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Saturday, June 30, 2012

USS CONSTITUTION IN BOSTON HARBOR



FROM:  U.S. NAVY
Performers march during the "Sunset Parade" at the site of the USS Constitution during Boston Navy Week 2012. Boston Navy Week is one of 15 signature events planned across America in 2012. The eight-day long event commemorates the Bicentennial of the War of 1812, hosting service members from the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard and coalition ships from around the world. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jason Daniel Johnston (Released) 120629-N-RJ303-581


120629-N-RJ303-539 BOSTON (June 29, 2012) Spectators watch performers during the "Sunset Parade" at the site of the USS Constitution during Boston Navy Week 2012. Boston Navy Week is one of 15 signature events planned across America in 2012. The eight-day long event commemorates the Bicentennial of the War of 1812, hosting service members from the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard and coalition ships from around the world. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jason Daniel Johnston/Released)

COLORADO GOVERNOR HICKENLOOPER SELECTS COMMANDER TO OVERSEE WILDFIRE RESPONSE


Photo:  C130 Fighting Wildfire.  Credit:  U.S. Air Force.
FROM:  AMERICAN FORCES PRESS SERVICE
Commander to Oversee Colorado Wildfire Response
By Jim Greenhill
National Guard Bureau
ARLINGTON, Va., June 29, 2012 - A National Guard dual-status commander has been recently appointed to support wildfire response and relief efforts in Colorado, according to Defense Department and National Guard officials.

Air Force Col. Peter J. Byrne -- director of the joint staff, Joint Force Headquarters-Colorado -- was selected by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper in agreement with Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta, the Colorado National Guard reported.
"The dual-status commander will coordinate military firefighting efforts in the state," Hickenlooper said. "This commander operates as the liaison to make sure that we can take federal assets and airmen, soldiers, bulldozers, helicopters, Modular Airborne Firefighting Systems aircraft and get whatever tool we need."

Byrne, who is a Colorado resident, will work with fire incident commanders.
When agreed upon by the secretary of defense and the governor of an affected state, dual-status commanders can direct both federal active duty forces and state National Guard forces in response to domestic incidents, Defense Department officials said.
The unity of effort is intended to foster greater cooperation among federal and state military assets during a disaster.

The dual-status commander concept was most recently used in support of the NATO Summit in Chicago in May.

Byrne is a command pilot with more than 2,500 military flying hours and more than 145 combat hours, officials said. He was commissioned in 1984 and joined the Colorado Air National Guard in 1991.

"Working hand in hand with active duty forces is something the National Guard has performed seamlessly for more than 10 years in overseas missions," Byrne said. "Though the circumstances are tragic, bringing this experience of partnership to help friends, family and neighbors is a rewarding and natural extension of this valuable relationship."
According to Defense Department officials:

The nation's governors led the creation of this new opportunity for collaboration. Dual-status commanders ensure that state and federal military forces work together effectively together when states request federal forces. Through this improved partnership, military forces responding to the wildfires will be better able to avoid duplication of effort and support the needs of the incident and the American people.

The dual-status commander concept was codified in 2011, with 10 USC - 12304 as the usual and customary command and control arrangement for missions involving the simultaneous deployment of active duty, Reserve and National Guard forces in support of civilian authorities during major disasters and other emergencies.

STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TESTIFIES ON TRADE EXPANSION IN AFRICA


FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
Economic Statecraft: Embracing Africa's Market Potential
Testimony Johnnie Carson
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs Washington, DC
June 28, 2012
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:
Thank you for providing me with the opportunity to address the committee on what I feel is an important and timely topic. The U.S. Government is committed to expanding trade and investment in sub-Saharan Africa and the numbers show our commitment. U.S. trade to and from Africa has grown significantly in the past ten years. U.S. exports to sub-Saharan Africa tripled from just under $7 billion U.S. dollars in 2001 to over $21 billion dollars in 2011.

As Secretary of State Clinton said at the annual AGOA Forum two weeks ago: "twelve years ago, the United States passed the Africa Growth and Opportunity act because we believed that the countries of Africa had tremendous untapped economic potential that could and should be developed. We shared a vision with many of you of a future in which economic growth in Africa would fuel growth and prosperity worldwide…trade and investment would multiply…and people across the continent would have new opportunities to start their own businesses, earn higher salaries, improve their lives, and lift the fortunes of their families and communities."

In large part, this vision is becoming reality. It is my firm belief that Africa represents the next global economic frontier. Sub-Saharan Africa continues to weather the global economic crisis more successfully than other regions, and is home to six – and soon to be seven – of the ten fastest growing economies in the world. A recent McKinsey study documented that Africa offers the highest rate of return on foreign investment of any developing region and has for some years now. Consumer spending continues to rise, and 43 percent of Africans currently have discretionary income or could be considered middle class consumers. And a growing middle class is a market for American products – from ipads to Pampers to Caterpillar tractors which increase crop yields to GE turbines which create additional hours of on-grid electricity to Boeing airliners which facilitate African countries’ growing links with each other and with other continents.

However, we can do more. Africa's recent economic growth is impressive but the region still only accounts for approximately two percent of global trade. The second pillar of President Obama’s recently announced U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa directs the Administration to "spur economic growth, trade, and investment in sub-Saharan Africa." This new approach recognizes that it is in the interest of both the United States and our African partners to improve the region’s trade competitiveness, encourage the diversification of exports beyond natural resources, and ensure sustained economic growth which benefits all sectors of society.

This new strategy elevates economic growth, trade, and investment issues by calling for increased U.S. focus to (1) promote an enabling environment for trade and investment ; (2) improve economic governance; (3) promote regional integration; (4) expand African capacity to effectively access and benefit from global markets; and (5) encourage U.S. companies to trade with and invest in Africa.

In addition to the President’s new U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa, our efforts to increase our commercial engagement in Africa are firmly in line with Secretary Clinton's global focus on Economic Statecraft. The State Department's economic statecraft policy harnesses the forces of global economics to advance our diplomatic agenda and puts the tools of our diplomacy to work to meet our economic goals. We are committed to using every opportunity available to advance not only diplomatic and political priorities but our economic and commercial goals as well. I would like to highlight a few of the programs that the Bureau of African Affairs has been working on as we shift our economic orientation towards Africa from focusing almost exclusively on development assistance to promoting sustained economic growth through private sector, commercial, trade, and investment activities.

The African Growth and Opportunity Act continues to be the centerpiece of our trade policy with sub-Saharan Africa. It is Africa’s most important vehicle for market access and its unilateral trade preferences have created enormous goodwill for the United States on the continent. As you know, many African countries are not taking full advantage of the benefits of AGOA. However, some AGOA beneficiary countries take good advantage of the provisions for fabric and apparel product lines. The third country fabric provision component of AGOA was designed to provide an opportunity for AGOA-qualified countries to be more competitive in labor intensive textile processes such as sewing, stitching, and cutting fabric.

It was widely recognized that most African countries were not able to compete in the more capital intensive process of producing fabric from raw cotton. African manufacturers have successfully used the AGOA third country fabric provision to create jobs, not just in the manufacturing countries but have used this provision to create cross-border pan-African supply chains. These supply chains also encourage regional integration – one of our key goals for the continent. Fabric and apparel exports are the second largest AGOA export after extractive industry products. However, these imports still account for less than two percent of U.S. imports.

I’d like to say a few words about what is likely to happen if third country fabric legislation is not renewed. In our globally linked world, American buyers place orders six to nine to twelve months ahead. 95 percent of AGOA apparel and textile exports enter under the third country provision. And the AGOA third country fabric provision is the only way that African textile and apparel companies can remain competitive with larger producers such as China, Vietnam, and Bangladesh.

Without our help, jobs will continue to disappear in some of Africa’s most vulnerable economies, affecting primarily women and the families they support. Eighty-five percent of these imports come from just four countries: Lesotho, Kenya, Mauritius, and Swaziland. I know that diplomats from these countries have come to see you to emphasize the disproportionate effect that lack of renewal of this provision will have on their economies.

The effects of the loss of orders are troubling. At the AGOA Forum, the Swazi Minister for Trade told AGOA delegates that the loss of the provision will "shut the country down". The textile and apparel sector is the largest formal sector employer with over 15,000 jobs and employment is already 41 percent in this small, landlocked country. Loss of just one of these jobs means that ten people lose their livelihood, since Swazi officials calculate that each textile job directly supports ten people. Lack of orders have already led to plants closures in Namibia, robbing people of their legitimate livelihoods and governments of much needed tax revenues. The Mauritians report that their orders are down 30 percent since January due to the uncertainty whether this provision will be renewed in a timely fashion.

