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Saturday, January 12, 2013

NASA VIDEO: ROBOTIC REFUELING MISSION DEMO

FROM: NASA



Robotic Refueling Mission Demo

Robots present certain advantages when working in the harsh environment of space. They're not susceptible to hunger, to sleepiness, or catastrophic injury for starters. They're also capable of highly precise, yet highly tedious tasks-- tasks that might otherwise consume huge resources and attention from already busy astronauts and ground controllers. In an important demonstration of new technical methodologies, NASA engineers will try to simulate the transfer of fuel from one vehicle to another, in space, with nothing but robots doing the physical work. Called the Robotic Refueling Mission, it's a major step on the road to developing a robust suite of essential robotic capabilities in space.

Credit-NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

THE NATIONAL DEFENSE LANGUAGE CORPS SEEKS VOLUNTEERS

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Language Corps Members Employ Skills for Nation
By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 9, 2013 – A man translates the deposition of a Somali pirate for the FBI.

A woman who speaks Mandarin Chinese works with the Coast Guard aboard a cutter off the African coast to monitor Mandarin fishing vessels.

A federal agency requests humanitarian help following the outbreak of a disease in a small, foreign village, which quickly garners a group of volunteers who speak the language of the community.

These translators are among the 4,000-member National Defense Language Corps. They volunteer their second-language skills and cultural knowledge when the need arises across the Defense Department and the federal government, said Dr. Michael Nugent, director of the Defense Language National Security Office and National Security Education Office.

Nugent said the corps’ language assistance is one of the largest innovations in the federal sector. Agencies foreign and domestic that have sought the corps’ capabilities include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Peace Corps, the Department of Labor, and Interpol.

The volunteer members of the corps, a DOD organization, fill needs for any one of 260 languages and cultural knowledge, he said.

"If you are a combatant commander, you cannot have on hand 260 linguists who speak all those languages. It’s just too cost prohibitive [and] it’s very difficult to find those resources," Nugent said.

"We at the Department of Defense, plus the rest of the federal government, have an incredible need for language skills and these skills are enduring," he said. "The language corps provides a way to augment our federal service in times of need through [the use of] volunteers."

The volunteers in the program must be at least 18 years old. None are full-time employees but are on call to report for work, which could last anywhere from a few hours to a couple of months, Nugent said, adding that most volunteers work a week at a time. He added the corps is seeking nonfederal workers, to augment the federal sector.

Volunteers receive training and are compensated for their services by becoming temporary federal employees during the time they travel and work.

Once partially a pilot program, the corps has become permanent, following President Barack Obama’s Jan. 2 signing of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act.

Many volunteers have grown up in other countries or have heritage language skills spoken at home, Nugent said, noting some are retired military linguists.

And with 4,000 volunteers, Nugent expects the corps to boast 15,000 members as the program is ramped up to further complement the federal sector.

The volunteers’ cultural knowledge of the languages they speak is crucial, Nugent said.

"[By] growing up in another country or speaking another language, there are different ways of doing things in different countries, and what these folks bring with them is an understanding of how things are done in other … cultures," Nugent explained.

Having people with those cultural and language skills makes a big difference, he said.

"In these times when we are drawing down a lot of capabilities, the corps offers an opportunity to retain a lot of language capability," Nugent noted. "It’s hard to create that capability in-house; it’s costly. The corps gives us an opportunity to retain that capability and draw upon it in times of need. That’s one of the most important aspects of the corps."

Nugent said members of the corps sign up for one particular reason.

"They want to volunteer and serve the nation," he said. "They’re not trying to make money out of this. They’re trying to give back to the country."

GEORGIA MEN PLEAD GUILTY TO BRIBING OFFICIAL

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Thursday, January 10, 2013 Georgia Men Plead Guilty to Bribing Official to Secure Government Contracts
Defendants Admit to Overcharging Defense Department More Than $900,000

WASHINGTON – Two men employed by a machine products vendor in Albany, Ga., have pleaded guilty to bribing a public official working for a military organization at the Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany (MCLB-Albany) to secure contracts for machine products, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Michael J. Moore for the Middle District of Georgia.

Thomas J. Cole Jr., 43, and Fredrick W. Simon, 55, both of Albany, each pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge W. Louis Sands in the Middle District of Georgia to one count of bribery of a public official.

During their guilty pleas, Cole, the general manager of an Albany-based machine products vendor, and Simon, an employee responsible for processing sales orders, admitted to participating in a scheme to secure sales order contracts from the Maintenance Center Albany (MCA) at MCLB-Albany by subverting a competitive bid process. The MCA is responsible for rebuilding and repairing ground combat and combat support equipment, much of which has been utilized in military missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as other parts of the world. To accomplish the scheme, Cole and Simon bribed a MCA purchase tech responsible for placing machine product orders. Cole and Simon admitted to participating in the scheme at the purchase tech’s suggestion, after Simon had spoken with the purchase tech about how his company could obtain business from the MCA. Cole and Simon admitted that, at the purchase tech’s request, they paid the purchase tech a bribe of at least $75 for each of the more than 1,000 sales orders MCA placed with their company. According to court documents, the purchase tech would transmit sales bids to Simon and then communicate privately to him exactly how much money the company should bid for each particular order. Cole and Simon admitted that these orders were extremely profitable, often times exceeding the fair market value of the machine products, sometimes by as much as 1,000 percent.

Cole and Simon further admitted that, at the purchase tech’s urging, in 2011 they began routing some orders through a second company, owned by Cole, because the volume of orders MCA placed with the first company was so high. They also admitted that the purchase tech increased the bribe required for orders as the scheme progressed. Cole and Simon admitted to paying the purchase tech approximately $161,000 in bribes during the nearly two-year scheme. Cole admitted to personally receiving approximately $209,000 in proceeds from the scheme; Simon admitted to personally receiving approximately $74,500. Both admitted that the total loss to the Department of Defense from overcharges associated with the machine product orders placed during the scheme was approximately $907,000.

At sentencing, Cole and Simon each face a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a fine of not more than twice the pecuniary loss to the government. As part of their plea agreements with the United States, Cole and Simon both agreed to forfeit the proceeds they received from the scheme, as well as to pay full restitution to the Department of Defense. Sentencing has not yet been scheduled.

The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Richard B. Evans and J.P. Cooney of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney K. Alan Dasher of the Middle District of Georgia. The case is being investigated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, with assistance from the Dougherty County District Attorney’s Office Economic Crime Unit and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service.

PRESIDENT OBAMA SAYS WE ARE NEAR MISSION OBJECTIVE

FROM: U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT
Obama: Mission Objective in Afghanistan 'Within Reach'
By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service


WASHINGTON, Jan. 12, 2013 - The mission objective to prevent al-Qaida from using Afghanistan to launch attacks against the United States is within reach, President Barack Obama said in his weekly address to the nation today.

"This week, I welcomed [Afghanistan] President Hamid Karzai to the White House to discuss the way ahead in Afghanistan," Obama said in his address. "And today, I want to update you on how we will end this war, bring our troops home, and continue the work of rebuilding America."

