percentage of EU digital services went directly to U.S. exports.

At the same time, vast new data flows raise a number of privacy and security issues that need to be addressed to maintain the confidence of businesses, researchers, innovators, and ordinary citizens in the system. The United States and Europe need to bridge any differences in a way that will keep our transatlantic digital economy healthy. The Safe Harbor Framework is a strong example of one such bridge.

Since it was established 15 years ago, almost 3500 organizations across a broad range of industries have become Safe Harbor certified. These include large, multination corporations, medium sized firms, but also a surprisingly large number of small and medium enterprises, more than 60 percent of Safe Harbor companies are SMEs. By strengthening and affirming the Safe Harbor framework, we can effectively work with European partners to ensure that data can be transferred across borders freely and securely. We look forward to concluding the renegotiations in the very near future.

V. The Importance of Internet Access for Innovation and Growth

The Internet’s power is its universality. To completely fulfill the Internet’s promise, we want to work with the European Commission and other Internet savvy countries to redouble development efforts to extend Internet access to everyone. Unfortunately, the benefits of economic development – access to education, medicine, information and global markets that are fostered by the Internet are not yet shared by all. Roughly three out of every five people in the world today remain without Internet access – and in the poorest countries that figure can top 95%.

Studies show a direct link between internet connectivity and development. For every 10% increase in a country’s broadband penetration, GDP growth increases by 1 to 2%.

There’s a reason why access is relatively high in Colombia but low in Venezuela; high in Malaysia but low in North Korea; high in Kenya but low in Ethiopia. Some governments do much more than others to make access possible. Countries everywhere – including the United States and EU Member States – need clear and comprehensive national broadband plans that allow for private investment, encourage competition, remove bureaucratic obstacles and take full advantage of shared Internet services at schools, libraries, community centers and cafes.

With that goal in mind, we are looking for ways to partner with countries, regional development banks, network engineers, and industry leaders to foster a sound policy environment for a healthy Internet and substantially increase broadband access in the developing world.

VI. Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

I would also like to say a few words about the impact of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, on the Trans-Atlantic digital economy.

As we all know, a central goal of nearly all trade agreements, including TTIP, is to reduce or eliminate tariffs and non-tariff barriers to trade. This includes for physical goods provided via the Internet as well as digitally provided services.

What is also sometimes forgotten is how removal of these barriers helps small, innovative firms just getting started in the market. Ninety-nine percent of European and U.S. companies—over 20 million companies in the European Union and 28 million in the United States—are small and medium-sized companies, and these companies provided well over two-thirds of all net new jobs in both the United States in the European Union in recent decades. The Internet has made it possible for a small firm to be a global company from day one, with the reach and capabilities that once only large companies could possess.

SMEs with a strong Web presence earn twice as much from exports as those without a Web presence according to a 2011 McKinsey study. The same study revealed that connected SMEs also created more than twice the number of jobs as others.

However, trade barriers that restrict data flows, such as localization requirements, impair this economic growth. Data localization would mean that all technology or Internet start-ups would face much higher barriers to market entry – they would have to build a physical local infrastructure in every jurisdiction in which they operate. And, these infrastructure costs are staggering.

To build a data center in Brazil, Chile or the United States, per some estimates, a European technology start-up would spend $60.9 million in Brazil, $51.2 million in Chile, and $43 million in the U.S., with enormous additional energy and other operating costs. That creates extremely high barriers of entry for indigenous Internet and technology companies in Europe and across the world. It is in all of our interests to oppose these efforts and enshrine the free flow of data into trade agreements such as TTIP.

VII. Conclusion

As Monnet and Schuman, the founders of the European idea, knew, the free flow of goods, services, and ideas is not just a powerful formula for economic growth – it also reinforces the peaceful, democratic societies we all cherish. This is why we believe so strongly that a strong, single digital EU market that promotes growth, freedom and the free flow of knowledge in the EU and worldwide, will strengthen Trans-Atlantic ties and the world economy. Whether through TTIP, the Safe Harbor framework, or dozens of other proposals and collaborations intended to promote the digital economy, we are committed to working toward a Trans-Atlantic market that is as open, secure, and seamless as possible.

Thank you very much.

Thursday, June 4, 2015


Information About the Recent OPM Cybersecurity Incident

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) recently became aware of a cybersecurity incident affecting its systems and data that may have exposed the personal information of current and former Federal employees.

Beginning June 8 and continuing through June 19, 2015, OPM will be sending email and U.S. mail notifications to current and former Federal employees potentially impacted by the incident.

The communication will contain information regarding services being provided at no cost to individuals impacted by the incident, including credit report access, credit monitoring, identity theft insurance, and recovery services.


On the Occasion of Sweden's National Day
Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
June 4, 2015

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Sweden on the 206th anniversary of the adoption of your constitution.

Sweden’s constitution encapsulates the freedoms to which people all over the world aspire. Together, Sweden and the United States continue to promote our shared values of democracy, respect for human rights, and rule of law across the globe.

