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Saturday, May 26, 2012

PREPARING FOR MEMORIAL DAY AT PEARL HARBOR



FROM:  U.S. NAVY
120524-N-UK333-029 JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii (May 24, 2012) Senior Chief Information Systems Technician Scott Bailey, assigned to Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, power washes the sail of the former Balao-class diesel submarine USS Parche (SS 384) during a cleanup at the Pearl Harbor Submarine Park and Parche Memorial in preparation for the 2012 Memorial Day ceremony. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ronald Gutridge/Released)

HONORING SURVIVORS AND SHARING LOSS


Vice President Joe Biden talks with troops after a ceremony at Victory Base Complex, Iraq, Dec. 1, 2011. The ceremony commemorated the sacrifices and accomplishments of U.S. and Iraqi service members. U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo   


FROM:  AMERICAN FORCES PRESS SERVICE
Dempseys, Bidens Honor Survivors, Biden Shares Loss
By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service
ARLINGTON, Va., May 25, 2012 - The first family of the military joined the second family of the United States here today in support of relatives of those who died while serving their country.

"We're here to honor you this weekend," Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, standing alongside his wife, Deanie, told some 2,000 people who gathered at a Marriott hotel to start the 18th annual TAPS National Military Survivor Seminar. TAPS, or Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, is a nonprofit group that supports surviving families of fallen service members.

"Most Americans have not had the life-altering experience of being handed a folded flag like all of you have," Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said.
"You are the face of these two wars" in Iraq and Afghanistan, Dempsey said. "We honor your sacrifice ... and will never forget it."

"We're with you," he added. "I promise you that."
Dempsey said he was honored to share the stage with Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill. "I can tell you, their heart is exactly where you want it to be," he told the audience.

Looking out over a sea of red TAPS "Survivor" t-shirts, Biden shared his own personal story of loss with the audience. It was just a few weeks after his first election to the U.S. Senate on Dec. 18, 1972 when the call came into his Washington office that his wife and three very young children had been in a car crash.

"Just like you guys, you can tell by the tone of that phone call," he said. "You can feel it in your bones."

Biden was told that his wife, Neilia, and their one-year-old daughter, were both dead. "They were not sure if my sons would make it," he told the hushed crowd.
"I know people meant well when they came up and said, 'Joe, I know how you feel,' but they didn't have a damn idea," he said as some clapped with empathy.
"For the first time in my life, I understood how someone could contemplate suicide," Biden said. "Because you've been to the top of the mountain and you knew you'd never get there again.

"No parent should be pre-deceased by their son or daughter," he added.
"I don't know about you guys, but I was angry," Biden said, adding that the devastation tested his faith as a Catholic.

Biden's sons made a full recovery and he remarried in 1977. "This woman literally saved my life," he said, reaching out to Jill next to him.

The vice president went on to say that he "has a wonderful family. They are always there for me. But there is still something gigantic missing."

Each year, Biden said, Jill makes a wreath to commemorate the family's loss and they take flowers to the cemetery.

"Your relationship with your family will be like a bond of steel," Biden told the survivors. "You'll see the depth of a relationship you never knew could happen."

Speaking to those who'd lost spouses, the vice president said, "You're going to go through periods where you will feel guilty as hell" by starting a new relationship. But, he added, "Keep thinking about what your husband or wife would want you to do."

Biden urged the survivors to have hope. "It can and will get better. There will come a day, I promise, when your thoughts of your son or daughter or husband or wife will bring a smile to your face before it brings a tear."

THE VERMONT RECOVERY FROM HURRICANE IRENE PARTLY INVOLVES GETTING READY FOR NEXT DISASTER


FROM:  U.S. FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY
Woodstock, Vt., May 23, 2012 -- The reopening of the Woodstock Farmers Market. The market sustained severe damages from Hurricane Irene. Photo by Wendell Davis/FEMA 

MONTPELIER, Vt. -- With the 2012 hurricane season officially starting on June 1 and the effects of Tropical Storm Irene still visible in many areas of Vermont, federal, state, and local officials worked together this week to get ready for the next time a disaster strikes the state.

Community leaders from Richmond and Huntington took part in a two-day course offered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Red Cross on Community Mass Care and Emergency Assistance.  Community agencies, public and private organizations, and businesses are trained to work together with emergency management and traditional mass care providers to provide services to those affected by a disaster.
The course in Richmond on May 23–24 was a pilot program. This is only the second time it has been held anywhere in the United States.

“This was an ideal location to pilot the Mass Care and Emergency Assistance training,” said FEMA’s Federal Coordinating Officer James N. (Nick) Russo. “Irene and last spring’s storms are still fresh in people’s minds and this is when it is easier to commit time to doing something that will have long-term effects.”

Across Vermont, every Secretary and Commissioner in state government went through special in-depth emergency training at Vermont Emergency Management (VEM) this week to prepare for the next emergency event.

“This training is part of our mission to build back stronger following Irene. Training for emergency response will help our state hone its response for the next big storm,” said Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding. “Our state employees performed with great skill and dedication during and after Tropical Storm Irene, and have learned many lessons from that experience. We know that success in an emergency depends upon being well prepared for the next event.”

VEM staff ran the executives through Incident Command basics, Emergency Operations Plans, and Continuity of Operations Planning among many other tenets of emergency response.  The integration of all state agencies has long been an important part of Vermont’s emergency response, and those agencies have representatives at Vermont’s Emergency Operations Center during incidents.

In addition to government entities, individuals also need to take responsibility when damaging weather is moving in their direction.  Families need to keep an eye on the sky and have an emergency kit and a plan for communicating with each other if they are separated in a storm.

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders and to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

ARTIST IN AFGHANISTAN


FROM:  AMERICAN FORCES PRESS SERVICE
Army Spc. Cassandra Butkos paints the 2nd Infantry Division's "Indianhead" patch insignia onto the Combined Task Force Arrowhead crest outside the tactical operations center at Forward Operating Base Masum Ghar, in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan, May 20, 2012. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Matt Young  

Face of Defense: Artistic Soldier Brightens Afghan Outpost
By Army Sgt. Matt Young
117th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
FORWARD OPERATING BASE MASUM GHAR, Afghanistan , May 25, 2012 - An Army chaplain's assistant is using her talent with a paint brush to brighten up this austere outpost set amid the desert and mountains of southern Afghanistan.

Army Spc. Cassandra Butkos has painted colorful military unit crests and patches on many of the protective barrier walls here. She's assigned to the 296th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.
The division's prominent "Indianhead" patch insignia often appears in Butkos' artwork.
"I really love painting. You never think that coming to Afghanistan, you're going to get to do something that you love to do," said Butkos, whose artwork also appears at Kandahar Airfield.

She's also painted the division's patch and crest on the entrance to the outpost's tactical operations center, and above the doorway to the chapel.

Butkos said the brigade's chaplain sent her to this outpost in Kandahar province's Panjwai district to help spruce up things. She got busy immediately, she said, and would only stop working when the sun went down and it became too dark to paint. After three days of painting her work here was complete.

She said it usually takes her a couple of hours-a-day over a few days to paint a mural. The time required to complete a project, she said, depends on the type of material she's painting on, if she's using oil- or water-based paints, the number of coats of paint she must apply, and the type of brushes she's using.

"It's a good hobby and I'm glad it has followed me everywhere," Butkos said.

THE STRATCOM MISSION


FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE ARMED WITH SCIENCE
A beautiful prominence eruption producing a coronal mass ejection (CME) shot off the east limb (left side) of the sun on April 16, 2012. Such eruptions are often associated with solar flares, and in this case an M1 class (medium-sized) flare occurred at the same time, peaking at 1:45 PM EDT. The CME was not aimed toward Earth. (From NASA Goddard) 

Written on MAY 15, 2012 AT 7:24 AM by JTOZER
Space Weather, satellites and the Sun
When service members go out on patrol, they keep a weather eye out for any dangers or unknown variables that might impact the mission.  When space surveillance specialists go out on the job, they’re keeping an eye on the skies, and in more ways than one.

Space surveillance is a critical part of STRATCOM‘s mission and involves detecting, tracking, cataloging and identifying man-made objects orbiting Earth, i.e. active/inactive satellites, spent rocket bodies, or fragmentation debris.

Space surveillance can predict when and where a decaying space object will re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere and prevent a returning space object.  To radar, these can look like a missile, and even trigger a false alarm from missile-attack warning sensors of the U.S. and other countries.