The president thanked U.S. service members, noting the United States has "dealt devastating blows" to al-Qaida and ejected the Taliban from their strongholds in the past four years.

Obama said the 33,000 additional forces he ordered to Afghanistan served with honor, completed their mission, and returned home last fall as promised.

"This week, [President Karzai and I] agreed that this spring, Afghan forces will take the lead for security across the entire country and our troops will shift to a support role," Obama said. "In the coming months, I'll announce the next phase of our drawdown. By the end of next year, America's war in Afghanistan will be over."

Obama gave credit for the progress made in Afghanistan to the "heroic sacrifices of our troops and diplomats, alongside forces from many other nations."

More than a half-million Americans -- military and civilian -- have served in Afghanistan, the president said, noting thousands of have been wounded and more than 2,000 have given their lives.

And, the drawdown in Afghanistan remains a challenge, he said.

"This remains a very difficult mission," Obama said. "The work ahead will not be easy. Our forces are still in harm's way. But make no mistake -- our path is clear, and we are moving forward."

Now, the United States must "care for our troops and veterans who fought in our name," the president said.

BATH SALTS: It's not a fad...It's a NIGHTMARE.: U.S. NAVY VIDEO


MARS ROVER TAKES PHOTO OF COPPER CLIFF




FROM: NASA, COPPER CLIFF
Opportunity at 'Copper Cliff,' Sol 3153, Stereo View

This 180-degree, stereo mosaic of images from the navigation camera on the NASA Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity shows terrain near the rover during the 3,153rd Martian day, or sol, of the rover's work on Mars (Dec. 6, 2012). West is at the center, south at the left edge, north at the right edge. The view appears in three dimensions when viewed through red-blue glasses with the red lens on the left.

Opportunity had driven about 7 feet (2.2 meters) westward earlier on Sol 3153 to get close to the outcrop called "Copper Cliff," which is in the center of this scene. The location is on the east-central portion of "Matijevic Hill" on the "Cape York" segment of the western rim of Endeavour Crater.

The view is presented as a cylindrical-perspective projection.

Credit-NASA-JPL-Caltech

Weekly Address: Ending the War in Afghanistan and Rebuilding America | The White House

Weekly Address: Ending the War in Afghanistan and Rebuilding America | The White House

DOD MEMO INDICATES A PLAN FOR BUDGET UNCERTAINTIES

Ashton B. Carter
FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

Memo Tells DOD Components to Plan for Budget Uncertainties
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 10, 2013 - Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter has released a memo directing the services and defense agencies to begin planning for possible upcoming budget challenges.

The memo allows defense components to freeze civilian hiring, terminate temporary hires and reduce base operating funds. It also allows components to curtail travel, training and conferences and to curtail administrative expenses.

The memo -- dated today -- points to the threat of sequestration and the continued use of a continuing resolution as a way to fund the department. Sequestration was to have become effective Jan. 2, but Congress delayed its activation until March 1 to give lawmakers more time to come up with an alternative. It would impose major across-the-board spending cuts.

Since Congress did not approve an appropriations act for fiscal 2013, the Defense Department has been operating under a continuing resolution and will continue to do so at least through March 27. Because most operating funding was planned to increase from fiscal 2012 to fiscal 2013, but instead is being held at fiscal 2012 levels under the continuing resolution, funds will run short at current rates of expenditure if the continuing resolution continues through the end of the fiscal year in its current form, Carter wrote in the memo.

Given this budgetary uncertainty, the department must take steps now, the deputy secretary said.

"I therefore authorize all Defense components to begin implementing measures that will help mitigate execution risks," the memo reads. "For now, and to the extent possible, any actions taken must be reversible at a later date in the event that Congress acts to remove the risks. ... The actions should be structured to minimize harmful effects on our people and on operations and unit readiness."

The memo allows components to review contracts and studies for possible cost savings, to cancel third- and fourth-quarter ship maintenance, and to examine ground and aviation depot-level maintenance. This last must be finished by Feb. 15.

It also calls on all research and development and production and contract modifications that obligate more than $500 million to be cleared with the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics before being awarded.

For science and technology accounts, the components must provide the undersecretary and the assistant secretary of defense for research and engineering with an assessment of the budgetary impacts that the budgetary uncertainty will cause to research priorities.

Videos & More - airforce.com

Videos & More - airforce.com


JUSTICE SETTLES DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITEIS LITIGATION WITH STATE OF TENNESSEE


FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Thursday, January 10, 2013

Justice Department Obtains Comprehensive Agreement to Resolve Long Standing Litigation Regarding the Rights of People with Developmental Disabilities


Today, the Justice Department announced that it filed in federal court yesterday afternoon a comprehensive agreement that will resolve long running litigation with the state of Tennessee originally concerning conditions of care at the former Arlington Developmental Center (ADC). On Jan. 15, 2013, the U.S. District Court in Memphis, Tenn., will conduct a hearing to determine whether to approve the agreement. Individuals affected by the agreement are invited to attend the hearing and provide comment to the Court.

Over the 20-year course of the litigation, the state has made significant changes in the delivery of services for a class comprised of former ADC residents and many other individuals who were deemed at-risk of placement at ADC. Tennessee closed ADC in October 2010. The new agreement reaches many of those in the group deemed at risk of placement in ADC prior to its closure.

The agreement resolves remaining issues in the litigation by expanding community-based services so that the state can serve people with developmental disabilities, including intellectual disabilities, in their own homes, their families’ homes or other integrated community settings. The agreement also will provide class members in nursing homes to choice to receive services in integrated, community-based settings. Over the next year, Tennessee will expand community services by providing home and community-based Medicaid waivers to Medicaid-eligible individuals; seeking new and cost-efficient models of care for class members with behavioral needs; and providing supported employment for class members seeking work. This expansion will provide people the opportunity to transition successfully from nursing and other facilities to community settings that can meet their needs and prevent new people from being unnecessarily institutionalized.

"This agreement will provide remaining class members with developmental disabilities in western Tennessee the opportunity to live successfully in their homes and communities and bring this long-standing litigation to an appropriate end," said Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez. "I commend Governor Haslam for his leadership on this issue, and we will continue to work with states around the country, as we have with Virginia, Georgia, Delaware, North Carolina, and – today – Tennessee, to ensure that people with disabilities are given the choice to live in community-based settings."

"This is an example of the state of Tennessee making the choice to do what is not only legally right, but right in the grander sense," said U.S. Attorney Edward L. Stanton III. "Protecting the civil rights of every citizen is a fundamental duty of our office and this agreement does so while preserving the dignity and improving the quality of life for some of our most vulnerable citizens."

Upon the state’s successful completion of the agreement, the litigation is expected to come to an end. In 1991, the department released a findings letter pursuant to the Civil Rights for Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA) detailing conditions at ADC that violated residents’ constitutional rights. The following year the department brought suit to remedy those conditions. The court joined that suit with a separate suit brought by People First of Tennessee concerning ADC and the rights of people at risk of institutionalization at ADC. People First remains active in the case and also is a party to the agreement.

Civil Rights Division staff Jonathan Smith, chief; Shelley Jackson, deputy chief; and senior trial attorneys Jonas Geissler and Michelle Jones, worked on the case and the agreement .