Madagascar’s loss of AGOA eligibility in 2009 is a possible model of what could happen if this provision were to expire. Prior to its loss of AGOA eligibility, Madagascar was one of the top textile producing countries in Africa, exporting over $2050 million in textiles in 2007. Due to 2009 coup, the Government of Madagascar lost all AGOA benefits, including the textile provision. Apparel exports plummeted by $150 million in 2010. This more than $150 million drop in textile exports resulted in the loss of 50,000 jobs which will more than likely never return.

We continue to actively educate, inform and encourage U.S. companies to be more active in Africa. This is a continent on the move and there are enormous opportunities for U.S. companies to enter the market, make money, and create jobs for Americans here at home.

In February, I led a trade mission to Mozambique, Tanzania, Nigeria, and Ghana with 10 U.S. energy companies ready to do business. A lack of reasonably priced reliable power remains one of the most binding constraints to economic growth throughout Africa. Governments across the continent are working to attract new trade and foreign investment that will sustain their rapid economic growth and build their middle class. The goal of this mission was to highlight opportunities for U.S. companies and help address a glaring need for increased power sector infrastructure in Africa. The mission was a success and a number of these U.S. companies concluded partnership agreements with African companies to jointly develop power projects. Ex-Im Bank and USTDA representatives also participated in the mission to ensure that both the U.S. participants and our Africa partners are fully aware of U.S. financing options. We are in the process of putting together a trade mission to accompany the Secretary to South Africa for the U.S.-South Africa Strategic Dialogue. In addition, I plan to lead similar trade missions in the future and continue to help and encourage U.S. companies to be a part of the growing economic dynamism of Africa.

In our continuing efforts to inform, educate and encourage U.S. companies to pursue commercial opportunities on the continent, just last week, the State Department, in collaboration with the Department of Commerce’s U.S. Export Assistance Center in Cincinnati, the Department of Transportion, the Ex-Im Bank, USTDA, USAID, USTR, and several other U.S. Government agencies, hosted a U.S.-Africa Business Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio. This conference attracted well over 400 participants, including African government officials, and representatives from the U.S. and African private sectors and civil society. The U.S.-Africa Business Conference expanded on the AGOA Forum infrastructure theme by focusing on infrastructure development, including energy, transportation, and water and sanitation. It showcased U.S. business expertise to potential African clients and highlighted trade and investment opportunities in Africa to U.S. exporters and investors through structured networking opportunities for African government officials and business leaders with U.S. state and local government officials and business leaders; informational sessions on U.S. Government opportunities and services from various federal agencies; and site visits to companies and research facilities highlighting potential technologies for Africa.

Cincinnati was selected as the conference location for its potential to increase commercial partnerships with Africa at local, state, and regional levels given its concentration of Fortune 500 and 1000 companies. I am pleased that the Cincinnati conference built on the successes of the 2010 Kansas City, Missouri business conference. Bringing African government officials and private sector representatives outside of the beltway allows us to more effectively focus on business-to-business linkages.

We also have two very popular programs which develop business capacity in Africa, the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP) and the President’s Young African Leaders Initiative. This year delegates from both programs participated in both our AGOA Forum and U.S.-Africa Business Conference events. AWEP is an outreach, education, and engagement initiative that targets African women entrepreneurs to promote business growth, increase trade both regionally and to the United States using AGOA, create better business environments, and empower African women entrepreneurs to become voices of change in their communities. The State Department organizes an annual AWEP professional exchange program for these women to improve their skills and has created a series of public-private partnerships with ExxonMobil, Intel, Vital Voices, and the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women.

This year’s President’s Young African Leaders Initiative included the Innovation Youth Summit and Mentoring Partnership with Young African Leaders and brought more than 60 participants to the U.S. for three weeks of professional exchange and entrepreneurial hands-on training. This initiative encourages U.S.-Africa collaboration to promote business innovation, investment, and corporate social responsibility activities in Africa.

However, there are still many barriers that stand in the way of companies that hope to do business there. In many places, corruption is too common. The cost of finance, including investment finance, is too high. Infrastructure is lacking or inadequate. Regulatory systems are often inconsistent and inefficient. Also, many U.S. businesses see African markets as too risky. The perception of Africa as poverty filled and strife ridden persists. We work closely with African governments so that they will continue to enact the kinds of reforms to support improved investment climates which will attract both domestic and foreign investment. In addition, we continue to highlight opportunities for trade and investment in the region for U.S. companies and to work with them to conclude deals. Our work with GE Transportation in Ghana on a locomotive tender where GE was ultimately able to win a deal worth $200 million in U.S. content is but one example. We are confident that the U.S. can compete effectively in Africa, but we have to continue to encourage American companies to go to Africa and we have to encourage African countries to continue to make their regulatory and business environment more conducive for American business. Greater U.S.-Africa trade is in the interest of both America and Africa.

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, I want to thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. I will be happy to answer any questions you have.


Pension Funds as Owners and Investors: A Voice for Working Families

Pension Funds as Owners and Investors: A Voice for Working Families

PANETTA, DEMPSEY WARN OF SEQUESTRATION THREAT


Photo:  U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.  Credit:  U.S. Navy.
FROM:  AMERICAN FORCES PRESS SERVICE
DOD Leaders: Sequestration Threatens Military's Successes
By Karen Parrish
WASHINGTON, June 29, 2012 - The nation's military has logged historic achievements in the past 12 months, but faces a future clouded by financial threat, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said today.

The secretary and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, both spoke about the topic of sequestration during a briefing with Pentagon reporters.

Panetta summed up the department's main activities since he became Defense Secretary last summer, noting that the Iraq War has ended, a "responsible drawdown" of U.S. forces in Afghanistan has begun, and the NATO mission in Libya concluded alongside the fall of Moammar Gadhafi.

The department has also "maintained a relentless focus on al-Qaida," and put in place a new defense strategy and a budget request focused on the future force and rebalancing toward the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East, the secretary said.
DOD has also maintained faith with troops by protecting pay and benefits, and has increased employment opportunities for veterans and spouses, he noted.
"We implemented the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,'" Panetta said. "We've also opened up 14,000 military positions to women, and we've put in place enhanced measures to prevent sexual assault."

The biggest threat to all of those accomplishments and initiatives is sequestration, he said.
Sequestration is a mechanism built into the Budget Control Act that will trigger an additional half-trillion-dollar cut to defense spending over the next 10 years if Congress doesn't otherwise identify spending reductions the act requires.

Panetta said the uniformed men and women he's met in war zones, and the wounded warriors he's visited in military hospitals and rehabilitation centers, "deserve better than the threat of sequestration."

"Too often today, the nation's problems are held hostage to the unwillingness to find consensus and compromise," the secretary said.

Next week on the Fourth of July Americans will celebrate their nation's birth, he noted.
"It is a time for our leaders and for every American to recognize that the blessings of freedom are not free," Panetta said. "They come from a legacy of sacrifice, of courage and of leadership. That legacy is now our responsibility to fulfill, so that hopefully our children can enjoy a better life in the future."

Panetta said the defense industry leaders he has consulted with also face an uncertain future which could include widespread layoffs and lasting damage to the nation's military modernization programs.

"We are very much a team," he said. " ... [Defense] companies, as well as the Defense Department, are making very clear to Capitol Hill that this is a matter that ought not to be postponed."

The department and the nation's defense industries seek assurance from Congress that sequestration won't happen and that "we can proceed with the budget as we've outlined [it], as opposed to facing ... the possibility of another drastic defense cut," the secretary said.

Dempsey said his travels in recent weeks, as well as over the past year, have brought him into contact with a wide range of service members.
"At every stop ... I was struck by their tremendous sense of pride and commitment," the chairman said. He praised service members' courage, selflessness, intelligence, and dedication to the mission.

"They'll do anything to take care of this country," he said.
Dempsey said he was also struck by troops' concern over the budget.
"I find it encouraging, on the one hand, that our military family is informed and interested," he said. "But it's unfortunate that it weighs so heavily on their minds. Frankly, they have enough to worry about."

