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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Volcanic Plumes Tower over Mount Etna

http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=82287&src=eoa-iotd

IRISH NATIONAL PLEADS GUILTY IN RHINO HORN TRAFFICKING CASE

FROM:  U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT 
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Irish National Pleads Guilty in New York to Crimes Relating to Illegal Trafficking of Endangered Rhinoceros Horns

Michael Slattery Jr., 25, an Irish national, pleaded guilty today in federal court in Brooklyn, N.Y., to conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act in relation to illegal rhinoceros horn trafficking, announced Robert G. Dreher, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice, and Loretta E. Lynch, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

Slattery pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.  Under the terms of the plea agreement, any proceeds from the illegal trafficking that remain in the United States will be forfeited or put toward the criminal fine.  Slattery is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge John Gleeson in the Eastern District of New York on Jan. 10, 2014.

In the plea agreement, Slattery admitted that he, along with others, traveled throughout the United States to illegally purchase and sell endangered rhinoceros horns.  Slattery was arrested in September as part of “Operation Crash,” a nationwide, multi-agency crackdown on those involved in the black market trade of endangered rhinoceros horn.
         
“Slattery and his co-conspirators traveled to the United States to profit from the illegal trade in black rhinoceros horns,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Dreher.  “The black rhino is a species that, without our protection, could be headed for extinction in our own time. Rhino horn trafficking is a violation of the laws enacted by Congress to protect endangered species from extinction and the Justice Department will aggressively prosecute those who engage in this egregious market.”

“Today’s guilty plea highlights our commitment to protect endangered species, like the black rhinoceros, by prosecuting those who would profit from the rhinos’ extinction,” said U.S. Attorney Lynch.  “Michael Slattery traveled the world in pursuit of illicit profit from the sale of blank rhino horns.  But instead of gaining a windfall by contributing to the demise of an age-old species, Slattery now faces up to five years in prison for his illegal conduct.”

“The involvement of an alleged member of an organized criminal group in rhino horn trafficking speaks to the scope, scale, and lawlessness of this problem,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “We will continue to work closely with the Department of Justice to crack down on profiteers whose crimes are pushing rhinos to the brink of extinction.”

“The black rhinoceros has been driven to the brink of extinction by this illicit trade,” said Special Agent in Charge James T. Hayes of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) in New York. “HSI, along with our partners at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Department of Justice, stand ready to protect these beautiful creatures from the villains who would trade the rhino’s continued existence on this planet for a quick buck.”

Rhinoceros are a herbivore species of prehistoric origin and one of the largest remaining mega-fauna on earth.  They have no known predators other than humans.  All species of rhinoceros are protected under United States and international law, and all black rhinoceros species are endangered.

Since 1976, trade in rhinoceros horn has been regulated under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), a treaty signed by over 170 countries around the world to protect fish, wildlife and plants that are or may become imperiled due to the demands of international markets.  Nevertheless, the demand for rhinoceros horn and black market prices have skyrocketed in recent years due to the value that some cultures have placed on ornamental carvings, good luck charms or alleged medicinal purposes, leading to a decimation of the global rhinoceros population.

Operation Crash is a continuing investigation being conducted by the Department of the Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in coordination with other federal and local law enforcement agencies including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.  A “crash” is the term for a herd of rhinoceros.  Operation Crash is an ongoing effort to detect, deter and prosecute those engaged in the illegal killing of rhinoceros and the unlawful trafficking of rhinoceros horns.  The investigation is being led by the Special Investigations Unit of the FWS Office of Law Enforcement and involves a nationwide task force of agents focused on rhino trafficking.

According to the information, plea agreement and statements made during court proceedings:

Beginning in May 2010 and continuing until April 2011, Slattery, along with others, traveled within the United States to purchase rhinoceros horns, which he, along with others, then resold to private individuals or consigned to auction houses in the United States.  The profits from the sale of the rhinoceros horns were distributed via cashier’s checks made out to Slattery and others.  Slattery used a fictitious “Endangered Species Bill of Sale” in connection with the purchase and sale of rhinoceros horns.

In September 2010, Slattery, along with others, traveled from London to Houston, where they attempted to purchase a taxidermied black rhinoceros mount with two horns from a business in Austin, Texas.  The manager of the business refused to sell the mount to the defendant because Slattery and the others did not have proof that they resided in the State of Texas.  Within days of being refused, Slattery returned to the establishment in Austin, where, with the assistance of a “straw buyer” that Slattery and his co-conspirators hired, the group purchased the mount for $18,000.  At the time of the sale, the purchasers were given an “Endangered Species Bill of Sale” that stated “[s]eller expressly states that the described taxidermy is an endangered species and that interstate or foreign sales, barter and trade are strictly prohibited …. [p]ursuant to [the Endangered Species Act].  Buyer has expressly stated that he/she is a current resident of the State of Texas and has no intention of participating in any form of interstate commerce involving the described taxidermy.”

Following the purchase of the mount, Slattery and his co-conspirators traveled to Flushing, N.Y., where they sold the horns from the mount and other horns they had acquired to an individual for $50,000.  At the time of the sale, Slattery and his co-conspirators provided the purchaser with a false and fictitious “Endangered Species Bill of Sale.”  The “Endangered Species Bill of Sale” stated that the two pair of black rhinoceros horns were purchased in August 2010.  The falsified document also included a false and fictitious FWS emblem, which it did not have at the time of purchase from the establishment in Texas.  Pursuant to instructions from Slattery and his co-conspirators, the purchaser paid for the horns with cashier’s checks.  One check in the amount of $12,500 was made payable to Michael Slattery Jr.

U.S. Attorney Lynch and Acting Assistant Attorney General Dreher commended FWS and ICE-HSI for their outstanding work in this investigation.

The case is being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York and the Environmental Crimes Section of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Julia Nestor and Trial Attorney Gary N. Donner of the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section are in charge of the prosecution.

NASA IMAGE OF TROPICAL DEPRESSION 30W AS IT CROSSED THAILAND


FROM:  NASA 

NASA's Aqua satellite captured an infrared image of the remnants of Tropical Depression 30W (purple) on Nov. 8 at 06:41 UTC/1:41 a.m. EST as it was crossing southern Thailand.  Image Credit: NASA JPL, Ed Olsen

NASA Sees Former Tropical Depression 30W Entering Indian Ocean
Now a remnant low pressure area, former Tropical Depression 30W may get new another life in another ocean. NASA's Aqua satellite captured an infrared image of the storm that showed strong circulation and persistent developing thunderstorms around its center.

Tropical Depression 30W moved through the Northwestern Pacific Ocean basin over the Philippines, past Vietnam and on Nov. 8, was entering the Andaman Sea, located in the eastern North Indian Ocean.

The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder or AIRS instrument that flies aboard NASA's Aqua satellite captured an infrared image of the remnants of Tropical Depression 30W on Nov. 8 at 06:41 UTC/1:41 a.m. EST as it was crossing southern Thailand. The remnant low pressure area still showed good mid-level circulation, although the lower-level circulation was still struggling as it moved over the Malay Peninsula. The AIRS data showed that convection (rising air that forms the thunderstorms that make up a tropical cyclone) was persisting around the center.
Surface winds were as high as 20 knots/23.0 mph/37.0 kph, and the center was located near 12.5 north and 99.5 east, about 90 nautical miles southwest of Bangkok, Thailand.

Well, as expected, now entering the Andaman Sea, part of the Northern Indian Ocean, where sea surface temperatures are conducive for greater development. Forecasters at the Joint Typhoon Warning Center or JTWC are watching the storm for development as it may threaten India, Bangladesh and/or Myanmar (Burma). The JTWC gives the remnants a medium chance for redevelopment into a tropical depression over the weekend of Nov. 9 and 10.
Text credit:  Rob Gutro

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

TRANSCRIPT: PRESIDENT OBAMA'S WEEKLY ADDRESS FOR NOVEMBER 9, 2013

FROM:  THE WHITE HOUSE 
Weekly Address: Honoring America’s Veterans

WASHINGTON, DC— In this week’s address, President Obama commemorated Veterans’ Day Weekend by thanking the brave men and women who have worn this country’s uniform. The President said he is proud of their service and will do everything possible to ensure America always has their back and always honors their sacrifice.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
November 9, 2013

Hello everyone.  Veterans’ Day Weekend is a chance for all of us to say two simple words: “Thank you.”  Thank you to that greatest generation who fought island by island across the Pacific, and freed millions from fascism in Europe.  Thank you to the heroes who risked everything through the bitter cold of Korea and the stifling heat of Vietnam.  And thank you to all the heroes who have served since, most recently our 9/11 Generation of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Now that more of them are coming home, we need to serve them as well as they served us.  That requires more than a simple “thank you” – especially from those of us who’ve been elected to serve.

I’ve often said that my top priority is growing the economy, creating new jobs, and restoring middle-class security.  And a very important part of that is making sure that every veteran has every chance to share in the opportunity he or she has helped defend.  In addition to the care and benefits they’ve earned – including good mental health care to stay strong – that means a good job, a good education, and a home to call their own.

If you fight for your country overseas, you should never have to fight for a job when you come home.  I’ve made sure the federal government leads by example, and since I took office, we’ve hired about 300,000 veterans to keep serving their country.  Our new transition assistance program is helping veterans and their spouses find that new job and plan their career.  And I’m going to keep calling on Congress to do the right thing and pass the Veterans Jobs Corps.  Put our veterans to work rebuilding America.

