Search This Blog

Translate

White House.gov Press Office Feed

Saturday, September 14, 2013

REMARKS AS PREPARED BY DEPUTY SECRETARY ASHTON B. CARTER AT THE UNITED STATES CONSULATE IN HERAT, AFGHANISTAN

REMARKS AS PREPARED BY DEPUTY SECRETARY ASHTON B. CARTER AT THE UNITED STATES CONSULATE IN HERAT, AFGHANISTAN

U.S. RUSSIAN SECRETARIES STATEMENT ON SYRIAN CHEMICAL WEAPONS

http://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2013/09/214250.htm

READOUT SECRETARY HAGEL'S CALL TI U.K. SECRETARY HAMMOND REGARDING SYRIAN CHEMICAL WEAPONS

FROM:  U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT 
Readout of Secretary Hagel's Call to U.K. Secretary of State for Defense Philip Hammond

Pentagon Press Secretary George Little provided the following readout:



"This morning Secretary Hagel spoke by phone with the United Kingdom's Defense Secretary Philip Hammond to discuss the ongoing crisis in Syria.  Secretary Hagel provided an update on U.S. activities in the eastern Mediterranean in response to the Syrian chemical weapons attack on Aug. 21.



"Secretary Hagel thanked Secretary Hammond for the ongoing close coordination in diplomatic channels to address the Syrian civil war and the regime's use of chemical weapons.  They exchanged perspectives on Russia's offer on securing these weapons.



"Secretary Hagel reiterated the United States' appreciation for its strong and unshakeable alliance with Great Britain and committed to remaining in close consultation with Secretary Hammond."

GUARDSMEN MOBILIZED TO ASSIST SEARCH-AND-RESCUE EFFORTS FOLLOWING COLORADO FLOODING

FROM:  U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT 
Guardsmen Mobilize to Assist With Colorado Flooding
From a Colorado National Guard News Release

CENTENNIAL, Colo., Sept. 13, 2013 - Nearly 100 Colorado National Guard soldiers and airmen, along with high-mobility vehicles and helicopters, have been mobilized to assist local authorities in search-and-rescue operations in the midst of historic flooding in the state.
At least three people have lost their lives in the flooding, according to news reports.

Guard members and equipment were assigned to assist in search-and-rescue missions and to deliver supplies, among other missions, officials said. Additionally, the Colorado National Guard has been requested to start provide traffic control points in and around the affected area today.

The soldiers and airmen are assigned to the Windsor Readiness Center; the Boulder, Fort Collins, and Denver armories; and Buckley Air Force Base.

"Supporting our neighbors in their time of need is one of the most rewarding missions the military has to offer," said Air Force Maj. Gen. H. Michael Edwards, Colorado's adjutant general. "Having readiness centers in communities such as these ensures we provide rapid for our communities."

Weekly Address: Pursuing a Diplomatic Solution in Syria | The White House

Weekly Address: Pursuing a Diplomatic Solution in Syria | The White House

'INVISIBLE WOUNDS' TREATMENT

FROM:  U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT 
Director Discusses Innovations in 'Invisible Wounds' Treatment
By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 13, 2013 - The Military Health System acknowledges that U.S. troops in previous conflicts haven't been subjected to the circumstances that surround 12 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, a senior Defense Department physician said here yesterday during a panel discussion at a warrior-family symposium.

Dr. James Kelly, director of the Defense Department's National Intrepid Center of Excellence, talked about his center's advancements in post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury – signature wounds from the wars - in a panel discussion titled, "Innovative Mental Health Solutions – Today and Tomorrow."

The annual symposium is sponsored by the Military Officers Association of America and the National Defense Industrial Association.

Kelly cited problems that stem from the pattern of repeated deployments and training between deployments, combined with an all-volunteer force composed of members put themselves in harm's way time and time again. "It is not the pattern we've previously had in our military," he said.

The idea that the younger generation is somehow softer or in some ways more vulnerable doesn't hold water, Kelly said. "These people are tough as nails," he said to a round of applause from hundreds of audience members.

"What we need to do is innovate, look more in depth, and understand them as people and individuals that have been engaged in ways [for which] we simply have no good track record to point to and say, 'Here's what this is about, and here's what to do about it,'" he said.

Kelly said he and his staff learn as they go at the center, conducting research and treating service members in an intensive four-week program.

In a previous interview with American Forces Press Service, Kelly explained that when service members with severe traumatic brain injury do not respond to conventional medical treatment, they can be referred to the National Intrepid Center of Excellence, but they must also have a co-existing psychological health issue, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or anxiety.

Kelly became NICoE's director five years ago. The center got underway when Defense Department officials invited him -- a former neurology consultant for the Chicago Bears football team -- to join a group of doctors to examine how to treat service members who were exposed to blast injuries and other head trauma.

He and the other doctors were "willing volunteers" drawn to military health care and working with service members coming back from both wars because of blast-related injuries and a variety of other causes of concussions, Kelly said.

The need for innovation in research and in treating service members led to a concept of using "virtual reality war," with service members are immersed in a setting with a vision of what happens when they're inside a Humvee going down a road. The seat begins to vibrate as a bomb goes off, and the smell of burning rubber wafts into the vehicle. The hope, Kelly explained, is that while the service members are in a safe clinic setting, the experience can help them get past the traumatic events they brought back from deployments.

This use of virtual reality shows quantifiable metabolic changes deep inside the brain when it's dealing with stress, Kelly said.

"That's just one of the examples of the kinds of things that we're engaged in that is really novel, innovative," he added. "[It] bridges into areas of the mind ... in ways that traditional medicine -- certainly traditional neurology -- hadn't previously."

BOTOX COSMETIC APPROVED BY FDA FOR CROW'S FEET LINES

FROM:  U.S. FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION 
FDA approves Botox Cosmetic to improve the appearance of crow’s feet lines

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved a new use for Botox Cosmetic (onabotulinumtoxinA) for the temporary improvement in the appearance of moderate to severe lateral canthal lines, known as crow’s feet, in adults. Botox Cosmetic is the only FDA approved drug treatment option for lateral canthal lines.

The FDA approved Botox Cosmetic in 2002 for the temporary improvement of glabellar lines (wrinkles between the eyebrows, known as frown lines), in adults. Botox Cosmetic works by keeping muscles from tightening so wrinkles are less prominent.

“This additional indication will provide people with a new FDA approved treatment option for those seeking a smoother appearance by temporarily minimizing the appearance of crow’s feet at the sides of the eyes,” said Susan Walker, M.D., director of the Division of Dermatology and Dental Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

Botox Cosmetic is administered via intramuscular injections. Treatment for both frown lines and crow’s feet can be given at the same time.

Botox Cosmetic’s safety and effectiveness for treating lateral canthal lines were established in two clinical efficacy and safety studies. The studies enrolled 833 adult participants with moderate to severe lateral canthal lines who were randomly assigned to receive Botox or placebo. Results showed that those treated with Botox had greater improvement compared to placebo in the appearance of lateral canthal lines.

The most common adverse reaction associated with the use of Botox Cosmetic for treatment of lateral canthal lines is eyelid edema, a condition in which the eyelids are swollen and contain excessive fluid.

OnabotulinumtoxinA is marketed as Botox and Botox Cosmetic. The FDA approved Botox for the treatment of chronic migraine, severe underarm sweating, blepharospasm (eyelid spasm) and strabismus (misalignment of the eyes when one or both eyes turn inward or outward). Botox and Botox Cosmetic have a boxed warning that says the effects of the botulinum toxin may spread from the area of injection to other areas of the body, causing symptoms similar to those of botulism. Those symptoms include swallowing and breathing difficulties that can be life-threatening. There has not been a confirmed serious case of toxin spread when Botox or Botox Cosmetic has been used at the recommended dose for the approved indications.

Consumers and health care professionals are encouraged to report adverse reactions from the use of Botox Cosmetic to the FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program at www.fda.gov/MedWatch or by calling 800-FDA-1088.

Botox Cosmetic is manufactured by Allergan Inc. based in Irvine, Calif.

DEFENDANTS TO PAY OVER $2.4 MILLION FOR ROLES IN FRAUDULENT FOREIGN CURRENCY SCHEME

FROM:   COMMODITY FUTURES TRADING COMMISSION
Federal Court Orders Alex Ekdeshman and Paramount Management, LLC, to Pay over $2.4 million in Restitution and a Fine for Fraudulent Foreign Currency Scheme

Court Order Stems from a CFTC Complaint that Charged Defendants with Solicitation Fraud and Misappropriation of Customer Funds

Washington, DC – The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) obtained a federal court consent Order against Defendants Alex Ekdeshman of Holmdel, New Jersey, and Paramount Management, LLC (Paramount), requiring them to pay $1,146,000 in restitution to their defrauded customers and a $1,337,000 civil monetary penalty. The Consent Order of Permanent Injunction also imposes permanent trading and registration bans against the Defendants and prohibits them from violating the anti-fraud provisions of the Commodity Exchange Act, as charged.

The Order was entered on September 9, 2013, by U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon of the Southern District of New York and stems from a CFTC Complaint filed against the Defendants on June 26, 2013. The CFTC’s Complaint charged Ekdeshman, individually and as the agent of Paramount, with solicitation fraud and misappropriating “the vast majority” of customer funds for business expenses. Specifically, the Complaint charged the Defendants with operating a fraudulent scheme that solicited more than $1.3 million from approximately 110 retail customers to engage in leveraged or margined foreign currency (forex) transactions with unregistered off-shore counterparties. The Defendants allegedly advised customers that forex trading accounts would be opened in the customer’s name and would be traded by the Defendants on behalf of the customer.

Furthermore, the Defendants, through a telemarketing sales force and a “Performance Record” linked to their website, touted Paramount’s successful trading record as having yielded an average monthly return of 4.6% over a 20-month period, based on the performance of Paramount’s proprietary trading software system, according to the Complaint.