Therefore, it’s important that we monitor the skies as much as we monitor anything that impacts us as a nation, and in this case, as a planet.

Space surveillance can also chart the present position of space objects and plot their anticipated orbital paths.  This means detecting new man-made objects in space, producing a running catalog of man-made space objects, determining which country owns a re-entering space object, and  informing NASA whether or not objects may interfere with the space shuttle and Russian Mir space station orbits.

The command accomplishes these tasks through its Space Surveillance Network (SSN) ofU.S. Army, Navy and Air Force operated, ground-based radar’s and optical sensors at 25 sites worldwide.

One of the things that affects our satellites – and something we have to be cognizant of – is space weather, and specifically, solar weather.  Dr. Alex Young, Solar Physicist at theNASA Goddard Space Flight Center, explains how the sun is making scientific waves in our daily lives.


WWII LOST SUBMARINES AND CREWS REMEMBERED


FROM:  U.S. NAVY
030808-N-0000X-002 Navy File Photo – Cdr. Charles "Swede" Momsen stands next to the rail (third from left) as USS Falcon (ASR 2) crewmen suit-up two Deep Sea Divers during the rescue/salvage operation following the sinking of the U.S. Navy submarine USS Squalus (SS 192). Momsen led the successful effort, which resulted in the rescue of 33 submariners trapped aboard Squalus and remains to this day the greatest undersea rescue in history. U.S. Navy photo. (RELEASED)


Sailors Honor Lost World War II Submarines, Submariners 
By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Chris Brown, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Northwest

KEYPORT, Wash. (NNS) -- More than 200 Sailors and civilians attended the "Tolling of the Boats" ceremony hosted by members of the U.S. Navy Bremerton Base Submarine Veterans (SubVets) at the Naval Undersea Museum in Keyport, Wash., May 24.

The "Tolling of the Boats" ceremony has been held on Memorial Day weekend since 1977. The ceremony is a recognition and tribute to the boats and men of the United States Submarine Navy lost during World War II.

Capt. Brian Humm, commanding officer of the USS Ohio (SSGN 726) Blue crew, delivered the opening remarks at the ceremony.

"Today's ceremony is about honor, courage and commitment," said Humm. "Today is a great opportunity for us to reflect on those that have gone before us, who have established our traditions, and who have proven through their sacrifices, that honor courage and commitment are more than just words."

Retired Capt. Stan Marks, a member of the USS Medregal (SS 480) during World War II, attended the ceremony to remember his friends and shipmates who passed away.

"It's great to give recognition to all those who served with me and to those who came before me," said Marks. "We need to remember those who lost their lives on submarines that did not return."

At the end of the ceremony, the names of the 52 submarines lost during the war, along with the fate of its crew were read by retired Master Chief Machinist's Mate Harry Gilger. A ceremonial bell was then rung by retired Chief Electrician Robert Paul.

"These boats are forever on patrol," said Gilger.

U.S. OFFICIAL MAKES REMARKS AT WORLD TRADE WEEK


Photo Credit: Wikimedia. 
FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Promoting American Economic Leadership
Remarks Jose W. Fernandez
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs Denver, CO
May 17, 2012
It is great to be in Denver, and celebrate World Trade Week with you. Denver’s unique location - midway between key trading partners Canada and Mexico and the exact midpoint between Tokyo and Frankfurt – makes it the perfect place to discuss the importance of trade and investment to our nation’s security and prosperity.

Secretary Clinton has made Economic Statecraft a central pillar of U.S. foreign policy. She has made it clear to anyone who is willing to listen that as emerging nations increasingly deal in economic power as their primary means of measuring and exercising influence, how we think and practice U.S. foreign policy, and what we do in the commercial realm, must adapt. And she also made clear that many of the strategic and military challenges facing the United States today must be met with economic solutions. In short, the United States’ global leadership is critically linked to the vitality of our economy, and now more than ever, U.S. foreign policy must be a force for U.S. economic renewal.

This intersection of economic strength at home and security abroad is what we try to work on every day at the State Department. Much of what I do is work to break down barriers, so companies can invest, trade, and compete on equal footing through the world. What we are trying to do is: 1) promote U.S. exports, 2) attract foreign investment into the U.S., which sometimes get short shrift, and 3) help U.S. companies take advantage of opportunities. I will discuss each of these areas today.

Promoting U.S. Exports
Let’s start by talking about exports. Ninety-five percent of the world’s consumers live outside of the United States. Given this reality, exports are critically important for the health of our economy. Here in Colorado you are no strangers to exports. Nearly one-quarter of all manufacturing workers depend on exports for their jobs. Companies like the 2011 recipients of the “Governor’s Award for Excellence in Exporting” – StoneAge Inc., Abound Solar, Magnolia Trade, and RNL. And this is why two years ago in 2009, President Obama launched the National Export Initiative, with the goal of doubling U.S. exports in five years. This month’s trade data shows that U.S. exports have continued to increase this year, despite some really difficult economic conditions abroad. We are on track to meet the President’s goal. U.S. exports over the past 12 months have reached historic highs, and represent an increase of nearly 36 percent over the levels we started with. Although U.S. exporters are facing headwinds, particularly from what’s going on in Europe, the U.S. is well on pace to again achieve record levels of exports in 2012. And remember, the President’s export goal was coupled with a promise that those exports would support as many as two million good, high-paying, export-related jobs here at home. In fact, record-breaking levels of U.S. exports have already supported an additional 1.2 million U.S. jobs.

Free Trade Agreements
Free trade agreements are an important piece of meeting this export and jobs goal. Last year the three agreements that passed – South Korea, Colombia, and Panama – were the result of years of negotiations. They are vital for ensuring the United States does not fall behind competitor countries in our market access. The U.S.-South Korea agreement – entered into force March 15, and American companies are already reaping the benefits. The Colombia agreement entered into force just this past Tuesday, May 15, – a fitting event for World Trade Week. And we are working with Panama to get their agreement into force, hopefully this year.

Let me take a minute to talk about Korea and Colombia and why these two agreements are so important.
Colombia is the third largest economy in Central and South America. This comprehensive trade agreement eliminates tariffs and other barriers to U.S. exports, expands bilateral trade and promotes economic growth for both countries. Since last Tuesday, 80 percent of U.S. industrial and consumer goods enter Colombia duty free. And this agreement does all of this while ensuring protections for labor, the environment, and intellectual property. Something else it did and we spent a lot of time negotiating with the Colombians on. The Agreement also creates market access for the services sector, which is a $180 billion market in Colombia.

KORUS was the largest U.S. trade agreement in almost two decades, basically since NAFTA, and our first with a north Asian partner. The entry into force of the agreement meant countless new opportunities for U.S. exports in goods, services, and agricultural products. Experts in the know estimate the reduction in Korean tariffs and tariff-rate quotas on goods alone will increase merchandise exports to Korea by $10 billion annually. The KORUS FTA will also provide U.S. suppliers with greater access to the Korean government procurement market – a major market in Korea. This is good news for Colorado since Korea is one of your top ten export markets.

Now Colorado is no export neophyte. You exported over $7 billion worth of goods last year. Your largest export markets of Canada, Mexico, China, the Netherlands, and Germany represent an impressive geographic mix. And while one-third of your exports go to NAFTA partners, China is one of your fastest growing markets. This pivot to Asia, while maintaining the importance of the Western Hemisphere, mirrors what we are trying to do with respect to our economic foreign policy.

We are starting to think of the increasingly interconnected regions of the Americas and Asia as an integrated whole – a broader Pacific with commonalities beyond geographic proximity. And I’ll get into this later as I talk about the next agreement coming down the pike. This Broader Pacific already includes more than half of the world’s population, many of its most important economies, key allies, and emerging powers. More on that in a minute.

Closer to home, the Americas are a natural complement to our strategy in the 21st century Pacific. Nearly all nations of the Americas are growing markets. We export over three times as much to Latin America as we do to China. We sell more to Colombia than to Russia. And last year our trade with Latin America increased by 20 percent. In fact, the increase in trade between Canada and the U.S. last year alone was double our entire bilateral trade with India, which shows the importance of the Western Hemisphere.
With the passage of the Colombia and Panama free trade agreements, we move closer to our ultimate goal of a hemispheric trade partnership reaching from the Arctic to the tip of South America. What this will do is turn to our advantage as Secretary Clinton has said, the power of proximity, our shared history and geography, to turn growth across the Americas into recovery and jobs here at home.