AFGHAN FORCES WILL SOON TAKE LEAD IN NATION'S SECURITY

President Barack Obama and Ambassador Capricia Marshall, Chief of Protocol, wave to President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan as he departs from the North Portico of the White House, Jan. 11, 2013.(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Afghan Forces Accelerate Taking Security Lead in Country
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 11, 2013 - Afghan forces will take the lead for security throughout Afghanistan this spring rather than at mid-year, President Barack Obama announced at a White House news conference today.

Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai spoke following White House meetings.

The Afghan president emphasized that the number of American forces that will remain in Afghanistan after the NATO mission concludes at the end of 2014 is not crucial.

"Numbers are not going to make a difference to the situation in Afghanistan," Karzai said. "It's the broader relationship that will make a difference to Afghanistan and beyond in the region. The specifics of numbers are issues that the military will decide and Afghanistan will have no particular concern when we are talking of numbers and how they are deployed."

Afghan forces will be in the lead sooner than planned, Obama said. U.S. and NATO forces have been training Afghan police and soldiers, who have progressed to the point where they are able to take the lead, Obama said. "We are able to meet those goals and accelerate them somewhat," he said. "What's going to happen this spring is that Afghans will be in the lead throughout the country."

U.S. forces will still be in the fight, the president said. "It does mean, though, that Afghans will have taken the lead and our presence, the nature of our work, will be different," he said. "We will be in a training, assisting, advising role."

This will lead to a responsible end to the war in Afghanistan by the end of 2014, the president said. "This progress is only possible because of the incredible sacrifices of our troops and our diplomats, the forces of our many coalition partners, and the Afghan people, who've endured extraordinary hardship," he added.

Obama noted that more than 2,000 Americans have been killed in Afghanistan since the war began in 2001, and tens of thousands have been wounded. "These are patriots that we honor today, tomorrow, and forever," he said.

The president promised that the number of U.S. service members in Afghanistan will continue to drop over the next year. Some 66,000 Americans are deployed to the nation now. "I've pledged we'll continue to bring our forces home at a steady pace," he said. "And in the coming months, I'll announce the next phase of our drawdown, a responsible drawdown that protects the gains our troops have made."

Karzai and Obama discussed the still to be worked out bilateral security agreement between the two nations. Part of this is a status of forces agreement, which will protect American service members. Both said they think an agreement is possible this year.

RECENT U.S. NAVY PHOTOS




FROM: U.S. NAVY
A ground crew member from Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 132 signals to an EA-18G Growler as it returns from a flight during heavy snows at Naval Air Facility Misawa. VAQ-132 is finishing up a six-month deployment in support of U.S. 7th Fleet. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Kenneth G. Takada (Released) 130110-N-VZ328-444




A helicopter assigned to the Eightballers of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 8 delivers supplies to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) as it makes its approach alongside the Military Sealift Command fast combat support ship USNS Bridge (T-AOE 10) during a replenishment-at-sea. John C. Stennis is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts and support missions for Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Armando Gonzales (Released) 130108-N-LV331-577

PANETTA PRAISES SUCCESSOR HAGEL

FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Panetta Praises Hagel as 'Right Person' to Lead Department
By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service


WASHINGTON, Jan. 10, 2013 - Panetta spoke today during a press briefing with Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The secretary expressed confidence in Hagel's experience and his projected ability to lead the department through budget uncertainties and the 2014 Afghanistan transition.
"I've known Chuck a long time," Panetta said. "He is the right person to lead the department, not only because he's a decorated Vietnam combat veteran, but [because] he understands Washington; he understands the issues that confront our national defense."

Panetta said topics during meetings with Hagel included a range of general issues facing the DOD. The two also had a meeting specifically to focus solely on budget challenges.
"I'm confident that he wants to do everything possible to try and deal with the challenges we face," Panetta said.
The secretary also noted that he and his successor agree about the future of the department.

"Despite a lot of very severe budget pressures ... we need to maintain -- and I believe he believes we need to maintain -- the world's most powerful and ready force to deal with the challenges we're going to confront in the 21st Century," Panetta said.

Friday, January 11, 2013

ISS WEEKLY RECAP FOR WEEK ENDING 01-11-2013

FROM NASA

DVIDS - Video - Joint Press Brief: President Obama and Preseident Karzi

DVIDS - Video - Joint Press Brief

Air Force News Briefing by Secretary Donley and General Welsh on the State of the Air Force in the Pentagon Briefing Room

Air Force News Briefing by Secretary Donley and General Welsh on the State of the Air Force in the Pentagon Briefing Room

REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER AND HEART CENTER TO PAY $4.4 MILLION TO SETTLE FALSE CLAIMS ACT ALLEGATIONS

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

EMH Regional Medical Center and North Ohio Heart Center to Pay U.S. $4.4 Million to Resolve False Claims Act Allegations


EMH Regional Medical Center (EMH) has agreed to pay the United States $3,863,857 and North Ohio Heart Center Inc. (NOHC) has agreed to pay the United States $541,870 to settle allegations that they submitted false claims to Medicare, the Justice Department announced today.

EMH is a non-profit community hospital system located in Lorain County, Ohio. During the relevant time period, NOHC was an independent physician group located in Lorain County that practiced at EMH. The settlement resolves allegations that between 2001 and 2006 EMH and NOHC performed unnecessary cardiac procedures on Medicare patients. Specifically, the United States alleged that EMH and NOHC performed angioplasty and stent placement procedures on patients who had heart disease but whose blood vessels were not sufficiently occluded to require the particular procedures at issue.

"Billing Medicare for cardiac procedures that are not necessary or appropriate contributes to the soaring costs of health care and puts patients at risk. The settlement demonstrates the Department of Justice’s efforts both to protect public funds and safeguard Medicare beneficiaries," said Stuart F. Delery, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.

" Most doctors act responsibly," said
Steven M. Dettelbach, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. " These few didn't. Patient health and taxpayer dollars have to come before greed."

This matter was initiated by the filing of a whistleblower complaint under the False Claims Act (FCA). Under the FCA, private citizens can bring suit for false claims on behalf of the United States and receive a share of the recovery obtained by the government. The whistleblower in this matter, Kenny Loughner, was the former manager of EMH’s catheterization and electrophysiology laboratory. As a result of the settlement, Mr. Loughner will receive $660,859 of the United States’ recovery.

This resolution is part of the government’s emphasis on combating health care fraud and another step for the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) initiative, which was announced by Attorney General Eric Holder and Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services in May 2009. The partnership between the two departments has focused efforts to reduce and prevent Medicare and Medicaid financial fraud through enhanced cooperation. One of the most powerful tools in that effort is the False Claims Act, which the Justice Department has used to recover more than $10.1 billion since January 2009 in cases involving fraud against federal health care programs. The Justice Department’s total recoveries in False Claims Act cases since January 2009 are over $13.8 billion.

The investigation was jointly handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio, the Justice Department’s Civil Division, the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services Cleveland Field Office and the FBI. The claims resolved by this settlement are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.