We value innumerable Swedish and Swedish-American contributions to the social, economic, and religious development of the United States, such as the historic Swedish settlements in my hometown of Boston, whose traditions we continue to honor today. In particular, Swedes and Swedish-Americans share a rich history of exploration. Swedish-American Charles Lindbergh paved the way for transatlantic travel and Swedish-American astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin led us to the moon. Today, that legacy continues with Christer Fuglesang, the first Swedish citizen in space.

As you celebrate your national day with family and friends, the United States stands with you as a steadfast partner and looks forward to continuing to address global challenges and expand ties between our peoples. I wish all Swedish people continued peace and prosperity.


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

SOUTHWEST ASIA, June 4, 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

Bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted eight airstrikes in Syria:

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

-- Near Raqqah, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying six ISIL excavators and an ISIL vehicle.

-- Near Kobani, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units and two ISIL mortar positions, destroying an ISIL vehicle.

Airstrikes in Iraq

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

-- Near Baghdadi, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying an ISIL structure.

-- Near Beiji, three airstrikes struck land features denying ISIL a tactical advantage, destroying an ISIL vehicle-borne improvised explosive device.

-- Near Mosul, one airstrike had inconclusive results.

-- Near Ramadi, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying an ISIL excavator.

-- Near Sinjar, two airstrikes struck an ISIL large tactical unit, destroying three ISIL heavy machine guns, three ISIL buildings and two ISIL vehicles.

-- Near Tal Afar, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying two ISIL heavy machine guns and two ISIL buildings.

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 conducting airstrikes in Syria include the United States, Bahrain, Canada, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

WHITE HOUSE VIDEO: 6/3/15: White House Press Briefing


On the Occasion of Denmark's National Day
Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
June 3, 2015

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Denmark on the 166th anniversary of the adoption of your constitution.

As NATO Allies and partners, we share a commitment to promoting democracy and prosperity around the globe. Our close collaboration on challenges ranging from the fight against extremist ideology to combatting global climate change will continue to unite us in the future.

I have especially appreciated Denmark’s support for sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic, particularly as the United States begins it two-year chairmanship of the Arctic Council.

We also have a special appreciation for the contributions of Danish-Americans and Danish immigrants such as Gutzon Borglum, who chiseled the iconic Mount Rushmore; photojournalist Jacob Riis, whose reporting set the gold standard for modern photojournalism; and William Christian, the founder of the San Francisco ballet.

In the aftermath of the terror attacks in Denmark in February, the world was reminded of your nation’s incredible courage. Tens of thousands of people held vigils in Danish cities in solidarity for your tradition of religious tolerance and freedom of expression.

I extend my warmest regards to the Danish people on your Constitution Day, secure in the knowledge that our two nations are joined in unwavering friendship and a vibrant partnership for the 21st century.

WHITE HOUSE VIDEO: The President Awards the Medal of Honor Posthumously to World War I Vete...


Export-Import Bank Chairman Fred P. Hochberg’s Statement on Recent Export Data Released from Commerce Department
U.S. Exports Reach $189.9 Billion in April

Washington, D.C. – According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) of the U.S. Commerce Department, the United States exported $189.9 billion of goods and services in April, 2015. Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) Chairman and President Fred P. Hochberg issued the following statement with respect to April’s export data released by BEA.

“These numbers are a testament to the ingenuity of U.S. exporters, who face off against tough foreign competitors in the global marketplace every day in order to win sales and create more middle class American jobs,” said Hochberg. “At EXIM, we are proud to serve as a vital resource for thousands of American businesses, 90 percent of which are small, by equipping them with financing tools that empower them to confidently export while creating jobs here at home.”


EXIM Bank is an independent federal agency that supports and maintains U.S. jobs by filling gaps in private export financing at no cost to American taxpayers. The Bank provides a variety of financing mechanisms, including working capital guarantees and export credit insurance, to promote the sale of U.S. goods and services abroad. Ninety percent of its transactions directly serve American small businesses.

In fiscal year 2014, EXIM Bank approved $20.5 billion in total authorizations. These authorizations supported an estimated $27.5 billion in U.S. export sales, as well as approximately 164,000 American jobs in communities across the country.


Tuesday, June 2, 2015
Alleged Drug Kingpins Charged with Multi-State Operation That Imported 1,000 Kilograms of Heroin from Mexico into the United States

A 108-count superseding indictment unsealed today charges 37 people (see chart) as participants in a multi-state heroin trafficking organization with ties to Mexico.  The charges, which include conducting a continuing criminal enterprise, conspiracy to commit money laundering, 62 counts of money laundering and 43 substantive drug charges, were announced by U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and Special Agent-in-Charge Gary Tuggle for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Members of the Laredo Drug Trafficking Organization (DTO) are charged with the distribution and attempted distribution of multi-kilogram quantities of heroin in Philadelphia. According to the indictment, since 2008, the Laredo DTO has manufactured and imported heroin from its operation in Mexico and supplied other DTOs in Philadelphia, Chicago Camden, New Jersey,  and elsewhere.