But we are not standing still on trade, we are looking ahead to the next generation of trade agreements, and this is where the Broader Pacific comes in. We are aiming to craft a high-standard agreement that addresses new and emerging trade issues and challenges, including those in agricultural market access. And this new agreement is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Even as I speak, the TPP countries are in Dallas negotiating the details.

The United States, along with eight other countries, is negotiating this high-standard, broad-based, regional agreement that we call a 21st century trade agreement. The Trans-Pacific Partnership will bring together both developed and developing countries’ economies from across the Pacific into a single trading community.

It will address new cross-cutting issues, such as helping small- and medium-sized enterprises to take advantage of this FTA. And we are working to ensure TPP, includes protections for workers rights, the environment, and intellectual property. The TPP aims to promote a level playing field to ensure that private companies have just as much of a chance to compete as state-owned enterprises. Our hope is basically that the Trans-Pacific Partnership can serve as the gold standard for future trade agreements, and will serve as a platform for broader regional integration and eventually a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific. That’s exports.

Foreign Investment
Let’s talk about something related to it – foreign investment. Foreign investment flows are vital currents of the global economy. Foreign investment, both inward and outward, contributes to economic growth and job creation in the United States and around the globe. Foreign firms investing in the United States create jobs, spend money on research and development, and make capital investments. They also fuel American exports. In 2009, 55 percent of exports flowed from U.S. firms that invest abroad, and 21 percent of all exports came from U.S. subsidiaries of foreign firms. Firms that had invested in the United States.

In Colorado, you know the value of investment from abroad. Foreign investment is responsible for nearly five percent of Colorado’s private industry employment. Renewable energy companies from Denmark and Japan have headquarters in this state for solar and wind products. Firms from the United Kingdom, Canada, France and Germany are leading investors in your economy.

And so we’re doing two things in the investment realm that I’d like to talk about – a new Model Bilateral Investment Treaty and a program called SelectUSA.

Bilateral Investment Treaties, or BITs, promote a level playing field for U.S. companies abroad when they invest abroad, promote market access and the rule of law, and provide fair dispute settlement procedures when our investors get into trouble abroad. Negotiating new BITs also helps us keep pace with economic competitors that have entered into, or are negotiating investment agreements with major economic players, such as China, India, and Russia. High-quality Bilateral Investment Treaties not only support our engagement with the major emerging economies, they can help our developing country partners attract foreign investment that boosts economic development.

For two years, about since I came into office, we negotiated with ourselves on a new model. The 2012 U.S. model BIT provides the basis for all new BIT negotiations. It improves protections for U.S. firms, enhances transparency and public participation, and strengthens the protection of labor rights and the environment. These agreements will not only protect overseas investments by American firms, but they will also make it easier to invest in America. Now that we have agreed on a model for negotiations, we will be in a position to restart BIT negotiations with China, India, and other large markets. That’s investment treaty.

Let’s go to the other side of the coin and talk about foreign direct investment. Last year, $220 billion in foreign direct investment flowed into the United States. That was #2 in the world. Through our new SelectUSA initiative, we are working to attract more investment to the United States. Because investment means jobs. We want to let everyone know that the United States, including states like yourselves and cities like Denver, has an attractive business and investment climate, is one of the easiest places in the world to do business, the world’s center of innovation, has transparent and predictable legal system, and has a highly educated workforce.

This September, President Obama will host the first annual SelectUSA Investment Summit in Washington, DC. Hundreds of foreign firms looking to expand their operations in the U.S. are expected to be in attendance. State and local economic development professionals, including from Colorado, will also be invited to attend. This first-of-its kind Summit will create an opportunity for state and local leaders to meet directly with an array of foreign firms. Details of the Summit will be available soon on the SelectUSA website. I encourage you to look at the SelectUSA website run by Commerce.

How We Support Business
We are committed to helping our small- and medium-sized businesses take advantage of the great opportunities that exist overseas. Eighty-eight percent of companies exporting from Colorado are small and medium-sized enterprises. We know that it is not always easy for these companies to develop the know-how to break into overseas markets. Now, we also know that it can be a challenge for SME’s to learn about opportunities abroad or how to take advantage of them. That is why the State Department recently started a program called Direct Line. This program provides a unique opportunity for American businesses, particularly small- and medium-sized enterprises, to engage directly via teleconferences with U.S. ambassadors overseas. Each call is specific to a country and a sector, and often includes a local government official as well. There is always time to ask questions. For example, our embassy in Peru held a call focused on infrastructure, while our embassy in Turkey used their call to discuss on investment incentives promulgated by the Turkish government. I personally participated in both of these calls, and I really would encourage you to find out more information and register by visiting the State Department’s website.
This brings me to infrastructure. There are huge opportunities in these markets. Infrastructure projects are an area where the U.S. should be more present. On a trip this past winter to Peru and Colombia, I kept hearing the same thing: there are lots of infrastructure opportunities, but U.S. companies are not showing up. Countries are spending billions of dollars on infrastructure projects. I visited Brazil a month ago with Secretary Clinton, and Brazil alone is investing $100 billion in the run up to the World Cup and Olympics. The Indians have announced $1 trillion in the next five years. We’re trying to find ways to make sure American architects, construction management and engineering companies, and U.S. suppliers are positioned to compete for overseas contracts and benefit from the global construction boom – believe best opportunity for American companies for years to come. I could on with North Africa – Tunisia, Morocco.
We are helping companies take advantage of these opportunities by talking directly with our counterparts in foreign governments who are often the decision-makers in large infrastructure contracts. We are also coordinating with our partners in the federal government, such as the Department of Commerce and the Small Business Administration, to make sure U.S. companies know about these opportunities. Just two weeks ago, I took 30 American companies to Libya to explore infrastructure opportunities in the Libyan reconstruction. I hadn’t been there since before the revolution and slept next to a flack jacked, but there are opportunities. If you take anything away from my talk this morning, it is get involved in infrastructure. If you don’t, other countries will.

Conclusion
Colorado already takes advantage of its strategic geographic location to export to Asia, Europe, and the Americas. But we need to help you do more. We need to help all states take advantage of each state’s unique attributes to take advantage of opportunities out there to maximize exports and encourage foreign investment.

At the State Department, with our far-reaching platform overseas and Washington-based expertise, we are uniquely positioned to promote American economic leadership around the world. We have over 1,000 economic officers at our embassies and consulates and a staff of 200 in Washington working on these issues. We intend to use all of the tools at our disposal, especially the tools of diplomacy and business advocacy, to support American economic priorities. Our goal is to promote a world where open, free, transparent, and fair trade and investment is the norm of the world and if we can do that, I’m sure our companies will benefit.
Thank you.

FIRST-EVER FEMALE FIGHTER WING COMMANDER TO ASSUME COMMAND


Photos: F16's In Flight.  Credit:  U.S. Air Force.
FROM:  U.S. AIR FORCE
5/24/2012 - SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. -- Col. Patrick Doherty will relinquish command of the 4th Fighter Wing to Col. Jeannie Leavitt in a change-of-command ceremony here at Heritage Park June 1 at 10:00 a.m. Maj. Gen. Lawrence Wells, 9th Air Force Commander, will preside over the ceremony.

Colonel Doherty will become the Director of Air Force Assignments at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas.

Colonel Leavitt, currently a Chief of Staff of the Air Force (CSAF) Fellow assigned to the Central Intelligence Agency, served at Seymour Johnson AFB on two previous assignments. Colonel Leavitt was the first American woman to enter combat training as a fighter pilot and became the Air Force's first mission-qualified female fighter pilot. Colonel Leavitt was also the first female fighter pilot to graduate from the United States Air Force Weapons School, and went on to become a USAF Weapons School instructor.

During her 21-year career Colonel Leavitt has supported Operations NORTHERN WATCH, SOUTHERN WATCH, IRAQI FREEDOM and ENDURING FREEDOM. She has logged more than 2,500 hours in the F-15E Strike Eagle. Colonel Leavitt will be the first female to command a United States Air Force fighter wing.

NOTE TO MEDIA: Media Agencies are requested to RSVP no later than noon May 30 to attend the ceremony. Media agencies unable to attend the ceremony, but interested in covering the event are encouraged to RSVP to receive footage from the ceremony. Agencies must provide contact information to receive the most up-to-date information in the event of changes.


4TH FIGHTER SQUADRON 
Fact Sheet
The 4th Fighter Squadron is one of three fighter squadrons assigned to the 388th Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. The unit operates and maintains Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night, or LANTIRN, F-16s.