However, the court’s Order finds that, contrary to the claims made during the solicitations, the Defendants did not manage or trade any customer account, and thus Paramount’s customers neither made actual purchases of any forex nor received delivery of forex. The Order also finds that the Defendants misappropriated all customer funds for Ekdeshman’s personal benefit and failed to disclose to actual or prospective customers that they were misappropriating customer funds. To conceal their fraud, the Order finds that, during all phases of the scheme, the Defendants issued false account statements to their customers, as no individual customer accounts were ever created and no profits were ever generated.

The CFTC appreciates the assistance of the United Kingdom Financial Conduct Authority, the Financial Services Commission Mauritius, and the Financial Services Board of the Republic of South Africa.

Further, the CFTC appreciates the assistance of the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions, the National Futures Association, and the Federal Trade Commission.

CFTC Division of Enforcement staff members responsible for this matter are Thomas Kelly, Michael Amakor, Michael Geiser, Melanie Devoe, George Malas, Timothy J. Mulreany, Paul Hayeck, and Joan Manley.

MEDICAL COMPANY OFFICER AND A PHYSICIAN SENTENCED FOR ROLES IN $1.5 MILLION MEDICARE FRAUD

FROM:  U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT 
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Medical Supply Company Officer and Southern California Physician Sentenced for $1.5 Million Medicare Fraud

A former officer of Fendih Medical Supply Inc. was sentenced to serve 51 months in prison yesterday in Los Angeles for his role in a fraud scheme that resulted in $1.5 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare.  In addition, a physician was sentenced to 27 months in prison for his role in the scheme.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney André Birotte Jr. of the Central District of California, Special Agent in Charge Glenn R. Ferry of the Los Angeles Region of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) and Assistant Director in Charge Bill L. Lewis of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office made the announcement.

Godwin Onyeabor, 49, of San Bernandino, Calif., was sentenced on Sept. 9, 2013, by U.S. District Judge Manuel L. Real in the Central District of California to 51 months in prison.  In addition to his prison term, Onyeabor was sentenced to three years of supervised release. Restitution will be determined at a later date.  Dr. Sri J. Wijegunaratne, 58, of Anaheim, Calif., was sentenced to 27 months in prison by Judge Real.  In addition to his prison term, Wijegunaratne was sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $87,846.

On April 24, 2013, a jury in Los Angeles federal court found Wijegunaratne, Onyeabor and Heidi Morishita, 48, guilty of one count of conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks.  In addition, Wijegunaratne and Onyeabor were found guilty of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.  Wijegunaratne was found guilty of seven counts of health care fraud, and Onyeabor was found guilty of eleven counts of health care fraud.

During trial, the evidence showed that Onyeabor, as the former officer of a durable medical equipment (DME) supply company, fraudulently billed more than $1 million to Medicare for DME that was either never provided to its Medicare beneficiaries or was not medically necessary.  Wijegunaratne provided Onyeabor and others with medically unnecessary power wheelchair prescriptions, and both Wijegunaratne and Morishita sold power wheelchair prescriptions to Onyeabor and others.  

The evidence showed that Onyeabor and others paid Wijegunaratne and Morishita cash kickbacks for fraudulent prescriptions for DME, and Onyeabor and others used these prescriptions to bill Medicare for the power wheelchairs and other DME.  Several Medicare beneficiaries testified that they were lured to medical clinics with the promise of free items such as vitamins and juice, only to receive power wheelchairs which they did not need and did not want, and were unsuccessful in their attempts to reject delivery of the power wheelchairs from Onyeabor’s supply company.

As a result of this fraud scheme, Onyeabor, Wijegunaratne and others submitted and caused the submission of approximately $1.5 million in false and fraudulent claims to Medicare and received almost $1 million on those claims.

Morishita’s sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 30, 2013.

The case is being investigated by the FBI and the Los Angeles Region of the HHS-Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Chief Benton Curtis, Trial Attorneys Fred Medick and Alexander Porter of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged more than 1,500 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $5 billion.  In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

Friday, September 13, 2013

ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER'S REMARKS ON 9-11 ANNIVERSARY

FROM:  U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT 
Attorney General Eric Holder Delivers Remarks at the Department of Justice Ceremony Commemorating the Twelfth Anniversary of September 11, 2001
~ Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Good morning – and thank you all for being here.

 It is an honor to join so many friends and colleagues for today’s observance – as we mark the twelfth anniversary of the deadliest terrorist attacks ever carried out against the United States; remember the nearly 3,000 innocent people whose lives were lost; and pay tribute to the 72 brave law enforcement officers who were called, on that beautiful autumn morning, to make the ultimate sacrifice.

 The events of September 11th, 2001, transformed our entire nation – and touched each of our lives.  I know many of you experienced the human cost of these attacks in a deeply personal, and painful, way.

 Especially this morning – here at the Department of Justice – as we lift up the memories of those who were taken from us so suddenly, we must also renew our shared commitment to the uniquely American values that have always defined this great nation – and must guide this Department’s work every single day.

 This is the only fitting legacy we can build for the innocent victims of that terrible morning – the public servants and military personnel who lost their lives at the Pentagon; the workers who were struck down in their offices at the World Trade Center; the heroic passengers who brought down a hijacked airliner in a field in Pennsylvania; and so many first responders and ordinary citizens who ran toward burning buildings – and saved countless lives – as so many others were racing away.

 We pay tribute to each of them, and to many others who have given their lives in the service of their country since 9/11 – from the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who have fought on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan; to patriots like Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods, Sean Smith, and Ambassador Chris Stevens, who were taken from us just one year ago, in Libya.

 Their valor reminds us of the quiet power of compassion.  And their inspiring stories, and selfless actions, reaffirm the fact that this annual observance has always been about much more than the pain that was inflicted – and the buildings that were destroyed – twelve years ago today.

 It’s about the extraordinary life that binds us together.  It’s about the work that remains before us as we strive to make this nation not only safer – but stronger and more just – in the face of evolving global threats.

 Most importantly, it’s about the commitment of Americans across the country who gather every year on this day – driven by both remembrance and resolve.  Determined to honor the memories of those taken from us.  And inspired by the heroism, the patriotism, and the bravery that shone through the smoke and wreckage of September 11th.

 It was at 8:46 AM that morning that the first airliner crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City.  In remembrance of all who were lost in that moment, and in the hours that followed, I ask you to join me in a moment of silence.

3D-printen met maanstof tijdens Border Sessions Den Haag

3D-printen met maanstof tijdens Border Sessions Den Haag

USDA WORKS TO REDUCE SUGAR SURPLUS, MAINTAIN PRICES

FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 
USDA Announces Third Exchange Actions to Address the Domestic Sugar Surplus

WASHINGTON, Sept. 12, 2013 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced that the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) is offering to exchange its recently acquired sugar inventory for credits held by refiners holding licenses under the Refined Sugar Re-export Program. This exchange offer will be administered in a similar manner as the exchange portion of the sugar actions announced by news release on June 17, 2013, and July 23, 2013.


USDA is taking this action based upon the success of the earlier actions that removed 345,712 metric tons of import supply in exchange for 106,742 metric tons of CCC inventory. The earlier actions have resulted in U.S. raw sugar prices approaching Congressionally-mandated sugar price support levels. The purchase of credits held by refiners holding licenses under the Refined Sugar Re-export Program is preferable at this time to other available inventory management options because it minimizes the cost of the sugar program. This exchange will reduce the sugar surplus by more than the CCC sugar exchanged, which will reduce the incidence of future CCC sugar loan collateral forfeitures.

DEPUTY DEFENSE SECRETARY CARTER ARRIVES IN AFGHANISTAN TO ASSESS U.S. DRAWDOWN

FROM:  U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT 
Carter Arrives in Afghanistan to Review Retrograde Progress
By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

KABUL, Afghanistan, Sept. 13, 2013 - Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter arrived at the International Security Forces Joint Command Headquarters here today for meetings with senior U.S., NATO and Afghan officials to review the progress of the drawdown.

The Afghanistan retrograde is on schedule to meet the December 2014 deadline, a senior defense official said Sept. 10 during a background briefing for Pentagon reporters. The official added that Carter would use the trip as an opportunity to get a boots-on-the-ground perspective of the retrograde process.

About 24,000 vehicles and 20,000 container equivalent sets are still to be shipped back to the United States, the official said, noting that the movement of material is expected to pick up again following a slowdown for the Muslim observances of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr.

Today, Carter will meet with Army Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, commander of the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command; U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham; Army Maj. Gen. James Richardson, commander of the U.S. National Support Element Command; and Dutch Ambassador Maurits Jochems, NATO's senior civilian representative.

The deputy secretary also will hold a meeting with senior leaders from Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan and NATO Training Mission Afghanistan.

The discussions are intended as an affirmation that things are moving and to ensure that the retrograde process continues to work smoothly, the defense official said.


JOINT STATEMENT REGARDING SYRIAN TALKS FROM GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 
Joint Statements After Trilat
Remarks
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and UN Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi
UN Offices
Geneva, Switzerland
September 13, 2013

SECRETARY KERRY: Let me just say to everybody that we will not – we will each make a very brief statement. We’ll not be taking questions at this time. And we apologize for that, but we need to get back to the conversations that we’re having on the issue of chemical weapons.

First of all, Foreign Minister Lavrov and I both want to thank Lakhdar Brahimi and the United Nations for their invitation to have a discussion today about the question of the Geneva 2 conference. As everybody knows, the principal reason that Foreign Minister Lavrov and I are here are to have discussions with respect to the initiative to gain control of and remove and destroy the chemical weapons in Syria. That is our principal mission here in Geneva. And I think we would both agree that we had constructive conversations regarding that, but those conversations are continuing and both of us want to get back to them now.