Brothers Antonio and Ismael Laredo, the alleged leaders of the Laredo DTO, are charged with engagement in a continuing criminal enterprise.  They allegedly supervised 21 defendants who are charged with participation in a conspiracy to import heroin from Mexico into the United States and conspiracy to distribute kilogram quantities of heroin manufactured in and smuggled from Mexico into the United States.  According to the superseding indictment, the Laredo DTO smuggled-in from Mexico approximately 1,000 kilograms of heroin using various concealment techniques including placing kilogram quantities of heroin in car batteries, car bumpers, concealed vehicle traps and sealed fruit and vegetable cans.  Antonio and Ismael Laredo allegedly recruited and hired couriers in the United States to transport and deliver multi-kilogram shipments of heroin, originating in Mexico, to heroin distributors affiliated with the Laredo DTO located in Philadelphia, Camden, New Jersey, Chicago, Atlanta, and New York, New York.  Defendant Antonio Marcelo Barragan allegedly served as a Mexican-based supplier of raw opium.  Defendant Alejandro Sotelo allegedly served as a stash house operator and distributor of the DTO’s product in Chicago, where he arranged trans-shipment of multi-kilogram quantities of heroin to Philadelphia, New Jersey and New York.

It is further alleged that the Laredo DTO supplied street level heroin bagging and packaging operations in Philadelphia; that heroin, in quantities ranging from 15 to 50 kilograms at a time was regularly moved between the Chicago, operation and the Philadelphia operation; and that members of the DTO, including the Laredo brothers, used violence, such as assaults and kidnapping, threats of violence, including murder and arson and firearms to protect the DTO’s product and proceeds and to prevent members from withdrawing from the organization.  The indictment alleges that the Laredo DTO supplied multi-kilogram quantities of heroin to other drug traffickers in the Philadelphia area, including the (Christian) Serrano DTO, charged elsewhere, the (Darbin and Gabriel) Vargas DTO and the Camden, New Jersey, based (Confesor) Montalvo organization, among others.

According to the indictment, members of the Laredo DTO would transport heroin shipments by various means, including car and train.  In 2012, a courier concealed three kilograms of heroin inside a car battery for transport from Mexico to Philadelphia; another shipment of four kilograms was concealed inside a car speaker box; a shipment of 7.6 kilograms of heroin was concealed in sealed fruit and vegetable cans in Texas and the couriers were directed to deliver the heroin to defendants Darbin Vargas and Gabriel Vargas, of the Vargas DTO in Philadelphia, in September 2012.  The indictment alleges that the Laredo brothers arranged for the manufacture and production of car batteries in Mexico containing concealed compartments to hold multiple kilograms of heroin which were then used to surreptitiously import heroin into the United States.

The indictment further alleges that the Laredo brothers had numerous relatives and associates set up “funnel accounts” that were used for the purpose of laundering the proceeds of the drug operation back to Mexico.  According to the indictment, using a variety of money laundering techniques, including the use of the funnel accounts, wire transfers of funds and Western Union money grams, the DTO was able to launder at least $5 million of its heroin proceeds back to Mexico, where the Laredo brothers resided.  It was further a part of the conspiracy that the Laredo brothers directed defendant Osmar Flores, doing business as Tri-Country Auto Sales Inc. in Rockford, Illinois, to collect and deposit large sums of cash representing proceeds of the Laredo DTO's heroin trafficking sales in the U.S. to the business bank account of Tri Country Auto Sales Inc.  Portions of those funds were allegedly used to purchase multiple vehicles used to transport heroin from Mexico and bulk U.S. currency from the United States to Mexico, in concealed compartments.  In addition, defendant Osmar Flores transmitted proceeds of the heroin operation back to the Laredos, both by wire transfers and bulk transfers of cash.

“This indictment and the arrests this morning are a significant victory in our efforts to combat drug trafficking,” said U.S. Attorney Memeger.  “Because of the persistent and collaborative efforts of multiple law enforcement agencies across the country, a major supplier of heroin to the Philadelphia region is out of business.”

“Heroin is the top enforcement priority of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Philadelphia Field Division,” said Special Agent-in-Charge Tuggle.  “Dismantling this extremely violent international drug trafficking organization ended the flow of hundreds of kilograms of Mexican based heroin into the Philadelphia region and is a direct result of DEA’s resolve to make our communities safer.  This was a cooperative effort with local, state and federal agencies.  The flow of Mexican produced heroin into southeast Pennsylvania has been significantly impacted.”

If convicted, the Laredo brothers each face a mandatory sentence of life in prison, tens to hundreds of millions of dollars in fines, as well as a criminal forfeiture judgment to the United States of up to $60 million; most of the remaining drug trafficking defendants face mandatory minimum sentences of at least 10 years in prison (see attached chart).