As part of the world's largest LANTIRN F-16 wing, the 4th FS conducts flying operations and equipment maintenance to maintain combat readiness of an 18-aircraft F-16C LANTIRN squadron. It prepares to deploy worldwide to conduct air-to-air and air-to-ground operations for daylight and nighttime missions.

The 4th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) was activated at Selfridge Field, Mich., Jan. 15, 1941 and moved to several U.S. bases before relocating to Northern Ireland in 1942. For the next three years, until its inactivation in November 1945, the 4th PS traveled between 13 bases in Europe and North Africa. During World War II, the squadron flew P-39 Air Cobras, P-40 Warhawks, British Spitfires and P-51 Mustangs. The 4th destroyed 109 enemy aircraft in aerial combat and produced three aces during World War II.

The 4th PS was reactivated at Yontan Air Base, Japan, flying the P-61 Black Widows in February 1947. The unit was assigned to Naha Air Base, Japan, in 1948 when it was redesignated as the 4th Fighter Squadron (All Weather). It was there that the squadron adopted the Fuujin, the Okinawan god of wind, as its emblem after half of its combat aircraft were destroyed by a freak windstorm. The Fuujins remained in Okinawa flying the F-82 Twin Mustang from 1950 to 1952 and F-94 Starfire from 1951 to 1954. There they provided air defense of the Ryukyu Islands during the Korean War. While in Okinawa, the squadron had two name changes: the 4th Fighter All-Weather Squadron and the 4th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron.

The 4th FIS moved to Misawa Air Base, Japan, where squadron members flew F-86 Sabres and F-102 Delta Daggers until 1965. During that period, the unit participated in air defense of Japan; trained pilots of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces, the Republic of Korea and the Royal Thai Air Force; and flew combat missions over Korea and Vietnam.

In June 1965, the 4th FIS moved to Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and was renamed the 4th Tactical Fighter Squadron, becoming the fourth Air Force fighter squadron trained in the F-4 Phantom IIs. During July 1967, squadron aircraft, crews and maintenance troops deployed to Udom Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand, where they were designated as the 435th Tactical Fighter Squadron and immediately began combat operations. The 4th began reconstitution at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. In April 1969, the Fightin' Fuujins deployed to Da Nang Air Base, Republic of Vietnam and flew escort missions as part of the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing. Transferring to Udom Royal Thai Air Base, in mid-1972, squadron aircrews flew air superiority missions over Vietnam. The squadron attained the U.S. Air Force's last Southeast Asia aerial victory, downing a MiG-21, Jan. 8, 1973. The 4th TFS downed four enemy aircraft in combat over Vietnam.

For the next two years, the Fuujins remained at Udom Royal Thai Air Base, flying cover for evacuations of Phnom Pehn, Cambodia and Saigon, Republic of Vietnam. The squadron performed strike missions in support of a recovery operation for the U.S.S. Mayaguez, a merchant freighter captured by Cambodian Khmer Rouge guerillas in May 1975.

In December 1975, the 4th TFS moved to Hill Air Force Base, Utah, and formed the initial cadre of the relocation of the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing flying the F-4D Phantom IIs.

In March 1980, the Fuujins began conversion to the F-16A Fighting Falcon as the Air Force's first operational F-16 tactical fighter squadron. The squadron upgraded to the F-16C Block 40 in January 1990.

When Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990, the 4th found themselves facing armed opponents for the first time since Vietnam as they deployed to Southwest Asia in support of Operation Desert Shield. Their deployment took 16 hours non-stop with 10 aerial refuelings (five at night). This set a record as the longest distance flown non-stop in the F-16. Once Operation Desert Storm began, the Fightin' Fuujins raised a dust storm of their own. Pilots dropped more than 2,000 tons of conventional munitions on strategic and tactical targets in Iraq and Kuwait during more than 1,000 daytime combat sorties while only two of their aircraft were damaged by enemy fire and none lost in combat.

In October 1991, the squadron was redesignated the 4th Fighter Squadron as part of a command-level realignment.

Approximately 300 people are assigned to the squadron. Equipment includes 18 LANTIRN capable F-16s, worth about $21 million each.


SOCIAL RANK DETERMINES WOUND-HEALING RESULTS IN WILD BABOONS


Photo:  Baboon Troop.  Credit:  Wikimedia.
FROM:  NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION
Relationship Between Social Status and Wound-Healing in Wild Baboons 
Findings show it's best to be "top baboon"
May 21, 2012
Turns out it's not bad being top dog, or in this case, top baboon.
Results of a study by University of Notre Dame biologist Beth Archie and colleagues from Princeton University and Duke University finds that male baboons that have a high rank within their society recover more quickly from injuries, and are less likely to become ill than other males.

The finding is somewhat surprising, given that top-ranked males also experience high stress, which should suppress immune responses.

Archie, Jeanne Altmann of Princeton and Susan Alberts of Duke examined health records from the Amboseli Baboon Research Project in Kenya. They published their results in this week's issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The scientists also found that social status is a better predictor of wound-healing than age.
"The power of this study is in identifying the biological mechanisms that may confer health benefits to high-ranking members of society," says George Gilchrist, program director in the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Directorate for Biological Sciences, which co-funded the research with NSF's Directorate for Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences.

"We know that humans have such benefits, but it took meticulous long-term research on baboon society to tease out the specific mechanisms," says Gilchrist. "The question remains of causation: is one a society leader because of stronger immune function or vice versa?"

Although research on health and disease in animals in laboratory settings has been extensive, this study is one of the most comprehensive conducted on animals in a natural setting, the scientists say.

The researchers examined 27 years of data on naturally-occurring illnesses and injuries in wild male baboons. They investigated how differences in age, physical condition, stress, reproductive effort and testosterone levels contribute to status-related differences in immune function.

Previous research found that high testosterone levels and intense reproductive efforts can suppress immune function and are highest among high-ranking males.

However, Archie and colleagues found that high-ranking males were less likely to become ill and recovered faster from injuries and illnesses than low-ranking males.

The authors suggest that chronic stress, old age and poor physical condition associated with low rank may suppress immune function in low-ranking males.

"The complex interplay among social context, physiology and immune system-mediated health costs and benefits illustrates the power of interdisciplinary research," says Carolyn Ehardt, program director in NSF's biological anthropology program.

"This research begins to tease apart the trade-offs in both high- and low-status in primates--including ourselves--which may lead to a new understanding of the effects of social status on death and disease."

MAN ACCUSED OF RUNNING A $60 MILLION INVESTMENT FUND LIKE A PONZI SCHEME

FROM:  U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

May 24, 2012
On May 24, 2012, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged an investment adviser in Scotts Valley, Calif., with running a $60 million investment fund like a Ponzi scheme and defrauding investors by touting imaginary trading profits instead of reporting the actual trading losses he had incurred.

The SEC alleges that John A. Geringer, who managed the GLR Growth Fund (Fund), used false and misleading marketing materials to lure investors into believing that the Fund was earning double-digit annual returns by investing 75% of its assets in investments tied to well-known stock indices like the S&P 500, NASDAQ, and Dow Jones. In reality, Geringer’s trading generated consistent losses and he eventually stopped trading entirely. To mask his fraud, Geringer paid millions of dollars in “returns” to investors largely by using money received from newer investors. He also sent investors periodic account statements showing fictitious growth in their investments.

According to the SEC’s complaint filed in federal court in San Jose, Geringer raised more than $60 million since 2005, mostly from investors in the Santa Cruz area. Geringer used fraudulent marketing materials claiming that the Fund had between 17 and 25 percent annual returns in every year of the Fund’s operation through investments tied to major stock indices. Although the Fund was started in 2003, marketing materials claimed 25 percent returns in 2001 and 2002 – before the Fund even existed. The marketing materials also falsely indicated a nearly 24 percent return in 2008 from investing mainly in publicly traded securities, options, and commodities, while the S&P 500 Index lost 38.5 percent.
The SEC alleges that Geringer’s actual securities trading was unsuccessful, and by mid-2009 the Fund did not invest in publicly traded securities at all. Instead, the Fund invested heavily in illiquid investments in two private startup technology companies. The rest of the money was paid to investors in Ponzi-like fashion and to three entities Geringer controlled that also are charged in the SEC’s complaint.