We came here this morning at the invitation of the Special Representative for the Geneva 2 and Syria negotiations in order to discuss where those negotiations are and how we can advance them. I will say on behalf of the United States that President Obama is deeply committed to a negotiated solution with respect to Syria, and we know that Russia is likewise. We are working hard to find the common ground to be able to make that happen and we discussed some of the homework that we both need to do. I’m not going to go into it in any detail today. We both agreed to do that homework and meet again in New York around the time of the UN General Assembly, around the 28th, in order to see if it is possible then to find a date for that conference, much of which will obviously depend on the capacity to have success here in the next day, hours, days, on the subject of the chemical weapons.

Both of us – Sergey Lavrov and I, our countries, our presidents – are deeply concerned about the death toll and destruction, the acts on both sides, all sides that are creating more and more refugees, more and more of the humanitarian catastrophe. And we are committed to try to work together, beginning with this initiative on the chemical weapons, in hopes that those efforts could pay off and bring peace and stability to a war-torn part of the world. And we’re very appreciative for Lakhdar Brahimi hosting us today in an effort to try to advance this initiative.

Sergey.

FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: Thank you very much. Ladies and gentlemen, we had a very useful meeting with Lakhdar Brahimi. As you know, as John said just now, we are here basically to discuss the issue of chemical weapons in Syria. Now that the Assad government joined the Chemical Weapons Convention, we have to engage our professionals together with the Chemical Weapons Prohibition Organization, as we agreed with the United Nations, to design a road which would make sure that this issue is resolved quickly, professionally, as soon as practical.

But we are very glad to Lakhdar Brahimi for inviting us on this occasion to discuss a longer-term goal for Syria, namely the preparation for the conference which is called Geneva 2. Russia, the Russian President from very beginning of the Syrian conflict, have been promoting a peaceful resolution. We have firmly supported the Arab League initiative, their being observers, and we supported Kofi Annan’s initiative, the UN observers, and we were one of the initiators of convening Geneva 1. Last year here, we adopted the Geneva communique, resolved major – almost all major players, including all P-5 countries for the region, Arab League, Turkey, European Union, United Nations. And it is very unfortunate that for a long period the Geneva communique was basically abandoned and we were not able to have endorsement of this very important document in the Security Council, as is as adopted.

Thanks to John, who after becoming Secretary of State in spite of his huge workload on Arab-Israeli conflict understood the importance of moving on Syria and doing something about this. And I am very grateful for him for coming to Moscow on May 7th this year when we launched the Russian-American initiative to convene a Geneva conference to implement fully the Geneva communique, which means that the Syrian parties must reach mutual consent on the transitional governing organ which would command full executive authority. And the communique also says that all groups of Syrian society must be represented.

And we discussed these aspects and other aspects of the preparatory work today with Lakhdar Brahimi and his team. We are very grateful to Lakhdar for his insight, for the suggestions which he made and which we will be entertaining as we move forward parallel with the work on chemical weapons. We agreed to meet in New York in the margins of the General Assembly and see where we are and what the Syrian parties think about it and do about it. And we hope that we will be able to be a bit more specific when we meet with you in New York.

SPECIAL ENVOY BRAHIMI: Thank you very much indeed, both of you, first of all, for coming to talk to us in the Palais de Nation in Geneva. We look forward to the work you are doing on chemical weapons in Syria. It is extremely important in itself and for itself, but it is also extremely important for us who are working with you on trying to bring together the Geneva 2 conference successfully.

Our discussions today, as you have both said now, have been useful. And we are not going to retain you much longer; you have other business to do. Thank you again very, very much indeed for being here.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thanks, Lakhdar.

FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, sir.

SPECIAL ENVOY BRAHIMI: Thank you very much.

Preparing for Psychological Impact

Preparing for Psychological Impact

Addestrare gli astronauti per la vita nello spazio nel sottosuolo terrestre - CAVES 2013

Addestrare gli astronauti per la vita nello spazio nel sottosuolo terrestre - CAVES 2013

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE WEEKLY CLAIMS REPORT FOR WEEK ENDING SEPTEMBER 7, 2013

FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, 
UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE WEEKLY CLAIMS REPORT
          SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA

In the week ending September 7, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 292,000, a decrease of 31,000 from the previous week's unrevised figure of 323,000. The 4-week moving average was 321,250, a decrease of 7,500 from the previous week's revised average of 328,750.
The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.2 percent for the week ending August 31, a decrease of 0.1 percentage point from the prior week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending August 31 was 2,871,000, a decrease of 73,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 2,944,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,953,000, a decrease of 24,750 from the preceding week's revised average of 2,977,750.

UNADJUSTED DATA

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 228,399 in the week ending September 7, a decrease of 40,250 from the previous week. There were 299,729 initial claims in the comparable week in 2012.

The advance unadjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.0 percent during the week ending August 31, a decrease of 0.1 percentage point from the prior week's unrevised rate. The advance unadjusted number for persons claiming UI benefits in state programs totaled 2,569,200, a decrease of 174,830 from the preceding week's revised level of 2,744,030. A year earlier, the rate was 2.3 percent and the volume was 2,930,825.

The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending August 24 was 4,272,741, a decrease of 122,971 from the previous week. There were 5,391,420 persons claiming benefits in all programs in the comparable week in 2012.

No state was triggered "on" the Extended Benefits program during the week ending August 24.

Initial claims for UI benefits filed by former Federal civilian employees totaled 1,442 in the week ending August 31, an increase of 193 from the prior week. There were 2,188 initial claims filed by newly discharged veterans, a decrease of 115 from the preceding week.

There were 19,952 former Federal civilian employees claiming UI benefits for the week ending August 24, a decrease of 879 from the previous week. Newly discharged veterans claiming benefits totaled 33,285, a decrease of 469 from the prior week.

States reported 1,454,824 persons claiming Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) benefits for the week ending August 24, a decrease of 39,918 from the prior week. There were 2,223,071 persons claiming EUC in the comparable week in 2012. EUC weekly claims include first, second, third, and fourth tier activity.

The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending August 31 were in Puerto Rico (4.3), New Jersey (3.6), Connecticut (3.4), Alaska (3.3), Pennsylvania (3.1), New Mexico (3.0), California (2.9), Rhode Island (2.9), Virgin Islands (2.9), and New York (2.8).

The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending August 31 were in Oregon (+1,085), Pennsylvania (+725), Nebraska (+609), New Jersey (+537), and Kansas (+394), while the largest decreases were in California (-4,988), Nevada (-2,125), New York (-1,259), Georgia (-1,221), and Florida (-884).

U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL'S REMARKS ON REGIONAL SHALE OIL AND GAS TRANSITIONING

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
World Shale Oil & Gas
Remarks
Robert F. Cekuta
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Energy Resources
Latin America Summit
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Session One: The Bigger Picture

“A Game-Changer for Latin America? Defining the Region’s Shale Potential by Global Comparison”

Good morning. Fellow panelists and distinguished guests, it is a pleasure to be here at the Latin America Summit of the World Shale Series. We are here today to examine the potential impact of gas resources in the region and globally. Unconventional gas, and shale gas in particular, have dramatically changed the energy landscape in the United States, and there is no reason to think that the United States is the only place where this resource can be developed safely and responsibly. This tremendous sea change in accessible energy resources has strong implications not only for our geopolitical relationships and economy, but also for our ability to address shared environmental goals.

I would like to talk a bit about what we have learned and in particular, highlight the political and policy challenges which exist as the United States transitions from being a net importer of energy resources.

Our dialogue this week in Buenos Aires represents one of a number of elements in the ongoing, close cooperation between the United States and Latin America on energy sector issues – whether it is the creation of complimentary energy efficiency standards for appliances throughout North and Central America or the promotion of electrical grid interconnections through the hemispheric Connecting the Americas 2022, we look forward to building strong and long-lasting partnerships in the Americas.

It is extremely appropriate that we are meeting here in Buenos Aires to discuss unconventional oil and gas development in Latin America. The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s 2013 World Shale Report notes Argentina has the world’s second-largest estimate of technologically recoverable shale gas resources. Other Latin American countries, such as Mexico, Colombia and Brazil, also hold potentially significant amounts of unconventional hydrocarbon resources. These resources will contribute profoundly to countries' economic growth as well as to world energy supplies and global energy security – if developed in a responsible and environmentally sustainable manner.

Changes At Home

I would like to discuss some of the changes which have propelled the United States into becoming a net exporter of natural gas. Over the past five years there has been a surprising transformation in the energy landscape of the United States. A few years ago, experts projected the United States would have to import approximately 64 percent of our natural gas needs by 2035. However, we have now initially begun to export some LNG, due in no small part to the “shale gas revolution” in the United States. Current projections estimate that unconventional gas – including shale gas, tight gas, and coal-bed methane – could make up more than 75 percent of U.S. natural gas production and that U.S. gas production could reach 33.14 trillion cubic feet in 2040.

Industry in the United States – and some foreign firms – have seen expanding supplies and lower prices as another positive factor for future economic growth in my country. The shale gas boom is attracting interest in industries such as steel, glass, and cement production, supporting the contention of a number of studies that low-priced natural gas can be a feedstock catalyzing a renaissance in American manufacturing, or what European Union Commissioner for Energy, Günther Oettinger called the “re-industrialization of the United States.” Unconventional oil and gas development is currently projected to create, directly or indirectly, almost 2.5 million jobs and add $350 billion to the U.S. GDP by 2015.[1]

The question many people are asking is can the experience of the United States be duplicated elsewhere? We think it can. Technological breakthroughs in horizontal drilling and multi-stage hydraulic fracturing have been essential in tapping and developing unconventional gas. But new technology is only one part of this success story.

Producers in the United States are able to capitalize on factors like a well-functioning market, attractive investment frameworks, extensive pipeline networks and other infrastructure, and an experienced and capable workforce from the conventional upstream side of the industry.

