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Saturday, June 13, 2015


Coalition Continues Airstrikes Against ISIL in Syria, Iraq

From a Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve News Release

SOUTHWEST ASIA, June 13, 2015 – U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.

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

Airstrikes in Syria

Attack and fighter aircraft conducted three airstrikes near Kobani, which struck three ISIL tactical units, destroying an ISIL fighting position.

Airstrikes in Iraq

Attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 12 airstrikes in Iraq, approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense:

-- Near Baghdadi, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying two ISIL vehicles, two ISIL fuel tankers and an ISIL heavy machine gun.

-- Near Huwayjah, one airstrike struck an ISIL staging area.

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

-- Near Makhmur, one airstrike struck an ISIL rocket firing positon.

-- Near Mosul, three airstrikes struck two ISIL mortar firing positions, destroying two ISIL fighting positions.

-- Near Sinjar, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units and an ISIL mortar firing position, destroying three ISIL heavy machine guns, an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL structure.

-- Near Tal Afar, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units and an ISIL sniper positon, destroying three ISIL heavy machine guns and three ISIL structures.

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.

WHITE HOUSE VIDEO: Weekly Address: Stand Up for American Workers and Pass TAA

WHTIE HOUSE VIDEO: 6/12/15: White House Press Briefing

WHITE HOUSE VIDEO: West Wing Week: 06/12/15 or, "Walking and Holding Hands"


HHS pursues fast, easy test to detect Ebola virus infections
Promising point-of-care test could improve diagnosis and speed response

To assist doctors in diagnosing Ebola virus disease quickly, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) will pursue development of an Ebola virus diagnostic test for use in a doctor’s office, hospital, clinic, or field setting that will provide results within 20 minutes.

“Fast and inexpensive point-of-care diagnostics will improve our ability to control Ebola virus disease outbreaks,” said Robin Robinson, Ph.D., director of ASPR’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), which will oversee this development program for HHS. “Faster diagnosis of Ebola virus infections allows for more immediate treatment and an earlier response to protect public health worldwide.”

Diagnosing Ebola virus infections quickly in resource-poor areas would enable health care providers to isolate and provide necessary treatment and supportive care to patients suffering from Ebola. Quickly isolating patients helps limit the spread of the disease. Emerging evidence has shown that early initiation of supportive care improves outcomes for patients suffering from Ebola virus disease.

The development of this simple, low-cost, lateral-flow test, called the OraQuick rapid Ebola antigen test, will take place under a $1.8 million contract with OraSure Technologies Inc., headquartered in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Lateral flow tests detect the presence of a virus with a drop of the patient’s blood or saliva on a test strip, similar to the tests used in doctors’ offices to diagnose strep throat.

The agreement supports clinical and non-clinical work necessary to apply for approval of the test by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The contract could be extended for up to a total of 39 months and $10.4 million.

In addition, OraSure will evaluate whether the test can be used in the post-mortem analysis of oral fluids. During the current epidemic, people died before Ebola virus infections could be confirmed, yet the bodies of people infected with Ebola virus would have remained highly infectious. A simple, rapid test that could determine disease status quickly from the body’s oral fluids would facilitate infection control efforts and support the appropriate handling of remains infected with the Ebola virus.

The OraQuick rapid Ebola antigen test is the first point-of-care Ebola virus testing device to receive BARDA support. To help the United States prepare for and control Ebola virus disease outbreaks, BARDA also is supporting development of vaccines to prevent Ebola virus infections and therapeutic drugs to treat the disease.

BARDA is seeking additional proposals for advanced development of new drugs and products to diagnose and treat Ebola and related illnesses.

The new test is part of BARDA’s comprehensive integrated portfolio approach to the advanced research and development, innovation, acquisition, and manufacturing of vaccines, drugs, therapeutics, diagnostic tools, and non-pharmaceutical products for public health emergency threats. These threats include chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) agents, pandemic influenza, and emerging infectious diseases.

ASPR leads HHS in preparing the nation to respond to and recover from adverse health effects of emergencies, supporting communities’ ability to withstand adversity, strengthening health and response systems, and enhancing national health security. HHS is the principal federal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves.


Thursday, June 4, 2015
Three People Arrested in Puerto Rico in a Contractor Major Scheme to Defraud the U.S. Department Of Veterans Affairs

On June 3, 2015, a federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico returned a five count indictment charging Jose A. Rosa-Colon, his brother and business partner, Ivan Rosa-Colon and Louis Enrique Torres with a multi-million dollar Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) scheme to defraud the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.  The charges include major fraud against the United States and wire fraud.  This investigation was conducted by Special Agents from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, Office of Inspector General, Criminal Investigations Division.

The indictment unsealed in federal court today alleges that from on or about 2007 to 2014, Ivan Rosa-Colon, Jose Rosa-Colon and Torres conspired to use Jose Rosa-Colon’s service-disabled veteran status to create BELKRO General Contractors, which was a pass- through or front company for Ivan Rosa-Colon’s other business, IRC Air Contractors.

The indictment alleges that Ivan Rosa-Colon and Louis Torres used Jose Rosa-Colon’s service-disabled veteran status to certify and register BELKRO General Contractors in various government databases as a SDVOSB after Ivan Rosa- Colon learned that President George W. Bush would be signing a government stimulus package encouraging the use of SDVOSB.  The stimulus package would allow for government agencies to award non-competitive, set-aside or sole-source government contracts to SDVOSB like BELKRO General Contractors.

The indictment further alleges that Jose Rosa-Colon, owner of BELKRO General Contractors, was employed as a full-time U.S. Postal Service Carrier; he was not in charge of the day to day operations of BELKRO General Contractors.  Jose Rosa-Colon was simply a figurehead or “rent-a-vet”, who was being used for his service-disabled veteran status to obtain contracts for his brother Ivan Rosa-Colon’s company.  As a result of the scheme, BELKRO General Contractors unlawfully received set-aside and/or sole-source SDVOSB contracts from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, including contracts involving American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds.

If convicted, they face a term of 20 years in prison as to each wire fraud charge and up to ten years in prison for the charges of major fraud against the United States.  Additionally, they face fines of up to $250,000 and up to three years of supervised release as to each count.

This indictment was announced today by U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez for the District of Puerto Rico, Special Agent in Charge Monty Stokes for the Southeast Field Office, Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General, Criminal Investigations Division and Acting Special Agent in Charge Sharon Johnson for the Eastern Regional Office, Small Business Administration, Office of Inspector General.  The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Julia Diaz-Rex.

Members of the public are reminded that an indictment constitutes only charges and that every person is presumed innocent until their guilt has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.


FTC Testifies Before Senate Special Committee on Aging Regarding Efforts to Combat Illegal Robocalls

The Federal Trade Commission highlighted to Congress its multi-faceted approach to protecting consumers from unwanted telemarketing calls and illegal robocalls (prerecorded phone messages) in testimony today before the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging.

Testifying on behalf of the agency, Lois Greisman, Associate Director, FTC’s Division of Marketing Practices, said the Commission is using every tool at its disposal to fight illegal robocalls (some of which target seniors) including aggressive law enforcement, crowdsourcing technical solutions, and robust consumer and business outreach.

To date, the National Do Not Call Registry has garnered more than 217 million active telephone numbers and protected consumers’ privacy from the unwanted calls of tens of thousands of legitimate telemarketers who subscribe to the Registry each year. The FTC amended its Telemarketing Sales Rule in 2009, making the majority of robocalls illegal – regardless of whether a consumer participates in the Registry or not.

According to the written testimony, the Commission has brought 120 Do Not Call enforcement actions against 377 corporations and 298 individuals, of which 37 are robocall enforcement actions against 121 companies and 90 individuals. Of the $100 million collected in Do Not Call cases, $28 million have resulted from cases involving illegal robocalls. The FTC also regularly coordinates its enforcement actions with state and federal law enforcement partners, including referrals to its partners for criminal prosecution.

Yet, illegal robocalls remain a significant problem for consumers because Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and other telephony technology make it possible for telemarketers to blast millions of prerecorded messages at low cost. Many scammers from around the world also use these calls to harass consumers and attempt to defraud them.

Recognizing a need to spur the marketplace to develop technical solutions, the agency has hosted a series of crowdsourcing initiatives in recent years. These public challenges are designed to put solutions in the hands of consumers as well as further the development of investigative tools used by law enforcement.

The qualifying phase of the FTC’s current contest, Robocalls: Humanity Strikes Back, ends on June 15, 2015. The agency is challenging contestants to build solutions for consumers that not only block robocalls from reaching consumers, but also enables them to forward unwanted calls to a crowd-source honeypot so the data will be accessible to law enforcement and industry stakeholders. The FTC is offering up to $50,000 in cash prizes for the winners.            