Our troops gain unmatched skills while serving in harm’s way.  So we’re also doing everything we can to connect more businesses with highly-skilled veterans.  More help with job searches.  More tools to connect veterans to job openings.  More chances to earn licenses and credentials for civilian jobs.  And new tax credits for companies that hire veterans and wounded warriors – tax credits which Congress should make permanent.

And America’s businesses have worked with Michelle and Jill Biden’s Joining Forces campaign to help returning heroes find jobs in the private sector.  They’ve already hired or trained 290,000 veterans and military spouses, and they’ve committed to hiring over 400,000 more.

We’re also committed to giving today’s veterans and their families the same shot at a great education this country gave my grandfather when he came home from World War II.  We’re helping more of them earn their degrees under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.  We’ve worked with thousands of schools across the country to set new standards to protect against dishonest recruiting and predatory lending practices that target our veterans.  And we’re helping hundreds of community colleges and universities do more to welcome and encourage our veterans on campus.

Thanks to these efforts, and the efforts of the private sector, we’ve made progress getting our vets back to work.  But we’ve got a lot more to do.  And as more than a million of our troops return to civilian life, we’re going to have to work even harder.  Because the skill, dedication, and courage of our troops is unmatched – and when they come home, we all benefit from their efforts to build a stronger America and a brighter future for our kids.

So to all our veterans, on behalf our entire nation, thank you for everything you’ve done and will continue to do for our country.  As your Commander-in-Chief, I’m proud of your service, and grateful for your sacrifice.  And as long as I'm your President, I will make it my mission to make sure that America has your back, not just on one day or one weekend, but 365 days a year.

Thanks.  God bless you, and have a great weekend.


President Obama Speaks on the Economy and Exports | The White House

President Obama Speaks on the Economy and Exports | The White House

FDA APPROVES GENERIC VERSIONS OF DRUG CALLED ACIPHEX TO TREAT ACID REFLUX

FROM:  U.S. FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION 
FDA approves first generic versions of Aciphex delayed-release tablets to treat GERD

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved the first generic versions of Aciphex (rabeprazole sodium) delayed-release tablets, used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) in adults and adolescents (ages 12 and up).

GERD, also called acid reflux or acid regurgitation, is a common condition in which backward flow of acid from the stomach causes heartburn and possible injury to the esophagus (the tube that connects the throat and stomach).

Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd., Kremers Urban Pharmaceuticals Inc., Lupin Pharmaceuticals Inc., Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc., Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, and Torrent Pharmaceuticals Ltd. have received FDA approval to market generic rabeprazole.

“Health care professionals and consumers can be assured that FDA-approved generic drugs have met the same rigid standards of quality as the brand-name drug,” said Kathleen Uhl, M.D., acting director of the Office of Generic Drugs in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “This medication is widely used by people who have gastroesophageal reflux disease, so it is important to have access to affordable treatment options.”

Rabeprazole is in a class of medications called proton-pump inhibitors. The medication works by decreasing the amount of acid made in the stomach, treating the symptoms of GERD such as heartburn, regurgitation of acid, and nausea. The medication helps allow the esophagus to heal, and prevent further damage to the esophagus. Rabeprazole is also used to treat conditions in which the stomach produces too much acid, such as Zollinger-Ellison syndrome. In addition, rabeprazole is used to treat ulcers (sores in the lining of the stomach or intestine) and is used in combination with other medications to eliminate H. pylori, a type of bacteria that causes ulcers.

In the clinical trials for Aciphex in adults, the most common adverse reactions reported by those taking Aciphex were sore throat, flatulence, infection, and constipation. In studies of adolescents, the adverse reactions most frequently reported by those taking Aciphex were abdominal pain, diarrhea, and headache.

Generic prescription drugs approved by the FDA have the same high quality and strength as brand-name drugs. Generic prescription drug manufacturing and packaging sites must pass the same quality standards as those of brand-name drugs.

U.S. MARINES TRAIN WITH FRENCH LEGIONNAIRES ON CAMP DES GARRIGUES, FRANCE

FROM:  U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT 
11/06/2013

U.S. Marines Train With French Legionnaires On Camp Des Garrigues, France.
French legionnaires embark an MV-22B Osprey assigned to the Marine air-ground task force for crisis response on Camp des Garrigues, France, Oct. 30, 2013. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Michael Petersheim.

OHIO COURT SHUTS DOWN NATION'S FOURTH LARGEST TAX PREPARER

FROM:  U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT 
Thursday, November 7, 2013

Federal Court in Ohio Shuts Down Nation’s Fourth-Largest Tax-Preparation Firm and Bars CEO from Tax-Preparation Business

Judge Finds that Instant Tax Service Franchisor Defrauded Customers, Obstructed the IRS and Violated Court Orders on Lending Practices

A federal court has entered a permanent injunction ordering ITS Financial LLC, the parent company of the Instant Tax Service franchise, to cease operating, the Justice Department announced today.  The injunction order, which was signed yesterday by Judge Timothy S. Black of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, also bars Fesum Ogbazion, the sole owner and CEO of ITS Financial, from operating or being involved with any business relating to tax-return preparation.  The court issued the order following a two-week trial in Cincinnati in June 2013.

Instant Tax Service, which is based in Dayton, Ohio, claimed to be the fourth-largest tax-preparation firm in the nation.  According to the court, ITS Financial had about 150 franchisees that filed over 100,000 tax returns each year in 2011 and 2012.  Two other entities owned by Ogbazion, Tax Tree LLC and TCA Financial LLC, were also defendants in the case and were also ordered to cease operating.

The court found that Ogbazion and his defendant companies had:

·          Filed tax returns for customers without their permission and encouraged franchisees to do the same;
·          Clandestinely trained and encouraged franchisees to prepare and file tax returns prematurely with paycheck stubs that omitted and understated income and inevitably resulted in the submission of false federal tax returns;
·          Defrauded customers, who were largely low-income, by marketing false and fraudulent loan products to lure them into the tax-preparation offices;
·          Defrauded customers by requiring franchisees to charge phony and exorbitant fees;
·          Forged customers’ signatures on loan checks and used those forged checks to operate Ogbazion’s businesses;
·          Willfully failed to pay over $1 million of their own employment taxes and lied about assets in connection with the collection of those taxes, while hiding money in a secret bank account and defrauding the United States and third party creditors;
·          Lied on government forms and encouraged franchisees to do the same;
·          Obstructed government agents and materially assisted franchisees in circumventing Internal Revenue Service (IRS) law-enforcement efforts involving the suspension of electronic filing identification numbers; and
·          Told franchisees to lie to government agents in connection with IRS compliance visits.

The court credited an IRS study concluding that the tax harm caused by Instant Tax Service franchisees in five cities in a single tax-filing season was between $10 million and $25 million.


“Defendants’ harm to the public is extensive and egregious, indeed appalling,” the court stated.  “This is especially so given the nature of Instant Tax Service’s core customer – the working poor – who are particularly vulnerable to [the] Defendants’ fraudulent practices.”

The court further stated:  “Defendants’ repeated attempts at trial and in argument to downplay the gravity of their lawlessness was stunning.  The court concludes that even today [the] Defendants have not fully recognized their culpability.  Ultimately, the nature, scope and gravity of [the] Defendants’ offenses, and the unrepentant attitude toward their commission, demonstrate the necessity for a complete injunction putting the Defendants permanently out of business.”

The court also concluded that Ogbazion and ITS Financial violated the terms of a preliminary injunction order that the court had entered in October 2012 with their consent.  The court found that, despite their agreement to obey various lending and consumer-protection laws during the 2013 tax filing season, they violated several of those laws by discriminating against active-duty military personnel on loan applications and by failing to obtain a state lending license in a timely manner.  The court determined that they violated the preliminary injunction by causing their franchisees to provide tens of thousands of customers with Truth-in-Lending Act disclosure forms falsely stating that the loans carried no finance charges and an annual percentage rate (APR) of zero.

“We are gratified by the court’s decision, which serves to protect hard-working taxpayers who were targeted by Instant Tax Service, and also safeguards all honest taxpayers from the harm done by fraudulent tax filings,” said Assistant Attorney General Kathryn Keneally of the Justice Department’s Tax Division.  “As described by the court, this company grew large through abhorrent means – filing returns without customer authorization, forging customer signatures, pushing fraudulent loan products, and much more.  As the court’s decision recognizes, a business model based on false and fraudulent conduct cannot be allowed to prevail.”

“The court's decision sends a clear message to those who might be tempted to abuse the public trust provided to the tax preparer community,” said Acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel.  “Those who deceive their customers and defraud the U.S. Treasury will face swift legal action that puts an end to their corrosive conduct."  

Assistant Attorney General Keneally thanked former and current Tax Division trial attorneys Nathan Clukey, Sean Green, Russell Edelstein, Jose Olivera and Gregory Van Hoey, along with paralegal Mahana Karimi, for their efforts on the case.  She also thanked the many IRS attorneys and agents who participated in the investigation.

Return preparer fraud is one of the IRS’s Dirty Dozen Tax Scams for 2013 .  The Internal Revenue Service has tips for choosing a tax preparer: www.irs.gov/Tax-Professionals/Choosing-a-Tax-Professional .  In the past decade, the department’s Tax Division has obtained injunctions against hundreds of unscrupulous tax preparers.

