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Sunday, August 14, 2016

COMPANY TO PAY OVER QUARTER MILLION FOR VIOLATING WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION RULES

FROM:  U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION 
Company Paying Penalty for Violating Key Whistleblower Protection Rule
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
2016-157

Washington D.C., Aug. 10, 2016 — The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that an Atlanta-based building products distributor is settling charges that it violated securities laws by using severance agreements that required outgoing employees to waive their rights to monetary recovery should they file a charge or complaint with the SEC or other federal agencies.
BlueLinx Holdings Inc. has agreed to pay a $265,000 penalty.

According to the SEC’s order, BlueLinx added the monetary recovery prohibition to all of its severance agreements in mid-2013, nearly two years after the SEC’s adoption of Rule 21F-17 that prohibits any action to impede someone from communicating with the SEC about possible securities law violations.  BlueLinx’s restrictive language forced employees leaving the company to waive possible whistleblower awards or risk losing their severance payments and other post-employment benefits.

“We’re continuing to stand up for whistleblowers and clear away impediments that may chill them from coming forward with information about potential securities law violations,” said Stephanie Avakian, Deputy Director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division.

Jane Norberg, Acting Chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower, added, “Companies simply cannot undercut a key tenet of our whistleblower program by requiring employees to forego potential whistleblower awards in order to receive their severance payments.”

BlueLinx consented to the SEC’s cease-and-desist order without admitting or denying the findings.  The company agreed to two undertakings: (1) to amend its severance agreements to make clear that employees may report possible securities law violations to the SEC and other federal agencies without BlueLinx’s prior approval and without having to forfeit any resulting whistleblower award, and (2) to make reasonable efforts to contact former employees who had executed severance agreements after Aug. 12, 2011 to notify them that BlueLinx does not prohibit former employees from providing information to the SEC staff or from accepting SEC whistleblower awards.  BlueLinx further agreed to certify to Enforcement Division staff that it has complied with its undertakings.

The SEC’s investigation was conducted by Tara Kelly and V.V. Cooke.  The case was supervised by Yuri B. Zelinsky and Antonia Chion.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

NASA, NOAA SATELLITES TRACK MASSIVE WINTER STORM

NASA and NOAA satellites are tracking the large winter storm that is expected to bring heavy snowfall to the U.S. mid-Atlantic region on Jan. 22 and 23. NASA-NOAA's Suomi NPP satellite snapped this image of the approaching blizzard around 2:35 a.m. EST on Jan. 22, 2016 using the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument's Day-Night band.  Image Credit: NOAA/NASA


Sunday, September 20, 2015

NASA ASTRONAUT SCOTT KELLY SHARES IMAGE OF USA

FROM:  NASA 

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



Saturday, September 19, 2015

CHAIRMAN JOINT CHIEFS VISITS TROOPS IN ESTONIA

 FROM:  U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 11, 2015

New monument honors National Guard role since 9/11

New monument honors National Guard role since 9/11

SECRETARY KERRY'S REMARKS ON SEPTEMBER 11 ANNIVERSARY

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 
09/11/2015 09:43 AM EDT
September 11 Anniversary
Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
September 11, 2015

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

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

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

Sunday, September 6, 2015

SEC ANNOUNCES CHARGES BROUGHT AGAINST HEDGE FUND ADVISER FOR TAKING UNEARNED MANAGEMENT FEES

FROM:  U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION 
PRESS RELEASE
SEC Charges Seattle-Area Hedge Fund Adviser With Taking Unearned Management Fees
Two Accountants Charged With Performing Deficient Audit of Fund
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
2015-178

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, September 3, 2015

LARGEST CARBONITE-RICH DEPOSIT ON MARS

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

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

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

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

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

The color coding is from data acquired by the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM), in observation FRT0000C968 made on Sept. 19, 2008.  The base map showing land shapes is from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera. It is one product from HiRISE observation ESP_010351_2020, made July 20, 2013. Other products from that observation are online at http://www.uahirise.org/ESP_032728_2020.

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

REMARKS BY SECRETARY KERRY ON END OF WORLD WAR II ANNIVERSARY

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
On the 70th Anniversary of the End of World War II in the Pacific
Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
September 2, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

SECRETARY KERRY'S CONCLUDING REMARKS AT GLACIER CONFERENCE IN ALASKA

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
Concluding Remarks at the Global Leadership in the Arctic: Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement, and Resilience (GLACIER) Conference

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, August 31, 2015

SECRETARY KERRY'S REMARKS AT GLACIER CONFERENCE IN ALASKA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, August 30, 2015

DOD SAYS HYBRID ELECTRONICS MANUFACTURING INNOVATION HUB AWARDED TO CONSORTIUM LED BY FLEX TECH ALLIANCE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information on Flexible Hybrid Electronics and the Manufacturing Institute please visit http://www.manufacturing.gov/

For background on DIUx please see Secretary Carter’s April 2015 speech here http://www.defense.gov/News/Speeches/Speech-View/Article/606666/drell-lecture-rewiring-the-pentagon-charting-a-new-path-on-innovation-and-cyber

For information on DIUx leadership please visit here: