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Saturday, November 3, 2012

U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE CLINTON CONDEMNS MURDER OF OFFICER IN NORTHERN IRELAND

Map of Ireland Showing Northern Ireland.  Credit:  CIA World Factbook.
FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Murder of Northern Ireland Prison Service Officer

Press Statement
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
November 2, 2012


We strongly condemn yesterday’s senseless murder of David Black, an officer in the Northern Ireland Prison Service, and applaud the swift efforts of the Police Service of Northern Ireland to bring the perpetrators to justice. There is no justification for this outrageous and cowardly act. I offer my sincere condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Officer Black, who had a long and distinguished record of service. The United States remains resolute in support of the people of Northern Ireland, who have condemned violence and embraced the path to peace and reconciliation.

NASA VIDEO: EXPLORATION OF THE EARLY UNIVERSE





NASA's Fermi Explores the Early Universe


This animation tracks several gamma rays through space and time, from their emission in the jet of a distant blazar to their arrival in Fermi's Large Area Telescope (LAT). During their journey, the number of randomly moving ultraviolet and optical photons (blue) increases as more and more stars are born in the universe. Eventually, one of the gamma rays encounters a photon of starlight and the gamma ray transforms into an electron and a positron. The remaining gamma-ray photons arrive at Fermi, interact with tungsten plates in the LAT, and produce the electrons and positrons whose paths through the detector allows astronomers to backtrack the gamma rays to their source.

Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Cruz ...

U.S. Department of Defense Armed with Science Update: 90 Years Since the Electric Dog Creation

U.S. Department of Defense Armed with Science Update

U.S. SANCTIONS AGAINST SUDAN RENEWED

Credit:  CIA World Factbook 
FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Renewal of Sudan National Emergency
Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
November 2, 2012

Yesterday the President renewed the national emergency in Executive Order 13067, on the basis of which the United States has imposed economic sanctions with respect to Sudan since 1997. U.S. law requires that a decision be made regarding the renewal of the national emergency each year by the anniversary of the national emergency.

In recent years, Sudan has made progress in resolving a number of outstanding issues with South Sudan, which contributes significantly to the prospects for peace between the two countries. However, the ongoing conflict in Southern Kordofan, Blue Nile, and Darfur continue to threaten regional stability, and the human rights and humanitarian crises there – including the lack of humanitarian access – are very serious. Outstanding issues with South Sudan, such as the final status of Abyei, also pose such a threat. Addressing these concerns is necessary for a peaceful Sudan and would enable the United States and Sudan to move towards a normalized relationship.

We will continue our dialogue with the Government of Sudan on the steps that are necessary to improve our bilateral relationship.


Locator Map Credit:  CIA World Factbook

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FROM CIA WORLD FACTBOOK

Military regimes favoring Islamic-oriented governments have dominated national politics since independence from the UK in 1956. Sudan was embroiled in two prolonged civil wars during most of the remainder of the 20th century. These conflicts were rooted in northern economic, political, and social domination of largely non-Muslim, non-Arab southern Sudanese. The first civil war ended in 1972 but broke out again in 1983. The second war and famine-related effects resulted in more than four million people displaced and, according to rebel estimates, more than two million deaths over a period of two decades. Peace talks gained momentum in 2002-04 with the signing of several accords. The final North/South Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), signed in January 2005, granted the southern rebels autonomy for six years followed by a referendum on independence for Southern Sudan. The referendum was held in January 2011 and indicated overwhelming support for independence. South Sudan became independent on 9 July 2011. Since southern independence Sudan has been combating rebels from the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states. A separate conflict, which broke out in the western region of Darfur in 2003, has displaced nearly two million people and caused an estimated 200,000 to 400,000 deaths. The UN took command of the Darfur peacekeeping operation from the African Union in December 2007. Peacekeeping troops have struggled to stabilize the situation, which has become increasingly regional in scope and has brought instability to eastern Chad. Sudan also has faced large refugee influxes from neighboring countries primarily Ethiopia and Chad. Armed conflict, poor transport infrastructure, and lack of government support have chronically obstructed the provision of humanitarian assistance to affected populations.




RECENT FEMA PHOTOS





FROM: FEMA

Staten Island, N.Y., Nov. 3, 2012 -- Tanker trucks distribute fuel to residents in New York who were affected by Hurricane Sandy. The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) purchased up to 12 million gallons of unleaded fuel and up to 10 million gallons of diesel fuel for distribution in areas impacted by the storm to supplement ongoing private sector efforts. Photo By Walt Jennings-FEMA




Cape May, N.J., Nov. 2, 2012 -- Houses in Reeds Beach suffered severe damage during Hurricane Sandy. FEMA is working with many partners and organizations to assist residents affected by Hurricane Sandy. Photo by Liz Roll/FEMA

FEMA TRANSITIONAL SHELTERING ASSISTANCE ACTIVATED FOR NEW JERSEY AND NEW YORK SURVIVORS OF HURRICANE SANDY

FEMA TRANSITIONAL SHELTERING ASSISTANCE ACTIVATED FOR NEW JERSEY AND NEW YORK SURVIVORS OF HURRICANE SANDY

EPA APPROVES ADDITIONAL FUEL WAIVERS IN THREE STATES AFFECTED BY SANDY

FROM: U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTETION AGENCY

Air Force Lt. Col. David G. Rabel directs a semitruck on Yeager Air National Guard Base in Charleston, W. Va., Nov. 1, 2012. Rabel, the logistics readiness squadron commander for the130th Airlift Wing, is assigned to the West Virginia Air National Guard, which is assisting with Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Bryan G. Stevens

EPA Approves Additional Fuel Waivers for New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has exercised its authority under the Clean Air Act to temporarily waive federal clean diesel fuel requirements in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and in and around New York City to allow the use of home heating oil in highway vehicles, nonroad vehicles, and nonroad equipment designated by the States of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York for emergency response. These waivers were granted by EPA in coordination with the Department of Energy (DOE).

EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson determined that, as a result of effects of Hurricane Sandy, extreme and unusual supply circumstances exist, which may result in a temporary shortage of diesel fuel compliant with federal regulations. The federal waivers will help ensure an adequate supply of fuel for emergency response in the impacted areas of New Jersey, New York City, and Pennsylvania.

These waivers temporarily allow the use of heating oil in highway vehicles, nonroad vehicles, and nonroad equipment types involved in disaster recovery efforts designated by the States of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York, if ultra low-sulfur diesel fuel is not available. These waivers will not apply to a subset of newer products that could be damaged by the high sulfur fuel.

RECENT WHITE HOUSE PHOTOS


FROM: THE WHITE HOUSE

Seen through a wire screen, President Barack Obama conducts a conference call to update New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other New York officials on the ongoing federal government response to Hurricane Sandy, Nov. 1, 2012. The President made the call backstage at the University of Colorado in Boulder. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)



President Barack Obama and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie look at storm damage along the coast of New Jersey on Marine One, Oct. 31, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
 

INFRASTRUCTURE CHALLENGES FACE AFGHAN SECURITY FORCES REPORT SAYS

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

Chris Geurtsen, a field program officer for the U.S. Agency for International Development, left, and U.S. Navy Lt. j.g. Matthew Stroup, public affairs officer for Provincial Reconstruction Team Farah, tour facilities with Farah Director of Information and Culture Farid Ahmad Ayubi, far right, during a key leader engagment at the director's office in Farah City, Afghanistan, Oct. 30, 2012. U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Benjamin Addison

 
Report: Afghan Security Forces Face Infrastructure Challenges

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service


WASHINGTON, Nov. 1, 2012 - The Afghan government will have a tough time maintaining and operating the infrastructure for its national security forces once international forces leave, according to a report issued by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction yesterday.

Defense Department officials are aware of these concerns and welcome the report, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said today.

"There are problems that do come up and obstacles," he said. "But our commitment to the strategy remains sound. I think we've been very clear-eyed in our public statements about the fact that, while we're making progress, challenges remain."

The inspector general report echoes what defense leaders have been saying for years -- that the Afghan military will need assistance with maintenance and logistics.

"The Afghan government's challenges in assuming [operations and maintenance] responsibilities include a lack of sufficient numbers and quality of personnel, as well as undeveloped budgeting, procurement and logistics systems," according to the report.

Recruiting educated personnel to fill technical positions is a challenge for the Afghan military, which lacks personnel with the technical skills required to operate and maintain critical facilities, such as water supply, waste water treatment and power generation, the report said.

DOD leaders understand that there will be continuing challenges in Afghanistan, Little said, even as the process moves toward the transition to full Afghan-led responsibility at the end of 2014.

"Reports such as this are helpful in identifying some of the issues we continue to confront, and we certainly take their concerns on board," he said.

There will undoubtedly be problems developing these capabilities in the Afghan military, Little said.

"But, overall we think the process is going very well," he said. "[Afghan military] capabilities are growing steadily. They are taking more and more leadership on missions and operations. It's not going to be a perfect process, but it is certainly on the right trajectory."

MAN AND HIS COMPANY TO PAY OVER $3 MILLION FOR ROLE IN FOREX COMMODITY POOL FRAUD SCHEME

Media Credit:  CFTC Website.
FROM: U.S. COMMODITY FUTURES TRADING COMMISSION

Federal Court in Idaho Orders Brad Lee Demuzio and Demuzio Capital Management, LLC, to Pay over $3 Million in Connection with CFTC Commodity Pool Forex Fraud Action

In related criminal action, Demuzio pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud, sentencing set for November 5

Washington, DC
– The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) today announced that Judge B. Lynn Winmill of the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho entered a consent order for permanent injunction against defendant Brad L. Demuzio and an order of default judgment against his company, Demuzio Capital Management, LLC (DCM), both of Chubbuck, Idaho, charged by the CFTC with operating a fraudulent $1.8 million commodity pool and foreign currency (forex) Ponzi scheme (see CFTC Press Release 6229-12, April 12, 2012).

The consent order and order of default judgment (final orders) impose a permanent injunction against Demuzio and DCM, respectively, finding that the defendants violated the anti-fraud provisions of the Commodity Exchange Act and failed to register with the CFTC as Commodity Pool Operators (CPOs). In addition to the permanent injunction, the final orders each impose permanent trading and registration bans against Demuzio and DCM and order them to jointly pay restitution of $805,273. In addition, under terms of the final orders Demuzio is required to jointly pay a $1 million civil monetary penalty, and DCM is ordered to jointly pay a civil monetary penalty of $2,415,819.

The final orders find that from at least June 18, 2008 through November 2011, Demuzio, through DCM, solicited and accepted approximately $1.8 million from at least 16 investors to trade forex through a pooled investment vehicle. The final orders find that the defendants misappropriated investor funds to pay Demuzio’s personal expenses and sent emails to investors that falsely represented that their principal remained intact and was earning profits. The final orders also find that the defendants acted as a CPO without being registered as such.

In a related criminal proceeding based on substantially the same facts, Demuzio pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho to one count of wire fraud. Sentencing is scheduled for November 5, 2012.

The CFTC appreciates the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Idaho and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

CFTC Division of Enforcement staff members responsible for this action are Lara Turcik, Christopher Giglio, Manal M. Sultan, Lenel Hickson, Jr., Stephen J. Obie, and Vincent A. McGonagle.

U.S. DOJ SEEKS TO SHUT DOWN TAX PREPARTION FRANCHISE FIRM


FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Thursday, November 1, 2012

Federal Court in Ohio Issues Preliminary Injunction Against Instant Tax Service Franchiser and Its CEO

Trial on Government Request to Permanently Shut Down Firm Is Scheduled for May 2013

A federal court has preliminarily enjoined ITS Financial LLC, the parent company that owns the Instant Tax Service tax-preparation franchise operation, the Justice Department announced today. Dayton, Ohio-based ITS claims to be the fourth-largest tax-preparation firm in the nation, according to the government complaint in the civil lawsuit. Judge Timothy Black of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio signed the order, which also applies to the company’s CEO, Fesum Ogbazion. The defendants consented to the preliminary injunction.

The preliminary injunction will remain in force pending the court’s decision following trial in the case. Trial on the government’s suit seeking to shut down the defendants with a permanent injunction is scheduled to begin on May 20, 2013, in Dayton.

According to the government
complaint in the case, ITS franchisees routinely prepare and file fraudulent federal tax returns, fabricate deductions and invent phony businesses. The suit further alleges that ITS franchisees file tax returns without customer authorization and without proper employer-issued W-2 wage statements, and charge customers exorbitant and bogus fees. Defendants and their franchisees allegedly lure mostly low-income customers into ITS stores by offering deceptive and misleading loans such as "Instant Cash" or "Holiday" loans, often before the tax return filing season begins. Defendants have denied the allegations in the complaint.

Under the terms of the preliminary injunction, defendants are barred from encouraging or preparing false or fraudulent tax returns, from filing tax returns without customer authorization, from charging customers exorbitant and bogus fees, from deceiving their customers and the government, and from otherwise violating the tax laws. In addition, defendants are barred from offering any Instant Cash loan or similar loan product that relies on a customer’s paystub (rather than an employer-issued IRS W-2 year-end wage statement), and from offering any loan product that violates any federal or state law. Defendants may offer only genuine loan products provided by independent, third-party lenders. The preliminary injunction also requires defendants, at their own expense, to hire third-party monitors who will review and audit tax returns prepared by all ITS franchisees. In addition, defendants must hire a neutral company to conduct "secret shopper" visits to ITS franchisees to test their compliance with the law.

The preliminary injunction order notes that the United States ultimately seeks to permanently bar ITS and Ogbazion from further operating a tax-preparation business.

In the past 10 years, the Justice Department’s Tax Division has obtained hundreds of injunctions to stop the promotion of tax-fraud schemes and the preparation of fraudulent returns.

U.S. DOD STATUS REPORT ON HURRICANE SANDY RESPONSE

Photo:  Hurricane Sandy Response.  Credit:  U.S. Army.
FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

DOD Provides Update for Hurricane Sandy Response

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 2, 2012 - The Department of Defense remains fully engaged in the ongoing federal disaster response efforts underway in the eastern and northeastern United States as a result of Hurricane Sandy, according to DOD officials.

In the context of its current support activities the department is focusing on providing unique capabilities to support civilian efforts to restore power to vital facilities and to assist with the resumption of mass transit services in the New York and New Jersey area, officials said.

Here is today's update on DOD's response to Hurricane Sandy, as of 9 a.m. EDT:

National Guard Operations:

-- Nearly 7,400 Army and Air National Guard soldiers and airmen in nine eastern states are performing communications, engineering, evacuation, medical, security, search and rescue, sheltering, debris removal and transportation missions.

-- New York, with 2,632 troops; New Jersey, with 1,900 troops; Pennsylvania, with 1,225 troops; Connecticut, with 670 troops; and West Virginia, with 540 troops currently have the highest number of Guard members responding to the storm.

-- Army National Guard units from North Carolina, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Georgia are providing six UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and two CH-47 Chinook helicopters to assist search-and-rescue missions from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.

-- Yesterday, 50 New York Guard members evacuated residents from a structurally unsound nursing home in New York City's borough of Brooklyn.

-- The New York National Guard helped distribute 144,000 meals from 16 distribution locations they'd set up in New York City and Long Island.

-- The New York Air National Guard's 105th Airlift Wing based at Stewart Air National Guard base in Newburgh, NY, is receiving numerous C-17 and C-5 aircraft carrying critical civilian power restoration assets that will aid utility restoration efforts.

-- The New Jersey National Guard has rescued more than 2,000 people and 200 pets from flooded areas and transported them to safety.

-- The West Virginia National Guard Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Enhanced Response Force Package has assessed snow-damaged buildings in 14 areas throughout Nicholas County.

-- New York National Guard members continue to go door-to-door visiting New York City high rises to deliver food and check on citizens.

-- New Jersey National Guard members have been feeding more than 300 residents at the Menlow Park Veteran's Home, using a mobile field kitchen.

-- National Guard members throughout the area continue to clear debris so that local power and transportation teams can restore power to millions.

-- The Pennsylvania National Guard is partnering with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to use Fort Indiantown Gap in Pennsylvania as a base to distribute critical supplies.

-- The New Jersey National Guard is providing power generation at State Police facilities.

Status of DOD Operations:

-- The USS Wasp is anchored approximately five miles off of the coast of Brooklyn. The Wasp contingent includes three MH-53E and two MH-60S helicopters with rescue swimmers. Also anchored off the coast of Brooklyn are the USS San Antonio with one Landing Craft Utility vessel and four MH-60S helicopters with rescue swimmers and the USS Carter Hall with one LCU. These vessels are prepared to support potential Defense Support of Civil Authorities missions if requested. They will also be available to provide refueling and command and control of DOD helicopter support missions in the area.

-- 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit: Initial elements of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit came aboard the USS Wasp yesterday with more scheduled to arrive today. The total force will include six CH-53E Super Stallion and six UH-1 Iroquois "Huey" helicopters, and 320 personnel.

-- The secretary of defense approved the Department of Transportation's Maritime Administration's use of three of its National Defense Reserve Fleet vessels to berth first responders in New York City. The Training Ship Empire State is in New York and in use with 266 first responders being berthed and fed. The TS Kennedy is making preparations for movement from Massachusetts and arrives Nov. 5. The Ready Reserve Fleet Vessel SS Wright is making preparations for movement from Baltimore and is scheduled to arrive on Nov. 4.

Defense Logistics Agency:

-- DLA has coordinated with a contractor to assist the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in assessing damage and determining requirements to restore New York and New Jersey port operations.

CLASS I Commodities (Food)

About 1.5 million meals are expected to be delivered to FEMA facilities in West Virginia by noon today, with 750,000 meals having arrived at Charleston and 750,000 en route to Martinsburg. Around 1.3 million meals are at vendors and ready for delivery.

-- DLA is currently working to provide 1 million meals to New York City by Nov. 5.

CLASS III Commodities (Fuel)

-- DLA is issuing fuel to the New Jersey National Guard.

-- Sixty fuel trucks arrived at incident support bases at Westover Air Force Base, Mass., and McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., delivering approximately 200,000 gallons of fuel.

-- About 600,000 gallons of fuel, with trucks, are available in Virginia for movement to the incident support bases and the capacity to deliver 200,000 gallons of fuel per day for 10 days.

Water removal:

-- Meeting FEMA's request for two generators (2,000 kilowatt-hour and 1,500 kilowatt-hour capacity for delivery at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Nov. 3. Twenty-two generators -- 500 kilowatt-hour and 2,000 kilowatt hour -- will be delivered to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst on Nov. 3 from North Carolina, Texas and Florida.

-- Sixty-nine pumps are scheduled to arrive at Lakehurst Naval Air Station, NJ: Two 68,000 gallons-per-minute pumps and an additional 21 pumps of between 900-2,800 gallons-per-minute capacity are scheduled to arrive today. The remaining pumps of between 900-2,800 gallons-per-minute capacity are scheduled to arrive over the weekend.

Power generation

-- Twenty-five generators are en route to Lakehurst Naval Air Station today, and 22 are scheduled to be delivered tomorrow.

Army Corps of Engineers:

Army Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick, chief of the Corps of Engineers, has toured the affected areas in New York City and northern New Jersey, met with governmental leaders, and received updates on current and emerging requirements for power and unwatering.

-- Hoboken New Jersey Terminal: The Army Corps of Engineers, in collaboration with the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Navy, New Jersey Transit, New York City Waterways and others, conducted a joint site assessment survey yesterday. Corps of Engineers personnel will visit the Hoboken terminal today, to determine if a temporary generator can be safely installed. The PATH station at the terminal has been drained, but the tubes remain flooded.

-- The Corps of Engineers is also working options and analysis of the Hoboken Terminal Pier Refinery Download Point, scoping the mission and working contractor options.

-- The Corps of Engineers has technical pumping and drainage expertise on the ground with state and city leaders, and engineers to advise on removing water from critical infrastructure.

-- Pumping is underway in New York City at Battery Park Underpass/West Street Underpass and the Holland Tunnel.

-- The Corps of Engineers developed the technical plans to start pumping operations at the following sites: Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, Queens Midtown Tunnel, Jersey City PATH Train Tunnel, World Trade Center Site, South Ferry Station, Montague Tunnel, 14th Street Tunnel, and 53rd Street Tunnel.

-- The Corps of Engineers is completing site assessments for the Rockaway Waste Water Treatment Plant and the Passaic Valley Sewage Commission.

-- The Corps of Engineers shipped 12 8-inch and 13 6-inch pumps to support drainage operations. The Corps of Engineers is tracking the arrival of 69 additional pumps from DLA.

Temporary Emergency Power:

-- The Corps of Engineers is supporting the emergency temporary power mission in New York and New Jersey. The Corps of Engineers has 319 generators staged at forward locations.

-- Corps of Engineers power teams conducted 74 of 84 requested assessments and installed 14 power generators. Most of these generators have been installed at hospitals and nursing homes.

-- The 249th Engineer Battalion is preparing to move a 13-megawatt power package via convoy from Fort Belvoir, Va., to support Consolidated Edison. This system will be plugged into ConEd's East River grid.

-- Additional 249th Engineer Battalion personnel were deployed last night to support anticipated missions in Ohio and Connecticut.

AN ELITE SECURITY MARINE'S STORY

U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Victor Castro, left, helps Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Josue Hernandez climb up a ravine during a partnered patrol with Afghan soldiers in Sagin in Afghanistan's Helmand province, Feb. 20, 2012. Castro, a corpsman, and Hernandez, a rifleman, are assigned to India Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment. The Marines trained the Afghan soldiers to patrol on their own with the Marines in a support role. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Timothy Lenzo

 
FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Face of Defense: Elite Security Marine Serves in Afghanistan

By Marine Corps Master Sgt. Brenda Varnadore
Regional Command Southwest
NOW ZAD, Oct. 31, 2012 - Marine Corps Cpl. Austen Clark said his decision to join the Corps five years ago was an easy one, especially since he was guaranteed a job to protect the president.

Clark, the 2nd squad leader for 1st Platoon, Company F, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, said he decided after graduating from high school in 2007 that the Marine Corps Security Forces was his destiny.

"My granddad was in," the Morristown, Ind., native said. "He was [communications] though. I didn't want to go to college so I joined."

After graduating from recruit training and infantry school, Clark headed to the Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C., while his security clearance went through. Once all necessary investigations were done, it was time for him to head to Camp David in Maryland to protect then-President George W. Bush.

"President Bush was a huge mountain biker," Clark recalled. "We would always see him out riding. He was hilarious though, and always had time to talk and laugh with us."

After President Barack Obama was elected in 2008, Clark said, he had the chance to not only provide security for him, but to also play some basketball with the commander-in-chief.

Clark moved up quickly while with Security Forces and earned a billet as Reactionary Force Commander, making him responsible for two security teams. His more than three years at Camp David made Clark realize, he said, that his ultimate goal is federal service after his Marine Corps service ends.

"I want to eventually get on with the Secret Service or U.S. Marshals," Clark said. "I was going to do it from [Camp David] with all the connections, but I was scheduled for [2nd Bn., 7th Marines] and knew they were deploying soon. That is what I joined to do, so I re-enlisted."

After Clark arrived at 2nd Bn., 7th Marines, he found out his deployment was not to Afghanistan as he originally thought, but to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. While with the 31st MEU, he found himself in Australia.

"I really enjoyed my time there," Clark said. "Being able to train with the Australians was a great opportunity."

Clark said he found out quickly when he arrived at a regular infantry battalion, however, that he would have to prove himself as a leader.

"I love what I do and being here with a very prideful unit helped," Clark said. "It was an uphill battle, but I proved myself and have progressed to squad leader."

Clark is finally in Afghanistan and said he's set some definite goals for himself.

"I waited five and a half years to get out here," he said. "I want to try to use the time to sharpen my skills as a Marine and try to pick up sergeant."

Whether Clark decides to stay in the Marine Corps for the long haul or transfer to federal service, he said, his parents will always be supportive and proud of him.

Friday, November 2, 2012

NASA VIDEO: RED PLANET LANDING




Red Planet: Landing


Adam Steltzner, Mars Science Laboratory Entry, Descent and Landing Lead, guides viewers through the landing process for the NASA Mars rover Curiosity.

U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE CLINTON CONDEMS BLACK'S DEATH

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
Murder of Northern Ireland Prison Service Officer

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
November 2, 2012
I strongly condemn yesterday’s senseless murder of David Black, an officer in the Northern Ireland Prison Service, and applaud the swift efforts of the Police Service of Northern Ireland to bring the perpetrators to justice. There is no justification for this outrageous and cowardly act. I offer my sincere condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Officer Black, who had a long and distinguished record of service. The United States remains resolute in support of the people of Northern Ireland, who have condemned violence and embraced the path to peace and reconciliation.

Twenty, 40, fit and fat

Twenty, 40, fit and fat

NEWS FROM AFGHANISTAN FOR NOVEMBER 2, 2012

Photo:  Afghanistan.  Credit:  U.S. Army.
FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Combined Force Arrests Taliban Leader

From an International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Release

KABUL, Afghanistan, Nov. 2, 2012 - An Afghan and coalition security force arrested a Taliban leader in Afghanistan's Kandahar province today, military officials reported.

The arrested insurgent leader is suspected of organizing improvised explosive device operations, kidnappings and attacks against Afghan and coalition forces, officials said.

During the operation, officials said, the security force also detained two suspected insurgents.

In other operations today:
-- In Helmand province, a combined force detained two suspected insurgents during a security operation while searching for a Taliban leader. The Taliban leader is believed to be responsible for distributing munitions to Taliban insurgents and serves as the functional head of a Taliban direct-action cell.

-- In Nangarhar province, a combined force arrested a Taliban facilitator who is believed to have organized attacks against Afghan and coalition forces and enabled the movement of extremists in central Kunar province. During the operation, the force also detained two suspected insurgents.

-- In Paktiya province, an Afghan and coalition security force arrested a Haqqani leader suspected of directing attacks against government officials in the province and also working directly with Taliban leaders to carry out the kidnappings and executions of several Afghans. The force also detained a suspected insurgent during the operation.

And, a combined force arrested a Haqqani leader in Logar province Oct. 30. The arrested insurgent leader is alleged to have organized and executed IED attacks.

U.S. State Department Daily Press Briefing - November 2, 2012

Daily Press Briefing - November 2, 2012

TWO CAR COMPANIES WILL LOWER FUEL ECONOMY ESTIMATES AFTER EPA INVESTIGATION

Photo:  Motor Show 2007.  Credit:  Wikimedia Commons.
FROM: U.S. EVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

Hyundai/Kia to Correct Overstated MPG Claims as Result of EPA Investigation

WASHINGTON -
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced that Hyundai Motor America and Kia Motors America will lower their fuel economy (mpg) estimates for the majority of their model year 2012 and 2013 models after EPA testing found discrepancies between agency results and data submitted by the company.

The auto companies have submitted to the EPA a plan for cars currently on dealer lots to be re-labeled with new window stickers reflecting the corrected mileage estimates. The mileage on most vehicle labels will be reduced by one to two mpg, and the largest adjustment will be six mpg highway for the Kia Soul.

"Consumers rely on the window sticker to help make informed choices about the cars they buy,’ said Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. "EPA’s investigation will help protect consumers and ensure a level playing field among automakers."

At its National Vehicle and Fuel Emission Laboratory (NVFEL) in Ann Arbor, Mich., EPA routinely tests vehicles – 150 to 200 a year, or about 15 percent of the possible vehicle configurations – to ensure that their performance matches the mileage and emissions data required to be submitted to EPA by automakers.

This auditing helps to ensure that vehicles on the road meet tailpipe emission standards to protect public health and the environment and that all carmakers follow the same procedures for calculating mileage estimates. EPA conducts both random and targeted audits, based on factors such as consumer complaints.

EPA had received a number of consumer complaints about Hyundai mileage estimates. Through the agency’s ongoing audit program, staff experts at EPA’s NVFEL observed discrepancies between results from EPA testing of a MY2012 Hyundai Elantra and information provided to EPA by Hyundai.

The agency expanded its investigation into data for other Hyundai and Kia vehicles, leading to today’s announcement.

EPA’s audit testing occasionally uncovers individual vehicles whose label values are incorrect and requires that the manufacturer re-label the vehicle. This has happened twice since 2000. This is the first time where a large number of vehicles from the same manufacturer have deviated so significantly.


MARINES AND SAILORS FROM USS WASP READY TO PROVIDE HELP TO NEW ENGLAND

 


Marines and sailors of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit deployed aboard USS Wasp, Nov. 1, 2012, currently afloat off the coast of New York City, to assist in disaster relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The 26th MEU can provide generators, fuel, clean water and helicopter lift capabilities to aid in disaster relief efforts. The 26th MEU is currently in pre-deployment training, preparing for their departure in 2013. As an expeditionary crisis response force operating from the sea, the MEU is a Marine Air-Ground Task Force capable of conducting amphibious operations, crisis response and limited contingency operations. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Michael S. Lockett
FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

Sailors, Marines Join USS Wasp for Sandy Relief

By Marine Corps Cpl. Michael Lockett
26th Marine Expeditionary Unit


NEW YORK, Nov. 2, 2012 - Marines and sailors of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., flew aboard the USS Wasp Nov. 1 to prepare to provide assistance to New Jersey, New York and Connecticut in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.


Within less than a day of receiving the order from Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Raymond C. Fox, the commanding general of II Marine Expeditionary Force, Marines and sailors boarded aircraft and sortied from bases in North Carolina to meet the amphibious assault ship as it sailed off the coast of New York City, preparing to provide medical, logistical, engineering, and heavy airlift support to the storm-damaged areas if tasked by the secretary of defense.

"What's important here is that the American public sees that their military can provide support to American cities, to American citizens, in a time of need," said Marine Corps Col. Matthew G. St. Clair, 26th MEU commanding officer. The MEU is a Marine Corps crisis-response force that's designed to remain afloat for months at a time

The 26th MEU is uniquely suited to the task. Operating from a Navy vessel, the unit's air assets have an agility that ensures aid can be delivered anywhere within hundreds of miles.

"We have the capability to fly, and we can support New Jersey. We can support New York City. We can support Connecticut -- simultaneously," St. Clair said. "That's what the MEU brings -- the flexibility and the inherent capabilities that come with it."

The 26th MEU equipment embarked aboard the Wasp were chosen to give the unit many tools to bring to its assistance efforts in the area. Marine Medium Tilt-rotor Squadron 266 Reinforced, assisted by aircraft from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 366 and Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 467, has UH-1N Huey and the CH-53E Super Stallion heavy lift helicopters capable of moving large numbers of passengers, supplies, or equipment.

"This is another great example of the flexibility and responsiveness of the Navy-Marine Corps team," St. Clair said. "Specifically, our [helicopters provide the] ability to conduct these operations from the sea. We're able to do something other services cannot do. We don't have to have a large footprint on the shore. We can conduct all of our command and control from the sea."

The Wasp, purpose-built to support the operations of a Marine expeditionary unit, is the perfect staging platform for this kind of operation.

"The city of New York -- the states -- don't have to find space to billet Marines. They don't have to find space for our aircraft. Because we can recover back to the USS Wasp, and we can do that every day," St. Clair said.

"We can assist with the ability to move supplies with our aviation assets. We can do a site survey to determine how bad an area is. We can help move and distribute supplies; water, food, blankets -- pieces of equipment," St. Clair said. "If it can fit in a CH-53E, we can move it. We can get supplies and people to areas that are affected, where the only means to get there may be aviation assets."

Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 26, specializing in construction and debris removal, water purification and transport, electrical and generator work, medical support and heavy machinery operation, give the commanding officer many options.

"The MEU has all these capabilities inherent to the MAGTF -- the Marine Air-Ground Task Force. We're able to respond quickly. We're able to self-deploy. And the flexibility we have by being embarked on the USS Wasp allows for an afloat staging area," St. Clair said.

"Something like this pulls America together. There's support coming here from all over the country," he said, noting the MEU is just one part of a larger plan, with other agencies and organizations coming together to provide assistance to the storm-stricken Northeast.

"This is an example of what a true crisis response force is," St. Clair said. "It's the MEU and the amphibious ready group. We moved to the affected area quickly, with a robust capability, and we're posturing to support."

U.S. CONCERNED OVER IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS AGAINST SRI LANKAN CHIEF JUSTICE

Map Credit:  CIA World Factbook.
FROM: U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT

Impeachment Proceedings Brought Against Sri Lankan Chief Justice

Press Statement
Victoria Nuland
Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
November 2, 2012

The United States is concerned by actions taken to impeach Sri Lankan Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake. We also note with concern recent threats to Sri Lankan judicial officials, including the assault last month on a judge who had publicly criticized government pressure on members of the judiciary. We urge the Government of Sri Lanka to avoid any action that would impede the efficacy and independence of Sri Lanka’s judiciary.

The United States, along with our partners in the international community, continues to urge Sri Lanka to address outstanding issues of the rule of law, democratic governance, accountability and reconciliation.


Map Locator Credit:  CIA World Factbook.
 

PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY LITTLE DESCRIBES BENGHAZI DECISION


Photo:  Libya.  Credit:  CIA World Factbook.
FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

Little Describes Pentagon's Benghazi Decision Process

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service


WASHINGTON, Nov. 2, 2012 - Two U.S. service members did participate with a CIA team in the mission to rescue Americans in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told reporters today.

Little spoke of the events of that night during a press availability in his Pentagon office. Four Americans -- including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens -- were killed in a terror attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that night.

The two American service members were based in the Libyan capital of Tripoli and volunteered to join the team that traveled to Benghazi. Little could not say what position the service members held, but did say DOD is proud that they volunteered to perform the mission.

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey and U.S. Africa Command commander Army Gen. Carter F. Ham discussed the situation in Benghazi soon after they were notified of the assault.

"There were discussions here at the highest levels including the secretary as to what kind of response we might be able to provide," Little said.

"The secretary ordered appropriate forces to respond," he said. "Those forces included FAST (Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team) platoons from Europe, a special operations unit in Central Europe, and another contingent of U.S. troops from the United States."

It takes time to notify troops, organize them and then transport them, Little said. It also takes time to develop an intelligence picture of what they might face on the ground.

"The fact of the matter is these forces were not in place until after the attacks were over," he said. "Let me be clear. This department took swift action. We did respond. The secretary ordered forces to move. They simply were not able to arrive in time."

DOD was preparing for a range of contingencies that day.

"We were readying for the need to augment security measures at our facilities in Libya, we were prepared for the possibility of a hostage situation as well," Little said. "These were all the things we were looking at in the midst of an event that we did not know was going to happen in Benghazi that night."

PANAMA'S INDEPENDENCE DAY


Map Credit:  CIA World Factbook
FROM: U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
 
Panama's Independence Day
Press Statement
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC


November 1, 2012

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to send best wishes to the people of Panama as you celebrate 109 years of independence this November 3.

From the islands of Bocas del Toro and ports of Colón to the jungles of the Darién and the Panama City skyline, Panama’s natural beauty and cultural diversity are just a couple of your country’s many treasures. Today, Panama is experiencing dynamic economic growth, which promises to unlock even greater opportunity and prosperity for the Panamanian people. We also celebrate the implementation of our historic Trade Promotion Agreement which will create jobs and expand opportunity for both of our people.

The United States stands with you as a partner and friend, and we look forward to building on our partnership in the years to come. "¡Felicitaciones!"

 

Locator Map Credit:  CIA World Factbook

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FROM CIA WORLD FACTBOOK
Explored and settled by the Spanish in the 16th century, Panama broke with Spain in 1821 and joined a union of Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela - named the Republic of Gran Colombia. When the latter dissolved in 1830, Panama remained part of Colombia. With US backing, Panama seceded from Colombia in 1903 and promptly signed a treaty with the US allowing for the construction of a canal and US sovereignty over a strip of land on either side of the structure (the Panama Canal Zone). The Panama Canal was built by the US Army Corps of Engineers between 1904 and 1914. In 1977, an agreement was signed for the complete transfer of the Canal from the US to Panama by the end of the century. Certain portions of the Zone and increasing responsibility over the Canal were turned over in the subsequent decades. With US help, dictator Manuel NORIEGA was deposed in 1989. The entire Panama Canal, the area supporting the Canal, and remaining US military bases were transferred to Panama by the end of 1999. In October 2006, Panamanians approved an ambitious plan (estimated to cost $5.3 billion) to expand the Canal. The project, which began in 2007 and could double the Canal's capacity, is expected to be completed in 2014-15.



Kuna Indians rowing past their villages in the San Blas Islands of northeastern Panama


 

THE LOADMASTER

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

Marine Corps Cpl. Armando Muniz, a loadmaster with 4th Platoon, 2nd Combat Logistics Battalion, 15th Combat Logistics Regiment, secures chains to a supply container in Helmand province, Afghanistan, Oct. 24, 2012. As loadmaster, Muniz keeps track of the logistics needs of forward operating bases in the province. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Timothy Lenzo
 
By Marine Corps Cpl. Timothy Lenzo
Regional Command Southwest


CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan, Nov. 1, 2012 - More than 20 vehicles of varying shapes and sizes kick up dust and sand as a combat logistics patrol drives through Afghanistan.

Marine Corps Cpl. Armando Muniz, a loadmaster with 4th Platoon, 2nd Combat Logistics Battalion, 15th Combat Logistics Regiment, keeps track of everything the patrol drops off and picks up and makes sure everything gets to where it needs to be.

Muniz's battalion supplies food, drinks, building materials and equipment to the Marines and other coalition forces throughout Helmand province.

"We take everything from point A to point B and sometimes even C," Muniz said.

A loadmaster's duties range from ensuring everything is loaded safely and securely to making sure gear is signed over to the proper person. Muniz said he also makes sure he knows what the Marines need for future deliveries.

"Sometimes Marines don't always get everything," he said. "I talk to the Marines. When I'm back, I make sure we load it on the next convoy. If there are other Marines going back to the base, I'll give it to them."

It is this kind of dedication that developed Muniz's reputation for being professional and helpful. If they need anything, Marines know to seek out Muniz when the logistics patrol arrives at their base.

"When people call our office looking for gear, they ask for Cpl. Muniz by name," said 1st Lt. Andrew Schlottmann, Muniz's platoon commander. "He's earned himself a reputation with the Marines with 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines. They know when he shows up, he's there to work, and they take him very seriously."

When a patrol arrives at a forward operating base, there are a lot of moving parts. Each base receives specific items and quantities. In addition, Marines at each base might have something to return with the convoy. With more than 20 vehicles and 60 Marines and sailors moving around large boxes of cargo, the importance of a loadmaster quickly becomes clear.

"Corporal Muniz is always the first person on scene when we get to other FOBs," said Sgt. Bryan Hall, a security team leader with 4th Platoon. "He's always coordinating with the other units, and he makes the unloading and loading a lot easier."

Muniz is active when the logistics patrols arrive. He makes sure the correct personnel sign for items, checks unloaded gear and accounts for loaded gear.

"He's also on the trucks with the Marines undoing straps and unbinding chains," Hall said. "He doesn't just sit there and tell people what to do. He gets his hands dirty and works with the Marines."

For Muniz, who volunteered to become a loadmaster before deploying, the job is the next challenge he is trying to conquer. But, he said, he enjoys working under the stress and time sensitive conditions.

"After my first two deployments, I wanted to move up to a bigger challenge," he said. "When I'm loading, sometimes I feel like I'm playing Tetris. I'm trying to load as much as I can on one vehicle safely."

Muniz may compare his job to a game, but he takes his job seriously.

"I play a supportive role for the guys out there in the fight," Muniz said. "I want to make sure they have everything they need."

With winter fast approaching, Muniz's job as loadmaster will not slow down. He will continue to make sure Marines and coalition service members throughout Helmand province receive the necessary gear and supplies to continue operations.

U.S. SECRETARY OF LABOR HILDA L. SOLIS COMMENTS ON OCTOBER 2012 JOBS NUMBERS

Photo Credit:  U.S. Navy
FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Statement of Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis on October employment numbers

WASHINGTON —
Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis issued the following statement on the October 2012 Employment Situation report released today:

"Our nation's labor market added 171,000 nonfarm payroll jobs in October, while the unemployment rate remained essentially unchanged at 7.9 percent. Additionally, our economy added back more than 84,000 jobs in August and September than had been initially reported.

"October's report marks 32 straight months of private sector job growth totaling more than 5.4 million jobs. We've also seen 13 consecutive quarters of private gross domestic product growth. In other words, we've been consistently growing jobs and our economy for several years running.

"Our unemployment rate has dropped by more than two percentage points under President Obama. Unemployment Insurance claims are at a four-year low. Consumer sentiment is at a four-year high. We've added more than a half-million manufacturing jobs over the last 32 months. And we just posted the largest 12-month increase in housing permits since 1983.

"We've transformed a terrible crisis into a stable and durable recovery. To state otherwise is to wage war on the facts. We've erased all of the private sector job losses since the president took office and created an additional 1.2 million new jobs.

"We know what works, and the president has a plan to accelerate our progress by investing in education and job training, and by creating good-paying 21st century jobs in health care, energy, technology and manufacturing. Our recovery depends on building a strong and educated middle class that creates enough demand for the private sector to keep adding new jobs. These efforts are foundational to our success in a 21st century economy."

THE CEPHEUS GHOST

 
 


FROM: NASA

A Ghost in Cepheus

Described as a "dusty curtain" or "ghostly apparition," mysterious reflection nebula VdB 152 really is very faint. Far from your neighborhood on this Halloween Night, the cosmic phantom is nearly 1,400 light-years away. Also catalogued as Ced 201, it lies along the northern Milky Way in the royal constellation Cepheus. Near the edge of a large molecular cloud, pockets of interstellar dust in the region block light from background stars or scatter light from the embedded bright star giving parts of the nebula a characteristic blue color. Ultraviolet light from the star is also thought to cause a dim reddish luminescence in the nebular dust. Though stars do form in molecular clouds, this star seems to have only accidentally wandered into the area, as its measured velocity through space is very different from the cloud's velocity. This deep telescopic image of the region spans about 7 light-years.

Image Credit-NASA-Stephen Leshin

U.S. DEPATMENT OF JUSTICE WARNS OF DISASTER FRAUDSTERS

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Thursday, November 1, 2012

Justice Department Officials Raise Awareness of Disaster Fraud Hotline

WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice, the FBI and the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) remind the public there is a potential for disaster fraud in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Suspected fraudulent activity pertaining to relief efforts associated with Hurricane Sandy should be reported to the toll-free NCDF hotline at 866-720-5721. The hotline is staffed by a live operator 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for the purpose of reporting suspected scams being perpetrated by criminals in the aftermath of disasters.

NCDF was originally established in 2005 by the Department of Justice to investigate, prosecute and deter fraud associated with federal disaster relief programs following Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma. Its mission has expanded to include suspected fraud related to any natural or man-made disaster. More than 20 federal agencies – including the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General and the FBI – participate in the NCDF, allowing the center to act as a centralized clearinghouse of information related to disaster relief fraud.

In the wake of natural disasters, many individuals feel moved to contribute to victim assistance programs and organizations across the country. The Department of Justice and the FBI remind the public to apply a critical eye and do due diligence before giving to anyone soliciting donations on behalf of hurricane victims. Solicitations can originate as emails, websites, door-to-door collections, mailings, telephone calls and similar methods.

Before making a donation of any kind, consumers should adhere to certain guidelines, including the following:
Do not respond to any unsolicited (spam) incoming emails, including by clicking links contained within those messages, because they may contain computer viruses.
Be cautious of individuals representing themselves as victims or officials asking for donations via email or social networking sites.
Beware of organizations with copycat names similar to but not exactly the same as those of reputable charities.
Rather than following a purported link to a website, verify the existence and legitimacy of non-profit organizations by using Internet-based resources.
Be cautious of emails that claim to show pictures of the disaster areas in attached files, because those files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
To ensure that contributions are received and used for intended purposes, make donations directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf.
Do not be pressured into making contributions; reputable charities do not use coercive tactics.
Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions. Providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.
Avoid cash donations if possible. Pay by debit or credit card, or write a check directly to the charity. Do not make checks payable to individuals.
Legitimate charities do not normally solicit donations via money transfer services.
Most legitimate charities maintain websites ending in .org rather than .com.

In addition to raising public awareness, the NCDF is the intake center for all disaster relief fraud. Therefore, if you observe that someone has submitted a fraudulent claim for disaster relief, or observe any other suspected fraudulent activities pertaining to the receipt of government funds as part of disaster relief or clean up, please contact the NCDF.

If you believe that you have been a victim of fraud by a person or organization soliciting relief funds on behalf of hurricane victims, or if you discover fraudulent disaster relief claims submitted by a person or organization, contact the NCDF by phone at (866) 720-5721, fax at (225) 334-4707 or email at
disaster@leo.gov.