SECRETARY OF STATE KERRY'S STATEMENT ON SUPER TYPHOON HAIYAN

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 
Super Typhoon Haiyan
Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
November 8, 2013

On behalf of the people of the United States, I offer our deepest condolences and solidarity as you wrestle with the devastation and loss of life that accompanied Super Typhoon Haiyan. Having so recently had my own visit to the Philippines prevented by another powerful storm, I know that these horrific acts of nature are a burden that you have wrestled with and courageously surmounted before. Your spirit is strong. The United States stands ready to help, our embassies in the Philippines and Palau are in close contact with your governments, and our most heartfelt prayers are with you.

CFTC CHARGES COMPANY IN "BANGING THE BELL" INVESTMENT PRICE MANIPULATION CASE

FROM:  U.S. COMMODITY FUTURES TRADE COMMISSION
CFTC Charges Donald R. Wilson and his Company, DRW Investments, LLC, with Price Manipulation

Defendants allegedly manipulated the IDEX USD Three-Month Interest Rate Swap Futures Contract by “Banging the Close”

Washington, DC – The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) today filed a civil enforcement action in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against Donald R. Wilson (Wilson) and his company, DRW Investments, LLC (DRW). The CFTC’s Complaint charges Wilson and DRW with unlawfully manipulating and attempting to manipulate the price of a futures contract, namely the IDEX USD Three-Month Interest Rate Swap Futures Contract (Three-Month Contract) from at least January 2011 through August 2011. The Complaint alleges that as a result of the manipulative scheme, the defendants profited by at least $20 million, while their trading counterparties suffered losses of an equal amount.

According to the Complaint, in 2010 the Three-Month Contract was listed by the International Derivatives Clearinghouse (IDCH) and traded on the NASDAQ OMX Futures Exchange, and was publicized as an alternative to over-the-counter, i.e., off-exchange, products. Wilson and DRW believed that they could trade the contract for a profit based on their analysis of the contract. At the end of 2010, Wilson caused DRW to acquire a large long (fixed rate) position in the Three-Month Contract with a net notional value in excess of $350 million. The daily value of DRW’s position was dependent upon the daily settlement price of the Three-Month Contract calculated according to IDCH’s methodology. As Wilson and DRW knew, the methodology relied on electronic bids placed on the exchange during a 15-minute period, the “settlement window,” prior to the close of each trading day. In the absence of such bids, the exchange used prices from over-the-counter markets to determine its settlement prices. Wilson and DRW anticipated that the value of their position would rise over time.

The market prices did not reach the level that Wilson and DRW had hoped for and expected, according to the Complaint. Rather than accept that reality, Wilson and DRW allegedly executed a manipulative strategy to move the Three-Month Contract market price in their favor by “banging the close,” which entailed placing numerous bids on many trading days almost entirely within the settlement window, none of which resulted in actual transactions as DRW regularly cancelled the bids. Under the exchange’s methodology, DRW’s bids became the settlement prices, and in this way DRW unlawfully increased the value of its position, according to the Complaint.

Gretchen L. Lowe, the CFTC’s Acting Director of Enforcement, stated: “Traders cannot engage in manipulative acts to affect the price of futures contracts to achieve their desired profits, regardless of the so-called motive. Today’s action demonstrates that the Commission will vigorously prosecute such cases to protect the integrity of the markets.”

According to the Complaint, Wilson and DRW allegedly caused and profited from artificial prices on the Three-Month Contract over a period of at least 118 trading days. Because Wilson and DRW allegedly caused artificial prices in multiple maturities of the Three-Month Contract each day, the manipulative scheme allegedly affected the prices of over 1,000 futures contracts, according to the Complaint.

The Complaint alleges that by engaging in such conduct, Wilson violated, or aided and abetted in the violation of, Sections 6(c) and 9(a)(2) of the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA), 7 U.S.C. §§ 9 and 13(a)(2) (2006 & Supp. IV). The Complaint further alleges that, pursuant to Section 13(b) of the Act, 7 U.S.C. § 13c(b) (2006 & Supp. IV), Wilson is liable as a controlling person for DRW’s violations of Sections 6(c) and 9(a)(2) of the CEA. The Complaint charges DRW with vicarious liability for the violations of its agents and/or employees, including Wilson, pursuant to Section 2(a)(1)(B) of the Act, 7 U.S.C. § 2(a)(1)(B) (2006 & Supp. IV).

In its ongoing litigation, the CFTC is seeking permanent injunctive relief, disgorgement, restitution, civil monetary penalties, trading suspensions and bans, and payment of costs and fees.

The following CFTC Division of Enforcement staff members are primarily responsible for this case: A. Daniel Ullman II, Jason Mahoney, Sophia Siddiqui, Jordon Grimm, Joan Manley, and Paul G. Hayeck.

Friday, November 8, 2013

NASA'S IMAGE OF SUPER-TYPHOON HAIYAN

Right:  TRMM saw Haiyan's center was less organized after having passed over the larger Philippines island of Panay, although a large area of heavy rain (shown in ed) is now located just south of the center. Haiyan was estimated to be 145 knots (~167 mph), still equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane.
Image Credit: NASA/SSAI, Hal Pierce

FROM:  NASA, 
Haiyan (Northwestern Pacific Ocean)

Super-typhoon Haiyan, equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane on the U.S. Saffir-Simpson scale, struck the central Philippines municipality of Guiuan at the southern tip of the province of Eastern Samar early Friday morning at 20:45 UTC (4:45 am local time). NASA's TRMM satellite captured visible, microwave and infrared data on the storm.

Haiyan made landfall as an extremely powerful super typhoon, perhaps the strongest ever recorded at landfall, with sustained winds estimated at 195 mph (315 kph) by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.  Previously, Hurricane Camille, which struck the northern Gulf Coast in 1969, held the record with 190 mph sustained winds at landfall. After striking Samar, Haiyan quickly crossed Leyte Gulf and the island of Leyte as it cut through the central Philippines.
NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission or TRMM satellite captured an image of Haiyan just as it was crossing the island of Leyte in the central Philippines. Data was taken at 00:19 UTC (8:19 a.m. local) November 8, 2013 and showed the horizontal distribution of rain intensity within the Haiyan. Rain rates in the center of the swath were generated from the TRMM Precipitation Radar (PR), and those in the outer swath were from the TRMM Microwave Imager (TMI). The data was put together at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. where rain rates were overlaid on infrared (IR) data from the TRMM Visible Infrared Scanner (VIRS).  It showed that Haiyan still had a well-defined eye surrounded by a symmetric area of moderate rain with several rainbands wrapping in from the south. The symmetric rain area around the eye is a testament to the storm's intensity--the stronger the storm, the more the features are smeared uniformly around the center.  At the time of the image, Haiyan's sustained winds were estimated to have dropped slightly to 160 knots/~185 mph from crossing Leyte.

TRMM passed over Haiyan about 10 hours later on Nov. 8 at 10:08 UTC/5:08 a.m. EDT/6:08 p.m. Philippines local time. Haiyan was passing south of Mindoro as it was beginning to exit the Philippines.  The center was less organized after having passed over the larger Philippines island of Panay, although a large area of heavy rain (shown in red) is now located just south of the center. At the time of this image, Haiyan's intensity was estimated to be 145 knots/~167 mph, still equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane. TRMM is a joint mission between NASA and the Japanese space agency JAXA.

On Nov. 8 at 1500 UTC/11 a.m. EDT/12 a.m. Nov. 9 Philippines local time, Haiyan's maximum sustained winds had dropped to 135 knots/155.4 mph/250 kph. It slowed a bit, moving to the west at 20 knots/23.0 mph/37.0 kph. Although Haiyan was centered near 11.8 north and 120.6 east, about 170 miles south of Manila, its extent covered most of the Philippines.

So far, four fatalities have been reported as a result of the storm, but these are preliminary as communication to many areas was knocked out.  Haiyan is expected to continue moving in a general westward direction over the next 1 to 2 days before likely striking central Vietnam.

ADMIRALS INVESTIGATED FOR ALLEGATIONS OF IMPROPER RELATIONS WITH DEFENSE CONTRACTOR

FROM:  U.S. NAVY 
U.S. Navy Admirals Investigated by NCIS
Story Number: NNS131108-37 Release Date: 11/8/2013 7:21:00 PM 
Special Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON (NNS) -- STATEMENT BY REAR ADMIRAL JOHN F. KIRBY, NAVY CHIEF OF INFORMATION

The Navy suspended today the access to classified material of Vice Adm. Ted Branch, Director of Naval Intelligence, and Rear Adm. Bruce Loveless, Director of Intelligence Operations.

The decision to suspend their classified access was made based upon the nature of allegations against Admirals Branch and Loveless in connection with an ongoing Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) investigation into illegal and improper relations with Leonard Francis, CEO of Glenn Defense Marine.

The suspension was deemed prudent given the sensitive nature of their current duties and to protect and support the integrity of the investigative process.

The allegations against Admirals Branch and Loveless involve inappropriate conduct prior to their current assignments and flag officer rank. There is no indication, nor do the allegations suggest, that in either case there was any breach of classified information.

It is important to note that allegations are just that, allegations. Neither officer has been charged with any crime or violation. Both men retain their rank and security clearances. They are on temporary leave.

NCIS initiated this investigation in 2010. The Navy appreciates the support we have received from the U.S. Attorney's office and other law enforcement agencies.