FEMA AID REGISTRATION EXTENED FOR RHODE ISLAND RESIDENTS

Warwick, R.I., Jan. 7, 2013 -- Representatives from the state of Rhode Island and local government agencies attended at two-day seminar at the Warwick, Rhode Island, Joint Field Office on January 7-8, 2013. The seminar on benefit cost analysis provided training on the use of FEMA software to complete applications for FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grants. These competitive grants are funded by FEMA and awarded by the state to fund projects that will prevent damage from future disasters like Hurricane Sandy. Photo by Nancy Helmick.
FROM: FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANGEMENTAGENCY
FEMA Aid Registration Extended, Federal Support More than $9.8 Million in R.I.Release date:
January 11, 2013

WARWICK, R.I. – With total federal support to date for Hurricane Sandy damage in the The Ocean State now exceeding $9.8 million, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has extended the deadline for Rhode Islanders with losses from Sandy to register for assistance until February 13.

The following is a summary as of January 10, 2013, of federal support for individuals, families and public entities with losses from Hurricane Sandy:
590 households have registered with FEMA for some form of disaster assistance, including financial grants, loans and other disaster-related services.
$368,374 has been approved in grants to cover repairs to homes and rental assistance
$22,086 has been approved to help Rhode Islanders with other disaster-related needs such as lost personal property and loss of transportation.
71 applicants have requested aid from the Public Assistance Program. For these applicants FEMA has prepared 97 separate public assistance projects totaling $2,370,404, of which $347,793 has already been obligated to the state to reimburse local, county, and state government entities and
$631,400 in low interest, disaster recovery loans to homeowners has been approved by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The National Flood Insurance Program estimates that approximately 1,000 claims have been filed related to Superstorm Sandy in Rhode Island and around $6.5 million has been paid out to survivors.

Rhode Islanders have until midnight February 13 to register online at
www.DisasterAssistance.govHYPERLINK "http://www.disasterassistance.gov" or via smartphone at m.fema.gov. Individuals may also register by calling FEMA at 800-621-FEMA (3362) daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Multilingual recovery specialists are available. Those with a speech disability or hearing loss who use a TTY can call 800-462-7585 directly; or 800-621-3362 if using 711 or Video Relay service.

FEMA-state assistance may include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, uninsured vehicle damage, lost or damaged personal property and many other costs incurred because of Hurricane Sandy. Even people who have insurance may qualify for FEMA aid to help with expenses their insurance does not cover, such as temporary housing during home repairs.

Low interest disaster loans are vital to full recovery for many who had storm damage. The U.S. Small Business Administration provides these loans, not just for small businesses, but also for homeowners, renters, businesses of any size and some private nonprofits to cover uncompensated real or personal property losses. The deadline to apply for an SBA loan is February 13.

SBA disaster loan information and application forms may be obtained by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for people with speech or hearing disabilities) Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or by sending an e-mail to
disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. Applications can also be downloaded from www.sba.gov or completed on-line at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/

Rhode Islanders who lost income because of Hurricane Sandy and are ineligible for regular unemployment benefits may be eligible for special disaster unemployment benefits. The deadline to apply is February 4, 2013. File a claim online at http://www.dlt.ri.gov/ui/.

Find tweets about Sandy recovery at www.twitter.com/femaregion1. For Rhode Island specific information go to http://www.fema.gov/disaster/4089. Other online resources include http://blog.fema.gov, www.facebook.com/fema and www.youtube.com/fema.

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

Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). For TTY call 800-462-7585.

FEMA’s temporary housing assistance and grants for medical and dental expenses, funeral and burial expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, applicants who receive SBA loan applications must submit them to SBA loan officers to be eligible for assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.


West Wing Week: 01/11/13 or "The Interests of Our Country" | The White House

West Wing Week: 01/11/13 or "The Interests of Our Country" | The White House

U.S. Department of Defense Armed with Science Update: Follow Me Robot Video

U.S. Department of Defense Armed with Science Update

NEWS FROM AFGHANISTAN FOR JANUARY 11, 2013

Photo:  On Patrol In Afghanistan.  Credit:  U.S. DOD.

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Afghan, Coalition Force Arrests Taliban Leader in Baghlan
From an International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Release


KABUL, Afghanistan, Jan. 11, 2013 - A combined Afghan and coalition security force arrested a Taliban leader in the Burkah district of Afghanistan's Baghlan province today, military officials reported.

The leader planned and executed attacks against Afghan and coalition forces for both the Taliban and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and both insurgent groups used him to root out people in their organizations thought to be disloyal, officials said.

Also today, a combined force in Khost province's Sabari district arrested a Taliban leader who was assisting in the preparation of a vehicle-borne bomb and the acquisition of ammunition for an upcoming attack against Afghan and coalition forces.

Yesterday, an Afghan army patrol found three homemade bombs and more than 800 pounds of explosives in Helmand province's Garm Ser district. The Afghan soldiers secured the site, and a coalition explosive ordnance disposal team destroyed the cache.

DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE SEES U.S. MILITARY RECRUITING NUMBERS AS STRONG

Photo:  U.S. Navy Blue Angels.  Credit:  U.S. Navy.

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

Recruiting Remains Strong Through November
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 10, 2013 - All four active services met or exceeded their target recruiting numbers for the first two months of fiscal 2013, Pentagon officials reported today.

Here are the specific numbers by service so far for the fiscal year, which began Oct. 1:

-- Army: 11,685 accessions, 101 percent of its goal of 11,550;

-- Navy: 5,299 accessions, 100 percent of its goal of 5,299;

-- Marine Corps: 4,293 accessions, 100 percent of its goal of 4,307; and

-- Air Force: 4,452 accessions, 100 percent of its goal of 4,452.

The Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps exhibited strong retention numbers for the second month of fiscal 2013, officials said, adding that the Navy exhibited strong retention numbers in the mid-career and career categories. Its 88 percent retention rate in the first-term category is the result of the Navy's transition from a downsizing posture to a stabilizing posture, officials explained.

Meanwhile, five of the six reserve components met or exceeded their fiscal 2013 recruiting goals for the first two months of the fiscal year. Here are the numbers:

-- Army National Guard: 8,453 accessions, 118 percent of its goal of 7,146;

-- Army Reserve: 4,013 accessions, 86 percent of its goal of 4,667;

-- Navy Reserve: 877 accessions, 100 percent of its goal of 877;

-- Marine Corps Reserve: 1,768 accessions, 113 percent of its goal of 1,569;

-- Air National Guard: 1,414 accessions, 100 percent of its goal of 1,414; and

-- Air Force Reserve: 1,279 accessions, 100 percent of its goal of 1,279; 100 percent.

All reserve components met their initial fiscal-year-to-date attrition goals. Officials said that although they expect this trend will continue, attrition numbers for November are not yet available.

U.S. SECRETARY OF EDUCATION DUNCAN'S REMARKS ON TAFT UNION HIGH SHOOL SHOOTING

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

Secretary Duncan's Statement on School Shooting in Kern County, CA
January 10, 2013

"I was deeply troubled to learn today about another episode of gun violence in America's schools– this time at Taft Union High School in Kern County, California. This is another grim reminder of the urgent need to address gun violence in our society and in our schools, and it underscores the importance of the work President Obama and Vice President Biden are leading to keep our children and our communities safe."