Staff also engages with industry experts including academics, telecommunication carriers, technology companies, and other counterparts to better understand the robocall landscape and seek new strategies and technical solutions to tackle this difficult issue.


Health Effects of Gas Explosions and Other Petroleum Product Release Incidents — Seven States, 2010–2012
CDC Media Relations

Understanding the characteristics of acute petroleum product releases can aid the public and utility workers in the development of preventive strategies and reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with such releases. Large mass-casualty gas explosions and catastrophic oil spills are widely reported and receive considerable regulatory attention. Smaller, less catastrophic releases are less likely to receive publicity, although study of these incidents might help focus and prioritize prevention efforts.   Data from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry’s acute chemical release surveillance system: the National Toxic Substance Incidents Program (NTSIP) was used to explore the causes and health impacts associated with smaller-scale petroleum product releases. NTSIP found that from 2010–2012 a total of 1,369 petroleum-product-release incidents were reported from seven states, resulting in 512 injured persons and 36 deaths. Approximately 10 percent of petroleum product releases resulted from inadvertent damage to utility lines.

Friday, June 12, 2015


June 12, 2015
Statement by NSC Spokesperson Ned Price on National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice’s Meeting with General Fan Changlong

National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice met on June 12 with General Fan Changlong, Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission of China, at the White House.  Ambassador Rice and General Fan agreed to strengthen coordination in developing a more sustained and productive military-to-military relationship.  They reaffirmed their commitment to deepen cooperation in addressing regional and global challenges, including by increasing coordination in the areas of humanitarian assistance and disaster response.  Ambassador Rice underscored the importance of strengthening risk reduction measures and narrowing areas of disagreement, including on maritime and cyber issues.

WHITE HOUSE VIDEO: 6/12/15: White House Press Briefing


Study may help Department of Veterans Affairs find patients with high-risk of suicide
June 11, 2015, 04:04:00 PM
Study May Help Department of Veterans Affairs Find Patients With High-Risk of Suicide

Clinicians are challenged every day to make difficult decisions regarding patients’ suicide risk. Using Veterans Health Administration (VHA) health system electronic medical record data, Veterans Affairs (VA) and National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) scientists were able to identify very small groups of individuals within the VHA’s patient population with very high, predicted suicide risk -- most of whom had not been identified for suicide risk by clinicians. Such methods can help the VHA to target suicide prevention efforts for patients at high risk, and may have more wide-ranging benefits.

John McCarthy, Ph.D., M.P.H, director of the Serious Mental Illness Treatment Resource and Evaluation Center in the VA Office of Mental Health Operations, Robert Bossarte, Ph.D., director of epidemiology in the VA Office of Public Health, Ira Katz, M.D., senior consultant for mental health program analysis in the VA Office of Mental Health Operations, and colleagues report their findings today in the online issue of American Journal of Public Health. This paper is the result of a collaboration between the VA and NIMH, which is part of the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. McCarthy and colleagues developed their suicide-risk algorithm by studying the VHA patient population from fiscal years 2009-2011. Data on manner of death came from the National Death Index, and predictors of suicide and other types of death came from VHA clinical records. Dividing randomly the patient population in half, the team used data from one half to develop the predictive model, and then tested the model using data from the other half. Each of the two study samples included 3,180 suicide cases and 1,056,004 control patients. Researchers compared predicted suicide risk to actual mortality to assess the performance of the predictive model.

“As the largest health care provider in the U.S., VA has the responsibility to continuously examine how our extensive suicide prevention efforts are working, and to identify critical opportunities for improvement in service to our nation’s Veterans,” said Dr. Caitlin Thompson, Deputy Director for Suicide Prevention for VA. “This collaborative effort with NIMH provides us with unprecedented information that will allow us to design and implement innovative strategies on how to assess and care for those Veterans who may be at high risk for suicide. This model will advance the care provided to Veterans through VA’s suicide prevention programs to allow us to better tailor our suicide prevention efforts so that we can ensure that ALL Veterans remain safe.”

The VHA care system identifies patients as being at high-risk of suicide based on information assessed during clinical encounters. Researchers found that their predictive model was more sensitive than this clinical flagging, in the sense that, even in groups with the highest predicted suicide risk based on the model, less than one-third of patients had been identified clinically.

“This is valuable, because it gives the VA more extensive information about suicide risk,” said Michael Schoenbaum, Ph.D., senior advisor for mental health service, epidemiology and economics at NIMH and one of the co-authors of the report.  “If the VA can identify small groups of people with a particularly high-risk of suicide, then they can target enhanced prevention and treatment services to these highest-risk individuals,”

“It’s particularly encouraging that these analyses use the types of data available to any large health care system,” said NIMH Director Thomas Insel, M.D. “ These methods could help us prevent civilian as well as veteran suicides.”

In addition to identifying suicide risk, the team looked at deaths among people identified as highest risk for suicide in 2010. The team found that this group had both very high suicide and non-suicide death rates over the next 12 months.

“This finding reinforces the idea that using this process to target suicide risk interventions may have wide benefits across an extended span of time,” concluded Dr. Schoenbaum.

McCarthy J.F., et al., Predictive Modeling and Concentration of the Risk of Suicide: Implications for Preventive Interventions in the US Department of Veterans Affairs. American Journal of Public Health (in press)
About the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): The mission of the NIMH is to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery and cure.
About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases.
About the Department of Veterans Affairs: The VA is the second largest Federal department with close to 300,000 employees. The Department's mission is to serve America's veterans and their families with dignity and compassion and to be their principal advocate in ensuring that they receive the care, support and recognition earned in service to this Nation.


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

SOUTHWEST ASIA, June 12, 2015 – U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.

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

Airstrikes in Syria

Attack, bomber and fighter aircraft conducted 10 airstrikes in Syria:

-- Near Raqqah, four airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying three ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL vehicle and an ISIL rocket system.

-- Near Dayr Az Zawr, four airstrikes struck four ISIL crude oil collection points.

-- Near Kobani, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units, destroying an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL mortar firing position.

Airstrikes in Iraq

Attack, bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 13 airstrikes in Iraq, approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense:

-- Near Kirkuk, three airstrikes struck three ISIL tactical units, destroying three ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL motorcycle.

-- Near Mosul, two airstrikes struck an ISIL checkpoint and an ISIL staging area.

-- Near Ramadi, two airstrikes destroyed an ISIL excavator, an ISIL tank and an ISIL artillery piece.

-- Near Tal Afar, four airstrikes struck four ISIL tactical units and an ISIL rocket, destroying five ISIL structures, two ISIL heavy machine guns, an ISIL mortar firing position and an ISIL rocket-propelled grenade.

-- Near Walweed, two airstrikes destroyed an ISIL armored vehicle.

Part of Operation Inherent Resolve

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

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

NASA VIDEO: Jack King's Apollo 11 Launch Commentary

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Dempsey to Naples-based Troops: Military Must be Forward-Deployed
By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

NAPLES, Italy, June 11, 2015 – The United States military needs to be forward-deployed because America does not want to “play a home game,” Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey said in an all-hands call at the naval air facility here.

During the event, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff spoke to service members, DoD civilians and local nationals, answering questions about the extremist threat, Russia and cyber security.

Dempsey said that when the budget gets tight, there is an inclination for many to think the best way to save is by bringing troops back from overseas postings and doing everything from the continental United States. “The truth is, in our line of work, the very last thing we want to do is play a home game,” he said.

Shaping Conflict

“We really want to play an away game and we need teammates to do it. We need to be forward. You need to be forward," he continued. "We need to be closely partnered with NATO allies and other partners who share our values. And we need to be sure that as conflict approaches -- and conflict will approach -- we have a shot at shaping it before we’re in it.”

Dempsey quoted Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu, saying “The side that understands when to fight and when not to fight will take away the victory.”

The American military expends great effort training for the fight, the chairman said, but equal thought is placed on when and when not to fight. “We need to make sure that we have friends and partners in a web, a network of allies so that we bear this burden together,” he said.

This security network -- tended by service members around the world -- is what sets America apart from other large powers, Dempsey said. They do not have these allies and partners, the chairman said, and this worries them. “We’ve got to preserve that system of alliances and we’ve got to play away games,” he said.

ISIL's Threat

Dempsey took questions from service members, and many wanted to know if the United States is doing enough to combat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The extremist group is the latest manifestation of extremist ideology and is operating in the Middle East, North Africa and West Africa.

The chairman said part of the campaign against such extremists is military, and part of it is building regional partners so they “don’t get sucked into this crucible.”