The case was investigated by the  DEA’s offices in Philadelphia, Camden, New Jersey, Mexico City, Mexico, Chicago and Rockford, Illinois, Newark, New Jersey, New York, New York, Tyler, Texas, Raleigh, North Carolina, Jefferson City and St. Louis, Missouri, Richmond, Virginia, and the DEA Special Operations Division; FBI in Philadelphia; U.S. Marshal Service; Homeland Security Investigations in Philadelphia and Richmond, Virginia; Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the Philadelphia Police Department; Darby Borough Police Department; SEPTA Transit Police Department; Berks County District Attorney’s Office; Bucks County District Attorney’s Office in New Jersey; the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, Parole Board, Cherry Hill Police Department, Delaware River Port Authority Police, Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, Camden County Sherriff’s Office; in Illinois: Rockford Police Department, Will County Sheriff's Department, Skokie Police Department, Aurora Police Department, Oak Lawn Police Department, Addison Police Department, Prospect Heights Police Department, Chicago Police Department, Arlington Heights Police Department, West Chicago Police Department, Cook County Sheriff's Department and McHenry County Narcotics Task Force; in Texas: Texas Department of Safety, CID Mt. Pleasant, Mt. Pleasant Police Department; in Missouri: Missouri State Highway Patrol, Audrain County Sheriff’s Department, East Central Drug Task Force; in Virginia: the Mecklenberg County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office and the Virginia State Police; and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in North Carolina.  Assistance was provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the Northern District of Illinois and the Eastern District of Virginia.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Joseph T. Labrum III.


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

SOUTHWEST ASIA, June 3, 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, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted four airstrikes in Syria:

-- Near Hasakah, two airstrikes struck one large and one small ISIL tactical unit, destroying six ISIL fighting positions.

-- Near Dayr Az Zawr, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying an ISIL armored vehicle.

Airstrikes in Iraq

Attack, bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 18 airstrikes in Iraq, approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense:

-- Near Baghdadi, one airstrike destroyed an ISIL fighting position.

-- Near Huwayjah, one airstrike struck an ISIL vehicle-borne improvised explosive device facility.

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

-- Near Beiji, three airstrikes struck land features, denying ISIL a tactical advantage and destroying three ISIL vehicles.

-- Near Fallujah, one airstrike struck land features, denying ISIL a tactical advantage.

-- Near Kirkuk, one airstrike struck two ISIL fighting positions.

-- Near Mosul, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and land features, denying ISIL a tactical advantage and destroying an ISIL heavy machine gun and an ISIL building.

-- Near Ramadi, three airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units, destroying five ISIL structures, two ISIL IEDs and two ISIL vehicles.

-- Near Sinjar, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and an ISIL tunnel system, destroying an ISIL heavy machine gun.

-- Near Tal Afar, three airstrikes struck three ISIL tactical units and land features, denying ISIL a tactical advantage and destroying three ISIL heavy machine guns, two ISIL vehicles and an ISIL building.

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.


Rates of new melanomas – deadly skin cancers – have doubled over last three decades
Without community skin cancer prevention efforts, melanoma rates will continue to climb

Melanoma rates doubled between 1982 and 2011 but comprehensive skin cancer prevention programs could prevent 20 percent of new cases between 2020 and 2030, according to this month’s Vital Signs report.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S., and melanoma is the most deadly type of skin cancer. More than 90 percent of melanoma skin cancers are due to skin cell damage from ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure. Melanoma rates increased from 11.2 per 100,000 in 1982 to 22.7 per 100,000 in 2011. The report notes that without additional community prevention efforts, melanoma will continue to increase over the next 15 years, with 112,000 new cases projected in 2030. The annual cost of treating new melanoma cases is projected to nearly triple from $457 million in 2011 to $1.6 billion in 2030.

This Vital Signs report shows that melanoma is responsible for more than 9,000 skin cancer deaths each year. In 2011, more than 65,000 melanoma skin cancers were diagnosed. By 2030, according to the report, effective community skin cancer prevention programs could prevent an estimated 230,000 melanoma skin cancers and save $2.7 billion dollars in treatment costs. Successful programs feature community efforts that combine education, mass media campaigns, and policy changes to increase skin protection for children and adults.

“Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, and it’s on the rise,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a hat and clothes that cover your skin. Find some shade if you’re outside, especially in the middle of the day when the dangerous rays from the sun are most intense, and apply broad-spectrum sunscreen.”

Researchers reviewed data from CDC’s National Program of Cancer Registries and the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program (SEER) to help determine the increase in melanoma rates.

“The rate of people getting melanoma continues to increase every year compared to the rates of most other cancers, which are declining,” said Lisa Richardson, MD, MPH, Director of the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control. “If we take action now, we can prevent hundreds of thousands of new cases of skin cancers, including melanoma, and save billions of dollars in medical costs.”

This Vital Signs report highlights the recommendations for communities from the Community Guide for Preventive Services. Communities can increase shade on playgrounds, at public pools, and other public spaces, promote sun protection in recreational areas, encourage employers, childcare centers, schools, and colleges to educate about sun safety and skin protection, and restrict the availability and use of indoor tanning by minors.  Everyone is encouraged to protect their skin with protective clothing, wide-brimmed hats, broad-spectrum SPF sunscreen, and seek shade outdoors.

Through the Affordable Care Act, more Americans will qualify to get healthcare coverage that fits their needs and budget, including important preventive services. Behavioral counseling is now provided with no cost-sharing to counsel people aged 10–24 years with fair skin about limiting their exposure to UV radiation to reduce risk of skin cancer. Visit or call 1-800-318-2596 (TTY/TDD 1-855-889-4325) to learn more.

To learn about CDC’s efforts to prevent skin cancer, visit:

Vital Signs is a report that appears on the first Tuesday of the month as part of the CDC journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The report provides the latest data and information on key health indicators. These are cancer prevention, obesity, tobacco use, motor vehicle passenger safety, prescription drug overdose, HIV/AIDS, alcohol use, health care-associated infections, cardiovascular health, teen pregnancy, and food safety.


Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch Delivers Remarks at The Society Shelter Safe House for Human Trafficking Victims
RīgaLatvia ~ Tuesday, June 2, 2015
Remarks as prepared for delivery

Good morning and thank you for an especially warm welcome.  It is a pleasure to be in Latvia and a special privilege to join you today in the beautiful city of Riga.  I’d like to thank the Latvian government for their hospitality – and particularly Minister of Justice [Dzintars] Rasnačs for accompanying us on our visit this afternoon.  I’d also like to thank all of the impressive staff here at Safe House and recognize their outstanding commitment to public service.  It is an honor to see this remarkable facility, to witness the all-too-necessary work being done here and to take inspiration from the hardworking men and women who are committed, each and every day, to improving the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in the world.  The individuals here are standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves; helping to reduce the toll that human trafficking inflicts on citizens both in Latvia and abroad; and restoring the promise of a bright future that everyone deserves.

The governments of both the United States and Latvia share a deep commitment to this work.  Promoting international anti-trafficking efforts is one of my top priorities as Attorney General and the United States Department of Justice is pursuing a comprehensive approach to the issue.  We are collaborating with the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor to create anti-trafficking coordination teams, which have significantly increased the number and quality of human trafficking investigations and prosecutions in the cities where we’ve deployed them.  The FBI also oversees dozens of federal, state and local task forces and working groups that have led to hundreds of arrests and thousands of rescued trafficking survivors.  And alongside aggressive criminal enforcement, we recognize that we must foster an environment in which victims are willing to speak without fear of reprisal, stigma, or punishment.

We do that in part by educating the community about the problem and by supporting the organizations and people trying to make a difference.  I have personally seen how government and civil relief organizations can work together to stem the scourge of human trafficking.  The Safe House where we gather today and Latvia’s interagency anti-trafficking working group are some of the shining examples of that approach.  It is heartening to see the significant assistance that Latvia provides to trafficking victims through state-funded rehabilitation programs and I am especially pleased that the Latvian government has nearly doubled the funding for such programs in just the last two years.  Dedicated efforts by the government and civil society organizations are helping victims, both male and female, to recover and break free from the trauma of sexual abuse, labor exploitation, coerced marriages and emotional and physical violence that could have permanently diverted their paths in life.  Through innovative programs like the Safe House, victims are reclaiming their futures and forging promising paths forward.

Latvia’s efforts to support trafficking victims are vitally important and they are significantly strengthened as a result of the tireless work of someone I would like to personally recognize – and to thank – today.  As many of you know, Gita Miruskina is a lawyer here at the Safe House with a record that speaks volumes about her unwavering dedication, her uncommon depths of compassion and sympathy and her well-known talents for constructively assisting those who need her help the most.  Over the past six years, Gita has helped more than 150 trafficking victims and represented them in nearly 30 cases.  She has worked persistently to hone and expand her victim-centered approach, to lobby for heightened protection for trafficking victims and stronger penalties for traffickers and to raise awareness among government officials and the public about emerging trafficking threats in Latvia and around the world.

That’s why the United States Department of State has chosen Gita to be formally named as one of its anti-trafficking heroes – an extraordinary and well-deserved honor that Secretary of State [John] Kerry will personally bestow in Washington, DC, later this summer.  Gita is the first Latvian to be named an anti-trafficking hero and I know I speak for President Obama and our entire administration when I tell you how proud we are of you and how inspired we are by all that you have accomplished.

The United States is proud not only to recognize Gita’s achievements, but also to support the broader Latvian efforts to combat human trafficking that she exemplifies.  We extend that support in a variety of ways, including trainings for law enforcement officials investigating trafficking and grants for public-awareness campaigns – like the educational trailer you see here in the courtyard.  And we are ready and willing to do more.  Prevention and rehabilitation efforts are essential, but exercising the rule of law through prosecutions and convictions is a necessary complement.  Achieving the full measure of justice for trafficking victims means rigorously investigating and diligently prosecuting those who have inflicted their trauma.  The United States is prepared to assist any country, including Latvia, in reviewing its legal procedures for trafficking cases, in expediting prosecutions and in securing convictions fairly, properly and efficiently.

I know that the work ahead will not be easy.  But when we stand together, work together and strive together – as people of principle, as leaders of conviction and as nations of high ideals – no challenge or setback can deter our efforts in service of this worthy cause.  I thank you all, once again, for your leadership, your collaboration and your friendship.  And I look forward to all that the United States and the Republic of Latvia will continue to achieve together in the months and years to come.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015



Right:  Defense Secretary Ash Carter, left, and Vietnamese Defense Minister Gen. Phung Quang Thanh hold a news conference in Hanoi, Vietnam, June 1, 2015. Carter is on a 10-day trip to meet with Asia-Pacific partner nations and affirm the U.S. commitment to the region. DoD photo by Glenn Fawcett.

Carter: U.S., Vietnam Committed to Defense Relationship
By Cheryl Pellerin
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, June 2, 2015 – The United States and Vietnam are committed to deepening their defense relationship, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said yesterday in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi during a news conference with Defense Minister Gen. Phung Quang Thanh.