According to the SEC’s complaint, Geringer further lied to investors on account statements that falsely claimed “MEMBER NASD AND SEC APPROVED.” The SEC does not “approve” funds or investments in funds, nor was the Fund (or any related entity) a member of the NASD (now called the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority – FINRA). Geringer also falsely claimed that the Fund’s financial statements were audited annually by an independent accountant. No such audits were performed.

The SEC’s complaint alleges Geringer and three related entities violated or aided and abetted violations of Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (Exchange Act) and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, and Section 206(1), (2), and (4) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 and Rule 206(4)-8 thereunder. The complaint also alleges the defendants violated or aided and abetted violations of Section 26 of the Exchange Act, which bars persons from claiming the SEC has passed on the merits of a particular investment. The SEC’s complaint names the Fund as a relief defendant. The complaint seeks preliminary and permanent injunctions, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, civil monetary penalties, and other relief. Geringer, the Fund, and two of the GLR entities consented to the entry of a preliminary injunction and a freeze on the Fund’s bank account.

The SEC’s investigation, which is continuing, has been conducted by Robert J. Durham and Robert S. Leach of the San Francisco Regional Office. The SEC’s litigation will be led by Sheila O’Callaghan of the San Francisco Regional Office.
The SEC thanks the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and FINRA for their assistance in this matter.

NATO PROTECTS ICELAND


Photo:  Iceland Coast Guard Ship . Credit: Wikimedia.
FROM:  U.S. AIR FORCE
Air Force, NATO fly to protect Iceland's air sovereignty
by 2nd Lt. Lyndsey Horn
48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

5/23/2012 - KEFLAVIK, Iceland (AFNS) -- Airmen from Nevada to Germany are currently deployed here to conduct Icelandic air policing missions until June 7.

The 493rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, which is made up of U.S. Air Force and other North Atlantic Treaty Organization personnel, is a specialized team prepared to ensure Iceland's air sovereignty.

"In this NATO mission, we identify and escort unauthorized aircraft before they reach Iceland's sovereign air space," said Lt. Col. Michael Casey, the 493rd EFS commander.

The squadron is made up aircraft and Airmen from RAFs Lakenheath and Mildenhall, England; Ramstein and Spangdahlem air bases, Germany; and Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. In order to conduct the air policing, the squadron's F-15C Eagles, KC-135 Stratotankers and C-130J Hercules are on alert 24/7.

"We practice scramble launches and when we receive an alert, the F-15s can be in the air within 15 minutes," said Casey, who is deployed from the 493rd Fighter Squadron at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England.

The KC-135 is in place to support the F-15Cs in bad weather while the C-130J and its pararescuemen are prepared to conduct combat search and rescue, squadron officials said.

"This is a unique opportunity, especially for the younger guys, to see alert (operations)," said Capt. Charissa DeLion, a KC-135 pilot.

Beyond the alert operations, the mission provides U.S. personnel the opportunity to interact with their NATO partners, specifically Estonia and Iceland. For example, one control and reporting center officer and one air field manager come from Estonia.

"It helps build interoperability; being able to work with them is critical," said DeLion, who is deployed from the 100th Air Refueling Wing at RAF Mildenhall, England.

"We are proud to be working with other NATO members," said Casey. "They are integrated into the (Control Reporting Center), with active control of the missions alongside U.S. Airmen."

U.S. Air Force F-15Cs were permanently stationed in Iceland until 2006, but now conduct the air policing mission in conjunction with NATO in support of the U.S.-Iceland bilateral Defense Agreement of 1951.

B2 BOMBER GETS SOME GO-GO JUICE OVER COLORADO




FROM:  U.S. AIR FORCE
Full service, high altitude
5/24/2012 - A KC-135 "Stratotanker" from the Nebraska Air National Guard's 155th Air Refueling Wing passes fuel to a B-2 bomber over Southern Colorado May 22. The KC-135, first deployed in 1956, is one of the Air Force's longest-serving aircraft type. The B-2 "Spirit" fleet is one of the Air Force's youngest, reaching initial operational capability in 1997. Together, these two aircraft and their crews allow the Air Force to reach targets across the globe in a matter of hours. (U.S. Air Force photo/Duncan Wood)

Friday, May 25, 2012

IRAQ AGREES TO BUY F16'S IN JOINT STATEMENT WITH U.S.


Photo:  F16.  Credit:  European Command. 
FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Joint Statement of the U.S. - Iraq Defense and Security Cooperation Joint Coordinating Committee
Media Note Office of the Spokesperson Washington, DC
May 24, 2012
Begin Text:
The Governments of the United States of America and the Republic of Iraq reaffirmed their commitment to a strong and long-term security partnership between the two countries at the inaugural meeting of the Defense and Security Joint Coordinating Committee (JCC) of the Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA), from May 22-24, 2012.

The meetings, held at the U.S. Department of Defense following a meeting between Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Acting Iraqi Minister of Defense Saadoun Al-Dlimi, were co-chaired by the Iraqi Acting Minister of Defense and by the U.S. Acting Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller, and Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Policy James Miller. Defense and Security is one of the eight areas of cooperation agreed upon by Iraq and the United States under the 2008 SFA to strengthen cooperation in areas of critical interest to both countries. The establishment of the Defense and Security JCC signifies both countries’ commitment to strengthen the U.S.-Iraqi strategic partnership and continue coordination and cooperation on these vital issues.

During three days of meetings, discussions were held on a number of items of mutual interest, including future sales of military equipment, joint military exercises, and Iraq’s strategy to ensure its future stability and security. In support of an enduring partnership, the United States and the Government of Iraq expanded dialogue on ways of increasing strategic cooperation that would promote stability within Iraq as well as throughout the region. The United States also reaffirmed its commitment to advancing Iraq’s stability through the training, equipping, and enhancing the capacity of Iraq’s armed forces for defense against external threats and for counterterrorism.

Both sides discussed ongoing and future security assistance. In addition to an initial purchase of 18 F-16 aircraft in September 2011, during the meetings the Government of Iraq reconfirmed its interest in purchasing a second set of 18 F-16s and the United States reconfirmed its commitment to the sale. The F-16s and other military equipment will help protect Iraq’s sovereignty, meet legitimate defense needs and symbolize the long-term security partnership envisioned by both countries.

The United States commends the Iraqi Security Forces for their demonstrated capability to protect the Iraqi people and recognizes the continued sacrifice being made to ensure Iraq’s security. The Iraqi Security Forces have made great strides in stabilizing the security situation in Iraq and in facilitating Iraq’s emergence as a strategic partner that promotes and contributes to regional security.

The United States and the Government of Iraq agreed that the next meeting of the Defense and Security JCC will be hosted by Iraq in Baghdad this fall. The purpose of the second meeting will be to build upon the foundation laid out this week, and continue discussions on strengthening defense and security cooperation as part of the multifaceted relationship developed between the United States and the Government of Iraq.

CFTC CHARGES WASHINGTON D.C. RESIDENT WITH FOREX CURRENCY TRADING FRAUD


FROM:  U.S. COMMODITY AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
CFTC Charges Washington, DC, Resident Marina Bühler-Miko and Her Company, Coventry Asset Managers, LLC, with Operating Fraudulent Forex Scheme

Washington, DC - The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) today announced the filing of a civil enforcement action in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against defendants Marina Bühler-Miko(Bühler-Miko) and her company, Coventry Asset Managers, LLC (Coventry), both of Washington, DC.  The CFTC complaint charges that Bühler-Miko and Coventry fraudulently solicited members of the general public to trade off-exchange foreign currency (forex) contracts on a leveraged or margined basis through a pooled investment vehicle, the Coventry Eire Forex Fund (Coventry Eire).  Neither defendant has ever been registered with the CFTC.

The complaint, filed on May 16, 2012, alleges that from at least June 18, 2008, through April 2011, Bühler-Miko and Coventry defrauded customers of at least $300,000 through their scheme.

In soliciting actual and prospective customers, the defendants allegedly made misrepresentations of material facts, including (1) guaranteeing customer profits of six percent quarterly, plus a bonus payment at the end of the 13-month “Asset Management Agreement” by trading forex in Coventry Eire, and (2) downplaying the risk of entering into leveraged forex transactions.

Bühler-Miko, who had no trading experience, admitted in sworn testimony that no customers received the promised quarterly returns or bonus payments and that she ultimately advised each customer that they had lost nearly all of their principal trading forex contracts through Coventry Eire, according to the complaint.