You can also report suspicious e-mail solicitations or fraudulent websites to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.

U.S.-PANANMA TRADE PROMOTION AGREEMENT GOES INTO EFFECT

Photo:  Panama Canal.  Credit:  CIA World Factbook
FROM: U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT

U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA) Enters Into Force

Press Statement
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State

Washington, DC
October 31, 2012

STATEMENT BY SECRETARY CLINTON

U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA) Enters Into Force

Today, the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA) enters into force, marking an historic milestone and bringing us closer to our goal of an unbroken network of free trade agreements in the Western Hemisphere. By eliminating tariffs and other barriers, the TPA will significantly liberalize trade in goods and services between our countries, enhancing competitiveness and supporting jobs. It’s an example of the Obama Administration’s commitment to economic statecraft and deepening our economic engagement throughout the world.

Almost all U.S. exports of consumer and industrial products to Panama will now be duty-free with remaining tariffs phased out over ten years. Nearly half of all current trade will receive immediate duty-free treatment with most of the remaining tariffs eliminated within 15 years. This agreement will also preserve duty-free access for Panamanian goods previously granted under trade preference programs and help strengthen the Panamanian economy.

Not only will this reinforce the ties between our economies and create jobs, it secures our strategic partnership with a key partner. I want to thank President Martinelli for his leadership on the entry into force of the TPA and look forward to both countries fully realizing the promise of this agreement.



U.S. Department of Defense Armed with Science Update: Remote Piloted Aircraft

U.S. Department of Defense Armed with Science Update

Health care law delivers higher payments to primary care physicians

Health care law delivers higher payments to primary care physicians

COAST GUARD RESPONDING TO HURRICANE SANDY


Coast Guard Vice Adm. Robert C. Parker, Atlantic Area commander, assesses the area along the New Jersey coastline on Oct. 31, 2012. Parker and Coast Guard Rear Adm. Richard T. Gromlich, director of Operational Logistics, conducted an aerial survey of the New Jersey coastline, New York Harbor and Long Island to assess the damage caused by Superstorm Sandy. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Cmdr. Jamie Frederick

 
FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Coast Guard Responds to Superstorm Sandy Damage
From a Coast Guard Atlantic Area Public Affairs News Release
PORTSMOUTH, Va., Nov. 1, 2012 - Coast Guard leaders Vice Adm. Robert C. Parker, Atlantic Area commander, and Rear Adm. Richard T. Gromlich, director of Operational Logistics, conducted an aerial survey of the New Jersey coastline, New York Harbor and Long Island yesterday to assess the damage caused by Superstorm Sandy.
Currently, the Coast Guard's top priority is to get the port of New York and New Jersey back to full operations. Their assessment included evaluating impacts to the maritime transportation system and Coast Guard facilities.

"The United States is a maritime nation and we rely heavily on the ports for commerce. Ninety-five percent of our goods come to us by way of [the] sea. Just about everything you purchase ... most likely came through a seaport somewhere at some time," Parker said.

"The port of New York and New Jersey is vital to our nation's economy and we are doing everything humanly possible to get the port back to full operations. This is an all-hands-on-deck evolution," he added.

The Coast Guard's priorities are safety of life, to restore the local maritime transportation system -- specifically in New York and New Jersey -- and to effect rapid reconstitution of operations in the affected areas. Coast Guard crews continue to conduct assessments to ensure ports are safe and ready for business.

Coast Guard operations continue despite some service shore infrastructures sustaining flood damage, limited communications capacity and power outages.

As the Coast Guard Atlantic Area Commander, Parker serves as the operational commander for all Coast Guard missions within a geographic region that ranges from the Rocky Mountains to the Arabian Gulf and spans across five Coast Guard Districts and 40 states.

 
 

NASA VIDEO: THE HUNT FOR P.I.G.


The Hunt for P.I.G. in October


NASA's Operation IceBridge has launched its Antarctic 2012 campaign, flying high-priority missions measuring polar ice from a base of operations at the tip of Patagonia on the Strait of Magellan. They have even made a return visit to the Pine Island Glacier, the site of last year's discovery of a massive rift in the ice.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

NEWS FROM AFGHANISTAN FOR NOVEMBER 1, 2012

 
Photo Credit:  U.S. Army.

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Combined Force Arrests Taliban Facilitator

From an International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Release


KABUL, Afghanistan, Nov. 1, 2012 - An Afghan and coalition security force arrested a Taliban facilitator in Afghanistan's Helmand province today, military officials reported.

The arrested Taliban insurgent is responsible for the Aug. 7 insider attack in Paktia province that killed one U.S. service member and wounded three, officials said.

During the operation, Afghan troops also seized what is believed to be the Taliban insurgent's Afghan army identification card. Another suspected insurgent was also arrested.

In other operations today:
-- A combined force arrested a Haqqani facilitator and detained a number of other suspects in Khost province. The arrested facilitator was directly tied to the June 20 suicide bomber attack on Afghan and coalition forces in the Khost district.

In Oct. 31 operations:
-- Afghan Provincial Response Company Ghazni, enabled by coalition forces, seized a large cache of explosive material in Ghazni province. Following the operation, Afghan and coalition forces recovered 3,750 pounds of ammonium nitrate, a known component in making explosives. All seized materials were destroyed at the location.

-- A combined force killed a Haqqani leader, Irfan, in Paktia province. Irfan, also known as Asayal and Hamza, was responsible for directing attacks against Afghan and coalition forces and coordinating the movement of weapons and bomb-making materials for the attacks.

In Oct. 30 operations:
  -- Afghan National Police Crisis Response Unit members, enabled by coalition forces, detained more than a dozen suspected insurgents and seized a large cache of weapons, ammunition and explosive devices in Parwan province. The Afghan and coalition force also recovered more than a dozen AK-47 assault rifles and several 82 mm mortar rounds and hand grenades.

NEW JERSEY GUARDSMEN ASSIST RESIDENTS IN HOBOKEN AFTER SANDY DISASTER

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
New Jersey Guardsmen Assist Residents in Hoboken, N.J.
 
 




Streets filled with water in Hoboken, N.J., Oct. 31, 2012. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Joseph Davis

 


Soldiers assist residents displaced by Hurricane Sandy in Hoboken, N.J., Oct. 31, 2012. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Joseph Davis -



A soldier holds a child displaced by Hurricane Sandy in Hoboken, N.J., Oct. 31, 2012. The soldier is assigned to the New Jersey National Guard. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Joseph Davis