Carter also met with Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang and General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong as part of his 10-day trip to meet with Asia-Pacific partner nations and affirm the U.S. commitment to the region.

The two nations have come a long way over the past 20 years, Carter said.

The Next 20 Years

“As the general and I reaffirmed in our meeting today, we're both committed to deepening our defense relationship and laying the groundwork for the next 20 years of our partnership,” he said, adding that a joint vision statement signed yesterday will help the nations do just that.

“Following last year's decision by the United States to partially lift the ban of arms sales to Vietnam, our countries are now committed for the first time to operate together, step up our defense trade and work toward co-production,” Carter said.

This action, and Carter’s stop in Haiphong this week, where he was the first U.S. defense secretary to visit a Vietnamese military base and tour a Vietnamese coast guard vessel, underscores the “continued positive trajectory of the U.S.-Vietnam defense relationship,” he said, “especially in maritime security.”

Earlier this year in Da Nang, the U.S. and Vietnamese navies practiced using the code for unplanned encounters at sea, Carter said.

Peacekeeping Training

The United States will provide $18 million to the Vietnamese coast guard to purchase American Metal Shark patrol vessels, the secretary added, and the U.S. is helping to stand up a new peacekeeping training center for the Vietnamese military so they can participate in peacekeeping operations around the world.

“I'm pleased to announce today that the Department of Defense will assign a peacekeeping expert to our embassy here in Hanoi to work with the Vietnamese Defense Ministry to help prepare for their inaugural deployment to U.N. peacekeeping operations,” Carter said.

The secretary also returned two war artifacts to the Vietnamese people: a diary and a belt that belonged to a Vietnamese soldier. He said the U.S. military hopes to see the artifacts returned to their rightful owner or his family.

“With this exchange, we continue to help heal the wounds of our past,” the secretary said.

Commitment to Vietnam

In a statement summarizing Carter’s other activities yesterday, Pentagon officials said he reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to Vietnam and the Asia-Pacific region, reiterating U.S. support for a regional architecture that allows all Asia-Pacific countries to rise and prosper.

In his meetings, Carter discussed progress on legacy-of-war issues, support for Vietnamese peacekeeping training and operations, and cooperation on search-and-rescue, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

The secretary and his counterparts expressed a desire to leverage the joint vision statement to open the door to greater military-to-military cooperation that would allow the United States and Vietnam to more effectively work together to promote regional and global security, the statement said.

Maritime Security

Carter also discussed maritime security issues and the South China Sea. He pledged continued U.S. support to build Vietnamese maritime security capacity and underscored U.S. commitment to a peaceful resolution to disputed claims there made in accordance with international law.

“With this visit,” Carter said during the news conference, “we continue to lay the foundation for a bright future. With our work together, we continue to strengthen the region's security architecture so all our countries and others all around the region can continue to rise and prosper.”


Monday, June 1, 2015
First Tennessee Bank N.A. Agrees to Pay $212.5 Million to Resolve False Claims Act Liability Arising from FHA-Insured Mortgage Lending

First Tennessee Bank N.A. has agreed to pay the United States $212.5 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by knowingly originating and underwriting mortgage loans insured by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Federal Housing Administration (FHA) that did not meet applicable requirements, the Justice Department announced today.  First Tennessee is headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee.

“First Tennessee’s reckless underwriting has resulted in significant losses of federal funds and was precisely the type of conduct that caused the financial crisis and housing market downturn,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “We will continue to hold accountable lenders who put profits before both their legal obligations and their customers, and restore wrongfully claimed funds to FHA and the treasury.”

Between January 2006 and October 2008, First Tennessee, through its subsidiary First Horizon Home Loans Corporation (First Horizon), participated in the FHA insurance program as a Direct Endorsement Lender (DEL).  As a DEL, First Tennessee had the authority to originate, underwrite and endorse mortgages for FHA insurance.  If a DEL such as First Tennessee approves a mortgage loan for FHA insurance and the loan later defaults, the holder of the loan may submit an insurance claim to HUD, FHA’s parent agency, for the losses resulting from the defaulted loan.  Under the DEL program, neither the FHA nor HUD reviews a loan before it is endorsed for FHA insurance.  DELs such as First Tennessee are therefore required to follow program rules designed to ensure that they are properly underwriting and certifying mortgages for FHA insurance, to maintain a quality control program that can prevent and correct deficiencies in their underwriting practices and to self-report any deficient loans identified by their quality control program.  In August 2008, First Tennessee sold First Horizon to MetLife Bank N.A. (MetLife), a wholly-owned subsidiary of MetLife Inc., which thereafter originated FHA-insured mortgages under the MetLife name.  In February 2015, MetLife agreed to pay $123.5 million to resolve its False Claims Act liability arising from its FHA originations after it acquired First Horizon from First Tennessee.

“First Tennessee admitted failings that resulted in poor quality FHA loans,” said Acting U.S. Attorney John A. Horn of the Northern District of Georgia.  “While First Tennessee profited from these loans, taxpayers incurred substantial losses when the loans defaulted.  The settlement, as well as the investigation that preceded it, illustrates that the Department of Justice will closely scrutinize entities that cause financial injury to the government, and, in turn, the American taxpayer.”