We will continue to make public as much information as we can without prejudicing the conduct of this investigation.

DHS, WESTERN UNION ANNOUNCE ANTI-HUMAN TRAFFICKING ALLIANCE

FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY 

DHS AND WESTERN UNION ANNOUNCE NEW ALLIANCE TO COMBAT HUMAN TRAFFICKING

Announcement Marks Latest Expansion of the Blue Campaign Awareness Efforts
WASHINGTON— The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today announced a new alliance between the DHS Blue Campaign— the unified voice for DHS’ efforts to combat human trafficking— and Western Union.

Through this alliance, Western Union will provide the Blue Campaign’s multilingual training and awareness materials to select agent locations across the country. Participating agents will also receive additional training from Western Union on how to identify and recognize indicators of human trafficking, as well as how to report suspected cases of human trafficking.

“Today, we are pledging to do more to combat human trafficking by broadening our network of partners which will enable us to better identify and rescue victims of this inexcusable crime, and bring the perpetrators to justice,” said Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Rand Beers. “We’re grateful to have the participation of Western Union in this important effort, which will help save lives, protect innocent victims, and prevent this form of modern day slavery.”

The Blue Campaign works in collaboration with law enforcement, government, non-governmental and private organizations, to protect the basic right of freedom and to bring those who exploit human lives to justice.

Working with DHS, Western Union will use training and awareness materials developed by the DHS Blue Campaign to educate its agents who regularly interact with the public on potential indicators of human trafficking and how to identify potential victims.

In June 2013, the DHS Blue Campaign unveiled new public awareness materials including a Public Service Announcement, posters and handouts to educate on victim identification and crime reporting, the case investigation process, and available resources for victim support. Western Union will display these multilingual materials at Western Union Agent locations throughout the country.
“Ending human trafficking is possible only if everyone steps in and plays a role,” said Barry Koch, chief compliance officer for Western Union. “We are committed to using the trust, reach and power of our brand along with our Agent network to engage the public and arm them with awareness and the resources to spot the signs and report suspect activity.”

In Oct. 2012, DHS announced a partnership with the Department of Transportation and Amtrak to train over 8,000 Amtrak frontline employees and Amtrak police officers to identify and recognize indicators of human trafficking, as well as how to report suspected cases of human trafficking.


U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT CONTRACTS FOR NOVEMBER 8, 2013

FROM:  U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT 
CONTRACTS
NAVY

Hydroid Inc., Pocasset, Mass., is being awarded a $26,231,287 cost-plus-fixed-fee, firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for engineering services, repair and training support for the Navy’s MK18 unmanned underwater vehicle family of systems.  The contract includes a one-year base period with four one-year options.  Work will be performed in Pocasset, Mass., and is expected to be completed by September 2018.  Other procurement, Navy funding in the amount of $546,000 will be obligated at time of award and will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.  This contract was not competitively procured.  The Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division, Indian Head, Md., is the contracting activity (N00174-14-D-0001).

CACI Technologies Inc., Chantilly, Va., is being awarded a $14,162,860 cost-plus-fixed-fee modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-12-C-6309) for professional support services in support of the Expeditionary Warfare Program Office.  The contract will provide professional support services in the areas of:  program analysis, development, control, and monitoring support, administration, communication and human resources; business, finance and cost estimating; technical and engineering support; information technology; and life cycle support in the Washington Navy Yard office location.  This contract modification will be incrementally funded.  Work will be performed in Washington, D.C. (63 percent); San Diego, Calif. (19 percent); Indian Head, Md. (13 percent), and  Norfolk, Va. (5 percent), and is expected to complete by March 2014.  Fiscal 2014 operations and maintenance, Navy and fiscal 2013 research, development, test and evaluation contract funds in the amount of $2,124,000 will be obligated at time of award and will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.  The Naval Sea Systems Command, D.C., is the contracting activity.

West Wing Week: 11/08/13 or "Casual, With a Raffish Look" | The White House

West Wing Week: 11/08/13 or "Casual, With a Raffish Look" | The White House

SECRETARY OF STATE KERRY ARRIVES IN GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 
Remarks to the Press Upon Arrival in Geneva
Remarks
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Geneva, Switzerland
November 8, 2013

Good afternoon, everybody. It’s great to be here. The P51 is doing some very important work right now, and I’m delighted to be here at the invitation of Cathy Ashton to try to work with our colleagues to see if we can narrow some differences. I want to emphasize there are still some very important issues on the table that are unresolved. It is important for those to be properly, thoroughly addressed.

I want to emphasize there is not an agreement at this point in time, but the P51 is working hard, and I look forward to the meetings that I’ll be having very shortly with Lady Cathy Ashton and with my fellow ministers in the P5, and then also I will be meeting with Minister Zarif. We hope to try to narrow those differences, but I don’t think anybody should mistake that there are some important gaps that have to be closed.

So thank you very much. Appreciate it. Thank you.

U.S. EMPLOYMENT SITUATION FOR OCTOBER 2013

FROM:  U.S. LABOR DEPARTMENT 
THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION -- OCTOBER 2013

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 204,000 in October, and the
unemployment rate was little changed at 7.3 percent, the U.S. Bureau of
Labor Statistics reported today. Employment increased in leisure and
hospitality, retail trade, professional and technical services,
manufacturing, and health care.

Household Survey Data

Both the number of unemployed persons, at 11.3 million, and the
unemployment rate, at 7.3 percent, changed little in October. Among
the unemployed, however, the number who reported being on temporary
layoff increased by 448,000. This figure includes furloughed federal
employees who were classified as unemployed on temporary layoff under
the definitions used in the household survey. (Estimates of the
unemployed by reason, such as temporary layoff and job leavers, do not
sum to the official seasonally adjusted measure of total unemployed
because they are independently seasonally adjusted.) For more
information on the classification of workers affected by the federal
government shutdown, see the box note. (See tables A-1 and A-11.)

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men
(7.0 percent), adult women (6.4 percent), teenagers (22.2 percent),
whites (6.3 percent), blacks (13.1 percent), and Hispanics (9.1 percent)
showed little or no change in October. The jobless rate for Asians was
5.2 percent (not seasonally adjusted), little changed from a year
earlier. (See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or
more) was little changed at 4.1 million in October. These individuals
accounted for 36.1 percent of the unemployed. The number of long-term
unemployed has declined by 954,000 over the year. (See table A-12.)

The civilian labor force was down by 720,000 in October. The labor
force participation rate fell by 0.4 percentage point to 62.8 percent
over the month. Total employment as measured by the household survey
fell by 735,000 over the month and the employment-population ratio
declined by 0.3 percentage point to 58.3 percent. This employment
decline partly reflected a decline in federal government employment.
(See table A-1.)

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons
(sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was little
changed at 8.1 million in October. These individuals were working part
time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable
to find a full-time job. (See table A-8.)

In October, 2.3 million persons were marginally attached to the labor
force, little changed from 2.4 million a year earlier. (The data are
not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor
force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job
sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed
because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the
survey. (See table A-16.)

Among the marginally attached, there were 815,000 discouraged workers
in October, essentially unchanged from a year earlier. (The data are
not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not
currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available
for them. The remaining 1.5 million persons marginally attached to the
labor force in October had not searched for work for reasons such as
school attendance or family responsibilities. (See table A-16.)

Establishment Survey Data

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 204,000 in October. Job
growth averaged 190,000 per month over the prior 12 months. In
October, job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, retail trade,
professional and technical services, manufacturing, and health care.
Federal government employment continued to trend down. There were no
discernible impacts of the partial federal government shutdown on the
estimates of employment, hours, and earnings from the establishment
survey. (See table B-1.)

Leisure and hospitality employment rose by 53,000 in October. Within
the industry, employment in food services and drinking places
increased by 29,000, the same as its average monthly gain over the
prior 12 months.

Employment in retail trade increased by 44,000 in October, compared
with an average monthly gain of 31,000 over the prior 12 months. Job
growth was widespread within the industry in October, with gains in
food and beverage stores (+12,000), electronics and appliance stores
(+10,000), sporting goods and hobby stores (+8,000), general
merchandise stores (+8,000), and building material and garden supply
stores (+7,000). Clothing and clothing accessories stores lost 13,000
jobs.

Professional and technical services employment rose in October
(+21,000) and has grown by 213,000 over the past 12 months. Within the
industry, employment in management and technical consulting services
rose by 8,000 in October.

Manufacturing added 19,000 jobs in October, with job growth occurring
in motor vehicles and parts (+6,000), wood products (+3,000), and
furniture and related products (+3,000). On net, manufacturing
employment has changed little since February 2013.

Health care employment increased over the month (+15,000). Job growth
in health care has averaged 17,000 per month thus far this year,
compared with an average monthly gain of 27,000 in 2012.

In October, employment showed little or no change elsewhere in the
private sector, including mining and logging, construction, wholesale
trade, transportation and warehousing, information, and financial
activities.

Federal government employment declined by 12,000 in October. Over the
past 12 months, federal government employment has decreased by 94,000.
Federal employees on furlough during the partial government shutdown
were still considered employed in the payroll survey because they
worked or received pay for the pay period that included the 12th of
the month. For more information on the classification of workers
affected by the partial federal government shutdown, see the box note.