In its continuing litigation, the CFTC seeks disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, restitution to defrauded customers, civil monetary penalties, permanent trading and registration bans, and permanent injunctions against further violations of the Commodity Exchange Act.
CFTC Division of Enforcement staff responsible for this action are Timothy J. Mulreany, Tracey Wingate, Michael Amakor, Paul Hayeck, and Joan Manley.

U.S.-CHINA PEOPLE TO PEOPLE EXCHANGE 2012


Photo Credit :  Wikimedia
FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
Remarks at the Opening of the Third Annual U.S.-China Consultation on People-to-People Exchange (CPE)
Remarks Tara Sonenshine
Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs The Westin Hotel
Beijing, China

May 3, 2012
Good morning! And greetings to Vice Minister of Education Hao Ping.
I am delighted to be here on my first trip abroad as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs – and to speak at the opening of the third U.S.-China Consultation on People-to-People Exchange.
Our bilateral relationship is the most important in the world. And the more we cooperate, exchange ideas, and work in a spirit of mutual understanding and respect, the more we can achieve together. That’s why this forum is so important.

The good news is, we already have a strong and vibrant relationship with the People’s Republic of China. A record number of Chinese visited the U.S. last near—nearly 1.1 million – and that number is expected to almost double by 2014, according to the U.S. Travel Association. At the same time, Americans’ interest in China – in its language, its food, its music and culture, its arts, its long and rich history – has never been deeper. We want to do more to expand and enhance our relationship – so that there are opportunities for even more interaction between our people.

Through the Consultation on People-to-People Exchange, we can build on this growing interest to expand and enhance our relationship and create even more opportunities for interaction between our peoples.

As we work together over the next two days to on the five pillars of the Consultation – women’s issues, culture, sports, education, and science and technology – we should celebrate our successes and identify best practices, but at the same time we must work to overcome impediments that are holding us back from even greater cooperation.

Today, Vice Minister Hao and I will be visiting all the working groups. And during those sessions I look forward to hearing from our official delegations, but also from members of the private sector and nonprofit organizations who represent the many organizations which play such a vital role in driving exchanges between our two peoples. I will be very interested in hearing your suggestions about how our governments can facilitate and enhance your efforts.

There are many items on our agenda and there obviously isn’t time to discuss them all. But I would like to underscore some.

I know that the empowerment of women is important to both Secretary Clinton and Madam Liu. That’s why I am so pleased by the strong partnership between the All-China Women’s Federation and the Department of State’s Office of Global Women’s Issues. I am also delighted to recognize Mona Locke, wife of our Ambassador to China, who has actively promoted women’s health and childhood education, and comes today to support this important pillar. I know that Ambassador Verveer and her counterpart, Ms. Meng Xiaosi, are looking forward to exploring ways in which our government and private sector partners can identify and train women as philanthropists and entrepreneurs. The more we empower women, the more economies can grow

The same is true for our young people: the more we empower them as economic actors and global problem solvers, the more our economies and societies will benefit.
One of the ways we can do that is through our educational exchanges. As you know, we are invested deeply in our 100,000 Strong Initiative. And let me take a moment to especially thank Madame Liu and the Government of the Peoples Republic of China for their committed support and partnership in this initiative.

The exchange of students between our countries is very important to us. Approximately 20 per cent of all foreign students in the United States – and that’s about 157,000 – are from the People’s Republic of China. And China is one of the most popular destinations for American students studying abroad. With great support from the Chinese Government and our private sector partners like the Ford Foundation, we are already seeing an increase in opportunities for more – and more diverse – American students to study in China.
We are also building on the U.S.-China Fulbright Program – one of our most successful. This flagship program sends about 200 Chinese and American students and scholars each year to one another’s country to study, do research, and teach side-by-side on our campuses. And we encourage China to increase its contribution to this investment in our shared future.

In our country, we have welcomed many of your Confucius centers to our college campuses, so that our young people can appreciate your great culture. For our part, we are delighted by the success of our University Partnership program, which promotes American studies on Chinese campuses by encouraging greater cooperation between American universities and their Chinese partners.

We are delighted to have the Vice Provost of Arizona State University here to describe the successful cooperation between ASU and Sichuan University. As we learn more about each others’ languages and traditions, we are building the foundation of trust and understanding that will allow us to better work together as nations.

Another way we can engage and empower youth is by encouraging them to study science and technology. That is also on our agenda, as we work to enable more young people – especially young women – to build their professional futures in these fields. We need their talent and innovative ideas as we address common challenges to both our countries, including the safety of the food we eat and give our children; the air we breathe; and the water we drink.

We have a robust relationship in this undertaking, with 25 U.S. Government agencies partnering with their Chinese counterparts. We are working to create youth exchanges and visitor programs in both countries. Of course, private sector involvement, as always, will be crucial.

As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of ping pong diplomacy, and we note the popularity of basketball player Jeremy Lin in both our countries, I’m particularly pleased that sports is included in our consultation. Participation in sports encourages teamwork, a healthy lifestyle, and a sense of responsibility in young people – both boys and girls. It can also help to strengthen our communities. I look forward to hearing more about our progress in those sessions as well.

In closing, I am honored to have this opportunity to join so many distinguished and committed partners as we work to enhance ties between our countries. If we are open and honest in expressing our opinions, even when we disagree, then I am confident that we can achieve our shared goal of furthering mutual understanding through people-to-people exchange.

Thank you for your attention.

FORMER SEC EMPLOYEE BANNED FROM PRACTICING BEFORE COMMISSION FOR ONE YEAR

 Photo Credit:  Wikimedia
FROM:  SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION 
Washington, D.C., May 24, 2012 – The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that it has barred Spencer Barasch, a former enforcement official in the Commission’s Fort Worth office, from appearing and practicing before the Commission for one year for violating federal conflict of interest rules.

The bar was imposed in an order instituting an administrative proceeding and resolves allegations involving Barasch’s representation of Stanford Group Company after Barasch went into private practice. Barasch consented to the Commission’s action without admitting or denying the Commission’s allegations.
Earlier this year, Barasch agreed to pay a $50,000 civil fine to the U.S. Justice Department for the same conduct.

Barasch, a Dallas resident, was the Associate District Director for the Division of Enforcement in the Commission’s Fort Worth office from June 1998 to April 2005. According to the Commission’s order, while at the Commission, Barasch took part “personally and substantially” in decisions involving allegations of securities law violations by entities associated with Robert Allen Stanford, including Stanford Group Company.

According to the Commission’s order, when Barasch joined a private law firm in 2005, he contacted the Commission’s Ethics Office about whether he could represent Stanford Group Company before the Commission and was told that he was permanently barred from doing so with respect to any matters on which he had participated while at the Commission. The order finds that Barasch declined to represent Stanford Group Company then, but that in the fall of 2006, he accepted an engagement from the Stanford entity and billed it for 12 hours of legal work related to Stanford matters Barasch had participated in while at the Commission.

During this representation, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 207(a)(1), Barasch tried to obtain information about the Commission’s Stanford investigation from Commission staff in Fort Worth, but a staff attorney questioned whether Barasch could represent the firm. The staff attorney declined to have any substantive discussions with Barasch and suggested that Barasch contact the Commission’s Ethics Office on the matter. The order finds that Barasch did so and was again told that he was permanently barred from representing Stanford Group Company in the matter, prompting him to end his representation.

U.S. laws prohibit former federal officers and employees from knowingly seeking to influence or appear before any agency on a matter in which they had “participated personally and substantially” during their federal employment. The Commission’s order finds that Barasch violated this conflict of interest rule, which constitutes “improper professional conduct” under Rule 102(e) of the Commission’s rules of practice.
Before Barasch can resume appearing and practicing before the Commission, the Commission must determine that Barasch has truthfully sworn that he has satisfied several conditions that reflect on his character and fitness to practice before the Commission.

“This action shows that the Commission takes seriously ethical lapses by attorneys who appear and practice before it, and that such violations will result in serious disciplinary action,” said SEC Associate General Counsel Richard M. Humes.

The Commission’s case was investigated by Thomas J. Karr, Karen J. Shimp and Sarah E. Hancur of the Office of the General Counsel, following an investigation and report on the Stanford matter by the Commission’s Office of the Inspector General. The Commission acknowledges the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas.