The settlement announced today resolves allegations that First Tennessee failed to comply with FHA origination, underwriting and quality control requirements.  As part of the settlement, First Tennessee admitted to the following facts: From January 2006 through October 2008, it repeatedly certified for FHA insurance mortgage loans that did not meet HUD underwriting requirements.  Beginning in late 2007, First Tennessee significantly increased its FHA originations.  The quality of First Tennessee’s FHA underwriting significantly decreased during 2008 as its FHA lending increased.  Beginning no later than early 2008, First Tennessee became aware that a substantial percentage of its FHA loans were not eligible for FHA mortgage insurance due to its own quality control findings.  These findings were routinely shared with First Tennessee’s senior managers.  Despite internally acknowledging that hundreds of its FHA mortgages had material deficiencies, and despite its obligation to self-report findings of material violations of FHA requirements, First Tennessee failed to report even a single deficient mortgage to FHA.  First Tennessee’s conduct caused FHA to insure hundreds of loans that were not eligible for insurance and, as a result, FHA suffered substantial losses when it later paid insurance claims on those loans.

“Our investigation found that First Tennessee caused FHA to pay claims on loans that the bank never should have approved and insured in the first place,” said HUD Inspector General David A. Montoya.  “This settlement reinforces my commitment to combat fraud in the origination of single family mortgages insured by the FHA and makes certain that only qualified, creditworthy borrowers who can repay their mortgages are approved under the FHA program.”

“We are pleased that First Tennessee has acknowledged facts that demonstrate its failure to comply with HUD’s requirements and has agreed to settle with the government,” said HUD General Counsel Helen Kanovsky.  “We thank the Department of Justice and HUD’s Office of Inspector General for all of their efforts in helping us to make this settlement a reality.  We hope this agreement sends a message to those lenders with whom we do business that HUD takes compliance very seriously and so should they.”

The investigation of the allegations in the government’s complaint was a coordinated effort between the Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch, the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Georgia, HUD and HUD’s Office of Inspector General.


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

SOUTHWEST ASIA, June 2, 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

Bomber and fighter aircraft conducted five airstrikes in Syria:

-- Near Hasakah, four airstrikes struck three large and one small ISIL tactical units, destroying two ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL command and control facility, an ISIL mortar system, an ISIL truck and an ISIL weapons cache.

-- Near Kobani, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL fighting position.

Airstrikes in Iraq

Attack, fighter and bomber aircraft conducted 10 airstrikes in Iraq, approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense:

-- Near Huwayjah, an airstrike had inconclusive results.

-- Near Beiji, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and land features denying ISIL a tactical advantage, destroying an ISIL fighting position.

-- Near Fallujah, an airstrike struck land features denying ISIL a tactical advantage.

-- Near Makhmur, two airstrikes struck three ISIL fighting positions.

-- Near Mosul, an airstrike struck an ISIL staging area.

-- Near Sinjar, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units, destroying four ISIL buildings and three ISIL heavy machine guns.

-- Near Tal Afar, an airstrike struck an ISIL heavy machine gun and an ISIL mortar system.

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, officials said.

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.


06/02/2015 11:38 AM EDT
Remarks at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab Future City Workshop
Charles H. Rivkin
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs
Taiwan Air Force (TAF) Innovation Base
Taipei, Taiwan
June 2, 2015

Mr. Premier, Mr. Deputy Minister, distinguished guests, and ladies and gentlemen.

It’s an honor to be part of today’s ceremony. And as a former businessman myself, it’s a pleasure to speak with innovators and aspiring entrepreneurs like you.

Before I was Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs, I was the U.S. Ambassador to France, and before that I spent 20 years working as President and CEO in the entertainment industry in California.

I ran an award-winning entertainment companies such as The Jim Henson Company, which created the world-famous “Muppets.” I also worked at a company called Wildbrain, which created an innovative educational TV series called “Yo Gabba Gabba!”

I want to tell you a quick story about that program. When I worked at Wildbrain, I met these young, creative entrepreneurs in Southern California that wanted to reinvent children’s television. They were parents that didn’t want to watch shows with their children that they couldn’t stand. They wanted to put the “cool” back in preschool.

They created a show that brought in young indie rock bands like the Ting Tings, the Shins, the Roots, Weezer, and Devo. They even had beatboxer Biz Markie teaching counting. So guess what… no one wanted to buy it. They were scared. It was different. No one had seen anything like it before. What if the show failed?

These entrepreneurs borrowed money to produce one episode and put it up on their own website. Traffic was so high that the server crashed. They moved it to YouTube and received millions of hits. Now networks called us begging to pick up the show they had passed on.

Being an entrepreneur means you don’t listen to “no.” You keep pushing. If you fail, you learn from your failure.

Having shared that story, I am profoundly aware that the world has changed in so many ways, especially for people like you. You’re part of a generation that has grown up with two seemingly opposed realities.

One is the idea that the internet, technology and other hallmarks of modern life have made things easier, more accessible and easier to connect with a global community.

But the other reality is this: When it comes to finding economic opportunity, whether that’s finding a job or building a business, there is nothing easy at all. You’re on your own.