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was
unchanged in October at 34.4 hours. The manufacturing workweek was
40.9 hours, the same as in September, and factory overtime was
unchanged at 3.4 hours. The average workweek for production and
nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged down by 0.1
hour to 33.6 hours. (See tables B-2 and B-7.)

In October, average hourly earnings for all employees on private
nonfarm payrolls edged up by 2 cents to $24.10. Over the year, average
hourly earnings have risen by 52 cents, or 2.2 percent. In October,
average hourly earnings of production and nonsupervisory employees
edged up by 2 cents to $20.26. (See tables B-3 and B-8.)

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for August was revised
from +193,000 to +238,000, and the change for September was revised
from +148,000 to +163,000. With these revisions, employment gains in
August and September combined were 60,000 higher than previously
reported.

____________
The Employment Situation for November is scheduled to be released on
Friday, December 6, 2013, at 8:30 a.m. (EST).  
                                                                 
Partial Federal Government Shutdown
 Some agencies of the federal government were shut down or were   operating at reduced staffing levels from October 1, 2013, through October 16, 2013. All household and establishment survey operations, including data collection, were suspended during that time period. Shortly after the shutdown ended, October data collection for both surveys began. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) delayed the publication of this release by 1 week to allow enough time to collect data. The reference periods for the surveys were not changed. The response rate for the household survey was within its normal range, and the response rate for the establishment survey was above average.  In the household survey, individuals are classified as employed, unemployed, or not in the labor force based on their answers to a series of questions about their activities during the survey reference week. Workers who indicate that they were not working during the entire survey reference week and expected to be recalled to their jobs should be classified in the household survey as unemployed on temporary layoff. In October 2013, there was an increase in the number of federal workers who were classified as unemployed on temporary layoff. However, there also was an increase in the number of federal workers who were classified as employed but absent from work. BLS analysis of the data indicates that this group included federal workers affected by the shutdown who also should have been classified a unemployed on temporary layoff. Such a misclassification is an example of nonsampling error and can occur when respondents misunderstand questions or interviewers record answers incorrectly. According to usual practice, the data from the household survey are accepted as recorded. To maintain data integrity, no ad hoc actions taken to reassign survey responses.    
                                                           
  It should be noted that household survey data for federal workers are available only on a not seasonally adjusted basis.  As a result, over-the-month changes in federal worker data series cannot be compared with seasonally adjusted over-the-month changes in total employed and unemployed.  In the establishment survey, businesses report the number of  people who work or receive pay for any part of the pay period that includes the 12th of the month. Persons who work or receive|  pay for any part of the pay period are defined as employed. This method of classifying workers is the same in all industries, including the federal government. Federal employees on furlough during the partial federal government shutdown were still considered employed in the payroll survey because they worked or received pay for the pay period that included the 12th of the month.                                                                                                                      
 Additional information is available online at  www.bls.gov/bls/shutdown_2013_empsit_qa.pdf.

        

EDUCATION SECRETARY DUNCAN MAKES STATEMENT ON 2013 NAEP READING AND MATH REPORT CARD

FROM:  U.S. EDUCATION DEPARTMENT 
Statement of U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on the 2013 NAEP Reading and Mathematics Report Card

NOVEMBER 7, 2013
The 2013 NAEP Reading and Mathematics Report Card is available here.

"The 2013 NAEP report card provides encouraging but modest signs of progress in reading and math for U.S. students.

"In 2013, reading and math scores edged up nationally to new highs for fourth and eighth graders. It is particularly heartening that reading scores for eighth graders are up, after remaining relatively flat for the last decade.

"Achievement among the largest minority group in our nation's public schools—Hispanic students—is also up since 2011. And higher-achieving students as a whole are making more progress in reading and math than in recent years.

"While progress on the NAEP continues to vary among the states, all eight states that had implemented the state-crafted Common Core State Standards at the time of the 2013 NAEP assessment showed improvement in at least one of the Reading and/or Mathematics assessments from 2009 to 2013—and none of the eight states had a decline in scores.

"Given the rapid and comprehensive changes that America's educators are implementing in classrooms across the nation, it is to their credit that we are seeing the strongest performance in the history of the NAEP.

"Our national progress makes me optimistic that local leaders and educators are showing the way to raising standards and driving innovation in the next few years. It is encouraging to see progress in tough economic times, when so many states and local communities have struggled with significant cuts to their education budgets.

"Among states that are making progress, Tennessee, the District of Columbia, and Hawaii made noteworthy gains in eighth grade and fourth grade in reading and/or math from 2011 to 2013.

"Signs of progress on the NAEP—known as the nation's report card—are especially compelling because they cannot be attributed to teaching to the test or testing irregularities, such as cheating.

"While fourth and eighth grade achievement in math and reading has edged upward nationally since 2011, the increases are generally modest.

"And while students in each racial group identified in the NAEP showed improvement in some areas, it is very troubling that achievement gaps between white and black students, and white and Hispanic students, failed to narrow from 2011 to 2013.

"Even with the modest increase in math and reading achievement on the 2013 NAEP, U.S. students are still well behind their peers in top-performing nations.

"If America's students are to remain competitive in a knowledge-based economy, our public schools must greatly accelerate the rate of progress of the last four years and do more to narrow America's large achievement gaps. It is an urgent moral and economic imperative that our schools do a better job of preparing students for today's globally-competitive world."

EDUCATION DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCES RESULTS FOR 2013 NEAP ASSESSMENTS FOR READING AND MATH


This image shows reading score changes for fourth- and eighth-grade students in selected groups from 1992 and 2011 to 2013. To view this information in tabular form, please see the custom data tables in the footer.

FROM:  U.S. EDUCATION DEPARTMENT 
Results for 2013 NAEP Mathematics and Reading Assessments Are In

Results from the 2013 NAEP assessments show fourth- and eighth-graders making progress in mathematics and reading.

Nationally representative samples of more than 376,000 fourth-graders and 341,000 eighth-graders were assessed in either mathematics or reading in 2013. Results are reported for public and private school students in the nation, and for public school students in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Department of Defense schools.

Average mathematics scores for fourth- and eighth-graders in 2013 were 1 point higher than in 2011, and 28 and 22 points higher respectively in comparison to the first assessment year in 1990.

Hispanic students made gains in mathematics from 2011 to 2013 at both grades 4 and 8.
Fourth- and eighth-grade female students scored higher in mathematics in 2013 than in 2011, but the scores for fourth- and eighth-grade male students did not change significantly over the same period.
OThe average reading score for eighth-graders was 2 points higher in 2013 than in 2011, but the score for fourth-graders did not change significantly from 2011. Reading scores were higher in 2013 than in 1992 at both grades.

White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian/Pacific Islander eighth-graders scored higher in reading in 2013 than in 2011.

Both male and female eighth-graders scored higher in reading in 2013 than in 2011.

Public school students in Tennessee, the District of Columbia, and Department of Defense schools scored higher in 2013 than in 2011 in both subjects and grades.

Mathematics scores were higher in 2013 than in 2011 at both grades in Hawaii, Tennessee, the District of Columbia, and Department of Defense schools.
Reading scores were higher in 2013 than in 2011 at both grades in Iowa, Tennessee, Washington, the District of Columbia, and Department of Defense schools.

CFTC CHAIRMAN GENSLER'S REMARKS BEFORE FUTURES INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION

FROM:  COMMODITY FUTURES TRADING COMMISSION 
A Transformed Marketplace – Remarks of Chairman Gary Gensler's before the FIA 2013 Futures & Options Expo

November 6, 2013

Thank you, Walt, for that kind introduction. I also would like to thank the Futures Industry Association (FIA) for the invitation – I’m honored that you’ve invited me to speak each of these last five years.

Ever since Adam Smith and the Wealth of Nations, economists have consistently written that access to and transparency in markets benefits the broad public.

President Roosevelt understood this when he asked Congress during the Great Depression to bring transparency, access and competition to the commodities and securities markets.

The reforms of the 1930s transformed markets. They helped establish the foundation for the U.S. economic growth engine for decades.

Those reforms have given farmers, ranchers, producers, merchants and commercial companies confidence to use the futures market to manage their risks. They are able to lock in the price of a commodity at harvest time, or lock in an interest rate or currency rate, and focus on that which they do best – producing goods and services for the economy.

The swaps market emerged in the 1980s. It remained outside these time-tested reforms until last year.

Both futures and swaps, though, are just two forms of the same thing – derivatives. Both had become essential to our economy and to the way people and businesses manage risks.

The swaps market also had grown to dwarf the futures market in total notional outstanding. We now know the swaps market is $400 trillion in size, compared to the $30 trillion futures market.

Lacking of common-sense rules of the road, the swaps market contributed to the 2008 crisis. Need I remind anyone about AIG.

It became time to bring this vast, dark market into transparency. It became time to ensure that the broad public gained the benefits of central clearing and oversight of dealers.

Thus, the President and Congress passed reform borrowing from what had worked best for decades in the futures market.

Now, the swaps marketplace has been transformed.

It’s been a remarkable journey these past five years – and all of you have been part of this journey. It not only took 65 finalized rules, orders and guidances by the CFTC. Your thousands of comments, meetings and questions were a critical part of the process as well. You worked hard – with real costs and against deadlines – to implement these reforms to bring us to a new marketplace.

Transparency

Foremost, the swaps marketplace now has transparency that simply did not exist in 2008.

The public now can see the price and volume of each swap transaction as it occurs. This post-trade transparency spans the entire market, regardless of product, counterparty, or whether it’s a standardized or customized transaction.