NON-PROFIT GROUP HONORS WOUNDED WARRIORS



First Lady Michelle Obama and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, applaud as the All-Marine Warrior Games team make their way down the Olympic pathway during the opening ceremony of the 2012 Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colo., April 30, 2012. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Heidi Agostini  


FROM:  AMERICAN FORCES PRESS SERVICE
Winnefeld, Non-profit Group Honor Wounded Warriors
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 24, 2012 - The military is a family business and there's no better example of that than the military spouses who formed the Hope for the Warriors non-profit organization, Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr., vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said here last night.

The vice chairman spoke at the 3rd annual "Got Heart, Give Hope" gala, honoring the courage of wounded service members, their families and the families of fallen troops.

"We're so proud of you, and we're so proud of and inspired by, the young men and women you help who've given so much of themselves to their country and who are so determined that their sacrifice shall not hold them back," Winnefeld said. "It really is a privilege to be part of such a great event in such a magnificent venue."

Winnefeld was joined by Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, vice chief of staff of the Army, actor Gary Sinise, who hosted a portion of the evening, singer Randy Travis, and other celebrities and military officials, as Hope for the Warriors honored selected wounded, ill and injured warriors, and their families.

The non-profit Hope for the Warriors organization, founded in 2006, focuses on enhancing the quality of life for U.S. service members and their families adversely affected by injuries or death in the line of duty.

"To the founders and the many military spouses here tonight, who make up this fantastic organization, thank you for what you do," Winnefeld said. "We're both married to awesome military spouses -- Charlene Austin and Mary Winnefeld. So Lloyd and I are very familiar with the greatness that lies in the heart of so many military spouses. And the founders of Hope for the Warriors, a group of military spouses themselves, are exhibit A."
The vice chairman said earlier this month he and his wife, Mary, were "privileged" to see the Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colo.

"There we watched, with thousands of others, as 200 amazing wounded warriors proved that there's no challenge too great, no hurdle too difficult for these determined, young men and women," Winnefeld said. "They, like the honorees, are bright and shining examples of the power of hope and determination."

"They remind us of what greatness really is," he added. "When one of us has a bad day, all we have to do is think about one of these remarkable young men and women. They also give hope and strength to those who are just beginning the difficult journey of recovery."

Winnefeld said the evening gala also honored the caregivers, who are "unsung heroes" that spend countless hours unselfishly giving to those who have sacrificed and are now in need.
"It's hard to find words to describe these remarkable people -- these caregivers," he said. "We can only find them, support them, thank them and be inspired by them as well."

Winnefeld noted the nation will pause during Memorial Day weekend to remember the service and sacrifice of the fallen, and their families who remain behind.

"We owe all of these men and women -- those who have selflessly worn the cloth of our nation in a decade of war, and those who have stood behind them, a debt of gratitude," he said.

"We also owe a debt of gratitude to the many champions of our men and women in uniform," Winnefeld added, "[the] people who understand the price the freedom, and who want to give back to those who have sacrificed to preserve it. They are everywhere."
The vice chairman commended public officials, celebrities, corporations and private organizations for providing opportunities to support troops like Hope for the Warriors.
"You didn't have to do any of this, and we know it," Winnefeld said. "But you're making a huge difference."

FEMA ON THE COMMERCIAL MOBILE ALERT SYSTEM (CMAS)


Photo Credit:  Wikimedia
FROM:  FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Hurricane Season begins June 1, 2012, FEMA is providing additional tools for federal, state, local, tribal and territorial officials to alert and warn the public about severe weather.  Using the Commercial Mobile Alert System, or CMAS, which is a part of FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, this structure will be used to deliver Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) to wireless carriers for distribution to the public.

The CMAS system will allow the National Weather Service to soon begin issuing WEAs for the most dangerous weather through participating wireless carriers directly to cell phones. The alerts will be broadcast by cell towers much like an AM/FM radio station, and cell phones within range will immediately pick up the signal, provided they are capable of receiving these alerts. The availability of WEA alerts will be dependent on the network status of the wireless carriers and handset availability, since not all cell phones can receive WEAs.  People should check with their cellular carriers to see if WEA alerts are available in their area.

“The wireless emergency alert capability provides an additional opportunity for the public to receive life-saving information needed to get out of harm’s way when a threat exists,” said Timothy Manning, FEMA deputy administrator for protection and national preparedness.  “The public also has a critical role in their personal preparedness. There are a few simple steps that everyone can take to be prepared, like knowing which risks exist in your area and making a family emergency plan.  Information and resources to help individuals and families prepare can be found at ready.gov.”

WEAs will look like a text message, and will automatically appear on the mobile device screen showing the type and time of alert along with any action that should be taken.  The message will be no more than 90 characters, and will have a unique tone and vibration, indicating a WEA has been received.  If an alert is received, citizens should follow the instructions and seek additional information from radio, television, NOAA Weather Radio, and other official sources for emergency information.  Citizens should only call 911 in a life threatening situation.

Only authorized federal, state, local, tribal or territorial officials can send WEA alerts to the public. As with all new cellular services, it will take time for upgrades in infrastructure, coverage, and handset technology to allow WEA alerts to reach all cellular customers.
FEMA urges individuals and businesses to take action to prepare themselves in advance of severe weather and hurricanes such as taking the pledge to prepare at www.ready.gov/pledge.  This is the first step in making sure  you and your family are ready for an emergency  This includes filling out your family communications plan that you can email to yourself, assembling an emergency kit , keeping important papers and valuables in a safe place, and getting involved.

With the start of hurricanes season it is even more important to know your risk, take action, and be an example. While hurricanes often offer some warning that a threat is approaching, severe weather can occur at anytime and in any place, including high winds, inland flooding, severe storms and tornadoes.

For more on family preparedness, visit www.ready.gov/hurricanes for more planning information and safety tips.

FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

2012 MINISTERIAL COUNCIL MEETING OF OECD


Photo Credit:  Wikimedia.  
FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
2012 OECD Ministerial
Fact Sheet
Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs
May 25, 2012
The 2012 Ministerial Council Meeting of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) built on the momentum of last year's 50th Anniversary Ministerial, which was chaired by the United States. Implementing a 21st-century vision for the OECD in cooperation with other member nations and the Secretary-General, the United States highlights the many substantial accomplishments, including:

U.S. Grant Supports Open Government in the Middle East North Africa Region – Delivering on the new Development Strategy and the Deauville Partnership, the United States announced a $1.5 million grant to the OECD to support the governments of Jordan, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia as they design and implement, together with their citizens and civil society organizations, policies that increase government transparency and accountability. The implementation of these policies will assist Libya, Morocco and Tunisia as they make the reforms necessary to join the Open Government Partnership and OGP member Jordan with its country action plan.

Development Strategy Focuses Whole of OECD on Development – The Development Strategy delivers on the Development Framework agreed at the U.S.-chaired Ministerial to leverage OECD’s expertise to help partner countries improve governance and grow their economies.

Gender Initiative Aims to Fix "Leaky Pipeline" – The OECD Gender Initiative, launched and funded by the United States, explains the paradox that although more girls than ever are graduating and getting a job, we still see little change in top management or in ownership of assets. The OECD report and a complementary business report issued in response to a U.S. request document this "leaky pipeline" and offer tools to repair it.

Russia Invited to Join the Nuclear Energy Agency – Russia was invited to join the Nuclear Energy Agency. This follows on the heels of Russia becoming a Party to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention in April 2012 and is a milestone in Russia’s OECD accession effort.

Competitive Neutrality – Ministers welcomed OECD work on competitive neutrality. The OECD was asked to expand this work, in cooperation with Russia and Key Partners, and to engage in a dialogue on policies by home and recipient countries related to state-controlled enterprises’ international trade and investment, to promote a level global playing field, to fight protectionist practices and support growth and development.

Skills Strategy Focuses on Job Growth – The OECD released its Skills Strategy highlighting the importance of spending on education and skills as an investment in the future. The Strategy includes tailored recommendations for individual countries.

Tunisia and Morocco Move Closer to OECD – Tunisia and Morocco signed on to the Declaration on Propriety, Integrity and Transparency and the Declaration of Green Growth. Tunisia also signed on to the Declaration on International Investment and Multinational Enterprises, deposited Tunisia’s intention to become a party to the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters and handed over two documents concerning the adherence of Tunisia to the Development Centre and the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes.

New Approaches to Economic Challenges – OECD members launched New Approaches to Economic Challenges charging the OECD to learn from the crisis and as appropriate update and upgrade its analytical framework, as well as develop a new policy agenda for inclusive growth.