The chairman noted, "We have to remember, too, that the force of the future -- that is, America's sons and daughters who may be out there contemplating a military career -- are also watching."

Dempsey said as Panetta has made clear, "We simply have to come together to prevent this across-the-board, unbalanced cut that could jeopardize our ability to deal with the very real and serious threats that we face."

The chairman said he and the service chiefs have no issue with military budgets facing scrutiny in the current challenging budget climate, or with the need to make tough program decisions.

"That's why our strategy and the budget that supports it constitute a carefully balanced set of choices," Dempsey said. "These choices make sure we have the right talent and the right tools to keep our country immune from coercion."

Dempsey said he, the secretary and the joint chiefs seek a balanced approach.
"A sensible way forward is what we expect," the chairman said. "That's the only way we can honor our commitment to our military family and to the American people."

SEC. OF EDUCATION COMMENTS ON STUDENT INTEREST RATE DEAL


FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

Statement from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on Action to Prevent Student Loan Interest Rates From Doubling

“In his January State of the Union address, President Obama called on Congress to work together to keep student loan interest rates from doubling. Today, I applaud leaders in Congress for answering the President’s call to action and striking a deal that will help make college more affordable for millions of students.
“But most importantly, I want to thank the nation's young people for making their voices heard on an important economic issue directly affecting them. You spoke, the nation heard you, and Congress acted. Democracy worked because of your tireless efforts.
“Both the President and I believe education is a public good. College should not be reserved only for those who can afford it. All of us share responsibility for making college affordable and keeping the middle-class dream alive.
“Investing in education is the best investment America can make to bolster our competitiveness in a knowledge-based, global economy. If we don’t invest today, we will lose tomorrow.”

LEADER OF TRANSNATIONAL BORDER GANG RECEIVES LIFE IN PRISON


FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Friday, June 29, 2012
Barrio Azteca Leader Sentenced to Life in Prison and Two Barrio Azteca Soldiers Sentenced to 20 and 30 Years in PrisonTotal of 24 Barrio Azteca Members and Associates Convicted to Date

WASHINGTON – A leader and two soldiers in the Barrio Azteca (BA), a transnational border gang allied with the Juarez Cartel, were sentenced in El Paso, Texas, to life, 30 and 20 years in prison, respectively, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman for the Western District of Texas, FBI Special Agent in Charge Mark Morgan of the FBI’s El Paso Office and Administrator Michele M. Leonhart of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Hector Galindo, 38, aka “Silent,” of El Paso, currently serving a 25-year Texas state sentence for murder, was sentenced to life prison.  Ricardo Gonzales, 44, aka “Cuate,” of Anthony, N.M., was sentenced to 30 years in prison, and Adam Garcia, 35, aka “Bad Boy,” of El Paso, was sentenced to 20 years in prison.  Galindo, Gonzales and Garcia were charged in a 12-count third superseding indictment unsealed in March 2011.  They were sentenced yesterday in the Western District of Texas.  Galindo, Gonzales and Garcia pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit racketeering (RICO) on Jan. 26, 2012, Jan. 18, 2012, and Jan. 29, 2012, respectively.

According to court documents and information presented in court, Galindo was a top Lieutenant in the BA.  While incarcerated in the Texas Department of Corrections, he served as the right hand man to BA Captain Manuel Cardoza.  In that role, Galindo maintained communication with other BA Captains and Lieutenants in the United States and Mexico and was specifically in charge of BA operations in Texas.  Evidence was presented that Gonzales and Garcia were BA soldiers, whose duties included distributing drugs, picking up money from dealers and enforcement operations within their area of responsibility.

“As members of the Barrio Azteca gang, Hector Galindo, Ricardo Gonzales and Adam Garcia participated in a brutal criminal enterprise dedicated to spreading fear and violence on both sides of the border,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer.  “These prison sentences send a strong message that even the most powerful and ruthless gangs cannot evade justice.  Our prosecution of the Barrio Azteca gang, including for the U.S. Consulate-related murders in Juarez, Mexico, in 2010, has led to convictions against 24 gang members and leaders.  We will continue aggressively to pursue the Barrio Azteca and other gangs so that communities in the United States and Mexico can live free from the violence and destruction of organized crime.”

“These sentences represent the FBI’s commitment to the aggressive pursuit of criminal enterprises such as the Barrio Aztecas whose presence pose a significant risk to citizens on both sides of the border,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Morgan.  “Through the ongoing and joint efforts of the law enforcement community we will continue the fight to bring to justice predators such as Galindo, Gonzales and Garcia.”

“This investigation highlights an unfortunate reality:  leaders within growing trans-national prison and street gangs like the Barrio Azteca continue to promote violence and manage their drug trafficking activities even after the cell door closes,” said DEA Administrator Leonhart.  “However, the successful prosecutions of Galindo, Gonzales and Garcia, and the conviction of other Barrio Azteca members reinforce another reality: that wherever these dangerous organizations operate, DEA and its partners will aggressively follow, investigate and prosecute.”

A total of 35 BA members and associates based in the United States and Mexico were charged in the third superseding indictment for allegedly committing various criminal acts, including racketeering, narcotics distribution and importation, retaliation against persons providing information to U.S. law enforcement, extortion, money laundering, obstruction of justice and murder, including the 2010 Juarez consulate murders.  Of the 35 defendants charged, 33 have been apprehended, including April Cardoza, who was found in Juarez, Mexico, last week.  Twenty-four of those defendants have pleaded guilty, one defendant committed suicide while imprisoned during his trial and six others are pending extradition from Mexico.  U.S. and Mexican law enforcement are actively seeking to apprehend the two remaining fugitives in this case, including Luis Mendez and Eduardo Ravelo, an FBI Top Ten Most Wanted Fugitive.

Today’s sentencing by U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone of the Western District Court of Texas marks the closure of the case against the U.S.-based defendants charged in the superseding indictment.  Twenty-one of 22 U.S.-based defendants have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced, including another BA Lieutenant Roberto Angel Cardona, who was also sentenced to life by Judge Cardone on Feb. 17, 2012.  The remaining U.S.-based defendant, Ramon Renteria, aka “Spooky,” took his own life while in prison during his trial.  Witnesses testified that Renteria was a BA Captain, the highest rank of the Barrio Azteca, and the only U.S.-based Captain not currently serving a life sentence in prison.
According to court documents and information presented in court throughout this case, the Barrio Azteca is a violent street and prison gang that began in the late 1980s and expanded into a transnational criminal organization.  In the 2000s, the BA formed an alliance in Mexico with “La Linea,” which is part of the Juarez Drug Cartel (also known as the Vincente Carrillo Fuentes Drug Cartel or “VCF”).  The purpose of the BA-La Linea alliance was to battle the Chapo Guzman Cartel and its allies for control of the drug trafficking routes through Juarez and Chihuahua.  The drug routes through Juarez, known as the Juarez Plaza, are important to drug trafficking organizations because they are a principal illicit drug trafficking conduit into the United States.

According to evidence presented in court, witnesses testified to the brutality of the BA.  Inside and outside of prison, the gang thrives on violence – from gang beatings to drive-by shootings to murder – all in order to discipline its own members or fight against rivals.  Testimony also indicated that the BA is well-organized and militaristic in structure.  Its members, or “soldiers,” are governed by captains, various lieutenants and numerous sergeants in the United States and Mexico.

 Witnesses also testified that the sale of illegal drugs is the life-blood of the BA.  Evidence was presented that since 2003 the BA has trafficked hundreds of kilograms of cocaine and heroin.  Because of the BA’s alliance with the Juarez Drug Cartel, the gang receives illegal drugs at low cost and profits on its importation, sale and distribution within the United States.

Witnesses also testified to the Barrio Azteca’s practice of extorting “quota” or taxes on non-BA drug dealers who sold illegal narcotics in El Paso and the greater West Texas and Eastern New Mexico area.  Specifically, during today’s hearing, one witness recalled an instance in which Gonzales tried to collect an extortion fee from a New Mexico drug dealer, and when the dealer refused to pay, Gonzalez pulled a gun, put it to dealer’s head, and threatened to kill him.

When quota is collected by the BA, members and leaders deposit the money into the commissary accounts of incarcerated BA leaders, often using fake names or female associates to send the money by wire transfer.  Galindo was one of the ranking members of the BA who would receive laundered funds and disperse it within the Texas State prison system to further the criminal goals of the enterprise.