Medicine in a storm

Medicine in a storm

CASSIOPEIA A: THE REMAINS OF A SUPERNOVA

 


FROM: NASA

Sizzling Remains of a Dead Star


This new view of the historical supernova remnant Cassiopeia A, located 11,000 light-years away, was taken by NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR. Blue indicates the highest energy X-ray light, where NuSTAR has made the first resolved image ever of this source. Red and green show the lower end of NuSTAR's energy range, which overlaps with NASA's high-resolution Chandra X-ray Observatory.

Light from the stellar explosion that created Cassiopeia A is thought to have reached Earth about 300 years ago, after traveling 11,000 years to get here. While the star is long dead, its remains are still bursting with action. The outer blue ring is where the shock wave from the supernova blast is slamming into surrounding material, whipping particles up to within a fraction of a percent of the speed of light. NuSTAR observations should help solve the riddle of how these particles are accelerated to such high energies

X-ray light with energies between 10 and 20 kiloelectron volts are blue; X-rays of 8 to 10 kiloelectron volts are green; and X-rays of 4.5 to 5.5 kiloelectron volts are red.

The starry background picture is from the Digitized Sky Survey.


Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/DSS

KEEPING AIRCRAFT IN THE AIR

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Mark Graveline performs an operational check on a C-17 Globemaster III, Jan. 1, 2013, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. U.S. Air Force photo by Lt. Col. Bill Walsh
FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

Face of Defense: Flying Crew Chiefs Keep Aircraft Airborne
By Air Force Lt. Col. Bill Walsh
315th Airlift Wing

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii, Jan. 9, 2013 - When a $200 million military aircraft breaks down in remote places like Afghanistan or Colombia, pilots can call on their flying crew chief, who, as most aircrew members are aware, knows everything.

Flying crew chiefs perform missions worldwide. They are the mechanics of the sky and a pilot's best friend.

"These guys have saved many, many missions," said Air Force Lt. Col. Jeffery Smith of the 300th Airlift Squadron. "They make our job of flying the airplane much easier."

Flying crew chiefs are specially trained maintenance personnel who attend a six-week maintenance special operations course in addition to the hundreds of hours of training it takes to become a premier aircraft maintainer.

"We have to know everything about the aircraft," said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Mark Graveline of the 315th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.

From fueling the aircraft and checking the oil, to troubleshooting a major system malfunction, these flying mechanics earn their stripes every day. According to Smith, keeping the mission moving is critical to its success and a trained maintainer prevents small things from becoming big problems.

When an aircraft maintainer flies a mission, he has to have access to an enormous amount of maintenance information. Thanks to today's digital technology, maintenance publications are contained in a laptop featuring hundreds of pages of diagrams, part descriptions and numbers, instructions and more to keep the giant C-17 Globemaster III in the air.

Maintainers also carry a toolbox containing things like specialized wrenches, tire pressure gauges and more.

"You never know what you will need when it comes to a fix," Graveline said.

In his trademark green flight suit, Graveline routinely climbs under the Globemaster to inspect its tires and undercarriage. Carefully and methodically he covers every inch of the outside of the jet -- even taking note of rivets in the tail towering five stories above.

"We look for cracks, leaks and any sign of trouble," he said.

"These folks are specialists in many maintenance fields and save the day sometimes," Smith said. "They're even more important in places where there is no support."

Wherever the mission, the flying crew chief goes with it to ensure that the aircraft is safe and ready to fly 24 hours-a-day.

MAKING MATERIAL MISTATEMENTS DURING FINANCIAL CRISIS

FROM:  U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

SEC Charges Three Former Senior Officers of Commonwealth Bank With Understating Losses and Material Misstatements During Financial Crisis

The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged three former bank executives in Virginia for understating millions of dollars in losses and masking the true health of the bank's loan portfolio at the height of the financial crisis.

The SEC alleges that Edward J. Woodard, Jr., who was the CEO, President and Chairman of the Board at Norfolk, Virginia-based Bank of the Commonwealth and its publicly-traded parent, Commonwealth Bankshares, along with Chief Financial Officer and Secretary Cynthia A. Sabol, a CPA, and Executive Vice President and Commercial Loan Officer Stephen G. Fields understated the bank's loan-related losses as well as losses on real estate repossessed by the bank (other real estate owned or OREO).

The SEC's complaint alleges that, from in or about November 2008 through August 2010, the consistent message in Commonwealth's SEC filings and public statements was that its portfolio of loans, which comprised approximately 94% and 81% of the company's total assets in 2008 and 2009, respectively, was conservatively managed according to strict underwriting standards aimed at keeping Commonwealth's reserved losses low during a time of unprecedented economic turmoil. In reality, internal practice deviated so much from what the investing public was told that, from November 2008 through August 2010, Commonwealth understated its ALLL by approximately 17% to 25% with a corresponding understatement to its reported loss before income taxes for fiscal year 2008 of approximately 64%; understated its OREO in two quarters by approximately 19% to 20%, which resulted in a corresponding understatement of Commonwealth's reported loss before income taxes in the first quarter of 2010 of approximately 35%; and underreported its total non-performing loans throughout the entire period by at least 30%.

The SEC's complaint further alleges that Woodard, as CEO, knew of the true state of Commonwealth's loan portfolio, was involved in the activity to hide the deterioration of many of the loans at issue and was responsible for the misleading public statements and in particular those in earnings releases. Sabol, as CFO, knew of the activity to mask the problems with the company's loan portfolio and the corresponding effect these masking practices had on the bank's financial statements and disclosures, yet signed the disclosures and certified to the investing public that they were accurate. Fields oversaw the bank's largest portfolio of construction and development loans and was involved in the masking practices.

IN DEEP MAGMA

Credit:  Wikimedia Commons.
FROM: NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

Magma in Earth's Mantle Forms Deeper Than Once Thought Study simulating pressures in mantle beneath the ocean floor shows that rocks can melt at depths up to 250 kilometers


Magma forms far deeper than geologists previously thought, according to new research results.

A team led by geologist Rajdeep Dasgupta of Rice University put very small samples of peridotite, rock derived from Earth's mantle, under high pressures in a laboratory.

The scientists found that the rock can and does liquify, at least in small amounts, at pressures equivalent to those found as deep as 250 kilometers down in the mantle beneath the ocean floor.

Dasgupta said that this answers several questions about Earth's inner workings.

He is the lead author of a paper that appears today in the journal Nature. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

"The results show that in some parts of the Earth, melting, or magma formation, happens very deep beneath Earth's surface," said geologist Jennifer Wade, a program director in NSF's Division of Earth Sciences, which funded the research.

"It also means that some carbon dioxide and water could come from different sources--and deeper within the Earth--than we believed."

The mantle is the planet's middle layer, a buffer of rock between the crust--the top five miles or so--and the Earth's core.

If one could compress millions of years of observation of the mantle to mere minutes, the mantle would look like a rolling mass of rising and falling material.

This slow but constant churning convection brings materials from deep within the Earth to the surface, and higher, through volcanic eruptions.

The team focused on the mantle beneath the ocean because that's where crust is created and where, Dasgupta said, "the connection between the interior and surface world is established."

Magma rises with convective currents, then cools and spreads out to form ocean-floor crust.

The starting point for melting has long been thought to be at 70 kilometers beneath the seafloor.

That had confounded geologists who had suspected, but could not demonstrate, the existence of deeper magma, said Dasgupta.

For example, when scientists try to determine the mantle's density, they do so by measuring the speed of a seismic wave after an earthquake, from its origin to other points on the planet.

Because such waves travel faster through solids (e.g., crust) than through liquids (e.g., magma), geologists had been surprised to detect waves slowing down, as though passing through liquid, in a zone that should be the mantle's faster "express lane."

"Seismologists have observed anomalies in velocity data as deep as 200 kilometers beneath the ocean floor," Dasgupta said.

"It turns out that trace amounts of magma are generated at this depth, which would potentially explain that" slower velocity.

The research also offers clues to the electrical conductivity of the oceanic mantle.

"The magma at such depths has a high enough concentration of dissolved carbon dioxide that its conductivity is very high," Dasgupta said.

But, because scientists have not yet been able to sample the mantle directly, researchers have had to extrapolate from the properties of rocks carried up to the surface.

So, in a previous study, Dasgupta determined that melting in Earth's deep upper mantle is caused by the presence of carbon dioxide.

The present study shows that carbon helps to make silicate magma at significant depths. And, the researchers also found that carbonated rock melts at significantly lower temperatures than non-carbonated rock.

"This deep melting makes the silicate differentiation [changes in silicate distribution that range from the dense metallic core, to the less-dense silicate-rich mantle, to the thinner crust] of the planet much more efficient than previously thought," Dasgupta said.

"Deep magma is the main agent that brings all the key ingredients for life--water and carbon--to the surface of the Earth."

In Dasgupta's high-pressure lab, volcanic rocks are windows to the planet's interior. The researchers crush tiny rock samples that contain carbon dioxide to find out how deep magma forms.

"We have all the necessary tools to simulate very high pressures--to nearly 750,000 pounds per square inch--and temperatures," he said. "We can subject small amounts of rock to these conditions to see what happens."

The geologists use powerful hydraulic presses to partially melt rocks that contain tiny amounts of carbon, simulating what they believe is happening under equivalent pressures in the mantle.

"When rocks come from deep in the mantle to shallower depths, they cross . . . the solidus [boundary], where rocks begin to undergo partial melting and produce magmas," Dasgupta said.

"Scientists knew the effect of a trace amount of carbon dioxide or water would lower this boundary, but our new estimation made it 150-180 kilometers deeper from the known depth of 70 kilometers," he said.

"What we are now saying is that with just a trace of carbon dioxide in the mantle, melting can begin as deep as around 200 kilometers.

"When we incorporate the effect of trace water, the magma generation depth becomes at least 250 kilometers."

The extent of magma generation is larger than previously thought, he said, and, as a consequence, has the capacity to affect the geophysical and geochemical properties of the entire planet.

Co-authors of the paper are Ananya Mallik and Kyusei Tsuno at Rice University; Anthony Withers and Marc Hirschmann at the University of Minnesota; and Greg Hirth at Brown University.

The study was also supported by a Packard Fellowship to Dasgupta.

IRAQ HOSTILITIES HISTORICAL NAVAL PHOTOS




FROM: U.S NAVY
960903-N-0000X-002 Northern Arabian Gulf. . . .A first strike tomahawk missile is released from the forward vertical launch system (VLS) aboard the U.S. Navy’s Ticonderoga Class cruiser USS Shiloh (CG 67), on the morning of September 3, 1996. Following Saddam Hussein’s offensive action into Kurdish territory within the UN sponsored "no-fly zone", U.S. Naval forces launched 14 Tomahawk Cruise missiles on targets in southern Iraq. President Clinton authorized repeated action less than 24 hours later, after DOD officials determined that additional missiles were needed to ensure that targets were completely neutralized. U.S. Navy Photo (Released)




020802-N-3580W-001 Arabian Sea (Aug. 2, 2002) -- Sailors from the U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer USS Hopper (DDG 70) homeported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and members of the United States Coast Guard (USCG) Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) 106 homeported in San Diego, Calif., prepare to board a merchant vessel suspected of smuggling oil out of Iraq. LEDET-106 is currently assigned enforcement tasks aboard USS Hopper. Boarding teams have been conducting Maritime Interception Operations (MIO) searching for contraband cargo aboard merchant ships in the area to support UN sanctions against Iraq. MIO is a coalition effort that enforces United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) imposed against the government of Iraq following the 1991 gulf war. The United Nations prohibits cargo originating from Iraq and any imports not accompanied by a U.N. authorization letter. USS Hopper is currently on a regularly scheduled deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Navy photo by Chief Photographer’s Mate Johnny R.Wilson. (RELEASED)

 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

ISS UPDATE FOR JANUARY 10, 2013

FROM:  NASA

U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE PANETTA COMPLAINS ABOUT FISCAL CRISIS

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, brief the press at the Pentagon, Jan. 10, 2013. Panetta and Dempsey discussed the effects of sequestration if it were to take effect at the end of March. DOD photo by Erin Kirk-Cuomo.
FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Panetta: Fiscal Crisis Poses Biggest Immediate Threat to DOD
By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 10, 2013 - The "perfect storm of budget uncertainty" howling around his department is the biggest immediate threat facing the U.S. military, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta told reporters here today.

Panetta and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stressed during a regular Pentagon press conference that unless Congress acts, the nation's military readiness will be compromised.

The United States has a number of adversaries around the world, Panetta said, "but the most immediate threat to our ability to achieve our mission is fiscal uncertainty: not knowing what our budget will be; not knowing if our budget will be drastically cut; and not knowing whether the strategy that we put in place can survive."

Panetta emphasized that DOD "is doing its part" by implementing over the next decade the $487 billion spending reduction set by Congress. "We designed a strategy; we know what the elements of that strategy are; we built a budget based on that, and we achieved our savings by virtue of that strategy," he said.

But the additional half-trillion-dollar "meat-axe cuts" sequester would trigger still loom "less than 50 days away," the secretary noted.

"While we appreciate ... that both parties came together to delay sequester, the unfortunate thing is sequester itself, and the sequester threat, [was] not removed," Panetta said. "And the prospect ... is undermining our ability to responsibly manage this department."

Two other fiscal crises are meanwhile converging on the nation's forces, he added:

- Because Congress didn't approve an appropriations act for fiscal 2013, DOD has been operating under a continuing resolution and will do so at least through March 27. The continuing resolution funds operations at fiscal 2012 levels, instead of the higher proposed fiscal 2013 levels Pentagon officials had anticipated.

- The debt-ceiling crisis, Panetta said, "could create even further turmoil that could impact on our budget and our economy."

Looking at all three factors, the secretary said simply, "We have no idea what the hell is going to happen." But DOD leaders do know that the worst-case scenario would mean "serious harm" to military readiness, he said.