We would be remiss in discussing the shale gas revolution if we didn’t also mention the financial requirements and climate necessary for unconventional oil and gas development to flourish. Single unconventional wells can cost twice as much or more than conventional wells. Up-front exploration and initial production costs are high relative to conventional costs, and high depletion rates after initial production require continuing capital expenditures to maintain and increase target levels of shale gas or oil production. An attractive fiscal regime has been essential to the success of unconventional resource development in the United States.

Global Potential for Unconventional Gas and Oil Development

These developments are not confined to the United States, but have significant ripple effects on third party gas markets. We have seen this in terms of LNG from Qatar and Trinidad and Tobago once destined for the United States now going to other markets. As these imported LNG supplies were diverted from the United States and provided European markets with lower priced gas and meaningful competition to more expensive pipeline gas from Russia.

Looking forward, we anticipate that growing global supplies of gas could result in gas prices being de-linked from oil, as has already happened already in the United States. One possible outcome could be further reducing the power of gas transportation monopolies to use natural gas exports as a political lever.

Unconventional resource development is also changing the tenor of our engagement with major energy exporters. A few years ago, our dialogue with OPEC and other major producers was based almost exclusively on our oil import needs as the world’s largest importer. Discussions in international meetings now look at the declining import needs of the Americas, the rising import needs of Asian and non-OECD markets, and the growing number of new oil and gas producers. Patterns in the global energy trade are already changing, and the implications of these changes are important for energy producers and consumers alike.

Other countries have been watching these developments and wondering if they can replicate the U.S. experience. Numerous countries have reached out to the United States and have participated in international meetings on the subject sponsored by academic institutions or international organizations like the International Energy Agency. We welcome these discussions and see it as important to share what we have learned, what we are learning, and the things we wished we had known earlier on.

Challenges to Unconventional Gas and Oil Development

While recognizing the energy security benefits and the economic gains from unconventional gas and oil development in the United States, it is important to also note that there are many challenges as well. It is essential to develop these resources in an environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable manner. For this reason, we have taken an “all of government” approach to working with the range of stakeholders, including Civil Society – citizens groups, academia and non-governmental organizations on best practices. To that end, the Bureau of Energy Resources in the State Department manages the Unconventional Gas Technical Engagement Program (UGTEP), which brings together experts in policy and regulatory affairs from the United States to disseminate best practices based on the lessons learned in the United States over the past 40+ years in the environmental, social, health and safety, and commercial application of unconventional gas development.

Federal, state, and local officials in the United States are paying close attention to protecting water resources. The United States is adhering to or strengthening best practices to address fugitive methane emissions during the production and distribution processes. In tight oil development, gas flaring is a challenge, especially where the gas pipeline infrastructure is scarce. We are also looking at ways to help others reduce flaring just as we are looking to share our experiences and lessons-learned in developing unconventional oil and gas.

These issues are at the forefront of our bilateral and multilateral discussions on unconventional gas development. One way we share our experience under the UGTEP program is through visits to and from the United States, technical workshops addressing the environmental, social, and economic ramifications of unconventional gas development, and regulator training courses. And it is through these implementing mechanisms that we are helping governments implement best practices based on “lessons learned” in the U.S. experience – and allowing them to benefit from that experience by creating their own regulatory frameworks with the hindsight of our experiences in the United States.

Countries must determine how best to meet their energy resource development needs. The United States remains open to sharing what we have learned – the good and the bad experiences – to promote global security of supply and economic growth.

Conclusion

As I close, let me reiterate that there remains a global need for energy to meet the needs of people, industry, and society. Energy is a necessity for people's well-being in addition to a key factor in economic growth. Moreover, we increasingly recognize due to climate change and other factors that we need to focus on sustainability.

The United States is transitioning from being a natural gas importer to an exporter. We are open to sharing our experience with other countries as they seek to develop their unconventional resources, should they want to do so. We look forward to a productive and rewarding collaborative partnership.

Thank you and I am happy to answer any questions you may have.

COMMUNITY IT ENTERPRISE MILESTONE TO IMPROVE INFORMATION SHARING

FROM:  U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT 
Intel Officials Announce Community IT Enterprise Milestone
By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 11, 2013 - Eighteen months after the director of national intelligence announced plans for a new information technology environment that would vastly improve information sharing across the intelligence community, a milestone has set the community on the path to its IT future.

James R. Clapper was talking about the future at that 2011 U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation symposium in Texas, Al Tarasiuk told reporters during a recent briefing, and the Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise, or IC ITE -- which nearly everyone at the office of the director of national intelligence pronounces "i cite" -- was part of the discussion.

Tarasiuk, intelligence community chief information officer and assistant director of national intelligence, said that at the time, consolidating IT across the community was driven by budget considerations. But today, he added, it's more than an efficiency play on IT.

"We laid out the vision for IC ITE very much focused on improving intelligence integration across the community," the CIO said. "Basically, the vision statement says [it] enables intelligence integration, information sharing and safeguarding, as well as driving to a more efficient IT model for the community."

Translating those factors into goals produces effectiveness, security and efficiency, Tarasiuk added.

"In the past, these were mutually exclusive, but ... we believe that cloud technologies, the price points that we can obtain today [and] some of the developments that we have invested in ... will allow us to ... address all three at the same time," he said.

Around Aug. 16, Tarasiuk said, the ODNI declared a milestone they call the initial baseline for IC ITE. The first step in deploying IC ITE across the intel community began with giving a few thousand users at the Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency a common software desktop.

"We are moving toward a single desktop for the community," Tarasiuk said, "so instead of every agency building their own software desktop, which they do today, we will build one for use by all. They will have common collaboration services, and people will be able to use common email and those kinds of things."

The desktop is being produced by NGA and DIA as partners, he said, part of a new business model for ODNI called a service-provider-based business architecture.

As part of the new IC ITE architecture, Tarasiuk explained, the big five agencies -- NGA, DIA, Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency and National Reconnaissance Office -- alone or as partners, "become the providers of certain ... services that we designated as part of this overall architecture."

The CIO said the IC ITE work leverages investments made by the agencies and much of the work already accomplished by the four combat-support agencies -- NSA, DIA, NGA and NRO.

"They were heading toward consolidation of various pieces of IT infrastructure already prior to us starting down the path of IC ITE," he said, so they had done legwork on a common desktop and had begun planning on network consolidation.

The CIA and NSA are partners on another part of the IC ITE, the IC cloud, which Tarasiuk says consists of the lower layers of IT -- bare-metal hosting, analytics as part of that hosting, and virtual and storage capabilities.

"The IC cloud is not something that's going to be out on the Internet," he said. "It's privately hosted inside the intelligence community according to our security standards and under our security watch."

Tarasiuk said the cloud capabilities are available to the initial DIA and NGA desktop users, but also to legacy users.

"Everyone in the community, everyone who's connected up to the TS/SCI networks within agencies across the community, can access the capabilities on IC ITE right now," he said.

Another service that came online in August, provided and managed by NSA, is an applications mall for the intelligence community, the CIO said.

"The idea here is to begin to rationalize the number of applications across the community that might be redundant or that may be needed," he said, adding that the initial architecture for the mall will be based on a customizable open-source Web application called the Ozone Widget Framework.

The NRO will provide the IC ITE network requirements and engineering service, Tarasiuk said.

"They're not going to provision networks," he added, "but they're going to look at how we connect both our local area networks and our wide area networks and try to find a more efficient model, one that actually improves our effectiveness as well."

In the coming year, Tarasiuk said, the CIO's office will work to ensure the resilience of the first several thousand uses of the common desktops and other infrastructure services "to make sure that we can move more production capabilities into it."

"Then," he added, "we will scale beyond what we have right now -- scale the number of desktops, scale the amount of data that's in the cloud."

New services also will be brought in, he said, including security monitoring, and a central service will be established to monitor end-to-end security of IC ITE.

"The beauty of what we're doing is enforcing an IC standard for all data objects that go in the cloud," Tarasiuk added. "Today, agencies comply with security standards, but they implement them in different ways. This is where we believe we can improve information sharing over time."

Based on the way data was originally implemented, an analyst in one agency may not be able to access certain data sets from another agency, the CIO explained. "What we're trying to do from an infrastructure perspective is remove roadblocks that prevent that kind of sharing," he said. "That's the big benefit of moving the data. It's not all going to be in one place, but from a virtual perspective it will be interconnected to the same standards and formats so the automated engines can determine whether a user can see the data or not."

Tarasiuk also stays in touch with the Defense Department's CIO, Theresa M. Takai, who for the defense secretary, the nation's warfighters and many others ensures the delivery of such IT-based capabilities through the Joint Information Environment to support the range of DOD missions.

The need for more effectiveness, security and efficiency isn't unique to the intelligence community, and DOD is transitioning in a first-phase implementation of the JIE -- a single, secure, reliable and agile command, control, communications, and computing enterprise information environment -- that spans fiscal years 2013 and 2014.

Tarasiuk says the relationship between IC ITE and JIE is still being defined in terms of what services the enterprises can leverage from each other.

"Teri Takai and I are pretty close partners in trying to ensure three important elements that are critical to the IC and the DOD communities -- interoperability of standards and identities, and then the cross-domain capabilities," he said.

"We chair joint committees," he added, "and we have people working on committees to ensure that we can move information back and forth and we can understand who's seeing information, so that's enabled."

The CIO said the piece that's still being defined is where services can be leveraged.

For instance, he said, "we don't plan on a wide scale to produce a secret domain infrastructure. We are very much focused on TS/SCI domain only, and that's where our ... priority is.

DOD has substantial capabilities already in that space, Tarasiuk added, and the ODNI CIO is exploring that and the unclassified level as potential places to leverage services.