Witnesses also testified to the extensive communication web of the BA, including utilizing coded letters, contraband cell phones within state and federal prison facilities, and distribution of membership rosters and hit lists.  Witnesses specifically implicated Galindo, then incarcerated in the Coffield Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, as the central leader within the organization who kept track of membership records, hit lists and gang treaties for the BA.  To update those lists, members and other leaders would contact Galindo on his contraband prison cell phone to verify the status of persons claiming to be BA members and ensure that they were in good standing with the criminal organization.  Those not in good standing were targeted by the BA for assault or murder.

The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Joseph A. Cooley of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section, Trial Attorney Brian Skaret of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney George Leal of the Western District of Texas - El Paso Division.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Mexico provided significant assistance in this case, including by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Davenport.  Valuable assistance was provided by the Criminal Division’s Offices of International Affairs and Enforcement Operations.

The case was investigated by the FBI’s El Paso Field Office, Albuquerque Field Office (Las Cruces Resident Agency), DEA Juarez and DEA El Paso.  Special assistance was provided by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the U.S. Marshals Service; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; Federal Bureau of Prisons; U.S. Diplomatic Security Service; the Texas Department of Public Safety; the Texas Department of Criminal Justice; El Paso Police Department; El Paso County Sheriff’s Office; El Paso Independent School District Police Department; Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission; New Mexico State Police; Dona Ana County, N.M., Sheriff’s Office; Las Cruces, N.M., Police Department; Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility and Otero County Prison Facility New Mexico.

U.S./JAPAN GO AHEAD WITH OSPREY UPGRADE


Photo:  Soldiers Offload From Osprey.  Credit:  U.S. Navy. 
FROM:  AMERICAN FORCES PRESS SERVICE
DOD, Japan Move Forward on Osprey Fleet Upgrade
By Cheryl Pellerin
WASHINGTON, June 29, 2012 - Working closely with the Japanese government, the Defense Department will replace CH-46 helicopters used by the III Marine Expeditionary Force in Okinawa with MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft for operations beginning in August.

Recent mishaps involving an MV-22 and a CV-22 aircraft raised concerns about the fleet upgrade by the governor of Okinawa, according to Pentagon Press Secretary George Little. Senior DOD officials briefed a Japanese delegation on the incidents at the Pentagon June 22.

On April 11 in Morocco, an MV-22 crashed while taking part in a bilateral military exercise. There were no casualties. Flight data indicates the aircraft performed as expected. In a statement, DOD said the U.S. Marine Corps determined the aircraft did not suffer a mechanical or material failure and there were no problems with the aircraft's safety.

Earlier this month, a CV-22 crashed during a training mission in Navarre, Florida, leaving five crew members injured. A preliminary review uncovered no information that would preclude the aircraft's continued operation, DOD said.


PHOTO:  OSPREY CRASH .  CREDIT:  U.S. AIR FORCE

The Defense Department, including senior U.S. Air Force leaders, stands behind the CV-22's reliability and is convinced the aircraft is safe for operation, officials said.
The MV-22 Osprey operates with the speed and range of a turboprop, the maneuverability of a helicopter and the ability to carry 24 Marine combat troops. It travels twice as fast and five times farther than previous helicopters.

The Air Force CV-22 Osprey is a special operations variant of the aircraft. It can fly like an airplane and land like a helicopter.

In response to remaining safety concerns, according to DOD officials, the MV-22 will not fly in Japan until results of the investigations are presented to the Japanese government in August.

During this time, Japan will be the only location worldwide, including the continental United States, where MV-22 flight operations will be suspended, officials said.
The MV-22 Osprey has an excellent safety record and has logged more than 115,000 flight hours, officials said. About a third of those flight hours were flown during the last two years.

The Osprey achieved these flight hours performing combat operations, humanitarian assistance, training, and test and evaluation missions, officials said.
Basing the Osprey in Okinawa, according to the DOD statement, will strengthen the U.S. ability to provide for the defense of Japan, perform humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations, and fulfill other alliance roles.

FEMA WARNS OF SUMMER HEAT, FIRE DANGERS


Photo Credit:  Air Force National Guard.
FROM:  U.S. FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY
Make This A Safe Summer; Prepare For Heat And Wildfires Today
Kansas City, Mo.—This is the time of year for fun outdoor activities like Independence Day celebrations, camping, outdoor grilling and road trips, but before you head out, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reminds you to plan for the dangers associated with heat waves and wildfire threats. Learn and put into practice important summer-survival tips to help protect yourself, your property and the environment.

“To protect our eyes, most of us automatically grab our sunglasses before heading outside during the daytime. Many of the things we can do to protect ourselves from high temperatures and to prevent wildfires are just as easy and make just as much sense,” said Regional Administrator Beth Freeman, of Region VII.

SURVIVING THE HEAT
During an extended period of extreme heat, also known as a heat wave, the body must work extra hard to stay cool. This stresses the body and those who are very young, elderly, overweight or sick are at highest risk for heat-related illnesses. Here are a few quick tips to stay healthy.              
Consider spending the warmest part of the day in air conditioned buildings. Find a cooling off location near you by sending a text message to SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345).

Listen to NOAA Weather Radio for critical updates from the National Weather Service.
Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles.

Avoid strenuous outdoor work and play during the warmest part of the day. Use a buddy system when working in extreme heat, and take frequent breaks.

Protect face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat.

Eat well-balanced, light, and regular meals. Drink plenty of water; even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine and limit intake of alcoholic beverages. Persons who have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease; are on fluid-restricted diets; or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake.

Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.
Check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone.

BEFORE A WILDFIRE
Tips to protect your family
To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kit (www.ready.gov/build-a-kit) and make a family emergency plan (www.ready.gov/make-a-plan). Learn more at www.ready.gov.
Ask local emergency management officials or the local American Red Cross chapter how you would be warned if a wildfire threatened.

Meet with other household members to discuss where to go and what to bring if advised to evacuate.
Plan several escape routes away from your home - by car and by foot.
Talk to your neighbors about wildfire safety. Plan how the neighborhood could work together after a wildfire. Make a list of your neighbors' skills such as medical or technical. Consider how you could help neighbors who have special needs such as elderly or disabled persons. Make plans to take care of children who may be on their own if parents can't get home.

Tips to protect your home
It is recommended that you create a 30 to 100 foot safety zone around your home. Within this area, you can take steps to reduce potential exposure to flames and radiant heat. Homes built in pine forests should have a minimum safety zone of 100 feet. If your home sits on a steep slope, standard protective measures may not suffice. Contact your local fire department or forestry office for additional information.
Rake leaves, dead limbs and twigs. Clear all flammable vegetation, including any hiding under structures.
Make sure that fire vehicles can get to your home. Clearly mark all driveway entrances and display your name and address.

Thin a 15-foot space between tree crowns, and remove limbs within 15 feet of the ground.
Remove dead branches that extend over the roof.
Prune tree branches and shrubs within 15 feet of a stovepipe or chimney outlet.
Ask the power company to clear branches from power lines.
Show responsible family members how and when to shut off water, gas, and electricity at main switches.
Remove vines from the walls of the home.

Mow grass regularly.
Clear a 10-foot area around propane tanks and the barbecue. Place a screen over the grill - use nonflammable material with mesh no coarser than one-quarter inch.
Regularly dispose of newspapers and rubbish at an approved site. Follow local burning regulations.
Place stove, fireplace and grill ashes in a metal bucket, soak in water for 2 days, and then bury the cold ashes in mineral soil.
Store gasoline, oily rags and other flammable materials in approved safety cans. Place cans in a safe location away from the base of buildings.
Stack firewood at least 100 feet away and uphill from your home. Clear combustible material within 20 feet. Use only wood-burning devices evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
Review your homeowner's insurance policy and also prepare/update a list of your home's contents.

Practice Wildfire Safety
In the U.S., nine out of 10 wildfires are started by people being careless. Take these steps to protect lives, property and the environment from the devastation they cause.
Contact your local fire department, health department, or forestry office for information on fire laws.
Report hazardous conditions that could cause a wildfire.
Teach children about fire safety. Keep matches out of their reach.
Post fire emergency telephone numbers.