He said the United States is providing capabilities and ensuring regional partners provide the capabilities that they should provide, but asked, "Will it continue to be enough?”

Dempsey detailed the recent decision to open a new training base in Anbar province to train Iraqi forces and reach out to Sunni tribes. It is one of a number of bases in the country to train and supply Iraqi and Kurdish forces.

"If we get to the point where we have to protect our interests, our people [and] our facilities and to guarantee the success, then we’ll have to do that," he said. "But in the meantime, the strategy is to enable them to do it, to have them develop the strategy and we enable it.”

The United States military can do a lot, but it’s up to the Iraqis, Saudis, Israelis and Turks to create an environment where these groups don’t keep appearing, the chairman said. “I’m not portraying for you that I think this will be easy or quick,” he said. “I think we’ve got the right outcome identified and now we have to navigate toward it.”

Addressing Cyber, Budget Issues

On cyber, Dempsey told the service members that there is a healthy debate going on in America over privacy versus security. He said some modest progress has been made. “We do need cyber standards, we do need information sharing agreements between the government and the private sector,” he said. “As to the future, I think like most things we will figure it out. I just hope it doesn’t take a crisis to get us there.”

The DoD budget continues to concern service members. Dempsey explained the situation in Washington and said that the service chiefs are united in telling Congress that American defense is endangered.

“Since we testified to that, we’ve had the following issues manifest themselves: We’ve had an emerging threat from Russia as it becomes aggressive in Eastern Europe, we’ve had ISIL increase its capabilities, we had a deployment because of Ebola, [and] Libya and the Chinese reclamation project in the South China Sea,” the chairman said.

On Russia, Dempsey said the need is to harden allies in Eastern Europe. NATO has to maintain a technological advantage, and the United States must ensure the trans-Atlantic link cannot be severed.

“All of which makes it clear to the Russian Federation that may have had success in eastern Europe with countries that are not NATO allies, that it won’t work on countries that are NATO allies,” he said.


Night lights: The wonders of bioluminescent millipedes
A Virginia Tech researcher discusses bioluminescent millipedes and other glowing creatures

There's something inherently magical, even surreal, about seeing hundreds of glowing millipedes scattered across the ground of a sequoia grove on a moonless night in Sequoia National Park.

Every evening, these creatures--which remain hidden underground during the day--emerge and initiate a chemical reaction to produce a green-blue glow, a process called bioluminescence. The eerie night lights of these millipedes highlight nature’s eccentricities. My observations of this phenomena is a fringe benefit of my research of the millipede species known as Motyxia.

Seeing the light

Motyxia, which are the only known bioluminescent millipedes, are found solely in a small region of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California. But various types of bioluminescent creatures live throughout the United States. They include:

railroad worms, a beetle that looks similar to a millipede but has a string of lights down each of its sides resembling the lit windows of a passenger train at night,
glowworms with bioluminescent lamps on their heads,
a fly larvae with the bluest bioluminescence in the insect world,
firefly larvae that have two abdominal lamps on their tail,
and even luminescent earthworms.
If you would like to see bioluminescent creatures, visit a moist area, such as a gully or streamside, in a deep dark forest late at night--preferably in the early summer, right after a rain.

When you arrive at your viewing sight, turn off your flashlight and let your eyes adjust to the dark. Within about 15 to 30 minutes, you may begin to discern bioluminescent organisms.

Focus on tiny specks of light, which may be firefly larvae. These organisms may quickly turn off their lights when approached--but then turn them on again. So if you initially see a twinkle, note its position relative to nearby stationary objects so that you may see it light up again.

If you want to light your path as you walk, use red light to maintain your light-adapted vision.

Why the turn on?

When you observe bioluminescence, you may wonder about the purpose of this illuminating phenomenon. My research on Motyxia indicates that "Glow means 'No!'" to predators. That is, Motyxia's glow warns nocturnal predators that these 60-legged creatures are armed and dangerous; any predator that riles a Motyxia risks being squirted by toxins, including hydrogen cyanide, an extremely poisonous gas, which the millipede releases when it feels threatened.

The suggestion that Motyxia's glow wards off marauding nocturnal predators is supported by the fact that Motyxia are blind, so their visual signaling can only be seen by members of other species, such as predators.

My research team and I ran an experiment to test whether Motyxia's coloration warns predators to stay away. Our experiment involved positioning 150 glowing clay millipede models and 150 clay non-glowing millipede models in Motyxia's natural nighttime habitat in California.

The results: Predators attacked a significantly lower percentage of the glowing vs. non-glowing models (18 percent vs. 49 percent.) The relatively greater ability of the glowing millipede models to repel predators supports the "Glow Means No!" idea.

Motyxia's eastern cousins possess bright and conspicuous reds and yellows, apparently also to ward off daytime predators.

Other animals that are toxic, inedible, or otherwise noxious also advertise their danger via warning signals. For example, a rattlesnake uses its rattle and the yellow jacket brandishes yellow and black stripes to advertise its threats.

Toxic animals that show bright, highly conspicuous and sometimes downright garish colors to distinguish themselves thereby help prevent predators from mistaking them for edible prey. Such an error would be costly to both predator and prey.

The conspicuous appearance of toxic animals also helps predators learn to recognize their bright coloration as warnings and remember the unpleasant consequences of ignoring them--e.g. a cyanide-induced fever.

How bioluminescence evolved

How did bioluminescence evolve? This question is another focus of our ongoing research on Motyxia.

By helping to reveal the evolutionary origins of warning colorations--which, by necessity, contribute to some of the most blatant and complex appearances in the living world--we expect to improve our ability to investigate and understand how other complex traits arise in nature.

One possible clue to the origins of bioluminescence is provided by a millipede species known as Motyxia sequoiae, which inhabits habitats that are normally off-limits to other closely related millipedes. These habitats include exposed areas of the forest floor, open mountain meadows and the trunks of oak trees.

So perhaps bioluminescence evolved in Motyxia sequoiae to protect these creatures from predators in particularly vulnerable areas, and thereby enable these millipedes to expand their range to these favorable locations.

But why would Motyxia sequoiae evolve bioluminescence instead of any other defense mechanism, such as camouflage or weapons such as claws or sharp spines?

Have you ever heard the saying that "natural like a tinkerer"? This is a great way to think about the evolution of warning coloration and other complex biologic features. Tinkerers use what's already available (e.g., odds and ends lying around) to repair machines, appliances and other apparatuses.

A body of research suggests that many species may have similarly acquired bioluminescence by "making do" with, or repurposing, biological equipment they already possessed.

For example, fireflies need an enzyme called luciferase to light up. But the original role of the firefly's luciferase wasn't to help these insects produce light, but instead to help them synthesize fatty acids needed to create brain cells.

The essence of bioluminescence

Despite our growing knowledge, much about Motyxia remains mysterious. For example, how do these blind creatures find mates? What triggers their nightly emergence? With funding from the National Science Foundation, my team is working to answer these and other questions.

This research is part of our larger effort to describe biodiversity and reconstruct the evolutionary histories of arthropods--a group that includes insects, spiders and crustaceans, and accounts for 80 percent of all living species. We contribute our findings to the Tree of Life, which is a worldwide effort to define the evolutionary histories of animals.

Some bright ideas from bioluminescence

In addition to advancing our understanding of the history of life, studies of the bioluminescence of various types of organisms have implications for fields ranging from national defense to medicine.

Here are several examples:

The efficiency of electrical lighting systems, which can be only 10 percent efficient, could be improved by designing them to mimic bioluminescent light, which is 90 percent efficient.

The underbellies of some marine bioluminescent animals blend with background light from the water's surface, and so are camouflaged. The U.S. Navy is studying these phenomena so that it may build similarly camouflaged ships.
Healthy human cells produce ultra-weak amounts of light through a process similar to animal bioluminescence, but cancer cells produce slightly more light. Techniques may ultimately be developed to help locate cancer cells by detecting the greater amounts of light they produce.

A green fluorescent protein identified in a jellyfish species is now widely used in biomedical research as a fluorescent tag to help researchers track specific biological activities, such as the spread of cancer, insulin production and the movement of HIV proteins.

The key enzyme for beetle bioluminescence is a pivotal component of a fast, inexpensive method for sequencing genomes, which in 2008 was used to sequence the full genome of a Neanderthal.