Panetta noted defense strategy places the highest priority on operations and maintenance funding as the key to a ready force. He described the triple threat facing those funds:

- If Congress fails to pass an appropriations bill for fiscal 2013 and instead extends the continuing resolution through the fiscal year, "overall operating accounts would decrease by about 5 percent ... about $11 billion that would come out of [operations and maintenance funds]."

- If sequester occurs, "We would have to cut, in this fiscal year, another 9 percent, almost $18 billion from ... these operating accounts as well."

- To protect funding for the war in Afghanistan from required cuts, "We would again have to cut another 5 percent, another $11 billion, from readiness money available in the active-duty base budget, and more for the Army and the Marine Corps."

Panetta summed up: "We're looking at a 19 to 20 percent reduction in the base budget operating dollars for active units, including a cut of what looks like almost 30 percent for the Army."

The secretary said practical results of these cuts would be less training for units not imminently deploying to Afghanistan; less shipboard training for all but the highest priority missions; less pilot training and fewer flight hours; curtailed ship maintenance and disruption to research and weapons modernization programs.

Civilian employees would also take a hit, he said: unpaid layoffs, which the government calls furloughs, would put civilian employees temporarily out of work. This "would further harm our readiness, and create hardship on them and their families," Panetta noted.

A plan is in place to implement such layoffs if sequester happens, the secretary said. "This action is strictly precautionary," he said. "I want to make that clear: It's precautionary. But I have an obligation to ... let Congress know that we may have to do that, and I very much hope that we will not have to furlough anyone. But we've got to be prepared to do that if we face this situation."

Panetta said the net result of sequester under a continuing resolution would be "what I said we should not do with the defense budget, which is to hollow out the defense force of this nation." Rather than let that happen, Panetta added, DOD leaders have decided to take steps to minimize the damage that would follow Congressional inaction.

"We still have an obligation to protect this country," the secretary said. "So for that reason, I've asked the military services and the other components to immediately begin implementing prudent measures that will help mitigate our budget risk."

Panetta said he has directed any actions taken "must be reversible to the extent feasible and must minimize harmful effects on readiness."

But, he added, "We really have no choice but to prepare for the worst." First steps to containing budget risk will include cutting back on facility maintenance, freezing civilian hiring and delaying some contract awards, the secretary said.

Panetta has also directed the services to develop detailed plans for how they will implement sequester-triggered cuts, if required, he said, "because there will be so little time to respond in the current fiscal year. I mean, we're almost halfway through the fiscal year."

The secretary said the intensive planning effort now under way will ensure the military is prepared to accomplish its core missions.

"I want to emphasize, however, that ... no amount of planning that we do can fully offset the harm that would result from sequestration, if that happens," he added.

Panetta said U.S. service members are working and fighting, and some are dying, every day.

"Those of us in Washington need to have the same courage as they do to do the right thing and try to protect the security of this country," he added. "We must ensure we have the resources we need to defend the nation and meet our commitments to our troops, to our civilian employees, and to their families, after more than a decade of war."

Congress must pass a balanced deficit reduction plan, de-trigger sequester, and pass the appropriations bills for fiscal 2013, he said.

"I'm committed to do whatever I can in the time I have remaining [in office] to try to work with the Congress to ... resolve these issues," Panetta said. "We have a vital mission to perform, one that the American people expect and that they are entitled to, which is to protect their safety and to protect our national security. Congress must be a partner in that mission. I'd love to be able to do this alone, but I can't."

Dempsey offered his view of what wreckage the fiscal "storm" would leave behind.

"As I've said before, sequestration is a self-inflicted wound on national security," the chairman said. "It's an irresponsible way to manage our nation's defense. It cuts blindly, and it cuts bluntly. It compounds risk, and it ... compromises readiness. In fact, readiness is what's now in jeopardy. We're on the brink of creating a hollow force, the very thing we said we must avoid."

Dempsey noted sequestration may now "hit" while the department, under a continuing resolution, is also implementing "the deep cuts already made in the Budget Control Act" and fighting a war in Afghanistan.

"Any one of these would be a serious challenge on its own," Dempsey said. "Together, they set the conditions for readiness to pass a tipping point as early as March."

DOD won't shortchange those in combat, and will resource those who are next to deploy while still caring for wounded warriors and their families, the chairman said.

"But for the rest of the force, operations, maintenance and training will be gutted," Dempsey said. "We'll ground aircraft, return ships to port, and sharply curtail training across the force. ... [W]e may be forced to furlough civilians at the expense of maintenance and even health care. We'll be unable to reset the force following a decade of war."

Military readiness will begin to erode immediately, Dempsey said, telling reporters, "Within months, we'll be less prepared. Within a year, we'll be unprepared."

The crisis "can and must be avoided, the sooner, the better," the chairman said.

"We need budget certainty; we need time to absorb the budget reductions; we need the flexibility to manage those reductions across the entire budget," he said. "We have none of these things right now. And without them, we have no choice but to steel ourselves for the consequences."

FEMA PROVIDES $1.8 MILLION TO LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICIES FOR HURRICAN ISAAC

Photo:  Hurrican Isacc Destruction.  Credit:  FEMA.

FROM: FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY

FEMA Obligates $1.8 Million to Louisiana Agency for Hurricane Isaac Recovery
Release date:
January 10, 2013


BATON ROUGE, La.
The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) will receive a federal grant totaling more than $1.8 million to reimburse the agency for expenses incurred during Hurricane Isaac, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said Wednesday.

The FEMA Public Assistance grant, totaling $1,803,935, will cover 75 percent of the costs for emergency protective measures the department took before, during and after the late August hurricane to help evacuate and shelter Louisianians.

Between Aug. 26 and Sept. 10, 2012, Hurricane Isaac and its aftermath required the state of Louisiana to activate plans, procedures, staff and contracts to ensure a comprehensive response for the safe evacuation and sheltering of Louisianians. DCFS is responsible for providing sheltering, mass care, emergency assistance and housing to residents affected by a disaster.

"The department played a critical role in helping people remain safe, dry and healthy under extremely difficult circumstances," said Federal Coordinating Officer Gerard M. Stolar of FEMA. "The grant will help DCFS recover its expenses for that important effort."

Under a cost-sharing formula, FEMA reimburses the state for 75 percent of the total costs, while the state and/or applicant pay the remaining 25 percent. The newly obligated funds are a portion of the nearly $175.7 million in total Public Assistance recovery dollars approved for the state since the Aug. 29, 2012, disaster declaration.

Once FEMA reimburses the state of Louisiana it is the state’s responsibility to manage the funds, which includes making disbursements to local jurisdictions and organizations that incurred costs.