Follow Local Burning Laws 
Before burning debris in a wooded area, make sure you notify local authorities and obtain a burning permit.
Use an approved incinerator with a safety lid or covering with holes no larger than ¾ inch.
Create at least a 10-foot clearing around the incinerator before burning debris.
Have a fire extinguisher or garden hose on hand when burning debris.

BROTHER OF BERNIE MADOFF CHARGED WITH FRAUD BY SEC


FROM:  U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C., June 29, 2012 – The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged Peter Madoff, the brother of Bernie Madoff, with committing fraud, making false statements to regulators, and falsifying books and records in order to create the false appearance of a functioning compliance program over Madoff’s fraudulent investment advisory operations.

The SEC alleges that Peter Madoff, who served as Chief Compliance Officer and Senior Managing Director at Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC (BMIS) from 1969 to December 2008, created stacks of compliance documents setting out supposedly robust policies and procedures over BMIS’s investment advisory operations. However, Peter Madoff created these compliance manuals, written supervisory procedures, reports of annual compliance reviews, and compliance certifications to merely paper the file. No policies and procedures were ever implemented, and none of the reviews were actually performed even though Peter Madoff represented that he personally completed the reviews.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York today announced parallel criminal charges against Peter Madoff.

“Peter Madoff helped Bernie Madoff create the image of a functioning compliance program purportedly overseen by sophisticated financial professionals,” said Robert Khuzami, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “Tragically, the image was merely an illusion supported by Peter’s sham paperwork and false filings for which he was rewarded with tens of millions of dollars in stolen investor funds.”

According to the SEC’s complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Bernie Madoff realized in late 2008 that his decades-long scheme was on the verge of collapse. He told Peter Madoff that he could not pay billions of dollars of investor redemption requests and wanted to distribute remaining investor money to family, friends, and favored employees before the scheme collapsed. Peter Madoff then helped choose which family, friends and employees to pay, and rushed to withdraw $200,000 from BMIS’s bank account for himself before the fraud’s final downfall.

The SEC alleges that in addition to creating false compliance materials, Peter Madoff created false broker-dealer and investment advisor registration applications filed by BMIS. He also failed to implement and review required policies and procedures, and falsified the firm’s books and records. Peter Madoff was richly rewarded for his misconduct, pocketing tens of millions of dollars through salary and bonuses, fake trades, sham loans, and direct, undocumented transfers of investor funds to himself from the bank account that BMIS used to perpetrate the Ponzi scheme.

The SEC’s complaint against Peter Madoff alleges that by engaging in this conduct, he violated and aided and abetted violations of Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder and Section 207 of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940; and aided and abetted violations of Sections 15(b)(1), 15(c) and 17(a) of the Exchange Act and Rules 10b-3, 15b3-1 and 17a-3 thereunder, and Sections 204, 206(1), 206(2), 206(4) and 207 of the Advisers Act and Rules 204-2 and 206(4)-7 thereunder.
The SEC’s investigation was conducted by Aaron P. Arnzen and Kristine M. Zaleskas of the New York Regional Office. The SEC thanks the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for their coordination and assistance. The SEC’s investigation is continuing.

APOLLO 9 COMMAND DOCKS WITH SERVICE MODULE




FROM:  NASA
Gumdrop Meets Spider
This image, taken on March 6, 1969, shows the Apollo 9 Command and Service Modules docked with the Lunar Module. Apollo 9 astronaut Dave Scott stands in the open hatch of the Command Module, nicknamed "Gumdrop," docked to the Lunar Module "Spider" in Earth orbit. His crewmate Rusty Schweickart, lunar module pilot, took this photograph from the porch of the lunar module. Inside the lunar module was Apollo 9 commander Jim McDivitt. The crew tested the orbital rendezvous and docking procedures that made the lunar landings possible.
Image Credit: NASA

BALDOR ELECTRIC TO PAY $2 MILLION TO SETTLE ALLEGED DISCRIMINATION CASE


FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Baldor Electric to pay $2 million to settle hiring discrimination case with US Labor Department
Agreement includes back wages and interest, some job offers, for 795 female and minority applicants denied positions at Fort Smith, Ark., facility

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs today announced that Baldor Electric Co. has agreed to settle allegations of systemic discrimination stemming from the company's applicant screening process at its facility in Fort Smith, Ark. OFCCP investigators determined that the process violated Executive Order 11246 by creating a disparate impact on women and minorities. As a result, 795 qualified women, African-Americans and job seekers of Asian and Hispanic descent were denied the opportunity to advance to the interview stage when applying for production and laborer positions.

"I am pleased with this settlement, which reflects a mutual commitment between the Department of Labor and the leadership of Baldor to ensure that all workers have a fair and equal shot at competing for good jobs," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "Our shared goal is to create lasting change so that anyone who comes looking for work at Baldor can be sure that discrimination will never be a factor in determining who gets the job."

Under the terms of the conciliation agreement negotiated by OFCCP, Baldor will pay a total of $2 million in back wages and interest to the affected individuals and will make at least 50 job offers to members of the original class as positions become available. The company also has agreed to undertake extensive self-monitoring measures to ensure that all hiring practices fully comply with the law, including record-keeping requirements.

"Discrimination is preventable when employers have certain processes in place and see to it that they are followed," said OFCCP Director Patricia A. Shiu. "That's why it's so important for federal contractors to implement their affirmative action programs, keep accurate employment records and commit to ending barriers to fair employment. A proactive strategy is the best way to guarantee that all workers have an equal opportunity to succeed in the workplace. Plus, it's the law."

Baldor Electric, which is owned by Zurich, Switzerland-based ABB Ltd., manufactures industrial motors and generators. The company currently holds federal contracts worth more than $18 million with the General Services Administration and the U.S. departments of Veterans Affairs and Justice. From 1997 to 2010, Baldor received $79 million to produce batteries and generators for federal agencies including GSA, the Justice Department and the Army.

U.S. GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES AIR EMISSIONS SETTLEMENT WITH WISCONSIN UTILITY


FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Friday, June 29, 2012
US Announces Clean Air Act Settlement with Wisconsin Utility – Dairyland Power Cooperative to Reduce Emissions by More Than 29,000 Tons Annually

WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice   and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced a Clean Air Act settlement with Dairyland Power Cooperative (DPC) that will cover the utility’s three power plants in Alma and Genoa, Wis. DPC has agreed to invest approximately $150 million in pollution control technology that will protect public health and resolve violations of the Clean Air Act. The settlement will also require that DPC spend $5 million on environmental mitigation projects and pay a civil penalty of $950,000.

“This settlement will improve air quality in Wisconsin and downwind areas by significantly reducing releases of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and other harmful pollutants,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice. “This agreement also demonstrates the Justice Department’s commitment to enforcing the New Source Review provisions of the Clean Air Act, which help ensure cleaner air for those communities located near large sources of air pollution.”
         
“EPA is committed to protecting communities by reducing air pollution from the largest sources of emissions,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “The pollution reductions and the significant investment in local environmental projects under this agreement will ensure that the people of Wisconsin and neighboring states have cleaner, healthier air.”  

Under the settlement, DPC must install pollution control technology on its three largest units and will be required to comply with stringent emission rates and annual tonnage limitations. The settlement also requires DPC to permanently retire three additional coal-fired units at the Alma plant, which have been out of operation since last year.   The permanent retirement of these units will ensure that they do not restart without first complying with the Clean Air Act. The actions taken by DPC to comply with this settlement will result in annual reductions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions by 23,000 tons and nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions by 6,000 tons from 2008 levels, in addition to significant reductions of particulate matter emissions.  This settlement covers all seven coal-fired boilers at DPC’s three power plants.

The settlement also requires DPC to spend $5 million on projects that will benefit the environment and human health in communities located near the DPC facilities.   DPC must pay $250,000 each to the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service, to be used on projects to address the damage done from DPC’s alleged excess emissions.   At least $2 million will be spent on a major solar photovoltaic development project. The remaining mitigation funding will be spent on one or more of the following projects; 1) installation of solar photovoltaic panels, 2) home weatherization projects, and 3) the replacement of DPC’s standard vehicle fleet with cleaner burning vehicles.   The Sierra Club is a party to the settlement, which will also resolve violations alleged by Sierra Club in related litigation.