Learn more about Dr. Marek's work at

-- Paul Marek, Virginia Tech
Paul Marek
Related Institutions/Organizations
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


Crowdfunding Project Creator Settles FTC Charges of Deception
Defendant Spent Backers’ Money on Personal Expenses

In its first case involving crowdfunding, the Federal Trade Commission has taken legal action against the deceptive tactics of a project creator who raised money from consumers to produce a board game through a Kickstarter campaign, but instead used most of the funds on himself. The defendant has agreed to a settlement that prohibits him from deceptive representations related to any crowdfunding campaigns in the future and requires him to honor any stated refund policy.

Crowdfunding involves individuals and businesses funding a project or venture by raising funds from numerous people, often via dedicated online platforms. According to the FTC’s complaint, Erik Chevalier, also doing business as The Forking Path Co., sought money from consumers to produce a board game called The Doom That Came to Atlantic City that had been created by two prominent board game artists.

“Many consumers enjoy the opportunity to take part in the development of a product or service through crowdfunding, and they generally know there’s some uncertainty involved in helping start something new,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “But consumers should able to trust their money will actually be spent on the project they funded.”

According to the FTC’s complaint, Chevalier represented in his Doom campaign on that if he raised $35,000, backers would get certain rewards, such as a copy of the game or specially designed pewter game figurines.  He raised more than $122,000 from 1,246 backers, most of whom pledged $75 or more in the hopes of getting the highly prized figurines. He represented in a number of updates that he was making progress on the game. But after 14 months, Chevalier announced that he was cancelling the project and refunding his backers’ money.

Despite Chevalier’s promises he did not provide the rewards, nor did he provide refunds to his backers. In fact, according to the FTC’s complaint, Chevalier spent most of the money on unrelated personal expenses such as rent, moving himself to Oregon, personal equipment, and licenses for a different project.

Under the settlement order, Chevalier is prohibited from making misrepresentations about any crowdfunding campaign and from failing to honor stated refund policies. He is also barred from disclosing or otherwise benefiting from customers’ personal information, and failing to dispose of such information properly. The order imposes a $111,793.71 judgment that will be suspended due to Chevalier’s inability to pay. The full amount will become due immediately if he is found to have misrepresented his financial condition.

This case is part of the FTC’s ongoing work to protect consumers taking advantage of new and emerging financial technology, also known as FinTech. As technological advances expand the ways consumers can store, share, and spend money, the FTC is working to keep consumers protected while encouraging innovation for consumers’ benefit.

The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the complaint and proposed stipulated order in federal court was 5-0. The case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, Portland Division.


FACT SHEET: Administration Announces Actions to Bring Jobs and Clean Energy to Rural America

Financing Hundreds Of Projects To Reduce Carbon Pollution In Rural Communities

President Obama is committed to combating climate change to protect future generations while supporting a strong rural economy. Climate change can no longer be seen as a distant threat. It is already affecting rural communities across the country and putting homes, businesses, and vital infrastructure at risk.

Farmers and ranchers face devastating impacts – from severe floods to extreme heat and drought to increased challenges due to wildfires, disease and pests. These impacts threaten the lives and livelihoods of Americans in rural communities.

That is why the President is taking action now. The sooner we act, the more we can do to protect rural America, especially the areas that are the most vulnerable. By investing in renewable energy and supporting climate-smart agricultural practices, rural communities and businesses can help slow the effects of climate change while creating jobs and growing the economy. To continue down this track, today the Administration is making these announcements:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is announcing a new investment in nearly 550 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects across the country totaling nearly $7 million in funding through its Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Today, Secretary Tom Vilsack will visit the Snake River Brewing Company, in Jackson, Wyoming, one of the REAP awardees that received nearly $14,000 in funding to install a solar panels on their business, which is estimated to save the brewery nearly $1,200 on their electricity bill each year.  Since President Obama took office, USDA has helped thousands of rural small businesses, farmers and ranchers improve their bottom lines by investing in renewable energy systems and energy efficiency solutions, including:

Awarding $545 million through REAP for more than 8,800 projects nationwide to install renewable energy systems or make energy efficiency upgrades, which will save more than 7 billion kWh, enough energy to power 660,000 American homes annually. In fact, the number of farms using a renewable energy producing system since 2007 has more than doubled.

Financing more than $1.7 billion to help rural electricity providers reduce carbon pollution, bringing significant cost savings, and improve the quality of life for those living and working in rural America.

Companies across the U.S. understand that reducing carbon pollution and growing the economy go hand-in-hand. To highlight leadership in the agricultural sector, today the White House is hosting a roundtable discussion with businesses and organizations that are already taking action to cut emissions and strengthen the rural economy. Participants include:

The Coca-Cola Company
Environmental Defense Fund
Field to Market
General Mills
Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy
National Corn Growers Association
The Fertilizer Institute
Kellogg Company
The Nature Conservancy
United Soybean Board
World Wildlife Fund

Building on their earlier progress, several businesses and organizations are also announcing new commitments to improve agricultural practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve water quality, and improve water efficiency:
Unilever is pledging to source 100% of its soy (approximately 1 million acres) in the U.S. sustainably by 2017, and all other raw agriculture commodities by 2020.  Utilizing Field to Market, Unilever will work with farmers to gather data about their fields and farming practices and then co-solve with them to implement changes to farming practices that promote reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. For example, working with the Conservation Technology Information Center in Iowa, Unilever was recently awarded $1 million in cost share by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship to encourage growers to utilize cover crops to improve water quality.

Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture and The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy commit to harmonizing metrics to assess the sustainability of feed production, maximize interoperability among tools used to inform sustainable practices, advance scientific research and communication, and jointly convene the supply chain to address sustainability challenges in November 2015.

Coca-Cola Company is committing to rapidly expand the application of the Field to Market program and its data-driven tool to quantify water use, fertilizer use, energy use, and greenhouse emissions. By the end of 2015, Coca-Cola will aim to engage farmers representing 250,000 acres, and up to 1 million acres by 2020s—equating to roughly 50% of the company’s global corn supply – to implement this commitment.

National Corn Growers Association is committing to actively participate in Field to Market and administer the Soil Health Partnership (SHP), , a project to make agriculture more sustainable through improved soil management, which is committed to expanding the current SHP Demonstration Farm Network from 40 to 100 by 2018. The main goal of the SHP is to demonstrate the contributions improved soil health makes to increased agricultural productivity, profitability, and environmental sustainability outcomes through the adoption of best management practices (BMPs) such as conservation tillage, cover crops and advanced nutrient management.

Walmart has committed to joint agricultural partnerships with 17 suppliers, cooperatives, and service providers on 23 million acres of land in the U.S. and Canada, with the potential to reduce 11 MMT of GHGs by 2020.   Walmart is committed to working with packers, feed yards, and ranchers to ensure that 15% of their U.S. beef supply is sourced with environmental criteria by 2023. In September 2014, Walmart announced that they will work with their suppliers and other partners in the food supply chain to cut greenhouse gas emissions, better conserve water, and increase yields as part of their Climate Smart Agriculture platform. Over the next ten years, Walmart will work to gain increasing visibility into key metrics regarding yields, water usage and GHGs in food supply chains. Walmart is now working with suppliers, representing ~70% of food sales, to report their yield, water and GHG footprints all the way back to the farm.

PepsiCo, a global food and beverage company, has committed to expanding its Sustainable Farming Initiative to 500,000 acres of farmland used by North American agricultural suppliers by year-end 2016.  PepsiCo’s Sustainable Farming Initiative provides a comprehensive framework to help meet the goals set out in PepsiCo’s Sustainable Agriculture Policy, providing critical support to farmers as they seek to address climate change and other key issues of sustainable farming. PepsiCo has committed to work in the U.S. and other global markets to engage growers of corn, oats, potato, and oranges to increase the utilization of sustainable farming practices, particularly in the areas of environmental, social and economic sustainability.

The Nature Conservancy commits to help reduce nutrient loading in the Mississippi Basin by 25 percent by 2025 by seeking and developing new funding resources to assist farmers and local communities, partnering with the private industry to build a new conservation force of champions and advisors to farmers, and targeting resources to the highest priority areas.

Environmental Defense Fund is committing to work with all actors in the commodity crop supply chain – from corporations to farmers - to get improved fertilizer and soil health practices adopted across the majority of U.S. commodity acreage and strategically-placed wetland filters on 2-3% of the acres in the Upper Mississippi River Basin by 2030.  Combined, these changes will result in the 45% reduction in nutrient loading needed to achieve water quality restoration goals for the Gulf of Mexico, restore drinking water systems and deliver an estimated 50 million metric tons in avoided greenhouse gas emissions.

Specifically, EDF will work with food companies, retailers, and grain buyers to support development of strong sustainability goals and connect these goals to effective programming on the ground with farmers. Existing collaborations including work with Walmart, Murphy Brown, Campbell Soup, and General Mills, among others.