"That's what we're currently working on," he said, "trying to figure out where we can point requirements to JIE or JIE point requirements to us when it comes to the TS/SCI space."

NEW FDA ANNOUNCEMENT REGARDING TREATMENT OF PAIN WITH OPIOID ANALGESICS

FROM:  FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION

The Division of Drug Information (DDI) is CDER's focal point for public inquiries. We serve the public by providing information on human drug products and drug product regulation by FDA.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced class-wide safety labeling changes and new postmarket study requirements for all extended-release and long-acting (ER/LA) opioid analgesics intended to treat pain.

Given the serious risks of using ER/LA opioids, the class-wide labeling changes, when final, will include important new language to help health care professionals tailor their prescribing decisions based on a patient’s individual needs.

The updated indication states that ER/LA opioids are indicated for the management of pain severe enough to require daily, around-the-clock, long-term opioid treatment and for which alternative treatment options are inadequate.

The updated indication further clarifies that, because of the risks of addiction, abuse, and misuse, even at recommended doses, and because of the greater risks of overdose and death, these drugs should be reserved for use in patients for whom alternative treatment options (e.g., non-opioid analgesics or immediate-release opioids) are ineffective, not tolerated, or would be otherwise inadequate to provide sufficient management of pain; ER/LA opioid analgesics are not indicated for as-needed pain relief.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

LOOKING FOR LANDSLIDES

http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=81943&src=eoa-iotd

U.S. Department of Defense Armed with Science Update: Shared IT Archectecture

U.S. Department of Defense Armed with Science Update

SECRETARY KERRY'S REMARKS WITH FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV REGARDING SYRIA

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 
Remarks With Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov
Remarks
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Intercontinental Hotel
Geneva, Switzerland
September 12, 2013

FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: (Via interpreter) (In progress) – delegations that accompany us. Of course, we would like you to have unbiased ideas about what we are going to do. But I think that you understand well before we start to tell you what we are going to do, we should get down to a very serious work, the work which is dedicated to a principled agreement to solve once and for – till the end the Syrian problem and the adhesion of Syria to the convention, to the Chemical Weapons Convention, to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. These documents are officially tabled by Damascus to the corresponding agencies, and we will have to have a look at the corresponding documents with the participation of experts that have all the qualifications and professionalism how to work further, not to postpone this process, in strict compliance with the rules that are established by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

We proceed from the fact that the solution on this problem will make unnecessary any strike on the Syrian Arab Republic, and I am convinced that our American colleagues, as President Obama stated, are firmly convinced that we should follow the peaceful way of resolution of the conflict in Syria. And I should say that we spoke with John by phone several times when we prepared for this meeting. We think that the development of the events gives us an additional opportunity for Geneva 2 in order to move this today’s situation from the stage of military confrontation and to prevent any terroristic threats which is expanding in Syria and in the region, and to convene the conference during which the Syrian parties, in accordance with the Geneva communiques, should agree on the creation of the transition body that will have all the executive functions. And this is our common objectives, and I hope that our today’s and tomorrow work and all other efforts that we are going to continue will help us to move on and to achieve this objective.

Thank you for your attention.

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, thank you very much, Foreign Minister Lavrov. My privilege to be here with our delegation, and I want to thank you and your delegation on behalf of all the people who hope that diplomacy can avoid military action, and we thank you for coming quickly to Geneva in order to have this important conversation that we will engage in.

Over one year ago, President Obama and President Putin directed high-level experts in our governments, both of our governments, to work together to prepare contingencies involving Syria’s chemical weapons. Foreign Minister Lavrov and I have been in regular contact about this issue since my visit to Moscow earlier this year. And as Foreign Minister Lavrov said to me in a phone conversation after St. Petersburg and the meetings there, President Putin and President Obama thought it would be worthwhile for us to work together to determine if there is life in this concept.

This challenge obviously took on grave urgency on August 21st when the Syrian regime used chemical weapons in a massive and indiscriminate way against its own citizens. President Obama and dozens of our partners believe that that action is unacceptable, and we have in no uncertain terms made it clear that we cannot allow that to happen again.

In light of what has happened, the world wonders and watches closely whether or not the Assad regime will live up to its public commitments that it has made to give up their chemical weapons and whether two of the world’s most powerful nations can together take a critical step forward in order to hold the regime to its stated promises.

I have seen reports that the Syrian regime has suggested that as part of the standard process they ought to have 30 days to submit data on their technical – on their chemical weapons stockpile. We believe there is nothing standard about this process at this moment because of the way the regime has behaved, because the – not only the existence of these weapons, but they have been used. And the words of the Syrian regime, in our judgment, are simply not enough, which is why we’ve come here in order to work with the Russians and work with Sergey Lavrov and his delegation here in order to make certain that this can, in fact, be achieved.

The United States and Russia have had and continue to have our share of disagreements about the situation in Syria, including a difference as to the judgment we just offered with respect to who may have done that. But what’s important as we come here is that there’s much that we agree on. We agree that on August 21st Syrian men, women, and children died grotesque deaths due to chemical weapons. We agree that no one anywhere at any time should employ chemical weapons. And we agree that our joining together with the international community to eliminate stockpiles of these weapons in Syria would be an historic moment for the multilateral nonproliferation efforts. We agree on those things. We agree that it would help to save lives if we could accomplish this, that it would reduce the threat to the region, that it would uphold the norm that was established here in Geneva almost a century ago, and it would achieve the best of our – all of our aspirations for curbing weapons of mass destruction.

Foreign Minister Lavrov and I have come to Geneva today to begin to test these propositions, not just on behalf of each of our countries but on behalf of everybody who is interested in a peaceful resolution. So I welcome the distinguished Russian delegation and I am proud that at President Obama’s direction we have a delegation here which I lead of some of our nation’s foremost chemical weapons experts; people who’ve dedicated their lives every day to countering the proliferation of these weapons and to bringing about their eventual elimination from this Earth.

The Russian delegation has put some ideas forward, and we’re grateful for that. We respect it. And we have prepared our own principles that any plan to accomplish this needs to encompass. Expectations are high. They are high for the United States, perhaps even more so for Russia to deliver on the promise of this moment. This is not a game, and I said that to my friend Sergey when we talked about it initially. It has to be real. It has to be comprehensive. It has to be verifiable. It has to be credible. It has to be timely and implemented in a timely fashion. And finally, there ought to be consequences if it doesn’t take place.

Diplomacy is and always has been President Obama’s and this Administration’s first resort, and achieving a peaceful resolution is clearly preferable to military action. President Obama has said that again and again. Now, it’s too early to tell whether or not these efforts will succeed, but the technical challenges of trying to do this in the context of a civil war are obviously immense. But despite how difficult this is, with the collaboration of our experts and only with the compliance from the Assad regime, we do believe there is a way to get this done.

We have come here to define a potential path forward that we can share with our international partners, and together we will test the Assad regime’s commitment to follow through on its promises. We are serious – Mr. Foreign Minister, we are serious, as you are – about engaging in substantive, meaningful negotiations even as our military maintains its current posture to keep up the pressure on the Assad regime. Only the credible threat of force and the intervention of President Putin and Russia based on that has brought the Assad regime to acknowledge for the first time that it even has chemical weapons and an arsenal, and it is now prepared to relinquish it. President Obama has made clear that should diplomacy fail, force might be necessary to deter and degrade Assad’s capacity to deliver these weapons. It won’t get rid of them, but it could change his willingness to use them.

The best thing to do, we agree, is remove them altogether. Our challenge here in Geneva is to test the viability of placing Assad’s chemical weapons under international control, removing them from Syria, and destroying them forever. But the United States has also made clear that the deaths of more than 100,000 Syrians and the displacement of millions either internally or as refugees remains a stain on the world’s conscience. We all need to keep that in mind and deal with it.

And that is why Foreign Minister Lavrov and I continue to work with Joint Special Envoy Brahimi and ourselves under the auspices of the Geneva communique. The Foreign Secretary just mentioned this and his hopes. We share those hopes that could foster a political solution to a civil war that undermines the stability of the region, threatens our own national security interests, and compels us to act. That is our hope and that is what we fervently hope can come out of this meeting and these negotiations.

Thank you very much.

FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: With your permission, just two words.

(Via interpreter) I’m not prepared with the (inaudible) political statement to (inaudible) the Syrian problem, because our approaches are clear and they are stated in the statements of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin and in his article in The New York Times. And I’m convinced that all of you read this article and I decided not to lay out here our diplomatic position. The diplomacy likes silence. And we’re intent to find compromises, and I am sure that John, in his presentation of the American position, also showed that they would like to find mutual consensus and be – if we follow this way, I hope that we will achieve all the successes.

SECRETARY KERRY: I lost the last part of the – can you give me the last part of the translation, please? Hello?

INTERPRETER: Yes, hello.

FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: It was okay, John. Don’t worry. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY KERRY: You want me to take your word for it? (Laughter.) It’s a little early for that.

FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: Okay. Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thanks.


FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA, ACTOR GARY SINISE TOUR NEW USO WARRIOR AND FAMILY CENTER

FROM:  U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT 
First Lady Visits USO Center at Fort Belvoir
By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

FORT BELVOIR, Va., Sept. 11, 2013 - First Lady Michelle Obama and actor Gary Sinise paused for arts and crafts with young people during their tour of the new USO Warrior and Family Center here in honor of Patriot Day and National Service Day of Remembrance.

Located adjacent to Warrior Transition Unit and the Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, the Warrior and Family Center provides a hub for programs and activities that promote physical health and recreation, family strengthening, positive behavioral health, education, employment and community reintegration.

With cookies from White House pastry chefs in tow, Obama thanked children and their families, lauding them for their sacrifices and heroism.

"We're so proud of what you do because your parents, your moms and dads and grandparents and cousins and uncles and aunts, whoever is in your family [and] serving -- you guys help them help our country," Obama said to the cavorting tykes. "And we just wanted to shine a light on all of the great work that the USO is doing for military families all over this country."