Reducing air pollution from the largest sources of emissions, including coal-fired power plants, is one of EPA’s National Enforcement Initiatives for 2011-2013. SO2 and NOx, two key pollutants emitted from power plants, have numerous adverse effects on human health and are significant contributors to acid rain, smog and haze. These pollutants are converted in the air to fine particles of particulate matter that can cause severe respiratory and cardiovascular impacts, and premature death. Reducing these harmful air pollutants will benefit the communities located near DPC facilities, particularly communities disproportionately impacted by environmental risks and vulnerable populations, including children. Because air pollution from power plants can travel significant distances downwind, this settlement will also reduce air pollution outside the immediate region.

This is the 22nd judicial settlement secured by the Justice Department and the EPA, and the 23rdsettlement overall, as part of a national enforcement initiative to control harmful emissions from power plants under the Clean Air Act’s New Source Review requirements. The total combined sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides emission reductions secured from these settlements will exceed nearly 2 million tons each year once all the required pollution controls have been installed and implemented.

The settlement was lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, and is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. The settlement can be viewed at www.justice.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html

TREASURY DESIGNATED TWO EXCHANGE HOUSES WITH STORING OR MOVING MONEY FOR TALIBAN


Map Credit:  Wikimedia/CIA
FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TREASURY 
Action Targets Terrorist Financing Linked to Hawalas
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Treasury today designated two exchange houses, the Haji Khairullah Haji Sattar Money Exchange (HKHS) and the Roshan Money Exchange (RMX), which principally operate in Afghanistan and Pakistan, pursuant to the U.S. government’s terrorism sanctions authority, Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, for storing or moving money for the Taliban. Treasury is also designating the co-owners of HKHS, Haji Abdul Sattar Barakzai and Haji Khairullah Barakzai, pursuant to E.O. 13224 for donating money and providing financial services to the Taliban.  Both HKHS and RMX operate as hawalas and have been used by the Taliban to facilitate money transfers in support of the Taliban’s narcotics trade and terrorist operations.  Today the United Nations also added Haji Abdul Sattar Barakzai, Haji Khairullah Barakzai, HKHS and RMX to its 1988 List of individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with the Taliban in constituting a threat to the peace, stability and security of Afghanistan.

“Today’s action, which coincides with action by the UN, is aimed at disabling two key financial hubs supporting the Taliban.  Whether financial support to the Taliban moves through banks or less formal mechanisms, like the hawalas we are designating in this action, we will continue to work alongside our partners to expose and disrupt this illicit financial activity,” said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen.

As a result of today’s action, all property in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons in which HKHS, RMX, Haji Abdul Sattar Barakzai (Sattar), or Haji Khairullah Barakzai (Khairullah) have an interest is blocked, and U.S. persons are prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.

Haji Abdul Sattar Barakzai
Haji Abdul Sattar Barakzai is being designated today for owning, or controlling HKHS, and for providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial, or other services to, or in support of, the Taliban.  Sattar is a co-owner and operator of HKHS.  Sattar and Khairullah have co-owned and jointly operated hawalas known as HKHS throughout Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Dubai and managed an HKHS branch in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region.  As of late 2009, Sattar and Khairullah had an equal partnership in HKHS.  Sattar founded HKHS and customers chose to use HKHS in part because of Sattar’s and Khairullah’s well-known names.

Sattar has donated thousands of dollars to the Taliban to support Taliban activities in Afghanistan and has distributed funds to the Taliban using his hawala.  As of 2010, Sattar provided financial assistance to the Taliban.  As of late 2009, Sattar provided tens of thousands of dollars to aid the Taliban’s fight against Coalition Forces in Marjah, Nad’Ali District, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, and helped to transport a Taliban member to Marjah.  As of 2008, Sattar and Khairullah collected money from businessmen and distributed the funds to the Taliban using their hawala.

Haji Khairullah Barakzai
Haji Khairullah Barakzai is being designated today for owning or controlling HKHS, and for providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial, or other services to, or in support of, the Taliban.  Khairullah is a co-owner and operator of HKHS.  As of late 2009, Khairullah and Sattar had an equal partnership in HKHS.  They jointly operated hawalas known as HKHS throughout Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Dubai and managed an HKHS branch in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region.  As of early 2010, Khairullah was the head of the HKHS branch in Kabul.

As of 2010, Khairullah was a hawaladar, or hawala operator, for Taliban senior leadership and provided financial assistance to the Taliban.  Khairullah, along with his business partner Sattar, provided thousands of dollars to the Taliban to support Taliban activities in Afghanistan.  As of 2008, Khairullah and Sattar collected money from businessmen and distributed the funds to the Taliban using their hawala.

Haji Khairullah Haji Sattar Money Exchange (HKHS)
Haji Khairullah Haji Sattar Money Exchange (HKHS) is being designated today for providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to, or in support of, the Taliban.  HKHS is co-owned by Haji Abdul Sattar Barakzai and Haji Khairullah Barakzai.  Sattar and Khairullah have jointly operated money exchanges throughout Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).  Taliban leaders have used HKHS to disseminate money to Taliban shadow governors and commanders and to receive hawala transfers for the Taliban.

As of 2011, HKHS was a preferred method for Taliban leadership to transfer money to Taliban commanders in Afghanistan.  In late 2011, the HKHS branch in Lashkar Gah, Helmand Province, Afghanistan was used to send money to the Taliban shadow governor for Helmand Province.  In mid-2011, a Taliban commander used an HKHS branch in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region to fund fighters and operations in Afghanistan. After the Taliban deposited a significant amount of cash monthly with this HKHS branch, Taliban commanders could access the funds from any HKHS branch.  Taliban personnel used HKHS in 2010 to transfer money to hawalas in Afghanistan, where operational commanders could access the funds.  As of late 2009, the manager of the HKHS branch in Lashkar Gah oversaw the movement of Taliban funds through HKHS.

Roshan Money Exchange
Roshan Money Exchange (RMX) is being designated today for providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial, or other services to, or in support of, the Taliban.  RMX stores and transfers funds in support of Taliban military operations and the Taliban’s role in the Afghan narcotics trade.  As of 2011, RMX was one of the primary hawalas used by Taliban officials in Helmand Province.
In 2011, a senior Taliban member withdrew hundreds of thousands of dollars from an RMX branch in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region to distribute to Taliban shadow provincial governors.  To fund the Taliban’s spring offensive in 2011, the Taliban shadow governor of Helmand Province sent hundreds of thousands of dollars to RMX.  Also in 2011, a Taliban member received tens of thousands of dollars from RMX to support military operations.  An RMX branch in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region also held tens of thousands of dollars to be collected by a Taliban commander.  In 2010, on behalf of the Taliban shadow governor of Helmand Province, a Taliban member used RMX to send thousands of dollars to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region.

The RMX branch in Lashkar Gah, Helmand Province, has been used by the Taliban to transfer funds for operations to Helmand Province.  In 2011, a Taliban sub-commander transferred tens of thousands of dollars to a Taliban commander through the RMX branch in Lashkar Gah.  The Taliban also sent funds to the RMX branch in Lashkar Gah for distribution to Taliban commanders in 2010.  Also in 2010, a Taliban member used RMX to send tens of thousands of dollars to Helmand Province and Herat Province, Afghanistan, on behalf of the Taliban shadow governor of Helmand Province.
In 2009, a senior Taliban representative collected hundreds of thousands of dollars from an RMX branch in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region to finance Taliban military operations in Afghanistan.  In 2008, a Taliban leader used RMX to transfer tens of thousands of dollars to Afghanistan.

The Taliban also uses RMX to facilitate its role in the Afghan narcotics trade.  As of 2011, Taliban officials, including the shadow governor of Helmand Province, transferred hundreds of thousands of dollars from an RMX branch in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region to hawalas in Afghanistan for the purchase of narcotics on behalf of Taliban officials.  Also in 2011, a Taliban official directed Taliban commanders in Helmand Province to transfer opium proceeds through RMX.  One Taliban district chief transferred thousands of dollars from Marjah, Helmand Province, Afghanistan to an RMX branch in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region.

Friday, June 29, 2012

NAVAL RESEARCH LABORATORY DEVELOPING "SCIFI-LIKE" LIGHT SCANNER


FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE ARMED WITH SCIENCE


I SEE THE LIGHT SCANNER
Written on JUNE 29, 2012 AT 7:26 AM by JTOZER

The concept of new technology is something that always grabs my attention, but no more so than when real research suggests that my dramatic daydreams of science fiction technology might actuallybecome a reality.