Today’s actions build on a series of steps the Administration is taking to reduce the dangerous levels of carbon pollution that are driving climate change, scale up financing for renewable energy and energy efficiency, and create jobs in rural America including:

In April 2015, USDA released a Building Blocks for Climate Smart Agriculture and Forestry framework to support farmers, ranchers and forest landowners in their response to climate change. Through this comprehensive set of voluntary programs and initiatives, USDA expects to reduce net emissions and enhance carbon sequestration by over 120 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent (MMTCO2e) per year – about 2% of economy-wide net greenhouse emissions – by 2025. That’s the equivalent of taking 25 million cars off the road, or offsetting the emissions produced by powering nearly 11 million homes last year.

USDA recently made an additional 800,000 acres of highly environmentally sensitive land eligible for enrollment in its Conservation Reserve Program. USDA will accept new offers to participate in CRP under a general signup to be held Dec. 1, 2015, through Feb. 26, 2016. For 30 years, the Conservation Reserve Program has supported farmers and ranchers as they continue to be good stewards of land and water. This initiative has helped farmers and ranchers prevent more than 8 billion tons of soil from eroding, reduce nitrogen and phosphorous runoff relative to cropland by 95 and 85 percent respectively, and sequester 43 million tons of greenhouse gases annually, equal to taking 8 million cars off the road.

USDA recently announced that it will invest up to $100 million in a Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership to support the infrastructure needed to make more renewable fuel options available to American consumers, which will help to lower greenhouse gas emissions, reduce dependence on foreign oil, give businesses and consumers more energy options and create well-paying American jobs. Specifically, USDA will administer competitive grants to match funding for state-led efforts to test and evaluate innovative and comprehensive approaches to market higher blends of renewable fuel, such as E15 and E85. States that are able to provide greater than a one-to-one ratio in funding will receive higher consideration.

In 2014, USDA established a series of regional Climate Hubs, located in California, Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Puerto Rico, to serve as a source of regional data and information for hazard and adaptation planning in the agriculture and forest sectors. The Hubs address increasing risks such as fires, invasive pests, devastating floods, and crippling droughts, and work with land managers to translate and connect relevant science and research to address on-the-ground information needs.

Through the Conservation Reserve Program, the Environmental Quality Incentive Program, and the Conservation Stewardship Program, USDA is working with farmers, ranchers and forest landowners to implement conservation practices that have reduced net greenhouse gas emissions by over 360 million metric tons since 2009, or approximately 60 million metric tons per year. That is the equivalent of taking 12.6 million cars off the road for a year; or 6.7 million gallons of gasoline consumed; or more than 5.4 million home's energy use for a year.

The great American outdoors is also an important aspect of rural communities, providing both an invaluable national treasure and a critical resource for the tourism industry.  In 2014, a record 293 million National Park visitors spent $15.7 billion in communities around National Parks, providing a nearly $30 billion benefit to the U.S. economy and supporting 277,000 jobs.

Last October, USDA funded its first two loans under the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Loan Program. North Arkansas Electric Cooperative, Inc. will use a loan of $4.6 million to fund geothermal and air source installations, energy efficiency lightning, and weatherization measures, including Energy Star® windows and doors, insulation, efficient water heaters, and roofing. Financing will reduce energy costs for Arkansas consumers and improve the services within Arkansas Electric's service territory.  North Carolina's Roanoke Electric Membership Corporation will use a loan of $6 million to finance improvements to HVAC Systems, appliance replacements, and building envelope improvements for an average of 200 residential energy efficiency upgrades per year over four years. These loans will help reduce energy costs and improve the services within Roanoke's service territory. Roanoke's service territory includes both poverty and out-migration counties.

USDA, in partnership with the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, completed the Biogas Opportunities Roadmap, Voluntary Actions to Reduce Methane Emissions and Increase Energy Independence, which identifies voluntary actions that can be taken to reduce methane emissions through the use of biogas systems and outlines strategies to overcome barriers to a robust biogas industry in the United States and increase the use of biogas to help meet our renewable energy goals. Already, USDA has funded 93 anaerobic digesters to help farm operations produce electricity from captured methane. Thanks to a partnership with the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy to reduce greenhouse emissions across the supply chain, most of these projects are at dairy operations.

Through the Biomass Research and Development Initiative and the U.S. Global Change Research Program, USDA has since 2009 provided $610.9 million in funding to support climate change research by USDA scientists and partners at land-grant universities. USDA has also invested $332 million to accelerate research on clean renewable energy ranging from genomic research on bioenergy feedstock crops, to development of biofuel conversion processes and cost-benefit estimates of renewable energy production.

Thursday, June 11, 2015


Thursday, June 11, 2015
Virginia Teen Pleads Guilty to Providing Material Support to ISIL

 Seventeen-year-old Facilitated Travel to Syria for 18-year-old Prince William County, Virginia, Resident

Ali Shukri Amin, 17, of Manassas, Virginia, pleaded guilty today to charges of conspiring to provide material support and resources to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia and Assistant Director in Charge Andrew McCabe of the FBI’s Washington, D.C., Field Office.

“Ali Shukri Amin is a 17-year-old American who pleaded guilty to providing material support to ISIL, and he used social media to do so,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin.  “Around the nation, we are seeing ISIL use social media to reach out from the other side of the world.  Their messages are reaching America in an attempt to radicalize, recruit and incite our youth and others to support ISIL's violent causes.  This case serves as a wake-up call that ISIL's propaganda and recruitment materials are in your communities and being viewed by your youth.  This challenge requires parental and community awareness and action to confront and deter this threat wherever it surfaces.”

“Today’s guilty plea demonstrates that those who use social media as a tool to provide support and resources to ISIL will be identified and prosecuted with no less vigilance than those who travel to take up arms with ISIL,” said U.S. Attorney Boente.  “The Department of Justice will continue to pursue those that travel to fight against the United States and our allies, as well as those individuals that recruit others on behalf of ISIL in the homeland, and prosecute them to the full extent of the law.”

In a statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, Amin admitted to using Twitter to provide advice and encouragement to ISIL and its supporters.  Amin, who used the Twitter handle @Amreekiwitness, provided instruction on how to use Bitcoin, a virtual currency, to mask the provision of funds to ISIL, as well as facilitation to ISIL supporters seeking to travel to Syria to fight with ISIL.  Additionally, Amin admitted that he facilitated travel for Reza Niknejad, an 18-year-old Prince William County resident who traveled to Syria to join ISIL in January 2015.  Niknejad was charged yesterday in the Eastern District of Virginia with conspiring to provide material support to terrorists, conspiring to provide material support to ISIL and conspiring to kill and injure people abroad.

Amin’s plea was accepted by U.S. District Court Judge Claude M. Hilton of the Eastern District of Virginia.  Amin was charged by criminal information during the court hearing today, and faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison if convicted.  The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington, D.C., Field Office.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael P. Ben’Ary and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Caroline H. Friedman of the Eastern District of Virginia are prosecuting the case, with the assistance of Trial Attorney Stephen Sewell of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.


On the Occasion of the National Day of the Russian Federation
Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
June 10, 2015

I congratulate the people of Russia as you celebrate your National Day on June 12.

Today is an appropriate moment to reflect on the deep connections that exist between Russian and American culture — from Balanchine's "Jewels" to Brodsky's "Urania," Rostropovich to Tolstaya, Baryshnikov to Rothko. Through the decades, freedom of expression and thought have produced great artistic and intellectual accomplishments that have enriched lives and lifted spirits in both our countries and lie at the heart of what each can offer the world.

This year also marks the 90th anniversary of Vladimir Mayakovsky's epic journey through the United States, memorialized in his "My Discovery of America." Mayakovsky's words are a powerful reminder of the importance of people-to-people ties in fostering mutual understanding and respect.

As we mark the 70th anniversary of end of World War II this year, we also honor the tremendous shared sacrifice of those who fought against Nazism, including the millions of Russians who fought in the great battles and the millions who lost their lives.

On this special day, the United States joins the Russian people in celebrating the many links that bind our two nations; may the citizens of both share in a peaceful, prosperous, and democratic future.


Inherent Resolve Airstrikes Continue in Syria, Iraq
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

SOUTHWEST ASIA, June 11, 2015 – U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.

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

Airstrikes in Syria

Attack, bomber and fighter aircraft conducted 16 airstrikes in Syria:

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

-- Near Raqqah, seven airstrikes struck six ISIL tactical units, destroying seven ISIL improvised rocket-assisted munitions, two ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL resupply points, two ISIL vehicle bombs, an ISIL vehicle and an ISIL vehicle bomb warehouse.