This information is available, free of charge, to everyone in the public. The data is listed in real time – like a modern-day tickertape – on the websites of each of the three swap data repositories.

Regulators get even greater transparency. Though there is more work to be done regarding the data flowing into data repositories, we now are able to see and filter the details on each of the 1.8 million transactions and positions in the data repositories.

Further, starting last month, the public – for the first time – has been benefitting from new transparency, access and competition on regulated swap trading platforms.

Economists have known the benefits of such transparency since the time of Adam Smith; it just wasn’t a reality in the swaps marketplace.

Now, as a result of reforms, swap execution facilities (SEFs) are required to provide all market participants with impartial access. They must provide dealers and non-dealers alike the ability to make and respond to bids, offers and requests for quotes. This is a basic tenant that Adam Smith and so many economists have laid out – that access and transparency promote competition and benefit the economy.

We now have 18 temporarily registered SEFs where more than a quarter of a trillion dollars in swaps trading is occurring on average per day. That is a big number by any measure.

We’ll continue to address questions as they arise to help smooth the transition to the transparency and impartial access of exchange trading.

Addressing one such question, as our cross border guidance directs, if a multilateral trading platform is a U.S. person, or it is located or operating in the U.S., it should register.

A multilateral trading platform that provides persons located in the U.S. with the ability to trade or execute swaps on the platform’s market (either directly or indirectly through an intermediary), should register.

Registration applies whether those persons are U.S. persons or non-U.S. persons whose personnel or agents are located in the U.S. This is regardless of the location where the swap is ultimately booked, including in circumstances where a swap dealer arranges, negotiates, or executes the terms of a swap in a non-U.S. branch, but trades swaps on a multilateral swaps trading platform using personnel or agents of the swap dealer located in the U.S.

This will trigger some SEF registrations for foreign-based platforms that are already registered with their home country. For instance, one Australian platform is going to register with the CFTC, and we’re working with the Australian home country regulators. We’re prepared to figure out where we might defer to those home country regulators.

Clearing

Second, the swaps market has been transformed to a market with mandated central clearing for financial entities as well as dealers.

Customers now gain the benefit that until recently only dealers had. Central clearing of swaps lowers risk and allows customers more ready access to the market.

Clearinghouses have operated successfully at the center of the futures market for over 100 years – through two world wars, the Great Depression and the 2008 financial crisis.

Reforms have taken us from only 21 percent of the interest rate swaps market being cleared in 2008 to 80 percent during the week ending October 25, 2013.

That same week, we saw 62 percent of new credit index swaps being cleared.

Further, we no longer have the significant time delays that were once associated with swaps clearing.

Five years ago, swaps clearing happened either at the end of the day or even just once a week. This left a significant period of bilateral credit risk in the market, undermining one of the key benefits of central clearing.

Now reforms require pre-trade credit checks and straight-through processing for swaps trades intended for clearing.

As a result, 99 percent of swaps clearing occurs within 10 seconds, with 93 percent actually doing so within three seconds. No longer do market participants have to worry about credit risk when entering into swaps trades intended to be cleared.

Thus, breakage agreements – agreements that had been requested by dealers in the event a swap wasn’t accepted for clearing – are not needed and should not be required for access to trading on a SEF or designated contract market.

Taken as a whole, these reforms have completely transformed the swaps market to a new marketplace.

Swap Dealers

Third, the market has been transformed for swap dealer.

In 2008, swap dealers had no specific requirements with regard to their swap dealing activity.

Today, with 90 swap dealers registered, all of the world’s largest financial institutions in the global swaps market are coming under reforms.

These reforms include new business conduct standards for risk management, documentation of swap transactions, confirmations, sales practices, recordkeeping and reporting.

Just to note how significant this is – this past summer, swap dealers and their over 10,000 counterparties around the globe changed their swap documentation, lowering risk by cleaning up the back office.

These documentation reforms build on what the Federal Reserve Bank of New York had tried to achieve with dealers voluntarily.

I would note from my own experience in the financial community, those back office documents really matter in a bankruptcy or other crisis.

International Coordination on Swap Market Reform

Further, the transformed marketplace covers the far-flung operations of U.S. enterprises.

Congress was clear in the Dodd-Frank Act that we had to learn the lessons of the 2008 crisis.

AIG nearly brought down the U.S. economy through its guaranteed affiliate operating under a French bank license in London.

Lehman Brothers had 3,300 legal entities when it failed. Its main overseas affiliate was guaranteed here in the U.S., and it had 130,000 outstanding swap transactions.

A decade earlier, Long-Term Capital Management was operating out of Connecticut but actually booked their $1.2 trillion derivatives book in the Cayman Islands.

Based upon CFTC guidance, swaps market reform covers transactions between non-U.S. swap dealers and guaranteed affiliates of U.S. persons, as well as swaps between two guaranteed affiliates.

As of last month, offshore branches and guaranteed affiliates, as well as hedge funds, like Long-Term Capital Management, all had to come into central clearing and the other Dodd-Frank reforms.

Customer Protection

Market events of the last two years also highlighted the need to further ensure the protection of customer funds.

Segregation of customer funds is the core foundation of the commodity futures and swaps markets.

Segregation must be maintained at all times. That means every moment of every day.

The CFTC went through a two-year process with market participants, including significant input from the FIA, to ensure that customers have confidence that their funds are segregated and protected. Last week, the sixth set of customer protection rules were finalized by the Commission.

The Future

Before I take questions, I wanted to share a few thoughts looking forward.

First there will be the continued implementation of reforms. Among the highlights is the trade execution mandate likely going live in the first quarter of 2014. Also, there is the critical implementation of the recently completed customer protection rules. The CFTC will continue pivoting from rulewriting to ensuring compliance with these reforms.

Second, it is critical that we preserve the pre-trade transparency that has been a longstanding hallmark of the futures market. The Commission finalized a block rules for swaps and soon will consider staff recommendations for a proposal on a futures block rule.

Third, we have witnessed a fundamental shift in markets from human-based trading to highly automated trading. The Commission looks forward to hearing back on our concept release on automated and high frequency trading.

Fourth, we must deal with the fact that LIBOR is more akin to fiction than fact. Through five settlements the CFTC has brought against banks, we have seen how the public trust can be violated through bad actors readily manipulating benchmark interest rates. As LIBOR and Euribor are not anchored in observable transactions, they have been and can be again readily and pervasively rigged.

The work of the Financial Stability Board to find alternatives and consider potential transitions to these alternatives is critical. This will mean significant changes in the futures and swaps markets. There is a need for these reforms, though, if we’re going to protect the integrity of the markets.

CFTC Resources

Lastly, one of the greatest threats to well-functioning, open, and competitive futures and swaps markets is that the CFTC – the agency tasked with overseeing your markets – is not sized to the task at hand.

That the CFTC completed 65 rulemakings should not be confused with the agency having sufficient people and technology to oversee the markets.

At 673 people, we are only slightly larger than we were 20 years ago. Since then though, the futures market has grown and changed significantly. Further, we have this new job of overseeing the vast swaps market.

The overall branding of these markets is dependent on customers having confidence in using them.

It’s also critical that we have the resources for the timely reviews of applications, registrations, petitions and answers to market participants’ questions.

The President has asked for $315 million for the CFTC. This year we’ve been operating with only $195 million.

Worse yet, as a result of continued funding challenges, sequestration, and a required minimum level Congress set for the CFTC’s outside technology spending, the CFTC already has shrunk 5 percent, and was forced to notify employees of an administrative furlough for up to 14 days this fiscal year.

Congress and the President have real challenges with regard to our federal budget. I believe, though, that the CFTC is a good investment for the American public. It’s a good investment for transparent, well-functioning markets.

Conclusion

Let me close by thanking all of you. These last five years have been a remarkable journey. The futures market performed well straight through the crisis. That’s why we borrowed so much from the futures market in an effort to bring much-needed reform to the swaps market.

On a personal note, I want to thank you for all that we’ve achieved together. I want to thank you because this may be my last speech as the CFTC’s Chairman at an FIA conference. I assure you, though, if invited, I’ll be with you again.

Thank you, I look forward to answering your questions.

HHS awards Affordable Care Act funds to expand access to care

HHS awards Affordable Care Act funds to expand access to care

OSHA PROPOSES NEW RULE TO TRACK WORKPLACE INJURIES AND ILLNESSES

FROM:  U.S. LABOR DEPARTMENT 
OSHA announces proposed new rule to improve tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses

WASHINGTON — The Occupational Safety and Health Administration today issued a proposed rule to improve workplace safety and health through improved tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses. The announcement follows the Bureau of Labor Statistics' release of its annual Occupational Injuries and Illnesses report, which estimates that three million workers were injured on the job in 2012.

"Three million injuries are three million too many," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "With the changes being proposed in this rule, employers, employees, the government and researchers will have better access to data that will encourage earlier abatement of hazards and result in improved programs to reduce workplace hazards and prevent injuries, illnesses and fatalities. The proposal does not add any new requirement to keep records; it only modifies an employer's obligation to transmit these records to OSHA."

The public will have 90 days, through Feb. 6, 2014, to submit written comments on the proposed rule. On Jan. 9, 2014, OSHA will hold a public meeting on the proposed rule in Washington, D.C. A Federal Register notice announcing the public meeting will be published shortly.