So when I heard that the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) was developing a real life scanning device, my first immediate thought was STAR TREK SCANNER!
And then I took a deep breath, reeled it in, and read more.  I mean, come on, that kind of technology is centuries away…right?

As it turns out, NRL’s scanning device isn’t that far removed from Star Trek’s fictitious future world or Doctor Who’s technoverse gadgetry.  Although, instead of being an impressively multipurpose-yet-unfortunately-fictitious sonic screwdriver, this real life device uses light to scan objects from far away.

The Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) has developed a Photothermal Infrared Imaging Spectroscopy (PT-IRIS) technology for stand-off detection of explosives, illicit drugs, chemical warfare agents and biochemical warfare agents. That’s right; technology that can scan for dangerous objects from a distance.  PT-IRIS has been demonstrated for standoff or proximity detection of explosives.

That, my friends, could be a huge help to our troops.
Being able to “scan” for dangerous items from a safe distance – especially when it comes to explosive materials – would be an unbelievable asset to the warfighter.  Service members would have the benefit of knowing what they’re up against long before they put themselves in the blast range.
And it’s all about seeing the light.  In this case literally.

This approach employs quantum cascade lasers (QCL) to illuminate a sample surface with one or more wavelengths which are selectively absorbed by analytes of interest. With eye-safe QCL power levels, this results in modest selective heating (1-2 oC) of particulate explosives within a few milliseconds, which can be readily monitored at video frame rates of commercial IR cameras.

Basically, the PT-IRIS absorbs the information and relays it back.  The idea of no longer wondering what’s on that suspicious van on the side of the road could literally mean life or death for service members.

Utilizing compact QCL light sources and an IR focal plane array to image the illuminated area, a portable, handheld system design can be realized. Don’t leave home without your explosive-detection device!  No, seriously, you don’t want to leave something like that just lying around.

As an eye safe system, PT-IRIS is ideal for probing surfaces of vehicles, places, people, packages, and boarding passes for explosives and other hazardous chemicals of interest.  This technology could be used everywhere, from police stations to airports, to suspicious parents who think their kids aren’t just “high on life” (okay, maybe not that one…).

That’s all well and good, but really I’m most interested in the idea that our men and women in uniform stand the chance of not being blown up as much. Science fiction hopes and dreams aside, if anything can make our service members safer and more effective, then I say hop to it.

This technology could give a whole new meaning to the phrase “Stand off, we got this”

DOD News Briefing with Secretary Panetta and Gen. Dempsey from the Pentagon

DOD News Briefing with Secretary Panetta and Gen. Dempsey from the Pentagon

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE PANETTA'S REMARKS ON PARTNERSHIPS


FROM:  AMERICAN FORCES PRESS SERVICE
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta delivers remarks as part of the Acheson lecture series at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C., June 28, 2012. DOD photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley  

Panetta: Partnerships Bolster National Security
By Amaani Lyle
WASHINGTON, June 29, 2012 - Collaboration, as much as military might, should play a key role in national security, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said here last night.
In remarks as part of the United States Institute of Peace's Acheson lecture series, Panetta outlined a blueprint for building 21st-century partnerships and improving security cooperation across several areas.

"We must be bold enough to adopt a more collaborative approach to security, both within the United States government and among allies, partners, and multilateral organizations," he said, adding that the United States must place even greater strategic emphasis on building the security capabilities of others.

Panetta underscored the need to maintain comprehensive and integrated capabilities in key regions to confront critical security challenges.

"Unlike past defense drawdowns when the threats the country was facing appeared to diminish, we still confront many challenges," the secretary said.

Destabilizing behavior of nations such as Iran and North Korea, the rise of new powers across Asia and the ongoing need to deter aggression in the Middle East and North Africa, Panetta said, have made partnership a critical component of peaceful and cooperative international order.

"Our new strategy prioritizes the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East – the areas with the most significant security challenges," he said. "We will retain ... our military presence, ... but we are also going to help more nations share the responsibilities and costs of providing security by investing in alliances and partnerships."

These partnerships will include engagement in exercises, training and innovative rotational deployments, the secretary added.

Panetta acknowledged that the United States must face these challenges while grappling with a deficit and debt problem that has led Congress to seek early half a trillion dollars in defense savings over the next decade. This, he added, requires reshaped priorities that will include a leaner, agile and quickly deployable force on the cutting edge of technology while continuing to develop key capabilities.

"We will ... continue to invest in the capabilities of the future such as cyber, unmanned systems, space, special operations forces, and the ability to quickly mobilize and maintain our industrial base," he said.

Panetta said his strategies built on many enduring philosophies put forth by Dean Acheson, for whom the lecture series is named. As secretary of state from 1949 to 1953, Acheson was a leading proponent for bolstering America's military might and was a principal architect of America's foreign policy.

"Acheson strongly believed that America should not seek to shoulder the burden and costs for global security alone," the secretary said. "Instead, he understood that a key part of a strong defense was to build the security capacity of allies and partners."

Panetta praised Acheson's forward-thinking in policy from Western Europe and NATO to South Korea, from the Truman Doctrine to the Nixon Doctrine, and the statesman's involvement with key allies and regional partners to build a sound U.S. national security strategy after World War II.

The Affordable Care Act Is Moving Forward

The Affordable Care Act Is Moving Forward

ESA Portal - Portugal - Marés de Titã apontam para um oceano escondido

ESA Portal - Portugal - Marés de Titã apontam para um oceano escondido

U.S. AND CANADA ISSUE BEYOND THE BORDER STATEMENT ON PRIVACY PRINCIPLES


FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Thursday, June 28, 2012
U.S. and Canada Announce the Release of the Beyond the Border: Statement of Privacy Principles

WASHINGTON—The United States and Canada today announced they are delivering on key commitments under the U.S.-Canada Beyond the Border Action Plan by releasing a joint Statement of Privacy Principles.  These principles reflect the commitment of the United States and Canada to protecting privacy, and underscore the importance of information sharing to the security of both nations.

“These privacy principles reflect the shared commitment of the United States and Canada to implement our Beyond the Border Action Plan,” said Attorney General Eric Holder.  “Timely and efficient information sharing between the United States and Canada is critical to the national security of both nations.  These principles reflect our two nations’ continued shared commitment to protecting our collective security without sacrificing the fundamental rights and civil liberties that both our countries value.”

“The release of these principles is an important milestone in the implementation of the Beyond the Border Action Plan,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.  “They represent both the United States’ and Canada’s commitment to sharing information, while simultaneously protecting the fundamental privacy principles upon which both our nations were built .”

The Statement of Privacy Principles concerning the provision, receipt and use of personal information exchanged between the U.S. and Canada will inform and guide all information sharing arrangements and initiatives under Beyond the Border Action Plan.  Implementing the privacy principles will promote the flow of accurate, relevant and necessary information to address shared threats to national security.

Developed collaboratively by privacy officials from the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, Public Safety Canada and Justice Canada, the privacy principles are based on commonly understood privacy protections and fair information practices; and are consistent with the laws of each country .

The United States and Canada will collaborate regularly, through the Beyond the Border Executive Steering Committee and other avenues, on the application of the Statement of Privacy Principles.

On Feb. 4, 2011, President Obama and Prime Minister Harper announced the U.S.-Canada joint declaration, Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness.  It articulates a shared vision where both our countries work together to address threats at the earliest point possible, while facilitating the legitimate movement of people, goods and services into our countries and across our shared border.

The Beyond the Border Action Plan consists of 32 separate initiatives.  It calls for enhancements to programs that help trusted businesses and travelers move efficiently across the border; introduces new measures to facilitate movement and trade across the border while reducing the administrative burden for business; and invests in improvements to our shared border infrastructure and technology.  By expediting lawful trade and commerce into and across our shared border, the United States and Canada seek to enhance our economic competitiveness, create jobs and support economic growth.

SEC. OF EDUCATION ARNE DUNCAL ON 40 YEARS OF PELL GRANTS



FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
Celebrating Success: 40 Years of Pell Grants
Chances are you know someone who wouldn’t have gone to college without the help of a Pell Grant. Since 1972, more than 60 million Americans have received financial assistance to earn their degree.