-- Near Dayr Az Zawr, four airstrikes struck four ISIL crude oil collection points.

-- Near Kobani, four airstrikes struck three ISIL tactical units, destroying four ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL vehicles, an ISIL building and an ISIL mortar firing position.

Airstrikes in Iraq

Attack, bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 13 airstrikes in Iraq, approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense:

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

-- Near Beiji, four airstrikes struck four ISIL tactical units, destroying three ISIL vehicles and three ISIL structures.

-- Near Haditha, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL vehicle.

-- Near Kirkuk, an airstrike struck an ISIL mortar firing position.

-- Near Mosul, three airstrikes struck land features, denying ISIL a tactical advantage, as well as an ISIL tactical unit and an ISIL heavy machine gun, destroying an ISIL vehicle.

-- Near Sinjar, an airstrike struck an ISIL large tactical unit, destroying three ISIL structures, two ISIL rocket-propelled grenades, an ISIL bunker, an ISIL heavy machine gun and an ISIL tunnel system.

-- Near Tal Afar, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and two ISIL mortar firing positions, destroying an ISIL building and an ISIL heavy machine gun.

Part of Operation Inherent Resolve

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



Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work, left center, meets with Somali Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, right center, and Somali Defense Minister Gen. Abdulkadir Sheikh Ali Dini at the Pentagon, June 9, 2015. The leaders met to discuss issues of mutual importance. DoD photo by Army Sgt. 1st Class Clydell Kinchen. . 

Deputy Defense Secretary Hosts Somali Leaders at Pentagon
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, June 10, 2015 – Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work yesterday hosted the Somali prime minister and defense minister in their first meeting at the Pentagon.

In a statement summarizing the meeting, Defense Department officials said Prime Minister Omar Ali Sharmarke and Defense Minister Gen. Abdulkadir Sheikh Ali Dini met with Work to discuss the importance of U.S.-Somali security assistance and counterterrorism operations.

Work praised the success of Somali forces in degrading the al-Shabab militant group in the past two years, officials said.

Taking the Fight to al-Shabab

The leaders discussed how taking the fight to al-Shabab requires integrating regional militia forces into the Somali National Army deliberately, but without delay, officials said. The leaders also discussed successes of the Danab companies, which could serve as a good model for the rest of the Somali army, they added.

Work underscored the Defense Department's strong commitment to supporting both the African Union Mission in Somalia and the development of Somali security forces, the statement said.

“The deputy secretary noted it is imperative that Somalia completes the state formation process in advance of holding elections next year, in line with the agreed timeline,” the statement said. “Progress on the political front is a necessary foundation for the development of Somali security forces.”

The leaders said they look forward to working together well into the future, the statement said.


Dempsey, Israeli Leaders Discuss Defense Cooperation
By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

TEL AVIV, Israel, June 9, 2015 – Discussing threats from Iran or the vicious actions of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has a different resonance when the conversation is in Israel rather than the United States, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey said here today.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff discussed these threats and the state of the military-to-military relationship between the United States and Israel during meetings at the Kyria, the headquarters for Israel’s defense establishment.

The proximity of the threat changes the conversation, Dempsey said. “My first visit to Israel happened to be in Tel Aviv in late 2011,” the chairman told reporters traveling with him. “Then-chief of defense [Lt. Gen.] Benny Gantz took me to a hotel in central Tel Aviv, and we had dinner on the roof -- on a helipad. He took me there purposely. He said ‘Look around you. From this roof, you can see 65 percent of the population of Israel.’

“His message to me,” the chairman continued, “was that was why he needed our help to build and thicken an integrated air/missile defense system, because of the threat of rockets and missiles not only from Gaza, but even more prominently from Lebanon and potentially … from Iran.”

Huge Investments

U.S. and Israeli military officials went to work, the chairman said. Since then, both nations have made huge investments in the Iron Dome, David’s Sling and the Arrow air defense systems.

“We’ve really developed a fully integrated air defense system like nowhere else in the world,” the chairman said. “We also built a fusion center in southern Israel for command and control. We’ve exercised it, and as a result, when the issue occurred in Gaza last year they were very skilled in integrating their air and missile defense system.”

The United States has committed to sustain the system and to “thicken” it, because the threat is increasing, not decreasing, he said.

Army Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, the commander in chief of the Israel Defense Force, hosted Dempsey. The chairman also met with Israeli Defense Minister Moshe “Boogie” Yaalon.

Firm Commitment

Dempsey told the Israeli leaders that America’s commitment to Israel is firm, and that the cooperation between the two militaries is rock solid. “The purpose of the visit is transitional,” the chairman said. “We’ve really solidified our relationship of the last few years in the face of increasing disorder around Israel.”

Syria has disintegrated, and Iran and its proxies threaten Israel. An Israeli military official, speaking on background, called Iran the greatest danger to his nation.

Israelis are worried about what effect a deal with Iran to curtail its nuclear ambitions will have on the region. “Regarding Iran, if there is a nuclear deal with Iran, we have work to do,” Dempsey said. “If there is no deal with Iran, we have work to do.”

If there is a deal, he explained, this does not let Iran off the hook for its other malign activities in the region. Iran is proliferating ballistic missile technology, it is trafficking weapons in the region, and it is operating throughout the region via surrogates and proxies, the chairman said. Iranian moves with naval mines and undersea activities are another concern, Dempsey said, as is Iran’s threat in cyberspace.

Partners Want Assurances

American partners in the region want to be reassured that if there is a nuclear deal, then the United States won’t ignore these other activities, he said. “We’re clear-eyed about the risks that Iran poses to the region,” the chairman added, “and we will work with those partners to address those risks.”

Dempsey said he also spoke with Israeli officials about maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region and in pursuing a quantitative military edge.

Qualitative and Quantitative Military Edge

“As regional groups and partners increase their capabilities,” he said, “the Israelis, naturally, are going to want have discussions with us about how to maintain not only a qualitative military edge, but a quantitative military edge.”

In response to the Iranian threat, nations in the region are growing their air forces, ground forces and maritime forces.

“Israel wants to be sure we are not just helping them on the qualitative side, but also attuned to the fact that while we encourage our Gulf partners to build capability to offset Iran and these substate actors like ISIL -- that they don’t grow so much in size that they become an overmatch in the region,” Dempsey said.

Israel will be the only country in the region with the F-35 Lighting II joint strike fighter, he noted, and that will give them a qualitative advantage. Still, the chairman said, he reassured Israeli officials that the United States is attuned to their concerns and will work with them on mitigating any risk to them.


06/10/2015 11:40 AM EDT

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced fraud charges against a New Jersey man accused of posing as a hedge fund manager and defrauding small companies out of more than $4 million.

The SEC alleges that Nicholas Lattanzio falsely promised small businesses that he would arrange project financing for them and generate substantial returns on money they invested in his Black Diamond Capital Appreciation Fund.  He told them they could withdraw their money if the promised project financing didn’t materialize, and he claimed his fund had as much as $800 million under management and a proven track record of producing double-digit returns.

According to the SEC’s complaint filed in federal court in New Jersey, the fund never had more than approximately $5 million in assets as Lattanzio simply took investor money and spent it on himself and his family.  He allegedly used fund assets to purchase a million-dollar home in Montclair, N.J., a $124,000 luxury car, and $100,000 worth of merchandise from Tiffany & Co.  He also paid off more than $760,000 in credit card debt, withdrew approximately $570,000 in cash or checks written to himself and his girlfriend, paid more than $30,000 to a yacht broker, and funded his children’s private school tuition and his membership at an exclusive golf club.

“As alleged in our complaint, Lattanzio masqueraded as a sophisticated hedge fund manager to capitalize on small businesses’ legitimate need for financing.  He falsely reassured his investors they were earning profits while he was swiping their money to bankroll his affluent lifestyle that he otherwise could not afford,” said Andrew M. Calamari, Director of the SEC’s New York Regional Office.

In a parallel action, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey today announced criminal charges against Lattanzio, and the New Jersey Bureau of Securities within the State Attorney General’s Division of Consumer Affairs also announced sanctions against him.

The SEC’s complaint charges Lattanzio, Black Diamond Capital Appreciation Fund, and three other Lattanzio-controlled entities with securities fraud in violation of the Securities Act of 1933 and Securities Exchange Act of 1934.  The complaint also charges Lattanzio and some of the entities with investment adviser fraud in violation of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940.

The SEC’s continuing investigation is being conducted by David Austin, Roseann Daniello, and George Stepaniuk, and the litigation will be led by Todd Brody and David Austin.  The case is being supervised by Sanjay Wadhwa.  The SEC appreciates the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the New Jersey Bureau of Securities within the State Attorney General’s Division of Consumer Affairs.