The proposed rule was developed following a series of stakeholder meetings in 2010 to help OSHA gather information about electronic submission of establishment-specific injury and illness data. OSHA is proposing to amend its current recordkeeping regulations to add requirements for the electronic submission of injury and illness information employers are already required to keep under existing standards, Part 1904. The first proposed new requirement is for establishments with more than 250 employees (and who are already required to keep records) to electronically submit the records on a quarterly basis to OSHA.

OSHA is also proposing that establishments with 20 or more employees, in certain industries with high injury and illness rates, be required to submit electronically only their summary of work-related injuries and illnesses to OSHA once a year. Currently, many such firms report this information to OSHA under OSHA's Data Initiative.

OSHA plans to eventually post the data online, as encouraged by President Obama's Open Government Initiative. Timely, establishment-specific injury and illness data will help OSHA target its compliance assistance and enforcement resources more effectively by identifying workplaces where workers are at greater risk, and enable employers to compare their injury rates with others in the same industry. Additional information on the proposed rule can be found at http://www.dol.gov/find/20131107/ and http://www.osha.gov/recordkeeping/proposed_data_form.html.

SECRETARY OF LABOR PEREZ ISSUES STATEMENT ON SENATE PASSAGE OF LGBT WORKER RIGHTS BILL

FROM:  U.S. LABOR DEPARTMENT 
Statement by US Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez on the US Senate's passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act

WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez today issued the following statement regarding the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act by the U.S. Senate:

"The arc of the moral universe bent a little more toward justice today. Protecting the workplace rights of LGBT workers is a moral imperative that is long overdue. We still have a long road ahead of us, but today's historic vote moves us one step closer to a nation that truly embodies its founding principles of equality, opportunity and fairness for all."

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE WEEKLY CLAIMS REPORT FOR WEEK ENDING NOVEMBER 2, 2013

          SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA

In the week ending November 2, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 336,000, a decrease of 9,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 345,000. The 4-week moving average was 348,250, a decrease of 9,250 from the previous week's revised average of 357,500.
The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.2 percent for the week ending October 26, unchanged from the prior week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending October 26 was 2,868,000, an increase of 4,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 2,864,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,866,000, a decrease of 8,500 from the preceding week's revised average of 2,874,500.

UNADJUSTED DATA

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 327,074 in the week ending November 2, an increase of 4,222 from the previous week. There were 361,800 initial claims in the comparable week in 2012.
The advance unadjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.9 percent during the week ending October 26, unchanged from the prior week. The advance unadjusted number for persons claiming UI benefits in state programs totaled 2,495,070, a decrease of 13,964 from the preceding week. A year earlier, the rate was 2.2 percent and the volume was 2,783,667.

The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending October 19 was 3,958,691, an increase of 74,777 from the previous week. There were 5,078,237 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 October 19.

Initial claims for UI benefits filed by former Federal civilian employees totaled 4,011 in the week ending October 26, a decrease of 10,412 from the prior week. There were 2,433 initial claims filed by newly discharged veterans, an increase of 279 from the preceding week.

There were 27,834 former Federal civilian employees claiming UI benefits for the week ending October 19, a decrease of 49,717 from the previous week. Newly discharged veterans claiming benefits totaled 31,841, a decrease of 265 from the prior week.

States reported 1,370,774 persons claiming Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) benefits for the week ending October 19, an increase of 64,837 from the prior week. There were 2,118,175 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 October 26 were in Alaska (4.4), Virgin Islands (4.1), Puerto Rico (3.8), California (3.0), New Jersey (3.0), Connecticut (2.7), Pennsylvania (2.7), District of Columbia (2.6), Illinois (2.4), and Oregon (2.4).

The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending October 26 were in Oregon (+2,956), Florida (+2,873), Illinois (+2,460), New York (+2,033), and Pennsylvania (+1,542), while the largest decreases were in California (-4,460), Virginia (-1,807), Washington (-833), Maryland (-431), and Missouri (-343).

THERAPIST SENTENCED FOR ROLE IN $55 MILLION MEDICARE FRAUD

FROM:  U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT 
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Former Mental-Health Clinic Therapist Sentenced for Role in $55 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

A former therapist for Biscayne Milieu, a Miami-based mental-health clinic, was sentenced today to serve 120 months in prison for his participation in a $55 million Medicare fraud scheme.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Steinbach of the FBI’s Miami Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Christopher B. Dennis of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Miami office made the announcement.

Jose Rojo, 39, of Miami, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Marcia G. Cooke in the Southern District of Florida.  Rojo was convicted on Aug. 7, 2013, of one count of conspiring to commit health care fraud following a one-month jury trial.  In addition to the prison term, Rojo was ordered to pay more than $11 million in restitution, jointly and severally with his co-defendants, and to serve three years of supervised release.

According to the evidence at trial, Rojo and his co-conspirators caused the submission of more than $55 million dollars in fraudulent claims to Medicare through Biscayne Milieu, which purportedly operated a partial hospitalization program (PHP) – a form of intensive treatment for severe mental illness.  Instead of providing PHP services, the defendants devised a scheme in which they paid patient recruiters to refer ineligible Medicare beneficiaries to Biscayne Milieu for services that were never provided.  Many of the patients admitted to Biscayne Milieu were not eligible for PHP because they were chronic substance abusers, suffered from severe dementia and would not benefit from group therapy, or had no mental health diagnosis but were seeking exemptions for their U.S. citizenship applications.

The evidence at trial further showed that, as a therapist at Biscayne Milieu, Rojo conducted sham therapy sessions for patients he knew were ineligible for PHP treatment.  Often Rojo showed up late for these sessions or not at all, but Medicare was still billed as if a full session took place.  Rojo created fraudulent documents to help cover-up Biscayne Milieu’s massive fraud, including bogus treatment plans and phony group therapy notes that were copied from one document to the other.  Deliberately inaccurate group therapy notes for different patients on different days – often years apart – were in many respects identical, including having the same descriptions of patients’ statements in group sessions and even the same misspelled words.  Further, Rojo provided other therapists at the clinic with fake group therapy notes for a fee.  Biscayne Milieu billed Medicare for tens of millions of dollars in PHP treatments for these patients.

Various owners, doctors, managers, therapists, patient brokers and other employees of Biscayne Milieu have also been charged with health care fraud, kickback violations, money laundering and other offenses in two indictments unsealed in September 2011 and May 2012.  Biscayne Milieu, its owners, and more than 25 of the individual defendants charged in these cases have pleaded guilty or have been convicted at trial.  Antonio and Jorge Macli and Sandra Huarte – the owners and operators of Biscayne Milieu – were each convicted at trial and were sentenced in April 2013 to 30 years, 25 years and 22 years in prison, respectively.

This case was investigated by the FBI with the assistance of HHS-OIG and was brought by the the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Marlene Rodriguez and James V. Hayes of the Southern District of Florida; Hayes was formerly a trial attorney of the 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, is taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

FLORIDA HOSPICE WILL PAY $3 MILLION TO RESOLVE ALLEGATIONS FALSE CLAIMS ALLEGATIONS

FROM:  U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT 
Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Orlando, Fla., Area Hospice to Pay $3 Million to Resolve Allegations That It Billed Medicare for Patients Not Terminally Ill

Hospice of the Comforter Inc. (HOTCI) has agreed to pay $3 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by submitting false claims to the Medicare program for hospice services provided to patients who were not eligible for the Medicare hospice benefit, the Justice Department announced today.  HOTCI is headquartered in Altamonte Springs, Fla., and provides hospice services to patients residing in Seminole, Osceola and Orange counties in Florida.

“This settlement is a result of the Justice Department’s continuing efforts to prevent the abuse of the taxpayer-funded Medicare hospice program, which is intended to provide comfort and care to terminally ill persons during the last six months of their lives,” said Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division Stuart F. Delery.  “We will pursue those who seek to misuse this important benefit for their own enrichment.”

The government alleged that between December 2005 and December 2010, HOTCI engaged in practices that resulted in billing Medicare for patients who were not terminally ill.  Specifically, HOTCI allegedly directed its staff to admit all referred patients without regard to whether they were eligible for the Medicare hospice benefit, falsified medical records to make it appear that certain patients were eligible for the benefit when they were not, employed field nurses without hospice training, established procedures to limit physicians’ roles in assessing patients’ terminal status and delayed discharging patients when they became ineligible for the benefit.

As part of this settlement, HOTCI has agreed to enter into a Corporate Integrity Agreement with the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services that provides for procedures and reviews to be put in place to promptly detect and prevent future conduct similar to that which gave rise to the settlement.  In addition, HOTCI’s former Chief Executive Officer Robert Wilson has agreed to a three-year, voluntary exclusion from Medicare, Medicaid and other federal health care programs.

“This settlement represents a fair and appropriate resolution of this troubling matter,” said Acting U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida A. Lee Bentley III.  “Hospice providers in our district should be on notice that our office will do what it takes to protect our citizens from this kind of misconduct.”

“Hospice care is a sacred trust from which no provider should fraudulently profit,” said Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Daniel R. Levinson.  “Claiming tax dollars for people who are not terminally ill ?? and therefore ineligible for hospice care ?? cannot be tolerated.”