Obama also thanked Sinise, whose popular "Lt. Dan Band" -- named from his character in the film "Forrest Gump" -- has become a dedicated partner to the USO and other nonprofit organizations that support the military and their families. The band later presented a concert for the post community.

Andrew Starr, 6, the son of a Marine colonel, said he and his 5-year-old sister have already secured their personal invitations to the White House Halloween party after spending quality time with the first lady.

"I cut out our hands and I got to cut out the first lady's hand – but not the real one, a paper one," Andrew assured.

Kerry Stevens, USO family and troops programs and events coordinator, said she was pleased that the distinguished visitors initiated the visit to the volunteer-run center.

"[The first lady] worked with kids and their projects and really had a fun time with them – they were just so excited," Stevens said. "And it's exciting for us to get to offer this opportunity to the families."

FINAL TRANSFER COMPLETED BETWEEN CAMP ASHRAF AND CAMP HURRIYA

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
Relocation of Remaining Individuals from Camp Ashraf to Camp Hurriya in Iraq
Press Statement
Jen Psaki
Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
September 11, 2013

The United States welcomes today’s safe arrival at Camp Hurriya of the remaining 42 individuals from the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK) who had been residing at Camp Ashraf. These individuals were survivors of the horrific attack that took place on September 1 at Camp Ashraf, and we appreciate their cooperation with the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) in this relocation effort. We also appreciate the assistance of the Government of Iraq in facilitating this relocation.

The United States reiterates its condemnation of the September 1 attack and insists that the perpetrators of that barbarous act be brought to justice. We also continue to be deeply concerned about the seven individuals who remain missing from the attack and urge that all steps be taken to locate these individuals.

UNAMI made extraordinary efforts to implement a plan to safely and peacefully move the remaining residents at Camp Ashraf, and we appreciate and support those efforts. We urge all parties to continue to implement all remaining obligations of that plan. In particular, we call on the Government of Iraq to move expeditiously to enhance security structures within Camp Hurriya. It is the responsibility of the Government of Iraq to take all possible measures to ensure the safety and security of the residents at Camp Hurriya in accordance with the December 25, 2011 Memorandum of Understanding between UNAMI and the Government of Iraq.

We further call on the Government of Iraq to ensure the safekeeping of the property that remains at Camp Ashraf, as agreed pursuant to the UNAMI relocation plan. We also call upon the members and leaders of the MEK to actively participate in the UNHCR-led resettlement process. The United States stands firmly behind UNAMI efforts to resolve this matter and to act with urgency to find locations for the safe, secure, and permanent relocation of Camp Hurriya residents outside Iraq.

Fort Belvoir Opens First of Nine Brain Injury Centers

Fort Belvoir Opens First of Nine Brain Injury Centers

SECRETARY HAGEL EXPRESSES GRATITUDE TO USS BARRY FOR SERVICE DURING PERIOD OF "HEIGHTENED AWARENESS"

FROM:  U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT 
Hagel Calls USS Barry's Commanding Officer to Offer Thanks
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 11, 2013 - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel today called the commanding officer of the USS Barry to express his gratitude to sailors serving in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said.
Hagel called Navy Cmdr. Thomas Dickinson to thank him and the crew of the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, Little said in a statement summarizing the call.

"Secretary Hagel thanked Commander Dickinson and his sailors for their service during this period of heightened readiness," the press secretary said. "Last month, the USS Barry was ordered to remain at sea beyond their scheduled deployment in preparation for military action against the Syrian regime.

"Secretary Hagel commended the USS Barry and the other ships in her group for maintaining their posture and ensuring that the United States military can carry out the orders of the commander in chief, if called upon," he continued. "He asked Commander Dickinson to relay to all sailors aboard that on the anniversary of Sept. 11, the secretary is proud of the men and women of the U.S. Navy who safeguard our nation far from home."

Immagine EO della settimana: L'Isola-Montagna

Immagine EO della settimana: L'Isola-Montagna

U.S. AIDS COUNTRIES AFFECTED BY COFFEE RUST

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 
U.S. Assistance to Coffee Rust Affected Countries
Fact Sheet
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
September 10, 2013

Central America, southern Mexico, South America, and the Caribbean are experiencing one of the worst recorded outbreaks of coffee rust, a devastating disease for coffee plants, threatening the livelihoods and food security of smallholder coffee farmers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that coffee production in Mexico and Central America will decline by seven percent this year and may fall even further next year. The United States is working closely with affected governments, international organizations, civil society, coffee associations, and the private sector to combat coffee rust and mitigate its impacts in the following ways:

Through development diplomacy, the United States is raising the concern of coffee rust with senior government officials in affected countries and encouraging them to provide assistance to their producers.

Through the Unidad Regional de Asistencia Technica (RUTA), the United States hired a regional coordinator housed at the regional coffee association, PROMECAFÉ, in Guatemala to provide regional emergency coordination and disseminate best practices to combat rust.

The United States is providing field-based technical assistance to coffee farmers in El Salvador and Guatemala through the Food for Progress program to assist them to diversify and manage risk.

Through Feed the Future, the President’s food security initiative, the United States is working closely with the coffee industry and other stakeholders to provide training, resources and livelihoods support to affected communities and small scale farmers in Guatemala and Honduras.

The United States is working with national organizations and civil societies to support research on rust-resistant coffee varieties and address the shortage of appropriate coffee seedlings.

The United States is working through the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) in coordination with the International Financial Corporation (IFC) to provide a regional financing facility that would offer farmers medium and long term loans for plantation improvements and renovation.

UNITAS MARITIME EXERCIE

Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate USS Rentz anchors in the harbor of Cartagena, Colombia, to prepare for the start of the annual Unitas multinational naval exercise. The Colombian navy is hosting the exercise, which began Sept 8 and runs through Sept. 15. U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Cmdr. Corey Barker 
FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE 
Unitas Maritime Exercise Promotes Unity, Interoperability
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 9, 2013 - Ships, aircraft and personnel from 15 nations launched the most enduring maritime exercise within U.S. Southern Command's area of responsibility yesterday, with scenarios designed to increase their ability to work together to address regional challenges and threats.
Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly, the Southcom commander, joined Colombian Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon and other regional defense leaders in kicking off Unitas 2013 in Cartegena, Colombia.
Unitas, Latin for "unity," is a combined South American and U.S- sponsored exercise series focused on building cooperation, understanding and partnership among participating navies.
The Colombian navy is hosting this year's exercise, the 54th since the first in 1959.

"This is the oldest maritime security exercise in this part of the hemisphere," Kelly noted in his welcoming remarks. "For 54 years, we've been learning from one another and improving communications and interoperability between our sailors and Marines. Maritime security in this hemisphere is much stronger now, thanks to these exercises."

Operating in the Caribbean waters off Colombia through Sept. 15, the participants in Unitas 2013 will focuses on coalition building, multilateral security cooperation, tactical interoperability and mutual understanding among the participants, said Navy Rear Adm. Sinclair M. Harris, the U.S. 4th Fleet commander overseeing its execution.

The goal, 4th Fleet officials said, is to develop and test participating navies' capabilities to respond as a unified force to a wide variety of maritime missions.

"While the overarching goal of the exercise is to develop and test command and control of forces at sea, training in this exercise will address the spectrum of maritime operations," Harris said. Scenarios are expected to include electronic, anti-air, anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare as well as air defense and maritime interdiction operations.

The United States, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Chile, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Peru and the United Kingdom are providing sea and air assets for this year's exercise. In addition, Belize, El Salvador, Germany, Jamaica, Panama and Mexico have sent observers or other staff.

USS Rentz, a guided-missile frigate with two SH-60 Seahawk helicopters and Coast Guard Cutter Forward are among the U.S. forces taking part in the exercise. Other U.S. participants include P-3C Orion fixed-wing aircraft from the Navy's Patrol Squadron 47, BQM-74 Chukar air drones and a drone team, a command element and a public affairs team. U.S. Navy Reserve augmentees are operating the Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange System friendly force tracker.

DOD TOUTS UNFOLDING U.S.-CHINESE MILITARY RELATIONS

China.  Credit:  U.S. State Department/CIA
FROM:  U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT 
Officials Map Next Steps in U.S.-Chinese Military Relations
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 10, 2013 - U.S. and Chinese officials mapped the next steps in the military-to-military relationship between their nations at the 14th annual defense consultative talks that ended in Beijing yesterday.

James N. Miller, the undersecretary of defense for policy, met with Lt. Gen. Wang Guanzhong, deputy chief of the People's Liberation Army General Staff. The two men last met in July.

"We're engaging the Chinese in a number of channels, ... and we are working to build cooperation in areas of mutual interest," Miller told reporters following the meeting. "We're also discussing our differences and working to narrow them where we can. Where we can't narrow the differences, at least we can understand each other's perspectives better, and we're working to reduce the chances of misunderstanding and miscalculations."

The United States and China are the world's two largest economies. The consultative talks on defense "looked for ways to build strategic trust and look for opportunities to build on cooperation in areas of mutual interest," Miller said. This includes humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, peacekeeping and maritime safety, to name just a few, he added.

The talks sought to capitalize on recent cooperation. Last month, Chinese and U.S. forces completed a counterpiracy exercise in the Gulf of Aden, Miller noted, and China already has announced it will participate in the RIMPAC 2014 exercise in the Pacific Rim. The U.S. and Chinese teams also discussed the Chinese participating in other exercises, including multinational exercises such as Cobra Gold 2014, he said.

The talks covered maritime security in the East China Sea and the South China Sea, and the two sides exchanged views on cyber, space, nuclear policy and missile defense" Miller said.

"I emphasized our grave concerns reference North Korea's nuclear and missile developments," the undersecretary said. "We called on China to pressure North Korea to return to a process of credible and authentic negotiations aimed at denuclearization."