June 8, 2015
Comprehensive prevention program effectively reduces falls among older people
HHS-supported study tests falls intervention program

Families and physicians have a new tool in the fight against falls- a comprehensive prevention program developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that reduces both falls and resulting use of long-term care such as nursing homes.

The prevention program, which includes clinical in-home assessments of health, physical functioning, falls history, home environment, and medications to create customized recommendations, was developed by HHS based on the research evidence on risk factors and interventions. Using a randomized control trial, the program was tested among long-term care insurance policy holders age 75 and older to determine whether the intervention was effective and, if so, the impact on long-term care utilization.

The study found that the program led to significantly lower rates of falls over a one-year study period. Those who received the intervention had a 13 percent lower rate of falls, and an 11 percent reduction in risk of falling compared to the control group. Participants also had a significantly lower rate of injurious falls. Long-term care insurance claims were 33 percent lower over a three-year period. The intervention, which cost $500 per person to administer, saved $838 per person.

Falls- which happen to 1 in 3 people age 65 and over every year-- can cause pain, suffering, and death, and cost an estimated $35 billion in health care spending in 2014. They are a leading risk factor for needing long-term care at home or in a nursing facility. Given the impact of falls, findings from the HHS-funded study give hope for reducing the rate of falls among the growing population of older adults.

“While falls are preventable, we need to intervene at the right time in a way that is comprehensive and yet individually tailored,” said Richard Frank, Ph.D., the assistant secretary for planning and evaluation at HHS, whose office funded the study. “Preventing falls helps everyone: the older person, their family, and the health and long-term care systems. And this study shows that by investing in falls prevention, we can reduce long-term care use and spending.”

The risk factors for a fall include fear of falling, gait and balance problems, certain medications, clutter in the home, and some health conditions. Few interventions have taken a comprehensive approach to address all of the risk factors through one program.

Although this study focused on the rate of falls and long-term care utilization and costs, future research will examine the impact of the intervention on health care utilization and costs.

“We expect to see a similar or greater return on investment in terms of health care costs,” added Richard Frank.


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Former President of Riverside General Hospital Sentenced to 45 Years in Prison in $158 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

Operator of Psychiatric Facility Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison, and Owner of Group Home Sentenced to 12 Years in Prison

The former president of a Houston hospital, his son and a co-conspirator were sentenced today to 45 years, 20 years and 12 years in prison, respectively, for their roles in a $158 million Medicare fraud scheme.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson of the Southern District of Texas, Special Agent in Charge Perrye K. Turner of the FBI’s Houston Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Lucy R. Cruz of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation’s (IRS-CI) Houston Field Office, the Texas Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU), Special Agent in Charge Mike Fields of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services-Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Dallas Regional Office, Special Agent in Charge Joseph J. Del Favero of the Railroad Retirement Board-Office of Inspector General (RRB-OIG) and Inspector General Patrick E. McFarland of the Office of Personnel Management-Office of Inspector General (OPM-OIG) made the announcement.

“The former President of Houston's Riverside hospital, his son and their co-conspirators saw mentally ill, elderly and disabled Medicare beneficiaries as commodities to be turned into profit centers – not as vulnerable individuals in need of health care,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “Rather than providing needed medical care to a historically underserved community, the defendants ran a longstanding hospital into the ground through their greed and fraud.  According to the evidence presented at trial, the defendants had patients sit around the facility watching movies while they received no treatment.  Meanwhile, the defendants billed Medicare more than $158 million for care that was never provided.  This brazen fraud cannot and will not be tolerated.”

Earnest Gibson III, 70, the former president of Riverside General Hospital, Earnest Gibson IV, 37, the operator of Devotions Care Solutions, a satellite psychiatric facility of Riverside General Hospital, and Regina Askew, 50, the owner of Safe and Sound group home, were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal of the Southern District of Texas.  In addition to the significant terms of imprisonment, Earnest Gibson III was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $46,753,180, Earnest Gibson IV was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $7,518,480, and Regina Askew was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $46,255,893.

Following a five-week jury trial, on Oct. 20, 2014, Earnest Gibson III, Earnest Gibson IV and Regina Askew each were convicted of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks, as well as related counts of paying or receiving illegal kickbacks.  Earnest Gibson III and Earnest Gibson IV also were convicted of conspiracy to commit money laundering.  Co-defendant Robert Crane, a patient recruiter, also was convicted of conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks, and is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 9, 2015.

According to evidence presented at trial, from 2005 until June 2012, the defendants and others engaged in a scheme to defraud Medicare by submitting to Medicare, through Riverside and its satellite locations, approximately $158 million in false and fraudulent claims for partial hospitalization program (PHP) services.  A PHP is a form of intensive outpatient treatment for severe mental illness.

Specifically, evidence at trial demonstrated that the Medicare beneficiaries for whom the hospital billed Medicare did not qualify for or need PHP services.  Moreover, the evidence showed that Medicare beneficiaries rarely saw a psychiatrist and did not receive intensive psychiatric treatment.  In fact, some of the beneficiaries were suffering from Alzheimer’s and could not actively participate in the treatment for which Medicare was billed.

Evidence presented at trial also showed that Earnest Gibson III paid kickbacks to patient recruiters and to owners and operators of group care homes, including Regina Askew, in exchange for which those individuals delivered ineligible Medicare beneficiaries to the hospital’s PHPs.  Earnest Gibson IV also paid patient recruiters, including Robert Crane and others, to deliver ineligible Medicare beneficiaries to the specific PHP operated by Earnest Gibson IV.

To date, six other individuals either have pleaded guilty based on their involvement in the scheme.  Mohammad Khan, an assistant administrator at Riverside, who managed many of the hospital’s PHPs, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud, conspiracy to defraud the United States and to pay illegal kickbacks, and five counts of paying illegal kickbacks; on May 21, 2015, Mohammad Khan was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Sim Lake of the Southern District of Texas to 40 years in prison for his role in the scheme.  William Bullock, an operator of a Riverside satellite location, as well as Leslie Clark, Robert Ferguson, Waddie McDuffie and Sharonda Holmes, who were involved in paying or receiving kickbacks, also have pleaded guilty to participating in the scheme and await sentencing.

The case was investigated by the FBI, IRS-CI, Texas MFCU, HHS-OIG, RRB-OIG and OPM-OIG.  The case was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of Texas.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Chiefs Laura M.K. Cordova and Jennifer L. Saulino and Trial Attorney Ashlee C. McFarlane of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 2,100 defendants who collectively have billed the Medicare program for more than $6.5 billion.  In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


Airstrikes Destroy ISIL Infrastructure, Weapons
From a Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve News Release

SOUTHWEST ASIA, June 10, 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, one airstrike struck an ISIL staging area.

-- Near Raqqah, three airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units, destroying three ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL armored vehicle.

-- Near Dayr Az Zawr, one airstrike struck an ISIL crude oil collection point.

Airstrikes in Iraq

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

-- Near Baghdadi, one airstrike struck an ISIL resupply vehicle.

-- Near Beiji, five airstrikes struck four ISIL tactical units, destroying three ISIL vehicles, an ISIL building and an ISIL vehicle-borne improvised explosive device.

-- Near Kirkuk, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying an ISIL building.

-- Near Makhmur, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and an ISIL mortar system, destroying an ISIL building and an ISIL heavy machine gun.

-- Near Mosul, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and an ISIL mortar system, destroying an ISIL building, an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL heavy machine gun.

-- Near Sinjar, one airstrike truck an ISIL large tactical unit, an ISIL mortar firing position and an ISIL building, destroying five ISIL buildings, an ISIL vehicle-borne improvised explosive device, an ISIL heavy machine gun and an ISIL rocket propelled grenade cache.

-- Near Tal Afar, four airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units, two ISIL mortar systems, an ISIL heavy machine gun and an ISIL rocket firing position, destroying three ISIL buildings, an ISIL rocket and an ISIL tunnel 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.


June 10, 2015
Statement by the Press Secretary on Additional U.S. Steps in the Counter-ISIL Effort

In furtherance of his comprehensive strategy to degrade and destroy the ISIL terrorist group, President Obama has approved additional actions to enhance the implementation of the counter-ISIL campaign.