International Collaborative Initiative on Trade and Employment Fights Protectionism– ICITE findings suggest strongly that protectionist measures will not protect or preserve jobs. ICITE confirms that liberalization done right results in job creation.

Boost to OECD Green Growth Work –Ministers sent a strong signal to the Rio+20 Conference by endorsing the Policy Statement from the OECD Environment Policy Committee Ministerial Meeting on 29-30 March 2012 to the Rio+20 Conference and the OECD DAC Policy Statement for the Rio+20 Conference.

About the U.S. Mission to the OECD 
The United States is a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, an international organization composed of 34 democratic countries with market-based economies. Through its cross-country economic research, “soft law,” and peer reviews, the OECD provides the United States an opportunity for engaging with other countries on economic policy.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR TO GIVE OUT OVER $20 MILLION IN GRANTS TO PUT FORMER INMATES BACK TO WORK


Photo Credit:  Wikimedia.
FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
US Labor Department announces $20.5 million in grants to support, help ensure success of formerly incarcerated adults returning to work in their communities

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor today announced grants totaling $20,518,598 to 18 nonprofit organizations across the country to fund employment-related services for formerly incarcerated adults who are returning to high-poverty, high-crime communities. These grants represent the fifth round of funding under the department's Reintegration of Ex-Offenders-Adult program, through which more than $98 million has been awarded to date.

"A strong support network is the key for formerly incarcerated individuals to successfully transition back to their communities," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "The federal grants announced today will help to establish this network, while also providing job training to ensure long-term stability and success."

Grantees will use the funds to provide occupational training that leads to credentials in high-demand industries; mentoring; and assistance in connecting formerly incarcerated adults with supportive services such as housing, substance abuse programs and mental health treatment.

In 2010, nearly 709,000 people were released from state and federal prisons, an increase of almost 20 percent from 2002. Research indicates that, without assistance to make a successful transition, the majority of former offenders return to criminal activity. This program aims to break that cycle.

U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE'S STATEMENT ON EGYPTIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION


Photo Credit:  Wikimedia.
FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
Egyptian Presidential Election
Press Statement Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State Washington, DC
May 24, 2012

The Egyptian people concluded a historic two days of voting in the first round of their presidential election, marking another important milestone in their transition to democracy. We look forward to working with Egypt's democratically elected government. We will continue to stand with the Egyptian people as they work to seize the promise of last year's uprising and build a democracy that reflects their values and traditions, respects universal human rights, and meets their aspirations for dignity and a better life.

SECRETARY OF STATE CLINTON'S REMARKS ON THE 2011 HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT



FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Release of the 2011 Human Rights Report
Remarks Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State Washington, DC
May 24, 2012
Good morning. Good morning, everyone. I’m very pleased to be joined here today by Assistant Secretary Posner to release our 2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. These reports, which the United States Government has published for nearly four decades, make clear to governments around the world: We are watching and we are holding you accountable. And they make clear to citizens and activists everywhere: You are not alone. We are standing with you.

Mike and his team and the staff at our embassies and consulates around the world have worked tirelessly to produce these reports. And I want to thank each and every person who has contributed to them.

Now, as you know, this has been an especially tumultuous and momentous year for everyone involved in the cause of human rights. Many of the events that have dominated recent headlines from the revolutions in the Middle East to reforms in Burma began with human rights, with the clear call of men and women demanding their universal rights.

Today in Egypt, we are seeing in real time that those demands are making a difference as Egyptians are going to the polls to determine for the first time in their history who their leaders will be. Whatever the outcome of the election, the Egyptian people will keep striving to achieve their aspirations. And as they do, we will continue to support them.

We will support people everywhere who seek the same. Men and women who want to speak, worship, associate, love the way they choose – we will defend their rights; not just on the day we issue these reports, but every day.

As Secretary, I have worked with my superb team on advancing human rights in a 21st century landscape, focusing on new frontiers even as we stand up against age-old abuses. Where women have been and continue to be marginalized, we’re helping them become full partners in their governments and economies. Where LGBT people are mistreated and discriminated against, we’re working to bring them into full participation in their societies. We’re expanding access to technology and defending internet freedom because people deserve the same rights online as off. And we know that in the 21st century human rights are not only a question of civil and political liberties, it’s about the fundamental question of whether people everywhere have the chance to make the most of their God-given potential.

So we are supporting efforts around the world to give people a voice in their societies, a stake in their economies, and to support them as they determine for themselves the future of their own lives and the contributions they can make to the future of their countries. We think this is the way, together, we can make human rights a human reality.

Now as these reports document, there is a lot of work that remains to be done. In too many places, governments continue to stifle their own people’s aspirations. And in some places like Syria, it is not just an assault on freedom of expression or freedom of association, but an assault on the very lives of citizens. The Assad regime’s brutality against its own people must and will end, because Syrians know they deserve a better future.

These reports are more than a report card; they are a tool for lawmakers and scholars, for civil society leaders and activists. We also think they are a tool for government leaders. It’s always been bewildering to me that so many government leaders don’t want to make the most of the human potential of their own people.

And so I don’t expect this to be reading material everywhere, but I do hope somewhere in the corner of my mind that maybe a leader will pick it up and say: How do we compare with others, and what can we do today, tomorrow, and next year that will maximize the potential of more of our citizens?

This year we’ve made the reports easier to read online, easier to track trends across a region, easier to follow the progress of a particular group, easier to find out which governments are or are not living up to their commitments.

Now, every year that we issue this, we take stock of ourselves. We say: What more can we do? Where have we succeeded or are succeeding? Where are we falling short? And we know we have to recommit to the work of advancing universal rights, building the partnerships that will move us forward, helping every man, woman, and child live up to their God-given potential. And we know we have to be able to speak out and speak up for those unable to use their own voices.

But this is at the core of who we are. This is central to what we believe. And this is the work that will continue administration after administration, secretary after secretary, because of its centrality to our foreign policy and national security.

Now I’d like to turn things over to Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Right, and Labor Mike Posner, who will speak further about some of the specific findings in this year’s reports. Thank you all very much. Thanks, Mike.

USS MIAMI SUBMARINE FIRE


FROM:  U.S. NAVY
120315-N-TT535-014 KITTERY, Maine (March 15, 2012) The Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Miami (SSN 755) enters dry dock to begin an engineered overhaul at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. (U.S. Navy photo by Jim Cleveland/Released) 

USS Miami Crew, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Combat Fire Aboard Submarine
By Submarine Group Two
GROTON, Conn. (NNS) -- Statement from Rear Admiral Rick Breckenridge, Commander, of Submarine Group Two in Groton, Connecticut:

"Late yesterday afternoon, USS MIAMI experienced a fire in the submarine's forward compartment.

"Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Fire Department and Ship's force, along with mutual assistance from several other area fire departments, immediately responded and successfully extinguished the fire on USS MIAMI. I repeat, the fire is out.

"The fire and subsequent damage was limited to the forward compartment spaces only which includes crew living and command and control spaces. The nuclear propulsion spaces were physically isolated from the Forward Compartment early during initial response.

"The ship's reactor has been shut down for over 2 months and remained in a safe and stable condition throughout the event. The propulsion spaces remained habitable and were continuously manned through the night.

"There were no weapons on board in the torpedo room.
The fire spread to spaces within the submarine that were difficult to access. The heat and smoke contained in these confined spaces made it challenging for fire-fighters to combat the blaze.

"I want to emphasize that the heroic actions of the firefighting teams averted what could have been a much more severe situation. As a result of their quick and effective response, the fire was contained and brought under control.

"We greatly appreciate the strong support received from our state and local partners who assisted us throughout this event.

"All of USS MIAMI's crew and the personnel supporting work and recovery efforts on the submarine are accounted for.

"Seven people were injured during the fire-fighting response. However, their injuries were minor in nature. The injured personnel included three Portsmouth Naval Shipyard fire-fighters; two ships force crew members; and two civilian fire-fighters providing support. These personnel were either treated on-scene or transported to a local medical facility for further treatment and all have been released. So all injured personnel have been released and are in good shape. There were no casualties in this fire.

"Again, the response of the shipyard and the community fire-fighters has been exceptional. Their efforts clearly minimized the severity of the event. They immediately took actions to stabilize the situation, protect the public, and limit the impact to the environment.

"So we are now moving forward with recovery actions.
The shipyard remains open for normal business and the workforce will report to work as scheduled.

A full investigation has begun to determine the cause of the fire. We will continue to provide updates later today as more information becomes available.
For now I need to get back to my responsibilities in the command center."