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

U.S. AG HOLDER AND MEXICAN AG MEET REGARDING RELEASE OF MAN CONVICTED OF MURDERING DEA AGENT

FROM:  U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT 
Monday, September 9, 2013
Attorney General Holder Meets with Mexican Attorney General About Mexico's Release of DEA Agent's Killer

Attorney General Eric Holder met with Mexican Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam today to discuss the release by the Mexican government of Rafael Caro Quintero, who was convicted of murdering Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena in February 1985.

Caro Quintero was convicted and sentenced in Mexico for charges related to the 1985 kidnapping, torture and murder of DEA Camarena.  He was sentenced to serve 40 years in a Mexican prison in December 1989 but, after serving only 28 years of his sentence, a Mexican court ruled that he had been improperly tried in a Mexican federal court rather than a state court and ordered his release on August 9, 2013. Mexican authorities are seeking reversal of that decision. Nonetheless, Caro Quintero remains at large.

Attorney General Holder expressed grave concerns and disappointment immediately after learning of Caro Quintero’s premature release. At today’s meeting with Mexican Attorney General Murillo, Attorney General Holder reiterated those concerns.

“I appreciated the chance to discuss the recent developments in the case connected to the murder of DEA special agent Kiki Camarena and other important matters with Attorney General Murillo this afternoon.  I look forward to working with him to continue to advance our shared commitment to the rule of law. Nothing will weaken our resolve to hold accountable those who commit acts of violence against our brave law enforcement agents,” said Attorney General Holder.  “The kidnapping and murder of Agent Camarena was a heinous crime that shocked criminal justice professionals on both sides of the border.  Like many, I was surprised and deeply concerned to learn about the release of Rafael Caro Quintero last month.  We will continue to work with our Mexican counterparts to ensure that Caro Quintero does not escape justice.”

In May 1987, the Department of Justice, through the United States Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California, indicted Caro Quintero and several others, for conspiracy and racketeering charges related to the kidnapping, torture and murder in Mexico of Agent Camarena.  Since then, the Department of Justice has continued to make clear to Mexican authorities the continued interest of the United States in ensuring that Caro Quintero faces justice.


STATE DEPARTMENT REACTION TO ALLEGATIONS OF CORRUPTION CHARGES IN BANGLADESH

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 
Bangladesh: Corruption Allegations Against Muhammad Yunus (Taken Question)
Taken Question
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
September 10, 2013

Question: Any Reaction to Corruption Allegations against Muhammad Yunus?

Answer: We are concerned about recent reports that the Government of Bangladesh may pursue a tax evasion case against Dr. Yunus. The United States has long admired and supported Professor Yunus’s significant achievements in improving the lives of Bangladesh’s most vulnerable citizens, particularly women. We urge the Government of Bangladesh to treat Dr. Yunus in a fair and transparent manner, in keeping with Bangladeshi law and the principles of due process.

The United States supports the continued independence, effectiveness, and integrity of Grameen Bank as an institution that promotes the welfare and development of Bangladesh’s most vulnerable people, particularly women. We also support the continuation of the Bank’s unique governance structure. We look forward to the selection of a highly qualified and acceptable Managing Director and a new chairman who are committed to sustaining the Bank’s success.

Grameen Bank is an engine of social entrepreneurship and prosperity for millions of Bangladeshis, and has an impressive track record improving the lives of the poor, especially women and girls. An astonishing 96% percent of its 8.3 million borrowers are women. Grameen Bank has played a pioneering role not only in developing microfinance as an economic model but in empowering ordinary people to lift themselves out of poverty and into a better life.

PRESIDENT OBAMA REVIEWS INTERAGENCY COUNTERTERRORISM PLANS WITH OFFICIALS

FROM:  U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT 
Obama Reviews Interagency Counterterrorism Plans
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 10, 2013 - President Barack Obama met with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and other officials tuesday to review interagency counterterrorism planning on the eve of the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said.

Before that meeting, Little added, senior military planners briefed Hagel on the Defense Department's worldwide security posture.

In close coordination with the State Department, the Defense Department has undertaken a number of efforts over the past year to increase security planning at U.S. embassies and installations around the world, including augmenting the role U.S. Marine security guards play in certain situations, the press secretary said in a statement.

"The Department of Defense has also developed, trained, and sustained, innovative force options, both at sea and at U.S. bases in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East," he said. "These forces are operating at a high state of readiness and are complemented by air assets and other platforms that can help respond to a variety of contingencies."

Hagel thanked Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as the Joint Staff and combatant commands, for working closely with one another to support efforts across areas of responsibility, the press secretary said. The secretary also offered his appreciation to "the men and women standing watch on this day and every day around the world," he added.

A White House statement issued after the meeting said the national security team is taking measures to prevent 9/11-related attacks and to ensure the protection of Americans and U.S. facilities abroad.

COUNTERTERRORISM PLANNING FOR 9-11

FROM:  U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT, PENTAGON 
Statement by Pentagon Press Secretary George Little on Counterterrorism Planning for the Anniversary of 9/11

This afternoon, Secretary Hagel participated in a meeting with President Obama to review interagency counterterrorism planning on the eve of the 12th anniversary of September 11, 2001. Prior to that meeting, Secretary Hagel was briefed by senior military planners on the Department of Defense's worldwide security posture.



Over the past year, the Department of Defense in close coordination with the Department of State, has undertaken a number of efforts to increase security planning at U.S. Embassies and installations around the world including augmenting the role U.S. Marine Security Guards play in certain situations.



The Department of Defense has also developed, trained, and sustained, innovative force options both at sea and at U.S. bases in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.  These forces are operating at a high state of readiness and are complemented by air assets and other platforms that can help respond to a variety of contingencies.



Secretary Hagel thanked General Dempsey, the Joint Staff, and Combatant Commands for working closely with one another to support efforts across areas of responsibility and offered his appreciation to the men and women standing watch on this day and every day around the world.


EARTHQUAKE-RESISTANT BUILDINGS AND THE PROMISE OF COLD-STEEL

FROM:  NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION 
Cold-Formed Steel Rebuilds Earthquake-Resistant Architecture

A doctoral student discusses the engineering of earthquake-resistant buildings and the results of a recent shake table test.

Academia and industry are collaborating in a new effort to engineer earthquake-ready buildings. The effort based at Johns Hopkins University aims to design and test a single structure primarily built from cold-formed steel, a material that has boomed in structural engineering projects over the last 25 years.

With funding from the National Science Foundation, JHU engineering professor Benjamin Schafer helped bring together a team composed of industry professionals, professors, graduate students and the occasional high school or undergraduate student yearning for research experience to conduct experimental and computational seismic research on cold-formed steel components.

The first industry standards and codes for cold-formed steel were written in 1946 and are mostly based on empirical data, in many cases lacking underlying theory. When engineers attempt to make a building earthquake-resistant, they use specific structural components, appropriately called details, to absorb earthquake forces and help direct some of those forces back to the ground.

That works, but when an earthquake hits, the entire building reacts, not just the sections containing details. Even though academic research has lead to improvements to the original building codes over the decades, there is much to be learned about the entire system of a cold-formed steel building as it responds to an earthquake.

"When you have a big knowledge gap, you have a danger gap," says Schafer. To fill the gap, he and his collaborators are testing and analyzing individual components of a cold-formed steel structure, and taking what they learn about each piece to design a full-scale building that will undergo three stages of shake table tests. The tests will occur in 2013 at the NSF Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) site at the University of Buffalo in New York and are part of NEES's broader research efforts.

Cold-formed Steel in the Lab

Cold-formed steel is lightweight and shines like aluminum because it possesses a galvanized coating. Kara Peterman, a third-year Ph.D. student on the project, describes it as "steel that is rolled by a long string of machines into a thin sheet, then bent like origami into a desired shape."

With every shape change, each made at room temperature (hence the name cold-formed), the properties of the piece change, improving the qualities of the steel. Small tweaks have the potential to increase the steel strength, making one component more efficient than it was before. For example, when an 8-foot tall sheet of steel is converted into a u-shape with two 90-degree bends, it becomes a stud that can withstand ten thousand pounds of loading. The beam could carry five Volkswagen Beetles - each about two thousand pounds - yet it is light enough for Peterman to lift.

Peterman has been working with a second graduate student, Peng Liu, to assess how individual cold-formed steel components bear loads. She has tested components such as beam-columns and local connections in the JHU lab, and this past summer, she tested wall-to-floor connections. Liu, a visiting Northeastern University Ph.D. student from China, has been conducting experiments on shear walls, which are specifically made to resist lateral forces. He completed his testing in a facility at the University of North Texas. Liu also analyzes and interprets the raw data that his experiments have yielded.

Peterman and Liu relay very specific information to Jiazhen Leng, a Ph.D. student at JHU, who can then code a highly detailed building model, component by component, using OpenSees - open-source building analysis software. With the 3-D model in place, he has the ability to perform various analytics. In turn, his analytical data informs predictions for more experimental work, particularly the 2013 full-scale test. The work the graduate students perform comes full circle, linking them together.

The Big Blue Baby

In the bowels of Latrobe Hall, the civil engineering building on the JHU campus, dwells the Big Blue Baby, also known as the multi-axis structural testing rig. Schafer's research group, which designed the machine, is proud of the fact that there is only one other like it in the United States (at the University of Minnesota, also part of the NEES network.) The body is made of hot-rolled steel and the brain is a computer, which drives a hydraulic pump. The system sits in the center of the cramped lab, where black electrical wires snake along the ground toward other, smaller systems. Rows of walls, made in-house, lean against the back of the room, with stacks of sheathing and steel at the front.

"Compared to the NEES facilities, our room is tiny," admits Peterman. "But, we've gotten a lot out of this lab - great results, great publications, and great changes to the codes."