As President Obama said in a message commemorating the 40th anniversary of the enactment of this program:

Forty years ago, our Nation codified a commitment to bringing higher education within reach for every American by creating the Basic Educational Opportunity Grant—later renamed the Federal Pell Grant after Senator Claiborne Pell, to honor his efforts in creating the program.  On this anniversary, we reflect on four decades of progress toward fulfilling that fundamental promise and rededicate ourselves to making college affordable for all.

Federal Pell Grants have helped millions of Americans achieve their fullest potential by not only opening the doors to college, but also providing students the financial support necessary to complete their studies and prosper in today’s economy.  That is why my Administration has prioritized Pell Grants as a source of funding they can count on each and every year.  We have provided resources to support a 50 percent increase in Pell Grant recipients, giving college access to millions of additional students across our country; aggressively raised the maximum Pell Grant award to keep pace with rising costs; and strengthened the Pell Grant Program by cutting banks out of Federal student lending and delivering financial aid directly to students.  By continuing to provide grants that extend educational opportunity to students, we make critical investments both in their personal success and in America’s success in the 21st century.

As we mark the 40th Anniversary of the Federal Pell Grant Program, we also celebrate the individuals and organizations who have worked to widen the circle of opportunity for countless Americans through higher education.  Today and tomorrow, let us recommit to empowering the next generation with the tools and resources they need to achieve their dreams.  I am confident that, through programs like Pell Grants, our Nation will reach our goal of once again leading the world in college completion by the year 2020.

Senator Claiborne Pell, the chief sponsor of the program, liked to say, ‘Any student with the talent, desire, and drive, should be able to pursue higher education.’ Because of his commitment and vision, millions of students from poor and working class backgrounds received the economic lifeline they need to earn a college degree. The Pell Grant program has literally transformed millions of lives.

In today’s global economy that’s more important than ever. High school graduation is no longer a path leading to a good paying job. College, or other postsecondary training, has never been more important to finding meaningful and substantial employment.

More students than ever are relying on Pell grants, and if we are to reach our goal of out-innovating, out-educating and out-building the rest of the world, we need to continue our investment in Pell.
Arne Duncan is the US Secretary of Education

NATIONAL GUARD HELP FLORIDA RESIDENTS AFTER FLOODING


FROM:  AMERICAN FORCES PRESS SERVICE
Air Force Maj. Gen. Emmett R. Titshaw Jr., Florida's adjutant general, watches as workers assess the stability of a sinkhole outside the Suwannee County Courthouse in Florida, June 28, 2012. The Florida National Guard is providing assistance to residents in several state counties affected by flooding caused by Tropical Storm Debby. Florida National Guard photo by Army Sgt. 1st Class Blair Heusdens  

Face of Defense: Guard Members Aid Flood-stricken Floridians
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Blair Heusdens
Florida National Guard
LIVE OAK, Fla., June 29, 2012 - The Florida National Guard is supporting relief efforts in several counties affected by widespread flooding after Tropical Storm Debby dumped large amounts of rain during its slow journey across the state.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Adjutant General Air Force Maj. Gen. Emmett R. Titshaw Jr. and several other senior state officials journeyed to Wakulla, Suwannee and Pasco counties to survey the flood damage and to talk to residents.

"We just left the shelter here that has the citizens of Live Oak who lost their homes, who essentially lost everything," Titshaw said. "Talking to some of the people, it was very gratifying to hear when they told me they were rescued by the Florida National Guard. It's the reason we do what we do."

The Florida National Guard participated in several rescues of residents from the flood waters in Columbia and Suwannee counties.

"The National Guard pulled up in a truck and I was like, 'Thank God,'" said Michaela Solomon, a resident of Live Oak who, along with her children, was rescued from her home by soldiers from the Florida National Guard. "It was such a relief to know we were going to somewhere safe. It was just a blessing that the National Guard came to where we were."

As of June 29, more than 70 Florida National Guard members have been called to duty in support of relief efforts, officials said. Due to rising flood waters, Guard members are providing high-water tactical vehicles to assist with rescues, evacuations and damage assessments in Suwannee and Columbia counties, officials said.

In addition to the high-water vehicles, officials said, the Florida National Guard is also assisting with communications in Suwannee County, providing an emergency response vehicle to provide internet and phone capabilities to the county's Emergency Operations Center.

For soldiers from the 868th Engineer Company, Guard officials said, the flooding hit close to home, affecting many local soldiers in the tight-knit Live Oak-based unit. Officials said approximately half of the unit resides in the area and several of the full-time unit support staff members were affected by the storm.

The Florida National Guard is continuing to provide support as requested by the State Emergency Response Team, officials said, noting that Florida's citizen-soldiers and airmen are trained and equipped for a wide range of life support, security and public safety missions, and can mobilize approximately 9,000 personnel if needed to protect lives and property during disasters.

HOUSTON WORKSHOP MARKS KEY STEP IN PLANNING FUTURE MARS MISSIONS


Photo:  The Famous Face On Mars.  Credit:  NASA.
FROM:  NASA
WASHINGTON -- A recent workshop conducted for NASA by the Lunar and 
Planetary Institute (LPI) in Houston, marked a key step in the 
agency's effort to forge a new Mars strategy in the coming decades. A 
report that summarizes the wide range of cutting-edge science, 
technology and mission concepts discussed is available online. 

Held in Houston June 12-14 and attended by scientists and engineers 
worldwide, the meeting was held to seek ideas, concepts and 
capabilities to address critical challenge areas in exploring the Red 
Planet. Discussions provided information for reformulating NASA's 
Mars Exploration Program (MEP) to be responsive to high-priority 
science goals and the challenge of sending humans to Mars orbit in 
the 2030s. 

Participants identified a number of possible approaches to missions 
that can be flown to Mars in the coming decade that would make 
progress toward returning Martian samples -- a top priority of the 
Planetary Science Decadal Survey -- and make significant advances in 
scientific understanding of the planet, developing key technologies 
and advancing knowledge necessary for human exploration on and around 
Mars. 

NASA's Mars Program Planning Group (MPPG), tasked with developing 
options for a reformulated MEP, will consider the workshop inputs in 
addition to budgetary, programmatic, scientific and technical 
constraints. 

"Scientists and engineers came together to present their most creative 
ideas for exploring Mars," said John Grunsfeld, an astronaut, 
astrophysicist and associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission 
Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Great ideas come 
from challenging the best and brightest and igniting their passion 
and determination to succeed." 

The MPPG reports to Grunsfeld, who chairs the agency-wide Mars 
reformulation effort along with William Gerstenmaier, NASA's 
associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations Mission 
Directorate, Chief Scientist Waleed Abdalati and Chief Technologist 
Mason Peck. The official draft MPPG report is expected to be 
delivered to NASA for review at the end of the summer. 

Concepts put forth tapped into significant benefits that could be 
gained from technology investments by NASA's Science Mission 
Directorate, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, 
and Office of the Chief Technologist. The participants also stressed 
the importance of establishing international collaboration early in 
the planning process and sustaining it throughout future missions. 

"Future Mars exploration missions will require new concepts and 
technologies," said Michael Gazarik, director of NASA's Space 
Technology Program. "There were many innovative and transformational 
concepts presented at the workshop. With continued investments in 
cutting-edge technology, these will lead to increased capability, 
reduced mission risk and lower mission costs." 

Workshop attendance included almost 200 scientists, engineers and 
graduate students from academia, NASA centers, federal laboratories, 
industry, and international partner organizations. More than 1,600 
people participated online as the workshop proceedings were streamed 
live on the Internet. 

"The LPI workshop provided a broad set of ideas for Mars exploration, 
including synergies between science, human exploration and technology 
development," Gerstenmaier said. "The number of workshop participants 
demonstrates the broad interest in Mars exploration." 

The workshop provided a forum for broad community input on near-term 
mission concepts. Ideas for longer-term activities will be used to 
inform program architecture planning beyond the early 2020s. Workshop 
results represent individual perspectives from members of the 
scientific and technical community. 

"The scientific and technical community has given us quite a range of 
ideas to consider in reformulating the Mars Exploration Program," 
said Doug McCuistion, director of NASA's Mars Exploration Program at 
the agency's headquarters. "Many concepts presented are highly 
relevant to the challenges the MPPG must address." 

NASA will land its most advanced rover, Curiosity, on the surface of 
Mars in August. This mobile science laboratory will assess whether 
the past or present environment on Mars could support life. In 2013, 
NASA will launch the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution orbiter, 
the first mission devoted to understanding the Martian upper 
atmosphere.