Press Briefing by Secretary Panetta and General Dempsey in the Pentagon Briefing Room

Press Briefing by Secretary Panetta and General Dempsey in the Pentagon Briefing Room

Vice President Biden Meets with Sportsmen and Wildlife Interest Groups | The White House

Vice President Biden Meets with Sportsmen and Wildlife Interest Groups | The White House

President Obama Nominates Jack Lew for Secretary of the Treasury | The White House

President Obama Nominates Jack Lew for Secretary of the Treasury | The White House

NEWS FROM AFGHANISTAN FOR JANUARY 10, 2013


Photo:  Afghanistan 2001.  Credit:  DOD

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Combined Force Kills Enemy Facilitator
From an International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Release

KABUL, Afghanistan, Jan. 10, 2013 - A combined Afghan and coalition security force killed Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan facilitator Mazlum Yar today in the Ishkamish district of Afghanistan's Takhar province, military officials reported.

Mazlum Yar, also known as Qari Asrar and Tufan, planned and executed improvised explosive device attacks targeting Afghan government officials and Afghan and coalition forces. He facilitated suicide bombers throughout Takhar and Baghlan provinces, officials said, and he was organizing IED emplacement for an impending attack when he was killed.

The security force also detained three suspected insurgents and seized a rifle in the operation.

In other Afghanistan operations today:

-- A combined force in Helmand province's Nad-e Ali district arrested a Taliban leader who coordinated IED attacks. The security force also detained a suspected insurgent.

-- In Helmand's Nahr-e Saraj district, a combined force arrested a Taliban leader who operated as a key player in an assassination and attack network.

-- A combined force in Nangarhar province's Sherzad district killed three armed insurgents and seized weapons during a search for a Taliban leader who commands a group of fighters in attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. During the search, five insurgents armed with rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles opened fire on the Afghan and coalition troops. The security force returned fire, killing three.

CHARTER BOAT CAPTAIN PLEADS GUILTY TO TRAFFICKING IN STRIPED BASS

Photo:  Striped Bass.  Credit:  Wikimedia Commons
FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Virginia Charter Fishing Boat Captain Pleads Guilty to Felony Lacey Act Violation

WASHINGTON – Jeffery S. Adams, 41, of Hudgins, Va., and his corporation Adams Fishing Adventures Inc. pleaded guilty today to trafficking in illegally-harvested striped bass, in violation of the Lacey Act. Among other things, the Lacey Act makes it unlawful for any person to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire or purchase any fish and wildlife taken, possessed, transported or sold in violation of any law or regulation of the United States, or to attempt to do so. Under the Lacey Act, it is a "sale" of fish or wildlife for any person, for money or other consideration, to offer or provide guiding, outfitting, or other services.

Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, and Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by U.S. District Judge Mark S. Davis.

Adams and Adams Fishing Adventures were indicted on Nov. 8, 2012, by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy, Lacey Act violations and false statements. Adams faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, as well as forfeiture of the fishing vessel used during the commission of the crimes. Adams Fishing Adventures Inc. faces a maximum fine of $500,000, as well as forfeiture of the fishing vessels used during the commission of the crimes. Sentencing is set for April 18, 2013.

In a statement of facts filed with his plea agreement, Adams and Adams Fishing Adventures admitted that they sold a charter striped bass fishing trip on Jan. 19, 2010, for $800. As part of that charter fishing trip, Adams knowingly took his charter clients into the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) to harvest striped bass, even though Adams knew that it was a violation of federal law to harvest striped bass inside the EEZ. Adams’ clients illegally harvested 10 striped bass within the EEZ on Jan. 19, 2010, and Adams then transported the illegally harvested striped bass back to Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach, Va., where the sale of Adams’ charter fishing services was finalized.

This case was investigated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Fisheries, Office for Law Enforcement, and the Virginia Marine Police with assistance from the Federal Communications Commission Enforcement Bureau, Norfolk, Va. Office. Trial Attorney James B. Nelson of the Department of Justice’s Environmental Crimes Section of the Environment and Natural Resources Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen W. Haynie from the Eastern District of Virginia are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

REMARKS: DEFENSE SECRETARY PANETTA AND AFGHAN PRESIDENT KARZAI

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta and Afghan President Hamid Karzai
January 10, 2013
Remarks by Secretary Panetta and President Karzai at the Pentagon

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE LEON E. PANETTA: If I could have your attention, please.

First of all, let me express how honored we are to welcome you, Mr. President, and your distinguished delegation here to the Department of Defense and to the nation's capital.

(CROSSTALK)

Have we got everybody? Okay.

Again, Mr. President, let me express our honor at the opportunity to welcome you here to the Pentagon. We -- we sometimes are accused of having a great deal of power and I just want to assure you that the weather was nice because I prayed a lot.

But we -- we enjoyed the opportunity to be able to honor you as a distinguished visitor to the United States.

This is a -- this is a wonderful opportunity, and it comes after 10 years of war, of blood, of battle, the loss of many on both sides. But -- after -- after a long and difficult path, we finally are, I believe, at the last chapter of establishing an Afghanistan -- a sovereign Afghanistan that can govern and secure itself for the future.

I want to thank you in particular, in light of the sacrifices that have been made, of your taking the time to visit our wounded Afghan and American comrades at Walter Reed Hospital. That -- that, I believe, is a reflection of your kindness and your appreciation.

When I traveled to Afghanistan last month, as I told you, I had the opportunity to meet with all of our military key leaders there. And it was clear to me from them and from the Afghans that I spoke with that what we are doing together -- what we are doing in partnership is indeed succeeding.

It was equally clear to me that our partnership, forged as I said through almost 11 years of shared sacrifice, is a key to our ability to achieve the final mission. We've come a long way towards a shared goal of establishing a nation that you and we can be proud of, one that never again becomes a safe haven for terrorism.

This next year in Afghanistan will be a very important one, as we continue to transition security responsibility to the Afghan forces. And this coming year, we will complete that transition with tranche five.

I want to commend you on the bravery and the skill of your forces. They are demonstrating, alongside the United States and coalition forces, every day the bravery, the courage and the capability to provide the security you need in order to ensure a safe future for your nation.

I also want to assure you, my friend, that the United States and the Department of Defense are fully committed to helping the people of Afghanistan secure and govern your own country.

We -- we have sacrificed together. That has created a bond that will not be broken in the future.

PRESIDENT HAMID KARZAI: Thank you very much, dear friend, Secretary Panetta, for the very warm welcome today by you personally and for the very beautiful honor guard that was presented, and for receiving me and my delegation today at the Pentagon in your office.

Thank you also, Mr. Secretary, for being a friend of Afghanistan for all these years you were working at the Pentagon.

Indeed, Afghanistan and the United States have come a long way in the past 11 years, with sacrifice on both sides, of your men and women in uniform and civilians, and also of the Afghan security forces and the Afghan police.

As we move forward toward the completion of the transition, I'm glad we are going to announce the final and fifth tranche mid 2013: Afghanistan will be taking over responsibility for its own security.

And I thank you and all our allies for providing Afghanistan the assistance that was needed in the past 11 years and for training and equipping the Afghan forces.

I can assure you, Mr. Secretary, that Afghanistan will, with the help that you provide, be able to provide security to its people and to protect its borders; so Afghanistan would not ever again be threatened by terrorists from across our borders.

And I'm sure during this trip, Afghanistan and the United States will work out a modality for bilateral security agreement that will ensure the interests of Afghanistan and also the interests of the United States.

Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

SEC. PANETTA: Thank you very much, Mr. President