Experiments are large-scale tests of small components, because it's almost impossible to scale down every behavior. The Big Blue Baby can hold a standard wall in its belly and apply loads using hydraulic actuators, which look like thick, black tentacles. What makes this machine unique is its ability to perform combined loading. The punch can come straight down, twist from two different sides, or apply stress from several directions at once.

Most structures experience varying loads from multiple directions, so the Big Blue Baby simulates real-world engineering situations. The most common type of load is called the axial load, weight that comes directly down on a wall due to gravity - think furniture or snow. There are red emergency buttons around the rig, just in case the thirty thousand pound Baby decides to throw a tantrum and it must be taken offline.

The 2013 Shake Table Tests

Robert Madsen, Senior Project Engineer at Devco Engineering, Inc., is the primary link between the researchers and industry. Leading up to the 2013 large-scale tests, there is a meeting every three months between the academics and a larger industry advisory board for updates from both sides. Madsen provided the constructible design for the 2013 NEES building that the graduate students have been characterizing on a component level.

The plan is to construct a two-story building, 50 feet by 23 feet, inside the colossal NEES Buffalo lab. The building will sit upon dual shake tables that will be linked. The Buffalo building will undergo shake table tests in three major stages: the first will be as a steel skeleton; the second stage will include only walls and other structural components that engineers currently rely upon; and the third stage is a complete structure built to standard and ready to be inhabited.

Cue Narutoshi Nakata, co-principle investigator from JHU, brings his expertise in shake-table testing and performance evaluation. To attain meaningful and useful results, Nakata must determine the right number of sensors on the table, their locations, and what they will measure. He must also decide what type of ground motion the table will produce, such as fast versus slow, and the number of scenarios to enact. Based on Leng's 3-D model and analytical tests, Nakata creates the mathematical models of earthquakes that the shake table will generate, and will eventually analyze how the structure dynamically reacts. One of the scenarios is a reproduction of the 1994 Northridge earthquake - as a well-recorded, historical Los Angeles earthquake with a magnitude of 6.7, it is widely used for simulation experiments.

Immediate Impact

Schafer has involved high school and undergraduate students in the project to provide them with hands-on experience quite early in their careers. High school students often come from Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, a Baltimore City public school, which offers a research practicum course that allows those enrolled to volunteer at the JHU lab a couple hours per week. The latest volunteer was from Garrison Forest High School, a private all-girls school in Owings Mills, Md., which required the student to complete a specific research project she could present at the end of the semester. With Peterman's guidance, the student had the opportunity to explore connection testing variables.

The team also tries to get younger college students involved, because research is usually not an opportunity they have until they are juniors and seniors. After passing a trial period to prove their interest, two undergraduate students participated this past summer: one who just finished his freshman year, the other her sophomore year.

The Bigger Picture

Although the east coast is not often on the news for earthquakes, Schafer explains that, "Earthquakes are a matter of return period, not a matter of where you live. They come more quickly in California, but if you design a building and you expect it to exist for 20, 50, or 100 years, you'll go into the codes and you'll see almost anywhere you are in the U.S., you're going to need to design for earthquakes."

Schafer remains driven to impact fundamental knowledge and change U.S. practice. "If an engineer knew how the whole system responded," he adds, "instead of just one little bit, then they would be able to design the whole building to be earthquake ready."

REMARKS BY UNDER SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER TO PRAGUE AGENDA IN 2013

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
The Prague Agenda in 2013 - Challenges and Prospects
Remarks
Rose Gottemoeller
Acting Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security 
Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Prague, Czech Republic
September 6, 2013
As Delivered

Thank you for the introduction, Veronika. It is lovely to be here in Prague. My thanks to the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs, First Deputy Minister Jiri Schnider, the Institute of International Relations Prague, the Metropolitan University Prague and the Faculty of Social Sciences from Charles University Prague for their work in putting this conference together. My last visit to Prague was in April 2010, the day President Obama and then-President Medvedev signed the New START Treaty.

A lot of water has passed under the Charles Bridge since that time and Veronika has already mentioned that we are living in interesting times. That phrase, “May you live in interesting times,” is generally regarded as ominous – the implication being that a person in an interesting world is doomed to a tumultuous and possibly dangerous existence. There is no doubt that we live in interesting times, but I don’t accept the inevitability of uncertainty and danger. We have the power to control and shape our future. We are able to see the challenges facing us and to find ways to overcome those challenges. That is exactly what President Obama had in mind when he came to Prague four years ago to speak about America’s intent to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.

His vision – which we call the Prague Agenda –was actually a continuation of the path set forth by previous Presidents. Every U.S. President in the nuclear age, beginning with President Harry Truman in 1945, has felt the weight of responsibility inherent in these weapons of near limitless destruction. I know, from our long experience working together, that that was the case for the leaders of the former Soviet Union and remains true for the leaders of the Russian Federation. These leaders and their advisors – as well as countless others inside and outside governments around the world, have all worked to stem the nuclear threat and to find ways to turn us away from catastrophic nuclear war.

The responsibility is ours to bear, but we are facing new and different threats. While the likelihood of a large-scale nuclear exchange has fortunately diminished through decades of cooperative, but also challenging disarmament work between Moscow and Washington, nuclear dangers have not disappeared. The threat posed by the spread of nuclear materials and technologies remains. The possibility that terrorists or other non-state actors could acquire a nuclear weapon ensures that the nuclear “Sword of Damocles” still hangs over us. While our nuclear arsenals have little direct relevance in deterring these threats, concerted action by the United States and Russia – and indeed, from all nuclear states – to reduce their weapon stockpiles and fissile material will strengthen the nuclear nonproliferation regime. A strong nonproliferation regime makes nuclear theft, unauthorized use and proliferation harder. The ultimate solution is straightforward: take away the tools – fissile materials and nuclear weapons – and you mitigate ultimately the threat.

Of course, that is much easier said than done. President Obama made it clear in the Prague Speech that the road to a world without nuclear weapons would be long and the goal may not be reached in his lifetime. To achieve success, we will need to follow a step by step process in which we maintain nuclear stability at the same time that we pursue responsible reductions in our nuclear capabilities through a number of measures, some of them quiet, and some of them front and center on the world stage.

The New START Treaty, signed here in Prague in April of 2010, was one of those front and center accomplishments, both in its negotiation and its entry into force. Now I am happy to tell you that its quiet, deliberate implementation is going smoothly behind the scenes, providing for mutual predictability and stability on the nuclear front. This is important in any day and age, but especially important in these days when we and the Russians must ensure that we are wisely spending our scarce defense resources.

Another accomplishment on the quiet front is the work that Russia and the United States have done to eliminate fissile material from warheads. Over the past twenty years, we have together eliminated the highly enriched uranium from approximately 20,000 warheads. The HEU has been transformed into low-enriched fuel and sold to power plants in the United States. Did you know that today 10 percent of the electricity generated in the United States is from former Soviet nuclear weapons? That’s a lot of warheads turned to peaceful purposes.

But it is not enough: the United States and Russian Federation still possess over ninety percent of the nuclear weapons in the world. This past June, President Obama spoke in Berlin about the next steps in the Prague Agenda. I will focus today on what he said about nuclear reductions. The President announced in Berlin that “we can ensure the security of America and our allies, and maintain a strong and credible strategic deterrent, while reducing our deployed strategic nuclear weapons by up to one-third.”

He also said that we would seek bold steps to reduce non-strategic nuclear weapons in Europe. How we go about these further reductions is not a matter only for Washington and Moscow, but also must involve close consultations with our allies. This work has already begun in Brussels at NATO and in other allied capitals in Europe and Asia.

Another essential element to the step-by-step process is reducing the role that nuclear weapons play in national security strategies. That is why the President’s new nuclear employment guidance directs the U.S. Department of Defense to align its planning with the U.S. policy that the use of nuclear weapons will be considered only in extreme circumstances to defend the vital interests of the United States and its allies and partners. In addition, the new guidance directs strengthening non-nuclear capabilities and reducing the role of nuclear weapons in deterring non-nuclear attacks. All of this derives from the underlying principle articulated in our 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, that it is in the interest of the United States and all other countries that nuclear weapons never be used again.

No secret: our efforts to move forward on the next steps are proceeding slowly; many issues of strategic stability and beyond are taking up the metaphorical “dialogue space.” This does not mean we stop trying to move ahead. Even in the darkest days of the Cold War, the United States and Russia found it in our mutual interest to work together on reducing the nuclear threat. Through creativity, patience and persistence, we have had many successes and together have contributed to a safer world.

When New START is fully implemented in 2018, we will be at the lowest levels of deployed strategic nuclear warheads since the 1950s – pre-Cuban Missile Crisis. That is quite a feat, but we have more to do. There is one simple reason to move to the next step – it is in our mutual interest, in political, security and budgetary terms.

To end, I want to read you something by President Reagan’s Secretary of State George Shultz that I came across recently. Speaking to the UN early in his tenure – now about 30 years ago – he outlined principles for action in foreign policy. His comments focused on how and why the United States should conduct negotiations, but I think the ideas ring true for all nations.

We manage our problems more intelligently, and with greater mutual understanding, when we can bring ourselves to recognize them as expressions of mankind’s basic dilemma. We are seldom confronted with simple issues of right and wrong, between good and evil. Only those who do not bear the direct burden of responsibility for decision and action can indulge themselves in the denial of that reality. The task of statesmanship is to mediate between two—or several—causes, each of which often has a legitimate claim…It is on this foundation that the United States stands ready to try to solve the problems of our time—to overcome chaos, deprivation, and the heightened dangers of an era in which ideas and cultures too often tend to clash and technologies threaten to outpace our institutions of control.

Secretary Shultz was right and his words can guide us today. I will end there, but I look forward to hearing from the other panelists and am happy to answer your questions.

Thank you.