This settlement illustrates the government’s emphasis on combating health care fraud and marks another achievement for the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) initiative, which was announced in May 2009 by Attorney General Eric Holder and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.  The partnership between the two departments has focused efforts to reduce and prevent Medicare and Medicaid financial fraud through enhanced cooperation.  One of the most powerful tools in this effort is the False Claims Act.  Since January 2009, the Justice Department has recovered a total of more than $16.7 billion through False Claims Act cases, with more than $11.9 billion of that amount recovered in cases involving fraud against federal health care programs.

The allegations settled today arose from a lawsuit filed by a former HOTCI employee, Douglas Stone, under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act.  Under the act, private citizens can bring suit on behalf of the government for false claims and share in any recovery.  Stone’s share of the recovery has not been determined.

This matter was handled by the Justice Department’s Civil Division, Commercial Litigation Branch; the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida and the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General.

The case is United States ex rel. Stone v. Hospice of the Comforter Inc ., No. 6:11-cv-1498-ORL-22-DAB (M.D. Fla.).  The claims settled by this agreement are allegations only; there has been no determination of liability.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT CONTRACTS FOR NOVEMBER 7, 2013

FROM:  U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT 
CONTRACTS
DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY

Easy Street JD&S LLC*, Carol Stream, Ill., has been awarded a maximum $633,000,000 fixed-price with economic-price-adjustment contract for procurement of commercial type material handling equipment.  This contract is a competitive acquisition, and 31 offers were received.  Locations of performance are Illinois and Ireland with a Nov. 6, 2018 performance completion date.  Using military services are Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and federal civilian agencies.  Type of appropriation is fiscal 2014 through fiscal 2019 defense working capital funds.  The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, Philadelphia, Pa., (SPE8EC-14-D-0001).

US Food Service Baltimore/Washington Division, Severn, Md., has been awarded a maximum $12,581,939 fixed-price with economic-price-adjustment, bridge contract for prime vendor full line food distribution.  This contract is a sole-source acquisition.  This is a one-year base contract with no option periods.  Locations of performance are Maryland and mid-Atlantic North region with a Nov. 8, 2014, performance completion date.  Using military services are Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.  Type of appropriation is fiscal 2014 defense working capital funds.  The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, Philadelphia, Pa., (SPM300-14-D-3719).

Shamrock Foods Co., Phoenix, Ariz., has been awarded a maximum $8,700,000 fixed-price with economic-price-adjustment, indefinite-quantity, bridge contract for prime vendor full line food distribution.  This contract is a sole-source acquisition.  This is a one-year base contract with no option periods.  Location of performance is Arizona with a Nov. 8, 2014, performance completion date.  Using military services are Army, Air Force, and federal civilian agencies.  Type of appropriation is fiscal 2014 defense working capital funds.  The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, Philadelphia, Pa., (SPM300-14-D-3656).

Greenstone Limited*, Peapack, N.J., has been awarded a maximum $8,026,537 modification (P00017) exercising the seventh one-year option period on a one-year base contract (SPM200-06-D-7703) with seven one-year option periods for various pharmaceutical products.  This is a firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract.  Location of performance is New Jersey with a Nov. 3, 2014, performance completion date.  Using military services are Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps.  Type of appropriation is fiscal 2014 warstopper funds.  The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, Philadelphia, Pa.

ARMY

Northrop Grumman, Huntsville, Ala., was awarded a $39,200,000 modification (P00095) to a previously existing cost-plus-incentive-fee, multi-year, option-included contract (W31P4Q-08-C-0418) to provide research and development services in support of integrated air missile defense.  The estimated completion date is Sept. 30, 2015.  Fiscal 2013 research, development, test and evaluation funds are being obligated on this award.  The Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity.

Great Lakes Dock and Dredge Company LLC, Oak Brook, Ill., was awarded a $10,273,971 firm-fixed-price contract for dredging services in support of the Baltimore Harbor Dredging Project.  Work will be performed in Baltimore, Md., with an estimated completion date of March 28, 2014.  Fiscal 2013 and fiscal 2014 operations and maintenance funds are being obligated on this award.  One bid was solicited, with one bid received.  The Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore, Md., is the contracting activity (W912DR-14-C-0003).

K&N Industrial Equipment, Spokane Valley, Wash., was awarded a $7,976,384 firm-fixed-price, option-included contract to provide for the rehabilitation of bridge cranes located at Lower Granite Dam and Little Goose Dam.  Work will be performed in Dayton, Wash.; and Pomeroy, Wash.; with an estimated completion date of Aug. 13, 2015.  Fiscal 2014 procurement funds in the amount of $3,734,955 are being obligated on this award.  The bid was solicited through the Internet, with four bids received.  The Army Corps of Engineers, Walla Walla, Wash., is the contracting activity (W912EF-14-C-0002).

AIR FORCE

Lockheed Martin Corp., Fort Worth, Texas, has been awarded a $19,763,075 option exercise (P0050) to an existing cost-plus-fixed-fee contract (FA8611-08-C-2897) to retrofit fielded mission training centers with out the window visual systems upgrade and night vision goggles capability.  Effort includes upgrades for F-22 training systems at Sheppard Air Force Base (AFB), Texas; Tyndall AFB, Fla.; Langley AFB, Va.; Hickam AFB, Hawaii, and Elmendorf AFB, Alaska.  Work will be performed at St. Louis, Mo., with an expected completion date of Dec. 31, 2016.  Fiscal 2014 aircraft procurement funds in the amount of $19,763,075 are being obligated at time of option exercise.  The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, is the contracting activity.

NAVY

Ultra Armoring LLC*, Kings Mountain, N.C., is being awarded a $15,000,000 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for the light capability rough terrain forklift (LCRTF) crew protection kit (CPK).  The LCRTF CPK shall provide a CPK for integration to increase survivability and provide protection in the event of small arms fire or improvised explosive Device attack.  The basic contract will be for four test assets, development costs, 100 production units, technical manuals, supply support and training.  The initial delivery order (0001) will be for six test assets, development costs, shipping of test assets, testing provisioning support and the technical manual development and procurement.  Work will be performed in Kings Mountain, N.C., and work is expected to be completed in November 2018.  No funds are being obligated on the base contract.  Fiscal 2013 research, development, testing and evaluation funds in the amount of $1,427,168 will be obligated on the delivery order, and will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.  This contract was competitively procured through full and open competition via the Federal Business Opportunities website, with five proposals received.  Marine Corps System Command in Quantico, Va., is the procuring contracting activity (M67854-14-D-5024).

CTC Enterprise Ventures Corp., Johnstown, Pa., is being awarded a $14,205,582 firm-fixed-price modification to previously awarded contract (N61331-12-C-0007) for the production of 10 carriage, stream, tow and recovery system kits in support of the MH-60S Airborne Mine Countermeasures program.  Work will be performed in Johnstown, Pa., and is expected to be completed by October 2016.  Fiscal 2013 aircraft procurement, Navy funds in the amount of $14,205,582 will be obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year.  The Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division, Panama City, Fla., is the contracting activity.

Trimble Navigation Ltd., Dayton, Ohio, is being awarded $12,788,333 for delivery order 0007 under a previously awarded indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract (M67854-13-D-5023) for the Laser Leveling System (LLS) to support the Product Manager, Engineering Systems, Material Handling Equipment and Construction Equipment Product Management Team.  Collectively, the LLS consists of surveying equipment and grade control equipment.  This procurement requires the original equipment manufacturer to provide 33 LLS systems, operator and maintainer training and training aids, transportation of the systems, and logistics and life cycle support for all items procured.  Work will be performed in Dayton, Ohio, and is expected to be completed by April 2018.  Fiscal 2013 procurement, Marine Corps funds in the amount of $12,788,333 will be obligated at the time of award.  Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year.  The basic contract was competitively procured, with two offers received.  Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity.

The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., is being awarded an $8,343,276 modification to a previously awarded fixed-price-incentive-fee contract (N00019-09-C-0019) for the replacement and/or refurbishment of production life limit tooling for the F/A-18E/F and EA-18G aircraft.  Work will be performed in St. Louis, Mo., and is expected to be completed in October 2014.  Fiscal 2013 aircraft procurement, Navy contract funds in the amount of $8,343,276 are being obligated on this award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.  The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

General Dynamics Electric Boat Corp., Groton, Conn., is being awarded a $7,103,796 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-10-C-4301) to provide ship’s force duties; protection and operation; and organizational-level repairs and preservation of floating dry dock ARDM-4 at the Naval Submarine Support Facility, Naval Submarine Base, New London, Conn.  Work will be performed in New London, Conn., and is expected to be completed by September 2014.  Fiscal 2014 operations and maintenance, Navy contract funds in the amount of $7,103,796 will be obligated at time of award and will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.  The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

Weston Solutions Inc., West Chester, Pa., is being awarded $6,576,624 for firm-fixed-price task order FZ01 under a previously awarded multiple award construction contract (N62583-09-D-0131) for design and construction of an MV-22 Aviation Fuel Storage Facility at Marine Corps Air Station, Camp Pendleton.  The work to be performed provides for expansion of the existing fuel storage facility by adding two additional fuel storage tanks, relocating loading pad and expanding the current petroleum oil lubricants operations building to support the fuel requirements of the MV-22 aircraft. Work will be performed in Oceanside, Calif., and is expected to be completed by January 2015.  Fiscal 2012 military construction, Navy contract funds in the amount of $6,576,624 are obligated on this award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year.  Four proposals were received for this task order.  The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southwest, San Diego, Calif., is the contracting activity.

*Small Business