So what does a young person do in a world where the only message seems to be: “Create it yourself”? I think we all know the answer to that question. I certainly did as a businessman in California: It’s about being an entrepreneur.

But being an entrepreneur isn’t enough. You can dream about what you want. But you also need support in many different ways.

That can include a business education – I received an MBA myself – or start-up money so you can launch your business. It can be an incubator where you can develop your idea, and in the larger sense, a government that adopts policies that support the aspirations of people like you.

It can also be a reliable and respected system of patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secret protection to promote the products of your innovation and hard work.

As you heard from Dr. Larson, it can mean support from a university that understands the importance of the links between education, innovation, and economic opportunity – and the importance of supporting entrepreneurs so that societies can benefit and prosper.

MIT has been educating leaders since 1861 – when the industrial revolution was at full tilt. Now it’s a leader in the next revolution.

Today, faculty members, research staff, and students at the Media Lab work in more than 25 research groups on more than 350 projects. They include digital approaches for treating neurological disorders, creating stackable electric cars for sustainable cities, and creating new imaging technologies that can “see around a corner.”

Media Lab entrepreneurship programs have already resulted in more than 130 spin-offs – so I am sure you are proud and excited to be part of this. Even the building in which we’re sitting reflects the can-do spirit that is so obviously encouraged here. It used to be an Air Force facility. Now it’s the TAF Innovation Base.

But I’m not only here as a former businessman. I’m also here to tell you that my government – and my Bureau – are working in many different ways to support entrepreneurs and innovators in the Asia-Pacific region and around the world.

Through various efforts such as our Global Entrepreneurship Program – or GEP – we work with the private sector and other partners within the U.S. government to train and empower thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs.

We create programs and workshops similar to this one, and make tools and networks available to you. We help small businesses expand into new markets. We help mobilize new investments.

We connect emerging innovators with mentors and networks, and we expand access to capital.

As we support entrepreneurs in hands-on ways, we also work with other economies to create better environments for innovators like you. That includes working to implement and enforce intellectual property rights so no one can steal your ideas or new products. By protecting innovators and creators, we also reassure their investors to take those risks which propel innovation.

We are happy to be long-term and like-minded partners with Taiwan on IPR protection – not only bilaterally but through organizations like the WTO and APEC.

We undertake these policies not only to protect creators but to generate revenue and create jobs.

And that’s why today, I am pleased to announce the launch of a joint strategy on IPR and innovation, dedicated to enhancing this climate for innovation.

In fact, I am joined today by U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Senior Counsel Mark Cohen, who’s part of a team of U.S. and Taiwan partners focused on precisely that.

In a world where the message is “Create it yourself,” it’s critical to make sure that what you create isn’t just protected but rewarded.

So as this new joint strategy shows, we are very much in your corner as innovators. I would like to share three big reasons why we support you.

First of all, each one of you is a winner. That’s why you’re here today. We know that when you back winners, they tend to spread their success around. They grow communities and economies. That’s why entrepreneurs and small to medium businesses are the backbone of virtually every economy in the world.

Secondly, young people are an enormous human resource in the world, and they’re not being supported enough.

Third, as I mentioned earlier, young people around the world have grown up on the internet and connective technology. We need to harness that potential so they can build businesses, distribute their works, network with others, identify funding sources, and succeed.

When we do that, we help to empower a new generation of problem solvers – which is critical, given the challenges we face around the world.

We have a choice. Do we stand by and let economic frustrations grow? Or do we find ways to support young people, so they can build and develop their ideas and grow their communities and their national economies, and their regional partnerships?

There is really only one answer.

One of the great – I would even say magical – effects of entrepreneurism is its power to ripple outwards.

When you create a new product or service, and then build a business around it, it isn’t just you that benefits. It’s the people you hire. They get a salary that will help their families. It’s also the customers who win from the service or the product or the social benefit you are offering. And when other entrepreneurs do similar things, whole communities begin to see the benefits and prosper.

Imagine what we can do when we empower more entrepreneurs like you to work, not only for yourselves but across this region. You’ll be able to identify common challenges that no economy can meet by itself, like lifting people out of poverty, combating climate change, or preventing the spread of disease. You can share your best ideas and your most inspired works. You can communicate in new ways with people across cultures and between faiths. In writing your own futures, you’ll write better ones for everybody.

President Obama was recently talking with entrepreneurs and he said: “I believe that entrepreneurs like you can make the world a better place, one idea at a time. You are going to be how change happens – one person, one step, one business, one city, one country at a time.”

As I look at you, I can see that’s true. And before I conclude, I want to share a quote from Thomas Edison. As you probably know, he was one of America’s most famous entrepreneurs, who invented so many things, from movie cameras to lightbulbs. He once said: “I haven’t failed. I just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.”

Looking around this room, I see the kind of people who have already found a way that works for them. All you need is a little support. And here under this new partnership between the Taiwan Air Force Innovation Park and the MIT Media Lab, you are in good hands.

So, my sincere congratulations on being part of this fantastic program, and we all look forward to seeing what you can achieve – and how that will contribute to Taiwan’s future, and the world’s future, in the months and years to come. Thank you.