To improve the capabilities and effectiveness of partners on the ground, the President authorized the deployment of up to 450 additional U.S. military personnel to train, advise, and assist Iraqi Security Forces at Taqaddum military base in eastern Anbar province. The President made this decision after a request from Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi and upon the recommendation of Secretary Carter and Chairman Dempsey, and with the unanimous support of his national security team. These new advisors will work to build capacity of Iraqi forces, including local tribal fighters, to improve their ability to plan, lead, and conduct operations against ISIL in eastern Anbar under the command of the Prime Minister. This effort will complement the ‎efforts of U.S. and coalition trainers at the four previously-established training sites in Al-Asad, Besmaya, Erbil, and Taji, where over 9,000 Iraqi troops have already been trained, with an additional 3,000 currently in training. These additional U.S. troops will not serve in a combat role and will augment the 3,100 U.S. troops who have already deployed to Iraq.

This train, advise, and assist mission builds on lessons learned during the past several months and is just one aspect of our commitment to support the Iraqi Security Forces. Toward this end, the President has also directed the expedited delivery of essential equipment and materiel in coordination with the central government to Iraqi forces, including Peshmerga and tribal fighters, operating under Iraqi command, to ensure that our partners have the equipment needed to effectively fight ISIL.

The President also approved a comprehensive approach to aid the Iraqi government’s efforts to support the people and communities living in areas newly liberated from ISIL. At the President’s direction, the United States has been working closely with the Iraqi government, the global counter-ISIL coalition, and the United Nations to develop a holistic framework to help the Iraqi government provide sustained security, services and assistance, and local governance among other key support. The United States fully supports the development of an international fund facilitated by the United Nations to help these communities across Iraq recover.

More broadly, we will continue our efforts to leverage all instruments of power to counter ISIL globally and most importantly, to protect the US Homeland. Thousands of foreign fighters – including Europeans and some Americans – have joined ISIL in Syria and Iraq. We remain concerned that these trained fighters will return to their home countries and carry out attacks and seek to inspire supporters to conduct attacks at home, and the President directed his national security team to intensify efforts with coalition partners to stem the flow of foreign fighters to and from Iraq and Syria.

The President also reaffirmed U.S. support for the efforts of Prime Minister Al-Abadi and other Iraqi leaders to build an inclusive and effective governance structure within which all of Iraq’s diverse communities feel that they have a say in determining the future of their country. In this regard, the U.S. will fully support the plan endorsed by the Council of Ministers on May 19 for the liberation of Anbar, as well as the Iraqi Government’s priority of de-centralization to empower local communities in line with the Iraqi Constitution. This “functional federalism” effort being pursued by the Iraqi government is integral to ensuring that ISIL – once defeated – can never again return to Iraqi soil.


Dempsey: President Seeks Advice on Improving Iraq Mission
By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

JERUSALEM, June 9, 2015 – President Barack Obama has asked the military for recommendations on how to make the effort to train and equip Iraqi security forces more effective, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here today.

“What he’s asked us to do is take a look at what we’ve learned over the last eight months in the train-and-equip program and make recommendations to him on whether there are capabilities that we may want to provide to the Iraqis to actually make them more capable,” Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey said to reporters traveling with him.

“He’s asked us to look at whether there are other locations where we might establish training sites,” the general added. “He’s asked us to take a look at how we might develop Iraq’s leaders.”

The president asked military leaders to examine where there has been success and where the effort “may have been moving at a pace that’s late-to-need or where certain units have not stood and fought,” Dempsey said.

Looking at Ways to Instill Confidence

The Joint Chiefs are looking at ways to instill confidence in Iraqi forces or other means to improve their training, the chairman said. They have made some recommendations, he said, but follow-on questions must first be answered, such as how recommendations would be implemented, what risks they might entail to the mission and the force, and trade-offs around the globe.

U.S. military capabilities are needed in other parts of the world, Dempsey noted. U.S. forces are operating in Europe to reassure NATO allies in the face of Russian aggression in Ukraine, there are additional issues in the Persian Gulf region related to reassuring allies against Iranian threats, and U.S. forces still are needed in Afghanistan, he said.

In addition, the general said, “some of our Pacific allies are unsettled by Chinese reclamation projects, so we’ve got work to do with our allies there.”

Necessary Troop Levels Undetermined

Whether more troops will be needed in Iraq remains to be seen, the chairman said. The process calls for the U.S. Central Command Commander Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III to determine how recommendations would be put in place, he explained.

“We try not to negotiate the resources before we negotiate the concept,” Dempsey said. “Then we ask at some point is if he has the resources currently assigned.” If the answer is no, then we look across the force to see where they can be generated.

“I haven’t received from Centcom the assessment of resources required,” he continued, “and that is appropriate, because I want to first understand that we have a concept that could actually improve capability.”

The president specifically asked about enhancing the train-and-equip mission, Dempsey said. “It wasn’t whether there are options that would imply the strategy is ineffective, it was, rather, ‘Are there things we can do?’” he said.

The military has two lines of effort against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in Iraq. One entails a combination of airstrikes and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets to support the Iraqi security forces. The other is to train and equip the Iraqi security forces to take the fight to ISIL.

NASA VIDEO: NASA's Flying Saucer Makes Second Voyage to the Edge of Space


Thursday, June 4, 2015
President of New Jersey-Based Financial Services Firm Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison for Multimillion-Dollar Securities Fraud

The president of an investment and financial services firm was sentenced today to 120 months in prison for evading taxes and defrauding dozens of investors in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas and elsewhere of $5 million, announced by U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman for the District of New Jersey.

Everett C. Miller, 45, of Marlton, New Jersey, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Renee Marie Bumb to information charging him with one count of securities fraud and one count of tax evasion.  Judge Bumb imposed the sentence today in Camden federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court: Miller was the founder, chief executive officer, president, principal and sole owner of Carr Miller Capital LLC (CMC), an investment and financial services firm based in Marlton, New Jersey.  Miller and others solicited investments through the firm from individuals located in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Arkansas, Texas and elsewhere.  CMC had more than 30 affiliates and related entities and more than 75 related bank accounts.  Miller controlled the firm’s finances and established himself as synonymous with CMC.  Prior to founding CMC in June 2006, Miller was a registered financial advisor at several financial institutions.

Miller admitted that from June 2006 through December 2010, he and others issued promissory notes to more than 190 investors across the United States and Miller and CMC received $41.2 million from these investors.  The notes were provided as “securities,” but Miller and CMC never registered the notes as securities with any federal or state agency, nor were the notes exempt from such registration requirements.  The notes had a term of nine months and promised the investors returns of seven to 20 percent per year and a return of the principal investment at the end of the nine-month period.

Miller and others falsely represented to the investors that their money would be invested in certain ways, but the investors were not provided with material information about their investments or were misled about the risks of their investments.  Miller commingled and pooled the investors’ monies into one of CMC’s 75 related bank accounts.  Unbeknown to the investors, Miller used some of the monies in the following ways: to repay prior investors, most in Ponzi scheme fashion, to pay CMC and its related entities’ payrolls and operating expenses and to support Miller’s lifestyle.  Miller’s purchases included luxury automobiles; home furnishings and electronic equipment; tickets to entertainment and sporting events; travel, lodging and vacations; meals, entertainment, retail shopping; and groceries.                

On Aug. 11, 2009, the Arkansas Securities Department (ASD) initiated an investigation of Miller, CMC and others for selling unregistered securities to investors in the form of the promissory notes.  Following the investigation, the ASD issued a cease-and-desist order against Miller, CMC and others from selling the notes.

From August 2009 through December 2010, despite knowing about the ASD’s investigation of the promissory notes and CMC’s inability to pay either the interest or the principal on them, Miller and others continued to sell the notes as unregistered securities to investors.  They issued notes to approximately 50 new investors, but never returned any of the principal to the new investors.

Miller admitted that for calendar years 2007, 2008 and 2009, he intentionally failed to provide the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) with any information regarding the proceeds that he personally received in connection with his fraudulent scheme.  Miller failed to disclose $218,770, $244,879 and $199,507 for 2007, 2008 and 2009, respectively.  In total, Miller admitted failing to report $663,156 in taxable income to the IRS, resulting in a tax loss to the government of $47,342.

At the plea proceeding, Judge Bumb entered a consent judgment and order of forfeiture in the amount of $4,999,400, which constitutes the proceeds Miller obtained as a result of the securities fraud.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Bumb sentenced Miller to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay restitution of $22.34 million.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents with the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Richard M. Frankel in Newark, New Jersey; IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larson; and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector in Charge Maria L. Kelokates, for the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.  He also thanked the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority – Criminal Prosecution Assistance Group and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Philadelphia Office for its assistance with this investigation.  In addition, he thanked the New Jersey Securities Fraud Prosecution Section, the Arkansas Securities Department and the Texas State Securities Board for their roles in the investigation.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Shirley U. Emehelu of the Economic Crimes Unit in Newark, New Jersey.

This case was brought in coordination with President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.